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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Post card from Darjeeling

I looked out of the bus window. We had arrived after five hours journey. Different shades of green glistened under sunlight. The small wooden cottages behind the lush greenery looked so cozy and inviting. I envied the people who lived so close to nature away from heat and dust of Mumbai. The air was cool and crisp. I wrapped myself with my woolen shawl and got off the bus. I needed to walk, to stretch my limbs. It’s awfully tiring to be travelling in the bus for so long. The scenery was breath-taking and we had passed many tea gardens down the winding road. I made a mental note of visiting those tea gardens later during the day. But first we had to check into a hotel and freshen up. Hotel was closer, just few minutes away but driver had decided to stop for a while.

“Hurry up” said the driver “If you want, you can take a short walk up the hill to see the war memorial, that stands as a reminiscence of the Gurkha martyrs of Darjeeling, who sacrificed their lives for their country in the wars and operations that have taken place since independence." he said, adding, "In 1976, Manish Gupta, the then Deputy Commissioner of Darjeeling, had taken the initiative to construct a War Memorial, to pay homage to the 76 brave sons of Darjeeling who had sacrificed of their life, for the cause of their nation.” explained the driver pointing towards the monument.

We started to walk up the narrow path, and had almost reached the steps leading towards the monument when we were distracted by the train whistle. The toy train came chugging and we stood to watch it roll by, excited like kids even though we saw this train many times, as it kept turning, making several u-turns and passing us from different attitudes of this park, we stood there, stationed at one position, turning our heads in the direction of the train and following it with our gaze.

Some of the other people walked up to the war memorial to get a closer look, but for me train was a novelty and I stood there, leaning against the railings till the train disappeared behind the hills and the whistle faded in the air.

Monday, 18 April 2011

CSAAM April 2011- 'Unsafe World'.

“Don’t ever get married, Maria” said Annie to her sister after her first wedding night, “All men are dogs, a real crazy dogs! They suck the life off you. I feel dirty all over and I have taken bath twice since morning.”

Maria glared at her, letting the words seep in, she had never wanted to get married, not then, for she was quite young. In fact, she had decided long ago that she would never ever get married. But listening to her sister talk about her lawful husband like that seemed so wierd. Were men so violent with their wives too? She had been afraid of men for many years now. Each time, any boy/men had tried to talk to her, her heart would skip a beat, she would feel the heat under her ear-lobes, on her cheeks and a current of chill pass through her bones, she would try to find some ways to escape, making an excuse to walk out, or else shift his attention to some other interesting stuff. She could never take a compliment in her stride, especially not from men; she knew men had only one thought in their mind and that all the conversations would finally lead to sex.

During her school years too, she was a loner and had a very low self esteem, she hated long lunch breaks during which while her school friends laughed and played, she would prefer to sneak down to the nursery section of the school and watch the tiny tots in their activities. Children were real time-pass and they gave her all the pleasure and happiness, she believed that only children’s smiles were innocent and pure; the adult world was too cruel for her to adjust.

Nobody had told her about good/ bad touch when she was barely five years old. With father always in and out of hospitals, mother was too occupied nursing and taking care of the house. “Go out and play, there is too much work to do, you are making too much noise at home, go to the stairway and play out there.” Her mom would scream each time she took out her dolls to play.

So, most of her time she played on the stairway which had long veranda, enough space to run and scream and came home only to eat meals or to sleep, there were four more girls of her age in the same building, with whom she would play and they were her friends. They would play hide-n-seek, or slide down the railings of the stairway or walk down to the building compound to play some out-door games. The building had many men visitors. They were dhobis, watchmen, postmen, plumbers, hawkers, electrician, etc. with whom they often inter-acted. Some of them would offer lollipops to them and then sit with them on the staircase and relate to some expressive fairy tales or songs. The five-years-old never understood that good touch from a bad touch and thought it was the part of the game.

A game that affected their performance at school and they were listed as ‘duffers’ and ignored by teachers who had no patience with them. The teachers punished them for their stupidity and their inability to understand simple explanations during school lessons.

When Marie’s father passed away, they moved away from that neighborhood and migrated to another town. She never went back to meet those friends, never had an opportunity to keep in contact with them. But the fear of strangers clung on in the Meta of her life and subconsciously, she developed the hatred for men.

“All men are like that only” she said to her sister, Annie.

World is unsafe, especially for girls who are little and don’t understand good/bad touch which comes to haunt them later in life as it shapes their life to adjust in the ‘perfect’ world. Read the bloggers’ stories, survivor’s stories and advice from experts who have come together under one umbrella to talk openly during this Child sexual abuse Awareness month.

more resources on Child abuse at
Sexual abuse in India
Enfold Proactive health trust 
Child protection in India
Practical advice to parents
Centre for prevention and healing of sexually abused child

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Wordless Wednesdays

A child understands it naught but participates........ to be in the groove!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

So this 'World Cup' is ours to keep for next four years.

Throughout the day we sat, nail-biting, although there was lots of food in the house, a special meal to suit everybody’s taste but still, nails are tastier in the times of stress.

This was the Day of Judgment, there was question on everybody’d mind - "Who will win the world cup?"

Actually speaking, I don’t understand this game of Cricket and find it a sheer waste of my time, seems so silly to follow every ball around the screen (I mean field). I am always awed by people who get super-excited as they follow the balls’ movements zigzagging its way in different directions after being whacked by a hard wooden bat, the batsmen running up and down between two ends of the stumps, hundreds of spectators announcing the same score, and all this while I am thinking, "What game is this, that keeps the people’s passion so alive that they scream and hoot as though their life depends on that score". Duh!

“I have better things to do” I mumble, tuk-tuking my head at this madness, until the day arrives when the cricket fever is so high that the temperature in my environment rises beyond my ignorance value. I realize that this is neither one of those 1000 odd ODI matches that are playing on TV 365 days a year, nor those IPL matches that people keep betting on.

I am distracted and slightly interested.

This is the most important ‘The World Cup’ match (I am told) and I learn about it only after I see the excitement in everybody’s faces when they talk about that war-like-match between India/Pakistan. Whenever Indians talk about Pakistan, their antenna always shoots upwards into the nether zones, there is some kind of love-hate relationship between these enstranged neighbors which is never going to be resolved. Everybody was talking about this match, so I googled a bit but the real tutorials came from some kids in my building who updated me about it during my evening walks, they educated me on its importance for India, and then there was also TV, Twitter, social media, all breathed cricket who spoke nothing but cricket and my interest had sowed its seed.

I learnt about the passion of cricket in India, when I saw the crowd outside every electronic store. Walking down the streets of Bandra, saw hundreds of people crowded around a store. "What can the matter be?" I wondered as I approached to investigate. I discovered that all were glued to the TV in the store watching a cricket match. "Oh dear!!! What a craze!!!"

On the day of ‘The World cup match’ my friends came over. (This was one more excuse to spend the Saturdays with my friends) We chatted, we played cards and watched the match munching on snacks and drinks. My cousins were in contact with me on Blackberry and their conversation/ comments added zing to our party. At regular intervals they forwarded the messages which I would share with my friends at home. This was an added advantage as a stress buster (not for me, but for my friends).

The current Cricket World Cup situation  between India versus Sri Lanka is this.... India (Ram) married World Cup (Sita) in 1983 and in 1996 SriLanka (Raavan) took away Sita (WoldCup). Now after 14 years of Vanvaas, they meet again and you know the results..! One of the forwards posted on my BB
But the stress was there throughout the game, my friend who is a cricket fan didn’t want to see the match till it was ‘safe to watch’, she wanted the game to end before the 50-overs, saying - "playing till the last ball is very stressful". She cursed the players who got out and cheered the ones who scored well. “Hit four! Hit four!” she kept scolding the cricketers, showing her fist to the TV whenever there was no score. When the wickets fell, she covered her face with regrets.

After eight hours of viewing this match, finally there was ‘The Six-er’ a brownie point that spelled ‘Victory’. There was hugging sessions in my room, with my friends laughing loudly, congratulating each other. We watched, we celebrated with billions of images with equal euphoria and merriment.

We decided that it would be fun to go to Carter road for the celebration, we dressed up to go to a coffee shop by the sea-shore and was surprised to see that there was a midnight party in every lane, with sweetest traffic jam and the processions of dancers and singers, all waving India flag, screaming and hooting till their throat crackled. There were small children, old people, young and middle-age, all came out of their homes to be on the streets, to greet each other, to see and to be seen.

Everybody had Indian flag to wave showing their National pride in their victory

All the people were seen sitting on the bonnet, n the roof and on their car windows with their body protuding out from the window (there were some serious accidents too I learnt abour it later)

Some people were quite creative, painted their faces and body to show their happiness.Those people expert in body-painting had world cup painted on their backs, they drove through lanes of Bandra on a scooty, congratulating each other.

This was one big street party and this was day they didn't complain of being stuck in a traffic jam

Yes I was glad that my interest had been aroused and I understood what this excitement was all about. I celebrated the victory with the cup of vanilla crush........ Jai Ho!!

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