Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I surrender....

A glorious sunset, a breathtaking view,
Crimson corundums in different hues
“Padparadscha” ,shall I call it?
Lotuses into the sun infuse.

An expansive ocean dances below,
Pounding waves, frothy brine and the tidal flow
Circling seagulls, caressing breeze, and luminous clouds,
Complete the mesmerizing tableau.

Shimmering ripples, molten gold,
A pompous sight to behold,
Spreading as far as the eye can see,
Stretching beyond the threshold…

The waves creeping up to my feet,
Gently kissing before it retreats,
Spreading a sheet of tranquility,
Making me feel blessed and complete!

Oh! Supreme artist and creator,
I bow before you in prayer,
Soaked in the beauty of your creations,
I surrender… I surrender….I surrender.

(image courtesy: google...)

* "Padparadscha" is a corundum, the colour which is a blend of the Srilankan lotus and yellow sapphire.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Who is to be blamed?

 The Godmen, the bureaucrats, the politicians, and all those self styled moral protectors of the society have strained their voices hoarse over who is to be blamed for the growing crimes against women and have given every possible atrocious solutions to the issue, ranging from covering up the women from head to toe, to keeping her indoors, restricting her to house hold work, from blaming her for not calling her tormentors as brother, to asking her not to step out with any other person other than her own relatives. The conclusion being that the victim is to be blamed for the crime than the perpetrator!

Let us for an instant nod our heads tamely and accept the blame. But how on earth would the so-called moral guardians explain similar assaults on children as young as 2 or 3 and women as old as 60 or 65? When will they accept that, what is lacking is a moral value, what is driving the crime is perhaps frustration or an unsound mind, and what will help is not victimizing the victim but taking steps to ensure that such things do not happen. Isn't it a shame that we are more focused in telling the woman how she should behave, what she should wear or where she can go, rather than pulling up the criminal?

Sacrificing the girl child

Something as simple as letting the girl child live, could save thousands of other girls. Aren’t the two connected? Ironical? Paradoxical? Yet they seem to be connected. It has been discussed on a number of platforms how the decreasing number of girls, has led to a pathetic situation for the men. We have seen how some states are “buying” women for their boys from other states, how men are sharing brides in a blatant repeat of the Mahabharata, and how assaults are the order of the day where neither a bride could be brought nor shared.

So why not let the girl child live and create a healthy ratio of men and women so that such situations do not arise at all? 

Lack of moral Education

By education I do not just mean basic schooling, yes where there is none, the need is for a basic education as well. But the education has to extend beyond the books, beyond mathematics and science and English. Moral education and sex education has to be taught in schools, whether in a rural area or urban. Education is more than a luxury; it is a responsibility that society owes to itself.

Children are more exposed than ever to uncensored content on the internet, newspapers and television. The curiosity to know about the other sex and to experiment is on the rise. With no information from parents at home and teachers in school, they are left at the mercy of information from unreliable sources. Children are not getting enough information about the biological and emotional aspects of sex. 

Talking to the children at home in a open atmosphere, responding to their doubts, teaching them to respect not only women but everyone else and treating others with dignity, from a very young age will inculcate good values that will stay on with them throughout life .

Troubled youngsters should be identified at the school level and counseled at the early stage so that  any  wrong notions are nipped in the bud. An education isn`t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It`s being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don`t and between whether you know right from wrong.


Frustration at not having a job, at being treated unjustly, at being ridiculed can manifest itself in a toxic way.  A depressed or frustrated individual wants to still feel in control, feel powerful and will do anything to feel so, even if it means resorting to the wrong methods. It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.

While the politicians are busy exercising their power, the rich are becoming wealthier thus adding to their power , we, the middle class, are struggling to keep up with life, even as there is a class below us which is starved of the basics.  They are the most exploited, by politicians and by the business class. And when they turn to crime, we suffer.

Unless there is a direction to their lives and they get to eat well and live well, their frustrations will continue to be directed at us, as the other two are too powerful to be harmed.

These three points may be inter-related or separate. They have to be dealt in terms of how and where they exist. But the clean up has to happen at all levels, the cobwebs have to be removed from every corner . The approach has to go beyond the routine blame game. 

When the roots are rotting, there cannot be healthy fruits and flowers, can there be? 

This post is part of the contest Who is to be blamed? on WriteUpCafe.com

Monday, January 7, 2013

Better safe than sorry!

In my previous post I talked about how fear psychosis was getting the better of women around me and how I have resolved not to let fear get into my already frazzled nerves. So I thought I’d share some views on how to keep you safe rather than fearful. 

1. Look around you as you take a walk in the park, on the streets, anywhere for that matter. 8/10 people are busy talking on their mobiles or listening to songs, with their ears and hence their minds completely sealed out from their surroundings.
Always be aware of your surroundings. 

This applies whether you are traveling alone or in groups. Don’t just focus inwardly on your thoughts, or keep your self busy with your phone if you are alone. Even if your friends are together, don’t get lost amidst the chatter. 

If you are used to listening to your walkman while outside, drop this habit, especially in isolated areas. With your walkman on, you cannot hear the approach of a possible attacker.

Keep one eye out for your environment, looking out for suspicious characters, possible danger, etc.

Also, don’t assume that because your area has been “safe” thus far, that it will continue to be so.  If you see people loitering on the streets near your house, call the police on a non emergency number and report it.

2. Remember that criminals look out for easy targets. Slouched walk or panicky walk makes you look like an easy victim. 

       Walk with a straight posture and your arms swinging by your sides. 

Look up and look confident. Look an attacker in the eye. It usually scares the attacker now that you've seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up; you lose appeal as a target. Carry something like an umbrella or anything you can use as a weapon.

3. Change routes/mode of travel

We often stick to the same routes and mode of travel everyday seldom bothering to change it. By changing your route/ mode of travel often you can avoid being attacked or harassed from those who know your schedule, method and route of travel. 

Avoid taking the road less traveled, even if it means you take a little longer. Avoid unfamiliar areas, or unsafe areas. 

If you are riding by bus or train, do not sit on the window seat as you may be "blocked in" by a potential assailant. Always select the seat next to the aisle so that you can quickly leave if necessary.

If you are taking public transportation alone after peak hours, sit as close to the driver as possible and/or choose the section of the bus/train that is most crowded. Try to get a seat near the exit as well. Your safety is more important.

4. Tell others about your whereabouts

Parents, spouses or friends should know where you are going and when you will be back, so that your absence will be noticed.

5. Trust your instincts.

The ‘gut’ feeling is more often right than wrong. 

If you are walking somewhere and feel strange or scared, don’t ignore this feeling. Take extra precautions by walking a little faster to get to a more populated or well-lit area or change the route you’ve been driving on.
If you think you are being followed, change your route and activity.

You can cross the street, change directions, or enter a populated building or store. Do whatever is necessary to avoid being alone with the person who is following you. Inform a police officer or security official about the follower.

Mentally note houses at intervals on each route you take that can be used as "safe houses" if you are attacked, such as shops or houses that you know to be occupied by a friend or acquaintance.

Attract attention if you are in a dangerous situation.

Get others to pay attention to what's happening to you if you are under attack or being harassed. You can alert others by honking a car horn or loudly describing what is happening. Shout “fire” instead of “help” to attract attention. Attackers are known to leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back

Danger can lurk anywhere, in elevators, staircases, parking lots, public transport, college campuses, on streets and even closer home. You cannot control the mind of the attacker, but you can keep yourself safe by being alert and confident. Whether or not they are punished is beyond our realm, but being safe is within.

Better to be safe than sorry!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

From Nirbhaya to Bhaya.....

The past few weeks have caused a national uproar over the way a fellow human being has been tormented. I chose to use “fellow human being” instead of “woman” because; she was first another human and then a woman. The sheer inhuman nature of the crime makes me wonder how the hands did not tremble and heart did not bleed as they treated another human being with so much cruelty as to put the worst enemy tormenter camps to shame.

There has been an unending debate by various sections, some demanding harsher punishment/capital punishment , some criticizing women for the clothes they wear, some asking women to learn self defense, some advocating teaching men how to behave with women…etc. But I am not even getting there. It is not about what should be done, what could have been done, who is to blame, or how tough laws should be. I am still closer home, on how the women around me have been reacting to the crime. How fear has started impacting their psychosis.

The horrific nature of the crime and the heartless gut wrenching manner in which a woman has been abused has left an indelible fear in the minds of scores of women across the country especially the women around me. A friend reported how giddy she has been feeling ever since the news broke out and every time she talks about it she feels stressed out and jumpy. Another friend didn’t want to talk about the episode because she felt nauseated every time anyone even spoke about the issue.

My mother didn’t want me to hire a driver to drop them off to the railway station because I would have to come back alone in my car with an unknown driver, even though he would be from a known source. A friend, who commutes to work by auto everyday as she could not drive due to a back problem, brought a vehicle last week, so that she may drive to work. She reasoned her life was more important than the back pain.

And today as I picked up a friend to go to the market, she came down in a lovely sleeveless dress and even before I could comment on how nice she looked, she ran upstairs. “Just a moment, I’ll be back” she said. I saw her grabbing a shawl and draping it around her. “Why take the risk”, she said as I looked quizzically at her.

The fear of suffering, they say, is worse than the suffering itself.

It does not mean that I have ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me. I want to accept fear as a part of life -specifically the fear of the unknown; and I want to go ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back, turn back, and don’t venture too far for you know not what lies beyond. I want to be a butterfly that spreads its wings out in the sun. I want to be the heroine of my life, not the victim and I hope all the women out there want to be the same.


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