Nothing is CHOTA

Very often I am told that I am thinking too much about small things. “Choti si cheez hai chod de!”, “Itna mat soch chote chote cheezon ke baare mein!” are dialogues I get to hear very often while I believe that it is these chota things that matter most in life. And here is why…

It is the ‘CHOTA’ comments we ignored at the bus-stops that turned into rapes and acid attacks today.

It is the ‘CHOTA’ wrappers we throw on the roads that helped us forget dustbins and keep our surroundings eternally dirty.

It is the ‘CHOTA’ gestures of love that make our days.

It is the ‘CHOTA’ drops of water we let leak from our taps that are making water the next oil. Don’t be surprised if 10 years down the line countries fought for water like they are fighting for oil today.

It is the ’CHOTA’ things we miss when we look back in life. A beautiful smile, the gossip over chai, jumping over the college walls, sitting by a lake side, the late night walks, a warm hug, the drama and the fun… 😀

It is the ‘CHOTA’ bulbs or fans we left running unnecessarily that are making us suffer power cuts today. Even the cities in India are having to deal with 3-6hrs of power cut in mid summer months.

It is the ‘CHOTA’ bribes we paid the traffic police that lead to thousands of crores of public money magically disappearing in scams. And yes, we are all crying about how corrupted the country is today.

It is the ‘CHOTA’ coins we save that fill the piggy bank 🙂

It is the ‘CHOTA’ words we let slip our tongue that break hearts.

It is the ‘CHOTA’ things we do that say what we truly are. Because character is what you are when no one is watching and the CHOTA things are what go unnoticed.

Nothing is CHOTA

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Dad’s Little Princess

As a kid I really longed to be my dad’s Little_Princess.

When I was a tiny kid, my dad was a well-built man with a big beard. I was most of the times scared to go to him and give him a hug unless accompanied by my mother. My dad was a very reserved man. He was not very expressive and did not talk much to anyone. As a child I always wondered why my dad was not like all the other dads. I wondered why he did not talk to us and play with us like the other dads did.

There are some instances I can never forget. I was a very scared kid. I was scared of darkness, insects, birds and everything possible. Every night I used to wait for mom to come sleep with me because I was afraid of sleeping alone. Dad used to insist I went to bed alone. I used get someone to switch the light on for me and went to bed scared. Ten minutes from then dad would come and switch the light off. I was so afraid of darkness that I would not even get off the bed to switch the light on. Whenever dad found insects in the flowers he would hold my hand and put the insect on my palm. I used to scream and cry all day. Even when I did not know what inheritance meant dad would tell me, “I will sell away everything I have, if required, to get you educated but after that you are on your own. Don’t expect me to leave something behind for you.”  There were times I used to go to mom and ask, “Why does dad hate me so much? What did I do?”

As I look back now, I realize that what ever I am today is mostly because of him. Even without me realizing he had a great impact on my life. There are very few things that I am afraid of. I can walk on a dark, lonely road without fear. I am not afraid of taking risks and am prepared to face the consequences of my actions. I would not have lived in peace at Kharagpur with all the insects, cats and dogs if it was not for those insect exercises. With all the pampering I enjoyed in a joint family, I would have been a dependent kid for the rest of my life if my dad did not push me to be independent. Today I am a strong and independent individual.

As I grew up I made efforts to get closer to dad. It took me sometime but seems like he has been waiting too. As I got closer to him I realized more and more how wonderful a person he is. He is a person who never stepped back from his responsibilities. His family (when I say family, I mean a huge family of about 20 people) is his utmost priority in life. He does everything possible to give each member of the family the best. He respects hard work. It is from him I learnt – ‘No work is less dignified’. He is the carpenter, electrician, plumber, gardener..everything of the house. The list of things I learnt from him is endless. The strength of his character inspires me.

When I was back home for the first time after joining college (College was the first place I stayed without being accompanied by a family member. Having been brought up in a joint family, for 18 years of my life, I never spent a day without a member of the family around.), my aunt told me that it took dad two months to sleep in peace after I joined college. He would wake up in the middle of the night and sit with tears in his eyes. It was then I realized how much he misses me. I also realized that though he portrays a very strong image he is very soft inside.

He never told me an ‘I love you’ but he loves me more than anyone does. He never gave me a birthday gift but he made sure I never had to ask for anything in life. He let me make my choices and learn from my mistakes. He was there with me even when I made the grossest of mistakes. He is one man who respects my freedom and independence and has blind faith in me. If there is one man I can trust with all my heart it is dad.

Now when I look back in life I know that I have always been his Little Princess.

Thank you dad for everything you have been to me. I would never have been what I am today without you. It took me sometime to understand your love for me. And where I stand today, it might take you some time to understand my love for you. But I know for sure that I will always remain Dad’s Little Princess.

Posted in Family | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Life is a cocktail

cocktails_Wallpaper__yvt2Conversations with drunk friends are very deep and philosophical sometimes. One such drunken conversation in the recent past made me realize something very interesting – Life is no different from a Cocktail (Non-alcoholics read ‘Mocktail’).

Every person has his/her own recipe for a perfect cocktail. I personally love scotch on the rocks. Some love vodka with lime water, some whisky with coffee and some others love the craziest of cocktails like the corned beef collins and whisky with mayonnaise. Some like to get high and dance and some others like to savour the drink over a candle light dinner with their partners. Every person has his/her own choice of brands, the right amounts, hang-outs, food to go with and most importantly people to drink with that make the perfect cocktail. A perfect cocktail is not just about the drink, it is about the wonderful feeling that the drink leaves us with.

So is LIFE.

Every person has his/her own recipe for a perfect life. Some love travelling, some writing, some adventure, some photography, some teaching and the list goes on. Some love being lost in just one thing (Like the ‘neat’ alcoholics). Some love a balance between two (Like a martini). Some love doing a little of many things (Imagine a cocktail of rum, vodka and gin). While some others love being crazy and doing new things (Like the crazy cocktailers). A perfect life is not just about what we do, it is about the wonderful feeling of going to bed happy everyday and wanting to wake up next day to do something awesome again.

The secret to happy life is to discover the recipe of your own perfect cocktail. Getting started and a little experimenting will definitely lead you to it.

So what are you waiting for? Go grab your perfect cocktail and if you don’t have the recipe yet keep experimenting till you find it 🙂

Caution:

  • You are responsible for the overdose and after effects of your cocktail. Consequences follow. So is life.
  • Your recipe of a perfect cocktail might change with time and sometimes the change can be as big as cocktailers becoming mocktailers. Don’t be afraid of change. Enjoy it as long as you love your drink. So is life.
Posted in My philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Character without Condition 1: Selflessness

For most of us our character is lost in words and seldom reflects in  our actions. For us ‘conditions apply’ to stick to the character of our words. The moment life hits us hard in the face and when we have to save our ass, all the values and character we have been talking about go down the drain.  I personally have done so.

Life has given me opportunities to meet people, who inspite of all the odds, lived upto their values. For them ‘no conditions ever apply’. Such people inspire me to build a strong character and live a life of values, no matter what. They constantly remind me that ‘In the end, all that matters is a life of meaning, a life lived with a strong character’. Here is one of the most recent experiences I have had.

The rickshaw-puller who takes me to class everyday had a severe sprain on his right hand. Inspite of the medication, he has been suffering from severe pain. On our way back from class one morning, I inquired how he was feeling. He said, “It still hurts but I have to work to feed my family”. I didn’t know what to say. There was a silence and then he said, “If only my dad was there, the pain would long be gone”.

I asked him if his father knew how to treat sprains. He said, “He knew”. There was a silence again. I asked, “What all could your father treat?” He said his father could treat fractures and sprains. Silence again. After a long pause, he continued, “He could treat both people and animals. There used to be long queues of people in front of the house every morning. He used to treat them all day.” I started to assume that his father had been a well to do doctor and my assumption was immediately proven wrong when dada (the rickshaw-puller) said, “But he never charged a single rupee from anyone for the treatment he offered. He treated people and animals for free. People used to travel across villages to get treated by him. He believed the service he offered should not be traded for money.”

I was left awestruck. I was moved by the selflessness of this man who inspite of having difficult times feeding his family never gave up on his character. His sons did not like him because he could not send them to school inspite of having the ability to earn. His wife wanted him to earn too. And in the end, this man who sent good health to a lot of homes, died of bad health himself as his family could not afford his treatment.  He stuck to his belief till the end no matter what came his way. After he died is when his family realized the respect he held in the hearts of the people he served. They respect him no less than they respect god.

I felt the story of this unsung hero is worth sharing and worth learning from. So, here it is for you…

Posted in Experiences | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living Dreams: Beautiful and Foggy

Photo Courtesy: Ashay Gangwar

Photo Courtesy: Ashay Gangwar

I woke up, today, cursing the fact that I had to go to an early morning class on a foggy winter day. But as I stepped out of my room, the view was beautiful enough to charge me up and I chose to walk to the class.

I could not see what lay more than a few feet ahead of me. When I looked around, it felt like standing in a fog-cage. I walked slowly, listening carefully to the sounds coming from all directions, to avoid being hit by cyclists blinded by the fog – like I am. I enjoyed the birds chirping, the cool breeze and the sun rays trying hard to reach the ground. It was a beautiful start of the day. Not only did it charge me up, it also made me realize something – this is how living our dreams is: Beautiful and Foggy.

Living our dreams is just like a foggy winter morning walk. We never know what lies more than a few steps ahead of us. It is only when we take one step forward that the next few steps are revealed to us. Standing still as we cannot see further only leaves us surrounded by fog. The only way is to have faith and take a step ahead and the path will keep on revealing itself to us. We need to be alert and be aware of each step that we take just like when we are on the foggy road. We never know when life hits us in the face just like we never know when a cyclist would crash into us. We celebrate our small creations, just like we enjoy the cool breeze and chirping of birds. After all the highs and lows of the journey, there we are cherishing the wonderful experience: Beautiful and Foggy.

Posted in My philosophy | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

I am not a piece of flesh!

I am discarded like a piece of stale flesh. I am not a piece of flesh, I am female foetus. I wish I could ask my parents if they can imagine a life  without a mother, sister, wife and their female friends. But how can I when I am killed even before I am born?

When I make it out of my mother’s womb and feel the warmth of sunlight, I feel lucky. How would I know that I will be killed even before I open my eyes? I am not an animal for sacrifice, I am a girl child. I feel animals for sacrifice are luckier because they are at least respected for their sacrifice. On the other hand I am blamed for bringing bad luck to my parents while it was them who brought me into this world.

When I grow to be 5 years old, I see boys of my age going to school but I am at home helping my mother who has also not been to school. I grow up to see my younger brothers go to school. I wash their clothes, pack their lunch, do all the household work and wait for them to get back from school wishing I could go to school as well. I know my dream will never come true when my drunk father comes home to beat me up for bringing him bad luck and being a burden. I am raped by cruel male beasts, sometimes my own father. Sometimes I am orphaned because my parents feel I am a burden.  Even before I know anything about the world, I am sold out in marriage to older men whose slave I become for the rest of my life. Sometimes I am sold out to brothels where I am harassed and raped. I deserve to grow, I deserve to be in love and so do I deserve to choose the man I want to be with. I am not a used radio or tv, I am a girl child. No one treats me like one but  I am a child too – a girl child.

Sometimes I go to school and have caring parents. I feel lucky and study hard to stand on my own feet and live with dignity. How would I know that this would make life more difficult for me?

  • I go to college and make friends. Having male friends makes me a bitch.
  • When a guy has a lot of girl friends he is a MAN. When I have more than one boy friend I am slut.
  • When I reject a proposal I am harassed, mentally and physically. Nude pics of mine (Only god knows when I posed for any) get into the internet. I am attacked with acid. Sometimes I am even killed in broad day light. When I sense danger and go to police for help, they say it is very common these days, just ignore and it will be fine. I didn’t know it is common to be harassed and killed for rejecting a proposal.
  • When I get married I am harassed for dowry. I am not a wife but bonded labour. I am beaten up, harassed and suffocated to death. The ways I am killed only get more creative by the day. I am a faithful slave only I pay to be one. While I wish that at least my mother in law (sometimes even mother) understands what it is to be a woman, she only seems to make things worse for me. I am expected to be a remote-controlled tv – you can watch the channel you wish. They beat me up for nothing and I silently cry and the very next moment I am supposed to be in bed to satisfy their beastly pleasures. Do you know how it feels to be raped by your own husband?
  • I go out alone and I am raped by the male beasts. They say the fault is mine. Even the police who are supposed to protect me harass me with piercing questions and declare the fault is mine. I am either out at the wrong time, alone or provocatively dressed. Everything is MY fault.  What do you think? I go out to be raped?
  • I have a man accompany me when ever I go out because the roads are no longer safe for me. They beat him up and rape me in a moving bus. They rape me while I am unconscious and they dump my body on the road. What did I do wrong this time? I was neither provocatively dressed nor alone. All I did was get into a bus on a crowded road that I wished would get me home.
  • I fight with death and want to live again. But I am an untouchable because I am raped. It is a sin to talk to me (sometimes even to look at me), it is a sin to have me at work, it is a sin to marry me. All the world wants to tell me is – You better die than live, You don’t deserve to live, You have been raped. While  the beasts that committed the crime roam around as heroes, yes! it is manly to commit a rape, I become an untouchable and a sinner.

I am a WOMAN and this in brief is the story of my life. I can go on narrating and it would never end. It is a pity that my story is so full of tragedy. The situation is similar all around the world. In India (where I stay) it is only getting worse with each passing day. But who do I point a finger at for causing this situation? Myself? Men? Society? God?

I believe God created man and woman with the same love and care. It is we, the people, who created the differences. I believe each one of us in our own capacities is responsible for this state of affairs. The solution lies within each of us. It is only when we assume individual and collective responsibility to prevent such incidents and  stand up for the right things will we see a change in the world around us.

This how I see various components of the Nation being involved to make it a place where women are respected and can live with dignity.

  • Me (A Woman): I must stand up for myself. Most of the crime goes unnoticed because I stay silent. Most cases of stalking, mental or physical harassment, rape are not even reported. I must stop being just a piece of flesh and fight for my rights. I must fight for justice and spread awareness among other women. Change must start from ME.
  • Women: More often than not I hear women spreading rumours about other women. We add spice to rumours as conveniently as we add spice to our food. Please remember that the woman you are talking about is just another woman like you. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment and you will know what she is going through. Respect her dignity. If you cannot help her at least do not cause harm. And if you can be of some help, be there to support your friends or relatives who are victims of crime fight for justice rather than encouraging them to remain silent about it. It is only when we respect each others dignity and fight together will we get the justice we need in a male dominated society. That we are weaker than men is only what we tell ourselves. We are not! Together we must rise!
  • Men: An unbelievable fact is that is that a huge percentage of the men committing crimes against women belong to the educated and working class of the society. And well, I don’t think they deserve to be called ‘educated’. This is a real shame. Please try to be real men – Men of dignity and honour. Help the women around you live in dignity and fight for their rights. When you find your friends or relatives disrespecting or misbehaving with women put a check to it rather than over looking it as fun or being silent about it.
  • The society at large: Please try to be responsible citizens. It is real shame that culprits of crime against women dare to get along with the society without trouble while innocent victims of the crime become out-castes. Stop overlooking the crimes committed by your own brother, husbands, friends or fathers. Let us put our heads and hearts straight. Let us advocate for the right things. Well coming to right things, most of us are so busy with our own lives that we are ignorant about whats happening around us and even if we somehow come to know we don’t care. Stop being ignorant and silent because it is not about you, there is good chance that someday it might be your own sister, daughter, wife, friend, mother or yourself (if you are a woman) who is the victim of the crime. Many drops make an ocean and it is small packets of change that lead to a revolution. Even the smallest of change will contribute to the larger picture. Do whatever little you can but please don’t stay ignorant and silent.
  • Educators: Please try to impart education focused on values and ethics rather than knowledge and skills. Children spend a huge amount of their time with you and most importantly they trust you. You play a very important role in shaping lives and making of the society. Of what use are knowledge and skills that cause nothing but harm?
  • Police, Judiciary and Law Makers: The country is going to the dogs and it’s really time that we act. The rate of crime is increasing by the day because there is no fear of punishment. Please make concrete laws without loop holes that serve genuine victims rather than being avenues that educated miscreants can exploit. Please stop escaping from responsibility by blaming it on the girls. Please take it seriously when a complaint is lodged rather than advising the girls to ignore and stay silent about it. Act responsible to your positions. Women are afraid of lodging complaints because it only adds to the harassment rather than providing justice. A lot of crime can be prevented if the reported cases are acted upon and culprits start fearing punishment for their actions. Enforce laws strictly. We have seen enough of negligence and laziness on your part. Please stand up to your responsibilities.
  • Politicians and Political parties: Not all but most of you – All you do is talk about the crime in tv shows when things go out of hand and when there is a spark of rage and anger in the society. Even that is done to keep your vote bank safe. Giving money to the family will not undo the crime. Please take steps to stop crime. We vested power with you because we trusted you will take care of us and not let the country go to dogs. Use the power to help the people of the country rather than keeping your power in place and increasing your bank balance. Stop shedding crocodile tears and if there is a bit of humanity left in you act for the people of this Nation.
  • News Media: I cannot say in words the amount of responsibility you hold in this regard. Whenever there is new ‘story’ (yes! tragedy in someone’s life is just another interesting story which increases viewership of the channel/paper) the media goes about talking a lot about what happened and how the officials and government are not playing their roles properly. But what is the media doing to help the situation? The media needs to follow-up the case to ensure justice. The media has to push the concerned officials to provide justice to the victims. The media needs to take necessary steps to continuously spread awareness among the citizens on women’s rights and empower women by being their voice. Stay unbiased and stay true to the essence of media.
  • Entertainment Media: There cannot be a movie/serial without rape scenes, molestation, eve teasing and item songs. Right? And one very simple answer you have got: Its not a commercial hit otherwise. And men in movies get away with all the non sense they do. Because the HERO is god..nothing can happen to him..Well, it is not so in real life and a lot of your viewers fail to realize that. Do you not realize the amount of influence you have on the mindsets of people? Are the movies you make really something you would like your kids to be inspired from? Please stop objectifying women. Women are not pieces of ‘Tandoori Chicken’ (With reference to the lyrics of a song form a Bollywood movie).

I know I talked a lot in this post and I also know that just like every other time this time too it’s going to be another story that will not be talked about after a couple of days. But I did not want to remain silent again. So here I go. Hoping that this post will make people look inside and make a few people act.

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Posted in Social Development, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

25 Years of Love…

IMG_1444Today as the couple I watched very closely for 22 years of my life celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, let’s raise a toast to ’25 years of Love’.

Cheers Mom and Dad, to you and to 25 years of your life together. We wish you a very happy and long life together.

As a kid I always wondered why and how two people so different from each other chose to marry and live together for the rest of their lives.

My father is a smart, independent, tough and practical man. He is reserved and talks very less. He almost never says ‘I love you’ but if you have been with him you will definitely know that no one can love you more. If there is one man I can truly trust and who would never give up on me that is Him. Not just me, the entire family looks up to him (And well I have a huge family that counts up to 25 people).  His responsibilities mean everything to him and he never stepped back from any. When he is angry he mostly gets silent but  when he loses his temper you better don’t be around. He works hard, earns well and spends well too. When you ask him what he would leave back for his daughters if he spent so much, you will hear him saying, “The ability to stand up to themselves”. He is a conventional foodie. He loves home-made South Indian food and for him food is just another daily routine. Expect with food, dad loves taking reasonable risks.

My mother on the other hand is a soft, innocent and loving female.  She cannot live without all her family around her. She is an open book and her face clearly gives away what she is feeling. She shares everything she has on her mind. She tells us an ‘I love you’ every time she has an opportunity to (About 4-5 times a day). She loves unconditionally, the only condition being she needs some love back 🙂 When she is angry she cries her heart out and nearly never loses her temper. She is careful about every penny she spends and will never understand why dad has so many gadgets all of which play songs and videos 😛 She gets angry with dad because he doesn’t save enough to leave back for his daughters. She loves eating new varieties of food  and savours every bite of what she eats. Except with food, mom generally prefers to stay inside the risk-free zone.

In spite of all the differences they had one thing in common – LOVE for each other. And then came along two babies who occupied a huge part of their common world – Me and My Sister. All that mattered to them in the past 22 years was to be the best parents together.

One evening after dad came back from office we all sat together for a small chit-chat. The discussion turned out to be about why dad spent so much on handicrafts for home decor. My aunt said to my mom, “He loves them so he buys them. Why don’t you use your time at home to make them? He will stop buying then”. My aunt knew pretty well that my mom wouldn’t be able to make them. She was just mocking at my mom. To add to it dad said, “I will have to go looking for her in my next life to see one garland complete”.  My aunt said, “Would you go looking for her in your next life as well? I wouldn’t”. Dad smiled. Even after almost 5 years, I still remember that smile just like it was a moment ago. Dad meant what he said. He would go looking for her all over again if he was born again 🙂 I feel the same warmth in mom’s tone when she says, “I couldn’t have lived with anyone else” a day after they fight. I hear most married people saying, “I made the wrong choice. If I could go back in time I would marry someone else”. But my parents showed me that being happily together is not about the kind of people who live together but a choice that they make. We saw them live together in all the highs and lows of their lives. We saw them cry together, laugh together, fight with each other and be there for each other in each and every moment of their lives together.

I always thought one needs to find the perfect person to be in love with but this lovely couple showed me that to be in love is to embrace each others differences and to be together no matter what.

Snapshots from our little midnight celebration:

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Handmade greeting card

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Mom and dad reading the card

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Cake cutting 🙂

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🙂

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Flowers from my sister

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Hand made gift 🙂

Posted in Family | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments