Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Mumbai Episode on 26/11

I still remember casually browsing the internet on what was my day off from work when I happened to stumble upon the news that there had been a series of terror attacks on Mumbai on the previous night. Finding myself totally absorbed in the news, I managed to locate a news site which gave me a live picture of how minute by minute the drama unfolded. As I found myself totally disturbed and completely glued to my laptop, I was saddened by what was happening to one of my favourite places in India. Not a staunch patriot, there are very few places that I have fond memories of and am closely attached to. I was saddened by the loss of human lives in the "Worst Attack Ever" in the Indian history. Yet, I knew, as soon as the entire "drama" ended, each and every media channel would portray their innocence and start a blame game. Even with this particular channel that I was following, despite the intense feelings of sorrow, the reporters were being insensitive enough and posing their one favourite question to those affected in any manner and that was HOW ARE YOU FEELING? I felt sorry for those who were being questioned for even in their time of adversity, they were being haunted by such people. Was it an intelligence failure or something else? How does it matter to those who lost their lives and also those who lost their loved ones? People have been dead for no fault of theirs. Is this something new to India? Enough is enough, this is India's 9/11, the captions for this entire episode seem endless. Yet at the end of the day, other than holding drawing room discussions and holding hot debates to increase the number of viewers for one's TV channels, what is really going to happen? Some politicians will resign, others will blame the ones who did not, those who can, will make the most of it by agitating an angered public and offering them verbal support and making them feel that if only you had chosen me, things would have been better. Sadly, the truth is that this vicious circle will not end. In India, I feel almost everything is a farce. I was once a loud voice which boomed out at defending India and its culture and how 'pure', serene and divine it is and has always been. However, ever since I started questioning a lot of things, I have felt sorry for the people being duped there every other day. I have stopped defending India when people criticize it for even today, women are gangraped there, minor girls get married to older men, caste and religion and their complications prevail openly. There are advantages of being in India for sure. The upper class gets to exploit the poverty stricken class and boast of child labour in a silent fashion, if one pays a few extra bucks, whatever you have desired can be done at a much faster pace and to suit your needs. What greater example do I quote of corrutption than the supply of defected bulletproof jackets to the police forces? Sitting in Australia, I am amazed at how Indians choose to blame the white skinned people for racism. What about them? Tamilians don't like Malyalis and vice versa, Gujaratis are thought of as cunning, Bengalis are extremely cunning and selfish, Hindus are against Muslims and vice versa, Sikhs are against Hindus, Muslims and vice versa. Who is the racist here? I am aware of a Sikh child who had to get his hair cut because being based in Delhi-the capital of India, he was mocked at by and ridiculed by other children for the 'ball' on his head. So what does a parent teach their child here? Take it? Answer back and become rebellious? Just keep mum because the so called system doesn't consider this important enough? WHAT??? I want to know that what exactly does the Indian system consider important enough other than what affects their politicians and other members? Does a human life have any value in India regardless of the person's gender or financial status? I doubt it...Would anyone care to enlighten my mind???

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Thinking Aloud...

Sometimes I feel that victims of child abuse and sexual molestation who help themselves in overcoming the pain, anger and hurt are more or less like the phoenix bird. The idea of a fresh start after a painful farewell to oneself is not a very common one in my opinion. Many people choose to silently live with their pain, sorrow and anguish and others seek their peace in various other ways. It could be religion, work or even developing a hobby, whatever they can do to come to terms with their lives. Why is it that we live in a world of pedophiles? Its not like a child asks for incest to be brought upon him or herself, then why do they get victimized? I read it somewhere that in the USA, every four seconds a child is molested, does anyone know the statistics about Indian victims? It all starts with a 'friendly' touch from someone who is in most cases a close confidante of the victim's parents. Gradually, the touch gives way to longer moments of contact which are very serious in nature. It is absurd that in an Indian society, where the major religion is Hinduism and it has a vast number of Goddesses which even most of the Indian males worship and pray to, the same male does not think even twice in stripping the dignity of a little one. Being a girl, I cannot give the outlook of a male and I am sure molesters are not always bothered about the gender of a child. Open discussions with a lot of friends have educated me on this issue. Some male friends of mine have even thanked me for helping them understand of how much pain many of their friends carry. I have dealt with and helped a lot of my friends overcome the pain of this ugly reality of life but not even in the wildest of my dreams was I prepared to deal with a person who has been sodomized as a child. This person is married and is the father of two sons but despite that, even today, he is living in a private hell of his own, oblivious to his family. Solitude can be blissful occasionally but one must learn to face what we fear the most and that in many instances of victims of sexual and child abuse can mean sheer acceptance. Will my family accept me despite knowing what I have been through? Will my husband/wife understand I was not at fault? Will I accept that, even if I learned to enjoy being victimized, it was not my fault? Will I stop doubting myself ever? Will I learn to forgive the bastard who did this to me ever? These are just some of the random thoughts that go through a victims mind and why shouldn't they? After all our Indian society is one big farce in my opinion.
Will my friends ever recover? Will we ever openly talk about the hell we have been through? My confused mind still wonders.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Two years in Melbourne





Today is the day when two years ago, I landed in Melbourne. With a lot of dreams, hopes and a bit of nervousness I had left home and my family. Little did I know then that I would miss them on each and every day forever from then on :) My father is such a caring soul, not only did he get me Malaysian currency in addition to OZ dollars but he and my brother-in-law got me a Indian pre-paid sim card with international roaming available on it. For the first few days when I reached here, that was my only form of communication with them and time and again I was reminded of the many ways in which a family truly cares. When I bade farewell to my parents, I was on the verge of tears. Hugging my dad has always been the best and the hardest thing to let go of, I had tears in my eyes and my dear mother who is a pillar of strength for the entire family had her eyes moist but was asking me to be brave and smart in addition to wishing me luck. The smiling spots were my nephews who for some reason had decided that the airport was their space and were doing all sorts of monkey acts. My sister hugged me and wished me happiness and with a wave and holding my brother-in-law by the arm I bade farewell to everyone around. As I was standing inside, I spoke to my mom and tried not to break into tears at her voice. I suddenly realized that despite all of my loud remarks over women and their independence, I was still highly emotionally attached to my family. At the last minute, my mom decided to make me a home made Punjabi snack called 'Pinnis' which is made of a lot of ingredients and double the hardwork. Little did I know about the adventures that were in store for me in Australia. Australian quarantine by far is one of the strictest I have ever seen. While they were educating us about the items to declare at the airport upon arrival, I was fascinated and busy in looking out of the window at the well lit grounds below. Happy with my decision, I was ready to go and face the world. The flight landed and I forgot that food items were listed as a declaration in the educational video shown to us. So here I was with my handbag, my laptop and my purse waiting in the queue after collecting my luggage to be just let off because I had forgotten about the 'Pinnis' totally. Well, I was reminded of them when one of the guys in charge of the security at the airport asked me to open my suitcase and I panicked...Once I opened it, I realized, the 'Pinnis' had beautifully melted into a brown mass. I still remember the guy who opened that box, looked at me in wide wonder and asked, " Wa the bloody hell is this?" I thought he would add the word mate as per my knowledge about OZ's and I replied with a no nonsense look that it is just a last minute home made snack my mum made. "Well lady, did you declare it?" I was confused and I said in polite manner that I did not think it as a dangerous item for anyone and so I didn't declare it. I was saved by a fellow Indian student who had lost the keys of his luggage and his bag seemed to contain more suspicious stuff than my small carton and so they asked me to be careful and leave. Wow, what a welcome to Australia it was!!!
In the days that followed, I encountered a lot of adventures, the concept of assembling my own bed, study desk, calling a handyman for repairs, it was all too good. The saddest part was to realize that after 5:00 pm except for thurs and fri, the markets shut down. It did take me sometime to get used to the politeness of people, the formal attitude everyone carried as if it were embedded in them and a lot of other things. Looking back on where I started, I obviously have come a long way from then, yet there are many more milestones to be covered....Even if I deferred a semester of my post graduation, at least I gained the official status of a resident at the end of two years and also chose my own life partner and took the final plunge I never thought I would ever have the courage to take :)

Thursday, 19 June 2008

This one is for you my friend...

Answers to a discussion I had with one of the most lovable persons in my life.
Q- Why do people hurt?
A- People hurt others because they are too selfish to realize what they are doing. Sometimes, they do it intentionally because thats the best they are capable of doing in life. Such people are losers and this is their way of dealing with life.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Hypocrisy and the human mind

Why is it that some people are so fake and pretentious that sometimes it becomes so choking for people like me to even glance at them? I have always gotten into trouble for speaking my mind and never has it dissuaded me from continuing to do so! That's partly because I really never cared two hoots about what others thought of me and partly because I have an attitude problem which keeps me away from lying... However, off late, owing to the academic stress I have been subjecting myself to, in addition to losing my mind, I have also learnt many valuable lessons in terms of dealing with individuals. The first and foremost is that I am so glad to have studied in the southern part of India where life is not all about gossiping! Secondly, the world is full of pseudo people....I know it took me a long time to realize that one because I had never communicated much with such people. Thirdly, people will go to any extent to get something done for themselves regardless of the ways they opt for it...
What's so wrong in being yourself? If I don't like someone, its very obvious because I can't have double standards and be nice to someone when actually they make me sick!!! That's the way I have always been and seen the people I have come to admire and understand in life. What I fail to understand is the manner in which people express their dislike about someone and yet are so congenial with them that it makes me wonder the wide possibilities we are capable of living when it comes to being hypocrites. How does it matter to me what you think of me if you are nobody to me but for an acquaintance? My honesty has got me a long way in developing personal and professional relationships and I wonder if I would have ever experienced the goodness I did in life if I lived my life by double standards as well! Having studied in a posh catholic convent did train me how to be a social butterfly when there is need for it but it did little in preparing me to deal with hypocrites in life... College was another experience where life showed me a lot of extremes and fortunately, no hypocrites! I was told a very important thing by one of my dad's very successful and affluent colleagues; in life, it is very important to have friends and even more important to differentiate acquaintances from friends. Colleagues are different from friends.
Honestly, I don't remember a single time when I didn't get into trouble for having spoken my mind yet its because of my honesty that I have been complimented many a times.
My mentor told me its a wicked thing to put someone down when they need you the most but nevertheless a very helpful weapon in letting you get even with the same person for something you feel he/she deserves it. I never really got to practice it, maybe I should do it, especially with the hypocrites I don't like even a wee bit :)

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Pre marriage madness continued

Forgot to make a mention of the disastrous pre-bridal facial I got done which left my skin with visible scars and drove my friends nuts because of my screams and wails every time I saw myself in the mirror:-)

Pre Marriage Days- Madness, madness and more madness!

Now that I'm finally back to Melbourne, I can finally look back at all the adventures of my most recent trip to India and smile at them. I'm a married girl now and it feels weird only when I think of it! It felt terribly responsible to be a married girl in India and so unreal for me!!! Right from the day I reached India to the day I left it, everyday was an adventure. That's why I've titled this post the way it is. The pre-marriage days were quite an event on their own. Right from eating 'aalu-tikki chaats' to drinking chilled fresh juice in the crowded streets of Delhi and Patiala with my sister and mum it was quite an affair! I got so fed up of being told what was the "latest fashion trend" in India everywhere I went. It also amused me how coolly the salesmen told me that they were showing me the latest product all over India and that these products differed so much within different regions! Chandigarh had a totally different trend from Delhi and Patiala, Delhi was definitely different from anywhere else and Patiala was somehow stuck on the traditional designs which were supposed to be the latest trend all over India :-)
Zooming in crowded places sitting in cycle rickshaws was such fun because the rickshaw drivers just don't seem to care about anyone else on the road... I also got emotionally high by bargaining with a lot of people just for the heck of it, not caring two hoots about whether or not the product was really worth the effort or not! As the days of the marriage drew closer, so did the madness involved in and around it. Suddenly, there was this boom of well wishers who wanted to meet me and tease me in a sheepish manner about my future husband and 'in laws'. While writing the invites along with my dad, I realized how extended my own family was! There was so little time and so much to do! I actually started getting the feeling that this was MY MARRIAGE everyone was talking about when my mom's younger sister and my favorite aunt made the effort of coming to my hometown much well in advance. It was hilarious to see how my mum being the elder one told my aunt literally each and everything to be done forgetting the fact that her younger sister is actually a grandmother! It was definitely a relief for me as I ended up arguing less with my glamorous sister about her forgetting my sense of independence in deciding things for myself! For everything everyone had an excuse that I was unaware of how things are done "here". "Here" was a place I had left just a couple of years ago and honestly when I actually saw how much things had changed, I agreed with the rest of my family on a lot of issues! Each and every item for me was wrapped with so much of love and care and sometimes with mischief for my elder sister is quite a bubbly character unlike me for I'm much more sober and serious natured than her. Watching my dad NOT snore away to glory when everyone else was yawning so widely that one could see their uvula was amazing! Both of my parents got to sleep so little for almost a month and they didn't seem to care that this was physical strain they were subjecting themselves to. Each day, the next day's agenda would be discussed only to be changed due to one of the very important persons in any bride's life-The one and only 'Tailor Madam'. This lady in particular would call me at the wrong hours to discuss things I would just not comprehend and I ended up in visiting her a hell lot of times than planned. The days in between all of this were occupied with certain other visits which were important for all the insignificant reasons! I was so glad when my friends came and met me for at least that felt normal!!! Just a couple of days before the marriage dropped in two special guests from all the way to Chennai and I couldn't believe that my roomie for so many years and my friend for even a lot more years was able to make it for the wedding! It felt like life was back to the good old days when we would catch each other sleeping in positions we never knew the human body was capable of also! Its a pity I didn't physically get to spend much time with my friend but watching her being transformed from a no nonsense person into a lady with make up at the heroic hands of another loving friend of mine was worth every moment I got to see my friends!!! There were some who were so protective of me that they even forgot how nervous I was feeling! On the whole, those days of sheer madness were so awesome that I actually enjoyed each and every incident that occurred including my sweet nephew feeding one of my best buddies a glass of coke and popping paneer pakoras in my mouth every now and then due to the mehndi ladened hands of his masis! Since I have ended up in spending quite a lot of time on this post, I will come back at a later date to sum up the adventure of the 'D-Day'....