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Month: July 2015

And death was what was given to him

And death was what was given to him

His eyes were still, but his thoughts seemed to be drifting away- to his home, to his family. Everything around seemed so blur. He knew death was around the corner. He sensed it.

He knew he was innocent. All that he was doing was a duty that was bestowed upon him by his superiors. He did though share a common interest with them- of safeguarding his people, of protecting his land. But the perpetrators of his death, found him guilty-of attacking them. And death was what was given to him.

In the wee hours of the day, he breathed his last. His family would only see his body. For them their loved one is no more.

I am not talking about “Yakub Memon” (the man convicted of financing the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings) here.

At the LOC

This is Sepoy Rachpal Singh an Army Jawan of 22-Sikh unit. Guarding the forward Parvinder post along the LOC on Wednesday night, Singh was killed in a sniper attack by troops from across the border.  He was critically injured and he later succumbed to his injuries and breathed his last in the early hours of the day.

I awakened this morning to hear the news of Yakub Memon’s death. Convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, he was held guilty of criminal conspiracy, arranging money for buying vehicles used by the bombers and organizing air tickets to Dubai. Practically every news channel splashed details about his execution that was conducted early this morning.

And amidst Yakub’s execution news, I found one small ticker in the corner of my television that reported the news of an Army Jawan’s death. There was no mention of his name. Who was he?

I wondered. Here is a man who has been convicted of terror attack and his name appears in full scale across channels. On the other hand is a young Sepoy shot at in the darkness of the night when he was guarding his post on the LOC. He was just doing his duty, keeping unwanted people at bay, preventing another attack on the country, probably another terror attack.

His name sure does deserve a mention. Salute to you Sepoy Rachpal Singh.

"Not" in the Name of Dowry

"Not" in the Name of Dowry

As I walked into the venue, the extravagance and shimmer all around left me spellbound. Beautifully dressed girls in the finest of “Kancheevaram” silks sprinkled fragrant rose water, welcoming every guest. The entrance to the main hall was strewn with the finest of red roses, with brightly lit chandeliers all across. I could spot Shruti from almost 15 feet away. The gleam from the diamonds that adorned her neck had caught my eye.  Her hands bore the weight of a dozen odd gold bangles, and her heavily embroided sari draped around her delicately. Ravi in his perfectly tailored blue “Sherwani” stood beside. I had to admit, the couple complemented each other. After a sumptuous meal and the customary greeting of the newlyweds, I returned home with a beautifully packed basket containing generous amounts of sweets and dry fruits.

I have known Sudhakar Pillai and his family for almost two decades now. Sudhakar worked at the local Tahsildar office. An honest and hardworking man, his entire life was spent scrutinizing piles of government records and files.  His daughter Shruti and me have spent many a childhood days, cycling on the by-lanes of our colony. As I sat on my bed that night reminiscing the amazing wedding I had attended of a dear friend, I could not help but wonder. How was it possible for a humble Sudhakar to afford such a lavish wedding for his daughter?

A month after Shruti’s wedding, I called on Sudhakar to enquire about Shruti’s whereabouts post matrimony. I sat sipping piping hot filter coffee and flipping through the pages of the 5- kilogram wedding album, when I raised the delicate question that had been gnawing on my mind. “The wedding must have cost you quite a bit, with prices of almost everything shooting upwards”. “Ah yes,” said Sudhakar, “it cost me around 32 lakhs, including the cost of the car.” My eyes popped out.  “Car???”

Sudhakar continued, “Ravi has a sports car in the USA, where he lives. He wanted a car for city driving in India when he is on vacation here. So we decided to gift him the latest version of Maruti Swift DZire.  He loves cars”. I thought to myself, gifting is surely a good thing, and helps people bond better. But is a car worth 6 lakhs required? I sat with a grim face as Sudhakar continued.

“Shruti’s in-laws are very nice people. They did not make any demands for dowry or cash, except that they wanted the wedding to be really grand. You see they have a big family. It was such a “small” request. So we ensured we got the best of caterers, hospitality and decorations. And just because they didn’t ask for dowry, it does not mean we won’t give anything for our daughter. I ensured Shruti went with adequate sovereigns of gold and silver articles, apart from expensive gifts for Ravi’s entire family. All for our dear daughter. She will now be happy and live with dignity & respect in her in-laws home. Luckily, I retired last year and received a lump sum amount from my gratuity and leave encashment. I used this retirement benefit to get my daughter married. Otherwise it would have been very difficult.

A still from the Hindi Movie “Band Baaja Baarat” The movie depicted the lavishness involved in Indian Weddings.

  • Indian weddings are loaded with traditions and ceremonies, with expenditures almost always tilting largely towards the girl’s family. There is considerable anxiety, stress, and an element of pressure the girl’s family goes through to be able to deliver a “good” marriage.
  • Of course every individual is entitled to celebrate the most important day of their life in any way they choose. But, this surely does not warrant, extravagant expenditures beyond one’s financial capacity. Many a times families go to any extent to ensure the girls have a good wedding. The common thought that prevails is, “A good marriage means a happy life for my daughter.”
  • With the Indian Penal Code, taking strict actions against Dowry, the practice of giving cash to the groom’s party has become minimal. Yet, the pressure to please the prospective groom and their family by giving away expensive gifts persists largely. Such gifts are “not in the name of dowry”.
  • And somewhere amidst all this glitter and extravagance of the modern day wedding, we have stopped focusing on the most basic things- the sanctity in a marriage, and the compatibility between the boy and the girl.

Life Begins at 35- Really!!!

Life Begins at 35- Really!!!

When I was twenty something, I often used to hear women, a wee bit older than me, state that “Life begins at 35 for a woman”. And almost always this statement used to amuse me. There seemed to be no truth in it for me.

At 35, on an average, most women are married with a baby or two. Some are physically not in great shape, well with a flab here or so, thanks to the child-bearing years.  Most, would have taken a sabbatical from their professional lives, to tend to their little ones. Many would be in the thick of responsibilities, juggling household chores, managing finances, and probably dealing with some really tough relationships.

In contrast at 25, I could party more with friends, travel around and enjoy a happening professional life. I could shop till I drop without having to bother about a household budget, and to top it all no serious responsibilities and pesky in-laws to handle. This statement almost remained an absurd thought for many years, until recently; the truth slowly dawned upon me.

”Life sure does get started at 35.” The thought that was once considered absurd by me has actually now become a reality in my life. Here are my reasons.

Image source:etsy.com
Image source:etsy.com
  • No free advises any more

The first thing every young bride hears on her wedding night is when she would be having her first baby. As simple as it may seem, the advice becomes an ultimatum by the elderly in the family, after the first year of marriage. And if you thought having a baby would solve this, well you are mistaken. Within a year, almost always, one gets to hear the importance of a sibling for the eldest child.

Surprisingly, as the years have gone by, and I have entered my mid 30’s, these free advises, ultimatums and instructions have almost disappeared. No more free advises on how to have and manage a family!!!

  • Fashion choices

Fashion choices in one’s twenties are mostly dominated by the latest trends. At mid-30s one’s sense of style drifts more towards comfort, apart from just what’s trending. And besides, confidence in personality booms in thirties, which is surely the key to being fashionable. So here I am now at 35, being able to carry myself in whatever I wear.

  • Speaking of the maturity within

When you are able to assess what you want out of life and understand your true potential, it speaks great volumes of your maturity within.  It is at 35, that I have got a better perspective of myself and the world around me, in comparison to an easy age life at 25.

  • Exploring ideas

Well creativity too peaks at 35 I guess. ‘Coz the accumulated knowledge of the past years help in innovation- in small daily things around me. Whether it is in a cookie baked at home, or that silly little clay model for my daughter, I am creative. And yes, it gives immense joy. Life sure has its own way of teaching you.

  • Energy at its peak

As I look back on my life, and at the various milestones I have crossed – of getting married, having children etc…, despite being in the thick of responsibilities, my energy levels have soared over the years. I am more keen on learning to do new things, to start something new, to travel and keep the momentum of life going.

Life in the twenties is a transition age. An age bridging youth, and a radically different adult life at 30 something.

So what about you? Do you also have reasons to say that” Yes, Life Begins at 35?

Join Corinne and me by writing a #MondayMusings post on your blog. Just share your thoughts with us – MondayMusings1happy, sad, philosophical, ‘silly’ even. Use the hashtag #MondayMusings and then add your link here. Do remember to visit the other blogs linked here and begin by reading the #MondayMusings on Write Tribe/Everyday GyaanWe would love to read your thoughts.

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Devadasi- Married to the lord

Devadasi- Married to the lord

“Rayaru bandaru Maavana manege Ratri Aagithu, Hunnime haraside banina naduve chandira bandittu” -(When the groom reached his father-in-laws house it was late at night. In the moonlit night, the moon rode high)

We sat on the straw mat listening to this old Kannada melody. The light of the full moon enveloped the entire sky, and I could see its radiance reflect on Sarayu’s face.

I had met her just that morning outside Yellamma Guda temple, at Saundatti village, Karnataka, India. It was the first day of the Yellamma Jatara Festival, where every year over two lakh people take part to worship the deity Yellamma Devi (or also known as Renuka). I spotted a demure Sarayu, with moist eyes, it seemed. Despite the sea of people around, our eyes met for a fraction of a second. “Are you coming to Yellamma Devi Jatara for the first time?” she asked me in chaste Kannada. I nodded. “Come I will show you around,” she said. I went along.

A Devadasi woman worships the goddess, Yellamma. Photo Credit: Julia Cumes
A Devadasi woman worships the goddess, Yellamma. Photo Credit: Julia Cumes

The Yellamma Gudi temple is known for its ancient traditions, going back centuries. It speaks of faith in abundance and rituals aplenty. One such age old tradition of the temple is the “Devadasi System” where young girls are dedicated to the temple by way of marriage. Once dedicated, they become a property of the temple and are to be dutiful to its spiritual needs. This not only encompasses appeasing the deity by way of chaste rituals, but it also includes singing and dancing before the village chiefs, satisfying the sexual urges of the priest and the menfolk of the community. The girls are generally from poor households who are born weak, sick or with deformities. Years ago, there were elaborate dedication ceremonies, where the girls were paraded naked. But with the “Devadasi Prohibition Act” this has been discontinued.

“You may still find people offering their girls, those who come to the temple covered in neem leaves, and performing the customary ritual of being offered to the deity- all in secrecy. Sarayu added, “That is why I stand outside the temple every Jatara festival trying to stop any parent dedicating their daughter. I inform the NGO I work for immediately. No other girl should suffer the way I did”. I shot back a glance.

“Yes I was a Devadasi”. As Sarayu uttered these words, I felt an unexplainable shudder deep inside. Breaking the silence she said, “Why don’t you join me for dinner tonight? I live on the other side of the temple.” I agreed once again.

An older Devadasi woman begs at the entrance of the Yellamma Temple in Saundatti, India during the Yellamma Jatre (fesitval) . Most Devadasis over the age of 44 either beg or act as a jogati, spreading the word of Yellamma and sometimes acting as a medium through whom Yellamma speaks. Older Devadasis are often involved in recruiting young girls to be dedicated as new Devadasis, thus perpetuating the system. Photo and Caption Credit Julia Cumes
An older Devadasi woman begs at the entrance of the Yellamma Temple in Saundatti, India during the Yellamma Jatre (fesitval) . Most Devadasis over the age of 44 either beg or act as a jogati, spreading the word of Yellamma and sometimes acting as a medium through whom Yellamma speaks. Older Devadasis are often involved in recruiting young girls to be dedicated as new Devadasis, thus perpetuating the system. Photo and Caption Credit Julia Cumes

That night after a sumptuous dinner of “Majige (butter milk) and Ragi mudde (Steamed Ragi porridge), sitting on the straw mat and listening to old Kannada melodies, Sarayu narrated her part of the story. “I was born the youngest of 9 children. My parents were poor farmers and we could almost never afford our daily bread. So my parents dedicated me to Yellamma at the age of 10. For almost 20 years now, I have satisfied men from across villages. I have had enough now. I am old with no money or job, left to fend for myself. That is why I have joined an NGO, working towards empowering women like me.

I closed my eyes. I sensed the pain deep within her. I let the beautiful melody from the radio waft through the air. But I asked myself this question that night, “Why is there so much exploitation in the name of tradition?

Despite a Devadasi Prohibition Act, the practice continues in some parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra till date.

  • These women are denied basic rights and live in such pitiable conditions that most take up prostitution for a living.
  • Children born out of such relationships carry on a life of misery, with minimal or no schooling owing to poverty and social outcast.
  • Most are later sold to red-light districts in bigger cities such as Pune or Mumbai by priests, who act as pimps.

*All photo credits in this blog post goes to Julia Cumes. Julia Cumes is a photographer based on Cape Cod, MA.  She specializes in photojournalism, environmental portraiture, travel and editorial photography as well as fine art photography. Her website is juliacumes.com

What is it that Men's Cricket has that Women's Cricket Doesn't

What is it that Men's Cricket has that Women's Cricket Doesn't

As a child, I always thought the national sport of India was Cricket. There has always been a lot of pomp and show around the sport. So much so, for most of us cricket is an obsession. The sport has crept into our lives and made its presence so strong that almost all of us Indians live, eat and breathe the sport, irrespective of whether we are actually playing the game.

Oh! By the way I was talking about the men’s cricket team in our country!!!!

Sounds rude and shocking?

Unfortunately this is the truth. Most of us are seldom aware of the existance of a women’s cricket team in the country.  And even if we did know such a team existed, how many of us actually know the players??? Wonder why we fail to acknowledge their contributions to the sport in the same way as the men’s team.

The New Zealand women’s national cricket team has been touring India from 28 June till 15 July. The teams have been playing a series of five One Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). All the matches including five ODIs, three T20I and one tour match against India have been hosted at Bangalore. I caught the live telecast of the first ODI on Star Sports. It sure was a fun match to watch. But what really hit me odd was the empty stands of the stadium. Was wondering if a similar tour by their male counterparts would garner a similar audience.

Anyways, the Indian team crushed New Zealand by nine wickets in the fifth and final one day international match winning the series by 3-2 margin.  The win also brought another piece of good news as the Board of Control for Cricket in Indian (BCCI) announced a cash award of Rs 21 lakh for the team(by the way that’s for the entire team, and not for an individual player) as they fought back valiantly from being 1-2 down to win the series.

It’s time we acknowledged the contributions of all sportsman(may be woman here) equally !!!!

The team that did it Source The Hindu
The team that did it  Source – The Hindu

And here is the team that did it:

  • Mithali Raj (captain)
  • Ekta Bisht
  • Rajeshwari Gayakwad
  • Jhulan Goswami
  • Harmanpreet Kaur
  • Veda Krishnamurthy
  • Smriti Mandhana
  • Niranjana Nagarajan
  • Shikha Pandey
  • Kalpana R
  • Sneh Rana
  • Poonam Raut
  • Deepti Sharma
  • M.D. Thirushkamini
  • Poonam Yadav

Kudos to the team!!!!!!!!!

Can We Do Something About Partition Now?

Can We Do Something About Partition Now?

“The camps were a suffocating room, full of tears. Countless bodies were strewn all along the way, left for vultures to feed on”.

It was a journey she would never forget. For Amandeep Kaur, it has been 68 long years since she left home. The tears have dried up since, yet the pain of the wound inflicted by partition is still deep within, never to be healed.

After gaining independence from British Raj, India was divided into two separate countries- India and Pakistan. A major population exchange happened with around 25 million people relocating to their new homes. The magnitude of horror and suffering that followed was unimaginable. There were brutal killings and religious riots all along the border, marking it as the darkest period in the history of both the countries.

A Lake of Blood & Tears- Source: Life Magazine. An image that shows the magnitude of brutality!!

Amandeep’s village fell right where the border was drawn. And like many others, along with her family she travelled across the border, to restart her life, in a new territory, unknown and foreign. “We travelled for days sometimes on foot, sometimes on little bullock carts, a luxury at that time. Food and water was scarce. There were villages along the way that were left abandoned. We feasted on the remains left behind in such homes. After moving from camp to camp we finally settled down in Ludhiana to start life afresh. We were the lucky ones, all 9 members of my family managed to reach safely across the border. Many others were not so lucky”, said Amandeep. “More than the horrific journey, what pains me more is leaving behind my friends and homeland. I have cried for nights, longing to be with them. We use to sit on the Charpoy on a clear moonlit night in my village, and chat with Shabnam my dear buddy. I know I may never see her again”. Tears welled up in her eyes as she said this.

At 88 years old, Amandeep now spends most of her time reading the Guru Granth Sahib and watching her great grandchildren playing in the courtyard of the spacious family home in Ludhiana. She wishes to visit her homeland, where she was born, grew up and entered wedlock, at least once.

India and Pakistan were once upon a time a single country. We share a common history, from the times of the Indus Valley Civilization. Yes we did have different religions, but historically, we have co-existed together. What really split us apart into two different nations was nothing but politics and the inflated egos of a few. The price of which, both nations are still paying- of living apart, of animosity and destruction.

Many of us till date breed this animosity in our minds against the neighboring nation. Besides, there is an element of indifference in many. “What could really be done now, the country was divided in 1947”- is the thought among many.

Well we could do something. At least reduce this animosity. The issues we currently face are because of a group of radical thinking individuals and not because of a country at large.

  • Small beginnings start from home.
  • Let’s breed positive thoughts within us.
  • Speak about it to those around us.
  • Teach our children, the next generation that breeding negativity and a feeling of hostility, is not to be the order of the day.
  • Remember, our next generation, our children could be future policy makers.

Somewhere I am glad our movies are constantly re-visiting and scripting stories based on partition. It serves as a constant reminder of what such a disaster could do to nations. The latest one being Salman Khans Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The film apparently revolves around a young speech-impaired girl from Pakistan who finds herself lost in India with no way to head back over the border to her home. An Indian man (Salman Khan) undertakes the task to get her back to her home and reunite her with her family.

I leave you with a brilliantly made advertisement By Coke. This video “Join Hands” speaks volumes.

Can’t Marry You- You Are Drunk

Can’t Marry You- You Are Drunk

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It’s time to say a BIG No!!!

We are a country, where arranged marriages are still the norm and young girls are wedded off to a groom their parents deem fit. Most often girls seldom have a say in the selection. Amidst all this, are quite a few young girls who are rejecting their groom right on the big day of their wedding.

The reasons may seem hilarious and trivial but when you scratch deep inside and look, it speaks volumes, about courage, where young girls are actually calling the shots.

Marriage is a big affair in India. When marriages are arranged, lot of things go into it. Family backgrounds, social status, financial condition etc.. of the bride as well as the groom are checked by the respective parents. However if, for whatever the reason, the alliance breaks, very often the brunt of it is borne by the girl. Tongues often start to wag about the credibility of the girl. It is for this reason , young girls seldom call off their wedding,  in order to save their parents from any embarrassment, succumbing to the wedding irrespective of whether they may be happy in it or not.

This is more common in smaller towns with closer communities living together. But in the last few months, a spate of marriages has been called off by young girls. Considering their social backgrounds and the small towns they belong to, such a step speaks volumes, about their courage- to stand up for what is right. It shows their understanding of marriage and what they actually want from it.

Our movies have shown it many times in different ways. But here are some real time cases. Worth a ponder.

  • The case of the mathematical bride: In Rasoolabad village, Kanpur, a girl refused to get married after the groom failed to answer her elementary school math problem.
  • Drinking not acceptable: A young bride in Mahoba district refused her groom after he came drunk, in an inebriated state.
  • Dirty Dancing: Samastipur district in Bihar saw a young bride refusing to marry her bridegroom after he was seen dirty dancing with the members of the marriage procession!!
  • When you can’t see: A bride called off her wedding near Aonla, UP when she noticed her groom was unable to perform the wedding rituals due to poor eyesight.
  • The hidden truth: When a groom had seizures at the wedding in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, the bride got angry over the fact that his epilepsy was kept hidden from her. She quickly chose a guest, another member of the family and tied the knot with him.
  • All about money honey: When the bride’s friends asked the groom to count a wad of currency notes, the groom looked lost and was unable to do so. When the bride realized this, she immediately called off the wedding.
Crash the Crash diet- Get Healthy with a Honey Diet

Crash the Crash diet- Get Healthy with a Honey Diet

As the mother of two young girls, I am constantly fretting about their nutrition. It sure indeed is a tough task, getting them to eat right, and ensuring they get a well balanced diet. However in today’s age, with school, play time and other activities keeping our kids busy, I often feel I am failing in my endeavor. And to top it all, my kids are fussy eaters. To save my day I came across the “Honey Diet”. Honey as a food item is seldom disliked by children. My girls love it and could lap up a complete spoon full. I have used this to my advantage.

Pure honey such as Dabur Honey is a natural form of sucrose and has the presence of a large amount of anti-oxidants. I have replaced the jam bottle on my table with a bottle of Dabur Honey. Try out some honey spread on your morning toast. My kids finish their breakfast in a jiffy. Instead of a spoon of refined processed sugar in a glass of milk. I serve their milk with a bit of honey as sweetener. It’s healthy and tasty too for the kids.

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Now coming to myself. In today’s busy and fast life, I seldom find time to get in to a strict exercise regime. I manage to do a bit of brisk walking probably once or twice in a week. In such a scenario, how do I maintain my health? How do I actually reduce those layers of fat enveloping my belly? I have never really advocated crash diets to reduce belly fat. The negative impact of a crash diet could be more devastating than having the fat around my stomach. A crash diet just exhausts your body and mind, making it weak. I hence strongly recommend a balanced diet that would incorporate the main food groups, of carbohydrates, whole grains and cutting down on processed food. This also includes reduction of refined sugar.

The honey diet comes into play here. I start my day with a glass of warm water and a spoon of honey. This helps me manage my weight. Along with my morning breakfast, instead of a cup of coffee with white sugar, I instead have a cup of green tea with a spoon of honey. This keeps my body and mind alert. Honey is a natural form of sugar and retains a whole lot of nutrients. It keeps me active through the day. Honey as a source of energy is easily digested by the body. In fact the regular use of honey in your diet aids digestion.

Apart from the nutrition element in a regular meal, honey comes with medicinal properties. When my girls are down with a throat infection, a spoonful of honey with warm water and ginger helps to soothe the throat.

The goodness of honey is unmistakable. That is why I say honey is a sweeter alternative to a healthy diet.

link : http://www.daburhoney.com/

Surf it All! Surf it Fast- With the UC Browser

Surf it All! Surf it Fast- With the UC Browser

Cricket is a sport that practically everyone loves in this country of ours. The sport has crept into our lives and made its presence so strong that almost all of us Indians live, eat and breathe the sport, irrespective of whether we are actually playing the game. It is our religion, and has somehow got itself embedded deep into our lives.

A few years ago, during the years I was a child, the only way to be connected to the game was to catch it live on television, or to stay tuned to the radio to listen to the score. In case one happens to miss it, then the only way out was to catch the highlights of the match later in the day. But definitely the fun and excitement would be missing in these highlights. There is no comparison to the excitement one experiences watching it real time, in getting the score live, as it happens. Hence, whenever there would be a cricket match, especially the world cup, all of us at home would stay glued to the television. No family outings, movie outings, shopping or picnics on such days. The entire family never left the living room.

Things have far changed in today’s times. We are a technology savvy generation now. Technology has crept into our life in every possible way. It has made life simpler, brought the whole world at our finger tips and loads of other advantages for us. For cricket lovers such as me, here is the latest offering technology has to provide. UC Web, a leading provider of mobile internet software technology and services, has brought out the “UC Browser”, a fun mobile browser. The UC Browser is a perfect way to catch up on cricket videos, get the latest scores and other cricket related updates. Simple to download, the UC Browser is easy and smooth to use allowing one to enjoy the game, from wherever one is. Be it office, college, the market place or restaurant. So you carry your excitement with you wherever you go.

When you open the UC Browser Home Screen, you find the UC CRICKET icon in blue. This is your icon to start surfing the world of cricket. The quality of video streamed is smooth and fast, without many interruptions in between, retaining the excitement of the game. Not only does it have these features, the UC Browser also provides you with match reminders, score cards, and quick info. It also comes with optimized comments section. The easy navigation gives everything a cricket lover would desire. The interface is fun and appealing.

So now I don’t have to worry about skipping doctor’s appointments, miss a date, take leave from office or postpone dinner parties. My UC browser on my phone stays with me all through, giving me the much required cricket update, whenever I require it, uninterrupted.

That’s why I say, with the UC Browser on my phone I could “Surf it all! Surf it fast!”

link to http://www.ucweb.com/

The Red Spike Shoes

The Red Spike Shoes

The green trunk lay open today. It had been more than a decade, since it saw the light of the day.

As Bindiya moved her hands into it, she felt a dull sting. A smile crossed her face.  She picked it up delicately, as though a tiny infant lay in its folds. The cloth that wrapped it had faded away, what once must have been a colorful piece of apparel. As the layers unfolded, her treasure stood bare in her hands.  It was in perfect condition. Memories of those bygone days came flooding to Bindiya.

The Junior National Athletic Meet in Delhi, 15 years back was Bindiya’s first taste of success. With the prize money of a few hundred Rupees, she purchased a shiny red spike shoes. This was her medal, for winning the 100 meter stretch, leaving almost all her competitor’s way behind. At the age of 19, Bindiya had her goals in place. The Asian Games and the Olympics next. The spike shoes would serve her well.  At their humble home in Dadanpur village, Bindiya announced her future plans to Baba and Amma. The reaction was cold. The doors closed shut for Bindiya.

Three months passed by and Bindiya was married off to Nandkisore, a prosperous farmer from the neighboring village Sabili, in Haryana. For Bindiya, this meant, settling down into matrimony, taking care of home, and producing an offspring for her husband. Her life went behind the veil. And so did her dreams and aspirations. Her spikes lay wrapped and hidden in the green trunk, never to feel the ground beneath, never to see the sky above.

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But today, as she sat on a charpoy, under the tree, Bindiya saw herself in Meera. Her twelve year old daughter was racing through the fields. Having inherited Bindiya’s slender long legs, Meera had the perfect running form. All she needed was encouragement, guidance and training. And Bindiya was going to be there for her. Not as an authoritative person, not as a dominant parent, but as a friend and guide to encourage her to soar to greater heights, and live her dreams

As dawn broke every day, in the lush green fields of Sabili, Bindiya was there for Meera, teaching her the nuances of athletics. For Meera, it was perfect training under her mother. And for Bindiya, it was liberating. She was underrated and fearless once again, as her feet caught up with those of her daughters.

And soon enough the big moment arrived. At the stadium pavilion, sitting with her fingers crossed, Bindiya saw her little princess, with the red spike shoes, whiz past her competitors. A tear dropped down her eye. Meera won her selection into the Junior National Athletic Meet to be held in Delhi. And Bindiya had taken that first step again, towards her dream.

Meera hugged Bindiya. It spoke volumes.