Categories
Thought and Reason Short story Poem Incidents MommySpeak

Chup, bad girl

******

‘Bad uncle...’ the child whispers, shifting uneasily.

Mother glances at Neighbour – kind and respectable. No, he wouldn’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 month theme run by the Chennai Bloggers Club.

* ‘chup’ – ‘quiet’ or ‘shut up’

Categories
Thought and Reason Incidents

Sizzling South Indian Mela(m)

It is always tricky to plan weekends here, thanks to the lovely British weather (by the way, I do like cold n grey weather!). The last weekend was thankfully sunny, though a little chill. That didn’t deter us from making a quick trip to see what the South Indian Melam (an initiative by ‘INDIA NOW’) was all about. Actually, blame the TV adverts for luring us to it! All those pictures of steaming hot dosais/vadai, and ofcourse the cultural events 🙂 (lest I sound too shallow ;-)) were so inviting!

We reached the Mela venue by around 2 pm, and had originally planned to leave in a couple of hours, but ended staying till the very last show, which was a completely dhamakedaar performance by Shiamak Davar‘s team in London. (Will come to that later, as one sentence in passing simply doesn’t do justice to the amazing performance that it was!)

We were greeted with a mellifluous rendition of ‘Vaishnava Janato‘. Sadly, there was no encore 🙂 The compère Ms.Ambika, conducted a lovely little music exercise with all the children. There must have been atleast 20-30 participants, who sang along to Sa-Re-Ga-Ma with gusto.

It was a delight to hear, and an eye-opener too, about an art that we must not let die, but instead try to pass on to the future generations.

There were more performances – vocal, Bharatnatyam, etc. (I can’t review those as I’m not much of an art connoisseur) and an impressive ‘Kalari Payattu‘ performance too, that the boys were particularly interested in!

There weren’t as many ‘stalls’ as one expected. However, there was a great little massage offered at very reasonable prices. Another hot-dog/fries/coffee booth, that served awesome french-fries at delightful prices 😉

The stall for the ‘Save the Tiger‘ campaign, in my opinion, could have benefited with more prominence. The Diabetes UK team was strategically placed a few stalls away from the one with the droolworthy hot South Indian food 🙂

State Bank of India who were one of the Sponsors, held an exciting Raffle contest, with the prize being an iPad!!! Sadly, the winner of the raffle wasn’t around. Sigh!!! I wish…er.. never mind!)

Hot Dosai in the making… and different varieties of chutney to go with it… yummm…

Needless to say, the ‘food’ staff, hosted by Turmeric Spice (I hope I got the name right!), saw an endless queue 🙂 And it was well worth the wait. We ordered hot dosais and simple yet delicious lemon rice!

As they say, the best things in life come to those who wait! The last event was a Bollywood dance performance. I wasn’t expecting much, and the delay was putting me off.

However, when the troupe finally arrived, they took us by storm!!! The Shiamak Davar team in London pulled off a spectacular performance, making even the audience dance to the tunes of Chikni Chameli and Chammak Challo!

The compère /host, Rohan, did an OUTSTANDING job of drawing the audience into the performance.

Even the man behind the show, Mr.Manish Tiwari (Managing Director, Here&Now365) couldn’t escape grooving to the tunes of Chammak Challo 🙂

The audience learnt some easy steps, particularly some Shahrukh Khan motions, and the delightfully funny ‘nodding Indian head‘ 🙂 Team Shiamak had the entire audience spell-bound, and hungry for an encore (which again, they delivered beautifully).

We truly believed their quote – ‘Have Feet – Will Dance’. Add to that, they gave a gift voucher (‘free dance session’) for all the participants.

So, that was a truly scintillating finale to an exciting event.

Well done Team South Indian Melam 🙂 I think this was a good start, and do hope we see many more such events, that bring us closer to ‘home’ and help showcase our arts and culture.

Categories
Thought and Reason Short story Incidents Awards

Long overdue – Bagful of peanuts and more

This happened a couple of months ago, and I only remembered to write about it now (thanks to my friends on an online community).

Remember the innovative ‘Blogsplash’ conducted by Fiona Robyn (author of ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’)? My contribution to the Blogsplash was a little story about a touching incident that took place on my last trip to India. I’m very glad to say that of all the entries, mine was chosen as the top entry!

I’m very happy about this, particularly because it was the gesture of one humble man that has moved people (across the globe) to tears. Please do read it. Here: https://writerzblock.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/a-bagful-of-peanuts/

God bless such simplicity and humility. Need I say more!!

Once again, thank you Fiona for conducting the event, and many thanks to the One and Only: Shail for inviting me to it. It was a learning experience.

(Comments disabled. Thank you all so much for your warmest wishes :-))

Categories
Thought and Reason Incidents

Satyameva Jayate or SMS Jayate?

Picture this scene – A picture-perfect dutiful daughter-in-law decked in all her finery, casting pensive looks, while trying to outwit her wicked mother-in-law and bhabi-sa’s plots to entangle her in controversy. Add to it a jilted lover, a current husband (usually categorically abusive or passive and lovey-dovey!) and a motley collection of uncles/aunties, not to forget the endless fights and tears – Voila! You have an Indian television soap that is bound to rake in TRPs and some moolah for the next couple of years.

Now what hits Indian television with a breath of fresh air, nay, a powerful gust of wind is Aamir Khan‘s new programme ‘Satyameva Jayate‘ (meaning ‘Truth alone triumphs’). I don’t remember being ‘hooked onto’ television in a really long time. The last programme I watched religiously was ‘Hum Paanch‘! So one can imagine what a huge TV-serial-fan I am.

However, after hearing rave reviews on Facebook about ‘Satyameva Jayate’ and reading this particularly intriguing post by Raamesh, curiosity got the better of me, and I tuned into good ol’ Youtube to catch the first episode, that talked about female foeticide.

First of all, let’s give credit where it is due. Aamir and team have done a great job of

* Researching the topic on hand, gathering verified statistics about the gravity of the problem, and highlighting facts that hit you in the gut! For example, the fact that in some parts of India where female foeticide/infanticide has resulted in a very low sex ratio, women are being ‘bought’ to be wives and are being ‘shared’ and treated like a commodity by the men in the family!

* Getting real-life witnesses on board to come and share their experiences. Like Harish Iyer for example (who also featured in the very impactful and gut-wrenching CSA Campaign last year) who shared his painful past about child-abuse.

* And quite literally, doing a pious job of ‘trying’ to spread awareness about topics that are rarely discussed and often swept under the carpet. Yes, we are all quite aware of these issues (like female foeticide and child sexual abuse), but it is not a topic of everyday conversation. Neither do we take any aggressive action against it!

Edited to add: Take a look at this article that talks about the national child helpline being flooded with calls seeking help against abuse!

Kudos to the Satyameva Jayate team! I would any day have this on my TV, as compared to the barage of nonsense in the form of ‘family soaps’!

But what I found rather unsatisfactory about the programme was the ‘action items’.

The first two episodes have followed identical patterns. Aamir writes a petition to the government, Invites people to send SMSes to support the cause (proceeds go to charity), he solicits charitable contributions (again, this is matched by a big corporate, who ultimately get more publicity through the show!) And ofcourse, leaves us with an impactful dialogue about ‘change has to begin with YOU this MOMENT!’ 

I think this is a great start. But having said that, doesn’t this seem too lame and Bollywood-ish?

For instance, will the written petitions TRULY impact government policy? If yes, then Aamir and team, please – take a bow!

But if not, then it becomes a farcical piling on people’s collective emotions (more of guilt than of anything else!) and meagre monetary contribution that could easily be achieved from alternate means! For example, the Rs.3 crore that Aamir is rumoured to be charging per episode! Or perhaps a portion of the money that Reliance has pumped into IPL!!

The show makes it very easy for people to ‘contribute’ by sending an SMS. ‘Female foeticide’ / ‘child abuse’ –  no problem! One little SMS saying ‘YES’, and we have done our bit! We are also rid of guilt! Guilt of what crime??! Nobody knows. 🙄 Simply send that SMS and get back to party-ing!

I’m intrigued by this new wave of ‘SMS-Charity’ culture. To be fair, it is ‘some’ contribution to society in place of ‘nothing’. Not too bad, actually. But Imho, a barrage of SMSes may not successfully bring about social change! I think we need more solid action!

Also, it will be very interesting to find out if the money raised after each show is MEASURABLE?

On another note, I have no clue why Sri Devi gets a ‘standing ovation’ from the audience???!!! She is an actress, for God’s sake! Not a humanitarian!!! If anybody deserves a standing ovation, it is the ‘victims’ who dare to come out in the open and speak about their very painful experiences!!!

Ok, I am in technically no position to criticise the show. I haven’t sent that SMS saying ‘YES’ yet. And neither have I donated any money online.

But tell you what? These are my 2 cents on how one could make this show more impactful.

1) Get those Criminals!

Don’t interview only the victims. Get hold of the perpetrators of the crime! Instead of asking the victim to describe the abuse/his emotions, focus on the abuser instead. If he refuses to appear on the show, try to catch him in a separate sting operation. And no discreet black masks for the abusers, please! Question and shame him in front of the country, so that neither he nor abusers like him continue this horrendous crime of child abuse! Talk to convicted criminals and show what sort of punishment is meted out for such crimes. Instil Fear (in the minds of potential criminals) and Hope (in the minds of victims/their families). And if the punishment isn’t sufficient, then interview the Judge who issued the ruling and find out WHY he/she did not think such gross crimes deserved more severe punishment. In short, SHAME the criminals, NOT the victims.

I have written about this in my earlier post on Aruna Shanbaug. We (media and masses) insist on shaming the victims and making their life hell, instead of grabbing the criminals and ensuring they don’t repeat their crime!

Some really strong action like this would take the show from a lame-Bollywood-entertainer to serious investigative journalism and an agent of social change!

2) Bollywood-crazy country!

We are a cricket and Bollywood-crazy nation, and we have no qualms about it! I’m sure Sri Devi increases TRPs of the show, and the organizers must need it, so the show makes complete business sense (in addition to social sense!) But for heaven’s sake, rope in some useful people on the show – police, politicians, judiciary .. invite a top Judge for example. Someone who is in a position to actually influence change in the country! Or if inviting a Bollywood celebrity, atleast get him/her to contribute say, a portion of the crores of rupees from his/her next film, to the same charity that the show is patronising!

3) Charity begins at Home!

Sending one little SMS and raising money for charity is quite creative. But honestly, charity begins at home. I would rather have Aamir try to influence the minds of the immediate audience, so they commit to something small but local, for example, sponsoring private education of their maid’s child! Or perhaps, teaching their servant-maid to read/write English. You see, these are the little things that will help our country grow.

4) Replace lifeless writ petitions with real-life commitments!

Instead of merely writing a petition to the Government, invite senior politicians to the show and hand over the petition in front of the country. In short, try to get any form of commitment in front of the public eye! It may or may not manifest in public policy change. But hey! Its worth a shot!

So people, enough of my criticism and rant. I honestly feel that the show is a great initiative, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, I would any day have this show on my TV.

But having said that, please feel free to share – what YOU would do, if YOU were producing ‘Satyameva Jayate’?

Categories
Humour Incidents

Yo Partner!

‘And they lived happily ever after…’ – I’ve spent many a summer afternoon buried in fairy tales and adventures woven in a red-coloured hardbound, rather worn-out copy of Grimms. Three decades later, I had the privilege of visiting Disneyland Paris. Who said Disneyland was for kids?? I loved every bit of it, especially the parades where Princess Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella and the likes were dressed in all their finery. With a deluge of thrilling rides (rain too!), good food, shows and parades, the trip was a dream come true.

However whenever I think of my trip to Disneyland Paris, one particular incident, a person actually, stands out in my mind. We had exhausted two days at the Disney resort, and were at the Marne-la Vallee-Chessy station, waiting for our train to arrive, so we could make our way back to London. The savvy travellers that we were, we decided to reach early (though the station was hardly a few minutes away from the resort!) and waited. And waited. And waited some more! But our train was nowhere in sight! In the meanwhile my little son, all of 4 years, managed to trip, fall flat on his face, and cut his lips! Murphy was right, you know? We needed the first-aid kit, and guess where it was? Right at the bottom of our bags! So, while we haphazardly unpacked, dug into and re-packed bags that overflowed unimpressively with  dirty linen, we heard an announcement that the train had arrived at the platform. There began our race!

We gathered everything we could find and stuffed it back into the boxes, grabbed the wailing child and ran like hell all the way to the platform, that was (in)conveniently a long flight of stairs down! However, the gates were closed! Panicking, we looked around and found another gate at the opposite end of the crowded station. Five minutes to departure. An entire length of station to cross! So, for the second time, we ran. Ran. And ran. Voila! The second gate was closed too!

Now with less than a minute to go for the train could depart, realisation dawned upon us! We were supposed to have checked-in through the security gates way before, when the announcements were being made cleverly in French. All we knew of French was the ‘kiss’ and that a guy called Sarkozy had a really hot wife! Just kidding!! We did not know ‘any’ French (well, we knew about Sarkozy.. bah!)! By then it was too late. We watched helplessly, as the picture-perfect train chuffed out of the picture-perfect station.

Our marathon wasn’t over though. We ran back all the way to the customer service desk. Imagine, to our surprise, a Mexican guy, aged about 30, was also carrying a bag and hurrying towards to desk. He too, had missed the train, exactly like us. Yo Partner! We sighed and cribbed in unison! Then we jointly explained the situation to the customer service officer. We had missed the last train to London. We had no place to go, no other trains to catch that day! Luckily, the Mexican spoke French, and kept gesturing to our poor baby with the bleeding lip, and garnered sympathy from the officer. He was relentless, sincere and so genuine!

We were so touched by his evident concern. Here we were, fellow passengers in the face of adversity, connected simply, by an invisible thread of humanity! This is exactly where life teaches us valuable lessons. In faith, in partnership, etc. Truly, humanity knows no boundaries. Colour/race/country…nothing matters as much as brotherly concern for another person in trouble!

Pic courtesy huddle dot com

The officer was a really kind gentleman. He offered a solution! Catch the local train (that was leaving in 10 minutes from the local station that was at the other end of this international station) to Paris Nord station, and catch the last Eurostar train from there to London! Yippee!!! We all but clapped with glee!

But wait! He added something in fluent, rapid French. The Mexican listened carefully. By that time, he had stopped gesturing to the bleeding lips. He stared at the officer. And back at us. Then, back at him. He wasn’t even attempting to beg for help any more!

And without a word, he made a rapid dash towards the exit that led to the local train station!!!

Perplexed, we waited for the officer to explain. He said, slowly and clearly, ‘There are only two seats left on the last train from Paris’. And there were 3 of us adults, and one bleeding child. So THAT was why our Mexican Partner ran for his life!!!

Anyway, with no hard feelings, we dashed too. Racing pulse, swollen lips.. we were quite a sight by the time we boarded the local and reached Paris Nord station. The check-in queue was winding all the way down from the first floor! We were quite sure that by then, the kind Mexican had hitched a ride to the station and was comfortably grabbed one of the two remaining seats on the train to London! Like I said, no hard feelings! We managed to reach the staff in-charge, who were incredibly kind, and who also checked us onto the train.

In true Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge style, we RAN towards the train, tugging child and luggage, and boarded it just a second before the doors shut!!

To our utter surprise, guess who jumped in just after us? Our Mexican friend!!!!

Huffing and puffing, we made our way through the aisles, and found our seats, co-incidentally next to each other. We sank into our seats, heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Then, our friend turned towards us, flashed a huge toothy grin 🙂 and gallantly did a High-Five. ‘We did it!’, he added.

Yo Partner!! Ofcourse ‘we’ did! So much for teamwork. Remember those life-lessons I told you about.. the ones on faith, partnership..yada yada.. er, let’s just say, they were lessons best unlearnt!!

But hey, it made one hell of an interesting tale for the Indiblogger Expedia contest, didn’t it?

Categories
Thought and Reason Incidents

Good boys don’t watch porn!

So the last couple of days have been eventful! India won against Sri Lanka. Voting began in Uttar Pradesh. And three ministers from Karnataka resigned, amidst accusations of watching pornography during when assembly was in full swing!

TV news channels aired footage of the ministers Laxman Savadi (Minister for co-operation),  CC Patil, (Minister for women and children), and Krishna Palemar (Minister for ports) using a mobile phone to watch a porn clip.

Excerpt from Mumbai Mirror:

‘The two ministers, who were sitting next to each other, had no inkling that television cameramen had taken position in the gallery right above them. Savadi, bored by the speeches, began fidgeting with his cell phone. As cameras zoomed in, it could be clearly seen that a porn clip was playing on his phone. Patil then leaned towards Savadi and got completely immersed in what was on show.The duo watched the clippings for almost 10 minutes, with Savadi holding the cell phone under the table. They looked up only after the day’s proceeding ended.’

On being caught red-handed, the ‘honourable’ ministers came up with a host of explanations…

1)      Savadi claimed he was watching an incident of rape of a woman, not ‘porn’, to “prepare for a discussion [in the assembly] on the ill-effects of a rave party” in the state recently. (Well! Really?! But why DURING the session?)

2)      Savadi also claims the clip was of a ‘foreign woman’ and NOT a Bhartiya nari (‘Indian woman’). (Right! He was not watching an ‘Indian woman’ so he has clearly not offended Indian culture!)

3)      ‘I am not a criminal. It was not my phone’. (Reminds me of the lame excuses kids use at school!!)

4)      ‘We are not so uncivilised as to watch porn films’ –  CC Patil, minister for women and children. (So, only uncivilised people watch porn?!)

So what is the outrage all about?

1)      Gross misconduct

Is the problem ONLY with watching porn? I don’t think so. Many people watch porn (Wiki says – ‘More than 70% of male internet users from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month’).

Watching porn does not mean you are a ‘bad person’. ‘Good boys’ also watch porn! But the point is, when and where do you watch it? The objection is neither on feminist nor religious grounds, but on code of conduct and accountability!

Each session of assembly costs money – the tax payer’s money. Take a look at this article that talks about Parliament assembly disruptions costing Rs.2 crore per day!

Assembly (or ANY place of work, for that matter), has a code of conduct, rules and some basic responsibilities. Whether the ministers were watching porn or not, the question still remains – why were they doing it when the house was in session?! Even if we were to be as gullible as one can possibly imagine, and believe, for a second, that the ministers were indeed watching a gang-rape in order to prepare for a discussion, there is NO EXCUSE for doing it during working hours!

2)      Hypocrisy

Isn’t it surprising that people having the power and authority and who claim to be ‘moral police’ themselves often contradict themselves by their actions? Let’s look at the following examples.

Does the name ‘Pramod Muthalik’ ring a bell? Members of the Sri Ram Sena group had threatened to punish or marry off any young couples found together on Valentine’s Day. They were also the same thugs who had beaten up girls ‘in a pub’.

While people in power advocate ‘upholding Indian culture’ they resort to gross physical violence without batting an eyelid!!

Remember the controversial ‘Slutwalk’? Many groups of people in India protested ‘against’ the movement for its use of the word ‘slut’ as well as the thought of ‘women dressing like sluts’. Apparently, the movement was not allowed to take place in Karnataka, because it was ‘against Indian culture’! Excerpt from Times of India: “The vice-president of a women’s organization in Malleswaram called me and said that if any women were seen in skimpy clothing during the Slutwalk, they would be beaten with brooms”

On one hand, authorities ban a movement against rape, and on the other, they vicariously do the same by watching porn?!

Interestingly, on the lines of what Andhra Pradesh top cop said, Minister C C Patil had recently assumed the role of moral policeman, advising women to ‘know how much skin they should cover!’ so they can avoid getting raped – “I personally don’t favour women wearing provocative clothes and always feel they need to be dignified in whatever they wear.”

 

Makes one wonder, was the woman in the clip dressed inappropriately, perhaps ‘arousing’ the curiosity of an otherwise ‘civilised’ man?!!!

 

Such incidents only prove one thing – the sleaze is in the mind of the criminal/perpetrator! Therefore, instead of pretending to respect women and Indian culture (and then watching porn during an assembly session!), perhaps they should focus on being sincere in their work, for starters!

3)      New lows all the time!

For a country whose image has been severely tainted with scandals and scams, we seem to find new lows all the time!

BJP leader Manohar Parrikar has supposedly just said proclaimed:

“There are people all across the country who do worse things. Congress leaders have chopped women and burnt them in a tandoor…Then there was the Bhanwari Devi case (from Rajasthan). They (the three BJP ministers in Karnataka who resigned yesterday) were only watching and not doing it!!”

The three ministers are perhaps not the ‘first’ people to engage in this deplorable act, but they sure can be the last!

Why are our standards so low? In UK, ministers were forced to resign for over-claiming expenses. In India however, we live through a new scam each day! The 2G spectrum scam, Nira Radia tapes, Commonwealth games scam, Adarsh housing scam… the list is endless!!

AND YET, ALL IS FORGOTTEN.

We hit a new low each time. This is one such case!

The BIG question now is – What will India decide? Is resignation enough?

This link refers to the weaknesses of the cyber act, due to which the ministers CANNOT be booked by the cyber police!

Will the ministers receive any punishment at all? Or will they get away (as always), because as they claim, ‘good boys don’t watch porn’!!

Categories
Thought and Reason Incidents

Do fashionable girls invite rape?

Do fashionable girls invite rape?

IHM has written extensively about this topic, and there really isn’t much more than I can add. However, here are my two cents.

—–

In what seemed to be a re-enactment of the origins of the Slut Walk, Andhra Pradesh top cop Dinesh Reddy recently made a statement that ‘women who wear fashionable clothes provoke men, leading to increase in rape cases’. He indicated that modern and fashionable women are more prone to rape, BECAUSE of their inappropriate dressing. While many people were outraged, many others have applauded him on his courage!!

I lived in India for most of my life, and I can tell you for a fact, that EVEN IF YOU ARE COVERED FROM HEAD-TO-TOE you are still very much at the risk of being sexually abused.

For starters, how easy or difficult do you think it is for a woman to travel in a crowded bus without being touched inappropriately by a fellow passenger?! A young child, a teenager, a mother of two kids – nobody is spared. As long as one is a woman, she is likely to be molested at some point in time. Do you know how many middle-class woman living in Mumbai carry a sharp safety pin while travelling on a crowded local train? I was advised this ‘technique’ when I lived in Mumbai for a couple of months.

The groping, pinching and other lecherous behaviour that happens all the time, on our Indian roads and public transport is beyond a civilised person’s imagination!! To blame that sort of lecherous behaviour on the clothes of the victim sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

A potential rapist sees his victim as an object and nothing else. There are no statistics to prove that a woman wearing a modern dress is more likely to get raped as compared to a woman who is conservatively dressed.

This article (see link) talks about molestation statistics in our Capital city, New Delhi. Atleast one woman is molested EVERY DAY.

Are we really so naive as to believe that all those women who were molested or raped were dressed ‘inappropriately’ or ‘fashionably’?!

How about our villages? Those poor women are not dressed ‘fashionably’, and yet they suffer the humiliation and trauma of rape.

For a country that claims to treat women as ‘goddesses’, statistics surprisingly indicate an increasing amount of crime against women!!

Also, do read this shocking extract from http://www.thp.org/reports/indiawom.htm

‘In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in atrocities against women in India. Every 26 minutes a woman is molested. Every 34 minutes a rape takes place. Every 42 minutes a sexual harassment incident occurs. Every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped. And every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death over dowry.

One-quarter of the reported rapes involve girls under the age of 16 but the vast majority are never reported. Although the penalty is severe, convictions are rare.’

Let’s get to the ROOT of the problem.

This interesting link describing the various causes of rape

Every single reason for rape (lust/show of power/etc.) has entirely to do with the mindset of the rapist, and NOT the outfit of the victim.

The problem is not that girls are getting influenced by the West and/or are wearing fashionable clothes, thereby ‘provoking’ men.

Rape happens IRRESPECTIVE of the victim’s outfit and NOT BECAUSE of it.

If we take a step backward and analyse the situation, we find that our society is plagued by a strong ‘rape culture’.

Wiki defines this rape culture as:

‘a culture in which rape and sexual violence against women are common and in which prevalent attitudesnorms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or tolerate sexual violence against women.  Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification and rape apologism

As a society, we still tend to BLAME THE VICTIM. We believe that the victim is responsible, either directly or indirectly.

That way, we not only transfer the burden of rape on the woman, but also seek to excuse the rapist for his barbaric behaviour.

Statistics have not been able to prove the link between the victim’s outfits and incidence of rape. Please read an extract from this link ‘Through a Rapist’s Eyes’. Though this is applicable to the US, the underlying issue is very relevant to India too:

‘There is no data to suggest that a potential victim is at greater risk because of how she is dressed. Remember, 70-80% of assailants are known to their victim, so tactics of stranger rapists aren’t needed.’

More statistics only support the above statements by revealing that around 2/3rds of rape are committed by known persons rather than strangers!

Therefore, the point is – Rape is PREMEDITATED. To claim that a girl wore fashionable clothes, thereby provoking and INVITING rape is baseless.

And for those who really believe that covering ones’ self from head-to-toe protects you from rape, please do read this bold article.  Rape happens even with women who are completely covered behind a veil.

To be fair, I do understand that wearing revealing clothes might attract more attention in a country that is sexually repressed! But does that justify rape? NO. Rape is crime and you cannot simply BLAME the victim by the flimsy excuse that ‘she was wearing fashionable clothes’!

I think this comment on Yahoo beautifully sums it up: ‘A rapist has a totally different mindset. It’s much more sinister, because he is actually serious about his plans. And to a real rapist, the outfit probably doesn’t matter much at all’

The need of the hour is not guidelines on Indian women’s Dress Code, but concentrated efforts to get out of this gross rape culture.

There is no such thing as a ‘right to rape’!! The quicker we realise it, the better for us to evolve into a truly civilised society!

Please, do share your thoughts on this.

Categories
Thought and Reason Incidents

Flaunt that bump!

A couple of decades ago, it was really easy to find out if a woman was a ‘mum-to-be’ or not. In my totally humble (and utterly baseless and subjective) opinion, pregnant women would often be the ones wearing an oversized salwar-kameez or simple sari, very modestly trying to hide their baby-bumps!

But not so any more. Today, the Bump is something of a celebration 🙂 We eagerly look forward to seeing that precious, adorable baby-bump that loudly calls for ‘Partayyy!!’

Now one regret that I have always had is that the poor mum-to-be often gets left behind in the hullabaloo about the baby-to-be!! And ofcourse, the woeful lack of smart ethnic maternity wear. And I am not referring to the good old versatile ‘sari’ here 🙄

There is an awesome range of stylish maternity wear when it comes to western outfits – like fantastic maternity jeans, maternity tops, etc. etc. But as far as Indian clothes are concerned… I don’t recall having seen any ‘maternity salwar-kameez’ 😆

Very recently, the lovely folks at Morph Maternity got in touch with me regarding their maternity wear. And trust me, I truly regretted visiting their website. Looking at all those gorgeous clothes, I felt awful that I did not have access to such a delightful collection of clothes when I needed them a few years ago!!! While I loved their chic kurtis/kurtas, some of the dresses (Sigh, I’ll never get into them!) looked so stylish!

While pregnancy itself is a blessing, I think chic maternity clothes make the mum-to-be feel confident and happy. And happy mums make happy babies!!!! I wish I had known about this brand earlier. A chunk of my wardrobe would have been from there!!

Google also reveals that the brain behind this concept is a woman entrepreneur Deepa Kumar. Thumbs up, lady!

My only quibble might be the sizing information on the website. The size chart is quite clear, however there isn’t a comparison with UK/EU measurements. Which I suppose is OK considering this is an Indian brand, but greedy folks like me, who want to order clothes from abroad might find it a little confusing.

I also wonder if they have an option of buying Gift Vouchers online like they do on sites such as Flipkart.

Anyway, better late than never. What am I going to do with all that post-pregnancy weight afterall !!! Kurtas.. kurtis.. here I come 🙂


(Psst: They offer free delivery too ;-))

Edited to add:

I ordered a couple of Kurtis from Morph Maternity’s website (in consideration for the above post), and this is my honest feedback:

Pros:

1) Fabric and colours were OK

2) Cleverly placed zips to facilitate feeding (the zips are quite inconspicuous)

3) Prompt delivery

Cons:

1) The clothes were rather over-sized. I suppose this is because they are ‘maternity wear’ but it somehow took some of the chicness away. I forget if I ordered L or XL, but what I received was certainly bordering on XXL or XXXL!

2) One definitely needs to physically try out the garments before buying!

3) Returns are not allowed, only exchange for another size

Categories
Thought and Reason Incidents Friday Frolic

Very Very Kolaveri!

There are currently two kinds of Indians. Those who have heard ‘Kolaveri’ and those who haven’t. Which category do you belong to?

I had face-un-booked myself last week but when I couldn’t abstain any more, I jumped right back into my account, and came across a link shared by a couple of blogger friends (Deeps and Vampire Brat, for instance). The title was ‘kolaveri’ and I opened it with very low expectations, as I am not that big a fan of Dhanush. But guess what? We have been listening to this very colloquial, crazy, silly song (in loop!!) for the last three days, with even my 5-year old singing it! I definitely did not see that coming!

First, click here to view the song on Youtube.

Second, tell me what you thought of it?

A small section of audience have expressed undisguised disgust at the song – for its poor lyrics, colloquial language, etc. and simply don’t understand what the hype is about!

Okay, I’m not ashamed to say I loved ‘Kolaveri’! It is perhaps even one of the worst songs ever, but it certainly is the most played song on my phone! It gets dangerous at times, though. Like yesterday, I was on the phone with my son’s school teacher, and there was this line ‘Cow-u cow-u … holy cow-u’ blasting away in the background. Ahem.. I might need to look for a new school soon. But, I digress (actually I don’t, but I like using that term ;-)). (Okay okay, I stole that line from Pixie’s post BUT to be fair, I did take her permission, mind it ;-))

Courtesy: Wiki

But hey!! What makes a song/film a hit? I saw a Hindi film called ‘Dhobi Ghat’ the other day, and loved it. It was serious, sensible and left an impression (not to mention stellar performances by Aamir Khan, Monica Dogra and cute Prateik Babbar). Now Ra One, in comparison made absolutely no sense whatsoever! However, as you might have rightly guessed, while Dhobi Ghat was a below-average-box-office-hit, Ra One despite not being critically acclaimed, was supposedly a ‘hit’ in India and a ‘superhit’ overseas (so sayeth the great Wiki!)

So what makes something like ‘Kolaveri’ a global rage? The video has apparently grossed 3 million views on Youtube, and more than 8 million shares on FB!

Well, to me, it is very simply, what I can connect with!

Kolaveri is a song that EVEN I can sing! Take any aspect of it.. words/tune/lyrics.. it is all so colloquial that even a layman can understand every nuance of the song and totally identify with it. To give a background, this is supposedly a light-hearted song sung by a young boy who has been jilted in love. Ah! What better reach to an audience than an average loser being dumped by a hot (and fair-skinned!) girl! The lyrics are very simple .. one need not break his/her head to understand the meaning of ‘white-skinu-girl, girl heartu-black.. eyes-u eyes-u meetu meetu, my future darku’! As for the tune, I loved it. The background score is fresh, and very cleverly infuses a trace of folk music into a trendy beat, making it a peppy number. Add to it an immensely talented bunch of young stars (Dhanush, Aishwarya Rajnikanth and Shruthi Hassan) that are evidently enjoying the foot-tapping number even during the recording, and one finds it hard to not like this song!!

(Sorry, Count Bratula, I had to choose that meanie picture of your Shruti 😉 Buhahahaha :mrgreen: :lol:)

More importantly, the world-wide success of this song (the latest video on FB is a group of Chinese dancers choreographing a dance to Kolaveri) has made me realise one thing. While perfection is great, being ‘real’ is far more attractive. Something that is technically perfect and outstanding, may not really be something I can relate to. For example, I simply do not enjoy authors who use ‘big words’. Blame it on my limited vocabulary, but I’d rather go for something simple, that I can enjoy.

Sushil Kumar wins KBC, courtesy: Rediff news

I suppose this is the reason why authors like Chetan Bhagat are so popular! (Allow me to hastily clarify that I am NOT a fan of his!!). I now understand why, Bhagat, despite being far from the best writer around, has certain mass appeal. At a tangent, another example would be the runaway hit programme Kaun Banega Crorepathi. The programme is not merely about ‘knowledge’ or ‘trivia’ but about the fact that an ORDINARY man or woman, like you or me, actually stands a chance at something so magnificent. It is also why chick-lit (I truly find the term demeaning) is extremely popular, despite scoring low on the literary count.

One could argue that art that is too colloquial actually lowers standards. That is true to a certain extent. But don’t our standards change as we evolve as a society itself? Modern art, chick-lit, colloquial songs like DK Bose and Kolaveri for example… these too, are a part of our culture now. While at one time, classical dance forms was what India was famous for, today Bollywood dance is a dance form by itself, and has many takers around the world!

These new, simplified forms of art, may or may not be the best. They may not be perfect. However, they are accessible to you and me.

The success of art, therefore is based on the ability of viewers to connect with it. So as times change, our standards change to an extent too.

As I see it, ‘perfection’ itself is over-rated. Anything less than perfect, is not so bad after all. On the other hand, it might even be more interesting!

Kolaveri, like many other things, is far from being perfect. And therein exactly, lies its appeal!

So, my dear soup-u – boys-u and girls-u, now-u you tell-u me, ‘why this kolaveri?’

(Cross-posted on www dot the-nri dot com)
Categories
Thought and Reason Incidents Humour Friday Frolic

Friday Frolic – The art of choosing a Name

One of the most difficult decisions in our lifetime is choosing a name!

A name for anything important or special to you. Like your child, for example. Or a new venture. Its amazing how we want to find that most unique name of all, a name that no one else would think of! Only to realise, a couple of days after choosing it, that it is not so uncommon after all!!!!

Some of us ofcourse, think radically different, and assume we believe we have ‘hit the nail on the head’. Like these names (of shops/enterprises) that I came across during my last visit to Chennai

* V-Solve Consultancy (Really! You solve things? Awesome! Didn’t know consultancies did that!!!)

* Sibling Revelry (This was the name of a children’s nursery/day-care. They probably assumed that the common man/woman uses ‘revelry’ in day-to-day conversations??! Or perhaps they hired V-Solve consultancy to come up with a name so unique ;-))

* Brainobrain academy (Naaiiice! One look at this name and you know your child is going to be the next Einstein, or atleast a home-grown IIT->IIM->Chetan Bhagat!!! No wonder parents fall for this! Btw, did they mean Brain-o-brain or BrainNObrain!)

* Interestingly, most boutiques here are one-word-names. Anokhi, Ananya, Shilpi, Pallavi (ahem!), Vastra, Lasya, Varsiddhi….you get the drift? They all seem to want to lean on heritage of some kind. Well, I’m not cribbing.. just commenting 😉

* The most creative names ofcourse, are those on the lines of Simla Snacks (What? The snacks are from Simla? Or is Chennai enjoying some Simla weather!), Babu Tea Stall (congrats, Mr.Babu!), Five Star department store (Really? Its more often than not, just a dingy little shop where underpaid shop-girls hover around you, lest you decide to nick something precious!!!), Classic tea shop.. and so on.

* And now, the best for the last. Very often people write words in English as an exact translation of the regional language. Like this one: ‘Swapna’ (a beautiful word that means ‘dream’). In the process of converting this from Tamizh to English, look at how they decided to name the venture: ‘Sopna Tailors’. Creativity at its best 🙄

So then, folks, here’s wishing you a very happy weekend. Have a great time.. and the next time you come across a name as creative as something above, do drop in a line to let me know 🙂

Cheerio….

(PS: This post is especially for Urmi and Ash, both of whom have been gently nudging me to revive ‘Crocodile Tales’ – for my newer friends, that was the erstwhile name of this blog :lol:! Now don’t ask me how or why I happened to choose that name!! 🙄 :mrgreen: 😉 😆 :lol:)