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Month: March 2015

Deepika Padukone's My Choice- How much will seep through the masses?

Deepika Padukone's My Choice- How much will seep through the masses?

At a time when issues on women empowerment, sexual abuse, rape etc…are trending topics all over social media, a new video featuring Deepika Padukone has gone viral. The video has been made under the Vogue campaign on women empowerment by Homi Adajania on a script written by Kersi Khambatta. Along with Deepika, the film also features 99 women from all walks of life- celebrity hairstylist and business woman Adhuna Akhtar, film critic Anupama Chopra, actor Nimrit Kaur and a few others.

So what is this video all about?

It is a somber monologue of Deepika, speaking about women having their own choices, without being judged, without being compelled. Watch the video here and read the transcript of the film.

My body, my mind, my choice. To wear the clothes I like; even if my spirit roams naked

My choice; to be a size 0 or a size 15. They don’t have a size for my spirit, and never will

To use cotton and silk to trap my soul is to believe that you can halt the expansion of the universe

Or capture sunlight in the palm of your hand. Your mind is caged, let it free

My body is not, Let it be, My choice, To marry, or not to marry

To have sex before marriage, to have sex out of marriage, or to not have sex

My choice, To love temporarily, or to lust forever

My choice, To love a man, or a woman, or both

Remember; you are my choice, I’m not your privilege

The bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to mine, they’re all ornaments and can be replaced.

My love for you cannot, so treasure that, My choice; to come home when I want

Don’t be upset if I come home at 4am, Don’t be fooled if I come home at 6pm,

My choice; to have your baby or not, To pick you from 7 billion choices or not

So don’t get cocky, My pleasure might be your pain

My songs, your noise, My order, your anarchy

Your sins, my virtues, My choices are like my fingerprints

They make me unique, I am the tree of the forest

I am the snowflake not the snowfall, You are the snowflake

Wake up, Get out of the shit storm, I choose to empathise

Or to be indifferent. I choose to be different

I am the universe, Infinite in every direction

This is my choice.

The video comes just after, Deepika’s confession on national television about her battle with depression.

My views on the video- Yes I quite agree that it’s all about making your own choice and giving women the right to govern their own lives. But there are a few points I don’t quite agree with, in context to women’s empowerment.

Besides, it made me wonder, does a video release of a slick and powerful film of this nature, made for the YouTube population (if I may use this term, with all due respects), actually address the underlying issue prevalent in our society? How much would the message seep in through the masses, where the thought process needs a turn around?

I sat browsing today, going through the mixed reactions doing the rounds on twitter. Must say the video has gone down pretty well with women. But one thing caught my eye. A response that amused me. I leave you with it. It is the male version of the video, filmed by Brathouse Films. Take a look.

Tending to Little Ones -Pediatricians in Delhi

Tending to Little Ones -Pediatricians in Delhi

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It’s a joy for almost any parent to see a happy and healthy child. As a mother of two little ones, I try hard to ensure I shield my babies from illnesses and discomforts of sorts. I cook up a variety of nutritious meals and make them play enough. I practically leave no stone unturned to keep them healthy and fit. Yet, with the growing levels of pollutants and viruses all around us in a big metro such as Delhi, my little ones do fall ill. Thankfully for me, Delhi has some good pediatricians around. From government run general hospitals to multi and super-specialty hospitals, the city could sure boast of its state of the art pediatric care. Multiple pediatric specialists are available in almost all localities within the city, with emergency care accessible quite easily.

Pediatric care in today’s form has evolved into a specialized branch of medicine. It cares little ones, from birth through the adolescent years till 18, for illnesses and injuries. The broad areas of pediatrics in Dehi are:

  • Neo natal care and new born intensive care: This is the medical care and comfort that a new born requires. Neo natal specialists assist both the mother and the new born post delivery, from feeding to bonding. Life support and care are also provided for premature and tiny babies.
  • Immunization: A list of scheduled vaccinations that have to be administered to your little one, starting at birth till the age of ten.
  • General consultations: Available for addressing concerns and treating commonly occurring infections among children
  • Specialized care for specific conditions such as Pediatric Gastroenterology, Pediatric Cardiology etc…

Almost all hospitals provide the above mentioned care. There also are many independent child specialists in Delhi at clinics or diagnostic centre around the city. The best part is, most of them don’t really seek an appointment. The doctor sees the patient on a first come first served basis. Apart from these, pediatrics is available for other sub specialties. From interventional radiology, transfusion medicine, nuclear medicine and immunology Delhi’s pediatric care has it all. Paramedical support and guidance on nutrition, dietetics, physiotherapy and counselors and psychologists for mental health, consultants are a plenty in the city.

My little ones always used to look at a doctor with a general sense of animosity. The only thing they would associate a doctor with was an injection. However I must say, not any more. I have a friendly neighborhood pediatrician in Delhi who comforts them every time I pay him a visit. His funny anecdotes make them smile.  As  mother, I feel a sense of calmness.

I feel like a guest in my hubby’s home.

I feel like a guest in my hubby’s home.

Today the office lunch hour discussion was between Trisha, Mrs. Dey and me. Trisha, our super talented animator, had been feeling low for almost a week. So Mrs. Dey (“Boss K’s” 50 year old secretary) and I decided to give her an ear. Trisha has been married for 2 years to a very charming banker. And here is what she had to say today.

“Having been raised in a conservative ‘Tam-Brahm’ household, I hoped I would be part of a forward thinking family after marriage. I wanted to pursue my animation career even after marriage. When I met my prospective in-laws and to-be-hubby for the first time, I felt that “yes”. Unlike other Tam Brahm ladies, MIL (Mother-in Law) wore a demure salwar kameez, whereas I sat all draped in a chiffon sari. She had worked all her life as a school teacher, so didn’t really have a problem if I pursued my career. Soon after marriage, I moved in with my in-laws. The initial months were truly blissful. My husband is a pleasant person, intelligent, charming and basically a nice human being. My in-laws too are mild tempered and respected our privacy, despite all of us living under the same roof. Yet I feel incomplete”.

“To begin with there are unwritten rules in the house, especially for the lady. You enter the kitchen only after you have had your morning bath. This includes the morning cup of coffee too. So lazily drinking a morning cup of coffee is not really encouraged, even on a Sunday. And during the sweltering summer days of Delhi, staying in the kitchen in the morning for two hours and then getting ready for office meant a second bath.”

saas-bahu

“My MIL is totally in charge of the kitchen and home management. I help around in the kitchen by kneading dough, chopping, grinding etc… Like an assistant. So most of the time, I just stand behind having nothing much to do. She wakes up early in the morning. After her morning walk, followed by a bath, she plans the entire day’s meal. I really appreciate her meticulous planning. There are days when I just want to sleep on, especially after late night movies and on Sundays. But somehow I don’t feel comfortable doing this, when my MIL is working in the kitchen.”

“My in-laws don’t really have major objections to the kind of clothes I wear. Just that I always have to have on a bindi, the mangalsutra and the toe ring. When I once asked her if they were an absolute necessity even at home she said, “Of course, this is our tradition. It is for your husband’s life.” Though I don’t really believe in these thoughts, I complied to avoid any sort of unpleasantness in the house. During the summer months I would really love to wear comfortable T shirts and skirts at home. However MIL once indirectly hinted at this being inappropriate in front of Father in law. I have to be prim and proper at all times.”

“Evening after work, I help my MIL in the kitchen again. Dinner is the only meal the entire family has together. After a tired day, it is that time we share our day’s events, before we hit the bed and call it a day. MIL and me always serve the food to FIL and hubby and later clear the table and the dishes. On occasions when I insist on hubby helping us clear the dishes, she discourages the same saying he has had a tired day and shouldn’t be troubled. Hmmm it makes me wonder, “Haven’t I had a tired day?”….

“Watching television lying on the Divan isn’t really appreciated. It is only in the confines of my bedroom I do what I want to. Wear itsy bitsy clothes; watch what I want on my laptop with my legs up in the air. I have managed to keep a hot water jug in my room, where I make a cup of green tea every morning and sip it lazily at my own leisure, without having to worry about having a bath. Small luxuries.  Of course one would say these are very small things in life. As my in-laws are otherwise nice people. They wouldn’t really speak anything that would hurt me. But these little things can make one feel so claustrophobic. I feel restricted. I feel like a guest in my hubby’s home.”

After hearing out Trisha, I got thinking. Marriage surely is a big lifestyle change for a woman. And sometimes not being able to do little things really gets on to your nerves.

Here are questions that have remained unanswered today.

  • Who is a forward thinking person?
  • Aren’t we still differentiating a son and a daughter in law? Why isn’t it still unacceptable for the son to share household chores, especially the kitchen?
  • Would a Father in law and son in law also have similar problems if living under the same roof? Would he be expected to obey the father in law?
  • Whats the way out for modern day saas-independent bahu?
Back From a Break… Back With a Bang

Back From a Break… Back With a Bang

So it was a week-long break for me and the kids… A week cut off from the world of the internet, social media and blogging. How hooked we are to this virtual world. I have spent the entire morning clearing emails, replying to comments on my blogs, tweeting and scrolling through Facebook. Phew!!! A good two hours gone by!!

And it was just a week of absence. The first few days of this holiday, made me feel jittery. I havent blogged, I hadn’t replied to mails. As the week slowly progressed, I kind off got used to it. I actually didnt really seem to miss anything… until this morning. S back i am at my desk. A lovely spring morning in Delhi. My gardens full a bloom with the most beautiful Dalias. My minds fresh with ideas. I so look forward to the next few weeks of my life. …

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India's Daughter- Can we give it a Chance?

India's Daughter- Can we give it a Chance?

So the entire day, my office was abuzz with discussions on whether India’s Daughter, the documentary by Leslie Udwin should be banned or not. The documentary features the interview of Mukesh Singh, a key accused in the case. Mukesh is currently in Tihar Jail, awaiting his death sentence, which he has appealed against.

In the interview, Mukesh apparently shows no remorse. He said: “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.” There were several other derogatory comments made by him, which currently stands banned by the Indian Government. From media debates to heated opinion on social media, there has been tremendous outrage at his audacious remarks.

Despite Udwin having received written permission from both the home ministry and the prison authorities, the home minister directed Delhi police to obtain a court order prohibiting the film’s release. Police said the ban was imposed as Mukesh’s comments could create an atmosphere of “fear and tension” that may fuel public anger. The Home Minister Rajnath Singh banning the telecast of the documentary had this to say.

  • The documentary would not be aired in India and accused its makers of violating “permission conditions” by not showing the complete unedited footage to jail officials.
  • “It was noticed the documentary film depicts the comments of the convict which are highly derogatory and are an affront to the dignity of women,” Singh told MPs in parliament.
  • “[The government] will not allow any organization to leverage such an incident and use it for commercial purpose,” he said.

For most people who are for the ban, another reason is that a convicted rapist was being given a platform for his views.

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Source: bbc.com

I personally feel a ban is not really addressing the problem. We probably are brushing matters under the carpet instead of facing it. There is one strong valid point made by Udwin. “Everyone should watch the video to understand the mindset of a rapist. It would bring out a lot of underlying social issues, which we should address.” So maybe we should give the documentary a chance!!!

Rape is not just a crime. It is much more than this. It is a social issue. Opinions such as:

  • Girls should be home by 6-7 pm. They should not be out at late hours
  • Girls should be dressed in an appropriate manner.
  • Girls should not be out with a boy post 9 pm
  • Girls should be within their boundaries

These probably aren’t just Mukesh’s thoughts. Sadly there are many law-abiding citizens in our society who think the same way. I leave you behind with a brilliant write-up by “First Post” – BBC documentary: Why outrage? Mukesh Singh’s excuses are hardly unique

The ban is in India, and it sure has aroused enough interest among many. I won’t be surprised if people end up downloading it after a few days from the internet!!!

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The Vanishing Brides of Haryana

The Vanishing Brides of Haryana

“All names of people have been changed to protect their identity.”

Rewari is a small district in the south of Haryana, around 50 odd kilometers away from the National Capital. I met Balbir Hooda and his wife Poonam Devi here. Richard and I were out on our weekly field trip when we met them. Courteous and extremely hospitable, the couple invited us over for lunch in their modest home, overlooking a paddy field. Haryana is blessed with cattle wealth, and this was visible in the lunch served. Hot parathas (handmade flat bread) soaked with homemade “tindi ghee” (clarified butter), with a generous helping of vegetables and lentils. Haryanvi meals are almost always finished with a tall glass of buttermilk popularly called “Chaaj”.

Afternoon siestas are mandatory after a meal as sumptuous as this. Low lying “charpoys” are laid out under the tree. A cool breeze sways across, rocking almost anybody into deep slumber. I sat on a thick straw mat with Poonam Devi inside their home. Women seldom venture out when men folk were around. Poonam opened her heart out to me. It’s been five years since Kisan, her son, had reached the marriageable age. However the couple has been unable to find him a suitable bride.

What was the problem? He seemed to be a good looker (I had a glance at the family photograph nailed to the wall) and was employed in the factory floor of Maruti, in Hisar. Poonam Devi also hinted to me the acres of land her family had ”amassed” over the years. So why was it so difficult to get a bride? “Achchi choriyaan milte kahaan he aaj kal”(where do you get good girls these days), she said in chaste Haryanvi. She continued, “Girls these days are not like how we used to be. We used to leave our village only once when we got married. After that we worked for our husband’s family all through life. Nowadays girls leave home before marriage, to work in cities such as Delhi and Faridabad. They never return back to their home town.” Poonam Devi’s reason for not finding a bride made no sense to me. I brushed the conversation aside for the moment. As we got back to Delhi that evening, I put my thoughts together and did a bit of Google reading. The problem may seem small – of Kisan not having found a bride. But there are underlying issues that needs to be addressed

  • The skewed up sex ratio

Census 2011 reveals a sex ratio of 879 for each 1000 male in Haryana, well below the national average of 940. Here is why. Over the years, there have been rampant practices of sex selective abortions. The repercussions have trickled down and boys of marriageable age now face a deficit of brides within the state.

  • Caste above all

I wonder when this would leave our country. When I asked Poonam why she wouldn’t look at a girl from another community/caste, she raised an eyebrow. She would prefer Kisan to remain unmarried than marry a Dalit, or for that matter anybody outside the Jat community.  How would she answer the Khap Panchayat if he married a Dalit? She was aghast at this very thought.

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  • “Importing” from another state

In the recent years, brides from not only the neighboring states, but as far as Tripura and down south Kerala where being wed to Haryanvi boys. The term used for such brides in the Haryanvi vocabulary is Molki and Paro. Molki means bought for a price and Paro means from across the state. Poonam was fine with this, however the girl had to be from an upper caste.

Richard helped me get in touch with Mr. John Oomen of Kannur district, Kerala. He said, “Haryana Kalyanams (Haryana Weddings) are rampant in Kannur, similar to the erstwhile Arab wedding, where young brides were packed off to live with old Arabs, for paltry sums. Girls from economically weaker sections are married off to boys in Haryana for sums as low as Rs 20,000-Rs. 40,000”. John and his NGO, “Sahayam”, try to identify such marriages to ensure there isn’t any force or trafficking. What John says is the problem is when these young brides are forced to say that they are doing it on their own will.

For most of us living in urban households, such bits of information is nothing but information. We read about them or come across it on television news. And that’s it. We probably do think it over at that moment. But sooner or later we let it slip out of our minds. The common thought is, it happens in Haryana. They killed their girl babies, hence face a bleak future. It is the government who should be looking into this. What could we really do?

An earlier blog post of mine, 4 Main Reasons Why Indians Prefer a Son speaks about the rampant presence of gender bias in many people around us. What we should probably do is understand the underlying causes, and bring about a whole new thought process within ourselves. Today it is Haryana importing brides from another state. Let us not reach a situation where we Indians are importing brides from another country !!!

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