Tuesday, February 28, 2006


"Babies are necessary to grown-ups. A new baby is like the beginning of all things--wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. In a world that is cutting down its trees to build highways, losing its earth to concrete ... babies are almost the only remaining link with nature, with the natural world of living things from which we spring."

The pristine joy, inexplicable pleasure to be among plants in my garden, is something I live for. Similar to cuddling up with little babies, fresh from their bath, smelling of powder and cream,and listening to their happy gurgling. All woes of the world then seem far away and unreal.

At a time when my kids were still capable of driving me up the wall, one of them sneaked into the kitchen and when the servant wasnt watching, bathed himself with flour, or the time when jam was rubbed diligently over the silk cushions to help match his shirt, with 'mama, same same, red color', I used to moan sympathetically on seeing a pregnant woman and pass on loving glances to her, inwardly thinking 'she has no idea what she is in for'.

Now that they are grown, and the pangs of their pranks have magically metamorphed into sweet, adorable mischief, remembered with nostalgia, the sight of a little one, no matter the location, sends me into raptures, much to the consternation of hubby and son, highly embarassed at the funny noises emanating from me in the hope of drawing the kiddos attention.

I just simply love kids..this is in case the above utterances failed to convey the said emotion vociferously enough. The littler the cuter. Shape, size, color no bar. Just cuties capable of gurgling, putting their fists into their mouths, tugging at their own hair tightly in anger or frustration and then crying louder since the pain in question seems unrelated to their tightly clutched lock of hair. It seems so adorable. My son was a great one at this. I was forced to don mittens on his hands to avoid the recurring event, at regular three hour intervals, when hungry.

The sight of young mothers in their new avatar, all flustered and bothered, running around in circles, endeavouring to get the morsel into the quick as silver kid darting around in amazing tangents, to avoid getting that morsel in. Oh! that is so saddeningly cute. My daughter was responsible for me staying a trim 52 kgs, even after her birth. With all the running around, I felt fit for the races, considering the practise I had put in , on a continuous basis 24/7. I seriously advise mothers who need to get rid of post pregnancy weight, a single remedy. No ayahs anywhere close,to be delegated household jobs only, they are wicked. No grand parents, they need the rest. Bask in the glory of rearing your kids with your own two hands. (This relates specifically to us in India, those abroad do it in any case) Believe me, there is no way, gym will beckon or jeans will need to be replaced.

Like someone said' the tragedy of children is you don't get them back'.

All the years when their messiness and indiscipline got to you, now that is what you miss the most. The books lying all over, the littered confused wardrobe, outrageous clothes, addiction to loud music, except to wake up in the mornings, penchant for the latest in designer wear, totally funky birthday bashes. one sees videos of it and realises it is over.. That was to do with the daughter.

Today when my 17 yr old whips up a perfect spanish omelette for me on those special days when the PTA (Parents teachers Association) meeting has been scheduled and he is in trepidation of its outcome, it is hard to juxtapose the same kid with his antics in the kitchen. I guess the only thing common is the glint of mischief in his eye as visible even today. Soon he will be a strapping lad, off to college.Foreign lands will then attract, and my omelette will have to wait .

The need to nurture remains unchanged. I yet have to chase my daughter with a glass of juice on her visits from the U.S. and cannot stop myself from the nag I have become about her dietary intake, even on long distance calls. She laughs it off now, but stubbornly refuses to have her muesli , I am told. When it gets a bit much, I complain endlesly to my own dear mom. I have to shut up when she reminds me that I have been delaying breakfast too, despite her several reminders.She even calls hubby up at the shoots to complain of me.Seems a generation thing. Mothers are the same in all generations. Children will remain children too as long as there are mothers to nag.

And lullabies will sound magical from the memory of having been either heard or sung.

cross posted at Desicritics

Monday, February 27, 2006


Guide: I welcome u all to the Niagra falls. These are the world's largest waterfalls & the sound intensity of the waterfall is so high, sound of even 20 supersonic planes passing can't b heard! Now may I request the ladies to keep quiet so that we can hear the Niagra Falls??

Hubbys reaction: EGGJACTLY!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Murder of Justice

Jessica Lal, a model, was murdered brutally, shot in the eye on 29th April 1999. questJudgement has been delivered . All the nine accused, including Manu Sharma, son of Haryana minister Vinod Sharma, and Vikas Yadav, son of Don-turned politician, D.P. Yadav were let off.


It is devastating to acknowledge the fact that we live in a country where the killing of a deer is a punishable offence, while the murderer of an innocent girl goes scott free!! It is a mockery of our judicial system to say the least. which seems to be blind in more ways than one and open to manipulation by the high-profiled and wealthy. Some message this from the judiciary.

Several lacunae on the part of the police coupled with all the five witnesses turning hostile, including an eyewitness, led to this shameful subservience of law and the culprits escape via the loopholes so inherent in our legal structure further weakened by the inordinate delay . To top it all, the evidence of the cartridges had been tampered with in the forensic lab . The guilty left no stone unturned to cover their footprints and succeeded. Of course, it goes without saying that had the urge been insatiable to ensure that the guilty be booked, hook or by crook, justice would have prevailed. What would any of us have done in the event of being witness to this crime? I have been trying to delve deep within to elicit an honest response. I would have opted to be on the side of Justice, unarguably. What legacy would I have left my children otherwise? Shield the criminal and pretend to be worthy of being called an honorable human being!!

We as citizens can express our disgust and angst at the verdict. Text messages to petition the President for a retrial via NDTV are being sent, in thousands if not lakhs, hopefully. "Maybe this mockery could be questioned. Watching the main accused drive off in a government car is the biggest slap on the face of the judiciary". We are sending around these messages to all those we think would care to further the cause of justice. It is heartening to record the numbers, rising by the hour.

Vikas Yadav, one of the accused, is also being tried in the gruesome murder of Nitesh Katara, a young executive bludgeoned to death by the brothers of the girl he was in love with. Two criminal actions of this scale is such a blatant display of 'brattish behaviour' which is almost a trademark of the spoilt kids of irresponsible parents, too drowned in their own revelries to sense the monstrosities of their offsprings. They spend the initial period of child rearing ,instilling erroneous morals and the later years in erasing the effects of the rot and destruction it brings in its wake. We need to take responsibility if we have faltered so glaringly in the formative years. The buck stops at us, as parents. Talking of the 'buck' , it is poignant to note that the 'Bishnois' of Rajasthan, showed their loyalty to their endangered black buck, shot down by a film star, by unflinchingly standing by their case all these years and without bowing to pressure of any kind, succeeded in getting the culprit sentenced. OLE It stands to reason that they cherish their animals more than we value our fellow human beings and their lives.

As citizens it seems so incomprehensible that on the one hand we are sure we live in a free, secular, democratic India, but on the other hand events such as these force us to question the validity of the foundation of our judicial structure and give rise to the gnawing doubt as to how free we really are.

A free society is a just one, where crime is punished, guilty are brought to book and we are content in the knowledge of having a judiciary which will ensure the same. This seems Utopian in the given scenario which translates more as "you are a criminal only if proven". Otherwise you are Plain Powerful. Licensed therefore to get "away with murder" literally. For Justice seems a servant in the hands of the wealthy. A sad state of affairs to say the least.

There has been a hue and cry, rightly so, and in a manner befitting an enlightened people. No violent protests or effigy burnings. But through the Press, internet, and T.V. channels, the expostulations of the common man are being heard and his incense being countenanced.

There is hope in the dramatic turn of events where the Delhi High Court has reacted to the reports of malafide investigation and prosecution. It has ordered a re-trial in four weeks. We wish earnestly that the 2 Ms , money and muscle power are relegated to the background in this fight for justice. One hopes then that some semblance of us co-habiting in a civilised and just society is restored. In the absence of which, not only is this a downer for the ordinary citizen but more alarmingly, an added impetus for the well-connected, with their brazenenss fuelled by their clout and replete in the sense of well being in their high citadels. It would be imperative to wage war on those walls with public outrage and ostracism in its highest proportions to convey that India has finally risen. Our weapon , our 'Brahmastra' is our collective will and determination. Our potential as medium of change has been severely under utilised. If this incident is a catalyst to announce our potency, then so be it.

"If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us."

P.S. Judge S.L.Bhayana has been elevated to the High Court within three days of his acquittals. He hails from Haryana where Manu Sharmas father is Minister....Need one say more!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BIrd flew

Am reproducing the ad board at the local fish market at Pali hill:


Give it a thought. Some things in life need figuring out. Not just the philosophical.

Since I doubt the possibility of you coming close, let me give you a hand. You see, hubby and me finally had to enquire from the concerned individual. It had intrigued us so. Now read what it should have meant for us mere mortals:

"Bird Flu. Informers will be rewarded".

Another gem from the same vidvaan

"when birds flew, fish sales"

Awww I know this time around it was easier

'Bird flu, fish sell'.

On the repurcussions of 'bird flu'. What is exasperating is the diverse and contradictory information. Birds in lakhs (nine, according to the deptt) have been culled. The farmers knew of the outbreak in January, but did not report of the deaths to the ministry or the Animal husbandry deptt. It would have instrumental in controlling the damage.Maneka Gandhi has her own take on it, involving the American govt in the propoganda.

We have been fish-eterians for a while and now more so. Eggs too are at present taboo. My German Shepherd Rusty, is in a foul mood though .He LOVES eggs. The whole family is coaxing him to accept Soya nuggets. But he takes one look at it, lets out a grunt and saunters off in the opposite direction, sulking.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Did India Give Kissing To the world?

TIMES OF INDIA NEWSFLASH: For all those who thought kissing was un-Indian and a foreign influence on desi sensibilities, here’s a reality check to make you pucker up and take notice. Research reveals the first recorded kiss in human history can actually be traced back to Indian origins. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Indians were alert and kissing way back in 1500 BC. Forget the simple zero, it seems the sizzling smooch is actually Hindustan’s greatest contribution to the world.

According to Texas A&M University anthropologist Vaughn Bryant,"References to kissing did not appear until 1500 BC when historians found four major texts in Vedic Sanskrit literature of India that suggested an early form of kissing. There are references to the custom of rubbing and pressing noses together. This practice, it is recorded, was a sign of affection, especially between lovers. This is not kissing as we know it today, but we believe it may have been its earliest beginning. About 500 to 1,000 years later, the epic Mahabharata, contained references suggesting that affection between people was expressed by lip kissing. Later, the Kama Sutra, a classic text on erotica, contained many examples of erotic kissing and kissing techniques.

Hmmm.. No connection, I am sure. But thinking aloud, would our population problem have been non-existent in the absence of the said discovery??.. Naah.. thats silly!
All said and done, our ancestors were hip.. Gotta hand it to them! Won't be a bad idea for our censor board to learn a thing or two from this report. In light of this, can you imagine the absurdity of the fact that kissing is taboo in our films?
Hubby's contribution;
"Emran Hashmi is a true Indian "

Sunday, February 19, 2006

My Guide- Gautama The Buddha

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.

What we think, we become.

Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.

The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.

Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds.

To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.

Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jokes apart!!

My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.
Benjamin disraeli

Friday, February 17, 2006

one liner

After winning an argument with his wife, the wisest thing a husband can do is apologize...


On reading the above, Hubby looked up from beneath his bi-focals perched precariously on his nose, and suggested the following changes in parenthesis, in all seriousness.

Read revised:

After winning an argument with his wife (in the rare event that he does and rarer that defeat is conceded), the wisest thing a husband can do is apologise..


The flip side of irresponsible dramatisations, as featured in Rang de Basanti. What could have been a fine specimen of Indian cinema, with its youthful vivaciousness, is denigrating to misguiding gullible youth(70% in villages according to the latest ORG_NIELSEN survey) to perhaps connote patriotism as taking up the mantle of self proclaimed do gooders with violence as their tool.

If the film has 'uplifted spirits' as many have claimed, then by the same logic it can influence in a diametrically opposite direction by simplifying solutions for the more vulnerable and impressionable minds and encourage violence. Films do matter and especially those which have India as its protagonist and consciously aimed at youth as their target audience. They are to be viewed seriously. At the risk of reiteration, let me clarify that the MAJORITY of our youth is rural, where films and stars are worshipped. Films there are a source of education, socio-economic and cultural change. And this is RDB, a widely advertised and hugely awaited film. One is not referring to a mallika sherawat film, (which btw too can carve opinions).

I guess it will take a while before the final results show.

The above scan appeared in Mumbai Mirror today 17th Feb06.

The following piece is a comment I had written on Desicritics. the relevance to the topic has necessitated its inclusion.

"It contains the message of Intolerance. It contains the message of WHAT to tolerate and WHAT NOT to tolerate".( the comment from another dc)

My comment

True. But the danger here is posing a problem without providing a solution.To be awakened from a slumber of indifference is one thing, but to be awakened and almost hypnotised in the darkness of a theatre, where your senses are under complete control of the maker, and preached 'what you cannot tolerate, do away with". Something like 'you hate begging, so kill beggars'.

We should not ignore the fact that we are dealing with impressionable, gullible, vulnerable minds. A film maker has to adopt therefore self-censorship at every level of scripting. God knows that the most undesirable turn of events we as Indians deserve is to see our thinking youth go astray.

While I can understand the success of the film and the earnestness of the maker, however I feel strongly that he has taken the easier way out by subscribing to the 'clap-trap' formula. I have seen the movie with college students. I have been witness to the igniting of passions all through. It frightened me. If it was an awakening for the love of ones country or patriotism the hue would have differed. Sorry to say, but this was the same reaction I had experienced when I saw films like 'Satya'.

If you are not part of the soluttion you are part of the problem.To have a whole nation like putty in your hands and then to advise violence, is irresponsible, to say the least. Do not forget that the star in question is Aamir, who enjoys the unique privilege of getting box office counters clicking by mere presence in a film.

You are right when you aver that we should not tolerate a wrong. This however has has to begin at a grass root level, on an everyday basis. This cannot be taught by a film. These are values which have to be inculcated from the environment of homes and schools. That way it would be long lasting, safer and deeper in its base that way. Igniting of passions is a slippery slope. Instead there has to be a steady metamorphosis in temperament of our youth, adoption of moral policing on a personal level, value enforcement as a personal choice.

These sporadic bursts of heightened activism may eventually do more harm than good. Apart from the havoc it may create in the minds of the impressionable kids, what is a certainty is that a couple of dozen films on various shades of RDB will now go into production. It is most likely that what they will be inspired by majorly is 'the resorting to violence'. Can you gage the trickle effect and the drastic consequences? What was merely the later half of RDB will transform into full fledged 'hate, vengeance, retribution, saga of patriotic revengeful cinema,all in the name of intolerance.

For more on RDB, scroll down to "Generation Awakens?'

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Walking the Tightrope of Life-Part ll

In continuum of my earlier post on 'The suicide of Kuljeet Randhawa'
The press is now waking up to the seriousness of the suicide and looking for deeper underlying causes and its implications. They were late at it, considering that they unceremoniously , unethically/calluously chose initially to quote celebrities who were dimissive of her death in rather uncomplimentary terms. Media today bows down to pressures of readership, viewership often at the cost of their own credibility.

Humans seem to connect at levels more than just the obvious. In my post titled'The problem that has no name' dated 7th Feb06, only a couple of days earlier to Kuljeets demise, I had expressed my apprehensiveness at the plight in which women find themselves, which echoed the reasons of Kuljeets predicament and her resorting to such a drastic step. The excerpt below is from my post:

The question that often perplexes me is therefore one of summation. Does the bottom line assert then that our being a few notches higher in terms of 'independent thinking', we are better off than our mothers and grandmothers? Has economic independence erased the woes that we as women have faced for centuries? Or has it in its wake created a newer spate of problems, the least (?) of which would be 'ego' issues with the men in our lives and the most rampant being 'sexual harassment' at the work place. Would our daughters be adept at handling the complexity of 'an awakening' in its adolescence, if not nascence, and coming to grips with managing home, hearth, career, men, children, vanity and its trappings, and the ensuing stress to be 'performers and achievers'? Women mostly wish to excel and succeed , despite odds, to avoid being targetted as 'women who cannot cope ' with their ambition and the resultant sense of failure

Ironic is it not that a report from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) states that people who dwell in chawls are by far happier than those living a solitary, lonely, isolated existence which is the norm, in high rise apartments?
As Dr Rakhi Anand, consulting psychiatrist at Vimhans, points out, "Family and friends play a very important role in a person's mental state.

If a person migrates to another city, the chances him or her having stress or depression is much higher, because everything becomes unfamiliar to them."

Randhawa's death raises a question mark about the pressure the life of big dreams requires. Questions that have experts scrambling for answers. One thing they all seem to agree on: That constant pressure on actors to remain in the limelight can and does take its toll.

Says psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh, "Acting, journalism and event management are high pressure fields, where one has to show results almost on a daily basis. Inability to achieve in these professions can quickly lead to depression."

Depression is a curable mental disease and has to be dealt with similarly. Not many people think of it in this light confusing it with a state of mind which will be self altered given time. This is as fallacious as averring that a person suffering fron say jaundice will be rid of it over a period . If only, those affected by depression and other mental ailments in its ambit, resorted to medical advice, many a precious life would have been saved, as also the avoidance of anguish, pain, suffering of those close.

It pained me immensely to see the picture of Kuljeets parents , with loss writ large on their shocked faces and helpless tears telling their own tale. Could they have ever envisaged a fate such as this for their daughter all through those years when she happily chirped around the house, and filled their lives with her pranks and foibles? Can any parent think of a possibility such as this? But the recurring occurence is only evident of the fact that should we avoid facing the reality of the growing incidence of deaths due to depression and inability to cope with the demands of modern life, we are only perpetuating a circumstance so easily avoidable.

If anything, Kuljeets suicide should be a 'wake-up call' to all of us in doing our bit to see that these events dwindle down to nothingness. We have been able to eradiacte small-pox, hepatitis. If suicide is dealt with as seriously and responsibly,I dream for a time when each human will learn to value his own as well as others lives.

Will Kuljeet have died in vain?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


It was so astounding to read this report. Indian women rock, irrespective of their rural background.

Illiterate Indian woman to address UN meet

Thursday, February 09, 2006

PATNA: A poor and illiterate Dalit woman from Bihar has been selected to represent India at an international UN-sponsored seminar to share her experiences of livelihood and development.

Girija Devi, a mother of four children in her late 40s, from Chipulia village in east Champaran district will attend the meet in New York Feb 27. She belongs to the poor Dalit community of Musahars that is known to eat rats for survival.

She will address the seminar on "Women Environment and Development Organization" in Bhojpuri as she does not know either Hindi or English. She is the first rustic woman from Bihar and fifth from India to participate in a UN seminar.

She has been invited for her work on empowerment of disadvantaged sections of society, particularly women and her anti-liquor drive in rural areas. She is credited for making her village free from liquor.

"She single-handedly started a campaign against liquor traders and forced men of her community to end their drinking habits," said a district official.

Last year, two Dalit women from Madhuban district - Tiliya Devi and America Devi - were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005

Cute!! I am rightly impressed

Monday, February 13, 2006

13-Lucky For Some

Today is the 13th and to be selected as "Desicritic of the day",is a great start to the day.

Pleasantly surprised.I consider myself a novice, still floundering in this gargantuan universe of erstwhile bloggers.

Gratefully accepted though. It means a lot since the site in question is among the best we South Asians can boast of.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Walking The Tightrope Of Life

Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest--whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories--comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer." -Albert Camus

When one awakes in the morning, opens the papers, and is startled by the news of the suicide of a co-actor, then after the initial despair, outrage,helplessness, what comes to mind is the saying which I have quoted above.

Read news clipping;

"Popular television actress and model Kuljeet Randhawa has hanged herself in her Mumbai apartment, saying she couldn't cope with life's pressures any more.

Randhawa, 30, took the extreme step at her home in Juhu, a western suburb of Mumbai, police said.

A maid found her body on Wednesday night and alerted police.

In a suicide note, Kuljeet said she was ending her life, as she was unable to cope with life's pressures, police said.

Known for her role in serials like Kohinoor and Special Squad, Randhawa was a well-known face in the advertisement world and had acted in several commercials for companies like Pepsi and Whirlpool.

In Kohinoor, she played the character of Irawati Kohli, who has a doctorate in ancient history and archaeology with a special leaning towards India.

Randhawa's suicide has brought back memories of the suicide by model turned VJ Nafisa Joseph in 2004."


At the news of Nafisas death , a sea of questions arose furiously in ones mind.Since I never had the chance to interact with her, no answers were forthcoming, except what the newspapers afforded. But I had worked with Kuljeet professionally. So the shock and confusion was manifold. We had been on an outdoor together in Goa, a couple of years back. That was my last meeting with her. She came across as a woman of today, in control of her life, confident and a go-getter.In other words the last person I could have imagined being thus outdone by the vagaries of life. So sad and incomprehensible.

Many conflicting thoughts and desperate need for solutions is what I am flummoxed with. What a waste of a beautiful life of a stunning personality !!Why?

What is apparent from her suicide note and from information garnered are few facts;
a)She was under stress and in pain b)She was unable to cope with that pain c)She was lonely d)All she 'wanted was to be happy'.What is also glaring is that a few myths/misconceptions of the glamour and glitzy world have been shattered. A relationship gone awry is as impactful, loneliness is more pronounced, vulnerability to pain is as excruciating , if not more, coping with the 'inner demons' is independent of outward display of strength and confidence.

None of the above seem reason enough to end our lives to you and me and to a whole lot of commenters who have been almost brutal in the forthrightness of their views about her action, terming her as a 'loser', 'quitter' and other such unsavoury 'tributes'. What may seem inane to one may in fact be the 'elixir' for another. Coping mechanisms differ, connotation of pain varies, denotation of loneliness can be a thesis and the elusive "happiness" is ofcourse the bait for all suffering as well as the fulcrum of the cycle of birth and death. It defies simple solutions. "It is so simple to be happy,but so difficult to be simple". I have known very few who profess to have mastered the art.Those who do have the answers are never going to return from their realms of bliss to really exemplify.

This brings me to the sphere of Philosophy. It normally beckons when we have reached the end of our 'ropes'.To my mind, therein lies the key to this treasure. A life oriented towards going beyond the mundane..Setting the bar higher for ourselves as individuals. A desire to overcome 'desire, in the conventional use of the term. The need not to take 'your needs' seriously. Finding happiness in knowing one has not yet discovered it, defy its dominance by shrugging your shoulders and walking away from its delusional sense of completeness. One tends to grieve at the purposelessness of relationships, fame, glamour, success and life in general. It is true. There is no meaning. If only we concentrated on finding the purpose behind this apparent 'purposelessness', make sense of it and free ourselves from the cry of our souls forever.Fix our gaze on the unblinking revelation of the faulty and specious premises on which we base our lives and our personal identity.

I cannot overlook a gnawing restlessness however,which I have been experiencing. Are we as a society, not afflicted with "compassion fatigue'? Do we offer solace to individuals thirsting for help to overcome their fear of loneliness? After all, suicides are a modern day phenomenon comparatively. We may have reached the moon but are we there for our neighbours? We tend to offer lip-service to tales of woe and escape as quickly as possible to our nests of peace or alternatively to nurse our wounds. Kuljeet has sounded a clarion call for us to pause and think. Is it a mere coincidence that Marilyn Monroe, in the past, Nafisa, silk Smitha(South) Kuljeet and others like them, all well renowned and glamorous women, choose to end their lives? Have they been treated as sex objects and therefore felt rebuked and repulsed by life? Do we need to modify our mindset towards these artificial trappings and see the soul within? I think we do.We need to summon the latent goodness inherent and bring it to the fore. Me, you, all of us, have to reassess ourselves as people. Social animals living in a society and therefore entrusted with responsibility to be a source of strength and empathy, does this definition fit the bill?

On speaking to friends, I was told that she had in fact made a dozen or more calls before finally resigning herself to an unknown destination. It stands to reason that all the known addresses failed to sense/respond to her agony and despair. All suicides basically stem from a need for revenge or attention. Either way, we all have to look within and honestly gage how we may have advertently or not, incited the Kuldeeps in our vicinity to bid adieu, because our sensitivity has not been appropriately honed to attuning ourselves to that cry of anguish which may have saved a life.

In a scenario where the compulsions of the mind are beyond comprehension, as parents all we can endeavour to do is bear the onus of slowly metamorphing our children to become philosophers before we make them engineers, doctors, or professionals. Life and its challenges need to be dealt with a 'sattvik' mind, with clarity and sanity.I think parents have somehow neglected inculcating the dissection of what is really true and what is merely the accidental result of flawed reasoning through well intentioned but misguided teaching.The really worthwhile things are virtuous activities that make up a happy life.Let us pledge to lead by example.

I cannot resist adding these few lines publicly to Kuldeep. "I wish we had been friends. I regret that I was not there holding your hand and giving you a warm hug, when you needed it the most. If only I could have urged you to see that hope is the panacea for all ills,and that there is a plan unknown to you, waiting to envelop you in its peace. But since none of this took place, I would like to add "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference". We are not indifferent to your pain kuljeet. You did your best in trying to be happy..

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The problem that has no name

WASHINGTON - Betty Friedan, whose manifesto "The Feminine Mystique" became a best seller in the 1960s and laid the groundwork for the modern feminist movement, died Saturday, her birthday. She was 85.

Friedan died at her home of congestive heart failure, according to a cousin, Emily Bazelon.
Friedan's assertion in her 1963 best seller that having a husband and babies was not everything and that women should aspire to separate identities as individuals, was highly unusual, if not revolutionary, just after the baby and suburban booms of the Eisenhower era.
The feminine mystique, she said, was a phony bill of goods society sold to women that left them unfulfilled, suffering from "the problem that has no name" and seeking a solution in tranquilizers and psychoanalysis.
"A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, `Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children," Friedan said.
"That book changed women's lives," Kim Gandy, "It opened women's minds to the idea that there actually might be something more. And for the women who secretly harbored such unpopular thoughts, it told them that there were other women out there like them who thought there might be something more to life."
In the racial, political and sexual conflicts of the 1960s and '70s, Friedan's was one of the most commanding voices and recognizable presences in the women's movement.
As the first president of NOW in 1966, she staked out positions that seemed extreme at the time on such issues as abortion, sex-neutral help-wanted ads, equal pay, promotion opportunities and maternity leave.
But at the same time, Friedan insisted that the women's movement had to remain in the American mainstream, that men had to be accepted as allies and that the family should not be rejected.
"Don't get into the bra-burning, anti-man, politics-of-orgasm school," Friedan told a college audience in 1970.
To more radical and lesbian feminists, Friedan was "hopelessly bourgeois," Susan Brownmiller wrote at the time.
Friedan, deeply opposed to "equating feminism with lesbianism," conceded later that she had been "very square" and uncomfortable about homosexuality.
"I wrote a whole book objecting to the definition of women only in sexual relation to men. I would not exchange that for a definition of women only in sexual relation to women," she said.
Nonetheless she was a seconder for a resolution on protecting lesbian rights at the National Women's Conference in Houston in 1977.
"For a great many women, choosing motherhood makes motherhood itself a liberating choice," she told an interviewer two decades later. But she added that this should not be a reason for conflict with "other feminists who are maybe more austere, or choose to seek their partners among other women."
By then in her 70s, Friedan had moved on to the issue of how society views and treats its elderly.
A true blue blooded Liberal in the right sense of the term. Her writings have managed to influence generations of women the world over. What is remarkable is the fact that her birth in 1921, an era which now appears to be an aeon, was hardly a deterrent to her progressive thinking. Could she be rightly termed'A product of her times'? To my mind she was much ahead of the times. It is easier for us today to freely express our views on issues like lesbianism or 'free sex'..On second thoughts ..is it?? A case in point, Khushboo (actress from South) and the severe censure on her utterances in relation to pre-marital sex. That is material for another blog.

The question that often perplexes me is therefore one of summation. Does the bottom line assert then that our being a few notches higher in terms of 'independent thinking', we are better off than our mothers and grandmothers? Has economic independence erased the woes that we as women have faced for centuries? Or has it in its wake created a newer spate of problems, the least (?) of which would be 'ego' issues with the men in our lives and the most rampant being 'sexual harassment' at the work place. Would our daughters be adept at handling the complexity of 'an awakening' in its adolescence, if not nascence, and coming to grips with managing home, hearth, career, men, children, vanity and its trappings, and the ensuing stress to be 'performers and achievers'? Women mostly wish to excel and succeed , despite odds, to avoid being targetted as 'women who cannot cope ' with their ambition and the resultant sense of failure. One womans gain is a step forward for all woman hood. May it be Betty Friedman or our very own Kiran Bedi.

In India, as in the world over, the incidence of divorces have gone up alarmingly, and surprisingly in the lower income group, pre dominantly. The reason as can be deduced simply is the new found 'money power' these women enjoy, as opposed to their mothers. They now refuse to be hapless victims at the mercy of drunk, abusive husbands and have consequently made their choice of refusing to 'accept ' a situation they can easily alter. So what is emerging is a bolder, stronger, confident, assertive woman, but the men , sadly have not been oriented to cope with this new woman, so different from their women at home. They have yet to come to terms with the denotation of 'equality' in all its hues and shades.A male 'Betty Friedan' for our confused "superior sex" needed urgently.

On a serious note, the onus is on us mothers to educate our sons to cope, accept/enjoy the women in their new avatars without feeling affronted at their audacity in preferring to be themselves, and not conform to a stereotype. He has to be made to realise that this is not directed at him but is an aftermath of generations of 'door-mat' ancestors, who lived their life in unseen but heavily bound shackles of hypocritical traditions and double standards, meant primarily to perpetuate the dominance of their male counterparts in believing that they were truly the 'superior sex'. Revolution is seldom sporadic. In this case it was more like the lava smouldering unseen in the vast sea of consciousness which has erupted slowly but surely across all borders and transgressing all boundaries of caste, race, nationality, or religion.

Imo, balance is the key issue here. As george sand puts it "What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine". Having said that , it would help if women simultaneously protect their instincts as nurturers and epitomes of selfless love, while men redefine 'manliness' as one who gives unconditionally, setting aside the urge for domination and expectation of subservience 'in return'.

Love,between a man and a woman is a celebration of life. For the revelry to last however, equality has to be the basis and respect the key ingredient.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

An uncommon love story

This was a tribute I had paid to my parents and which had appeared on an e mag by Kavita Chhibber.


Going back into the recesses of my mind, a voice emerges. Clear and lucid. In the throes of a party. A sea of smiling faces, laughter, mirth, camaraderie, at its best. Suddenly there was silence. An announcement was made, and an expectant hush fell over. The song began. It was resonant with melody, sounded good to the ears. A little girl was watching . She froze. Shyness seemed to take over completely. But nobody noticed nor did they care. What was unfolding was a treat to watch. The lyrics were so romantic:”sau saal pehle, mujhe tumse pyaar tha... aaj bhi hai, aur kal bhi rahega...” (I have loved you for a 100 years, continue to do today and will love you tomorrow and forever). The little girl ran out of the room. What had come over Papa? Expressing his love for mama for all to see!! She was all of five years , too young to gage the rarity of this display even after 20 years of marriage. She peeped . Mama had joined in. She was singing too. How she longed for it all to be over. She was waiting for the cake. At last they were cutting the cake. Papa and mama together, and a multitude of friends. It was December 11th, their wedding anniversary.

The little girl was me and the original of that song I heard much later.

December 4th 2005.. a year since my father passed away. We all idolize our parents, but mine were truly unique. My sadness and tears multiply tenfold on seeing my mother without the tall, stately figure of my father, by her side. She is just under 5 feet and Papa was a six footer. Mama was almost a child-bride when they were married. Only17 . She had hair that reached a little above her ankles, and beautiful doe shaped eyes. Papa was so enamoured by her that only a day before the wedding did he realize that she was so petite. She wore huge heels all her life, in reaction to Paps constant teasing. The love they shared, which I had grown up being witness to and which I had taken so much for granted, I realize today is rare and precious. Papa had nicknamed her "Pimy", her name being Promilla, and called her Pimy rani ji. Mama referred to him as Chand ji, his name being Chander.

Every evening , like a ritual at 5.00 p.m Mama waited at the balcony of our bungalow, and would not budge till Papas car came into view. Usually it was party time then. I do not recall my father ever sharing a problem with us or Mama. We had a cocooned,carefree childhood, where each talent was honed, encouraged and allowed to fructify. I learnt, singing, dancing, (kathak) was supported wholeheartedly in my shoots, as a child actor.

Subsequent to that there came a period in my adolescence when studies came last in my list of priorities. I was too enchanted with the romance of 'Mills and Boon", Barbara Cartland. I cannot forget the expression on Papas face on seeing my report card in the eighth grade. There was no further need for verbalisation.I was ashamed and I had to make it up to him. I topped my school in the Boards and later the Mumbai university in graduation with subjects such as Constitution Of England and India, Political Science and History of the World.

Aeons later, after the birth of my kids, on a visit , Papa asked me to locate some documents from his cupboard. I found there a huge pack of files, wrapped neatly . On opening it, my jaw dropped in utter astonishment. They were my college notes along with copies of "Eves Weekly" with me on the cover. He could not bear parting with it since I had put in so much work, he explained . I laughed it off then, too embarassed by the tears that had welled up.But recently when my daughter topped the University , I found myself stashing her notes away too. Papa, ofcourse agreed heartily. She was his favourite now since "Mool se byaj pyaara hota hai' he said .

It is difficult to replicate dinner time as I had seen it. At 8.00p.m. sharp, we gathered in the dining room, under Papas watchful eyes . We were a handful, to say the least, the four of us. I being the youngest, was Papas pet, therefore bullied by the rest of the gang. I remember crying for a whole week after my brothers convinced me that I had been adopted. Had my parents not intervened, perhaps I would have been wholly convinced of their tales. Post dinner was family bonding and entertainment time. Papa had a repertoire of jokes, Magic (he was a magician par excellence), riddles. He told us of the time that he asked Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar a riddle which went”what is it that is yours but is used by others?” They loved the answer so much that they went onto harass all their female friends and received glares and gasps of astonishment. The answer was an innocuous “Name”.

Papa cherished life. After retirement he refused to let life force him to retire from fruitful and productive activity.. He studied Homeopathy and went onto becoming a doctor, and never failed to tell mama that since her children had not take up the profession, he decided to fulfill her desire. Mama missed us, since we had all left Mumbai, gone abroad etc. Papa sensing her 'empty nest' syndrome, made it a point to inculcate a social life,despite failing health. They were busy and in demand. He was President of Lions Club, and popular beyond imagination.He was the life of the party at all times, and Mama loved to see him so.

Papa, had his first heart attack at age 52.He was subsequently operated in London for 4 bypass surgeries. Being diabetic, his favorite cuisine was forbidden. So Mama refused to eat any of it. No sweets, butter, rice, parathas for Papa. So for almost 30 years she had restricted her diet as well. It pained my father immensely but she refused to relent. Doctors had been anything but encouraging in their prognosis, since his heart was functioning just about 20%. Mama, however, had her own take on it . She was convinced that Papa would be by her side till her end. The fact that Papa survived 32 years after his first attack was entirely due to mama’s untiring efforts towards his every need. She knew nothing besides the timings of his medication, or supervising his food intake. One noticed that she was constantly watching him as if to fathom and read his every thought. God, for her, was right here, in Papa. She did not have the time nor the inclination to worship any other. Papa, from his side, wrote brilliant poems eulogizing her.

He wrote Urdu poetry, as one of his hobbies (couplets that I quote are often his) and Jagjit singh too has sung his compositions. Mama loved to hear him recite and would be enthralled with every composition. He insisted that she be his first audience. I consider his verses now as a gift from the divine, especially “tundiye bade mukhalif se na ghabra aye aukaab..yeh to chalti hai tujhe ooncha udane ke liye..”(Let not the ferocious adverse winds deter you oh phoenix…since they blow with the sole purpose of taking you higher).This couplet has and will continue to guide me as have his countless other verses.

Last year, on 4th Dec, at around 10.00 p.m after Mama had ensured that he had taken his medication, she decided to give him an almond oil massage , since he complained of itching on his scalp. Half a minute later, when she returned, he was gone. Without a sigh. Without a moan. Without a warning.

I find it heart wrenching to describe in words the shock, disbelief, agony, despair I saw in Mamas eyes. All she kept saying” he promised me, he blessed me, how can his blessings go wrong?"

It is extremely devastating to see that small, bent, frail, sweet frame of my mother without that tall, statuesque, noble, elegant frame of my father besides her. It seems wrong. Unfair. There was nothing else that mama ever wanted out of life, except to have Papa by her side. How could all her prayers have gone unanswered?? I have to put on a brave face, wear a bright smile, chat lightheartedly with her, while my heart cries mournfully deep within, seeing her so forlorn, so incomplete, so cheated by Destiny.

Please pray for my mother, that she discovers peace and joy within her, is content in the divinity she has forgotten she embodies, but which I see in her and have been experiencing in her , all of my years as her daughter. Please pray for me that I am able to repay in my own small way, the debt of being brought up with so much love for my heart and nourishment for my soul by my dear parents.

December 11th, last year would have marked their 60th anniversary. My mother was alone .She always complained of a weak memory, but it is astounding to hear her quote Papas poems verbatim. She is like an encyclopaedia of his works, all of a sudden. She insists that it is Papa speaking through her..self effacing as usual... She is spirited, though my little mother. She has decided to take Urdu tuitions (at age 77) to enable her to read Papas Poetry journals, which she wishes to get printed. She has to immortalize him she says.

I wish to immortalize their uniquely sublime love story.

Cross posted at DesiPundit

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Short changed!!

A whole page dedicated to a news item "Alert citizen gets cabbies taxi seized for over charging". It seems an everyday occurence, but what was unique and therefore creditable was the effort the concerned citizen invested in seeing the action through. He had been over charged to the tune of a couple of 100 bucks or so. Not having discovered it at the time of payment, though suspecting foulplay, he went on to locate the cabbie at the airport, from where he had previously hired it. To his good fortune and the cabbies misfortune, the same guy was parked there. On a complaint from the citizen the cabbie was hauled, though he raced to unplug the cables which he had used to enable the meter to run faster. It was too late. His cab was confiscated.

The good news was that this is exemplary and reformative, hopefully. The bad news being that on a conservative estimate, 90% of the cabs and auto rickshaws in India are manipulated. It is not practical and feasible to expose the errant drivers on a daily basis, especially if one is a woman. For one, no cabbie is going to relent getting his meter checked. For another, it is easy to temporarily rectify the manipulated cable, when danger approaches and later revert to the same modus operandi. Frustrating?? Oh yes.. that is putting it mildly. Is there a way out? Most definitely. Stricter rules, easy appraisals, periodic checks, consumer friendly complaint cells, cooperative (meaning also incorruptible.. but that is topic for another blog) Police officers, stringent punishments.

Translate the above incident into almost every area of life in India. Corruption is , to my mind , the most rampant evil, in need of immediate rectification. For the simple reason, the inroads it makes , affects us directly or indirectly , which leads on to serious repurcussions in housing, employment, food, you name it. Inflation has its roots in something as innocuous as a corrupt municipal officer, or even a clerk at the housing board, who sanctions plots to the highest bribe. It is the trickle effect over 57 years, that has impeded our progress at every stage.

I believe that India could have been a power to reckon with. but those in Power, betrayed India.


The sea has cast a shadow
The veil now turned dark
Awaits the rising of light beyond
removing the mists of life material
A need unsurmountable now lies ripe
harken the sound
of peace approaching
Its calmness prevailing amidst gloom
All goes white
The rising effervescence
In dew drops of gold
Behold the miracle
It is now or never
That once after aeons
For a life time to follow
Timelessness is new
And all doth fade
For nought to remain

Friday, February 03, 2006

Generation awakens?

Went to the movies and saw'Rang De Basanti'..The byline screamed 'a generation awakens'.That really set me thinking. Till the flick was a non pretentious Indian Movie, with a 40+ superstar playing a college student, and 'willing suspension of disbelief urging me to resign myself at watching the tamasha with fervour, all was going fine.The moment the seriousness of a message creeped in , where a generation recoiling at the 'system' and their impotence at getting things 'right' resorted to violence and bloodshed as the only alternative, it got my (imaginary) goatee!!The makers further rationalised and logicalised their reasoning by equating the gang with the likes of our freedom fighters of yore, Bismil, Bhagatsingh and Azad..This to me was a trite outrageous..Why do we Indians tend to get overdramatic? It has always been a question that has perplexed me .The answer ofcourse lies in the 'box office' collections and catering to the lowest common denominator, while at the same time endeavouring to keep a semblance of serious cinema, as the motive. This itself is fallacious. Box office and 'quality' in India are at opposite ends of the specrtum. You cannot appease both together. One will have to be sacrificed. Without question therefore that 'commerce' rules 'art' . It will truly be a' generation ' before this 'awakening' takes the shape of reality. Till then it will remain a pipe dream , like the rest of those dreams which never see the light of the day, because of the lack of 'takers'. Creativity is abundant..Connoisseurs are rare. Success coupled with creativity, rarer.

We as a nation seem to have it all , but somewhere down the line seemed to have lost it all as well..Our philosophy, morals, values, ethos, sensitivity , compassion, spirituality.. all seem blurred and misguided. Why have we relegated it to the background?? Will we ever re discover the Indianness of our India? Will this be a pipe dream as well?