March 08, 2018

A moment of gratitude and empathy: Celebrating the spirit of Women's Day

Here's how I want to celebrate women's day.

This is for all the feminists who broke the norms throughout history to achieve something like equality for us today. I cannot express my gratitude for you enough.

To all those inspirational names in history who have given the women of today someone to look upto, and to all those nameless, faceless spirits whose pages have faded away in history, to the conscious fighters, the suffragettes and the open rebels who fought for what was right and due, and to the modest movers who took small steps towards personal liberation without even knowing they were fighting for feminism....

Every small step you've taken has taken humanity closer to achieving equality. I may not have known you, I may not have seen you, the world or history may not to recognise your names or faces, but I am aware that even my basic rights like voting, financial independence and education are privileges hard-earned through your struggles in the course of your lifetimes. Everyone of you did your part, and you have all collectively made this world better in your own special ways.

I understand that the struggle has not ended, and this world still has a long way to go before it can be called a just world for people of all genders. In my own country, marital rape is a legal right, and as I write, I am aware that there are many, many women in this world who do not share the same privileges as I do because basic rights are privileges often denied for women. There are many who are deprived of education, and many who are denied the right to vote, and many who do not get paid as much as a man for doing the same amount of work, and many who are denied to be born. The right to live with dignity is a privilege in reality for many women.

I am also aware that there are many feminists in this world today, who are striving to make this world a better place, each in their own personal way. I want to express my solidarity to their cause and I want to tell them that I am one of them...

Even though I don't know each of you personally, each of you have touched my life and the lives of all the women in very special ways and have changed my life forever. Every small step taken by each of you to our collective cause sustains us all.

This is to the women of today and yesterday, who have persevered against discrimination to create a fair world. The world is far from fair when it comes to gender discrimination. A perfectly fair world for all cannot be achieved in a single lifetime. It takes a different kind of perseverance to fight for something which may not be attained in your lifetime, and to still persist for what is right and due. Your endurance is beyond inspiring. I too will try to endure. I too will try to do my part, and become a drop in the ocean.

Every woman in this world would have suffered discrimination knowingly or unknowingly sometime in her life. To everyone of you, those who are feminists and those who are not, those who are aware  that they are facing discrimination and those who are not... There are times when you suffer from discrimination and try to consciously or unconsciously oppose the injustice imposed on you. This is my oath to you, that during those times, irrespective of who you are and what you are as a person, you deserve my unconditional empathy. I want to tell you that you are unequivocally right when you question why you should be denied what is due to you purely because of your gender. Let the whole world tell you otherwise and make you question your sense of unfairness. I want to tell you that you don't / didn't deserve to suffer because of discrimination. Even if justice is unattainable to you, sense of righteousness is empowering. I am telling you - During those moments where your conscience guides you to question or oppose what is wrong, you are right. And you are a feminist whether you know it or not, even if it is for those few moments.

Now I want to express my special gratitude to all the bloggers who have opened my eyes by introducing me to feminism and making me understand what it means to be a woman.

Indianhomemaker - link

Melissa McEwan - link

The Belle Jar - link

And to the many authors whose posts enlightened me on many aspects of feminism and rape culture.

I owe you feminism :) May fairness prevail! Happy women's day to all!

January 22, 2017

In response to 'What exactly happened on 2017 New Year's Eve in Bengaluru? What could be the causes of this?' on Quora

Trigger warning: Rape apologia, Misogyny
Content note: Long post

By now, it is old news that the ugly colors of gender inequality have shown themselves in the form of molestation on New Year's eve in Bengaluru (link).  What is worse now is, that the ugly colors of rape apologetic attitudes and regressive notions on how women should cover / lock themselves up to 'prevent' sexual harassment (and thereby implying that those women who did not do so were / are responsible for crimes against themselves) have remained unchanged. Four years after Nirbhaya (link), not much has changed. The proof of it can be seen in the Quora post (link) which I am responding to which asserts that women locking themselves up is a solution to prevent sexual assaults, and the number of people who have up-voted it, and the number of people who empathised with the author's views in their replies (some replies rightly criticise the author but many more support or agree with him). The fact that this post features as one of the top results in Google search when I search for "what happened in bengaluru on new year's eve", and the number of up-votes means that many people seem to be taking these arguments seriously, and I want to express my disagreement as strongly as I can here.

Quotes from the original post in black italics and my responses in bold red.

// Clash of cultures. Something similar to what happened on New Year Eve in Cologne and other German cities last year. Or something that the 16 December gangrapists had planned. FUN, as they call it. //

It is not not 'clash of cultures'. It is a conflict between a regressive mindset which asserts that women who violate unspecified rules, such as coming out at night, enjoying at parties, and so on deserve to be violated, and expression of right to freedom by the women who directly challenged these 'rules' by engaging in 'unacceptable' activities. It is a confrontation to existing power-domination equation. The rapists of 16 December, or the attackers on New Year eve violated women because they couldn't stand women disobeying their 'rules' and believed that those women deserve to be punished for it. They couldn't stand their power and control over women being challenged and they violated their victims' dignity by assaulting them in an attempt to subjugate them. More importantly, they were aware that they could get away with their actions, because they knew that society would blame the victims instead by questioning them for disobeying 'rules', thereby making these women vulnerable targets. 

"The rapists often don't see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don't expect the victims to report them" - link to post by IHM
// Before the IT revolution, before the assimilation of Western culture in our lives, Bengaluru was also like a typical Indian city. For those, who were teenagers in 90s, New Year meant watching some crappy special TV shows on 31st, sleeping as peacefully as any other day, getting up on Jan 1, wishing your family “Happy New Year” and resuming your daily schedule. It is now that the New Year eve celebrations have become as big for Indian youth as they are for the West. Just like thousands of people wildly celebrate at Times Square, similarly, we too have started following them and started celebrating at city centres like MG Road in Bengaluru (which is used to have a casual gathering in 90s) or Connaught Place in Delhi. //
Women have been raped and molested in India before the IT revolution as well (link). Gandhiji famously stated that India will be free when the women feel safe to walk in the streets of India India in midnight. He said so because he was disturbed by the state of sexual crimes and lack of women's safety in the country.
Besides, where does one draw the line to define 'Western culture'? There was a point in time when even education and financial independence of women was seen (is still seen by many) as against 'our culture'. There was a time when widow remarriages and prohibition of Sati were seen as intrusion of Western culture into our society. Despite being illegal, child marriages are rampant in India to this day due to widespread cultural and social support. Recently, Indian government has issued a statement to support marital rape by stating that criminalising marital rape would weaken the institution of marriage (link). Does all this mean that we should advocate conduction of child marriages till the time all parents are educated about the perils of the same? How then are we going to educate parents about why child marriages are wrong, if we continue to advocate that we conduct them till parents are educated?! Advocating that women must lock themselves up or obey unsaid set of rules to prevent themselves from being assaulted, till the criminals are educated that they will be held accountable for assaults, is the same thing, it's the same argument, a non-solution.

Cultural differences do not and should not give anyone the right to violate human rights of those who are different from them. They must never be used to attempt to justify such acts as well.

// This is not wrong on part of the independent youth who get another opportunity to take a break from their mundane lives, roam around with their friends and enjoy a bit. But in eyes of people with older mindset, for the slum dwellers; these things have a different meaning. For them, all the woman who are partying with their friends have a loose character and will most probably get laid with their male partners tonight. // 
They need to be told that women have the right to consent or dissent to participate in sexual activities with (m)any partner(s) any time. They need to be told by every channel that it is a crime to assault a woman without her consent, for which they will be held accountable and punished. And this message needs to be instilled through strict implementation of the law. More importantly, we as a society need to tell them that the character of the woman in question is not relevant by holding the assaulters, and the assaulters alone accountable for the crime. Asking women to lock themselves up and laying down suggestions rules for women to obey (such as avoiding parties) would only encourage these criminals, as they realise that they find social support when they assault women who disobey those 'rules'.

// New Year celebrations, unlike Diwali or Eid, dont have any religious element associated with them and hence the concept of sin is easily forgotten by such hypocrites. // 

Men molesting women is mainly a function of how easy it is for them to get away with their crime. Their restraint is not caused because of their personal beliefs, but because they sense that social support is less likely when they assault women who are adhering to unspecified rules (read participating in 'socially acceptable' activities like religious ceremonies). When we as a society condemn their crimes equally strongly for assaulting any woman under any circumstances (party or not, drinking or not), they would refrain from assaults.

Besides, women and children are molested at cultural / religious gatherings such as dandiya (link), ganesh chaturthi celebrations (link), diwali parties (link), apart from a whole lot public spaces, including bus-stops, colleges, schools and trains. And many women are raped by their own husbands in India by virtue of the power granted to the husband through the cultural institution of marriage.

// Open consumption of alcoholic beverages also sends a message to these petty goons, who consider it a signal from womenAlso, public gatherings at night like these give them a mask of anonymity to attempt molestation, which if they tried on any normal day would invite severe retribution from public. //

Sexual crimes aren't perpetrated by one single social class of men against one single class of women. 
"Studies find 98% of India rape victims knew their attacker" - Link to post by IHM
"Home most unsafe place for women : A unique court-ordered study by Delhi police revealed" - Link to post by IHM

Men who are accustomed to being in the company of women who drink also molest and rape them (link), at times in private gatherings or at their own homes (link). Child sexual abuse is rampant in India (link). Many tribal women are raped due to social oppression (link, link).

And to what extent can public gatherings be avoided? It is a complete myth that the problem of street sexual harassment is prevalent only at night times. Molestation and harassment are common in every public space one can think of, including trains (linklink), buses (link), colleges (link), streets, parties, parks, queues, temples (link) and so on. I can speak from personal experience that I have been molested in trains, in buses, in an amusement park, at a house-party, at my own home by a random stranger, even when I was a minor, and I have also witnessed many cat-calls in my college.

//Bengaluru police has still not registered cases of molestation. They need to take suo motto and hunt each and everyone of those involved, just like police in Germany did. Otherwise, it will only bolster these criminals and then there will be nothing stopping Bengaluru to go down Delhi’s path.//

Completely agree. This is most important.

// All civilized people, especially young women should avoid attending such gatherings which have a history of hooliganism. //

All civilised people should actually respect human rights and stop molesting, assaulting and violating women or anyone else. They should also stop encouraging such hooliganism by strongly advocating for strict punishments to criminals instead of giving out a handbook for women to obey so that they're not violated.

//  And for the same reason you avoid going to ISIS controlled Iraq. //

India is not an ISIS controlled Iraq. If we want to claim that we are a civilised society and a functional democracy which values human rights, we as a society and a nation need to behave responsibly and ensure human dignity is not violated. So instead of advocating women to compromise on right to freedom, it is better to ensure those rights are not violated by giving out message to men that they will be punished for doing so. Also, avoiding going to Iraq which is a far-far away land is not practically the same thing as 'avoiding public spaces' in the country where you live. Women's daily movements are restricted because of molestation and sexual assaults.

// Before, all the feminist guns start blazing at me, let me clarify that I too support freedom of women. //

Feminism is not a dirty word. It is the idea that all human beings should have equal social, economic and political rights. Supporting freedom of women means supporting the idea that women's movements should not be restricted by threats of violence against them when they engage in certain activities (like celebrating New Year's eve). Advocating that women should lock themselves up, and thereby placing the responsibility for crimes against them back on themselves, is the opposite of supporting freedom of women.

// I too support that men, especially these uncultured feudal ones should be educated. //

It shouldn't stop with educating them. Men who violate women need to be told that they have no right to do so and be strictly punished by the law. Otherwise, when they get away with one assault, they realise that it is easy to get away and commit more heinous crimes.

// I too support that women should walk without fear. But do we have the resources to ensure so? We dont have enough police to take care of severe murder cases, let alone molestation. //

Then we need to work on building the resources to do so. It is not just about lack of resources, it is about the attitude of police. Complaints are not lodged and swift action is rare. Low conviction rates further demotivate victims to report an already much under-reported crime in the country.

"So how does Delhi - NCR Police define rape" - Link to IHM's post 
"When they don't even understand crime, how are they ever going to begin controlling it? - Link to IHM's post

Gender sensitisation is required at an institutional level, so that police start taking these crimes seriously. Police reforms need to be implemented to ensure authorities enforce the law.

'Murder cases first', cannot be used a justification to make police devoid of the responsibility with which they are entrusted. In this case, police did not lodge complaints till several days after news has been circulated.

I blogged about why eve teasing
 sexual harassment on the streets should not be taken lightly and how letting it go unpunished encourages rape apologetic social attitudes and emboldens criminals to commit more heinous sexual crimes (link).

// Can all these hooligans be civilized within a week, or month or fortnight? It will take a generation. //
So should half the population pay the price by giving up on their own rights and dignity? And how much locking up is possible? Women are routinely groped, molested, cat-called and jeered at in buses, trains, bus-stops, metros, colleges, workplaces, queues, parks, on the way to their workplaces (link), when walking on the streets for carrying on their daily activities. Should we apply Taliban rules and stop educating women, and stop 'allowing' women to be financially independent, "for their own good"? But even in countries where women are required to be covered from head to toe and follow all these rules, women are not safe (link, link). 

Suggesting that women stay away from the criminals will place the burden of responsibility on the victims, and would further embolden those hooligans, when they learn that women will be questioned and blamed for being assaulted. How are they ever going to be civilised if we continue to keep advising women to avoid the very same activities which make them deserving of assault in the eyes of those hooligans? Wouldn't those hooligans find validation of their pervasive notions when we extend passive support by suggesting women to be restrained, instead of punishing the criminals?

// How many of the ladies can hire security guards just like the ranting feminists of TV studios?  //

If presence of security force helps protect women's rights, the solution is for the administrative system to tighten measures to increase women's security, and not locking women up by asking them to not party or gather at public spaces.

// The simple thing is unite, become a woman vote bank and make women security an election demand. // 

Women's security is not the only objective. We're seeking empowerment. Even when women's security is made as a serious election demand, politicians and officials with confused understanding of what comprises right to freedom and security, like this author, may advocate even legally banning women from public spaces or night parties to 'prevent' sexual assaults. Even now, both the major national political parties have supported decriminalising marital rape, despite Nirbhaya case protests and recommendations of Justice Verma committee. They have criminalised consensual sex between minors and decriminalised marital rape to 'prevent rape'.

Where Consensual Sex is Rape, and Forced Sex a legal right - Link to IHM's post

"Protection and empowerment are two different things, and perhaps don't always go together' - Link to IHM's post

Pubs in Andhra officially Reserved for Men? - Link to IHM's post

// Till then, avoid walking in such filthy traps. I know, it violates zillions of your constitutional rights mentioned in Class XII political science textbook but in our country, these rights are only on paper. We dont have the will or manpower for their implementation. This is not a permanent solution but a preventaive measure to buy time till solutions are implemented. Till a cure of AIDS is not found, it is better to compromise on your right of having unprotected sex . Prevention is better than cure. Stay safe. //

Being infected with AIDS because of consensual, unprotected sex based on personal judgement is not a violation of one's rights. Whereas being assaulted for celebrating New Year's is a gross violation of one's right to dignity and freedom.

We are not seeking 'prevention' at the expense of violation of human rights. Asking women to stay at home or face threats of assault is as gross a violation of human rights as assaulting women. We are seeking empowerment to be able to move freely and securely without having to face threats of assault and risk being blamed for it. Prevention is not even practical in this case. If I were to avoid all the spaces where I could potentially get assaulted, I would never leave my house where my husband has legal rights to rape me under the current Indian law.

Slavery could never have been banned if slaves were 'suggested' to adjust and continue serving their masters till masters are educated about the wrong aspects of slavery. Likewise, if women are 'suggested' to stay away from public spaces to 'avoid' assaults, assaulters will never learn that they are wrong in assaulting a woman irrespective of what they think of the woman's character.

Author has added this Edit after some replies criticised his stance: //It seems from the comments that advising (and not dictating) people to have situational awareness, asking them to analyze and foresee hazardous situations is itself a crime. //

Women have been 'advised' since centuries to follow umpteen number of rules by patriarchal societies, lest they be assaulted or punished for their disobedience and be blamed for crimes against themselves. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I think it would be better for confused people such as this author to refrain from passing on their 'suggestions' till they fully understand the importance of uncompromisingly upholding human rights.

Recommended reads:

1. A response to: Why we think women activists should change their attitude of "Wear what you think - Link to IHM's post

2. Watch Satyamev Jayate episode on Fighting rape to fully understand how rape culture works in our country - Link

Related posts:

1. If every we dealt with every act of sexual harassment this way .... - Link

January 05, 2017

Aahista chal zindagi - A new year treat

As a new year treat, I am sharing this beautiful poem written by an anonymous poet. I actually came across it on Whatsapp during last new year when it was being circulated. The forward says it's written by Gulzar but I couldn't trace any source to confirm this, and any original source to link this to, so I am just pasting it here - It doesn't matter who wrote it. It is as beautiful as it is touching:

Aahista chal zindagi, abhi kai karz chukana baaki hai
Kuch dard mitana baaki hai, kuch farz nibhana baaki hai
Raftaar mein tere chalne se kuchh rooth gaye, kuch chhoot gaye
Roothon ko manana baaki hai, roton ko hasana baki hai
Kuch hasraatein abhi adhuri hain, kuch kaam bhi aur zaruri hai
Kuch rishte ban kar toot gaye, kuch judte-judte chhoot gaye

Un toote-chhoote rishton ke zakhmon ko mitana baki hai
Tu aage chal main aata hoon, kya chhod tujhe ji paunga?
In saanson par haqq hai jinka, unko samjhaana baaki hai
Aahista chal zindagi, abhi kai karz chukana baki hai

So how does the new year feel? To me, it feels like one of my favorite songs which soothes the mind, stirs the soul and gives hope. Music defines a language of its own and speaks differently to everyone, and somehow, I never found Phir Le Aaya Dil to be a tragic romantic song. Rekha Bharadwaj's voice captivated me first and the lyrics made me fall in love with the song. The lines make me introspect, seek hope and calm myself. The music and Rekha Bharadwaj's voice sound at once both reflective and hopeful, as though one is trying to seek lost memories and fulfil the past.

Enjoy listening to it here - I particularly love Rekha Bharadwaj's rendering of this song: link

Sharing my favorite lines in the long penned by Sayeed Quadri:

Dil keh raha use maqammal kar bhi aao woh jo adhoori si baat baaki hai.. woh jo adhoori si yaad baaki hai....
Dil keh raha use mayassar kar bhi aao woh jo dabi si aas baaki hai.. woh jo dabi si aanch baaki hai....
Dil keh raha use musalsal kar bhi aao woh jo rooki si raah baaki hai.. woh jo rooki si chaah baaki hai....

The heart seeks me to fulfil that unfulfilled matter, that unfulfilled memory....
The heart seeks me to unveil that suppressed desire, that suppressed flame....
The heart seeks me to complete that unfinished path, that unfulfilled desire....

Note: If there is any authentic source which establishes the original source for the poem I shared, please notify me. I would be more than happy to link it here or take permission from the author.

Related posts:

1. Happy new year - Link

January 02, 2017

Happy new year

Happy new year everyone!!

And....I am back!

So you got it right - my new year resolution is: to write more. Whether it is on this blog or elsewhere, I want to spend more time doing this one thing which I love to do. So this isn't a 'fix the problem' resolution. It is more of a but this is more of a 'let myself free' resolution which I am taking to do what I truly want to do rather than what I am supposed to do.

First things first. I'm sorry for the long, mysterious disappearance. I have no explanation to offer other than that I lost track and things got in between and well, I didn't create time for this. To be fairly honest, it is hard to explain how much I really missed this space. Let me just say that I feel alive typing this now. So many times my hands have itched to rant here, and for too long, I kept myself locked away whenever my mind wandered and my thoughts swayed with these winds.

And finally, with the new year, I decided that there is going to be no more of shutting myself up. Sometimes, it is good to Let It Go (yup, I've seen Frozen and loved it) and indulge yourself without restraints. So, here I am again, all unleashed, and all renewed, with the promise to turn these sporadic rants into frequent ones.

And last but not the least, thank you for still sticking to my blog! I wish everyone of my readers and their loved ones a very happy new year. I would also love to know what your new year resolution(s) is(are). Please drop in a comment if you wish. Wish you all the best in acting on them!

Hope you'll enjoy my future posts. I'll make sure there are more of them coming.


Related posts:

1. Ahista Chal Zindagi - A new year treat - Link

March 03, 2016

Turning into an insomniac

Seriously, I am supposed to be sleeping now. And try as I might, I simply am not able to soothe my mind to sleep. Last few months have been very, very restless. So much so, that even though no less than 70 odd drafts sit in this blog, waiting to be finished, and some 50 more thoughts would have captured my attention strongly enough to translate them into ideas for more posts, I hardly published anything in the last 3 months. Guilty conscience... writer's block.. whatever the reason might be, I simply could not bring myself to complete any post, and the most I could do was extensively rework a few drafts. At this point, I really need to thank those of you who have persevered enough to still come back to this page, despite the prolonged inactivity. And more so for bearing with this rant, as I have no idea as to what exactly I am trying to convey through this post, except that I know I am blabbering randomly out of sleeplessness. Besides, there is not much that I can do at this hour. I sincerely hope I publish this post before I fully read it - I will never publish something like this if I do read it critically.

Just now, I almost considered discarding this post before I almost considering hitting Publish button instantly in the fear of adding to the list of unfinished posts. See, THAT'S the thing: It has been like that almost all the time in the last couple of months, with everything - not just blogging. Just when I brace myself to start afresh on any piece of work, I work myself into inaction out of restlessness about challenges and consequences. It happens often. I become frigid to block myself from everything, restlessness included. And I am close to turning nocturnal now. At times, I simply can't sleep, and today, I found myself to be Googling 'How to make yourself fall asleep' and 'How to avoid restlessness'. And I ended up whiling away some more time not sleeping and not becoming any closer to falling alseep. None of the online tips helped of course, because mine is a problem of lack of will than that of knowledge. I know all those tips already, and I did try deep breathing, emptying my brain of all thoughts etc., but some things are easier said than done. The source of restlessness is something which I can't do much about, and thinking about it is only increasing it. Sometimes, waiting periods can be cruel, but I guess it all boils down to how you can handle uncertainty.

And now, I was almost close to discarding this post again, because the guilty conscience is in operation, and is drawing my attention to the clock ticking away with. This again, is also something which has been happening almost all the time of late. When I am doing anything I enjoy, I feel restless about other important things which are due from me, and I again become inactive. As a result of this futile inaction on anything meaningful, I end up whiling away my time on random things which just keep me occupied enough to not let me think or act, like reading Harry Potter. I really should not be saying anything against Harry Potter books: they have been my faithful companions during tough phases. I hope they will get me out of the blackhole this time too.

Anyway, my mobile battery is running out of power, and I have ranted enough. Thanks for reading till the end, and sorry for boring you with what can be surmised as inadequate, unsolicited excuses for not blogging regularly, and for not giving you a good post which I am sure you were hoping for. Honestly, I really care about you as a reader so I do promise to either be more regular in future or publish a better post next time (it's too ambitious to promise them both together, and I firmly believe in 'Under-promise, over-deliver'!).

I missed this space so much, it's hard to stop the rant! Good night...

November 21, 2015

Around the News

I share similar views as surmised in the quoted excerpts:

1) On the IS Attacks - Link by Melissa McEwan from Shakesville

// ...The attackers, whomever they may be and whatever their motives, went after the heart of progressive Paris. They did not attack the more touristy Champs-Elysées or Notre Dame, or the more bourgeois and conservative left bank, where most of the government ministries are located."

The reason for that is clear, from IS own literature: They are seeking to "destroy the 'grayzone' of coexistence between Muslims & [non-Muslims in] the West." They want to provoke non-Muslim Westerners into Islamophobia and violent retribution, and force non-radical Muslims to choose sides. //

// My sincerest condolences to those who have lost family, friends, neighbors, and/or colleagues in the IS attacks. I am so sorry. I am so sad and so angry for you. My sympathy to everyone in the communities which have been terrorized and continue to be terrorized, as well as to Muslims—and Sikhs and other people presumed to be Muslim—who will be targeted for violent retribution, for something they did not do. //

Please go through the full article: Link

2) Appropriation of Bihar - Link by Heartranjan from Heartranjan's blog

// Now suddenly, everybody wants to talk about Bihar. People who haven’t been to the state even once, have no idea what it was bifurcated into, or even the names of the parties contesting. Today, everybody wants a piece of Bihar. And the entire discussion is from two view-points.

1. Those who feel Bihar committed a gigantic mistake because by not voting for Modi. Which automatically means they didn’t vote for BJP, which automatically means they don’t want development. //
// The second opinion is of the kind I’d generously typecast as the ‘liberals’, which sadly, has been reduced to an anti-Modi brigand. // // You think the Bihari voter gives a fuck about your issues? Have you lived in Bihar? Apart from stopping Modi, does anything else about the election affect you? To cheer for Laloo Prasad Yadav, the poster boy of bovine corruption puts in question your support all along for politics free of corruption and dynastical politics. //
// Bihar has its own issues to deal with. Appropriating Bihar to fill the colour of the lens you see the world with, doesn’t amount to jackshit. //

Please go through the full article: Link

November 18, 2015

B.I.T.C.H. Diaries - 1


'Damn all the bra straps! Damn all the bras!!', Madhoo muttered to herself, as she rushed into the nearest loo in the airport to adjust the length of her bra strap. She just got out of a 2 hour flight where she suddenly realized half-way through that her bra strap was hurting her back pretty badly. Left with no choice but to wait till she finds some private space to remove her bra and put it back on, she spent the next one hour cursing whoever was being popularizing bras and recapping some of her bra problems...

She first started wearing bras when she was in high school. She was introduced to the concept by one of her busybody aunts who advises everyone on all that is about their well-being and her business, a certain class of relatives one can never run out of in India. To be fair, her aunt had been nice enough to take her shopping and help her out with picking her first bra. Back then, she found it exciting for a while as she was at the start of puberty. But as age grew on her, the proverbial 'fascination is short-lived' idiom turned out to be true and she started discovering all possible annoyances that can be manifested through bras.

For one thing, she almost always managed to buy the wrong size, and it took her years to learn and detect when she should revisit her measurements. As she thought of that, the hurt in her back reminded her that the time has come for her to go bra-shopping again. For another, she has tried all versions of them: the padded ones, wired ones, lace ones, backless ones, front open designs, stick-ons - you name the model and she would have tried it from a range of brands, only to discover the flaws in each one. Most of the bras she purchased spending good money turned out to be nightmares and she knew she would be staying miles away from the wired ones after the wire in her most expensive inner came out and cut through her skin once. Finally, age has made her wise enough to realize that somethings just don't work for you however fancy they may be labeled as.

It has been two years since she overcame her apprehensions and completely stopped wearing bras at home. And she ruefully wished for a day when women don't have to feel any compulsion to wear bras when they go out. True, they do help in making one look sexy, which is useful at times, and often make you look better, but then, they are really not worth it, once you consider all the trouble. Besides, there are other aids to help you look sexy...

Giving a sigh of relief now that she has adjusted her bra strap, coupled with the happy thought that she can be bra-free in an hour, Madhoo headed towards the cab counter along with her suitcase. As soon as she got into the cab, she texted her parents that she landed safely. That reminded her that it has been a while since she visited her parents. Too many things to plan... And she switched her thoughts to the fun she had over the weekend. It has been an amazing trip. She got some really good girlfriend-time which was much-needed. She bought three new dresses, went through all the new additions to each of her friends' closets, and lazed around for one whole day chit-chatting and venting out with her friends, an activity she has always considered to be therapeutic. She then wondered about what she was doing to do for dinner when a nasty thought cut through her mind: She has to go to office the next day...

P.S.: This is my first piece of fiction. You are one of my first-readers and are special to me. I would really love to hear what you think of it. Please do comment.

August 30, 2015

Understanding feminism, sexism and sexual assaults III: Saying 'yes' doesn't mean a blanket sanction to any sexual activity

Indianhomemaker posted this as a guest post (link) on her blog (link). I am resharing it here.

A Guest Post by Freebird.

I don’t think consensual sex which doesn’t involve any coercion should be treated as rape at any cost. So I find the statement ‘I said ‘yes’ but it was ’emotional rape” very contradictory.

But what I didn’t understand, and do find disturbing, is this:

// I nodded. But it was an unsure nod. I was still thinking but he started acting on it before I could know. Nobody could stop him from there. He undressed me and complemented my body.

He asked, he didn’t force himself on me. He was brutal and really wild but since it was my first, I didn’t know it was not supposed to be like that. There was no romance. He quickly got into me and enjoyed my painful shrieks. He didn’t kiss my forehead as in the movies. I couldn’t gather what was happening to my body. It was being twisted and twirled like a rubber band. I was in pain, I told him but he didn’t care. My lips were bleeding, my shoulder had a mark, I was suffocated by the weight of his body but he just didn’t stop. // - link

// Just a nod costed me my happiness. // - link

In this story, why didn’t this girl ever realize that it was OK for her to say ‘no’after saying ‘yes’? Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean a blanket sanction to any sexual activity. It is perfectly right to set boundaries, or ask the other person to stop when she was getting uncomfortable. If he was hurting her and she was in pain, why isn’t it clear that she had every right to tell him to stop hurting her and not engage in things which were painful to her? And the moment this message is conveyed clearly and if he still carries on, it does become ‘rape’ (not an esoteric ’emotional rape’). Whether it can be proved or not is a different issue. That doesn’t change the fact that it is rape when the other person is violating your boundaries.

August 12, 2015

Taking a short break

Hello everyone,

I am a little too caught up with some important stuff, so I guess I will most probably not be posting anything during the next 3 - 4 weeks. I promise I'll be back as soon as possible.

Till then, cheers!!

July 26, 2015

Reflections from a Modern Indian Kitchen IV: South Indian meal finally

I been craving for good South Indian meal since a while: It is particularly hard to find good Andhra food in Mumbai. Finally, I decided to take it upon myself to make it happen. And so, today, I made a four course meal consisting of rice with toor dal chutney, ivy gourd fry, tomato dal and raw banana - curd chutney. We were in such a hurry to binge that I forgot to take pictures )

I am quite happy with the raw banana - curd chutney. The recipe I used is easy to follow and hard to go wrong with:

1. Remove the skin of the raw banana (I use knife and not peeler). Split it into four vertically and cut each split piece into 2 - 3 inch pieces (Don't bother with the size for this recipe as it is eventually going to be mashed).

2. Boil it in some water till it is fully cooked and becomes soft (I pressure cook it for ease, adding a pinch of turmeric in the water to remove the raw taste - I do this for most vegetables and dals when I pressure cook).

3. Grind the raw banana pieces with two medium length green chillies*, 3 tablespoons of curd and 1 cup water. The consistency should be slightly more diluted than tooth paste, so adjust curd or water accordingly.
*The original recipe calls for frying the chillies - But I've seen my mom add green chillies to chutneys directly and found that they taste better this way, so I skipped that step. You can choose either of the methods.

5. Chop a medium sized onion to small pieces and keep aside.

6. Heat oil in a pan and add half a spoon of mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add a pinch of asofoetida, a pinch of fenugreek seeds, half spoon slit urad dal, half a spoon chana dal, a couple of red chillies (split), curry leaves as per your preference and fry them (Technically, you shouldn't add them all together, but if you stick to adding the ingredients in this specific order, it is fine). Fry them till you see the dals beginning to turn golden brown. Immediately add the chopped onion* along with a pinch of turmeric and fry till it browns in color.
*Onion is my own addition because I love fried onions in pretty much every dish. You can also add chopped ginger instead to make this taste interesting.

5. Add the curd - raw banana mash to this and take the pan off the heat. Add salt and coriander leaves to taste and mix well. Serve with rice.

If you ever try it, tell me how it turned out.