Thursday, February 25

Child Abuse: A Disturbing Truth

When I was young the ‘SEX’ word was a taboo and anything pertaining it essentially needed to be spoken in whispers and hushed tones. That was the time when sex education was not a compulsory part of our curriculum and cases of sex abuse against children were not very frequently seen or heard of. The world has changed a lot after that, and unfortunately, for the worse.

Apart from coping with the increasing competition, the pressure of better performance and the burden of their parents’ expectations, one more thing that kids have to face nowadays is the sexually explicit overtures of their family members, friends, neighbours and teachers. There’s not a single day when the newspaper does not carry some story about such a crime being committed against some minor. There are two such accounts that I’d like to share.

1.K belonged to a typical upper middle-class family. Her family consisted of her parents, a kid sister, grandparents and one uncle. Everything was going fine until a far-off relative of hers, another uncle, who found a job in their city came to live with them. From the day he entered their home he was overtly nice to her, giving her presents and not losing a single chance to touch or feel her when no one was around. She was young then and too na├»ve to interpret his advances. He continued his lewd acts and she never objected as she had started liking him. However, as she grew older and came to understand that theirs was an incest relationship, she decided she should confide in her family about it and asked him to face the music with her. As expected, he begged himself out. He wanted her to continue giving him all the pleasures but he didn’t want the world to know about it! With help from close friends and maintaining deliberate distance from him, she finally came out of the ridiculous situation. Now she’s happily married to a wonderful man, and the pervert still keeps trying unsuccessfully to get lucky with her.

2.I remember I was some 10-12 years old when I’d first seen on television, the story of a 4-year old girl who was abused by her father, repeatedly. The girl’s mother had reported the matter to the police and got him arrested. She said that she’d found her daughter hiding under the bed afraid that her father had come home, while it was her. She took her close, hugged her tight and asked her what had happened. To her horror and sheer disbelief, the kid enacted what all her father had been doing with her on the pretence of giving her a bath or putting her to sleep. It was all very disturbing. The lady couldn't stop her tears while explaining what all her little baby had gone through. She'd been there all the time, but she'd noticed nothing, sensed nothing. She'd assumed that they were bonding, but it turned out to be a nightmarish experience, for both the ladies.
I wonder how long it must’ve taken for them to come back to a normal life and put such a dark past behind them.

The whole day after that I couldn’t think straight. The little girl’s face refused to leave my mind. My stomach turned at even the thought of it. When the person who’s support to look after you, protect you, pamper you and love you turns out to be a sex-starved monster, what can one do?

The government is taking steps to create awareness in school-going kids by giving them sex education and knowledge about how to identify any untoward behaviour. As parents it is our job also to make ourselves approachable to our kids and making them confide in us. It is only when they feel we’ll understand and empathize with them that such crimes will be easily detected and the culprits will be caught hold of and punished.

It’s very heartening to see everyone speak up openly and uninhibitedly about the many rampant issues faced by women. These concerns have been around for some time and it’s about time we not only create awareness regarding them but also do whatever we can in our capacity to put a check on them.

Wednesday, February 24

Choosing your own relationships

I'm Nu from Randomness had tagged me for the entry to this blog post at Indusladies on occasion of Women's Day. I've chosen to write on Relationships.

I’d like to define relationships as those complex alliances wherein all the associated parties are related, with or without their consent and will. They’re supposed to bring about a positive change in our lives and help us grow and prosper. But what happens when one such relationship becomes the saddest truth of your life, a weight that you don’t want to carry?
Let me tell you a small story about a girl, say S. S belonged to a conservative joint family. Her family consisted of her Granny, many uncles and aunts and a whole lot of cousins. She however was the only child of her parents. Affluence was not something that her family had been able to enjoy. Her Grandpa had passed away when her father was young, and Granny had brought up all her kids all by herself. Her father was the youngest of all brothers.
She was the apple of her parents’ eye. While living in a joint family it was not possible for them to cater to all her wishes, but they did all they could for her. She was a vivacious, chirpy and pampered little girl with many dreams. When she stepped into teenage, as inadvertently happens with most of us, she fell in love. The boy had all she could ask for; good looks, good family and a good job. But there was a catch. The guy was from another caste and hence an alliance was complicated. She endlessly tried to convince her family, but it all went into vain. Even her parents refused to take her side. Sadly, she couldn’t bring herself to rebel against her own family. The end result: she was married to another guy much against her wish and packed away to a faraway city.
Let’s see how life changed for her post-marriage. This girl who used to lighten up the mood in any room with her mere presence had become unnaturally quiet and gloomy after marriage. Her resentment for her family was understandable, but unfortunately her husband too never tried to make her feel loved and cared for. She tried to accept her husband, his family, his life, but it was easier said than done. There was a void in her life that refused to get filled up. While she was battling with all these problems, she had no idea that there was a storm just waiting to hit her.
To cut a long story short, she met someone. Let’s call this someone R. R came into her life like a ray of light. He became the friend she needed, the companion she desired. He listened to her talk about her life, her likes and dislikes, her music, her poetry, everything that no one had ever tried to know. He made her laugh again, made her want to live again, made her love again. Yes! She fell in love with him. Without her knowledge, but slowly and very surely he became a part of her life. I know this is not ideally what a woman is expected to do, but she did. Wasn’t it obvious?
You’d ask me what happened next, right? What followed was not something anyone had anticipated. She came out in the open about her relationship with him since she didn’t want to cheat her husband behind his back. The relationship with R was sacred to her and she wanted it to command all the respect it deserved.
What I wanted to portray with this story was that everyone in this world should be given the right and freedom to make their own choices. We cannot choose our family, our relatives, but we can choose our friends and our life partners. These decisions should be taken with the approval of all people involved or we’d witness another story like that of S. In this case S had the courage to stand up for her love and her desired life, but what about those not-so-courageous ones who feel trapped but still are a part of such a bad marriage?

I agree my choice of topic is different from the usual ones, but I strongly feel that we need to come out of the closet and accept things for what they are. Living in ignorance and fear of truth can only result in us living unhappily.
I tag  Reflections,Titaxy and D.

Sunday, February 21

The Good and Bad World

My Name Is Khan had put forward a thought about the world consisting of only two types of people: good and bad. Conceptually, and broadly speaking, it might be true, but we’ll all unanimously agree that there are elements of good and bad in all of us. When we are judging a person we do not know anything about, it takes only but one good or bad episode for us to be or not to be impressed by him.

I’m going to write about something on the same lines. It’s not something that’s never happened with anyone, but I’m going to talk about it in the relevance of the essentially good and bad people we come across in our everyday lives, when an assumingly ‘sober’ person displays his dark side and a visibly ‘mawali’ person turns out as the good one.

While travelling long distances in Mumbai me and A prefer to take the ‘conventional’ mode of transport, the local train. The travelling time is reduced to half since traffic is not a problem and baby A too does not seem to mind the ride. In fact he enjoys all the activity around, he even smiles at the hawkers and eunuchs sometimes, much to my annoyance. Anyway, coming back to our topic..

Since we were travelling together and it was a Saturday, A suggested that I enter into the general compartment with him, and I obliged. As luck would have it, the train only got more and more crowded with every passing station. A squeezed his way through the crowd, but petrified with the thought of me brushing against those men stinking of God-knows-what-all; I cornered myself near the door.

An elderly man was standing next to me and was supposedly carrying something in his hands. Gingerly he moved step by step near me and his hand touched me suggestively. I ignored it a couple of times assuming it to be a genuine mistake. However, not the one to give up on it, he was persistent. I decided to take him to task and reprimanded him while all the other stunned men stared at us incredulously. He got the message alright! All this while A didn’t have the slightest idea of what happened.

While coming back home the same situation stared at me in the face and A promised that this time round he wouldn’t leave my side even for a second. What followed, ironically, was something I hadn’t expected. A guy who looked like a typical ‘tapori’ saw me struggling for some space to stand, and very courteously indeed, left his place and offered it to me. The smile on my face that time was honest and genuinely thankful.

Eve-teasing is a crime that probably every girl has to bear with, but few have the courage to stand up to it or raise their voice against it. We choose to keep quiet in fear of embarrassment in front of others or scared of what else might follow. This in turn only encourages these perverts to take us for granted and continue their sleazy acts. I’ve always chosen not to take it lying down and would persuade every girl to think and act similarly.

These two episodes forced me to think about how deceptive appearances can be. We classify a person as good or bad based on what we’ve seen or heard about him, but it does not comprise his whole personality. Therefore, I beg to differ from Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan on this idea. Only good and only bad people can exist only in a perfect world, and ours is what imperfection stands for.

Thursday, February 18

An honest confession...

Under this tag I'm going to put up the lyrics of my favourite songs. This is one such gem. The song is sung by the queen of melody Lata Mangeshkar herself and the movie is Khamoshi ( old one) . Hope you like it as much as I do :)

 Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo
Haath se chhuke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do
Sirf ehsaas hai ye rooh se mehsoos karo
Pyaar ko pyaar hi rehne do koi naam na do

Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo
Haath se chhuke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do
Humne dekhi hai..

Pyaar koi bol nahin, pyaar awaaz nahin
Ek khamoshi hai sunati hai kaha karti hai
Na ye bujhti hai na rukti hai na thehri hai kahin
Noor ki boond hai sadiyon se baha karti hai

Sirf ehsaas hai ye rooh se mehsoos karo
Pyaar ko pyaar hi rehne do koi naam na do..

Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo
Haath se chhuke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do
Humne dekhi hai..

Muskurahat si khili rehti hai aankhon mein kahin
Aur palakon pe ujaale se jhuke rehte hain
Honth kuch kehte nahin, kaanpte honthon pe magar
Kitne khamosh se afsaane ruke rehte hain

Sirf ehsaas hai ye rooh se mehsuus karo
Pyaar ko pyaar hi rehne do koi naam na do

Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo
Haath se chhuke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do
Humne dekhi hai..

Wednesday, February 17

Ye Atithi Kab Jayenge?

I’ve found myself in a real fix right now and I hope that by the time you finish reading this you can suggest some resolution for my predicament.

We’ve all heard about ‘nesting’, and about how would-be mothers of all species strive to create a cosy and comfy environment for their little ones and make sure they’re very well looked after. It sounds very sweet and emotional, but this same thing has become a hindrance for me.

One thing that I got as a house-warming present (unwarned as it was) for our new home was a bunch of pigeons who consider our balcony their permanent residence. We have three balconies and all of them have at least two or more of these creatures hanging around them at all times.

I tried not to obsess or panic and just let them be, but accepting the muck these pigeons spread is a bit too much, especially with a kid in the house. Added to that the constant clamor and that fluttering of feathers is impossible to bear. I’m kind of petrified that some day they might break some window glass with their constant banging against them. Honestly it is sometimes frightening, for my son as well as for me.

As if all this wasn’t enough these pigeons have started laying legs eggs (oops!!) in our balcony and the clutter has increased even more. They’re also destroying my plants, crapping on them and devastating my rose buds. I try to scare them away but they come back in no time since their young ones are still in there.

As a kid I remember being impressed with and marvel at how meticulously and strenously these birds build their nests on tree branches. The guilt of us humans cutting down trees to make way for creating homes for us and robbing all these birds of their own homes took over me and I took it all with a bold demeanor till now. I’m a mother myself and I can understand this motherly concern, even if it is regarding them.

Something however needs to be done about this before these visitors become our permanent non-paying guests and we become unofficial caretakers of their current as well as future generations.

I’m clueless. Can you help me arrive at a proper conclusion?

Thursday, February 11

Lets Celebrate Love

I'd decided that I'll wait until Valentine's Day to post this, but as A says, why should the day or the occasion be any excuse or condition to express anything for each other? With all due respect to St.Valentine, the whole concept is a bit exaggerated. For love, lovers and expressions, there's no 'mahurat' required. So any hopefuls who're planning to woo their sweethearts with gifts, cards or flowers this V-day, why wait when you can do it rightaway? We girls love getting pampered anyday! :)
Here's something very close to my heart....
It is so good to see we both know,
That we love each other more than we show.
Our love is boundless needless to say,
There's just no place for hate and refrain.

Your eyes and my eyes speak countless words,
Your looks more fatal than a thousand swords.
Your hands on my face and your hands in my hair,
Leave me with a feeling of just nothing to care.

This whole world seems to be confined up to you,
You and I only is like a dream come true.
Whenever the world is giving a rough hand,
Your caressing arms are like an oasis in sand.

I'm taking up this chance today to tell my husband that I love him a lot. No amount of words can explain what I feel for him. Even when I've been irrational and foolishly demanding he's been there for me, loved me and cared for me. I want him to know that no matter what future may hold for us I'll always be there with him and continue loving him like I have..always. I say this to him over and over, and I'm saying this again, 'I Love You'! :)

Lets celebrate love for all that it means to us and let our special someone know that its because of them that the seconds in our life have become memorable moments that are going to be cherished forever.

Tuesday, February 9

Finally I join in..

Everybody’s reading, writing and talking about books these days, so I figured I need to join too. Although I have to ruefully agree that my toddler doesn’t allow me the luxury of enjoying a good read, I’m taking time out to read some not-so-serious books that do not require continuity or attention. One such book that I read sometime back was ‘ The Inscrutable Americans’.

The story is about a typical Indian village boy Gopal who arrives in the US for further studies. The son of  a hair-oil manufacturer, although he’s very good at academics and a near-genius in his subject he’s a goofy character who’s as inscrutable to the westerners as they are to him.
The book talks about the various mishaps and misadventures that take place with him. Starting from eating beef to finding a girl who he can lose his virginity to, he does things he’d never dream of doing in his own village. His interaction with other students in his campus and the oddities he has to face while coming to terms with the never-seen-before surroundings are humorously described.
The ‘culture shock’ that the sweet and innocent Gopal experiences and the way he matures towards the end for good are nicely depicted. The story seems very real, and succeeds in making us realize the need to exercise tolerance for and understanding of different cultures.
Do not expect a masterpiece and you’ll surely like it.

Saturday, February 6

Whose Accent is it anyway?

I was loitering around a shop yesterday looking for something I could pick up, nothing specific in mind. Just then two girls, may be around 20, came and stood behind me. Both of them kept talking non-stop, without the slightest care that there was someone standing within audible range. I tried not to listen, but failed. All other things aside, what did strike as amusing to me was the accent they were talking in.  
It was the unmistakable ‘made-up’ accent we find common amongst most teenagers and call-centre people these days. Strained, deliberate and trying-too-hard-to-sound-right type. The use of correct words and grammar didn’t really seem to bother them a lot, but their ‘accent’ never slipped. Someone sure did a clean job! Kudos!
With the increasing influence of the west on our youth and our culture(and call centres mushrooming in every nook and corner of metros) a new breed of people is coming up slowly and steadily, the ones that are confused and pathetically caught between the two. These are the ones who would go to any lengths to be a part of the ‘hep-n-happening’ crowd. So to begin with, this ‘fake’ accent is a reliable style-mantra. It’s hilarious seeing these people rattle something that’s not easy for them to understand.
This whole ‘accented’ speaking is not new to us Indians though. If we travel the length and breadth of India we’ll find a new culture and a new language every few hours. Every state has a different language, a different tone, a different dialect that identifies every person belonging to that region.  That’s why we’d never confuse a Bengali with a South-Indian or a Gujrati with a North-Indian. It is what we can call the ‘gift of the land’.
Let’s ask ourselves this: is it necessary to have an accent? Well, I don’t think so. I feel an accent is not learnt, it is acquired. The language that we’ve been speaking since childhood sure has a strong imprint on us, and it does come out even when we’re talking in some other language.
As far as British and American accents are concerned, the way English is used and taught in these countries is very different from us. The rolling of tongue, the pronunciation, the stressing on words is different. Hence to acquire it is quite an exercise for us.
Personally, I’m proud of the fact that I don’t have an accent. If I want, I can learn any language and use it like I’m born with it. Nothing can give me away. This I feel is better than the ‘fake’ accents people pick up and revel on. Are they so fixated not to understand that people can see through them?
It is not just about the way of speaking; our roots, our education, our individuality make us the person we are.  All these put together certainly can give us the confidence and poise that nothing else can. Hence accent or no accent, what really matters is our belief in us. We shouldn’t feel the need to portray ourselves as someone we’re not or even try to hide what we are.
Finally, whether accents are good/essential/stylish or not is a debatable issue, and I’d leave it to others to decide. To each his own!

Friday, February 5

Take these signs seriously! ;)








Wednesday, February 3

And the cycle begins..

My son is almost a year and a half old, and as is the norm these days I got him enrolled in a playgroup. The whole process was unbelievably complicated and lengthy. First, to zero-in on the best ones and secondly to shortlist those that are convenient. And then, as always there are people who give unwarranted advice and increase your bewilderment further.

I went with full zest to find out all about them; the atmosphere, the attitude of teachers, the playing area, the activities, everything! Needless to say, only the one I found fit for my kiddo was chosen. But now that the formalities are done with, I’m having my own doubts about sending my son there or not itself! :(

He’s learnt to speak all but a few words, cannot eat on his own and is a pampered little kid. I mean, he’s so small. Isn’t it unfair to him to make him leave the loving cushion of his family and go out in the world on his own? What’ll he do if he needs me? How’ll he tell anyone what he wants? God, I’m going crazy!!

When I told A what I felt, the only reply I got was that he had to do all the things that kids of his age do or he’ll feel left out. May be he’s right. However I find my motherly instincts calling out suddenly (and more frequently these days) and I feel this urge to just hug my son tightly and not let go.

I don’t know if I’m overreacting or whether all moms go through this stage. Next time I talk to my mom I’ll make it a point to ask her about what she felt when she dropped me to school the first time. I’m sure she must’ve waited outside my class nervous and worried as to how I must be doing, since I know I’m going to do the same. That’s how all moms are!! :)

Tuesday, February 2

Phir Mile Sur...Really?

A lot has already been said about how good or how bad the old version of ‘Mile sur’ is. My post comes a bit late, but nevertheless..

Every one of us was a bit apprehensive, but curious none the less to see how this classic ode to patriotism would come of age. Now that it’s out for all of us to see, it seems like it was too much of noise over nothing.
I remember the mass effect the older version had created. People left whatever work they had at hand whenever the song was shown and flocked their television sets to see it over and over again. It was sort of a tribute to and a celebration of and for our country and our people.
As a child whenever I saw it, I was left with a feeling of oneness with our fellow countrymen and a lump in my throat, feeling very proud for the great personalities our country had produced in various fields. Although there were languages in there that I didn’t know, I’d memorized those lines so I could sing along whenever the song was shown!
The new version however doesn’t seem even close to it. Everyone who’s seen it must’ve his own judgement about it, but as far as I’m concerned the negative points are far more than the positive ones. I’ll take them one at a time:
1.    To be fair, it does have a fresh and youthful look. Lots of new locations have been explored.
2.    I liked the great maestros Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan featuring with their respective sons. Good blend of the old and the new.
3.    Some social causes have also been inculcated. Like; education of the girl child and physically challenged kids, caring for senior citizens etc.
4.    Wonder what Shahid Kapur, Shilpa Shetty, Ranbir Kapoor or even Deepika Padukone did to justify their presence.
5.    Abhishek Bachchan continues to live in the reflected glory of his wife and father, or else he wouldn’t show up here.
6.    Sachin Tendulkar? Anil Kumble? Rahul Dravid? Vishwanathan Anand?
7.    The magic of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s and Lata Mangeshkar’s voice is seriously missing.
8.    The song has many highs and lows throughout, I find that rather disturbing.
To summarize, the new version is just a song, not the message that the earlier one was. At a time when the common man is reeling under the pressure of growing inflation and food prices, it could’ve had a strong impact, had it not been just a high-budget publicity campaign for film stars and celebrities. There was an inspiration and honesty in the older version that lacks in this one.
Mere singing the same lines doesn’t help in sending the message across. It is not always what is being said, but also, who’s saying it that lends credence to a thought.
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