An Open Letter to Indian Men

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2017 by tivaniam


This post is guaranteed to offend someone and in that event, I invite you to take a long, hard look at yourself and consider why you find this offensive – perhaps there is some truth to what I’ve said, and if so, that’s the first step in changing patterns of behaviour that are harmful. Secondly, while this is directed to Indian men, solely from the standpoint of being an Indian woman, this does not preclude men from other races who adopt the same attributes.


As a published writer, opening myself up to public commentary and judgment is par for the course. It’s something I signed up for when I committed my life to my craft: to live my purpose as a conscious writer.  I know I am not here to win points. I am here to create awareness through my writing by sharing candid and authentic stories of hope and redemption, based on what I have experienced in my life. This is the only reason I reference my past – not to focus on negativity, but to provide relatable stories that anyone can resonate with and be inspired enough to believe that life can change and get better.

Recently, a newspaper contacted me wanting me to highlight my story and journey with depression. I shared my story openly, and received some amazing feedback from so many wonderful men and women, who felt inspired and hopeful to overcome their own experiences. I’ve had a few people – men and women alike – tell me that I saved them from suicide, which for me was the biggest affirmation that I am living my essence and my soul’s calling.

That opened itself up to lots of interaction with a lot of different people. I received messages from broken Indian women, who are held captive by depression because they’re in abusive relationships with Indian men. The stories shared with me filled me with horror – stories of violence, degradation, humiliation and emotional abuse of the worst kind. It left me emotionally and physically depleted because I am totally ill-equipped to deal with this and all I could do was lend a comforting ear.

Over and above that, the brevity within which Indian men slid into DM’s on every social media platform that they could find me, to strike up random non-related conversations, ranging from complimenting my looks and my legs; to asking for my number; or pretending to need writing work done then asking for my number – culminated in this post. I realised that I may not be able to do anything for these women who are beaten down, but I can use my voice through the written word.

Indian men: many of you were raised in homes that predefined the role of a man. You were led to believe that being a man means negating your feelings and emotions and ruling with an iron-fist. You were raised in a society that promoted ‘manliness’ over sensitivity, relegating the latter to a solely female trait. You were taught to believe that you had to have a partner who was submissive and you had to be respected because you were born a male. Many of you were told that men don’t cry. And as a result, your emotions got suppressed and you became hardened, and suppressed sorrow can only turn into rage. Rage that gets taken out on those you love.

Indian men: many of you were raised as misogynists, considering women as second-class citizens, sex-objects there for your glorification and people of lesser intellect and strength.  This is why you continue to objectify women instead of seeing us in God-form and equal. This is why some of you can confront a woman through social media, commenting on what she looks like, rather than what she is looking AT or trying to achieve. Many of you violate women based on your internal deficiencies and illnesses. The way a woman looks, dresses or carries herself is not an invitation for you to proceed – violently or otherwise. And, ‘single’ does not mean ‘available’.

Indian men: many of you perpetuated the cycle of dysfunction that you were raised with, modelling the role of your own father who was absent or conditioned from his personal experiences and childhood.

Indian men: this is the cycle you will continue with your children – sons who become hardened and angry, and girls who learn how to become doormats.

But, Indian men: cycles can be broken. A new reference point can begin. It starts with you. It starts with talking openly and honestly about stuff that men are told never to speak about – feelings and emotions. I’ve witnessed first-hand the amazing transformations of so many Indian men, who were once plagued by cyclical dysfunction, but who were brave enough to transcend it and pave a new way for himself and his children and the generations to follow. We need to shift into a new way of thinking and Being in this world. We simply cannot operate as the generations that came before us. It is self-evident that they fucked it up. We have to begin afresh and create a shift in consciousness by returning to innocence and purity.

Indian men: my invitation to you is this. Change how you view the world and yourself in it. Let go of preconceived ideas and ways of conditioned thinking and indoctrination. Stop regarding men and women as being separate. Instead, consider all of us to be the same thread stemming from the same tapestry. Teach your sons and daughters that gender specific roles are an illusion – anyone can do anything at any time. Indian men, start believing that a house is made a home by both parties and that domesticity is not confined to a woman, neither is raising kids nor cooking. Understand that women can be the fiercest opponents in business and are capable of running our own finances and getting shit done.

Indian men: understand that violence of any kind is an explosion of the pain that is internal. Deal with the pain and not the trigger of what set you off.

Indian men, the time for restoration is now. The world needs more comforters, nurturers, peace-makers, truth-tellers and game-changers. Indian men, it begins and ends with you. What you do today can alter the course of generations that follow, which collectively is the change we need to see in the world. It’s time to step up and be about something.


Follow Your Bliss: A Journey Inward

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2017 by tivaniam

For many years my idea of ‘following my bliss’ was very singular – becoming a writer. I spent two decades immersed in fear and wondering if I will be accepted because in my mind, there were countless writers who came before me, doing the same thing. I eventually got tired of my own shit and persistent internal longings and chose to live in my truth, because the idea to be a writer had nothing to do with recognition and everything to do with the sound of my own heart. So I did an excavation of my soul and actualised that longing, removed from ego.  And so I thought I had arrived. I followed my bliss and I am living it daily.

Then, over the last six months, I had a revelation that the concept of bliss is incredibly multifaceted and not exclusive to what I do, but rather about how I want to spend the rest of my days. And this is the biggest thing because it means that my authenticity has to be absolute and consistent.  For the last few years I felt like I could pride myself on my authenticity until recent events showed me how inconsistent I’ve been. Lessons are still repeating itself because of a deep-rooted belief that I’ve held on to and evidently NOT released  – the need for approval and acceptance, the desire to be LIKED because I’M A NICE PERSON.  Meaning, I am sort of ashamed of some truths because of how I may be received. Therefore, I am not completely and fully authentic. Well, fuck.

So, this is the thing. Until we learn, the lessons never end. And, they get harder. And when you learn the lessons, even more gets revealed – sort of like peeling an onion. Layers and layers of stuff get revealed that we are forced to look at – if we want to – or ignore and cause suffering to ourselves.

This was the biggest lesson for me in recent weeks. Letting go of the need to be chosen, the need to be accepted and liked, the need to be revered and validated – all of that stuff is the opposite of following my bliss. Following my bliss means being true to me. Only me. My own heart, my own dreams, my own passions, desires and happiness. It sounds selfish but it’s actually the biggest act of love. Love emanates from self-love first.

I wrote this piece because I felt like we all need to be freer. We could all use the release of this heavy pressure we place on ourselves where we hook our worth from our performances in this world. We need to learn how to re-centre our lives on grace for ourselves first without the desire to prove anything to anyone. I am learning with each new day what it means to be truly present. And that for me starts with being absolutely true to myself, without the fear of how that is perceived to others or whether I am liked. Now, following my bliss means doing whatever it takes to be well and truly happy. Imagine if all of us chose to live that way? A humanity that loves freely and fully and lives their lives to the beat of their own drum, the sound of their own heart…That for me is the divine spark we all need to intertwine our hearts – making us all that much more grateful and gracious. That is how we shift collective consciousness. THAT is the bliss we need more of. And yes, it starts with me.


Ditching Shame and Guilt

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2017 by tivaniam

Shame and Guilt: two bastard passengers who rode shotgun with me through the journey of my life. For over two decades they followed me everywhere, making my trips arduous and preventing me from sightseeing.

Then, 3.5 years ago, I tossed them out the car. Mid-drive, I opened my window, wind flying through my hair, and told them to fuck off. I was taking this trip alone. And so I did.

For a while it was great. I enjoyed the ride. I felt free and alive. And then recently, someone invited Shame into my life again. And I accepted the invitation, believing wholeheartedly that I missed the company.  Guilt followed soon after, without the invitation, knowing his presence was always welcomed.  I lost myself briefly, carrying the weight of two unwelcomed passengers until I had to learn the lesson again, this time in a more painful way. The all-familiar conversations happened in my head, as it used to, years before:

“Who do you think you are?”

 “You’ve been divorced twice, you’re not worthy”

“Look at you, failing again. Stupid”

“You’re a joke, a fake, a mistake”

This kind of behaviour can quickly become so entrenched, that who I really am, gets blurred even to me. But because I am a truth-teller inherently, I know when I’m not aligned to my purpose. Even if I lie to myself, my body tells me loud and clear when I am off-centre: insomnia, stomach issues, migraines, crying all the time, chest pain – all happening at once. I know that the minute I listen to the murmurings of other people, who don’t have my best interest at heart and who simply have an agenda, I end up getting physically sick, anxious and depressed. And that for me is too high a price to pay. I spent so many years being ashamed of myself for so many different things, it kept me from being the full expression of who I am. I was content to play it safe and remain small because the alternative was way too scary. Life had other plans for me though, and if I was going to use my lessons in service of others, I knew I had to start living in my own truth. I haven’t worked this hard for this long to go back to being asleep.  So I call myself out on my own shit, ditch the noise and reconnect to my truth. And then, obviously, share the lesson.

So here it is.

There is an epidemic in our culture. People are living in sacrifice because they choose the safety and seduction of living a lie and owning shame and guilt offered to them by others.  The ‘others’ I speak of – however well-intentioned – are people that serve to stifle you from your own growth because they’re too afraid to live their truth. Old constructs of thinking, handed down from generation to generation is another reason why people remain stuck. Removing shame and guilt is incredibly difficult. It means being vulnerable because telling the truth leaves you exposed and open to judgment and criticism. It can sometimes mean the end of relationships, severing family ties or friendships and going against the norm. For so many, this is an enormous thing to bear and therefore honesty and authenticity is unattainable.

For women: shame is a straightjacket, telling us to compete with society’s ideals of how we’re meant to be – thin, perfect, silent, smiling.

For men: don’t be weak, die on top of your white horse instead of falling down. Don’t show your emotions. Work is first. Pursue status.

This concept is flawed. Because, if you choose to live within the confines of shame and guilt, negating what is real and true for you and thinking you’ll be okay with the lie, your sadness, pain and suffering will transpose in another way: alcohol, drug or sex addiction; depression; binge eating or starving yourself; suicide ideations; physical ailments; or hopping from one meaningless relationship to another in order to seek validation.

The idea is not to set up residence with the shame – it’s to find a way through it. We have the most compelling reason to have these conversations – people are killing themselves because the pain is too consuming. When will we ever learn that the truth sets us free! Living a life of authenticity, ditching the shame and guilt for what we perceive as failure, IS a catalyst for massive growth. It’s the gift of freedom, peace and self-love. Every single person who made a difference in this world did so by being true to their own heart, by listening to their own voices and telling the truth. This meant owning their failures and many of the most formidable and inspiring people failed many times over. They had to experience failure in order to grow from it. There is no learning involved when things go smoothly. Ruin is where transformation begins. There is no shame or guilt in that.

The vulnerability needed to release shame and guilt and step into your own truth and your own voice is the single biggest act of courage. Today, I invite you to embrace the courage that lives inside you, and start being true. It will lead you toward a path of happiness and peace. There is nothing more important in this world, than that. The alternative is a slow death. This I know for sure.

Effecting Change: Rebelling Against ‘Indian Woman Syndrome’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2017 by tivaniam

“Smile quietly” was in the contract I signed when I agreed to be born an Indian and specifically a woman. We are raised to smile quietly because of “what the people would say”, and we are raised to smile quietly “for the sake of the children”. Two principles that I ferociously rebel against, and which I refuse to subscribe to, something that has become such a pandemic that I refer to it as the “Indian Woman Syndrome” although it extends deeply to Indian men alike.  Even in progressive times, this seems to be the mind-set that Indian people STILL adopt.  And sadly, as a result, we stay as sick as our secrets – that which we refuse to acknowledge, face or speak about.

As an Indian, specifically a woman, I was supposed to stay in my marriage for the sake of the kids. Because, what would people say if I chose the alternative? So I stayed. For a while, until death became an option. And I realised that my choice to live my life in sacrifice, wasn’t serving anyone, least of all my children – MOST of all myself.

So I left. Twice. Two marriages, several relationships and jobs and people – everything that didn’t serve me or make me happy. I went against the grain of what I was SUPPOSED to be, and chose to be real. And yes, people judged. Harshly. I lost friends and family. The words I was called and the judgment thrown at me stung me terribly. Enough to make me want to shrink back.

But I didn’t. Because there was something inside me that screamed louder than any of the names I was called.

Saying “fuck-it” to the ideals society prescribed for me meant choosing to turn my insides out, and with that meant not only making different choices, but also doing it vocally. I began writing my truth, living my truth and BEING my truth. And as I shared my life through my words, my truth started setting others free to share THEIR truths. Because there are people, Indians specifically, who knew EXACTLY what I was feeling, who shared the same hopelessness and helplessness and despair but stay in bad marriages or relationships for the children and because of what people would say if they chose to be selfish and do what makes them happy.

This limiting belief system perpetuates the cycle that I see continuously with Indian people. The antiquated, indoctrinated beliefs predominantly stemming from religion that promotes patriarchy and teaches us to live in sacrifice. The need to put on facades in an effort to save face has caused so many Indian people to lose themselves and live existentially, miserable and hateful of the world. This in turn gets repeated with their children who emulate what they learn – the boys become misogynists, the girls, doormats – and without any concept of what authenticity, aliveness, freedom and love truly means. Ingrained prejudices are carried forward and we do not progress as a culture or the collective human species.

So why choose to live in that limiting way?

To try and be liked by everyone? What a waste of a life. Because no matter how hard you work or how self-righteous you think you are, you will never EVER make everyone like you. But, if you make yourself heard, if you live a life that’s true, you will find the RIGHT people to love and be loved by. You would encourage your children to be real and teach them, through example, about self-love and true freedom of expression. Can you imagine the possibility of what the world could hold for them or you if you expanded your belief system instead of following old ideologies that had no place back then, certainly not now, that only serve to make people conform?

Be a rebel. Live your truth out loud. And see the ripple effects of what that authenticity, peace and aliveness does for you, your children and then the world at large. When you choose YOU, you give others permission to do the same for themselves. I am a living testament of that, and so are my children who are happy, well-adjusted, emotionally stable, kind and loving kids NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that I left their dads. Or perhaps…because of it.

Raising Boys 

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2017 by tivaniam

My six year old son recently cut his own hair. When I asked him why he did that, he said “because it was in my way mummy”, which was a perfectly reasonable response to me. I accepted the explanation, laughed even, but his dad thought he needed to be disciplined. That resulted in some conflict – internally for me and then externally when I tried to reason with his dad.

It got me thinking and reminded me of the time I dated someone who thought I wasn’t making my son “manly” or “responsible” enough. My argument was, who gets to decide what “manly” is, and who the fuck should be responsible at the age of six? Needless to say, the relationship ended.

It made me look at the way people parent. And while everyone is welcome to parent their kids as they see fit (barring outright abuse), for me, I am choosing to raise an empathetic little boy who is not molded in my image but loved for his own special personality.

Our society is still programmed to stereotype boys. Boys don’t cry, and boys aren’t meant to be expressive with their feelings. Boys are meant to be taught the hardships of life and be super-responsible. What emanates from this mentality is that these boys end up becoming grown men whose suppressed emotions manifest through anger and aggression, often to the detriment of the people who choose to get involved with them romantically.

My son is unconventional and cannot fit into a neat little box. He spends a lot of time dreaming and his imagination creates exciting stories for him. He has zero coordination (much like his mother) and comes out last at sports. He is willful and affectionate and loving and demonstrative. He cries openly to me, and his cries are received with cuddles instead of criticism. He is complimentary and kind, and thoughtful and funny. His speech is weird, and he pronounces his “r’s” as “w’s”. He can only focus on one thing at a time, but that one thing has his complete and utter attention until he moves on to something else. He is incredibly talented with puzzles and building stuff and his attention to detail is admirable. He is observant and questioning and loves chocolate (much like his mother). 

In lots of ways, society defines him as being an anomaly because we are conditioned to raise boys to be hardened, disciplined, sport-playing, emotionless men as a measurement of success as a parent.  

Why don’t we embrace their quirks (like hair cutting), their differences (like confused speech) and their own personalities (like being bad at sport)? Why don’t we encourage emotion and demonstration even if that means them wanting to play with dolls or wear dresses?

Our boys are sadly modeled according to our prejudice, our antiquated thinking and our ideals or misspent dreams. What if we put OUR beliefs aside and opened the door for more?

What if we made it possible for them to feel ENOUGH, just as they are, instead of funneling them into a system into which they don’t belong?

I am choosing to raise an empathetic loving child who is compassionate and brings much needed kindness and joy and fun into this world. I care little for academia or sport or defined gender roles. I am instilling the freedom for him to choose to be whatever he wants to be, and I will love him regardless. Even when he chooses to cut his hair before his first ever school photo 😊



Rising Strong – My New Take On Getting Older

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2017 by tivaniam

My 36th birthday is looming and with it, the newfound excitement that I have for getting older. Yes, you read right. I am excited to be getting older.

For many years, I dreaded my birthday for different reasons, most important of which was the realisation that my lost youth could never be recaptured, as I inched towards “middle age”. That idea meant I had to finally step up into this whole ‘adulting’ concept, something I’ve waged a war against for many years. I do it grudgingly, and most often, badly. These days, I’ve learnt to embrace being a grown up and with that comes many privileges.

The last three years have been amazing for me from a growth perspective. Some of my toughest life lessons were the catalyst for such a deep awakening, so much so, that I still shock myself with the enormity of what I’ve managed to manifest in my life. This year, reflecting on my 36th year, I realised that I spent over two decades worrying about what people thought about me. And now, finally, I have zero fucks to give. Zero. I am so happy! I don’t care anymore about fitting in. I don’t need to please anyone except myself and I don’t need to conform to society’s idea of who or what I should be because no one knows, except me, the truth of who I am. Therefore why ask permission? Why ask for direction from people, for places they’ve never been! It’s no one’s job to know who I am becoming. That’s my job. So I don’t take on their fear because I choose to be brave about my life.

When I was 18, I entered a beauty pageant because I thought that would make me feel better about myself. Midway, I lost the lines to my speech and had a real life “drop the mic” moment and ran off stage. I don’t think I ever got over the judgment I thought I faced amidst the hordes of people who witnessed that, neither was there a bigger affirmation that I was not good enough. That narrative stayed with me and intensified over the years and needless to say, I created that reality of judgment and the perception of not good enough was revealed to me because that’s the literal way the universe works. And, for two decades that’s how I’ve lived.

Now, at almost 36, I am finally unbecoming. It’s only taken 36 years. I am finding my way back to innocence, purity, childlike joy and wonder and wide-eyed hope. It’s taken 36 years to return to myself instead of being what the world told me to be. With each year, I become more and more of who I’m meant to be. I embrace the fact that I’m a grown up and nobody is the boss of me anymore. I don’t need to audition for life because there are simply no more judges in front of which to freeze.

I am finally allowing life to live through me and I am finally listening to the call of my authentic self. That for me is the greatest gift of getting older.

Paying Homage to A Soul Sister: Keshni Pillay

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2017 by tivaniam

Ambush is the word I use to describe my relationship with food – because struggle suggests resistance – and let’s face it, food never puts up much of a fight. It just sits there looking delicious and lets me eat it all. For me, my struggle with carbs and sugar is to create an induced coma, which in turn prevents me from feeling much. Mission accomplished. I overeat because it works. Not in the long run of course. Which is where I find myself now – a place of enlightenment and ready to face my demons.

I’ve said it before, that truth is a boomerang. As women, our stories are different threads of one tapestry, generation after generation. For me personally, there is a deep and profound connectedness when I “feel” someone else’s words. My friend, Keshni Pillay, highlighted exactly how I feel every single time I ambush food. And how, through her own journey, there is hope for the rest of us. This is her story.


I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in October 2009 – an autoimmune disorder where my immune system attacks my thyroid and results in my thyroid not making enough hormones for my body’s needs.  Coupled with severe anaemia, I had no energy to work out and comfort ate my way through a depression caused by my relocation from KZN to JHB, with no family support.  Regular gym had zero impact until I was diagnosed and put on medication. Eltroxin is no miracle worker and while it may slow down weight gain caused by Hashimoto’s, I did not miraculously lose any weight as a result of being on it. I tried working out five times a week, training with a personal trainer and even completely cut out carbs from my diet… but it didn’t last very long. While I did lose a few kgs, I gained it all over again and was still at least 20kgs overweight. My self-confidence was at an all-time low and I was constantly moody, tired and upset with myself for being overweight. A heartbreak in 2010 left me even more depressed and comfort eating.

Fast forward to 2012 – I had met my soul mate the previous year and suddenly life didn’t seem so bleak. But, at age 26 I was bordering on a size 16. Fast food became my best friend. Pizza, Chuckles and Pringles washed down with Tropika became a regular treat – and that was all in one night! In March 2012, I was introduced to SureSlim by a friend and I embarked on the most difficult yet rewarding weight loss journey. By November 2012, I had lost 20kgs and a total of 53cms and found myself wearing colour again (I used to only wear black so I didn’t draw more attention to myself).

Although I had lost all that weight, which I have maintained, give or take 1kg, I realised that I was still rather unfit. In 2013, I tried my hand at pole fitness for the first time, which I fell in love with, but stopped after a year due to a host of issues such as work pressure and load-shedding traffic. I missed it every single day for a whole year but just didn’t make any effort to start again. In 2016 I joined the SA Polefit Academy and I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in! I haven’t lost any more weight but I am stronger and more toned after every single class. I have stopped obsessing about that scale and instead focus on how many burpees, squats and push ups I can do. I can even dance a 3 minute routine without passing out!

I’d be lying if I said losing weight was an easy journey. There were many days when I could think of nothing else but carrot cake and a latte for dinner. Yes, I succumbed to my cravings many times along the way, but I picked myself up again the next day and got back on track.

I would not swop the self-confidence and freedom I’ve gained for all the carrot cake and lattes in the world!  While maintenance isn’t easy, I vow never to be that miserable woman again. I owe it to myself and my loved ones to be the best I can be.

Some of my recent hang-ups have been focusing on the lumps, bumps and stretchmarks instead of celebrating the fact that I earned those stretchmarks when I lost 20kgs. I have obsessed over the size of my arms to the point where I would not leave the house in anything sleeveless. I have focused on the 1 or 2 more kgs I’d like to lose rather than appreciate how far I’ve come in my fitness journey. However, over the past year, I have made a concerted effort to celebrate my body for all the wonderful things that it can do instead of focussing on how much it weighs. Pole fitness has helped me to overcome those hang-ups. I am a work in progress and that’s perfectly fine, and, I have biceps now!

Last year I came across a quote that absolutely resonated with me, “other women’s bodies are not our battlegrounds.” As women, we constantly compare ourselves to and measure ourselves against other women and their beauty. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with admiring another woman’s beauty however, being kind to yourself means that you don’t question your own beauty in that process. Being kind to yourself also means accepting compliments as graciously as you dish them out. Why is it so hard to just say “thank you” rather than side step a compliment?

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by positive influences. My supportive family, pushing me to new heights… the fun, fearless females at my pole-fitness classes who celebrate every new pole victory and my muscle “gains” with me… but most of all my fiancé who tirelessly strives to make me see my body the way he sees me. All these people have positively influenced the way I see myself.

You can lose all the weight in the world but if you don’t love yourself, you’re going to be weighed down forever.


Relatable? Definitely. I know that I often vacillate between staying on the cold floor (eating my way through stuff) or getting up, and showing up for my life. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together and can’t be separated. It’s about embracing both and living well, hard and real by being healthy, kind and loving to ourselves first.

Thank you Kesh for sharing your story xoxo





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