No matter which country I am in (even if I am in my hometown), come Sunday evening, and I feel a strange sense of melancholy and homesickness. I cannot understand why it is so.
Perhaps in my childhood, it was pre-Monday blues that dampened the excitement of a Sunday evening. Or maybe it was because everything was shut on a Sunday evening as we retired to a quiet, almost isolated existence, in contrast with a normal day that bustled with activity and with the company of friends and neighbours.
Still, that simply does not explain why two decades later, I still feel strangely sad and homesick every Sunday! Even when I am at home. Even when I do not have to go to school or work tomorrow.
For no obvious reason, I have this weird feeling on Sunday evenings. Its like I am choked. Like I’m scared. Of what? I have no clue.
The men that I know (friends and family, that is!) don’t actually celebrate Women’s Day!
They’d probably wish me aloud (if I happen to remind them of the ‘occasion’ that morning!).
They’d probably say nothing if I wanted to do some spontaneous shopping.
They wouldn’t change their daily routine to make things a little ‘different’ just for that one day.
However, they are the kind of men who make me feel glad I am a woman in their world :-)
Is ‘Women’s day’ about pampering only your loved one while treating others (men and women alike) shabbily? Is it about a quickly buying a greeting card or an expensive gift? Do you just wish someone, do the dishes that one time and post a picture on Facebook?!
Imho, it is about having respect for all women, whether she is your wife/mother/sister/friend. It is about believing that men and women are truly equal and that no one gender is in any way ‘better’ than the other.
Apart from being a good marketing gimmick (well, someone must have wanted to sell truckloads of greeting cards and red roses ;-) ), it is also a gentle reminder to both men and women that women are to be treated well, especially in a world where countless women still get beaten up by drunkard husbands, are illiterate just because they are women and are not sent to school, or suffer the humiliation and fear of marital rape… the list is endless. If you haven’t read Kalki’s raw and powerful post yet, please do read it.
Coming back to where this post started, the men I know do not celebrate women’s ‘Day‘. They celebrate the essence of it, every day of the year! They treat every woman with respect, not just the women they love.
So, it was a particularly stressful day at work, and this guy walked into the office. He seemed a little fidgety and kept making funny movements. I got up from my place and walked towards him. Only to realise that he wasn’t fidgety, but was only enjoying this wonderful strain of music that floated from his iPod :-)
It was a song from nearly a decade ago. A lovely song that brought back delightful memories of my when my parents visited me in London. A time when we were younger and more enthusiastic about everything, less serious about most things. Overall, a beautiful phase in life.
Eccentric stranger – well, definitely not! Stranger who brought about a smile – absolutely!
So, it’s been a loooooong while since I wrote anything at all on this blog. If there is anyone out there, still reading this blog, *yippee* ‘thank you’ :-)
It’s been so long because I’ve being doing other things. Last summer I took up an internship in SEO/social media, loved pretending like I had a proper job ;-) and thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and re-discovering my love for a ‘career’ of sorts! Then I got a second change.. to pick up my career where I left off seven years ago. Yep, I’m back to a full-time job, quite similar to what I had before I took a long and well-enjoyed break.
I miss blogging, miss the enviable camaraderie that all of us shared during our active blogging days!! I miss writing fiction!! Someone once told me that most of my fiction was tear-jerking and asked if I could write a ‘happy’ one for a change. He he, that day shall come too!
So yeah, this post was just to say ‘Hello’ and hope you have a fantastic 2014.
Ever imagine giving up city life (in the heart of London!) and relocating to an isolated village deep in the hills, where even electricity and roads are a luxury? Not many people can do it. I certainly couldn’t! But one particular woman – Saritha Thomas – has made this arduous journey from London to Uttarakhand, with the sole intent of achieving independence and empowerment of rural communities! Who is this gutsy Social Entrepreneur, and what does she do? Read on to find out.
Community Radio – a quick background
Radio was a part of my childhood (and perhaps yours too?) I remember our family tuning into radio every day, even during rushed school mornings. One niche area of radio is ‘Community Radio’ – radio fully owned and managed by the local community that it serves. In cities, Community Radio (CR) might not be popular, however in villages, CR assumes great significance. Villages and less empowered areas in India and across the world obviously do not have access to the mind-boggling medium that we call the Internet. Mobile networks are more prevalent in India, even in rural areas. This is where Community Radio stations can come handy. Villagers can create programs that address issues that directly impact them, not just entertain but also educate and thereby empower.
But where do they go to build their own radio station? Radio stations cost money, licensing procedure and other long-winded formalities. But once a Community Radio station is set up and is fully operational, the benefits to the community are both immediate and enormous!
Achieving Independence at the Grassroots level 66 years later!
This is what Saritha Thomas, Founder/Director of People’s Power Collective is trying to achieve through her NGO. With a fantastic background of 13 years in Radio (including the BBC), Saritha gave up her regular industry job, undertook a program at the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in London and subsequently founded People’s Power (Participatory Ownership Empowerment) Collective, a charity that works towards setting up a community owned radio station from scratch. Saritha’s aim is three-fold:
Stay on the field (Uttarakhand being her first project) with her team, undertake extensive ground-work in order to set up the radio station from scratch (including licensing, etc)
Train the local community in technical and functional aspects of running the radio station, including how to record and air programs, thereby helping them achieve true Independence
Empower the community by helping them find their voice!
Saritha and team were infact on the field in Prithviraj Nagar, during the recent Uttarakhand disaster caused by unprecedented rains in June 2013. They were in the process of research and recording programs when rains battered the villages and caused massive devastation. Team PPC stayed on the field, and supported the community battle nature’s fury. One can’t help but think, if the Community Radio station was already in place, the villagers could have perhaps been forewarned about the calamity that was about to strike them. Or atleast have continuous and accurate information about the extent of damage and accessibility of relief camps!
A special salute on Independence Day
While Saritha and team help the community at Uttarakhand build their lives again, I would like to take this opportunity to salute my friend, this strong woman who has indeed sacrificed so much, so she can achieve her dreams for empowerment of communities in rural India.
Being an entrepreneur is not for the light-hearted. Being a social entrepreneur is an even bigger challenge as personal gains or profits are not the driving force here. What keeps the spirit of People’s Power Collective alive is the passion and commitment towards the cause of Empowerment and Independence itself. One can easily see how passionate Saritha is about her selfless dream to build a Community Radio station. I have worked with her closely over the last year, and can vouch for a fact she is incredibly passionate about what she is doing in Uttarakhand.
What started off as a little idea in Saritha’s mind, has now taken shape and is throbbing and pulsating in a rural village, waiting to unleash its power across the community in a way they never imagined would impact them.
To put it simply, as Saritha says, People’s Power Collective is ‘helping 150000 people find a voice’. This community radio station project will generate employment in the local villages and will help build technical skills and confidence of even the vast illiterate sections of the community. Having their own radio station would mean they connect with each other in a more structured and effective way.
To me, this voice of empowerment is the sign of real Independence.
So here’s a special salute to the woman behind this lesser known cause. Here’s to an highly talented and admirable Social Entrepreneur – Saritha Thomas. More power to you, Saritha (People’s Power Collective).
This post has been published as a part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s ‘Six Word Memoir’ tag. A big ‘Thank you’ to the very talented Gopal(aka Gopalakrishnan Krishnasamy) for passing the baton on to me (er, also for the gentle reminder that it is now my turn ;-))
Imagine summarising your life in 6 words? Quite a challenge, isn’t it? I don’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, and yet I’ve taken on the challenge of writing my life’s story in just Six words!!!
‘Far from perfect, yet perfectly beautiful’
And now, for some completely FREE gyaan about my 6-word-memoir – I have recently come to realise that nobody’s life is perfect (‘about time’ you say, hey?). Yet, I feel it is these imperfections that make life so perfect. Imagine a world where everything is in abundance, nobody is ever in want of anything… it sounds nice, but it would be incredibly boring beyond a point. So there…. it is the perfections that add beauty to life, and make it so beautiful!
And now, I pass on the Olympic torch to Sulaiman Sait – a medical student who writes poetry even about the most sensitive and difficult topics (ranging from euthanasia to female infanticide!). Would love to see your 6-word-memoir, Sulaiman.
(PS: Thank you Susan Deborah for bringing Chennai Bloggers together :-))
What makes people think they own a public space? ! We’re sitting at the airport now. . Catching up on sleep inbetween flights. .one of which is long haul.
And this mega family of ten plus members lands at the pepsi Booth. . Kids screaming and whining and fussing about what drinks they want. We give them looks. . They don’t bother. .. we request them to quieten down. .they don’t care a damn. And when the screaming and shouting doesn’t stop I am able to hold it no longer. I get up and ask them. ..’can’t you see people are sleeping. . We all have flights to catch. .is this the way to behave in a public space? ?’
No. .I wasn’t expecting an apology for the nuisance. .. but I thought they would Atleast try to be a little quiet after that.
Surprise! !!! The mother. .I guess. .a hefty woman in her thirties. .just yells back saying they are kids and are adamant and they can’t do anything about it. And shouts to her husband that they will do what they want and I should leave if I want to.
Thankfully the airport staff arrived within minutes and told them they should get ready to board their flight.
I don’t know what would have happened if they had stayed.
1. If you can’t manage kids then don’t have them. If you have had them then you bloody well tell them off when they are behaving like a bunch of country brutes.
2. The moment you step outside the four walls of your home.. you do realise it is not your private space anymore and that you are expected to have some common sense and be considerate towards others.
3. When you are clearly in the wrong. .. the least you can do is apologise. Your Kids are watching you. By acting like a complete Bi*** the only thing you are doing is teaching them that it is Ok to be inconsiderate and get away with it.
4. For heavens sake try a Bullock cart instead of a plane the next time. You and your damn kids can scream with all your might. . Chances are that the noise will just dissolve on the road and not cause a pain in the wrong place! !! My sympathies towards the poor animals Ofcourse!!
5. Lastly. ..If your lovely family gets thrown off the plane for being a public nuisance. … don’t say I didn’t warn you.
‘Bad uncle...’ the child whispers, shifting uneasily.
Mother glances at Neighbour – kind and respectable. No, hewouldn’t!!
She nudges her 6-year old irritably, ‘Chup*… Bad girl!‘
(An attempt to tell a story in Haiku form)
Innumerable cases of child abuse are not stopped simply because we do not believe our children enough. We brush their fears aside, thinking they are baseless. They aren’t. They never are. If a child feels that there is ‘something wrong’ or ‘something bad’ – a touch, a comment, or even a look… that just makes him/her feel uncomfortable, but is unable to express it, it is our damn duty to take up the matter seriously and investigate, and protect our children.
This post has been written for the Child Sexual abuse awareness monththeme run by the Chennai Bloggers Club.