Categories
Short story Thought and Reason

A bagful of peanuts

Every now and then, something beautiful comes my way to show me that Life is the greatest humbler! 

For instance, all of you (my regular readers) know I have been in India during the Easter break. I usually carry bundles of old clothes (in great condition) to give away to maids/helpers back home. This time again, I took a box of clothes and my mum distributed it among some regular helpers. One particular shirt was slightly over-sized and hardly used, and we decided to give it to our fruit-seller for one of his three sons. He accepted it with his usual quiet demeanour and left without saying a word. I wondered if he even appreciated that it was still a good shirt and would use it for his child, or quickly sell if off for a few rupees on the footpath the next day!!

Let me quickly clarify that I was NOT looking for ‘gratitude’ as people sometimes do. My belief is that people who receive things from me are actually doing me a favour by helping de-clutter my house and in turn, my life! So there was no question of gratitude. Only, a subconscious wish for some sign of ‘acknowledgement’.

Anyway, a few days passed, and the incident had completely vanished from memory.

Late one hot summer evening, the door bell rang. Mum answered it, and was surprised to see none other than the fruit-seller. He simply stood there, quiet as he always was, looking looking tired in a crumpled brownish-yellow shirt that was once probably white.

Mum was surprised, because it wasn’t the time to buy/sell fruits! She opened the door anyway, not knowing what to expect! Usually, helpers who visit late in the evening, are looking for some help, usually in the form of money. We waited to see what he would say/ask for.

To our surprise, the fruit-seller just passed his hand around the half-open iron-grill-gate and handed over a bag overflowing with fresh peanuts (monkeynuts). And walked away without a word.

We stared at each other – dumbstruck, tears brimming our eyes. A big bag of nuts. It would have probably made an excellent snack for three hungry children that were waiting for him back home. Yet, he chose to give it to us. In his own quiet, humble way, he had shown us that to give something, one only needs a big heart!!

The magnanimity of the poor fruit-seller left us utterly humbled!!

I don’t think I have words enough to explain the lesson in humility that I learnt that day. It was certainly one of the most beautiful incidents ever.

I wish we had more of such people around. They certainly make the world a better place!

This post is a participation in the Blogsplash (24th April 2012) in celebration of FionaRobyn‘s book ‘The Most Beautiful thing”.

Categories
Tags Thought and Reason

Tag you’re it!

I’ve been bitten by the ‘Tag You’re It’ bug too!! Kind courtesy: The one and only Bhai of blogworld. Our dear Hitchy!

The Rules:

1. You must post the rules!
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

Here are the questions Hitchy asked, with my answers embedded.

1.) If you could have any superpower, what would it be ? Imagine !
>> To make anyone slim OR fat! I’d round up all the mean folks and make them super-fat, so they are grounded for life. (Er, today happens to be my Mean-Avatar day!!) I’d also grant nice people with a great figure (if they so wish it!). So be in my good books, people!

2.) What was your favorite childhood television program?

>> Spiderman and He-Man.. they both give me a feeling of ‘Sunday’ 🙂 day of rest and fun!

3.) Have / had any celebrity crushes ?
>> Hritik Roshan, who else!!!

4.) If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
>> At the moment it would be India, cos I’ve not been there for almost 6 months!! Yeah, I’m homesick.

5.) Name 1 thing you miss about being a child.
>> A calorie-free life. Not that I ate sensibly then, I was blissfully ignorant of words like Carbs, Monosaturated fat, blah blah blah.

6.) Name the one comic/book character that you loved the most and why ?
>> Er…. Suppandi 🙂

7.) What is the one thing that you are dying to try but haven’t had a chance to do so yet ?
>> After watching ZNMD, I think I might want to try sky-diving sometime, provided my BFFs join me!

8.) Do you have a role model – someone you want to emulate? Whom do you admire the most?
>> Chetan Bhagat.. who else can relentlessly dish out so much crap and still manage to become a best-seller?!!

9.) What do others make of you ?
>> (You mean, on my non-bitchy days, right?) That I’m very caring and pleasant.

10.) Have you ever gotten into a fight or punched someone ?
>> Nah! I’m too nice (read: timid) for that! But there are a lot of people I’d like to punch some day!

11.) For Girls – If you woke up tomorrow to find out you are Brad Pitt, what would be the first thing you’d say upon looking in the mirror !
>> Go, look for Writerzblock and take her out on a lovely date to Paris 😉

Okay, my job’s done. Now its your turn!!!

These are the lovely folks I’m tagging:

1. Ashwathy
2. Urmi
3. Snowleopard
4. Vaish
5. Aaroo
6. Reema
7. Uma
8. LG
9. Shilpa
10. Bikram 
11. Mon

And here are your Eleven questions:

1. If you were crowned ‘Ms/Mr/Mrs/etc’ World, how would you start your ‘thank you’ speech?

2. If you had to turn yourself into a cartoon character, who/what would you choose?

3. What would be your response to a troll comment like ‘Your blog is utter crap!‘?

4. If you found a bag of cash (huge cash), what would you do? Take it to the police station, keep it for yourself, or any other option?

5. Describe your first poo/wee accident as a child. Ha ha ha!:wicked: If you don’t remember, then just invent one!

6. If someone pays you a million dollars to watch a scary horror film, sitting ALONE in a graveyard at midnight, would you do it?

7. What is your one piece of advice to Rahul Baba (Gandhi)?

8. If you could banish the Bacchhan parivaar, where would you send them?

9. What is your proudest moment?

10. What is your most romantic moment?

11. And finally (phew), if you had a time machine, which year would you transport yourself to, and why?

(Needless to say, if anyone wants to willingly become a bali-ka-bakra and take up this tag, please do so!! The more the merrier!!)

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
Incidents Thought and Reason

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
Incidents

A non-post

..and I have nothing to post..

there was one little thought floating about

in my mind on Saturday

but by the time I could catch hold of it,

it had flown away.

Hmm.. oh yes, this particular paragraph has been lying in Drafts for a long long long time now.

I had this unnerving experience at the local grocery store about three months back. I was looking for something on the rack, and a woman clad in burkha (except covering the face) asked me – partially in sign language – ‘What is the PRICE of the item on the shelf?‘ I told her. But I was shocked that someone could NOT read!! I am not sure if she could read her vernacular language or something. But not knowing numbers was shocking. Even a child can read numbers, can’t they?! It made me wonder, what sort of family did the woman belong to? Some orthodox family that believed in women being solely meant for house-keeping and progeny?!! It was rather saddening 😦

I wish we would all make some tiny contribution to encouraging literacy 🙂 One brilliant suggestion is mentioned here at Quirky’s brilliant post.

Cheerio…

Categories
Short story

Woman in the rain

I chanced upon this ‘Complete the story’ contest by Yours Truly Theatre on Facebook.

Original story:
‘….rainy day on a bus stand, waiting to get back home, and then suddenly out of nowhere she comes along and then…’

My ending:
==================================================
I held my breath. She stopped right in front of me. Panting.

‘Prashant…‘ she whispered. Still panting. How sweet my name sounded when it came from her!

I didn’t reply. I simply couldn’t.

‘Please… come back’.

I remained silent. This time, she had gone too far!

‘This is for your good! Trust me…‘, she persuaded.

I had made up my mind. I was in pain. Deep pain. If this chasm widened, I would die.

But I was not going back.

‘Come with me’, she continued.

I adamantly shook my head.

Never.

Ever.

Never will I enter her dental clinic again. I’ve had it with dentists!!

==================================================

And folks, you KNOW how much I like dentists.. so this particular ending arises from this post 🙂 and this one.

Categories
Movie Review

Why its possible to like ‘Pyar Impossible’

At first it was the cast that put me off. The title too. Expectations therefore were at an all time low.

So when a friend sent me the DVD, I promptly discarded it for a time when Sky TV would let me down by not airing anything worthwhile.

Lest I sound crazy, let me state very clearly (in Bollywood jargon) that this was not a ‘mind-blowing’ movie. Nevertheless, there are some aspects that I really liked. And here are the takeaways from the movie.

1- That the heroine, Alisha (played by Priyanka Chopra), comes across as such a wonderful, confident and happy woman, who struggles hard to juggle her career along with her personal life. This is so different to the heroines of a bygone era. Earlier, divorce was taboo, and the divorcee (strictly, the woman) would have to look sad, depressed and repentful, missing ‘her man’ at every juncture!

In sharp contrast, Alisha is a very happy and intelligent woman, not regretting the past, and only trying to strike the right balance. She enjoys her successful career, and is a really cool mum. Hats off to such characters, and may there be many more like them.

(A pity, though, that despite her obvious affluence, she doesn’t have much money for clothes. She seems to wear her little daughter’s outgrown shorts. And her other outfits seem like there wasn’t enough material left over to make a complete dress! Sigh! Yeah, I can see you gentlemen are resolving to watch the movie right away!)

2- That the ‘nanny’ is a man. I didn’t actually see parts of the movie, as I was multi-tasking with something in the kitchen, but yes, it was a very pleasant experience to see that a nanny need not necessarily be a woman. It can be a man too. Maybe this is lift-off from Mrs.Doubtfire, well, atleast partially. But it is good to see Indian audiences can accept this fact. There can be male nannies, there can be house-husbands, and there is nothing wrong about it. I like it!!

3- That the ‘male nanny’ did not find it ‘beneath his dignity’ to entertain the kid or to simply be a nanny! Even in the scene where he is given a long list of household chores, and cheekily outsources it, there is no indication that he thinks ‘being a man is reason enough to not do the chores’. To me, it just came across that he simply did not have a clue as to what to do / or / felt overwhelmed, and so outsourced it. That again, shows a shift in attitude and culture, as a whole. Even if it only represents one small portion of society, still, its a breakthrough, isn’t it?

4- And this song, is what actually made me want to see the movie in the first place.

The hero says ‘love’ is based on looks. For someone who looks bad, finding love is ‘impossible’. While Alisha first refutes it, she later on realises that, that is indeed true. Nobody gives a second glance to someone who looks like a geek, or is ugly. Now I partially agree with this. People (both men and women) give a lot of weightage to looks, far more than what is deserved. And many a time, love is not reciprocated simply on this count. All the same, I also believe, when someone only looks ‘average’, the love that one finds is very genuine, as it is based on something more substantial than just looks.

5- Then, I loved this line by Alisha ‘I’m not a princess. I’m an ordinary girl, but when I’m with you, I feel like a princess’. Well, what more can one say? That is what love is all about!! If your partner can make you feel special, what more can one ask for? The romantic in me loved this typical crazy Bollywood scene!

6- And lastly, I liked the character played by Dino Morea (and not just because it is played by him 😉 ). This character again, came across as a confident young man, who knows the difference between Right and Wrong, and consciously Chooses Wrong. And in the end, when ‘Truth triumphs’, he is equally sportive. He does not do any ‘dramatic repenting stuff’, and not does he ‘swear revenge’. He simply acknowledges the other’s success. I think that is a very nice trait to have. To be able to lose graciously 🙂

So, now I’m not asking you to watch the movie. Watch this song, for sure.

There are a lot of aspects about the movie that are not so good … some of the stereotyped college scenes, the little daughter being so grown-up, that there is no change at all in the looks of main characters despite the time-leap. Despite all this, though, I think the movie has its positives. Apart from the above, Priyanka Chopra looks stunning, the music is pleasant, and every actor perfectly fits the role.

So, those of you, who have found your soul-mates, congrats once again, and work hard to continue to treat them like a Prince/Princess as the case may be 🙂

And to those of you who are looking for love, all the best 🙂 I hope you will care to consider values that will last forever 🙂

Happy Weekend, all 🙂

[P.S: All pictures, courtesy the great WWW. Linked them back to the original source whereever possible]