Call a spade, a spade!


Why do bad things happen to good people?

Are some people born evil?

How is it possible for good people to get attracted towards darkness?

Or, does guilt play the big role in building the bridge into the Devil’s realm?

The mighty fall, they say….. and, how!

I will never get answers to these annoying questions. But, that doesn’t stop me from digging deep into the very root cause of these questions. Not because, I seek answers. I know, there is no answer that I will understand the right way, now. But because, I want to know my own thoughts better.

Sometimes, when I question way too much, I am calmed down by elders in the family – “You cannot come to a conclusion without hearing two sides of a story. Even though questioning the wrongs is important, the ground for questioning it becomes baseless when you are not in possession of all facts”. Agreed. But, that is not my point. I am not seeking a conclusion. What I seek, is just an effective action at a particular moment that demands courage but is not effectively supported. Sometimes, I sigh. Sometimes, I get used to the impasse. Sometimes, I rebel. Sometimes, I transform into a vigilante in my head and, devise ways of voicing my thoughts on jargons like justice.

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Justice – what an overrated word. Isn’t it? Did Nirbhaya get justice? She almost got and, then it was snatched away from her posthumously when, the juvenile escaped the conviction and, is now leading a quiet set life down south somewhere, probably with little remorse.

And yet, we feel a gleam of hope because people stood by her, if not in her bad time, but by her in her death. Why? Because that Nirbhaya could have been anyone that day if not her. And then, there were some less unfortunate ones like Ruchika Girhotra and Sonali Bose. However that is not why I began to write this post. We discuss so many issues with our big mouths. We preach on the confident upbringing of girls and, a kind one of boys. We also tend to advise each other on the do’s and don’ts of religious beliefs and rituals. And, in all this madness, we have suddenly lost the voice to speak when, some relations go astray in the confines of our own home!

And, it is at such delicate moments, the voice never comes out. It just never does!

I heard about an incident from a loved one and, it shook me. To the core. Because, when something as sad as this can happen to a beautiful balanced and a matured couple, then I guess, the world is heading towards a place where it should not go to.


The past few months have been uphill in terms of emotions and life. It all began with the demise of my dear maternal uncle. And then, the untimely demise of hubby’s course mate hurt all the more. A few weeks back, my granny passed away. However, her demise did not wound me as she had been severely ailing for a year. Her passing over was a spiritual one and, it gave her freedom from her body that was plagued with countless health issues, one of them being severe asthma. But, the void she has left behind is still sinking in. Well, it hurts, because grandparents are angels on earth. Mine has gone back.

And even as I was just trying to accept the fact that I do not have grandparents in physical form any more, I received yet another news, a distressing one rather. It was no demise of an individual. It was a demise of a relationship between two elders, an uncle aunt couple who have been married for more than 30 years. This was more surreal than horrible. Truth to be told, I felt my gut flip!

I am yet to accept that this couple that we know, who were known for a strong marriage, balanced mindset, two beautiful children and, now a grandchild too, were separating because of a third person, a woman, a family friend and an, ex-relative.

How cliché? Right?

My heart went out to this sweet aunt who never imagined that someone out there was evil enough to wreck her boat! My eyes cried for her when I heard her story through a loved one, especially the agony of having seen a partner transform into something he is not. My gut wrenched when I was told about the lines she said– “I do not want a dime. I just want him back.”

Although I have met them just a few times in my life, I felt the pain of this dear aunt through every vein in my body, as a wife, as a mother and, importantly as a woman. The very fact that she was betrayed by a friend is what hurt her the most – “I allowed her into my life and now, my family is torn apart”.

However, this incident did churn the pit of my stomach for yet another very important reason. I wonder, why none in the family intervened when they all knew about the issue for three long years. I wonder, why people she trusted as her own in her partner’s family did not take a tough stand by favoring her. I wonder, where is the spine, the spine to stand up for the right and, object to the wrong?

And, how is it ok to sit and watch a woman in pain, in a situation as this? It is towards the old age, companionship matters the most. And, at such an age, when a woman has to face such a situation, it is a big slap on the faces of the elders who have claimed big about how important families are!

How is it ok to turn a blind eye to her issues and, act as if everything was normal? Such kind of acting is pathetic! I feel sorry that I am even associated with such relatives by blood. It hurts me to see how much the elders in the family are filled with such apathy.

Would these elders be sitting quiet should such a calamity fall on their own children, or even on them? How is it ok to let a daughter/daughter-in-law of a family suffer, pray tell?

They say – It is never serious until it happens to you. This is probably the most painful reality we all have to deal with. Why people shy away from a hexed situation, assuming it is none of their business when, the people concerned are related to them, is completely beyond my understanding. What will happen if we intervene? Someone might say – “None of your business! Buzz off!”, or maybe, “You don’t know anything!” But at least, one can sleep at peace with the knowing – “I raised my voice against something wrong! So what, if it did not make a big difference? At least, I tried.”

I sincerely pray that this couple comes together again. May their dreams of growing old together with lot of love, companionship and affection come true. May the Sun shine bright on their lives and, may their nights be protected by the Moon’s pure gaze. May the stars bless them.

Having said that, I have absolute faith in God.

Dear God, deliver them, us and every living from all evil.

Amen.

To stand up and speak for the one that needs your help-

“What is wrong, is wrong! Fight the wrong! Tolerate no more”
To say a few words to the one that is hurt, betrayed and wronged-
“Don’t worry. Everything will fine soon. We are with you.”
To extend that listening ear to the one that is pained, without saying a word -. (Silence)
What does it take? For the empathiser – Nothing. 
What does it give?  For the pained one – a cord of hope and faith. 
If people in this world believe in the ‘not my problem’ misnomer, then we are already miles away from spirituality,  again a term that people often use to their advantage by treating it a getaway from their own struggles without even trying to battle them. 
We don’t need spiritual gurus. We need more of simple, uncomplicated and rational humans who can call a spade, a spade and, will stand up for what is right and, NOT side with what is wrong because some ‘spiritual guruji’ said so!
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“We will mislead”, smirked the Headline


There is sensation. And then, there is sensational!

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What is sensation? I know the answer but, I had to rely on Google to throw a definition! And, this is what it says –

“Sensation is the body’s detection of external or internal stimulation (e.g., eyes detecting light waves, ears detecting sound waves). Perception utilizes the brain to make sense of the stimulation (e.g., seeing a chair, hearing a guitar). Sensation involves three steps:

And now, what is sensational?

Merriam Webster says – “arousing or tending to arouse (as by lurid details) a quick, intense, and usually superficial interest, curiosity, or emotional reaction to sensational tabloid news”

Now, let’s talk about sensation first. Well, touching a steaming hot pot, inhaling a whiff of the repulsive HIT, taking a bite of a hot red chilli, getting the flash effect directed at eyes or, shuddering ear drums during times of festivals is sure to give you a platter of sensations you will not want to forget and at the same, will not want to experience again. Sensations! That is what they are! They are meant to be deep. They are meant to make a memory. They are meant to entice you or repel you. They stay with you, no matter what! Just like, I still love the smell of my mother’s fresh cotton sarees. I love the taste of bournvita she makes. I love to hear her sing – Kurai onrum illai (she is a huge fan of MS). Then talking about the other aromas, the making of fresh ghee, preparing chikkis for Uttrayan, soothing smell of freshly plucked coriander and mint, the intoxicating pong of petrol (I know! But I can’t resist it!) stimulate my senses in ways I cannot express….

Anyways, that is what sensation is for me. A memory to retain. A memory to reminisce. Sometimes, a memory to feel pain too! Yes, I vividly remember being stung by the golden wasp on my visit to Amritsar. Even a brandy shot did not relieve me of the searing pain! I tolerated the painful sting for about four days. Heal, it did but, the sensation, the burning sensation stayed behind. So sensations essentially remind us that life is full of butterflies and bees! Hmm.

Now, let’s talk about the term sensation-al.

Sigh….. (I know am heaving right at the beginning and. you will know why!)

I recently came across Shabana Azmi’s interview. You can read the post here. So, when it was trotting around on FB, the headline is what caught my attention. It read –

Health of a democracy depends on how its minority feels and, right now, we are in big trouble”……

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If you go through the article, it is more about what Shabana feels about women empowerment in Indian cinema and how, she is quite proud of the fact that women are trying their passions in the line of production and direction too! Now, somewhere in the middle of the article she was asked – “Given that religious politics has had such a significant impact on who comes to power in our country, lately, do you think the Ram-Sita model of virtue will make a re-emergence soon?

To which she replied what has been covered in the headline – “Health of a democracy depends on how its minority feels and, right now, we are in big trouble

Read the whole interview and let me know if she has mentioned any religion in specific anywhere. For all you know, she might be referring to the women kind as the minority! Because, the whole interview is about women empowerment in Indian cinema, the point of view regarding minority could be anything. And suddenly, the self proclaimed social media frenetic left nasty comments on how she should go and live in the neighboring country and how, she is oblivious to the fact that the said people following her religion are no more a minority!

I am deeply troubled by this. A headline as that was enough to create so much hate for a talented woman who is an irreplaceable artist in Indian cinema. Her notable films like Fire irked the ‘big men’ of her own religion to no end. Her role as a forced prostitute in the film Bhavna gave a different dimension to the entire thought process towards a woman’s choices of do or die in life. Her role in the movies of parallel cinema such as Lakshmi in Ankur and, as Sushila in Nishant are such in-depth portrayals of submissively sensual women! I can endlessly go on and on about her impeccable acting skills. But, that is now what this post is about.

People need to sit back and think after they read something on the Internet. Do they? Do we? Do you?

Well, the most convenient and predictable reaction is – Jump the gun, accuse the person, and then banish him or her to Pak!

Seriously?

Take the example of the recent crack down on illegally run slaughter houses in UP. Apparently, the ILLEGAL slaughter houses have been called to shut down. But, the headline was –Meat ban! So, a majority of people, without taking a note of the actual scenario already cried buckets of tears on social media about how they were going to miss the succulent galauti kebabs of Lucknow!

When late actor Om Puri said something distasteful in a spur of the moment about the Indian soldiers, twitter went berserk! (What he said was wrong. But none cared to know if he was provoked about something) For a moment I thought he was going to be eaten alive! He did apologize for his statement but, none cared! The veteran actor’s words had left his tongue and, as a celebrity he paid the price to be hated! But the question is – “Did he mean what he said?” (Remember, he played the role of a soldier as Col Krishnakant Puri in the movie – China Gate)

Before that, answer some of the questions below.

Dear Indian tweeps,

  1. How many of you say a lot of unpalatable things when you are angry?
  2. How many of you have been pushed to the wall and, hence have opened up your ugly side?
  3. Do you always mean what you say?
  4. Are you someone like Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa who preached about showing the left cheek after being slapped in the right?
  5. How many of you treat your women folk in your family as your equals?

Keep these answers with yourself and, remind yourself of these when you read a post and are provoked to respond!

When FB was flooded with some news of actor Surya having converted to Islam, I checked the article. The headline said so, again! Apparently, he was reprising a role for a movie! See, this is what I am talking about.

Yesterday, I watched the movie – Confessions of a shopaholic and there was this interesting conversation between Becky and Alette (played by Kristin Scott Thomas). Becky beams about writing about affordable fashion – the job offer that Allete herself has brought to the former’s doorstep. And then, Alette picks up a shoe that turns out to be Louboutins. Becky instantly points out that it cannot be covered under affordable fashion. To which, Alette explains – “Fear not, chez Alette. We print the prices very small! And then, what are credit cards for?”

A harmless trick or, a harmlessly harmful trick? But a trick that people shall fall for, surely! Isn’t it?  That is exactly what the news channels and papers are doing these days. Finding ways to print news in a way that is legal and yet, will not give away the whole truth! How convenient? And then, who loves a plain Jane? Everyone loves the spice!

No. Not me. I prefer plain Jane. I want real news. As a citizen of India, I am entitled to receive genuine news that has stemmed from actual facts and NOT from some cut and edited footage tailored by journalists who have thrown away their conscience!

Dear Indian Media,

Headlines are supposed to be leads for your news piece. Unfortunately they are anything but that. Your duty is to ask the right questions. You are not supposed to make statements within questions. If you call people for interviews of debates, allow them to speak.

Sometimes, you need to listen to your conscience too. Whether you want to give good sensations to people or, give sensational people heart burns is your choice. But then, choose wisely. Sometimes, what goes around comes around. God forbid, a day comes in future when we live in a country ruled by a dictator who chooses to silence the true voices just because you behaved so reprehensibly in the past! God forbid.

Freedom of speech is more of a responsibility than a luxury. The day you realize it is the day this country will progress in the truest sense!

I stopped reading newspapers the day, ‘martyred’ was replaced by killed and, obituaries had severe mistakes like gender mash ups! I had great respect for Media once. It is after all, the fifth pillar of democracy (The first four pillars are justice, equality, freedom and representation). It is also our country’s fourth estate. However, the pillar is crumbling down. Worse, credibility is no more a root for truth.

I am sad that I wanted to become a journalist when I was studying in school. And, I am glad that destiny made me an engineer. Enough said.

Why I adore Masaan’s Devi.


It has been a while since Trump became the new orange of America, since Arnab quit Times News, since Barkha Dutt left NDTV and since, I have blogged about some serious issues!

A tsunami of thoughts have been creating havoc in my headspace that at times, I find myself engaged in thoughts even when I am asleep. It has a lot to do with the fact that I am truly living in an alternate universe where magic and fantasies are as real as facts and truth. Or perhaps, I am not yet keen on buying masks to hide what I feel. Perhaps, I am not getting along well with the idea of being diplomatically correct all the time! Perhaps, I am just fine as a solitary bird who does not want to be a part of any social circle. Perhaps, being alone in this world without feeling lonely is a very coveted place reserved for a few lucky ones! Perhaps!

Masaan

I watched the movie Masaan yesterday. I have been wanting to watch this movie since long and yesterday, it finally happened. I adore Richa Chaddha. And, I adore Sanjay Misra. Indian cinema has to retain these gems to produce good films that shall influence the society for good. And, yesterday when I watched Masaan, a core issue came to light. The real culprits are not the ones who make mistakes. The real culprits are the ones who do not let people come back to normal life and move on.

There are two parallel stories in the movie. Set in Banaras, the plot revolves around Devi (played by Richa) and, a parallel one is about Deepak, a civil engineer who hails from the cast of people that work at cremation ground, burning funeral pyres. Devi gets caught in a maze of turbulence when she accompanies her boy friend to a hotel room and, gets caught by the police during the raid. But the police take their time to film the act that leads to suicide of the boy. However, Devi lives. She actually survives. Getting through the daily grind, averting her gaze while walking down the street, switching the jobs every time her past catches up with her, Devi plays her ‘silence’ card meticulously. She avoids social interaction, lest her past flares up. However, she is also very clear about her decisions in life. When her father chides her for the fiasco saying “How could you do such a thing?”, she replies candidly without batting an eyelid- “I liked him. I liked to talk to him. And what we did, we were into it, together. He died, I lived. Was his action my fault?”

The character Devi has asked a valid question. Was his action her fault? While the question is contentious, it also brings out yet another pertinent question – “What the character Devi did, was that really a crime?”

Later in the night, I pondered over why people messed up in the head have a different take on normal things. And the answer came through this movie… – What Devi did was not a crime. Perhaps, a careless choice of a place where things could go wrong evidently. A hotel room for sex is like baiting the beast to feed on the live fawn. What were the odds that the fawn could escape? But that said, the crime did happen. Not at the time of the act but after the incident. The crime happened when the police not only filmed the act but demanded a lumpsome bribe from Devi’s father to hush the matter and save Devi from getting a case of abetment to Suicide, filed against her. The crime happened when random strangers approached her with indecent proposals, hinting at searing her future with taunts and shame. The crime happened when her learned Sankrit scholar of a father failed to muster courage and say to his daughter – “Hell with you people! I stand by my child in her rough times!”

Devi moves on and is able to, because she takes charge of her life. Deepak on the other hand, loses his motivation to rise in life when his hopes of marrying his love stare into his face blankly in the form of a dead body that just arrives with the many others. The body is of his love, Shaalu. When he loses his love to a bus accident, his dream of a good life out of the cremation ghat is also burned in that funeral pyre. However, the wheels of time turn and, he learns that stagnancy in life gets you no where.

Happy endings is what people want in real life too. Sometimes, the phrase ‘Satya Meva Jayate’ does not arrive in its truest form when the perpetrators are brought to justice alone. It will have truly arrived only when people like you and me give the much needed support to victims of abuse. To say those words to someone – “We are with you. What happened with you was not your fault. Life goes on and, we will help you move on”, is a big deal.  But yet, we don’t. That is where a society needs to work on. Help the victims. Give support to survivors. Do not stand in the way of people who want to reform and, do good in life.

Be like Masaan’s Devi, my friend!

Recently, there was a discussion in a group about a short clip featuring a 23 year old woman convincing her mother of her decision to be in a live in relationship.

Many of us come from a generation or, have been raised by a generation that believed in the old school of thought – Marriage is a holy union. And, sex is best reserved for it. However, I feel if a woman of today wants to have a different take on it, we should not squirm and instantly jump the gun and, shame the woman. Who knows, live in relationships may be as genuine as marriage. But then again, who knows!

So, when there was a question in the group as to how many women would be comfortable letting their daughters get into a relationship they are not exactly sure would culminate in a marriage, the clarity in thoughts that poured in, was amazing. Many were not comfortable. However, there was a handful who felt that they would not want to barge into their children’s take on relationships. It felt good to see that the winds have changed their direction after a long time and, a change is slowly setting into the new age parenting.

However, as a mother, I do have a small addition to my perception of a woman’s decision in entering a relationship that might be a cross between a casual and genuine one. If a woman is bold enough to take conscious decisions, pertaining to partners, lifestyle and relationships, she must also be courageous enough to bear the consequences without blaming the situation/circumstance/people. Because, when a woman takes a conscious decision, she truly is in cognizance of what she is doing and, why and hence, when the outcome does not favour her, she must take charge of her life instead of getting pulled into the blame shame game. This is where Masaan’s Devi inspires the modern day woman.

If life hurls heart burning hiccups at you, awaken and rise. Take the consequence of your conscious decisions with a pinch of salt and, use your acumen to move on. Women empowerment will happen when women take that lesson of resilience from Devi “Life is going to hurl curveballs at you. They will attack you, dent you, dilute your morale and make you feel worthless. But you must believe in yourself. Because, if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will!”

That said, do watch this gem of a movie! It will change the way you think, for sure!

And, I love this song….. Tu kisi rel se guzarti hai….me ek pul sa thar tharata hun…..

A note to every woman I know (not).


Ever since the motion of  women empowerment in 19th century began in the west, there have been ripple effects in the social dynamics all over the world. Besides, it is not as if we are witnessing a down slide in the society’s perception of women only in the past few decades. If you remember, there was also a time, when Britain, Israel and India were ruled by three dynamic and powerful ladies – Margret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi, all at the same time! And despite all the revolution and revolutionaries from history, certain aspects of the society are still going from bad to worse leaving aside a minuscule percentage of success stories. While we are on the path towards achieving  women empowerment in the truest sense and, we are almost there, there continues to be a severe backlash in the form of violence against women. A few days earlier when I discussed about this topic with mum, she said – “I am fortunate to have grown in better times. I agree, in my time, women weren’t given choices. And yet, some women managed to go ahead and become engineers and doctors especially when teaching and banking were preferred professions for women. And even then, the backlash would end only in tongue lashing. It never went much beyond that! Of course, I am talking about South. I am not aware of how the situation was up North, then. But yet, I believe even there the situation would have been fairly better than in recent times.” We have almost stopped watching news. And, mum feels terrible about the current times. She further says – “When I was growing up, I never had the fear of venturing out alone. And even if I did, I never had trust issues. There was an innate faith that people around will not wrong each other. And today, every stranger brings with him the question – “What if he is dangerous!”As she sadly sighs at the growing crime rates against women, I wonder when did it all start? No, I am not talking about man’s attitude towards a woman. I am talking about the general perception of a woman in the society by all, regardless of gender.

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Where and when did the inequality begin?

Before coming to that, let’s talk about issues bothering women today. For a woman, from inconspicuously being groped in crowded places to being subjected to lewd comments and gestures, eve teasing is perhaps the root of all horrors that follows later.  And, if that wasn’t enough, a few spoiled brats assume it is their birthright to mow down people with their expensive cars or, kidnap women returning from work and abuse them on National highways. If there is a hit and run, the driver in the affluent family conveniently takes the blame! There are countless incidents of crimes against women in recent times and, there is no end to it! Then, there are the honor killings. No, I am not even getting on this topic! But I would just say – What respect does an honor demand in a place where fear to think culls all hope and faith?

That said, the whole country has been discussing gender issues for decades! But then, have you ever questioned how such an issue ever cropped up in the first place? Have you ever realized for a fact that a curve ball is never totally unexpected. There are signs of anomalies that often go unnoticed when a curve ball is taking the shape of a snow ball! To put it in simple words, big catastrophes always have small beginnings. Take a look around the world and you shall notice, the setup has always been leaning more towards the patriarchal side. One cannot pin point a time when the rules emphasizing on male dominance actually began. Like we know, women were not always subdued beings in India. There was a time, when they rode as knights, with knights, waged wars, fought wars and, even sacrificed their lives for the nation. So, when did the system flip? The answer lies in almost every home (if not all). Say, we discuss about trivial affairs like lunches and dinner at home. Down south, I have always noticed that the outlook towards women has been more liberal than in the north. And yet, I have come across those minor rumbles when I felt, that a woman is still not treated as equal. For instance, I have observed in a majority of families (still)that when a lunch or dinner is being served, it is upon the woman to serve the family with food. Only after the family finishes the meal, she starts with her lunch or dinner that would mostly comprise of what is left! It may not have necessarily started off as a rule. Because some women enjoying feeding their families first. But then, what may have started with the intention of showering love slowly became a call for duty. And when the thin line of difference between compassion and duty blurs, gender inequality is realized in its truest form. I know many families these days do not follow this protocol. And yet, there are many that do too. And mind well, I am not talking about lower middle class families. I am talking about the educated and higher middle class families with career oriented females who still follow this rule by the book. Now, has it ever occurred to the man in the family – “Why can’t I serve my food by myself? Why is it required that the lady has to feed me and the child first? Will there be enough food for her after we have all eaten? Why can’t we sit as a family and have food together?” The man barely realizes it. Why? He has been raised in a family where he has seen his mother abide by the same rule. And hence, he has already drawn a picture of how his wife should be. This was just one of the tiny examples to begin with gender discrimination. Gender inequality begins at home! Period.

Indian Cinema needs to come around!

Next in line of fire, is our cinema. The prime reason for the rise in crimes against women is predominantly rooted in the fact on how women are portrayed in the cinema. And, I am terribly annoyed at the hypocrisy of people voicing their angst on the suppression of women. How on earth can people advocate for equality in gender while they go and watch approaching fifty or sixty actors romancing women less than half their age? How is it even remotely possible for these people to cheer for movies that have the hero wooing the heroine by hook or crook  while on the other hand, they discuss and dissect crimes against women with such alacrity on social networking sites? If a movie star portrays some steel character on screen and, goes about taking the law for a ride in real life, what message does that actor give to the society? And as long as women objectify themselves by choice, by allowing themselves to be sidelined and letting the actors take away the meatier roles in the script, as a country, we are just halfway away from Stone age!

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In South however, cinema has a totally different agenda! Most of the movies revolve around unimaginably funny stunts that appear on every scene at the drop of a hat! Like a lanky Vijay or a skinny Dhanush flinging goons double their size into thin air is not only unrealistic but comic in a surreal way. Of course, logic is blasphemy here! Agreed! But, I simply cannot get my head around how a boy wooing a girl to the extent of annoying her, irritating her, troubling her and then, finally getting her to say a YES, is sold as an idea to the public! Almost 8 out of 10 movies repeatedly show this and, then you expect the youth to be cultured! (Here I have to mention that I almost puked after watching 7G Rainbow colony!) Seriously?  (P.S – I am excluding Malayalam cinema here as it is the lone ranger of South Indian cinema for me that is churning out masterpieces in the real sense while others have trouble deviating from the cliché. Wish Bollywood and others take a cue from them!)

Coming back to Tamil cinema, there have been some good movies too. But they get easily sidelined. Like Rajni’s Kabali has already sprinkled the veteran star’s magic down south because of which exceptionally good movies like Samuthirakani’s movie Appa are not even promoted the way they should be! (I mean no offence to Rajni fans as I too adore him for his awesome work in his old movies like pathinaru vaithinile, apurva rangangal, Thalapathi, Kalakalapu, moondru muduchu and many more).

It is important to understand that cinema has a major impact on the head space of every individual. It may be treated as a stress buster but somewhere in the head, it sows a seed, a seed of gender superiority in the wrong place. I believe, a movie essentially should either have a good message for the youth or, it should have good humor that does not hurt people. But then, humor is a misnomer these days, as it is more synonymous with assaulting a community, a country or a gender with sugar coated jibes. Watch Kapil Sharma’s show and you would know! Initially you might laugh your lungs out. Later, it dawns in the aftermath on how poorly the woman emulated characters are treated in the show! When a Guthi or a Rinku Devi gets whipped or teased, the audience laughs. After all, it is not Sunil Grover who is being teased but the character of the lady he is emulating. Food for thought, no?

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In the past, women centric movies like Bhavana, Arth, Mother India, Andhi, Bhumika, Mirch Masala, Damini, Chandni Bar etc.. kicked off a small revolution in the Indian cinema. But then, who enjoys such movies? Right? A bitter sweet dream it would be, if Indian cinema by a strange twist in destiny churned out more of message oriented movies. Then, a woman may no longer find herself in the pandemonium she has been pulled into in recent times! If script writers feel that public craves for masala movies more, they seriously need to be bumped on their heads! A repetitive replay of regressive plots have resulted in such vicious mindsets today!

When Madhuri Dixit endorsed the advertisement – Ladke rulate nahi, I was initially spell bound by the message. It hit the brief on how we need to raise our sons. However, on analyzing it deeply, I found it to be slightly critical of boys’ emotions in general. And, I wondered why shouldn’t boys cry after all? Who made that rule? When a boy or a girl is born, up till the age of five, their actions are more or less similar except for the basic difference in the gender. Then, why is it that suddenly differences crop up in raising a boy and a girl. For instance, we assume that blue color is exclusive for the boys as pink is for the girls. Even I, who has been raised in an extremely liberal household, invariably drifted towards buying blue colored outfits when my son was born. And, I am not sure how or why it happened. Maybe this is what social conditioning is all about. Although today, I allow him to take his pick and, if pink be his pick, so be it! On a lighter note, he loves only bright yellow, orange and sometimes, fluorescent green too!

Eventually it dawned on me at some point in life that we need to raise our children with the ability to be unaffected by the cacophonous opinions on how a particular gender must behave or, be raised. Like, when you raise children, DON’T EVER SAY – “Respect girls! Respect women! Even your mother was a little girl at some time in the past!” or for that matter, “Respect boys! Respect men! Even your father was a little boy at some time in the past!” INSTEAD TRY SAYING THIS TO YOUR LITTLE BOY OR GIRL – “Respect every life on earth, be it a man or a woman, a plant or an animal. It is life, after all!” Let your child understand the concept of gender on his/her own. Let him or her comprehend the importance of two different genders on his/her own.

Immaterial of whether your child is a boy or a girl,

  1. Teach your child to pick up his or her plate, serve food on his/her own and wash and clean the plates by self after meals. This should be inculcated at an early age, say before they reach six years of age!
  2. Teach your child to cook and prepare basic dishes like sandwiches from a young age.
  3. Teach your child to iron his or her clothes, polish his/her shoes and prepare his/her bags.
  4. Teach your child basic tailoring techniques like stitching buttons. It can be started once the child crosses seven years of age.
  5. Help your child understand the importance of cleanliness at home and outside.
  6. Involve your child in gardening. It will bring him or her a step closer to Mother Nature.
  7. And, help your child understand the power of prayers. Even doctors believe in the fact that the last judgement over a life lies in the hands of the Gods!

Children imbibe what they see. In a home, where a husband loves the wife and treats her like a queen, the child will follow the same when he grows up. However, if he sees his mother being treated like a doormat, either he or she will swing between being extremely antagonizing or, being overtly possessive of a particular gender. Both are not good. So, if we need a society with creative kind and humble children, it falls on the strong shoulders of a woman to realize her extraordinary courage to stick with what her conscience deems right rather than buckling under the societal pressures of an anti-utopian society! The progress of the world solely depends on that courage. For instance, just imagine if the actresses of today threw the towel and said – “Balls! I cannot do such movies! My character in cinema is much more than singing and dancing! I am not some toy or an object! Meet me with a script that highlights me in the movie!” Believe it or not, the entire society shall progress in spades!

And then, instead of blaming the society for a regressive thought process, take a peek into your own home. You might be surprised to see from where the roots of regression are sprouting! If there are no such roots in your home, stay blessed and try to spread the good change. And, if you do find the small roots of archaic vibes sprouting, time to de-weed them!

More power to women who aspire to break free from the shackles of suppression, little or large! Be the change you want to see in the world, woman! It is all in your hands!

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Amen.

 

Diplomatically (in)correct!


There is the good, the bad and the ugly. And then, there is the insane – a class apart!

Some days are good. Some are just filled with regular routine. Some are filled with great joy that is derived from watching comical snippets on Adithya/Sirripoli channel. And then, some days are clouded with dark questions like – ‘Where am I heading professionally in life?’ (I am craving for a 9 to 6 job where I can sit and write to my heart’s content!) And, there are some days when the self feels – ‘Just leave me alone! I need a time out!’. Off late I am kind of dabbling in days of all the shades mentioned. So on my not so good days, I wonder, where did all the optimism disappear? Where did the entire ‘be good, feel good’ factor go? If you read many of my posts, you ought to mistake me for some cool headed calm and serene female who apparently blogs about the beautiful things in life. Of course, I love to blog about good things in life because I would love to have people read my blogs and feel good about the good things in life. But sometimes, the feral side of me argues with my saner one as it says – ‘Write to express is not merely about unseeing the inevitable and yet unpleasant tide and yet, trying to pretend that life is still covered with sunshines and rainbows. Because, even the not so positive energy must be dissipated in a healthy way. And, writing is perhaps a palpable way to release the clutter. After all, to write freely without inhibitions is also a much needed emotional therapy for the mind that is tired of being diplomatically correct. every.single.time ’ Perhaps, this post shall bring out the diplomatically ‘in’correct side of me that has been wanting to be heard all this time.

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If you have known me in person, you would brand me as a selectively social homo sapien who doesn’t tune or tweak the frequencies of her wavelength but would rather seek people who share her mindset. As much as I am led to believe that this is my strong point, somewhere deep within I also feel that it is the chink in my armor! A drawback. A fault line! A dent in my personality that has many a time helped me dodge the potholes in destiny and at the same, has also misled people into believing that I am not good at retaliating or countering (as I prefer silence in such situations). Well, for the latter part…I suck at it not because I am incapable of retaliating but because, I am totally and truly not tamed enough to retaliate in a controlled manner. Which is why, I shy away from arguments and queasy questions. I utterly dislike a situation where I have to forcibly answer a question I do not want to answer. For instance, I cringe when someone intrusively  questions not once but many a time about whether or not we are planning a second child. I cannot even fathom what the families that are planning their first must be feeling under the barrage of such infuriating questions. People, if you have nothing decent to ask or, sane to discuss about, silence is well appreciated from my end. Personal space and privacy is synonymous with wearing clothes. When someone touches it, it feels like being touched inappropriately!

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And, this brings me to the second part of my rant post. Why is that some people choose to be rude when communicating about a task, without even using a proper instruction channel? Initially, the rudeness bothered me. But with time, I have come to believe that it is a trick. Intimidation is perhaps one of the unscrupulous ways of getting things done for some people. However, I feel it is a worthless trick! It isn’t even a trick if you look at it up close. It is rather foolish. For instance, sample these hypothetical (fictional) conversations and, judge for yourselves, which one makes you feel better.

A calls B on phone, late evening – Sunday: Listen! Have you done any of the presentations I asked you to? {B fumbles as (s)he tries to first understand the context of a conversation….before B tries to come up with an answer, the impatient A continues…..}….. What have you done all this time? This is no good!….No don’t give excuses! I don’t want to hear anything! Bye!”

A calls B on phone, late evening – Sunday: Hey! Good evening! How are you? Hope you are good! By the way, how far have we come across in the presentation thing on Women Empowerment? {B takes time to prepare the answer and the wait of a few seconds is appreciated. After B lists out whatever needs to be detailed….}.….ok no issues….it would be better if the work gets done at the earliest. If there are hiccups, let know…bbye”

In the first conversation, A totally threw B off the guard and, without even realizing the impact of the harsh words, continued with the apprehending barrage. In the second case, A provided B with a time window to think and understand the context of a call. It is crucial that people who believe they are good at managing tasks must hone their listening skills too. And then, where is the need for intimidation when a task can be performed flawlessly sans any drama or issues. As much as people advise on ‘ways to handle rude people with tact’, when a situation as such arises, it is spontaneity that comes upfront. And, spontaneity is an unpredictable game of dice. One never knows how it will unveil. For instance in the first conversation, B could have retaliated. B could have said, “Balls! Do it yourself!”. B could have simply hung up on the impatient A. In spite of the million combinations of what spontaneity could offer, B in the most probably predicted manner, must have zoned out and wondered in amusement or anger, “What in the hell was that!”

I would call that social conditioning. We are programmed homo sapiens. If a tiger is intimidated by man, there is a fair chance of it turning into a man eater should by the slightest brush of bad luck, the human blood lands on its taste buds! Even if the luck runs high, it still holds a fair chance! But a man on the other hand, is conditioned to think and act in a particular way from the time he or she is born. The untamed power of spontaneity is mellowed by the mannerisms, the upbringing, the education and by the every little molecule that constitutes the environment one is raised in. Eventually, probability is the master of the game. What is the chance of a water droplet on your  knuckle to slide down towards your right? A 50-50? What if the droplet decides to go up or down? See, get the drift? Spontaneity of even an unpredictable element like water rests with what the conditions allow it to be.

For instance, some people enjoy playing harmless pranks and, may have been doing so since childhood. Over a period of time, when those pranks are appreciated, they start spilling over the border that separates the harmless from the harmful. Over a period of time, that person may feel absolutely little or no remorse if God forbid, the prank went eerily wrong! Or, take another case, wherein a girl from a village comes to study in a town or a city, where the social norms are entirely different. Either the girl chooses to evolve by adapting or, she may choose to remain in her shell of society inflicted restraints. These were just mere examples to emphasize on how social conditioning develops spontaneity and thoughts. For instance, if a person is extremely dictating by nature, there is a strong chance that he or she has been subdued reprehensibly at some time or the other in their lives. And, when you are surrounded by extremely rude people who are not just rude but sport tonnes of arrogance clubbed with stupidity, your spontaneity is subdued by the unpredictability of the other person’s actions. Definitely, that is not a place or phase where you would want to be in! Because, the fear of releasing the spontaneity also frightens you somewhere at the core, as to how it will unfold. And yet, goodwill prevails on many occasions wherein the instinct to think and act precedes spontaneity. Yes, some phases in life test your will to (re)act. And, they are hard. But then, no phase in life is permanent. Might just say to my self – Deal with it as long as they are tolerable 😀

And while the self is brooding over handling such complicated kind with tact, I am reminded of a kind lady who once told me, “All kinds make this world” and that has managed to calm my nerves own every time, my peace has been disturbed by the intrusion of insolence. It is tough to ignore rude and arrogant people at times. There are those times too, when the words to counter are hanging by the scrap of a nail on the tip of the tongue as they are dragged back with an enormous amount of self control. Because, responding would probably flare up the fire of impertinence and, make it far worse, dealing with such people.

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Time to become a thick skinned buffalo! 😉 Well, if I had a better option, I would have wanted a cloak of invisibility that makes me invisible to some people:D Until then, the hide should do the job! 😛

Some things have to stop. Now.


  1. We live in a country where there is an alarming rise in the number of two very dangerous kinds of people: One who have little or no faith in their capabilities and intelligence and think they deserve a pass over the others and deserve a free space in every sector that should ‘secure’ their ‘success’. Apparently, they are successful in ruining whatever little success our country might have dreamed of achieving. And two, the more dangerous ones – the pseudo intellectuals that claim to know our country’s state of affairs even better just because they have been globe trotting around the country/world, accumulating degrees, because of which they claim to have absolute knowledge about almost everything in the constitution and, about the country. Really?Just because you have a degree in Political science or conflict management doesn’t make you an expert on the fragile and volatile dynamics of our society. Besides, your unsolicited comments are only adding more fuel to the misguided anger in people. Just. stop. please.
  2. Above all, we have a media that derives great enjoyment from this circus by sensationalizing ‘truth’ that apparently has countless versions, each refuting the other. All that is happening around is sad and ugly. So, I have happily stopped watching news. I loved reading newspapers at a time. And now, I just don’t connect with anyone who writes, these days. The words are minced. Anyone with a volatile head space is sure to be confused and misled. Sometimes, I believe if there is anything that is going to bring the doom for our dear country, it would not be terrorism but, the skewed fourth estate – the pillar that is supposed to take a neutral stand and must know what, how and when to report. News channels have little credibility, these days. It is primarily they, who are responsible for whatever is happening today. Stick to DD News and don’t watch news all day. Remember, you are not jobless enough to discuss issues for which you personally are not going to offer instant solutions!
  3. If you feel that we live in an intolerant country where you are still ignoring the little good that has been happening over the past few decades, feel free to leave the country and go ahead, exercising your ‘freedom of speech’ elsewhere. Because, to understand the little good things that are happening as baby steps, you must understand that, Rome was not built in a day. Ironically, people who are ranting about how intolerant our country is, have clearly not done much towards contributing towards the society. Because, if they had, they would just keep doing the good work without seeking attention for what they have not done! Please stop over-criticizing your country. One one hand, you love to enjoy and indulge in every aspect of whatever development has taken place until now (from the time you were born) and, on the other hand, you would just critique how bad our country is in terms of gender equality and etc…. Ok. Our country has some real issues. Agreed. So, what are you doing about it? Let me tell you, if you were really interested in doing something good, like imparting education to less privileged children and women, you surely won’t be ranting about this on your blog! Why? Because then, you will be doing something worthwhile. That is why!
  4. Riots, agitation and all the violence that is happening around in the present, appears to be well orchestrated and well thought out. It doesn’t address any core issue. The whole idea is just to bring in some unrest and worse, misleading the confused ones into joining their brigade of fools! Apparently, we as a country are in no dearth of fools, or should I say – educated fools? But mind well, the perpertrators whoever they are, are not fools. They are evil, pure evil.
  5. Now, coming to Freedom of Expression, this image nails it –freedom.jpgBut then, we believe that freedom of expression is one of our birth rights, no? And, treading with caution is a word for anyone but brave, right? The point that has been missed in the current debates is that, if pen is mightier than sword, then certain ideas that are thought with the intent to harm, are gaseous forms of cyanide that sneak into heads through words. But then, intellectual fools call it ‘the freedom to express’, notwithstanding the stupidity or the peril of it all. Is that so difficult to understand? If so, Read this.
  6. Also, a request to all the social networking nerds – Please, don’t discuss ‘truth, hype and the rumors’ indiscriminately as if you have the first hand account of whatever is happening. And just because you are some famous blogger/writer and whosoever does not give you any right to introduce tasteless humor that further, instigates meaningless discussions for which you have no solutions, whatsoever. The trolls, the nitpicking, the name calling and all, has to stop! Use your twitter handles wisely. And no, this is not the time for trolls! Just stop.Please.
  7. Lastly, if it pinches you to be patriotic i.e. if you feel that your ‘freedom of expression’ or ‘the right to speak every e** up thing in your head space aloud’ supersedes your rational side and bungles your patriotic feelings towards your motherland, then it means only one thing – You are an uncouth literate with little sense of what education really means! Your education could have been worthy for some intelligent mind deprived of the right to study!! What a shame!!

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    Source: Google Images

 

Let’s not just nod. Let’s talk.


When a flaw is not corrected, it becomes the system.

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My fingers have been itching to write about this topic that has been in my head for a long time. But then, there is a reason I did not pen down my thoughts earlier. One, that I was just a parent an year back. And two, I was not aware of the pressures a teacher faces in the teaching world. So now, having been in both the worlds as a teacher and a parent, I have realized that we live in a complicated world. Education system as I see it, is skewed. Teaching norms are either those that have been followed for a long time in decades or, they are something that has been included in a board guideline and, people stick to it as if walking on a tight rope.  Besides, I am appalled at the syllabus a child at a preschool level has to study. Having been a teacher for preschoolers, I have gone through the humongous challenge of helping them with writing and reading. It is not that, preschoolers are incapable. They are the most capable super humans on the planet until they are exposed to the indoctrinated norms of academics. But then, they are still small children and, you possibly cannot expect them to sit at one place and, write whatever you have been asking them to. But then, we are trained to manage children of that stage and so, we do what we ought to do. Yet, there are times I wonder, is so much of syllabus even needed at such a nascent stage, a time when such small children are supposed to learn more from observing the Nature and around, rather than from books. Well, I shall be wondering about that all my life.

Blur the lines of categories!

Now coming to the second point that bothers me to no ends is the categorization that often happens in every school (even at pre-primary level). Yes, a teacher always has ‘the favorites’. That is totally normal as, one feels respected when a student takes to you and, follows your instructions religiously. However, a good teacher has all of her children, as favorites. Suffices to say that, a teacher always spots the best, the better, the good and the average easily. But then, does the teacher cater to the needs of all the categories? is the big question of the hour! Even while you are handling a class of children below the age of 6, you will always come across the cream, the good, the average and the ‘need-to-work-hard’ categories. Many a time, lack of patience and time drives a teacher to be either impatient towards the slow ones or, more relaxed (patience levels vary from a teacher to teacher). But then, a teacher has to remember that this is what he or she is trained for. A teacher’s motive always has to be inclined towards uplifting the ‘good’, the ‘average’ and the ‘need-to-work-hard’ and leading them up to the cream layer. However, it is just not every teacher’s cup of tea to think in those lines, although that is precisely what B.Ed and other teaching courses prepare a teacher for. There are palpable reasons for it – One being the pressures from the management to follow what has been laid out as the norms to abide by, and two, the need to ‘grow’ as a teacher in the process, paying little heed to the needs of the growing children. Maybe, the categorization of students must be dissolved. For instance, if a particular child has already done well in a particular event – say debate, give the upcoming second chance to some other, who just needs a little bit of encouragement to shine. Let the usual debater be involved in some other activity (who knows it might turn out to be an addition to his talents). Every child deserves a chance in everything. Don’t you think? It is not impossible. All a school needs is an extraordinary level of gumption to try it!

The litany of complaints!

I have heard from ample sources and also, have observed parents complaining that, teachers aren’t doing their bit. Also, in some cases I have observed teachers complaining the same about parents not doing their bit. And, the ones that bear the brunt of both worlds are our children who innocently wonder, “Why?” And then I wonder, why people praise good movies like Taaren Zameen par, when they cannot take any pointer from it. Even in my class, I have observed mammothian potential in every child. Some children are good in writing. Some are good with orals. Some are good at both. And, some are averse to writing and, they just love drawing and coloring. Some just love to play! It is just that all children need not be good at one thing. And that one thing, should NEVER become the benchmark for a teacher to judge a child’s capability. I firmly believe that a teacher must focus more on the children that need help than on those who are already good at doing what they ought to do! Sadly, this is just not happening!

Do we need to assess preschoolers?

I am quite repulsed by the idea of conducting tests for preschoolers. The management often claims that it is just an assessment test and that, children wont be judged. So, my question is – If there is no assessment at all, why the need to conduct one in the first place? An interview with the child is fair enough. I have noticed schools interviewing parents too before admitting their children. Seriously? Then, why on earth is our society idolizing APJ Kalam, Thomas Alva Edison (who almost was never schooled formally), Einstein (who had dyslexia as a child) etc… These people had humble beginnings and went on to become legends whose learning and knowledge are the bulwark of all the education we have known and studied about! APJ Kalam was a ferry man’s son. And yet, he is one of the greatest inspirations of all times. His photo adorns the walls of many schools and offices. And yet, schools have the need for entrance exams. Why? They want ‘good’ students. They want ‘great’ results. They want to get ahead and, secure ‘I am the one’ place in the academic world. Of course, an illiterate fruit seller cannot dream of enrolling his highly intuitive and intelligent child in a good school because, he has never been to school. But, an educated lawyer’s child with little inclination to academics can surely reserve his right to study, by the virtue of his father’s education cum profession. (Leave aside the financial aspects as there are many who manage it too) Nothing defines hypocrisy better than this particular example.

Tuitions –THE BANE of students’ existence!

When I was a twelfth grader, I was carried away by the idea of tuitions. Why? I joined because my friends were joining it, despite the fact that my parents are excellent teachers themselves. But then, teenage does a lot of funny things to you at the time. I was no exception. Over a period of time, I realized I had taken a foolish decision by joining tuitions when, I could actually do well by myself. For me, the realization dawned late. My results were a testimony for it. For the subject that I did not take tuitions; I scored the highest in the state. And for the ones I took, I did not fare as well as I would have expected. Experience is the best teacher always. Now these days, when I observe the eleventh and twelfth graders shuttling between tuition classes, I am amused. When do they get their own constructive time window to study? Do they understand everything they study? Do they understand the practical’s and, the readings in their journals? Some questions ought to have ambiguous answers. Don’t they?

Teaching – still an underrated profession

How passionate are teachers today? I am fortunate to have known extremely passionate teachers during my growing years. But, do I find them now? Perhaps, a handful. Many take their profession of teaching seriously. But only a few are fervently passionate about successfully completing the knowledge transition. The challenge is in sustaining the fire for teaching children. And that, is surely a daunting challenge for the aspiring teachers today, considering the amount of influence technology has in the life of our children. A teacher does not have it easy any which way. Sometimes, the pressures of delivering the hundred percent result ransacks the head space of a good teacher too and often, forces him or her to pressurize the students to perform. It is here, things go from bad to worse. From the parents’ side, the fact that teachers also face undue pressures from management, is often overlooked. So many factors are interlinked and, it is quite difficult to pin down one particular stand alone reason for the meaningless competition that is invading every pocket in the country. A sad plight!

There is one last crucial point I would like to make here. A teacher has to be knowledgeable. But IMPORTANTLY, (S)HE HAS TO BE KIND. If as a teacher, you aren’t kind to your students, regardless of any age group, you are NOT fit to be a teacher. By kindness, I do not mean complacency. By kindness, I imply – being sensitive to students who take their time to bloom and to especially those who are unable to express their issues under normal circumstances. A good student is the one who finds his teacher and, understands it. But a good teacher is the one, who seeks out the student who is unable to find his place in academic world. I believe, there is a great need for schools to collectively keep the cut throat competition and profits aside and, focus more on giving every child the chance he or she deserves.