Monday, September 26, 2016

Why am I uncomfortable with the way people are responding to Pink?



I watched the 'must watch film' Pink yesterday. I had gone with a lot of expectations of getting new perspective to what females go through in their day to day life in India. And while the movie did show what 'modern girls' or 'girls with liberal thoughts' face with their 'broad mentality' and 'forward attitude', it didn't give me any new perspective to the already existing situation.

The film is about 3 independent girls living away from their parents, working in Delhi. They go to a rock show, where they meet friends of a friend with whom they go for dinner to a resort after the show. They have a drink or two, eat and enjoy the time which is mis-understood by the new friends as a ‘hint’ to the girls agreeing to sleep with them. The guys try to get intimate with the girls, for which one of the girls hits one of the guys with a bottle on his head and then run off scared. This is followed by threats and a legal case between the two parties, where Amitabh Bachhan uses sarcasm as a tool to mock the Indian society and their bias towards females by saying things like 'Rule book for Indian females'. The film ends with a fair judgement.

Now where am I not comfortable? I have no complaints with the movie. It's a well-made film with no melodrama. Where my discomfort lies is in the way people are responding to the film. No, it's all positive. Everyone has only good things to say about it. Everyone is like 'It's a thought provoking film.' 'Something everyone should see and follow' 'We should have more films like this' etc. What surprised me is 'why'?  Why are people saying it's a thought provoking film? Nothing in the film is new. I along with almost all my female friends have been raising the same questions, arguing over same things for last so many years. First with our parents, boyfriends and now with our husbands and other males (and even females) in our lives. It's very surprising to see that this is thought provoking for most people. What is thought provoking? What is new? That girls are judged based on their clothes, or their drinking habits, or their time of returning home, or their decision of going for dinner with newly made friends? What is new in that? Hasn’t this been going on forever? I, being a girl having done & been judged on most of the above listed things, found nothing that was ‘soul stirring’ in the movie. All I could feel was relate to what Minal or Falak were going through. The frustration & helplessness to deal with the situation in their life where they couldn’t even figure out what they did wrong at first, followed by anger and fire to fight with the society’s perception of ‘inke jaisi ladkiyan’ (girls like them). I could relate with it because I go through it every single day of my life. How could I find it soul stirring when I face almost the same situation everyday?

What is disheartening is that people are looking at it as a ‘new perspective’. What it means is that these ‘thoughts which are now provoked’ have never even occurred to them earlier? I don’t know how to react to this type of response to the film. Maybe, it was in my head that girls are reaching the liberated stage faster than they actually are. A movie can do only so much. These thoughts are now provoked but will settle down in sometime. Will we be back to accepting the stereotype again once the storm pacifies? That’s a question, which has stirred my soul more than the movie itself.

The one thing that the movie bought out clearly is the message that ‘When a girl says no, she means no.’ Weather she is a stranger, your friend, a prostitute or your own wife. ‘No’ is not a word, it’s a complete statement. I loved the movie, but I would have been happier if people would have perceived it as a medium of addressing the elephant in the room rather than it being looked at as giving it a ‘new perspective’.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Maa...

Today is my mom's birthday. I wrote a poem for her on Facebook. Sharing here to keep it safe as a memory.. I love you Maa..



Mujhe yaad nahi mera wo rona aur aapka mujhe dularna,
Mujhe yaad nahi mera wo hasna aur aapka mujhe dekh muskurana…
Mujhe yaad nahi wo kayi raatein jab maine aapko sataya hoga,
Mujhe yaad nahi wo saare din jab maine aapko rulaya hoga..
Mujhe yaad nahi aapka wo haath jala kar mere liye roti sekna,
Mujhe yaad nahi aapka mera khana thanda hua dekhne ke liye muh jalna…
Mujhe yaad nahi aapka wo raat bhar mere saath imtehaan mein jagna,
Mujhe yaad nahi aapka wo apna pasandeeda TV serial mere liye tyagna…
Maa mujhe wo sab yaad nahi jo aapne mere liye kiya hoga,
Maa mujhe wo sab yaad nahi jo aapne mere liye saha hoga..
Par mujhe yaad hai, aapka wo mujhe daantna,
Mujhe yaad hai fir roke gale lagana..
Mujhe yaad hai office jane se pehle aapka daud ke mujhe “Roti wrap” pakdana
Mujhe yaad hai aapka mere liye doodh mein haldi milana…
Mujhe yaad hai aapka mere liye chawal chupana,
Mujhe yaad hai, aapka mere mobile ka chupke se recharge karwana…
Mujhe yaad hai aapka mere wo ‘rebel’ wale dinon mein chup beth jana,
Mujhe yaad hai fir mujhe baat baat par papa se bachana…
Mujhe yaad hai aapka mujhse rooth jana,
Mujhe yaad hai fir mera aapko haath se bana card dekar manana…
Mujhe yaad hai jab meri shaadi pakki hui to aap kitni khush hui thi,
Mujhe yaad hai dil hi dil aap thoda sa royi bhi thi…
Mujhe yaad hai meri shaadi pe aapki TRC se ghar ki daud..
Mujhe yaad hai aapke kamar ka dard aur peron ki modh…
Maa mujhe yaad hai aapka mujhe vida karke apne aansu chupana,
Kabhi nahi bhoolungi wo ghar ke neeche ki sadak par se aapka mujhe haath hilana…
Aapke saamne to main bhi nahi royi thi,
Par aapko nahi pata fir main kitne din nahi soyi thi…
Maa aapse hi main hun, mera astitva hai,
Maa aap hi meri laxmi, meri devi, meri guru hain…
Ab jab aapse door hun tab ye samajh aata hai,
Maa ka pyar, maa ka gussa sab kuch kitna bhata hai…
Jab Maa nazdeek hoti hai, tab nahi dikhta,
Maa ka hi bas pyar hai jo duniya mein aur kahin nahi milta..
Aaj aapke janamdin par main aapko bahut sneh bhej rahi hun,
Cake to nahi bheja par dher sara pyar bhej rahi hun…
Aaj birthday gift mein bas ye kavita hi likh payi,
Jab milungi tab poochiyega, ‘Bas poem? Mere liye to Bangalore se silk ki sari nahi layi?”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The World is Beautiful

Last year, when I wrote a mail to my sister, who is a regular traveler, congratulating her on her latest travel. She replied and shared a beautiful little story with me that she experienced in her trip to Shillong and I think everyone should read it.


This got me thinking. People often ask me 'Why do you trust people so easily? The world is full of bad people. They will harm you. Don't be so stupid.'
We grow with negative thoughts in our head. If someone is asking for a lift, there must be a knife hidden in his pocket. If someone is lying on the roadside, there must be his partner hidden somewhere with a gun. If someone asks for money on a signal, he must be a drunkard who's pretending to be a beggar.
Have you ever stopped to give a lift to someone, help someone who has met with an accident or given a 100 bill to a beggar on street? I have done all three & I don't regret it.
The man asking for lift turned out to be a respected policemen who gave me his card & asked me to call him whenever I needed help in his area. The boy I stopped to help from my way back to work, was actually an oversized kid, whose parents blessed me from their heart for saving life of their child. And the beggar who was asking for money was an old man who had much more value of those 100 bucks, than I did, even if he went ahead and bought some alcohol from it. It made him happy!
The world doesn't need cynicism, it needs more faith. The negativity around is killing the humanity inside all of us. The world needs to trust more... love more... because love inspires love. It is the biggest power that transforms people and eventually the world.
The world is not so bad after all. It is what we make of it. Every drop counts. Thank you Shraddha - my sister, for making me realize that my beliefs are not stupid and that the future is full of hope.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Magical Smile


Yesterday I went to meet my Mausi who was visiting the city for a day for some official work. In the meanwhile she also wanted to sponsor a girl child in Bangalore. Sponsoring a girl child means paying for all her expenses including her schooling, clothes, food and living on an annual basis. The amount per kid is decided by the centre to which the child belongs. Sponsoring also means that you will now 'own' the child, not legally but emotionally and morally. You can come and meet her when you want, call her, write e-mail to her and give her gifts whenever you want.

My Mausi, who is currently residing abroad, belongs to Delhi and visits the city more often than Bangalore. So the first question that popped into my head was, "Why not sponsor a girl child from Delhi? You could meet her more often. Why Bangalore?" Her reply was not very different from what I was expecting. "Trust" she replied.Here it is important to mention that I am a Delhi girl who has shifted to Bangalore only 5 months back. I am still enjoying my post marriage sabbatical and so I have not had enough time to judge people in Bangalore. Therefore my notions come from what I have heard from others. I have been told that Bangaloreans are simple people with good moral & social values. They are trustworthy and honest. I repeat, these are not my words because, as an individual, I will need more time to experience and judge them. But that's the common belief and going by the same I was expecting the same reply that I got from Mausi. She continued, "I went to a centre for poor kids in Delhi as well and found a girl child there who was abandoned by her parents because they could not afford raising her. I sponsored the little girl. But soon after her parents got to know that someone has sponsored their kid, they began to ask for money on her name from me. They would come up with some new reason almost every day and ask for more money. The sponsorship money started profiting them instead of the little girl who remained in they centre as she did before me. Therefore I decided to sponsor a girl child from Bangalore as it is a place where you can trust people. Well at least that's what I have heard!" I smiled back. Even she had "heard" and not experienced. And now she was taking a huge step based on the assumption that she had formed from what others have said. We don't even know who those 'others' exactly are but they seem to have an opinion for everything in the world. Isn't it strange how notions and assumptions become reality over a period of time?

Anyway, we went to a centre for orphan & poor children managed by a group of sisters. She had got a reference of this place from someone she trusted. The centre building was pale yellow in color and had lots of windows, all open, like a hostel has. There was a Maruti Omni parked right in front of the gate due to which very less space remained to walk inside the building. As soon as we reached the gate, one of mausi's friend, who knew the warden of the centre greeted us. His name was Anil and was a typical South Indian man with dark skin tone. He must be around 35 and had a big smile on his face, that highlighted his white shining teeth. I could see him smiling almost every time I looked at him throughout our meeting. He was a professional documentary film maker and photographer and used his skills for social work.

Now this was my first time experience visiting an orphanage and I had a strange feeling all throughout I was there. The most natural feeling that would come on visiting an orphanage is 'pity' for the underprivileged kids. I was expecting to meet kids in need of money, care & love. Kids that will have a bag full of complaints with god as to why they didn't get the privilege like other and why were they abandoned by their parents after they were born. So I entered the centre full of pity for these kids on my mind. 

Mausi's friend rang the door bell and a small lady opened the door. She was Sister Louisa, the warden. She also welcomed us with a big smile on her face. "Oh please come in! I have been expecting you." We all introduced ourselves on the door itself and then walked inside. It was not a very well lit room. One tube light lit over sister's table. Another tube light lit over a group of girls who were sitting on a rectangular table where one girl was narrating something in English and others were writing it down. They all looked full of energy and excited about what they were studying. Sister Louisa started telling us about the centre, "There are about 60 girls in our centre, from about 9 years old to about 20 years old. We are a group of only sisters managing them and we don't have any helpers. We do the cooking, cleaning, washing, and everything ourselves with the help of some elder girls in the centre. The elder ones are studying in the mess and younger ones are downstairs. Come I'll show you the kids." she said with a smile on her face.

We went to the mess where elder girls were studying. The mess was also not very well lit. It had few dim tubes hanging from the ceiling which were not giving enough light to study without straining ones eyes. As we entered, all girls looked at us.They were wearing simple salwar suits, which showed dullness after multiple washing. "Say hi!" sister said with a smile and everybody waved at us with a smile on their faces not a mechanical smile that comes from the fear of the warden but a genuine smile greeting the visitors from their heart. This was contradicting to what I was expecting to see. 'How come these girls are not upset with their lives? How do they look so normal?' I was wondering when Sister said, "They have their exams tomorrow. Let's go downstairs to meet the younger ones."

We went downstairs and landed in a noisy room full of little girls. I was expecting kids a little dull, low on energy because they belonged to a help care centre. But what I saw was little girls talking, playing and laughing with each other as if they were not bothered about the world at all. They were not looking for our sympathy. They seem happy with their lives. The feeling of 'pity which I had on my mind disappeared completely and my heart was full of love for the kids jumping around in the room. I suddenly felt relieved. I was not sad for these girls and that feeling was nice. Who likes getting upset right?

Pitying the kids and feeling sad would be the highlight of my day, was what I had thought but that didn't happen. What instead grasped my attention was the constant smile on Sister Louisa and Anil's face. I noticed that all the members of the orphanage had a similar smile. A smile that reflects contentment and purity coming directly from heart. It reflected a feeling of peaceful souls & a belief that 'Life is not so hard.' Even while sister narrated us the difficulties they face and how lack of funds sometimes makes it hard to sustain the centre she didn't have any sadness in her face. She also shared some of her earlier experiences dealing with leprosy patients and how due to lack of medical equipments they had to clean the wounds with their hands so many times. "We used to start from our hostel at 8 in the morning and leave from their at 3 in the afternoon, working non-stop for 6 hours without not even a water break. Then we used to come back, take a shower, cook food for ourselves and eat." and instead of finishing a sentence with "It was a difficult time." I was amazed to hear, "It was a wonderful time! We all had become a family. The patients and all of us. It was the best time of my life." Even with so many reasons to complaint from life she was so happy and positive! She was so much at peace. It struck me how I had earlier complained about standing on the road for ten minutes, waiting for any auto to stop. 10 minutes? That's it! And look at these people, trying to stay positive and happy all the time with lives that are so much more difficult than mine and so many others in thy city. I suddenly felt very small!

Being a person who looks for a reason behind everything, I started wondering, 'Having faced so many difficult situations all her life, how is Sister Louisa still so satisfied with whatever she has?' With a quest to find an answer to this question, I started to think of possible reasons. 'Could it be because of her strong belief in god? But there are many other who strongly believe in God & are yet not happy with their lives. Instead they blame god for everything that goes wrong in their lives. Their belief is defined by the fact that 'God exists because he ruined this for me,' Strange.' With a myriad of thoughts in my head, my eyes gazed through the room we were sitting in. It was a long room with a dim lights. One side of the room was dark & some natural light was coming in from the open windows. The other side was lighted & kids were sitting underneath. The light was still dim and gave a gloomy feeling. We were sitting at the center on plastic chairs taken out from the chair bundles kept on a side. One of the girls had taken those out for us when we entered the room. Kids were sitting at a distance on the floor laughing, talking to each other least bothered about us also sitting in the same room. No girl was quite or sad. Their cheerful noise echoed in the room making me remember my school days. It was the noise that brings a smile on your face instead of a headache. That is when I realized that this noise of the kids was the reason behind Sister's content smile.

Altruism: Feeling of selfless concern for welfare of others. We all know, such thing exists in the world but how much do we actually think about it? There are so many things in the world that we all know but it only strikes to you one day that how that thing can affect your life. This was one of those moments for me. I realized how helping people in need brings inner peace and a magical smile on ones face. It's not something I didn't know earlier but it was somewhere below the hassles of my daily life. Today after meeting sister Louis and Anil, I have realized it existed and now I will take action to achieve the same.

We all think, 'I would have done the same if I was in her place' but merely our thought doesn't change anything. Words and thoughts can not help anyone unless they are converted into actions. What finally counts is how much we really do. It's easy saying 'The money I donate will go into pockets of wrong people & not to kids. That's why I don't believe in such activities.'But by saying that we're just being cynical to satisfy our own guilt.

If only seeing the magical smile on an altruist face changed a part in me, I wonder how much peace will, contributing to a cause, bring in my heart. My Mausi sponsored a girl child. She is a 7 year old little girl who I thought looked like me when I was her age. I can not afford to sponsor a girl child right now but I have promised myself to do that once I start earning again. I went there to accompany my Mausi & came out with a promise to help them myself because I saw how genuine it was and how it will not on ly help the people in need but also bring that magical smile on my face. I'll definitely go back there.

The feeling of content and satisfaction that is achieved by helping someone in need, is something that no other pleasure in the world can give. Maybe that's the reason why many millionaires are looking to fulfil an emptiness inside them while a beggar who feeds a stray dog has that magical smile.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm a Delhi girl & I want my first child to be a girl


I was there on Saturday. From 10 am to 6:30 pm. Yes I got wet with the water cannons. Yes I had tears in my eyes and a burning throat because of the tear gas. Yes I was beaten twice with the ‘laathi’ by a male constable. Yes my left ear went deaf for three hours after a bomb exploded right beside it. Not just me, 50,000 other Delhites wet through the same or even worse.

What was our crime? Our crime was sitting peacefully, singing ‘Hum honge kaamyab ek din’ and asking for justice for a 23 year old girl, battling for her life after being raped & almost murdered inhumanly. Our crime was to ask for change in laws for all rape accused, to make it a non-bailable offense.  

 

 

We were quietly protesting, no violence but the govt considered it apt to dismiss us. Forcefully. Violently. There was no political motive behind the protest. Only students, young working groups & parents formed the mob. Everyone was angry but peaceful. Yet we were beaten. Some admitted to the hospital. Because they were bleeding. Hit by laathi. Why? Because they wanted justice for a girl they don’t even know the name of.



I'm perturbed. To the core. But at least I'm proud of being a Delhite & being a part of what can be called a revolution as far as women safety is concerned. I'm proud that so many people came forward, without any fear, & stood for what they felt was right. The strength of the girls was surprisingly very high & they were not afraid of laathi charge. I applaud their courage in the protests. Yes, there was a minor percentage of the violent crowd who were there only to damaged public property. Excluding those morons, it was wonderful to see that people have the courage to speak up for their rights. If this is the future of our country, then there is hope.


 


All the pessimists out there saying "In protest se kuch change nahi hoga." When has there, ever, been a change without the presence of hope? At least do your bit, join the protests, if not, spread the word online. Boond boond se hi sagar banta hai. How would any change come by if you give up even before trying because nothing has happened so far? And if you still can't do anything, then you have no right to crib & blame it on the system. Remember, you are a part of the same system, if you are sitting idle at home, cribbing.

Having been there, then seeing on TV and reading about the protests all this while, a torment inside me has shaped up, that's beyond my control. I am trying to calm myself but it doesn’t help. I’m sure it is for good. I have gained the courage to slap a man in public if he tries to touch me intentionally. For the first time, I stared hard at the group of the guards at my society gate, leching at me, every time I enter my society gate. I used to ignore them. But no more. I stared at them and their cheesy smile faded away. It works girls, protesting at your own level works. The first thing I'm going to teach my daughter is to raise her voice & not 'ignore'. If you're ignoring a crime, you’re equally responsible for the consequences. It was her that day, it could be you tomorrow. This needs to stop here. Now. You don’t have to wait for the system to bring on the system, it YOU who can control what happens with you. Speak up. Raise your voice. Protest.

I am proud to say that I am a Delhi girl and I want my first child to be a girl.