Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Women in India violated!

There is this latest article by an American student doing the rounds, about how she felt violated and traumatized during her study tour in India and how she ended up with the PTSD. Refer article here:

This post would seem like a continuation of my previous post about India. India is all about rich history, beautiful architecture (whatever is left of it), variety of cultures and all of that. I love this country no doubt, but the only way to be safe here is to rise above the 'common man' status. Which again would mean probably joining politics and other illegal means. Sigh. Coming back to what I really want to talk about here, women in India. Its not about having fair skin and coloured hair here. Its about every woman that gets out of the house.

I am born and brought up in India, with a fair share of exposure to foreign countries. I have been brought up in a fairly modern family in the armed forces. Majority of my childhood I lived in NOFRA, colaba, Mumbai. Very secured, very safe. And its nothing like the typical 'India' you experience outside. In my early teens, we had to move to this city of Indore, because dad had taken up a job there. Thats when the cultural difference gave me a heavy jolt. One incident where  had worn shorts and went for a walk with my dad in the colony attracted eve teasers and hooting calls. My parents had restricted me from wearing shorts, spaghetti tops, short skirts, anything that was 'inappropriate' as per the culture there. That's when I began hating the place. Any place or culture that objectifies women, doesnt let them be, isnt worth liking anyways. There were many such incidents following this one that only increased my disdain for the place.

Cut-to youth. The Real world. Back in Bombay. Working. I was back in Bombay and working. But no more in the security of Colaba. I was traveling in trains and meeting new people. I was scouring the common man's markets looking for work related things. When I connected with my Bombay again. It had changed. Although it is miles ahead of the cultural shock that Indore was. It was still different. I didnt feel safe. I had hit men at station for trying to grope me. I was reporting men for eve teasing. I was being stared at. Not only stared, there is a very crass term that men use when they look at women, its called 'chakshu-chodan'. I am sure all women here would have experienced that. There were men looking at women and pleasuring themselves in full public view. All this without any apprehension or the slightest of worry of being inappropriate. Sadly, in India only women are inappropriate, not the men.

Walking around in India with the common public, women feel like fresh meat, amidst hungry dogs. unless you are traveling in an AC car, doing rounds of an upper crust mall, and going back home, you will be subjected to everything that the article above says the student went through.

Again, I am not generalizing 'all Indian men'. But c'mon whom are we kidding. How many of Indian men are gentlemen. A fraction few in India. A very small percentage. Those men that wont eve-tease, that wont comment, that wont stare, that wont lust when they look at women. Men who would step aside when a woman is passing by, and not try to stick their elbows out so that it brushes her breasts. How many? Not many Indian men I am afraid.

The student also mentions attempted rape, that I agree happens in other countries as well, and not only in India. But what happens post rape is another story here. The women are further victimized, they let the men get away with it.

I would think all Indian women should have PTSDs cause we go through this every day, every bloody day. But we have grown thick skins now. We have learnt to hold our bags to our chests and walk. We have learnt to keep our head down and stare at the road, We have learnt to wear headsets listen to music and not hear the lewd comments. We have learnt to compromise and learnt to be victimized. We get sexually harassed everyday and don't even realize it to that extent. The saddest part is that, this has become second nature to us.  We are ok with it.

For women in India sexual harassment translates more into embarrassment, as we are made to believe time and again that its our fault and not the other way around.

I hope more mothers teach their sons to respect women. But then, will the labours, street and slum dwellers ever learn that? Maybe not. Maybe in some years the educated and learned people in India will stop existing and just move out. This co-existence is becoming more and more diificult.

Cheers to a new India. Sans the intellectual class.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

No Kidding!

This article about the trend where couples choose to remain childless for various reasons, triggered this post. You can refer to the article here:Why Indian Couples are not Having Kids

I have a few friends who have chosen to be child-less, mostly for not wanting to take the responsibility that comes with bringing up a child. I dont judge them. If they think they are not ready for a child then they should not go for it.

Here's my story. I got married very early. One thing I was very sure of was not to have a child immediately. But I did want a family eventually. I always hoped that I was in the family way before I hit the 30 mark, and the 'un'planning made sure of it.

Parenting isn't a joke. It takes a lot of patience and understanding to raise a child. If you think you need an active social life and need vacations and want to buy all those glossy stuff in the market, and you are not ready to give up any of the above, then my friend, you are not a parent material. There are times when the kids just drive you up the wall and you wonder why do people have progeny at all. But believe me, its worth it.

When you are vacationing in those snowy peaks, I am here changing diapers. When you are gyrating to the latest house number in the most hip-bar in town, I would be mostly cleaning sticky puke. And when you are ordering pizza after a hectic day at work, I am making garam garam phulkas and green veggies. I would happily give up all that you do to be with my child. Because that's how I think. One smile from him is worth giving up all of that. Its worth getting restricted to 'house parties' when you know the little one will doze off on your lap while you are discussing Indian Politics. Really, its worth it. You want to give the best and all that you can to your little one.

I lived the 20s the way I did. I have partied, watched movies, traveled to my hearts delight. Now is the time to make sure the kiddo gets the education he deserves, to make sure he is eating right and sleeping well. I have always wanted a family, and now that its there, my wish is fulfilled. I would gladly take the plunge and have a second one if I could afford to (time, attention and money).

Having said all of the above, and despite being a dotting parent, its essential that you balance your individual personality with that of being a parent. Because a happy parent, bring up a happy child and raises a happy individual. Also, being a parent needs a lot of commitment, take the plunge only if you know you can do it.

P.S. I used to role my eyes whenever a mother would say the sacrifices are worth it when the child smiles. If you are rolling your eyes right now, I will understand. I have been there.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

India and all that goes!

Its been a while that i wanted to blog about this brilliant country I live in. India. However, a discussion on the school friends whatsapp group really pushed me to writing it.

I am not unhappy personally. I love this country. I love that I come from a rich culture and strong heritage. I love the fact that my family and friends are here. I guess I wouldn't like to live in any other country apart from India. The sheer diversity and easy-going pace of the country attracts me and keeps me glued to it. Also, coming from a fauji background the inherent patriotism is another reason.

Having said all of the above, I have serious concerns about the country. My unhappiness, or dissatisfaction stems when I open my eyes and look beyond home. I have complaints as a citizen. The infrastructure sucks. its bad. Really really bad. Monsoons is a nightmare in Mumbai. There are potholes everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even on the so-called newly constructed roads. There is lack of emergency services. After an accident u will die bleeding on the road but no one will come to your rescue. The authorities will argue and bicker about jurisdiction. Even of u get an ambulance, the sheer lack of civic sense and laws will make sure it wont reach the hospital on time. And we have all seen numerable incidents to corroborate these statements. I dont need to tell you how ambulances are treated on road in India.

Talking of Civic sense. I am ashamed of Indians in general. They liter. They spit. They break traffic rules. They are basically ill-mannered. Then again you would think, y should one blame the govt for this. Because of lack of education. Literacy is one thing. Education is another. We lack both of these in our country. We need better schools, better teachers, better curriculum, stricter adherence to schedules etc etc. We need responsible representatives that dont kill children with mid-day meals.

We need Population control. For my reasons and concerns regarding this, pls read the previous blog:

Poverty is a concern yes. I can not say much about the rural sector, but in urban space it is more lack of will to rise than lack of opportunities. Having worked partially with NGOs as a volunteer I know how things move around. I realize I am not supposed to feel guilty to be privileged (thats what the 'well to do' are, right?). Infact, its our taxes that pay for a lot of these people. Not sure if that money is used correctly. There are more NGOs that are doing good work than, any govt. run/affiliated organization in the field of up-liftment of under-priviledged.

If you point at me saying what have I done as a citizen to bring forth change? Here's my list - I pay taxes, I don't litter, I don't riot, I use all govt provided (whatever minimal) amenities with care, I do community service, I am not party to Brain Drain. I don't have time to do much more cause the life here doesn't allow any more time.

Today what I am or what I have made is purely by sheer hard work. There is no govt. supported  infrastructure or financial framework that helped me. I bust my ass everyday to make things work around. All I ask from the govt is better roads, 24hrs water, Safety & Security and better medical/emergency services. Rest we will manage. We have been managing for donkeys years.

But Alas! That's not to be. Everyday new scams, new controversies, debates on voting points. The citizen of the country gets lost in between all of this somewhere.

I have hope, still have hope, that maybe, just maybe, things may get better.

PS. My personal happiness quotient is very high, cause that does not include any govt provided things. It includes family and personal well being which is in optimum condition. (Again! all private players not govt. support there ;))