Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Domestic Violence and Stockholm Syndrome

Read this article the other day which says that victims of domestic violence show similar traits of victims of Stockholm syndrome.

Stockholm Syndrome is recognised as a psychological phenomenon whereby hostages identify and ally with their captors. (The 6 hostages of a bank robbery in Stockholm identified with the cause and later raised funds in support of their captors, hence the name.)

Excerpt from another article on the net-(
Some theorists have tried to give light to the emergence of these paradoxical bonds between victim and aggressor, mainly appealing to affective or emotional cues developed in the context of the traumatic environment.
Dutton and Painter (1981) have depicted a scenario in which two factors, the power imbalance and the intermittent good-bad treatment, generate in the battered woman a traumatic bonding that ties her with the aggressor through behaviours of docility.
According to Dutton et al., the abuse creates and maintains a dynamics of dependence in the couple due to its asymmetric effect over the power balance, being the traumatic bonding produced by the alternation of reinforcement and punishment.

Domestic Violence and Indian Law: definition
(a) harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse
(b) harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security;
or(c) has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.

Types of abuse:
(i) "physical abuse" means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force;
(ii) "sexual abuse" includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman;
(iii) "verbal and emotional abuse" includes-(a) insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule specially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and(b) repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.
(iv) "economic abuse" includes-(a) deprivation of all or any economic or financial (b) disposal of household effects (c) prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities

The psychological reasons given for victims developing Stockholm syndrome are-
1. A threat to their physical or psychological survival
2. An inability to escape
3. Acts of small kindness from the captor (letting the captive live is enough)
4. Only the captor's point of view, and no one else's, is seen and experienced

Given that, a victim of domestic violence may well have these very reasons to start overlooking the negative and supporting the positive sides of the abuser. Often the victim is thankful for the apologies that the abuser comes up with after a spate of violence. The victim is usually without a support system. The fear is too great.
  • An abuser usually passes through this stage of abusing and then comes a stage of self pity and apology. The abuser usually apologises and promises romantic sunsets after he has done his job battering his partner. (I am not sexist and use "he/him" only because it is more common that the abuser is the husband)
  • The abuser usually threatens with self annihilation or suicide as a means of holding on to the abused. It as also a form of abuse by the way.
  • An abuser usually has a violent past or an abusive parent. A deep seated wound in the mind is usually cause for children to become bullies and then to abusers in adulthood.
  • Any kind of abuse- Physical, Verbal, Psychological, Emotional, Sexual, Economical- is a means of gaining power of another human being. Abusers suffer from extensive LOW SELF ESTEEM. That is why the need to control someone else.
  • Another classic sign- an abuser will BLAME EVERYONE but himself. The partner was torturing, the friends are against him, the whole world is conspiring against him, but it is NEVER HIS FAULT.

Countless women live with the very real threat of abuse and violence in their surrounding environment every day. The feeling of guilt hounds the victim either way, whether it is the shame of accepting that ones partner abuses him/her, or the guilt of having complained. Too many women are still not financially capable of maintaining their course of action. Even if they are, and many many women are otherwise succesful professionals, they stay in abusive relationships for years... decades. It takes a different kind of strength to stand up for your rights. It takes a different state of mind to fight. It takes the capability to be lonely, blamed, victimised in a different way, to say- ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. STOP ABUSING ME.

Some have already done it. We need more women like that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Israel-India- The link goes beyond terrorism

Here is an interesting article from the NY Times.

An excerpt:
"The affinity of which both men spoke extends well beyond the shared experience of being the target of Islamist terrorism, or the resulting military and security ties between India and Israel. The softer tissue of human experience — culture, religion, values — also binds Indians and Jews.
“The best way to explain it is that I was telling my daughter, ‘If you have to marry outside India, marry a Jew,’ ” said Shoba Narayan, a writer in Bangalore who has visited Israel with her husband, an investment banker. “The cultures are so similar — the commitment to education, the ability to delay gratification, hard work, the guilt, the fatalism. And I think this is because we are both old cultures.”
Indeed, a Jewish community known as the Bene Israel has lived in India for more than 2,400 years, fully tolerated by the surrounding Hindu and Sikh populations. Yet in its first decades after independence, India was also a frequent critic of Zionism and at least a partial ally of the Soviet Union.
With the end of the cold war, and of a reliable flow of Russian weapons and spare parts, India turned to Israel as a supplier of arms and military expertise, said Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Israel now sells more than $1 billion in arms annually to India, including the Falcon early-warning system and sea-to-air missiles.
In a less obvious way, too, soldiers have forged ties. About 30,000 Israelis visit India each year, many of them on lengthy vacations after having finished their army service. They, in turn, have brought back to Israel the food, fabric, music and mysticism of India, particularly its Hindus.
The popular Israeli band Sheva has incorporated Indian instruments and chordal structures into its music.
Yoga classes proliferate in Israel. Hindu food, with its emphasis on vegetarian dishes, has been easily adapted for kosher cuisine. An annual festival called Boombamela celebrates all things Indian, if with a somewhat naïve, New Age tilt.
For American Jews of the baby boom generation, the fascination with India began with spiritual searches during the 1960s. Over time, Buddhist meditation became a staple of the Jewish renewal movement and a book by Rodger Kamenetz, “The Jew in the Lotus,” a revered text. By the past decade, enough Jews were practicing some Buddhism to give birth to a new proper noun: Jew-Bu.
Even more recently, the term “Hinjew” has emerged. It does not reflect a religious amalgamation, which would be nearly impossible given Hindu polytheism, as much as it does the cultural common ground of American Jews and Indian Americans who have grown up and gone to school together."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let Me Stop

I run without destination
Chasing shadows, Ive fought my will
The monsters close in if I stop
So here I am- running still...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kolkata safe for women drivers??

Time: 10.30 am
Place: Salt Lake Sector 3, near Stadium
Bus No: WB 02 Y 1928

The road is itself bad, horrendous. Anyone travelling that route will know your car is at a risk if you dont go at 20 kmph. I was coming from byepass road toward Salt Lake, travelling to office near PNB. The bus was one of those private buses ferrying people to office in Sector 5.

As I was negotiating the potholes, I was at the extreme right of the road, almost touching the divider but for a few inches. I saw the bus hurtling down from behind me, and slowly inching right, directly towards my car. I honked with all my might, braked, stopped. the bus simply came and hit my passenger door.

Of course I was not at fault. And hence, of course, I had to do something about it. My passenger door was anyway quashed. But I wanted to take the driver to the police. I drove right in front of the bus, in the middle of the road, the bus was trying to swerve and flee... and stopped. There was enough space on both sides for traffic to cross, I had made sure of that. I got down and approached the driver. Even then I could see men hanging their heads out of the window shouting at me to move. Then it started.

The men ranged from my age- early 30-s to late 50-s. They surrounded me, first 5 then 10 then slowly maybe 25... surrounded me and started shouting, abusing, just short of touching. I said call the police, I want this sloved. The moment I said police, they started banging on my car. I was inside the car then having taken down the number of the bus. They started hitting my car on all sides, screaming at me to move. They started pushing my car. A mob of grown educated well dressed professionals... they were getting late for work.

I had a camera phone but I did not take photos. I wish I had taken the photos of the screaming mob and posted them everywhere so that employers would see them, families would see them. Men, employees, surrounding a lone woman in a car and abusing her, trying to intimidate her into moving away. But then maybe they would have taken and broken it anyway.

This is what men in Kolkata do. Nincompoos, good for nothing backboneless saviours of society.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shishu Sadan, Thakurpukur

Priyanka is a student of Class 9. She writes- poems and short stories. Her poems are well thought out protests against social ills, against smoking, or a call to youngsters to rise and serve their country. Her stories are memorable, full of ghosts and villains and innocent girls. She is bright for her age. She sings a little, dances a little. She could have a bright future, maybe graduate with honours if she tried, and study further and have a good career of her choice. She has a career of choice. She wants to be a nurse. She will complete her 10th and go for nurse's training. Why, you ask? Priyanka is an inmate of Shishu Sadan, an orphanage, that she was sent to when she was 5, by her mother. Her mother is the only earning member of a family of four and could not afford to keep her at home.

In Thakurpukur, near the Cancer hospital, tucked away is this home for needy girls. With an inmate count presently of about 100 girls, between 5 and 18 years of age, it gives shelter to girls who have lost either or both parents, or are too poor to be sustained by their family.The girls go to school in nearby areas, education is in Bengali board. They are sent here by relatives or aquaintances and probably get the childhood here that they would have otherwise lost. They study, play, sing and dance, cook and do some gardening too.

The orphanage is not in very pristine condition though. The main rooms are fine, though like very old homes without maintainance, they have paint peeling off the walls showing plaster, furniture a mix of metal, wood and plastic. There is a 'teacher in charge', a lady in her 50-s who, the girls told me, takes good care of them, much like a mother. The caretaker is a man of 45-ish, and seemed to me to be kind and simple, with the wellbeing of the girls as his primary concern. Apart from that I did not get the necessity of the presence of the couple of men that I saw, one with half open shirt and bad manners, the other most probably the account keeper.

The living area of the girls have no separate gate or boundary but can be walked to easily from the reception rooms. The bedroom consisted of 2 attached sheds, with open asbestos covers. It would be open to climate influences, both in winter and summer. The bedroom seemed at that time to be quite unkempt and unmanaged, beds all falling on each other, floor unswept, untidy to my somewhat finicky eyes. Maybe I was expecting something unrealistic.But the girls looked happy. They study and learn to sing and dance and some art, when they get some volunteer teachers, the orphanage cant afford to get paid teachers. They have a cook who they help in teams to prepare all meals. That is how they learn to cook. They have to leave when they complete their 10th standard. Some of them become nurses, others go back home and I never really got to know what happens to them. I did not hear of even one girl continuing studies. They are too poor to afford it.

It is a great thing that these girls are getting a chance at life. They are not spending their childhood working i people homes as maids, getting abused, or cooking in tiny rooms with a dozen siblings to take care of. They are normal, leading normal childhoods. I just wish something could be done that they have a normal adolescence and normal adulthood, continue studies till a level, and work in respectable professions which gives them financial independence. Only that could pull them and their whole families out of the muck that is Indian poverty.

Shishu Sadan
Save the Children Trust
Near Cancer Hospital, Thakurpukur
To contact- please write to me

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fast Track Novels to Ghajini

There is an article in a newspaper about writers churning out novels in a month. And they going on to become best sellers. I mean, what am I. Verbally challenged? Or brain dead. I cant even think of a decent story-line for a short story!!! When I start writing, I usually make it to 500 odd words. And then I get bored, or hit a wall, or both. I need inspiration, people. Lend me some inspiration.

Like, you know, Ghajini or something. Amir Khan went on record saying that Ghajini is not a remake of Memento. Its a true inspired piece, as the director heard about the concept of Memento and then wrote the whole story without watching the film. Then after finishing the story he watched the original and saw it was quite different. Whatever, who cares. How many of us have watched Memento anyway. And of those who have watched, how many have understood. And those who have, how many would like to believe it could be remade in Hindi, or any other language, unless its a frame by frame copy.

But hey, does the most low profile Khan look hot in the movie. HELL, YEAH! The first few seconds of the promo, I mistook him for the other Khan, no, not Shahrukh-much-ado-about-sixpack-Khan, but Salman-o-o-jaane-jaana-shirtless-Khan. Watch it to believe it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Smile Beloved City

Everytime I am glad to leave Kolkata, but every single time, boy! am I gladder to get back.
The trip to Chennai was good, in retrospect. It left me alone to take care of a one year old, the housework, the office work... I would challenge anyone to do all three together (without any help whatsoever) with any amount of success. The weekend was good, the trip to Mahabalipuram was relaxed in the resort, two days of bliss and indulgence. It rained continuously for ten days, in Chennai... yes, you heard me right. But the flat is almost on the beach and that and the cheese chilli chips with cold coffee at the shack made up for much of it. No mall culture in Chennai, I wonder what they do on weekends, all head to the beach? I missed Nalli's, maybe next time.
Power was off at least two hours each day, I almost missed my flight home because of the traffic, caught it only because it was 3 hours late!!!
All in all, Im glad to be back to my city, however hot, crowded and dirty.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pujo 2008

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But oh my friends and ah my foes
It gives an amazing light.

Driving down the streets of Kolkata, my city, during Durga Puja is an Experience.

The only time I felt anything close to it was when I visited Goa during Christmas. But its not comparable. For one, there are no pandals at every street corner, microphones, muted now, below 65 decibels... the lights seem brighter, the roads cleaner, the people truly truly happy. Smiles everywhere... not quite HO HO HO but no one shouts at you if your car stalls at a green signal, or you make a wrong turn on the road!!! Thats saying something about Kolkata.

Today Im turning nostalgic. This is a Puja, after years and years, when I am all alone, in office, writing this. I should be working, but really, seeing the people outside, listening to the Saptami anjali over the misrophone... you would not want to work either.

School days. Those were the days when Pujo meant something, or Something. Freedom, maybe, or just the chance to show off yourself outside of your school uniform to your pals. Waiting at Anandamela at Gariahat and meeting your group/s, one for each day. Morning... never evening. I wasnt allowed out in the evenings. So much for freedom. Ive never been too much a fan of pandal hopping, dislike it actually, I get claustrophobic in crowds, not the cliche, the medical condition. But in your 10th standard, when you know its yuor last year sitting in class with your 'group' you want to hold on to your childhood even in your rush to grow up. And then, when you see someone has not turned up, the disappointment... whats the buggering use!!! Forced smiles, not even trying to enjoy. No wonder I wasnt called to that group the next year!!!
College days I do not remember, my friends were too far scattered. Maybe I met them, maybe I didnt. Its a blur.

Then going away. Manipal, TAPMI, trying hard to live up to parents expectations and get an MBA. And like a punishment, my accident, on Shashti day. 4th October. 2001. On Ashtami I attended the college Puja, sans teeth, sans smile, sans feeling. But in a Sari! Had to keep up the pretence. I hadnt lost faith in the Mother. Still havent. In fact, probably its strengthened with time. It didnt need to, just did.

Then working in an alien city, 2003, which would become home for many years. In Bangalore, at that time, Durga Puja passed almost unnoticed. There were two Pujas and the one closer home was at Ulsoor. Cookme and La Zeez posters all around, women in red bordered sari, men in crisp dhotis. But the joy was not fake, the dhakis made your heart beat in rhythm just like home. Like a tiny island of Koklata in the heart of Bangalore. Not quite like the US/UK puja-s where its mostly a show of muslin and diamonds. And the company, my not-yet-husband-cum-roomie, its still fun with him, but at that time, the fear would not be there. It used to be happiness without any hangups. Not the only kind, mind you, but the best kind.

And then coming back to my city. 2006. Pujo meant friends again, and the disillusionment. Its not like school anymore. They want to go to China Town and drink. They want to go to Byepass and get stoned. They want anything but to stand at Gariahat and walk past Lake. There were tears again, I remember, at home. And screams that this is the worst Pujo of my life. But it wasnt all that bad on Shoshti. I lost some, I gained some. Like life.

Next pujo my daughter was 3 months old. A late night visit to Maddox square meant she caught a cold which lasted 2 weeks. The heartache. That year my little one was all that mattered. Even with some more tears, and the tiredness, and the torn magazines... she was all that meant anything anymore. That is why the faith never leaves, because like a guardian angel looking over me, Ma never completely left me out in the open.

And now, 2008... Ive never been happier. My child went with me to the pandal yesterday. She wanted to touch the idol. She said "HAUUM" to the lion, and "AATI" to the Elephant God. She danced to the dhaki-s beats. She made me forget there can be anything else in life worth living for.

Fear is not gone. But Im not letting it win today. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Booker coming to India this year again?

The two shortlisted Indian authors, Amitava Ghosh for Sea of Poppies and Aravind Adiga for The White Tiger. I have not yet read the other three shortlisted novels but among the two I would place my bet fair and square on Adiga.
Sea of Poppies is an epic, its huge. But as works of that size go, it rambles on and on at times, there are whole pages of seemingly useless descriptions. If I skip one or two pages in between I dont feel I have missed a lot, the thread remains quite unbroken. There are too many characters which is always dangerous, but for a writer like Ghosh it is hardly so. He weaves their story together with mastery, bringing them from all parts of East India, USA, and England, in the first part (Land), as they converge slowly but surely by the time they reach 'Sea'. Given the topicality of the novel, the language is sometimes difficult even for an Indian to decipher, for a person not used to Hindi it would be tough.
In contrast The White Tiger is taut. It jumps from page to page, very easy to read, and yet you know that the language is so simple because Adiga wanted it to be simple. The narrator-protagonist is after all a semi literate writing in English to the Chinese Premier. Dark humour at its best, this novel works most because it shows the seedy underbelly of India. The villages are not verdant greens, the cities do not say India Shining. Men die of tuberculosis in unmanned hospitals, politicians are corrupt to the core, land owners are sharks, rickshaw pullers and tea shop workers are skeletons, society is rotten. Bangalore is a city of opportunity but only for the very very sly. A business blossoms only if you keep the police palms oiled. One could go on and on. The effect of this book stayed with me for days. Never read anything like this before.
I recommend this to everyone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back home

After a long hiatus Im back. After months of madness Im back. A lazy afternoon after days and days... and how good it is to get back to my old friend the blog. Ive been missing all those whose blogs I visit, all those who prove that good writing is not just limited to the lucky few in print. And Ive been missing them reading what I have to say... which always surprises me!!! So hey, lets get it rolling again.
With a little poem...
Tomorrow is a new dawn, you say
That the sun shines every day
But when you come to me you bring the light
And my sun shines brightly through the night.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Not a compulsive confessor

So is this my diary? No it aint. And am I a compulsive confessor? Nope. So I cant write about a lot of things here. So I cant write those things which might get me eye balls. Or for that matter a book deal. I started writing because my journal seemed too crowded with my poems. I started writing because I wanted some people to read my thoughts. But they dont, and well, what else is there to do but just to ramble on. *sigh* Hoping that someday... someday...

Are there days like this, when there is an equal amount of joy and sadness in you? When you know that you are just a dreams breadth away from your perfect future. The ingredients are all there, but you just messed up the timings so bad, that its better not to cook at all? You just need to hold out your hand and ask... but you know that asking will cost a lot from a lot of people. So you dont. You just smile at the game fate has played on you.

But Ive been lucky in so many ways. Ive had so much love. Im a bitch and still people love me. Its amazing when I think of it sometimes. I keep fearing everyone will leave and go one fine day when they realise how unbearably selfish and snobbish I am. But more and more, I see friends coming back to me. Depending on me. And surprise of surprises, saying nice things about me... even behind my back!!!

Yes Ive been lucky. Im lucky to be alive. 8 years back, a different seat in a bus would have smashed me to smithereens. The bus crashed... my family and I were on the last row. Thing is, I was not at the back at first. I was just beside the driver. My dad called me from there to sit with them. When it was over, and we were standing on the road, bleeding, dazed... we realised that the seat was not there at all. It had been crushed to a pulp. There was a man sitting there after I had left the seat. Was.

I survived though. Sans a few teeth, and a crushed lower lip, which had to be surgically set right again. But I had use of my limbs and brain. I could not eat for months and my facial reconstruction took almost a year to get back to almost normal, but I have only a scar and the dentures to show for it. It was harrowing seeing my family suffer. My dad, bleeding profusely from surface wounds, yet, calmly, coolly getting our luggage down, arranging for alternative transport to the nearest hospital. My sister, with a gaping wound just below her eye. "Can you see, can you see" my mother kept asking her. And my mother, who wasnt hurt physically, but who had to see all three of her closest people in that state. My mother, who suggested we go to KMC and not to Suratkhal hospital, as we would get better treatment there. She may well have saved my face that day.

At the time when I was visiting my plastic surgeon every monday, he used to be based in the burns yard of KMC (Kasturba Medical College Hospital, I was studying in TAPMI,Manipal). The sights I encountered there made me forget my plight. In fact mine seemed no plight at all.

Here is something I wrote in the hospital itself.

I know what pain is

For I have seen them suffer-

Little girls, their tiny hands bound in white.

Boys half my size, in stretchers, covered to the neck.

Ive heard them scream

Ive heard them wail

Ive heard their cries.

I know what pain is

Not because I have felt it,

But because I have seen them suffer.

(October 2000)

to be continued...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I tried to feel lonely this morning

Tried to be angry

But everything just washed away in a smile.

In my heart... Peace.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I feel the blood flow in your veins as I touch your skin,
The scars on your arm and in my heart
Glow softly in the broken twilight-suns ray;
Slowly ten years of separation just melts away.

A tear joins the sweat coursing down your face,
I catch it on my tongue like I would a rain drop.
My tears mingled with yours midflight and fell,
Your eyes convey what your lips wont tell.

I smile as I see you cry, holding my hand,
I want to hold on to these hours.
Tomorrow our worlds may be torn apart ,
But tonight is ours... just ours.

The words you said still ring in my ears,
Today you are gone again, like you always go
The rain falls on me now, like a memory,
And I know you will always come back to me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

State of health care in India

Indian health care features in the latest issue of TIME magazine. Its tough to read through it without being angry and frustrated.,8599,1736516,00.html

I live in Kolkata and my sister is a doctor. I keep hearing horror stories from her about our state hospitals. Power cuts are common in the state hospitals rendernig whatever equipment is available, useless. Cleanliness is difficult, true, given the huge rush of patients, but dogs and cats under beds???!!! Whenever something happens to a patient there are doctors being beaten up and blamed. What most dont realise that in the "system" the doctors are also victims.

And we compare ourselves with China? The next global superpower? With a population that cant afford basic healthcare, wont we be too sick to work our way up the ladder to that dream?

Added to that is the mentality of our population. Women are still denied basic care, here, in the heart of the city. Our house cleaners daughter is approx 5 months pregnant (at 16, so much for our govt policies, she married last year on her own). Her inlaws are yet to get an ultra sound done. They were reluctant to take her to the hospital at all, was forced by people like us. My baby's ayah is 24. Her sons are 7 and 6 yrs old. Recently her brother got married. Age of the bride- 15 yrs. This is Kolkata, not some out of the way village. In anything, any situation, women are always the first and the most to suffer.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Like drops of acid on my skin
Hatred drips and slides
Eating into the flesh, scorching my bones.
I can see as they land, poisoned arrow tips
Zipping through the emptiness between us
I watch wide-eyed as they pierce into my heart.

Nothing remains, nothing
Not even vaccum now
The past recedes farther
The present caustic
And the future black, black like empty space.

You will leave, all of you
Go on with your little lives
With your little joys and little sorrows
I remain clutching desperately
Like a beggar to her only bowl
Laugh at the irony if you find that empty
Or my body covered in soot and spit.

I am this and nothing more
To some, worse than a whore
They come and they go, They will not stay
They see my eyes and shrink away
I stand here, like a roadside flower
Any footfall makes me cower
Im afraid, afraid of everything
Of what tomorrow will bring
Im scared of the day, tired of the night
Ive lost all energy to fight
Tears of blood flow like a river
No one near me, I stand and shiver
The little angels of hope are gone
Leaving me here, on my own
I want the raindrops to wash my fears
But only this acid into me tears
I stay alive burning with this fever
As my soul stands and watches me wither.

(The poem is not even. 1st para 6 lines, 2nd 5 lines, 3rd 7 lines, total 18, and the second part has 18, and rhymes as opposed to the first part. Hatred is like that, I suppose.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kolkata loves a good bandh

For all those who braved the heat to go to Eden Gardens to cheer the Knights, Mondays bandh would have sounded like music! It did to me. Sunday afternoon, I sweated and sat through a quite boring match in an extraordinary stadium with 75 thousand people. Monday I slept off the utter tiredness!
So did most of the city, it seems.

Yesterdays Bandh, like all Bandhs was mostly a success. One can give any number of reasons to stay indoors. I work in Salt Lake and travel 25 kms one way to get there. No, not the IT sector. I pass through Park Circus, the hot bed of most agitations in the city. So thats my excuse... well, officially. Oh I luurve to spend the monday lolling around, watching the odd movie, catching up on my reading as the nanny looks after my little girl. Monday holidays are more special. Delicious.
Mamata Didi, god bless her, knows that!

Not to say I dont curse the Bandh. Kolkata's image and all that s***t, you know. Just when the world is waking up to the infinite possibilities the state can offer... (eg- umm, uhh, Nandigram, Singur)... I spend hours trying to talk my colleagues and clients out of Kolkata-bashing... their favorite past time nowadays, especially the non resident Bangalis, I convince them finally that work culture has changed, (meaning Kolkatans are now working)... and WHAM, another bandh gets called next Monday. YUMM!

Think about it. The world is over populated and over polluted. The streets around all cities in the globe are difficult to drive through and impossible to breathe in. But go out on a bandh day in this city of joy for a sanguine walk on yon of grass around the street corner. Breathe in fresh smoke-free air for a change.
Wait... you can even hear some birds chirruping. How? The autos have a holiday, so no ear splitting ratatata-s.
And what about some mutton curry for lunch, guilt free that you are not wasting a Sunday, rotting in the kitchen when you can watch reruns of F.R.I.E.N.D.S on Zee Cafe!
And the luxury of a stroll to get an ice cream just when the parlor is opening up at 6 pm.

Oh man! How Kolkata hates Bandh callers... and how Kolkata loves a Bandh!

Monday, April 7, 2008

First time Im doing this tag thing... takes so much time, Im really jobless it seems...

1. Last movie you saw in a theater: tough one, considering Ive not been to a cinema hall in , like, ages... The Departed, I think.

2. What book are you reading: Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul. I just finished the last part of the Buddha series by Osamu Tezuka.

3.Favourite board game:None, I hate board games, there are better things to do at home.

4.Favourite magazine:One??? I love Outlook Traveller, Vogue, Marie Claire, National Geographic. Occassionally I read Readers Digest but its not the same anymore.

5.Favourite smells: Anything but poo. Apart from my baby's poo, thats ok!!! :)) Ok I love baking cakes and oranges, Cinthol soap and Ponds talk, Christian Dior's 'Poison' and Chanels 'No 5', Brut and Tabac, stale cigarette smoke mixed with coffee, and some smells Im blushing to think about... so I better not say them.

6.Favourite sounds: my baby's laughter, some voices and laughter

7. Worst feeling in the world: that this is all there is.

8.What is the first thing you think when you wake: depends on the dream I wake up from.

9.Favourite fast food place:dont do fast food.

10.Future child's name: naah, not good at this.

11.Finish this statement "If i had a lot of money i would" stack it all up in my safe and open it every time Im down, and feel good about myself.

12.Do you drive fast? - Yeah baby yeah!

13.Do you sleep with a stuffed animal- hee hee... what kind of stuffed animal do you mean.

14.Storms cool or crazy? - Luurve storms, especially if Im out and stuck in one, and super especially if Im driving through one.

15.What was your first cars? - My first carS???

16.Favourite drink- Long island ice tea, not had one since pregnancy... its been almost 2 years, boo hoo.

17.Finish the statement "If i had the time I would"- yeah! like Im too busy saving the world right now.

18.Do you eat the stems on broccoli? - Broccoli? Whazzat???

19.If you could dye your hair any colour, what would be your choice? Red, ma-a-n... what else.

20.Name all the different cities/town you have lived in.- home town calcutta, bangalore, chennai, pune, manipal/ mangalore. Will two days living count? Then mumbai, delhi also. Oh Im so well travelled!

21.Favourite sports to watch. - Hate sports when Im not playing. And I play only one sport. ;)

22.One nice thing about the person who sent this to you. - She wastes my time. She has too much of it, my wela sister.

23.What's under your bed?- I dont dare to look.

24.Would you like to be born as yourself again? - Yeah, and live as myself with the same people around me, with all the knowledge of this life... so I can try the things I know I missed out on.

25. Morning person or Night Owl? - Neither. Twilight is my Zone.

26.Over easy or sunny side up? - None, only hatched birds.

27.Favourite place to relax - At this time in life, my office... I even get to sleep there for an hour at times, without any thought of baby waking up or husband tantrum or loves lost and found et al.

28.Favourite pie - with chicken slivers and mozarella and pineapple and olives... Or apple with vanilla ice cream... Im hungry.

29.Favourite ice cream flavour. - Chocolate and black currant. And sometimes plain vanilla with hot chocolate sauce.

30.Of all the people you tagged this to, who is most probable to respond first.- Naah, I dont take after my sister... Im doing this and thats it.

Ordinary poem

I am an ordinary girl with an ordinary life
My ordinary day leads to an ordinary night
I work, I play, I eat, I drink
Life ebbs and flows, I rise and sink
I trudge along much travelled streets
Of roadside flowers Im but the weeds.
One day Ill lay myself to rest
Then, of me let just this be said
She was ordinary in all the above
But she had an extraordinary love.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The world we are living in...

She walked off this morning.

Yesterday, when I found her at about 8 am, she looked as if she was almost gone... trying to drink water from the open nullah that she could not reach. I had heard her crying, the low rhythmic half 'meaow', thats probably all she could let out, after 24 hours of no food and water.

This is how I found her. Hearing what seemed like a childs groan, continuous, every few seconds, I stepped out to the verandah. The 'meshomoshai' from accross the street was asking a young sweeper to "get a rope and drag it somewhere else", and the sweeper wouldnt... he was too afraid it would bite. "It" turned out to be a full grown cat, a known thief from careless open kitchens in the area.

I could just see her sitting next to our apartment garage gate. As I tried to understand what was happening 'mashima' informed me that someone, or maybe a car, had hit her on the hind legs. Now she cant move much, only drag herself a few inches. "She had dragged herself inside your apartment complex yesterday afternoon to get some shade... now she is trying to drink from the nullah"

All they could talk about was what the stink would be like when she died... "the carcass rots real fast in the heat"... yeah, the heat, which made her so thristy that she dragged herself out to drink from a nullah she could not reach... crying for water. They just waited for her to die, thats ok, but what does it take to give a dying animal some water? A dish? Some stairs to climb?

One whole day they all saw her, they heard her cry. One whole scalding boiling searing hot day. And they did not give her a dish of water.

There are lots of children in the area. Tomorrows leaders. Torch bearers of humanity. My only thought was, how do I protect her from them. All the veterenary services were off for the day, it being a Sunday. I had to wait till Monday morning.

With a little milk and some rice, she could already sit up straight. With a Dettol wash- which she took silently, her pleading eyes on my face- she lost the smell which came from sitting on ones own excrement for a day. By evening she had moved to a corner in the wall, almost hiding from the world, and I was hopeful.

This morning I could not find her.

Desperate, heart in my mouth, I skirted the building... and there she was, hidden in the undergrowth of some small trees inside the complex itself. The baby food I was carrying worked, she raised herself and moved towards me. I say 'moved' because she could not walk, nor limp even. She was still dragging her hind legs, but wonder of wonders, she was trying to place them on the ground... she succeeded with one, the other was still too painful.

A friend had advised human pain killers in very small doses. I had not given her any yesterday night, but this morning I mixed it in the baby formula. Probably she would try to get her own food till I got back in the night.

Yesterday they waited for her to die.

She walked off this morning.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Believe it or not

An "about me" declaration from a dude on a networking site. Its copy-pasted exactly as-is.

My Heart is like a VIOLINE......
if you strike wrong note,In a wrong string...
It will make noise,And will really irritate you...
But if you strike a beautifulnote,On the right string with loveand feel...
You will find the Music...
Which you were seeking andmissing in your Life.......
I am like WIND...
No one can hold me,No one can keep me beside.
I follow the path of my will,And my will is a fervent followerof Dreams.
I care for no boundaries,I browse through meadows and dirts Right and Wrong, Vile and Virtue,Never bothers me at all...
I do carry the essence andfragrance of all,Whatever comes in my Way...
I may flow through your mind andHeart,Distracting your thoughts and disturbing your feelings...
If u d'nt want me In...Close the entrance and windows ofyour mind and heart.....

Friday, February 22, 2008

Slaves to love

Are we such slaves to our need for love? All of us? Why do I see such strong intelligent women around me fall prey to this disease. All around me. They stay in abusive relationships, they take all kinds of rubbish, they go to such extents just to please someone, just to hear the words, I love you, or not even that. To feel needed.

Why is it so? Today we have all the necessities to build and to live a life self sufficient. And yet we need depend and be depended upon. Its not a financial need, its not security any more. Is it our motherhood instincts that prompt us into these things. Poor guy, he needs me, he needs my help, he can change only if I am with him... and so starts the spiral down to hell.

They use us, dont they. When they have the need for us, physical, psychological, spiritual, support or just friendship, they use us. Then they are there to wipe our tears, not a drop is shed, when they are all over us. They are there to hold us and to make us feel needed. But when they have gotten over that phase, then starts the mental break down. Cry them a river, they wont turn to you. They wont ask you even when you say you are down. They will cover the guilt by taking you out once in a while and buying you stuff, and there are good phases when you think nothing can be better than this. You go back to where you started, before you built all the defenses around you. And then the cut comes again. Isnt it familiar? Are they all like that?

I have seen women become progressively depressed with the situation. Sometimes they break the relationship. They walk off, after giving chance after chance for him to change. They are the wise ones, they are the lucky ones. The ones who cling on, they are in for trouble. What do they do, when they know they can get out of it, and yet things are out of hand. They try to send messages. Usually starting with harmless ones, tears, screams, bouts of madness... just to get the word across. Then it becomes a dangerous game. Throwing the glass at the wall to using the glass against her self. "I will hurt myself if you dont listen to me... I will do something to myself if you keep acting like an ass". All a game, a very very cruel dangerous game... a mind numbing painful game. They get used to that too.

I have read somewhere that a woman takes shit till she can take. Which means that we all have our threshholds.
One of my friends had to end up in hospital before she started divorce proceedings.
Another friend broke her engagement because he had already started abusing her and her family on the phone after drinking bouts.
Another acquaintance just left because of the loneliness, with children and a never-present husband. She did it with the support of another man... who she is in love with, but wait till they clock some time together.
Yet another took a bottle full of sleeping pills... and survived. She went back to him.
Another hanged herself with her husband and son in the adjacent room.
None an exaggeration. All true.

Have you heard of the woman who tried the way of suicide multiple times, always surviving? Pills one time, slashed wrists one time, jumping off stairs another... never good enough to kill her, all messages, all calls for help, for attention in a world that did not care. She was Diana... a princess, a beauty, an icon. And yet...

That is not to say men dont go through anything. To be fair to them, I have heard of many a man being hounded by women with issues. It starts with small jealousies... but men can get out of it easier. They dont have esteem issues like women have. They are not needy or clingy like us. Some amount of guilt may make them stick around for some time, but they flee soon enough. Most do, at least. For those who cant, welcome to the club.

Is it any use saying we need to change. Our basic natures wont change. We will not learn. We make the same mistakes again and again. Our needs wont change. Our desire to be desired wont change. We have to be mothers to the poor men in our lives. We have to stay around no matter what they say, no matter what they do. When they run away, we wait, patiently, silently... for the time when they will need us once more and come running back, tongues out, tails wagging.

Monday, February 18, 2008

30 Things To Do before 30.

1. Learn to drive a car- check.
2. Own a car- half check.
3. Own my house- Dream on.
4. Marry- check.
5. Have my first child- check.
6. Settle down in a job- check.
7. Wear a boot and stilletos- check.
8. Get a business suit- check.
9. Know what true love feels like- check.
10. Rearrange my life, list all birthdays anniversaries and names, make everything work like clockwork- no comment.
11. Finish my MA in English- I can only say I started 3 years back.
12. NGO work- I tried for sometime, but its not a "check" yet.
13. Start my novel- Yeah, right!!!
14. Read all the books I have bought over the years- No time.
15. Become a culture vulture, start visiting music festivals and theatre performances- ditto.
16. Get my finances on track- no comment.
17. Search out Promita Adhikary, my college buddy who went underground- I wish.
18. Get ego out of the window, kill them with kindness- Still at it.
19. Mature- Ditto.
20. Start something, a business, something, anything...- no comment.
21. Visit Paris.
22. Learn calculus, I mean really learn it.
23. Read Bangla, at least some of the classics.
24. Finish Joyce's Ulysses.
25. Learn to play the sitar- oh well.
26. Learn to play the piano- ditto.
27. Have only sexy underwear- ;)
28. Learn to dance.
29. Learn to cook a mean biryani.
30. Love like there is no tomorrow- check check check... No really, this one should be- Learn to speak French, even if broken- C'est la vie, mon amour.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sorry is the hardest word?

Australia has apologized to all indigenous Australians some days back. For the atrocities they faced, for their land that was grabbed and subsequently their livelihood, et al.

Is an apology enough to heal a race? Maybe it is, because the wronged can start to forgive, and start to live once again. Its not about what is lost, but what can be saved by the power of the human mind.

Recently a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi was forced to resign from a peace institute of the University of Rochester (a department he himself co-founded), for his comments on the Jews and the holocaust. Apart from saying that the Jews can overplay the holocaust for sympathy he also put this question forward- how long can the whole world feel sorry for what happened to the Jews.

How long does the whole world have to be sorry? Forever, is my guess. Its not a question of how many millions died or suffered ... its a question of every individual who lived through it or died in it.
Its about every single child who went to the gas chamber because she/he was too little to work.
Its about every toddler swung against the wall with their feet, or hunted down from basements to be shot.
Its about every mother who had to see their little ones die of starvation or take them to their death in their own arms.
Its about every grandfather who was taken away never to be seen again.
Its about every father who had to live, and work at a crematorium knowing he is burning the bodies of his wife and children.

How long do we have to be sorry??? Is that even a question?

Some groups in India wanted England to apologize for their centuries of rule on this land. If England has to start apologizing for their colonial past, heaven help them. And while we are at it, why not ask the Central Asians (Babur was a Turk from near Iran) to apologize their role in ruling the land, or well, the Aryans who were the first to come and depose the original Indians, the Indian aborigins... who we knew in the last century as the caste-less... or at best the lowest caste, and who we protest against nowadays because they are taking away our medical seats and government jobs (due to the Indian system of seat reservation for the downtrodden and economically deprived). Wait, that might mean, I would have to apologize too.

Speaking of India, we find apologizing below our stature. The Gujarat riots in 2002- nope. The anti sikh riots after Indira Gandhi's assassination- it was even played down by the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who is reported to have commented- "When a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake". The apology for the carnage did come through in 1998 (the riots took place in 1984), by his wife, Sonia Gandhi.

Going global again, what about the indegenous Americans- the (un-original) Indians. You dont even have to read anything to know what happened. Watch a couple of westerns, or read about Hiawatha and Pocahontas, and you get the drift. Any apology? None officially.

Africa called for slavery apology in 2001 from Europe and America... nope. White trash dont say sorry. They sometimes "express regret" for the atrocities they unleashed on most of the African and some of the Asian countries, they wont take the leap from regret to apology.

If we start asking for apologies, I wonder where it will end. From my friend who forgot to ask me why I wasnt well yesterday, to Kenya's women, from Bhopal tragedy victims to Vietnam, from the Rangoon monks to the to the Tutsi-s in Rwanda, from Jade Goody's racial slur at Shilpa Shetty, to Darfur's millions of refugees, from a kiss in India, to a race almost wiped out by a madman in Cambodia.

The human race is capable of great good and great evil. And the evil does not drive us completely mad only because of the good which still exists in us... in all of us. May the good always find a way to win. Amen.


Like a land destroyed
Chunks of concrete, shards of metal
Strewn all around.
Dark smoke
Black, black sky
The air hangs like an unwashed shrowd
Smelling of sulfur
Reeking, reeking of death.

Hearts break like that...

But what is this...
Is it a flower, a tiny rose bud
From this barren land born
Can she make it live again?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Written long ago.

Go and take a walk on the white and gray beach
feel every grain of sand as it slips and slides between your toes
look behind to see your footprints fill with salt water
leave them where you know the tide will wash them away.

Hold her hand tight if you want to walk with her
she may be wild like the wind that ruffles your hair
she is beautiful like the twilight, but soon darkness comes
she may be fleeting like the tide, like the day, like time.

Her smile is like the early morning sunshine
her tears like the million stars twinkling in the night sky
she touches with her fingertips like a cool summer breeze
her love is a tempest, a whirlwind, her love is the blue sea.

Build sand castles but soon they will crumble and fall
find kingdoms in the clouds above your head
do you see shapes of islands on the blue horizon
do you try to hold on to the sand or surf in your folded hands?

Monday, January 28, 2008

It was cold last night... the type of cold where your can see your breath. We had gone to a friends wedding, our city batch mates, which counts up to probably 5 or 6, nothing compared to other cities... and I was friggin shaking in my 4 inch heels. Felt good catching up but its all so yawn nowadays. All I want to do is, yeah yeah, have some fun, and all I ever do is bare my teeth and hear everyone around me speak speak speak. Oh, for the lost days of innocence. One would give an arm to have a guffaw team around, and laugh till ones bladder rebels. Sigh! Where are all the laughathons gone?

Monday, January 14, 2008

On the turn of the year

So much is happening in 2008... my daughter had her annaprashan ceremony (rice ceremony) last week. Just a family get together, a 20 person affair... it went off well. We did not have a big ceremony. My family, who were largely left out are not done complaining yet. They have this to say- it seems my annaprashan was a gala affair. Another one of those things. When you were a child, so and so happened! Did anyone tell our parents that?

It still takes a lot to accept that I am not a little girl any more. I have a little girl of my own. It seems just like yesterday when my cheeks would get pulled by everyone... now its my daughters turn. Seems just like yesterday that I changed school and came to the place which shaped much of my adult life. Gave me friends for a lifetime... "jibono moroner shimana charaye" - beyond boundaries of life and death... and soon, too soon my baby will be going to school, making friends of her own.

It is good that I remember much of what I went through at every juncture of life. I will know what to expect when she cries on her first day in school, or throws a tantrum when, some years later, I tell her, no, she cant go to the sleep over at her friends place.

I want to be a good mother. A good mother is a combination of disciplinarian and friend. I hope I will be able to keep the balance. I hope I will be able to instill in her the respect and compassion my parents did. And whatever happens, I make a promise that she will never feel lonely as long as I am alive... she will never feel so lost that there is no way out.

I am waiting for her to start talking so I can tell her stories, fairy tales and where they are wrong about life (happily ever after??? really!!!??? - more on that later), fables with a moral and why they are important, stories from my head, of magical lands and mythical creatures. I am waiting for her to walk and run so I can take her to open fields and run on the green soft grass with her, holding her hand when she is tired and needs reassurance. I am waiting for her to start her lessons, studies, music and whatever else she wants to do. But most of all I am waiting for her to turn 15, when she will start discovering the world on her own... so that I can stand in the sidelines with my arms folded, and a smile, watching my baby as she finally learns to fly. I will be right here, when she wants to fly back to me to dry her tears and then tell her its ok, life is beautiful, life is as we see it... we can color it with our technicolor dreams in whatever shade we wish it to be.