Conversations with gorgeous souls#1

Last Puja holidays we decided to make a visit to two of the north eastern states-Assam and Meghalaya . As there are no direct flights to Guwahati we flew via Chennai.

Onboard next to me were few research scholars from one of the universities in Guwahati. And they were on their way back home after a three day conference at Thiruvananthapuram. The one sitting to my left was few years elder to me. Something I vividly remember about her was she was very lively and talkative.

She sat there overwhelmed as she was taking back with her all the beautiful memories she had while she was here in Kerala. And right next to her I was sitting all excited and thrilled to be flying to her native place. The flight was to take 4 hours before it was to land. I was glad she initiated the conversation. Personally I am not that comfortable starting it from my end when I am meeting someone for the first time (always had this starting trouble but once the ice breaks I can take it forward easily). She started off by telling me about the Kerala sarees she had bought and the sumptuous Kerala Sadhya she had tasted for the first time. She was at the peak when she was explaining how she was served something other than the regular bottled water wherever she dined during these three days. “Either it was warm and yellow or it was pink and warm served mostly in glass tumbler”she said. One is jeera vellam and the other she was referring to was Karingali vellam (This one is made out of the bark of a tree that is dried and stored. A little bit of it is put in the water and boiled to give you this pink coloured water).

She told me she was so stunned seeing this Karingali Vellam that she went all the way inside to the cook house to see the same. She mentioned that the staff there were very sweet and that they gave her little to see how exactly this looks like. She also added that she wanted to take home some. To my surprise she wasn’t kidding she did actually go and get some for herself from one of the herbal shops near her stay.

Moving on she asked me if I was travelling to the NE for the first time. On hearing my yes her eyes told me she became all focussed to make sure I visit all the prominent places in Guwahati. She also suggested places from where I could buy for myself a beautiful Mekhla Chador (their traditional wear).

As we spoke my gushing excitement was coupled with her overwhelming experience of having traveled all the way from the East to the South for the first time. The time just ran and we didn’t even realise when we landed and were waving at each other.

It wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t met her before landing there. Still thankful to her for that. Also, I wouldn’t have known someone could find our Karingali Vellam so fascinating a thing.

 

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Does he think too much of himself?

The other day when I was taking a session on Biographies and Autobiographies , a little one from the grade six came up to me asking whether the book in my hand was actually  written by Nehru .

He seemed okay when I told him that The book titled “Gandhi:His Life and Message for the World”

I moved on with my session giving examples of famous autobiographies starting with My Days by RK Narayan,  Wings of Fire by Kalam and finally a mention of Gandhi’ autobiography titled “My Experiments with Truth”.

As and when I finished with my explanation and examples for both of them this little one, whom I fondly call Tara and his friends call him 5T or Takali which means tomato in Malayalam and Tamil, came up to me and told me “Ma’am I am okay with fact that people write about lives of other individuals  who are famous and have achieved something significant in life but what I don’t understand is why do people write their own story?”.

Instantly, he added ,”I used to like both Nehru and Gandhi till I thought they only had biographers narrating their lives to us”.

He continued saying, “I didn’t know both Gandhi and Nehru had penned down their lives. I really don’t like them now. I feel they think too much of their self that is why they came up with these books which I see in your hands”.

Even before I could reply to him he said, “I think those who think too much of their self sit down to write everything about them”.

He saw it differently.

I was happy as he came up and shared his view on this unlike others who passively sat through the class jotting down things I was mentioning.

After the class we (Tara and me) sat down discussing more about autobiographies. We enjoyed those extra minutes we spent discussing something more than that was planned for the day.

Could you tell me my story better than I can tell you” is one of the questions I asked him in return.

During our discussion I gave him few examples from Gandhi’s autobiography. Things Gandhi could have skipped but he chose to write it down and share with his readers. Those which never found a mention in his biography.

“Now this genre makes sense to me ma’am” said he and there entered his next teacher.

It’s beautiful to see kids engage with you openly and confidently.

Let kids explore , engage , express and eventually excel .

Tomorrow’s dawn would end our long waiting!

It was a few years of waiting but it was an exhilarating period for each of us .

And it is finally tomorrow that we would be witnessing the Kochi Metro commencing its service.

It was sheer happiness to see the pace at which the metro work was going on, 24*7 without any interruption, as we went around the city during these years.

Sincere thanks to the workers who worked day in and out to make this project reach its completion on time.

To the very little inconveniences caused during the project we didn’t mind putting up with you.

It was during my first year of graduation in 2013 that the Metro works began and ever since then I had been eagerly looking forward to its completion because it was certain that it would change the face of ‘Nammude Kochi’.

Something new, something unique was introduced almost every day by KMRL and each time we came to know about it, it just added to our sense of happiness and pride.

They have been making headlines for all the right reasons. And we are so proud of them.

From hiring individuals from the transgender community, employing 7 women as loco pilots, ensuring no special reservation for women , providing work to 700 women who belong to Self-help group (Kudumbashree) and their open acknowledgment of the efforts of the migrant workers testify that through these actions Kerala’s first metro system guarantees a more inclusive society.

Apart from these there are numerous reasons why Kochi Metro stands at a different pedestal. To mention a few would be – Integrated transport model , Water metro , Non-Motorised Transport , One Ticket many journeys scheme , Automatic Fare Collection system, Kochi one app, Themed stations , Green Kochi drive , Adopt a tree scheme , Made in India coaches , Communication Based Train Control and Regenerative breaks .

Glimpses of KMRL’s sweet gestures towards their workers 

sadya4-1Kochi Metro thanks migrant workers with ‘traditional sadhya’

7Metro workers writing their messages in their own languages .

kochi-metro-workers_650x400_41497518063Dance party for the workers who were associated with Kochi Metro for the past four years .

But what came as a disappointment was that India’s Metro man, E Sreedharan, was not at first counted among those who were to be present during the inauguration of Kochi Metro on saturday.

To this he said he has no complaints, and “feels no heaviness”.

And it was only a day or two back that the Prime Minister’s Office finally sent him an official invite to the inauguration event which is to take place at Kaloor stadium in Kochi tomorrow.

Apparently a delayed invite to an event that could not have been possible if he had not endowed his confidence and vision in making this project a success and also completing it with such brilliance.

But this morning I came across this picture and it did turn me off.

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No matter who counts or not 

No matter who invites or not 

No matter who acknowledges or not 

He is the man and we are so proud of him . 

 

PS:  Thanks Bini for reminding me it had been long since I shared something here.

Best of Everything-My New Realm .

To the one who led me into this new realm -thank you for believing in me.

This has definitely been the most beautiful thing that has happened to me over the year’s.And I am glad you felt I could do my bit along with the others.

Adding to the charm was being blessed with a whole set of amazing people who wouldn’t have happened to me if I wasn’t in. Thank you guys for all the love!

Belong is the new realm I chose. And I am glad each day about being a part of it .For me it is truly a feeling that’s unparalleled.

Belong magic’ is what I call it.

If I was to count how long it has been- 6 months I would say! But it feels longer because the sense of belonging here is wonderful. One has to experience it to understand how it actually feels.  Turning each month older here has been something I eagerly looked forward.

Even though I always wanted to be a part of something good something worth the effort it didn’t happen unless I was introduced to Belong. Thankyou Ritesh.

When one has the freedom to come up with anything and everything that would be of real good to kids and in the broader sense for the community, one often tends to bring out their best. And this individual best collectively put forth has been the reason why this organisation has been doing remarkably well over the years. Well in its own ways.

“When you take small steps at a time it is definite you see your goal ahead but with the constant awareness that it isn’t going be easy, it is your determination that helps you attain it”. This isn’t something I didn’t know but being here I just realised how true and practical this approach is.

There isn’t anything more beautiful than to spend your weekends with cute little kids who eagerly wait to see you, be with you and also learn from you. They learn from us, we learn from them. It has always been mutual. It is certainly a wonderful way. The best part of such an involvement is that it helps us realise that life is much more than what you have seen, known and thought it is. It is real in every sense.

The most cherishable moments I have had here have been with these adorable ones and I still long for more. I wait for sundays literally.

For all the love and sincere support Belongies thanks! .It has helped me a lot when it came to taking up responsibilities here. Overwhelming support. Thank you for believing I could take it up.

Long way ahead

Lots to learn

Lots to experience

Lots to enjoy with you guys.

To those who envisioned a day this far I am sure you are very proud of where we are heading each day.

Personally I am so proud I am part of such an awesome bunch of people who so genuinely endow their time and effort for such a novel cause.

This post was due on the day I turned 6 months old here but it is only today that I found some time to share my sense of happiness of being a part of this organisation.

Love and regards Belongies.

You see what I saw but not what I endure

This was a thought that came to me when I was asked to write an article on the topic Photography in connection with a conference held at my college. It took me a while to actually think of a specific area relating to this topic on which I could pen down my thoughts. And as I have no technical knowledge of this area I rather decided to choose a topic that would either deal with the attachment people have towards photographs or with the mental psyche of photographers (especially the photojournalists) .So after pondering for a while on this I had reached a point where I thought I would express my personal views regarding the mental conflict that a photojournalist undergoes during the course of his life.

Standing in the midst of a war torn or a disaster hit area, a photojournalist endows the world with the horrific sight of what he has witnessed. What people see through his lens is what he first saw and what he has first handedly experienced in his life .During the course of his journalistic career; he is constantly subjected to an internal turmoil which very slowly consumes him. The mental catastrophe which he undergoes arises due to his inability to choose between his profession and his innate sense of responsibility towards his fellow beings.  It requires some serious consideration on the part of the viewers to understand his helpless situation as it is ultimately his profession which demands him to click those dreadful, terrible and awful seeming photographs .The viewers should be in a position to realise that just like any other professional, he too indulges in his work with utmost commitment as it earns him his living. It has been noted that the subject what he captures attains all the required attention but sadly what he internally undergoes remains an experience unheard, unnoticed and untouched.

An instance where this internal conflict had ultimately consumed a photographer’s life was in the case of Kevin Carter, the photojournalist who captured the sufferings of the Sudanese famine which was published in the New York Times on March 26, 1993. As soon as his photograph was published people were of the opinion that, “he was inhumane and that he should have dropped his camera to run to the little girl’s aid”. Carter was deeply and fatally affected by what he had experienced at Sudan but it was his sense of guilt which did not let him survive any longer after winning the Pulitzer for this particular photograph shown below .

Kevin-Carter
The vulture and the little girl ,1993 .

And it was very recently that the entire world came together to mourn the death of a three year old Syrian boy who died at the Turkish Coast.

turkey_coast9
Aylan as his body was tragically recovered from the Turkish Coast

The image of the boy lying dead on the sea shore echoed around the world. But the world did not bother to know what this journalist had mentally undergone when she had captured this heart wrenching photograph. All the compassion and sympathy was drawn towards the toddler and his family, leaving aside the one who had witnessed it all by herself.

It was during the same conference (one mentioned above) that I got an opportunity to interact with  Mr. Josekutty Panackal, Chief Photojournalist Malayala Manorama Daily whereupon I had requested him to express his personal view on this topic.

The question put forward to him was that, “What is that the journalists internally undergo while witnessing tormenting sights and instances during the course of their professional career which we as mere viewers don’t realise or attempt to understand?

His quick and earnest reply to it, “I find your question very interesting as you have  asked a very different question rather than the often repeated jibe as to why the journalist did not become a party in the helping process of the hapless subject he is aiming his camera at .

First of all it’s rather harsh for you to place journalists as a different species. We are as humane as any other human being. We feel the same pain and frustration a victim or an individual undergoes and regret and cry like anyone. We see and endure what others do not see or endure and yet we are often blamed for not showing compassion and exhibiting cold bloodedness. 
Once we are on the field with the camera or the pen, every journalist is a mercenary. We finish off the job with precision and without mercy. It’s because our organizations expects us to deliver images and stories that reflects the exact mood of a tragedy or disaster that has befallen the area. 

Eddie Bissel , a trainer of the famous Thompson foundation once explained a case study of a British road rage victim who was helped by a passing journalist to reach the hospital. The victim died and the blame for the death fell on the journalist as he did not go through the standard procedure of calling the ambulance. The victim had a spinal injury and the help rendered by the journalist had aggravated it further leading to his death.

Unlike the west where natural calamities and disasters are low compared to the Asian sub continent, journalists in Asia are exposed to the elements very often. This in a way leads to Journalists being insensitive to smaller tragedies. Accidents and tragedies become so common like seeing the Kerala express train passing the Aluva Bridge daily.  I hope I have answered your question and must say that I really liked the title of your article”.

 It is with immense happiness that I would like to thank Josekutty sir for expressing his personal thoughts on this topic .

His reply to this question could be considered as a representative voice for all that the photojournalists endure, during their lifetime.  So ultimately I feel it is high time that we try to realise that it is only because of their courage and their innate sense of commitment towards the greater humanity that they choose to be at such dangerous, hostile and very difficult situations. A sincere mark of respect is what they deserve and not mere baseless criticism from those who peacefully sit on their couches and switch channels or scroll the news up and down.

Sincere thanks to Sree Hari sir for being an inspiration and for making me believe that we should never restrict ourselves to anything specific because there is something new waiting for us each day.

We fell for their Gimmick

It has been a while since I thought I should write about the so called rising intolerance but apparently it just got delayed .

Pertaining to my knowledge of the world and everything that is happening in and around I very strongly feel that the idea of projecting India as an intolerant country was a strategic one. According to me it was employed by those who couldn’t accept the fact that the party at the centre was actually winning hearts everywhere. It was purposefully brought out right before the Bihar elections in order to create a sense of confusion and havoc in the minds of the voters. And those who employed this idea were very successful at their attempt as BJP apart from performing better than the previous government also indulged in spreading the Hindutva ideology along with the RSS (which wasn’t needed). This idea of making people believe that our country is intolerant was a gimmick .

If we take out some time and seriously think about this discussion we would realise that things aren’t as bad as they are portrayed . It is just that things have been hyped up out of proportion . All thanks to our news and social media who have turned out to be experts when it comes to sensationalising each and everything in order to increase their TRP’s. Is that all that matters to them ?.

As soon as media took it up, we witnessed around 36 writers and more than 24 members of the film fraternity who returned their awards claiming that India is intolerant when it comes to freedom of expression associating it with the killing of the famous writers Kalaburgi , Pansare and Dabholkar .

In the past we have had various instances were these writers could have reacted but it is only now that they chose to react . It is probably because the air they breathe today seems to say that India is intolerant and this has greatly influenced them . So I sincerely doubt whether it is out of their genuine concern that they chose to return their awards or was it yet another stunt to be in the limelight ?

There were various remarks and comments made on the growing intolerance in the country but nothing was blown up like what was said by the Bollywood star, Aamir Khan .He was just being frank and open when he shared his wife’s view on the growing intolerance .He said, “I am alarmed, my wife suggested moving out of India”. Instead of ridiculing them and saying that they lack patriotism we should have inquired what made her say so.He would have never expected such a bizarre reaction from the people of his country and his fellow actors. I am sure after this incident he would always have second thoughts when it comes to expressing his thoughts and opinions publicly.

You wouldn’t be surprised if I say we have tolerated the corruption stricken state of our country , we have tolerated poverty as a part , we have tolerated numerous riots , we have tolerated the pathetic condition of our mother nature , we have tolerated the gender differences , we have tolerated political performances , we have tolerated the fact that the heinous criminals roam freely in our country , we have tolerated the demanded conformity , we have tolerated honour killing and a lot more in our country over the years.

It seems funny to me that the people of our country could without any issue tolerate a government which aimed at doing nothing productive for our country and its growth but cant tolerate a government which has performed exceptionally well in all affairs .To those who feel the NAMO government too hasn’t done anything I suggest you do read up Meenakshi Lekhi’s article titled “Good days, blind propagandists” published in The week magazine’s december edition. You would realise your sense of aversion towards this government is pointless.

The opposition was very successful in their attempt to portray India as intolerant and this was only because we fell for their strategy  .

Think for yourself than going with the mass opinion. The day you yourself feel it , say it aloud and stick to your opinion unless you find it has changed. The day I feel it , I promise to stand up for it .

And on religious intolerance I would say God wouldn’t be happy seeing us behave this way. Respect each other and live happily .

 

 

Media’s Mislaid Priority

It is during the recent times that, the Media has excessively employed sensationalism as a strategy to improve their TRP ratings. They have been taking up irrelevant stories and intentionaly sensationalionalising it. They take it to a level where the whole country is either bound to switch of their television sets or adhere solely to their TRP oriented Media Broadcasting.

The manner in which Media has reported the ‘Sheena Bora Case’ leaving aside crucial stories like that of the GSLV launch on 27th August or the status of the OROP protest by the ex service is something that poses serious questions on the responsibility of media towards its country and its viewers. The priorities of these channels have primarily changed and this ultimately provides us a closer insight onto how materialistic media has turned out to be.

As a child, it was back in 8th standard that I for the first time came across a murder case that was so very complicated and equally sensationalised. It was the most debated and discussed ‘2008 Arrusi Murder case’. As I kid I actually thought that, media was intently doing a great job by unraveling all the threads of the case and bringing it out on the public forum.

But it was sooner than later in 2014 that media blew up the ‘Sunanda Pushkar Case’ as though it was the only thing under the sun about which the whole country wanted to know. The manner in which they repeatedly questioned and accused Shashi Tharoor for his wife’s murder greatly affected his career and also defamed him as a person. No investigation or inquiry undertaken by the media or the judiciary could prove that it was Tharoor who was responsible for the murder. But I do not deny the fact that his wife’s sudden death, that too exactly a day after she had promised to reveal Tharoor’s link with the IPL controversy and his illegitimate relationship with the Pakistani journalist Mehr, tends to raise doubts on his involvement in the case. But clinging to that, media nor the general public should take any stand unless the judicial system of our country gives a verdict on the case .

I agree to the fact that it is the duty of the media to report everything that happens across the globe.But most importantly they should understand that they cannot engage in any sort of media trial which ultimately formulates, general opinion about the case and about those accused in the case. The right to trial rests solely with the judiciary and no other body is legally allowed to do such trials.

It was recently that I realized that media could leave aside important stories like that of the ‘One rank One Pension’ and the recent ‘GSLV launch’for a Murder Case that involved high profile people which could provide them wonderful TRP ratings. The manner in which they ignored the hunger strike held by the veterans of our country for something they are very much obliged to, left me affected not because I am an Air Force Officers daughter but because I genuinely feel they are worth all the respect and honour for the dedication they have showcased over the years. The period of the strike extended beyond 76 days and the fact that the media bothered to cover it only during the final days (7-10 days) enables us to realize how least bothered media and their associates are to those who have served their counties with utmost dedication and sincerity. Not just in the case of the veterans, they have proved to be more interested in the Sheena Bora Case than in the success of our launch of the GSLV satellite.

During the past few weeks, I purposefully made it a point to not watch any of the news channels. When I chose to do so ,I had a reason for that. It was because I genuinely couldn’t understand why the whole of our country was so deeply engrossed to keep a close track of the Indrani Mukerjee’s family tree.

The manner in which media had documented her life, her relationships, her extended family and most importantly her murder execution plan portrayed her as an able, ambitious lady who was a mastermind in killing her daughter and hiding it for years together.

To give so much of an importance to a mother, who brutally killed her daughter and also had plans of killing her son, was it right on the media’s part to sensationalise this case ?

Does this case by any chance deserve so much of our time and attention?

Shouldnt our channels have taken a stand on this story and moved away from sensationalizing it?

Doesn’t the conscience of the media personals remind them of their obligation and responsibilities towards their viewers?

I very much agree to the fact that media’s speculation based coverage of high profile murder cases affects a fair probe, as the media ends up sensationalizing it for their own benefit without understanding the seriousness of the case and ends up doing trials which ultimately accuses people on the basis of their own findings of the case.

Being an aspirant journalist I would wish to see that our media and news channels adhere to their ethics , prove that they know their responsibility and are aware of the commitment expected from those involved in this profession.

feb-media-hype

Where exactly do we stand when it comes to actualising this Goal?

And yet, for these
Children, these windows, not this world, are world,
Where all their future’s painted with a fog,
A narrow street sealed in with a lead sky,
Far far from rivers, capes, and stars of words”

“All of their time and space are foggy slum.
So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.”

Unless, governor, teacher, inspector, visitor,
This map becomes their window and these windows
That shut upon their lives like catacombs”

These are few noteworthy lines from the poem “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” written by Stephan Spender.

I had read these lines few years back and as I read it what surprised me was that if this is the plight of children studying in a slum school then what is the condition of children who haven’t been to school at toll?

It is probably worse in their case ! .

There have been various schemes, bills and strategies adopted in our country with the aim of providing education to all .But not all of them have been able to serve the purpose. The statistics brought out in the year 2009 show that there are about 8.15 million children out of schools due to various reasons.

Children_Out_of_School_2009

But after a time frame of 4 years the manner in which the government has been able to practically implement some of their schemes and thereby be able to increase the number of children being enrolled into schools across our country are worth appraisal.

In a significant leg up to the government’s literacy initiative, a national survey has revealed that almost 23 crore children are studying in 13 lakh schools across the country.Here were 228,994,454 students enrolled in different recognized schools of the country with a 13.67% growth in student’s enrollment from Class I to XII. This is an increase from 20.30 crore students enrolled in 2002. Encouragingly, there is a 19.12 % increase in girl’s enrollment.”
(It is taken from The Times of India report published on 2nd January’2013)

Though these numbers show a decent growth, there are still many who are deprived of their guaranteed right to study in our country.

It was few days back, while I was going though the latest edition of The Week magazine that I came to know about the ‘No detention policy’ which has been recommended for students till class 8 by the Central Board of Education.

According to me such a recommendation would not help students in anyway. Instead it would possibly lead to a situation where ‘what students learn?’ and ‘how much they know?’ wouldn’t be important any longer. I feel, Cbse should stress upon enrolling more students into schools than recommend such policies. One suggestion I would like to make on this account is that the Cbse should take in more number of teachers each year, so that it would be easier for them to give more attention towards weaker students and thereby enable them to pass and be promoted to their very next class.

We have often heard the state governments complain regarding the number of students who move from government to private schools as soon as students complete their basic education.

Haven’t we heard of them?

Does not the Government know the reason why this is happening?

They very much do!

But what they do is nothing more than just complain. Instead of complaining about it repeatedly they should try and improve the standard of infrastructure and education provided in the government run schools to ensure greater enrollment.

One major suggestion that I would like to make is that the government should try and collaborate with private bodies and together run the schools in our country. I feel it could in some way improve the present condition of the government schools and the impression the general public has when it comes to studying in these schools or sending their children there.

I feel the improper handling of the funds and sanctions made every year for these government run schools is the main reason why people hesitate to be a part of them. I suggest either the private sector should try approaching the government or vice versa to make sure they can together work as a team to achieve the common goal of educating the children of our country.

But In the recent times what we have noticed is that the private sector run schools primarily aim at making huge profits than anything else .Sadly they have moved away from their actual aim of providing good quality education.

When I made a suggestion regarding the government and the private sector working together, what I actually meant was that the funding should be majorly done by the government and the functioning, enrollment of the teachers and the systematic management of the school should be handled by the private body to ensure decent performance both by the students and teachers.

It was Nelson Mandela who once said , “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”.

At present, on one hand the Government run schools in our do not function properly and on the other the private schools charge huge fees and donation to enroll children into their schools.

Where exactly should these underprivileged children go?

This is the question no government or private school authorities have been able to answer yet.

Until the huge gap between the government schools and private schools is bridged in our country, we cannot hope to see all boys and girls of our country studying in schools and acquiring knowledge together.

Here I quote Mandela again .He said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

If not each one of us but some in our country have taken these golden words as their realization which has driven enthusiastic youngsters to have volunteered for NGO’s Like- ‘Teach for India’ , ‘Make A Difference’ , ‘Child Right s and You’ , ‘Pratham’ and ‘Barefoot college India’ . The primary aim with which all of them began was to provide, support and sustain the educational needs of the poor. The dedication with which these NGO’s have taken this up is something that the whole country should take notice of and should be in a state to appreciate openly. We should try and understand that it isn’t their responsibility alone to educate the poor instead it’s a collective responsibility to which we should adhere and be a responsible part.

Let us together stand up for the cause and prove to the world that the education we have acquired in our schools aim not just at our personal good instead it aims at attaining universal good .

each 1 teach 1

Baseless Obsession

It was probably a decade back, when I was studying in 5th standard at Gwalior that I for the first time encountered an experience which blatantly revealed how unreal our supposed real world is. What exactly happened was that on one fine day after having lunch at around 2 at Central hotel, I was standing at the parking lot playing around with my father’s course mates daughter who was not more than 2 years old .Suddenly a lady from nowhere came up to me and said , “Beta yeh tumahri behan hai? (Is she your sister?) I said no. The next thing she told me was something which was hard for me to digest. She told me “Beta yeh already itni kaali hai, isse dhup mey mat khilao, agar yeh bachi todhi aur kali ho gayi toh yeh dikhayi bhi nai degi” (This kid is very dark, don’t let her play in the hot sun –if she plays she would turn darker than before and ultimately would look ugly).I was speechless at that moment , had my eyes brimming with tears.

Luckily a minute later mom was there, seeing my face she asked me what had happened. I tried hard to explain but I couldn’t multitask while I was crying .But somehow managed to do so. More than anything I was terribly shocked seeing that a woman made such an atrocious comment. As a child of not more than 10 years of age at that time it was not possible for me to say anything to that lady. So I didn’t. All that I did was weep, cry and feel bad for the little angel I was greatly attached to.

2 years later
When I was in 7th std at Hyderabad we had a new social teacher who was basically from Jharkhand .On her very first day in our class she asked everybody to introduce ourselves along with a mention to the state we belonged to. It started off normally but soon she started making baseless comments regarding few states. Finally I had my chance to introduce myself to her. I told her I am from Kerala. She made some lame comments even on my state she said, “Kerala isn’t a good place”. Adding to it she said, “Round the year floods occur in Kerala and each year huge number of people die”. Being the only malayali in my class I was offended on listening to her awful comments regarding my state .I got up told her it isn’t that way .We argued for a while, later I just left it because I realized that her knowledge about our country was just as much as I would have known trigonometry in class 7 .What irritated me more than any of her comments was when she said, “She never thought I would be a south Indian because I had a fair complexion”. My last experience proved to be a blessing in disguise as it in a way helped me to react to her. Though she didn’t agree too much that I said I was happy I could at least make her think on something she already had a fixed prejudiced opinion.

5 years later
The third time I underwent something similar again was during my 12th in Gandhinagar. Back then I had a chemistry teacher who had no opinion about South Indians. She was indifferent to me during the beginning but I thought that was because I was new, personally it was fine with me because I too didn’t like her .Some of her statements did offend me at times but then I ignored a few of them. But once she said something regarding the colour and behaviour of people from the south , it irritated me like anything before. In my reply to her I told, “If this is what she has learnt during the course of her teaching career she should stop teaching right then”. I just added by saying that , “Being an Air force officers daughter I have travelled a lot , have stayed in different places , have met different people , have interacted with people from most of the places .But I haven’t met someone whose thoughts are rusted up to such an extent”. She was irritated and annoyed with me for having reacted that way .But am sure she wouldn’t have said anything about anybody after that .Sometimes one has to strike while the iron is hot.

To those who believe that being beautiful is being fair I am sure either you have no idea regarding what are the factors influencing human colour or your ability to think is taken away from the repetitive fairness cream Advertisements on Tv , newspapers and radio. Except for a few models, do we have dark skinned actors (female) who have been able to succeed without getting a plastic surgery or some sort of cosmetic treatment done? .
No is indeed the answer to that.

Few years’ back STAR PLUS came up with a serial ‘LAGA TUJHSE LAGAN’ in which they portrayed a fair skinned girl named ‘NAKUSHA’ which was played by MAHII VIJ . Due to some circumstances in their life her mother disguises her appearance as that of a dark skinned girl because she thought her daughters’ beauty (something that has been associated just with fairness alone) might get her (girl) in trouble. According to her mother if she is turned into a dark skinned girl she would be undesirable and thereby she would be safe.

The only reason why I noticed this serial was the weird manner in which she was darkened. Looked awkward!
Whatever is it , what kind of a message does this serial impart people with?
Misconceptions?
Anything more than that?
Nothing more.

Generation after generation we have lived, developed and grown as a country,
But we still have some things which hasen’t changed.
‘The White Obsession’ (Fairness)

Don’t agree?
Here is a challenge to prove that this obsession is deeply embedded.
1. Take a newspaper and check out the matrimonial section in the classifieds. Every guy wants a fair girl and every girl wants a fair guy.
2. Checkout the yearly turnover of the fairness cream companies.
3. Switch on the TV for half an hour; you will see various stars endorsing the fairness products for both men and women.
4. Try and go through the product names of these fairness products –FAIR AND LOVELY, U-B FAIR etc they play with the psyche of the people.

We shouldn’t be dragged away with such wrong notions in life.

Lauren. A says , “Beauty is me , it’s you , its celebrating who I am with no boundaries or limitations and uplifting and embracing the me I was created to be ….that’s beauty !”

I adhere to such a beauty than to the one which is isn’t real.

Those with eyes haven’t been able to enjoy the real sense beauty instead they have been living holding on to the white obsession! Leave it because we don’t need it people.

To all those actors who are still endorsing fairness creams and similar products I request you to take a minute out and think what you are actually doing.

Thanks to those who have realized and have stopped endorsing such products.

“The beauty myth of the present is more insidious than any mystique of femininity yet: A century ago, Nora slammed the door of the doll’s house; a generation ago, women turned their backs on the consumer heaven of the isolated multiapplianced home; but where women are trapped today, there is no door to slam. The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically. If we are to free ourselves from the dead weight that has once again been made out of femaleness, it is not ballots or lobbyists or placards that women will need first; it is a new way to see.”
― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

People who can’t even see, see the world better than we do, they see the way it should be seen.Check out the video to see how they see it .

Recklessly Fueling the Fire

Have we been able to completely fight and eliminate evils like child labour, dowry system, domestic violence, and child marriage?

Though some efforts have been made over the years, the answer to this question is still not a yes by any chance .
Instead its a big ‘NO’.

To know that in our country more people die of hunger than of diseases proves how flawed our systems are.
Our inability to store grains, the improper management of PDS, reckless corruption and the ‘chalta hai’ attitude of those concerned are the prime reasons why we face these issues.

Bills are passed, schemes are brought in and various promises are made each time a government comes into power. But what people actually undergo is way different. It’s worser than we actually think it is!
If I try and limit myself to one of the greatest evils prevailing in our country ‘Child Marriage’ still happens to snatch away everything from those falling prey to such a ruthless evil, unfortunately practiced in the rural parts of our country .

According to the International Centre for Research on Women studies , “One third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15”

Poverty? Lack of knowledge? Old ideas? Lack of support? Lack of opportunity otherwise? Stereotype?
All of them together combine to ultimately blur the future of children who are married at a very young age, an age where they are actually supposed to be going to school, acquiring knowledge, setting their goals and creating an identity of their own.

Education being an entitled right to every citizen it should be made sure that children are able to go to school and learn at least till the age of 18. Our educational institutions should be in a state to actually support students who are not able to continue their studies due to financial constraints .For which they must first remove all the reservations made in colleges based on caste, creed and religion.

The best time to study and set goals in life is during our bubble age, it is the point of time in a person’s life where we have the ability and determination to strive hard to reach our goals.

Khaled Hosseini in his masterpiece work “A Thousand Splendid Suns” says “Marriage can wait, education cannot”. I agree on that because I strongly believe everything has its own time and it proves out to be the best during those. Not a day before not a day later. Just at the right time.

Instead of tackling problems and evils existing in our country we have our National law commission suggesting of lowering marriageable age for boys to 18.

First of all it is men and women who are to be married not boys and girls.
Secondly what sense does it make to lower the age and get kids married?

At the age of 18
Do they have any more qualification than being 12th pass?
Are they aware of the sanctity of marriage?
Are they mentally matured?
Are they independent?
Can they sustain a family?
Have they achieved their goals in life?
NO,is the answer to the all question mentioned above.
That is the reason why I do not support 18yrs being the marriageable age for neither girls nor boys.

Instead I suggest they increase it to 21 for both the sexes.

I finally conclude on my opinion by saying that we as a country lack a binding force which could otherwise enable us to stand together and fight these above mentioned issues instead of worsening these each day either by ignoring them or by adding on to the trouble by thinking of adopting such groundless laws.

Express your concern and do all that you can for an India you aspire to be a part of because each and every effort counts.