Value Your Daughter to Avoid Rape

Every time  rape happens, first question is about the woman’s character. Does a loose character woman (Whatever that is supposed to mean) have no rights??? Have no self-respect?? Have lost all the rights to her body ?? Have no dignity ?? Have lost all the say in the matters regarding herself??

What defines a woman’s character??

Is it the clothes she wears???

Is it her friends, she hangs around with??

Is it her profession, which at times may require her to spend crazy hours at office?

Is it her idea of having fun??? She might want to dance and drink at times??

Is it her free spirit?? She likes interacting with new people, she is an extrovert?

Is it her determination to put her career first??

Is it her strong determination to find her identity in the world?

What defines it?? And who defines it??

A woman can be any of character, but she still has a say, nobody can accost her without her will.

Bad character, loose character are definitions designed by patriarchal society to keep woman in control, in limitations. It is the way of dominating.

Rape is beyond physical exploitation, it’s a way of asserting power, superiority. It is way of telling woman that they are lesser being and can be controlled, manipulated, exploited physically and mentally. And this will continue to happen till the time society changes its attitude towards girls.

When girls are seen at par with boys, things will start changing.

When girl’s education is given equal importance, things will start changing.

When girls are trained mentally and physically to take care of themselves, things will start changing.

When girls are seen as financial strength rather than burden on the family, things will start changing.

When girls stand up for their rights, things will start changing.

When girls starts supporting their family, things will start changing.

The problem lies with every single family in our country. It has to be addressed at very micro level. Attitude towards girls need to change. They have to be accepted in the society for what they are and have to be given respect. It’s not something which can be handled by government alone, laws can be made to punish the culprit but that’s only after much damage would have happened to somebody.

The government can punish the culprit but it’s the people who are creating them. And it’s happening in most of the families, knowingly or unknowingly.

Change will come, when people change. You and I change, and force people around us to change! 

Brave and Beautiful

Standing at 5.5’’ she was a vision in pale yellow kurta salwar, it’s one of my earliest memories of Doon. There are very few people in the world whose beauty and charm can have lasting impression on you, she was one of them. She was kind, subtle, graceful and beautiful. There was sense of calm to her which you can only have, when you are truly comfortable being you. If anybody can do justice to all the coconut / almond oil commercials, it was her. She had long, dense, lustrous, jet black hair right down to her waist. And when she walked, they bounced with happiness. There was permanent smile on her face, which moved effortlessly to her eyes. She was a vision to eyes and soul!

It was the time, we used to live in different states. Little did I know then, that in the future we will share the same house. She moved to Delhi and we moved in together. We spent more then a decade in the same house and she remianed as beautiful and graceful as she was ever.

 

Much time has passed since then, life has moved to a different dimension. What define beauty is, it’s ability to stand the test of time. What define a person is, his/her ability to stand the test of life. She was always beautiful but today she is an epitome of beauty and strength as she looses her long, lustrous, jet black hair to radiation fighting brain tumour with a smile on her face, which still reaches her eyes.

We all know she is beauty made of steel and will come out of it stronger and better then ever.

Kamna. Beauty and grace with resolve of steel, which no destiny can beat!

 

Living the Romance

 

Sun is setting across the ocean. Sky is a melange of varied intensity of red, orange, pink blue colour. Waves are gently caressing the shore and  merging back into the ocean, where they belong. Wind is gentle and warm. I have just arrived in the Tanjung Rhu resort on Langkawi Islands, soaking in this breath-taking view from the lobby which opens to the ocean.

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The ocean is calling, I walk to the bar, pick up a glass of Bordeaux and start walking on the endless pristine white beach which now is changing colours in coordination with sky. I take my flip-flop out and start walking bare foot, waves lovingly stroking my feet, my blue dress is swelling because of wind and is getting soaked in water, it doesn’t care. It seems to be happy with the light playful touch of the wind. My lips are singing in joy as red wine kisses them warmly. My body sparkling as the gentle wind is drying the sweat off. I am feeling heady walking into the beautiful unknown. Some where far, somebody is playing, Claude Debussy, ‘Clair de lune’ on the piano. The sound is sugar to my ears and is taking me to a far off fantasy land where the world is at peace and there is romance in everything!

When are you really alone?

When are you really alone?

When people leave you?

When faith leave you?

When excitement leave you?

When belief leave you?

When ambition leave you?

When dream leave you?

Or

When hope leave you?

When are you really alone?

People can be substituted.

Faith can be rebuilt.

Excitement can be achieved again through different means.

Belief can be aggregated.

Ambition can be restored.

Dream can be renewed.

But how do you get hope back??? What does it take ?

Love!

Love is a very tricky business.

It happens when you least expect it.

It happens with whom you don’t expect.

It is confusing.

It is killing.

It is devastating at times.

It is divine.

It is liberating.

It is exhilarating at times.

It breaks you, but it makes you.

Love is a very tricky business !!

Angels Are Not In Heaven, They Are Around You!

It was pouring last night. Rain drops were filtering through the palm leaves and falling on the dry concrete land. At a distance some where, koel was calling out to her partner, weather was romantic, moon was playing hide and seek with the clouds and the breeze was making soothing sound. When the weather is so fine you must enjoy it outdoor, so we took umbrellas to guard ourselves from the rain and walked out on the road. Humans are strange beings, we want to enjoy the nature but on our own terms. We want to enjoy the rain but not get wet.

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While we were walking and talking, we saw a man walking his dog in the rain. A closer look and I identified him as my neighbour who was walking his dog, Brisky, in the rain. We approached each other and I jokingly asked him, if has got caught in the rain unexpectedly. His reply surprised me, he said, he walks Brisky out every day after her dinner because she suffers from arthritis and walk is good for her. Helps her deal with the pain. I further asked him, why was he getting drenched and walking without umbrella. He replied, because Brisky is getting wet in the rain so he cannot be using umbrella. He feels bad about it.

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It’s so easy to not bother about other’s comfort. It’s easy to provide comfort to others. But it takes a lot of unconditional, pure love to give up your own comfort for others. Men like Shibu, my neighbour, are rare but I am glad I know one!

Pained and Irrational Me

Traffic signal was turning orange, I stepped on accelerator to cross the signal before it turned red. I missed it by nick of time. Impatient, restless as I am, turned the volume up to the maximum while I waited for the signal to turn green again.

A face appeared on the side window, she knocked on the window glass with quivering hands. I don’t give alms to beggars but she was not begging. She looked like a dignified lady, she was selling ‘agarbattis/essence stick’ on the Chirag Delhi traffic signal. It was late in the night, she was probably trying to make last sale of the day. I rolled the window down and bought a box of agarbattis.

When I bought them, I didn’t know if they will ever be used. Unfortunately, they were lit  in front of my father’s photograph, the very next day.

I still cross that signal often. That lady still sells agarbattis there. For very long, I didn’t look at her to avoid evil omen. I was too sacred to look at her, it wasn’t her fault but how do you convince a grieving heart.

Time has healed the wounds. I am not scared of her anymore but I still don’t have courage to buy agarbattis from her. I don’t think, I can ever be that brave.

First Salary. First Learning.

I don’t read newspaper.

I didn’t read it back then. It depresses me to read so much negativity.

Sitting on my terrace, sipping early morning tea, 15 years back, I flipped the page of ‘Times Of India’. I don’t remember why, but I did. In the middle, on the double spread was a Samsung mobile phone advertisement. I clearly remember it was a silver colour mobile phone, you could flip it open from the centre.

I was fresh in college and the mobile phone was new to the world and were very expensive. Those days, even incoming calls were charged for Rs 32 per pulse. So it was just not the handset, keeping a phone was exorbitant. There were only 3 players in the market – Airtel, Hutch and BSNL/MTNL. Idea, Reliance, Aircel was yet to venture. Hutch was yet to be bought over by Vodafone. Mobile phone had a flaunt value since only few carried it.

None of my family members had mobile phone. I had not thought of buying it either till the time I saw that advertisement. There was something about that phone that was calling out to me. Mesmerised, I asked my father to buy me that phone.

My father looked at me and said,

‘If you need that phone, you have to earn it.’

I was per perplexed, I was 18, how will I earn such an expensive phone. I had never worked in my life. So I asked my father,

‘I don’t know what to do to make that kind of money. I am under graduate, unskilled, who will employ me? How will I earn money?’

He explained, ‘If you need things in your life, you have to work hard and find a way to make money, so you can afford what you want.’

That made sense to me but I was still direction less. How will I make Rs 16000 ??? It was a lot of money.

I wanted the phone. It had casted a spell on me, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was ready to work for it, I just didn’t know what to do to earn money.

Then one day, while walking through Bhikaiji Came Place in New Delhi, I saw an advertisement pasted on the wall of Hyatt Regency. They were looking for interns for some job. Since I had little knowledge about anything, I don’t clearly remember for what exact profile they were looking for.

The phone was on my mind so I applied. I filled the form, pasted my picture and dropped it in their office. A week later, I got a call for an interview. I appeared and was selected for the front office job.

Excited I went home and informed my parents about it. Hearing that, they were shell-shocked. They had bigger dreams for me and here I was wanting to work in a hotel for a phone. They didn’t say anything negative. They were more in wait and watch mode.

I worked for a month and got  Rs 12000 as salary. It was a big amount for that time for a 18-year-old undergraduate. I took the money home and gave it to my mother, she returned it back to me and happily asked me to do whatever I wanted to do with it.

I was still short of Rs 4000 which meant I had to work more.

As I was walking out of the house to meet up with my friends, my father called me and handed me Rs 4000 and told me to buy the phone. I didn’t understand why would he do that since now I was working and I could very well afford it in another month’s time.

He said, ‘I was wanting you to understand the value of money, nothing comes easy and nothing comes free. You have to work for it. And since you have understood that you don’t need to work  for money, any more. You should focus on your studies.’

I quit my job the very next day and went straight to Karol Bagh market to buy the phone.

Years have passed but his words are still fresh in my mind. After that, I have never ever asked for money from anybody in my life. I know, I have to earn it!

Delayed Tooth Fairy

‘I need to buy more clothes.’

‘My tooth is hurting.’

‘New shoes too, I think i need floaters. It’s so hot in Delhi’

‘I think it’s not hurting, it is just being sensitive.’

‘I am getting out of school uniform, finally!’

‘Should I see a doctor??’

‘How will I commute?’

‘It’s not even a molar, what can be wrong with my canine?’

‘May be, I should take auto or ask papa for the car?’

‘I think it’s going to fall off, I can barely touch it, it’s so sensitive.’

‘Or should I do car pool with somebody.’

‘I need to see a doctor, it needs to be treated.’

I realise I was talking to my self, sitting on the coffee table in front of TV. There was an option to sit on the sofa or on the chair but I chose table. Teenager mind works differently, may be it is a sign of liberation. Not adhering to the rules of the world, doing things their way. My mind was constantly shuttling between college, which was going to start in a week and my tooth, which was not in good health for some reasons i couldn’t fathom.

Just then my cousin walked in, who was visiting her Orthodontist. I chose to accompany her and show my tooth to the doctor. I wanted to settle down the problem before the college started.

College in India is the epitome of freedom. From the age of 3 when you start schooling, you live by rules, designed by others. Your parents choose the school and the school decides rest of your life. Most of your early and teenage years go shuttling between school, tuition and some extra curricular classes like music, sports or dance. You live half of your life till 18 in one uniform, wearing same style of shoes, sporting same kind of hair style, travelling in the same school bus, day after day.

College on the other hand is freedom!

You decide everything yourself, starting from college itself. Everyday is a new day, new friends, new experience, newly found freedom, a restriction and limitation free life.

Since you lived most of your life wearing one uniform to school thus in college you pay extra attention dressing up, clothes and shoes are chosen with care, hair is done in latest style colouring and shading them as per popular trend, accessory adds the required spunk to the personality. You are the babe. You are the dude. All ready to take on the world, armed with your confidence and personality.

At this age, you some how get license to date. Unofficially though. You must have been in a relationship in the past but your parents never accepted,  encouraged or even acknowledged it. Your parents always believed and tried making you believe that you are too young for any other relationship besides being son/daughter or sister/brother. So the wonderful time college is, besides exploring what would you want to do to make your money you would also explore with much eagerness, who would you want to spend all your money with?

I was on the verge of freedom.

Since my tooth was hurting, I visited the doctor with my cousin in Defence Colony. They have a lovely three floor house and half of it is converted in dental clinic, where husband and wife practice. In one of the many visits, I learned that their son is also studying some form of dentistry and will join them as soon as he is done. Why is that important to me??? because later it turned out that he was quite delightful, chocolate looking and the driving force behind our punctuality. I never ever missed any appointment.

I am seated on the dental chair, in not so relaxed position, my wide mouth open with doctor’s apparatus inside my mouth. Light glaring on me from the high volt lamp which is positioned right on top of me my face.

‘Which one is sensitive? This one?’

He hits his tool on my tooth and excruciating pain goes through my jaw and hits my head.

‘Yeah.’

I can barely speak with my mouth wide open.

‘Does it pain now?’

He hits it from a different angle.

‘Yes, it does.’

I want to scream and hit him back. If it is hurting from one angle, it will hurt from another.

‘Ok, looks like you are still a baby.’

‘Humm, what?’

‘You have a milk tooth.’

‘What??????’

‘Yeah, you have a milk tooth, it didn’t fall all this while.’

‘I am 18, how is it possible?’

‘It is, you have a milk tooth. It didn’t fall and your earlier doctor didn’t remove it.’

We are Indians, dental health only appears in our scheme of things when it is utmost necessary. We would avoid seeing the dentist as much as we can. Even when the need arises, we would delay it as much as we can. This is one habit which is common from north to south and east to west. It is also consistent across all religion and cast.

It’s still sinking in. I couldn’t react physically or emotionally as he is still inspecting my teeth.

‘Have you ever been to a dentist earlier?’

He didn’t wait for my reply.

‘Looks like you have cavity. Let’s see, one, two, three Hmm ok, now top, four, five, six.’

‘You have cavity in 6 teeth and your wisdom tooth is tilted,’

I am cursing myself, why did I ever come, I could have lived with the sensitive tooth. Anyway the pain was not permanent.

Finally, his hands out of my mouth. Glaring lights switched off. We are having man to man discussion, or in this case man to woman with baby tooth.

‘So I suggest, we fix your cavities first, remove your wisdom tooth, it’s any way not required and then remove your milk tooth.’

‘ Is there anyway to avoid it.’

‘No, if you want healthy teeth in the future.’

‘Great, since I have no choice, let’s go with it.’

I am novice in this field, so my imagination is limiting me. I can’t imagine what more can happen with my teeth, I am in for a big surprise.

‘But once we remove your milk tooth, it will leave a gap in your lower jaw.’

Boom! I am hit by a rock, obviously it didn’t occur to me.

‘And since it is in the front, it will look quite odd.’

I really want to pinch myself and wake up, it’s not happening to me. My college is going to start in a week’s time. I can’t go to college without my tooth.

‘How will I look?’

‘Everybody will laugh at me?’

‘Who would want to befriend a weird-looking girl? God no!’

‘So, to cover up the gap, we need to pull your teeth together, for that we will put braces.’

Now, I want to die.

Braces in college? They are bad enough when you are in school but in college. I am freaked out beyond my wits.

Since there is no escape and I have to get the milk tooth extracted and wear braces to look decent again, I am hoping it won’t last long. May be in six months braces would come off. I am in for another shocker.

‘Braces are slow process , it will take at least 2.5 yrs to 3 yrs.’

‘That’s all of my college life!’

‘Are you saying I have to wear braces for 3 years to fix my teeth.’

‘Pretty much, but depending upon your progress, it may come out earlier.’

‘When do you want to start.’

After that I had nothing to say. I had to go with it, I wanted my teeth to be in good condition to be able to chew at 60.’

First day of my college, I carefully chose my clothes, wore best of my denim with white top and canvas shoes. I entered college campus, my teeth decorated with glittering braces. I had option, I could have chosen coloured ones, i preferred silver.

Nobody seems to notice my braces. If they did, they didn’t mention it. I was surprised by general kindness of people, they were letting me be and not taking dig at steel in my mouth. Some of them were extra supportive, as they found my braces cute, it’s pointless to mention that they were mostly boys.

For the next three years in the college I was known as cute girl with braces. I thank god for that, it could have been weird girl with braces.

As humans, we tend to exaggerate and blow any situation into a big problem by thinking negatively and giving it an undue importance, it may or may not even be a problem. As it happens most of the time, it may be just any other situation which needs to be dealt with, at times with some care.

Expensive Shit!

Guide, ‘It’s USD 1,100 per kg.’

Me, ‘Is it made of gold?’

Guide, ‘No, shit.’

Me, with wide eyes and shocked face, ‘Mind your language.’

Guide, ‘Ma’am, i am serious, it is made of shit.’

Me, ‘You are kidding me right?’

Guide, ‘No, i am serious, it can actually go upto USD 3000 per kg.’

Me, unbelievingly, ‘No way…… you can’t be serious, you are shitting me!’

Some time back, we visited Coorg, beautiful, serene, lush green coffee plantation, 5 hours away from Bangalore.

I travel often and in any of my visits to numerous destinations in India and abroad, i have never ever attended any hotel organised programs, such as baking, cooking, dancing, yoga, rock climbing, scuba diving, painting and many such interesting, creative programs, which the very attentive hotel staff design to keep their guests occupied. Imagine not attending yoga session at Ananda in Himalayas, not attending scuba diving sessions in Phi Phi island, not attending baking classes in Paris, not attending history tour in Italy, not attending fishing in Langkawi island. It’s blasphemy.

On the trip to Coorg, i realised i am missing out a lot by letting go off these wonderful, entertaining and educational sessions, they are specially designed keeping tourists in mind, i should benefit from them. I promised myself to attend and educate myself, starting from this very holiday.    

In Coorg, on our second day we attended a guided tour around the plantation. The guide took us around the coffee plantation, describing and detailing various vegetation and taking us through the life cycle of coffee from the time they are seeds to the time they land in our cups. We wandered in the lush green bush of coffee touching, feeling and smelling aroma of coffee beans/cherries. After two hours, exhausted going up and down the the slopes, we returned to the hotel. The guide lead us to the hotel coffee workshop for coffee tasting session. It’s here, we tasted the most exotic coffee in the world, for the first time and i think for the last.

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‘The coffee you are having is one of the most expensive coffee, it’s Kopi Luwak’, the guide announced with pride.

Kopi Luwak sounded exotic but nobody payed heed, everybody in the group was exhausted and all they wanted to do was to drink their coffee in peace. Nobody made any effort to know what is Kopi Luwak, that didn’t seem to demotivate the guide, he continued,

‘It is made from cat’s shit.’

I nearly choked and spilled my coffee after hearing that. The guide continued,

‘The mountain cat, Civet, eats the finest coffee berries and poops them out, our farm people collects the poop, clean, roast and grind the beans, to serve you, the world’s most exotic flavour.’

In the state of shock, i asked him, ‘So basically we are drinking cat’s poop and it is suppose to be exotic.’

‘Yes, m’am, it’s exotic and most expensive type of coffee, it originated in Indonesia in 18th century’.

I kept my coffee mug aside and made two mental notes, first, I will inform the hotel staff about this guy’s lunacy and second I will check about the exotic coffee before i inform the hotel staff.

Foreign land linkage didn’t help me much, my thoughts were in turmoil, there was hurricane in my mind, how can poop be exotic ???? Is this guy mad? so i googled and as we all know google is next to god, it has all the answers. 

Eureka moment, we were actually sipping world’s finest poop!

Google for better or worse have all the answers, Palm Civet is a kind of cat that eats finest coffee cherries, the cherries goes through fermentation process during digestion in the cats intestine, while the fruit part of the cherries gets digested, the beans does not, in about one and half day the cat egest the beans in their feces, the farm people collect the beans from the poop, cleans, roasts and grinds them to make the world’s most expensive coffee.

So why is it so special??

Firstly, Palm Civet is a smart cat, she only eats the finest cherries so her poop ensures the finest quality of beans available in the region. Secondly, the fermentation process in the intestine alters the flavour of the beans, resulting in better tasting coffee. Some doubt it and some buy it at the price of gold!

I am north Indian bred, we are tea people, coffee for us is Caf’e Coffee Day, Barista and lately Starbucks and i am sure they don’t serve exotic coffee to common people, thank god for that.

Tea, i believe is less adventures, i am not too sure though, i will let you know after my visit to tea planation in Assam!