For the sake of posterity

It’s a weird feeling. The way my life has turned out to be. Fifteen years ago if someone would have told me this is what I would be doing today, I would have gaped hard, not believing a single word. But then this is how I am today.

This morning when I looked at the mirror, I saw myself as I see myself every day. But then I looked hard and I saw someone else too. Is it possible to look at yourself so objectively? I saw frayed nerves and I saw a few lines of worry but I also saw someone with an objective and an agenda. When did I become like that? When did I change? I don’t recall that moment, so I think it didn’t happen in a moment. It happened over a good 15 years. Gradually, so gradually that I didn’t even notice. It grew on me, slowly and steady, like second skin, and now this is me. If I erase these 15 years in between to the girl I was back then to who I am now, there is hardly any resemblance.

My dreams were so different back then. My aspirations were so limited then. So when did those innocent dreams of a little girl, from a small town, gave way to the dreams of this girl? When did I become this competitive? When did the meek me gave way to the brave me? When did I stop crying over the silly remarks people made? When did I learn to give it back?

I have no memory of it. I think I am already forgetting things. Sometimes I do miss how silly and innocent I used to be. Crying over things people did. Sensitive to the point of being stupid.

Writing this was important. I want to come back to this in a few years and see how much I have changed from this girl too. I miss blogging. I miss the interaction. I miss how I am not writing about the so much that is happening in my life. Maybe I should. Even if no one reads it. It will do me good. Or maybe just for the sake of posterity.

Posted in Straight from the heart | Tagged | 18 Comments

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month (CSAAM) April 2012 is here

Remember April 2011 on Twitter, Facebook and blogs? We talked about Child Sexual Abuse – the hows, the wheres and the whens. We were overwhelmed by the response it generated, humbled by the weight of the personal stories of despair and courage.

It’s that time of the year again and we’re going ahead with Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month – April 2012.

Do you have a story to tell?  Tips to share? A video, a link, an ebook? As a parent, as an adult, as a child? As before, we honour all requests for anonymity.

Bring your experience and your expertise to this awareness initiative via

  1. Blog posts with the logo (you can copy the image above), linkback to our blog, with the words “CSAAM April 2012” in the title
  2. Twitter posts or links to @CSAawareness, tagged “#CSAAM”
  3. FB notes linking to our Facebook page
  4. Emails to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com
  5. Or just simply show support by displaying the Picsquare badge on your site/page/profile.

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This year, we hope to increase our focus and reach with our new CSAAM App and our sensitisation workshops. You’ll find both in our blog come April 2012.

Posted in Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month [CSAAM] | 1 Comment

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here!!!

Could there be a better way to break this awful bloggers block. I don’t think so, so here I am after months of missing in action, to tell you about a book and about a friend. Well not just a friend, but about a lady I have come to adore, admire and respect. A lady with exuberance towards life and the will to do some good.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kiran Manral, the well known blogger, a free lance writer, an erstwhile journalist, the face behind India Helps and my dear dear friend has written her first book “The Reluctant Detective”. And I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am. It was a few months back when K had told me about this book, and since then I have felt like an expectant aunt, waiting to hold the precious in my hands.

Last week the book went up on sale on Flipkart and various other sites, none of which were delivering outside India (Now there is one which does). I quickly placed my order, had the book delivered to my parents, who are gladly bringing it along. They reach Singapore tomorrow and so will the book. I wanted to write this after I had read it, but the excitement factor is beyond controllable limits. So another post shall happen once I have devoured it, but from what I hear and see, I know I will love it. I mean look at the cover, it has a high heel shoe, and my love for them is no secret.

So all you avid readers go ahead and pick your copies. Trust me on this, you will love it!!

Flipkart

Dail-a-book (you can get a autographed copy here)

Crossword

Indiaplaza

Infibeam

Posted in Books | 2 Comments

VAWAM – Of the girl who lost her life to dowry

I have never spoken about this on my blog. And with a lot of pain I do so now. As part of the VAWAM initiative, I was tweeting about Dowry Deaths and Bride Burning a couple of days back. I was researching cases and collecting facts, only to be left teary eyed. The truth remains; we do live in a barbaric society.

Almost two decades ago, back in Ranchi, one of our family friend’s daughter got married to a very nice guy from an equally nice family. Although quite older than me, I still remember her distinctly. She was very beautiful and very talented. She was the proverbial elder one in the circle and all the other kids, including me looked upto her trying to be like her. I remember attending her wedding. I remember how nice they looked together. I remember that she soon gave birth to a cute little girl and I remember that we had gone visiting her with lots of gifts.

And then, I also remember the phone call that came one fateful evening. And I remember my dad rushing out of the house along with my mom. She was in the hospital, with very severe burns. It was said that it was an accident that happened in the kitchen. The husband was out of the house, travelling on work to a different city. Only her in-laws were in the house. She was admitted with 90% burns and in 3 days she succumbed to her injuries. I remember her mom and dad’s faces. And I remember their eyes. It was said that it was an “accident” caused by the bursting of the gas cylinder. Obviously, everyone knew that wasn’t the case. She was gone after less than 2 years of being married. Finished for the lack of dowry and the inability to produce a grandson.

The husband was re-married soon. We heard that he got a fat dowry. Her little daughter is now a big girl. She has been brought up by her maternal grandparents, who didn’t press police charges against the in-laws. They were more concerned about the granddaughter. For them, who lost their only daughter, losing their granddaughter was not an option.

This is no stray case. Brides are still burnt in India often for not bringing in enough dowries, so that the young husband is available for re-marriage. The statistics are for all to see, blatant and hurtful. How and when will this end? Is education the answer or financial independence? How will a complete shift in mindset happen? We as a society are surely missing the point and how…

Posted in Straight from the heart | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

VAWAM – The Silent Worker

I am in Bombay for my first cousin’s wedding. Its a happy festive time. The whole family is together after a while and the usual merriment prevails. The morning breakfast excitement, conversations and laughter has filled the air. That’s when I spot her, quietly
re-filling the fast deleting stack of stuffed parathas. She is one of the many helps engaged for the wedding. Head bowed low, agility in her gait, she goes about her business as silently as breeze. She is just like any other help around, the only difference being the deep and prominent burn marks on her neck, back and stomach. I am guessing there could be more but might be hidden under her clothes.

Working for an awareness drive such as this makes one far more perceptive. And so gathering some courage I approach her and make some small talk. And then when I see her open a little I ask her about the burn. She shrugs, says it happened when in a fit of anger her husband tossed a burning kerosene stove on her.  She is glad her face is still
normal else she wouldn’t have got any work to do. She didn’t look bitter. It was like she had accepted it as something that happens in a marriage. She has moved on. Continues to live with the same man and is bringing up his children, moved on none the less.

After a while my pain numbs, and is replaced by seething anger. The state of our women breaks my heart into a million pieces. Will it ever change? Will they ever be respected for what they are and not just treated as an object. A voice although feeble, says it will. I am
doing my bit for it. Will you too by spreading some awareness?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Announcing Violence Against Woman Awareness Month

Regular reader would be aware of the awareness initiative on CSA we drove for the month of April 2011. Thank you all for supporting our initiative through that.

For October we are planning a similar initiative, taking the topic of Violence Against Women. We are cognizant with the fact the subject on violence against woman is very wide and includes multiple aspects. To ensure that this awareness campaign is effective, we have limited our scope to the following aspects….

1. Domestic violence – Physical violence against the woman by husband/partner and other family members
2. Violence against girl child including deprivation
3. Sexual violence – including marital rape, date rape
4. Emotional/psychological abuse
5. Dowry related violence including Bride Burning
6. Female Infanticide
7. Acid attacks

We, the core team, would be delighted to have your support for VAWM Oct 2011.
The plan is similar to CSA April 2011.
We have a blog on Violence Against Women where we invite guest posts and anon survivor stories.
We also would like bloggers to post on this topic on their blogs all through October, first announcing the month and second, posting on any aspect of this topic they feel strongly about.
We also have a twitter handle which will tweet information about VAWA and invite experts, NGOs, counsellors, etc to take questions. @ VAWMonth
Do let us know if you would be interested in participating, and how would you like to participate. Also, if you have any leads to NGOs or organisations you think we should partner with do let us know.
The email to write in to is vawawareness@gmail.com.
Please do feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested and might want to contribute/participate.

Warm regards,

VAWM core team

Looking forward to your participation. Also please help us spread the word and display the badge on your blog.

click here to download the batch code

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Of Suicides…

Every time I hear of someone abusing a child, I judge. I hate them and I get angry. Ditto for men who abuse their wives. And for rapists. And for terrorists. I don’t want to know why they did it; I don’t want to know their reasons. I don’t want to walk in their shoes to understand what made them commit such acts.

And then, when I hear of young people taking away their lives because they were dumped, I cannot help but be angry. I have seen this happen at extremely close quarters. The said person tried to take her life away after a nasty break up. She consumed poison but survived only to be vegetative for over a year. Miracles do happen and she pulled through. This happened ages back. Now she is married to a different person, has 2 cute children and couldn’t have been happier. The guy for whom she took this step didn’t even wait for a year before tying the knot with another pretty young thing. All in all, everyone is now leading the so called regular normal life.

Things would have surely been very different if she would have died; for her parents and her siblings and to a certain extent for some of her friends too. She has lived through the attempt of trying to put an end to her life, and so she can compare. And she still hates herself for even trying it. She dreads to think of what would have happened if she had succeeded. She sees her children and she cries, thinking how stupid she was to not even have given a chance to this happiness.

Now that you have some perspective, I was distressed when I heard that a young IIM Bangalore student put her life to an end after a break up. There is only one thing in my mind – to shake these youngsters hard and make them see how beautiful things can turn out. It’s the fight in them which shouldn’t die. Death is so final; it’s putting an end to everything you have ever been or you could ever be.

I might not understand in how much pain she was. After all only she is going through it. I will not even compare her to others who might have gone through much more tragic things in their lives. But I still wouldn’t say yes to her “ending her life”. I will never support her in this act. To quote a friend, mind you, only partially, to try and even remotely justify someone who has committed suicide is “stupid to the power of infinity”.

Talk, get help, think it through, and don’t act right away. Wait for some time, sleep through it. The morning will show a different light. Don’t put an end to things; don’t make it so final that you are not even around to regret it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Of new arrivals and a shoot!!

A post to let you know all is well. Parent in-laws reached Singapore last evening with loads of mouth watering sweets, savories and pickles. My kitchen and refrigerator are bursting in the seams. And my home is such a happy warm place now. Mornings will start earlier than usual and there will be a desire to wrap up work and be home at some sane time. Kitchen will smell more divine than it has in a year. All in all, it’s a cozy family thing going on. Aman and I will live like husband and wife for a bit now and not like 2 super busy people thrown in a live in relationship!!

There is another big news, which deserved a blog post of its own, but was missed due to the paucity of time thanks to a million things going on at work front and another million we try and fit into our 2 days weekends. My bestest friend is a mother now. She gave birth to the sweetest little girl ever. The little one already has more fans than she can handle. She will grow up to be such a charmer I tell you and a genius one at that. Touchwood! I posted a message on FB about her arrival and a hundred folks thought it was me who had delivered a baby! Well, if I was expecting, you guys would have know, I am not that good at keeping secrets. All of the dozen people, who read me, do send some good wishes for our little princess J

And this I have to share – both for the sake of sharing and for posterity. A kind soul I met through twitter and then in real life, happens to be a budding photographer and found A and me good enough to ask us to pose. And pose we did, more natural than anything else. It was a fun shoot, which happened after 4 hours of brunching. I had big plans of dressing up, getting my hair done and face painted a bit. But as it goes, I did nothing of that. Dressed simply and no makeup and messed up hair, but I still loved the results, all credit to Dipal!!

Posted in Straight from the heart | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Does someone necessarily wears the pant?

Does equality in a marriage exists? Or for that, matter in any relationship? Or there always is a power imbalance?

I think the power struggle exists. Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes not so subtle. It isn’t wise to consider my own relationship dynamics and believe this is how the world works. Too small a subset if you ask me.

So I look around and the more I notice the more evident it seems. Between couples, who on paper are equally strong – academically, professionally and financially, and yet the decision making is most often tilted towards one partner or the other. But of course, relations are anything but theoretical. So it happens, one partner automatically gets on the driver’s seat and the other most often looks for approvals and support.

While I have a whole group of friends where I see the household machinery moving very smoothly with each one taking charge of things they feel more competent and capable of. And so I know that balanced relations do exist. But is this a far small group that I am talking about? Like all other utopian situations, a balanced relationship is a minority?

So in marriages where one spouse comfortably wears the proverbial pant, how does the other cope? Is there a sense of being dominated? Or is it easy to give in and follow? What do you think?

Posted in Straight from the heart | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The bright star my family lost

On this day I am thinking about the bright star my family lost in March of 2006. I think of him very often and the finality of death strikes me hard. I am talking about my Chachu, (my father’s first cousin) Wing Commander Dheeraj Bhatia, an ace pilot with the Indian Air Forces, who died when his plane crashed in Bidar during the routine sortie. I cannot bring myself to describe this in detail so please read here about how gruesome it was and what a hero he and his co-pilot Squadron Leader Shailendra Singh were.

He was a hero, a bright star, young and talented and very passionate about what he did. I must have been 12-13 years old when he became a pilot and visited us in Ranchi. I remember the awe I felt just talking to him. I remember the warmth he oozed and how much I adored him. He was the real hero, charismatic and handsome and very lovable. And then a few years later he was chosen to be a part of the Surya Kiran Team, a team of very highly qualified air force pilots hand-picked for the role.

The entire family was elated and beyond pride. It was such a big deal and such a moment of honor. I remember the time his interview came on TV and how the entire family made it on time to see it. He was one person all the kids in the family looked up to.

And then on the fateful day on 18th March 2006 he was killed. It just ended in a flash. He was gone and only memories remained, along with 2 adorable daughters and his wife.

Chachu you have touched our lives in more ways than I can ever say and I cannot begin to write on how proud the entire family is. If at all you were with us today.

Why I write this today after almost 5 yrs of the accident is because I am so hurt by some remarks that have been made belittling the armed forces. By the fact that people have the audacity to say that the men in uniform do it for money alone and that this is just a job like any other, and people take it up due to lack of other options. I can never understand what goes in the minds of retards that demean the armed forces.

I salute the heroes and their families. They live by what they believe and die by it too.

Posted in Straight from the heart | Tagged , | 23 Comments