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The Lakeside Beauty of Malshej Ghat – My First Camping Experience

January 2, 2017 Leave a comment

The New Year was planned and I was to go to an evening party but when I saw a message from my friend at night, I considered taking a detour. I love nature and things like trekking, rock climbing and camping attract me but considering the high prices, I restricted myself from taking those options. But this was different; an opportunity to go for a lake side camping first time in my life was available at an amazingly good price of 1.2K approx., from Peak tours and travels run by Raj Singh from Mumbai.

We were given two price points, one with self-travel arrangement (cheaper) and other with bus provided for the entire travel of 2 days from 31st Dec morning pick up till 1st Jan Night drop. I took the second option with bus included and found that it was also greatly affordable. The fee not just included the bus travel but also the snacks, tea, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 2 days. Not to forget, the games we played and the additional sites that we visited in and around the Malshej Ghat. The itenary included Vigneshwara Temple, Ganesh Darshan, and Lenyadri ganpati Temple in addition to pimplgaon lake side camp and the valley view from MTDC resort on the mountain top.

road

The travel was rather an interesting one both because of the amzingly beautiful route and because Raj made sure that we did not get bored despite having a big group of 40 travellers in the bus. There were fun games played in the bus to engage and the trend continued till the camping site. Besides good pricing and loads of arrangements, I was quite impressed by Raj’s professionalism and preparedness to engage us in activities. He had got required number of print outs and chocolate packets as prize possessions for everyone who had registered. In the camp site, there were two people including a founding member of Peak Tours and Travels and a writer-cum-movie maker who were placed as judges for the games we played in the camping site.

When traveling in large groups, the biggest concern of people is the inability to enjoy because they do not know how to deal with strangers. If you are an introvert or a person who feels your family may not be able to enjoy in groups that include people unfamiliar to you, the problem is even more pronounced which restrict you to consider such travel trips while making outing plans. At this point, someone is required to take the leader role and bring everyone together. To be frank, what fun you can get in groups may never be there in a small family trip. So, for such people, Peak travel would be a heaven. The kind of environment that is created by Raj in his trips will make you not only enjoy the nature but also make new friends and you may bring along everyone from your parents to siblings, friends, kids and even pets (Can’t forget Simba the Labrador who joined us in the camp). I had a good time in the trip myself and got to meet some very good people, hoping to have a long term friendship with them in future.

The Lakeside Beauty of Malshej Ghat

camping

We had all colourful camps lined up in a curve near the lake. The serene lake with smooth waves was flowing aside housing many creatures in the lake and around it in mashes like frogs and bird species such as pitta, cuckoo, quail, purple moorhen, alpine swift, and whistling thrush.

Pitta brachyura, a bird known to occupy marine and tropical areas, was sitting on a small branch of a plant placed amid the lake water. This quick to fly bird had a very cute flutter when its bluish green wings pushed her little body up, taking small leaps in the air, jumping from one branch to another. Her blue little tail was hardly visible in the dim light of the setting sun but when the bird came to sit near the small growth on the rock I was standing on; I could take a nice look at this small colourful creature. Blackish eye line, yellowish body, bluish green wings and the tiny blue tail with a ting of red bordering under tail coverts – I was seeing this bird for the first from this small a distance – An amazing experience it was but unfortunately, I was unable to click her as she flew too fast.

Next, I decided to explore the marshes over the wet ground, going away from the crowd. There were 50 people on the camp site and yet, I could not hear a voice clearly. I was standing on the semi-circled ground that touched the lake, forming something like a small land plateau. Little whitish shrubs grew on the ground making it slippery and I adjusted by foot while going as near to the lake as possible safely.

the-lake2

How peaceful it was! All I could hear was the croaking of frogs from all sides. I closed my eyes and could then hear the voice from the wind and from the slow moving waves. It was not the sound of movement but the sound of silence. Yes, I could feel that even silence has its own sound and that is beautiful.

The time I spent with the lake felt like a heaven to me. It had more life than me and anyone else. To me, the lake was singing a romantic song and alongside contributed frogs to the tune with their trumpet beats. The frogs were not visible and the lake was silent, yet it felt like they were talking to me. I spread my arms to hug the chilled breeze and closed my eyes. It quietly caressed my hair and kissed my cheeks. I started to sing along with the nature. My soul wanted to leave me to explore the cool breeze that blew over the lake water and touch the snowy and soft water along.

I do not remember how long I had been standing there with eyes closed but when I opened them, I found myself watching the skyline. A sight that I would never see in Mumbai – the whole galaxy and those constellations that I had only read about in books were visible. I could see Aquila carrying the thunderbolt, Leo the lion with claws, Orion the gifted hunter, and the Ursa minor hanging from the bright North Star. A slight reflection of the stars was also visible on the water as it spread over the lake like a diamond shredded blanket.

It was quite long and I got a call from my friend wanting me to return. But, when I turned by back to the lake, it demanded more time before a friendly goodbye. I could feel a strange pull as if the lake was calling me and was going to open up to me to allow me to walk over its huge expanse. When turning back, it did not feel like the water that I could drown in but a lap of nature that I could sit on, the spread of its closely knit elements that I could walk on and the mountain that stood strong at its end was inviting me to complete my journey to heaven.

A Walk in the Dark

lane

I was refreshed and amazed as I returned to the camp with a wide smile on my face. We were to go back to the restaurant for dinner. It was pitch-dark and the ground was full of elevations and rocks. I had no torch so I depended on my friends for direction. People walked on a small pulled up track surrounded by small wheat farms and by spiny whitish bushes.

Few of my friends who were assisting Raj in settling the camp lost their way while walking to the restaurant and had an additional adventure. A reminder – if anytime you want to go out camping near this lake, do not walk alone in the dark.

The route from highway to the camping site is small and the place is safe to walk on except the deep well that you have to watch out for, so, make sure that at least one person in your group knows the route well.

The New Year Celebration

The return was followed by a celebration for New Year as we all danced around a campfire and then sung in chores amid the camp site.

This style of New Year celebrations was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was first time that I celebrated the New Year not just with people but also with nature. The celebration, for me, continued throughout the night as I sat beside the campfire till 6 AM in the morning.

Another hint of precaution – please take a good amount of winter wears and blankets if you plan to set a camp at Malshej Ghat. The tents go wet and you will find yourself shivering throughout the night if you do not have sufficient stuff to cover you. I spent the night sitting near the campfire and still could not get rid of cold. But it was amazing to spend the night with stars and soft music playing on a cell phone.

The 2017 came not with a bang but a beautiful experience that I would remember forever. I would love to experience it again and again every year.main-small

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Categories: Travel

Was India really ready for Demonetization?

December 8, 2016 Leave a comment

After 86% of currency in circulation did not remain legal tender,

82 people died in the ATM Queues,

Many weddings were postponed,

GDP growth is likely to go down from 6.8% to 3.5%,

Stock prices went down below 200 days moving average,

Manufacturing PMI fell down from 54.4 to 52.3,

Smaller producers running on cash transactions till last month are shut,

Fishing industry faced a severe fall in demand,

Consumer goods sale fell down to one-third within a month,

Farmers are selling their produce at much lower prices for lack of cash with buyers,

And the hardest blow went to those 600 million people who did not have a bank account. 300 out of these don’t even have required bank IDs to even open a bank account.

Few smaller denominations of currency printed rendering most people leave with a 2000 rupee note which does no good as nobody is willing to take it,

Banks are already running out of cash and their ATMs are unable to hold the required volumes of smaller denominations of currency.

Was India really ready for Demonetization?

India is an economy where 40% people stay in rural areas  and an estimated 95% of the transactions are carried out through cash. Can such a highly cash reliant country suddenly turn into a cashless society in just 50 days? The claims sound overpromising.

And the promise to curb the black money and reduce corruption – Did it really work out?

Why was this decision taken? Cash is a very significant portion of the black money – an assumption on which the demonetization decision was based on – Was it really true? – In 2013, only 6% of the black money was recovered from cash invaders. Was it really that significant to waive off Rs. 12,000 currency as tender notes?

The actual black money totals out to Rs. 30 lakh Crore which is way beyond the cash in circulation. So, did the move actually expose these black money bearers? While 1000 rupee notes were withdrawn, a higher denomination of Rs. 2000 was introduced. Will this not make it easier for those saving black money in future?

Before demonetization was announced, there was some groundwork needed –

  • Banks should have been supplied with enough new notes for replacement
  • ATM capacities were to be expanded to take on more volumes of cash

But most will argue that if such a preparation was made in advance, it would have given a chance to black money bearers to exchange their cash before the move. So, was this sudden announcement the only way? If it was, did it have to be so painful? The answer is undoubtedly yes. A sudden demonetization is obviously a pain and when the economy is not ready to take such a blow, it is likely to plunge into a screeching halt.

The monetary impact of the move was already clear and it was to cause a chaos. However, a demonetization move also needed to have a consideration of non-monetary aspects like impacts on people into different situations and settings. If there was a consideration for the people who did not bank accounts, or the people who never used ATMs, appropriate measures could have been taken.

The move of demonetization maybe an appropriate thing to do but whether the country had right strategies and right infrastructure to handle the implications, still remains a question. Was India really ready for Demonetization?

Categories: Uncategorized

Poor are poorer, Rich are richer – the Gap Widens with Demonetization

December 8, 2016 Leave a comment

In between the swipes of credit cards and debit cards in ATMs, you will find many poor, maybe illiterate people, running around ATMs for the first time usage and there is no one to help. While Indian government has plans to build a cashless society, banks have no bandwidth to handle the queries of a large number of customers who are still unfamiliar with the technology.

I recently went to Mahabaleshwar and could clearly see the differences in struggles of these people and well to do people like us. We did not have the cash either so standing in line for cash was the only option just like them. The only difference was that while we reached ATM after a long wait, we were at least able to withdraw Rs. 2000 from ATM but those first-time users of ATM, who were forced by the government to adapt to the technologies, despite waiting for longer time, were unable to take out cash as they did not know how to use the ATM. There was no instruction sheet or a person to help them except those already in a queue.

Some thoughts trouble me after having an experience the effect of demonetization for some time. A careful observation revealed how ignorant is the system of today towards the needs of people who are illiterate, less educated, disabled, poor, old, or needy.

  • We were fortunate enough to seek help from the Hotel staff who was ready to take a credit card swipe for a transaction. Can these poor people even afford to go to a restaurant which has the facility of card swipe or would they still struggle on stalls for cash?
  • As a small-scale vendor like those selling vegetables, would you find people giving you cash or do you have to leave your vegetables as waste?
  • What about those farmers who are unable to get cash against their production?
  • As a first time user of ATM, do you have anyone to guide you or you are at the mercy of a person standing next to you to help or else?
  • While the decision of demonetization was abrupt, was the plan for managing the after effect was also abrupt? Or did government even think of a plan?

While demonetization has hardly affected big businessmen and well to families who had already adopted plastic money as their way of life, the real people who were severely affected by the decisions are the poor farmers, small vendors, uneducated and those not comfortable with technological advances.

People facing difficulties have become only scenarios and stories to talk about.

Think of an old lady in her 70’s. Throughout her life, she has been using cash. Her eye sight is too weak to even see what is written on the ATM screen and maybe she is not even educated enough. Would she be able to act independently at an ATM center? Who doesn’t know the story an old woman dying of heart attack because she was unable to convert her hard earned money into real cash?

Think of a poor farmer who has been selling his production against cash but because of lack of cash, is unable to sustain the living? Farmer suicides are nothing new and our nation has already experienced it in past. Will this impact not increase such incidences?

Think of a housewife, probably tortured by her husband or in-laws, who have been saving money for her life and all of a sudden, all her savings go to whom?

The rich already have gold, properties, stocks, and other assets to invest their money in. Most of the cash is circulated among the smaller people with lesser money. I remember the day when the demonetization was announced. While I heard people telling stories of so much cash, I saw my wallet and there was only one note to exchange. Am I poor? I am just middle-class independent woman who is educated and uses plastic money more often than cash. I was not affected until I met people who did not use plastic money and demanded cash against the services they offered me.

Another observation – If I was to stand for 3 hours in the queue, I can work on my mobile, use various applications to complete my tasks, do a video conferencing to conduct a meeting, read books on Kindle, check and answer my business emails, and do a lot more. What about people who earn daily wages and to get petty cash, they have to stand in line for hours, losing either their work hours or their sleep?

What I can see as impacts of this sudden demonetization is – Poor are getting poorer, middle class is still in middle, rich will get richer, helpless would go even more helpless – The GAP WIDENS!

Telecom Wars bringing Data Prices Down to Rock Bottom – Great times ahead for Mobile users!

September 1, 2016 Leave a comment

After the 80% slashing of data rates by Airtel, the telecom war over tariffs is only going to get fierce with the entry of Reliance, already taking its all favorite market penetration approach, targeting a price of Rs. 43 for a 1GB data plan for 3G.

Service Provider Data Pack Monthly Charges
Vodafone 1GB (3G data) Rs. 297
Idea 1GB (3G data) Rs. 249
BSNL 1GB (3G data) Rs. 198
Airtel 1GB (3G data) Rs. 51
Reliance Jio 1GB (3G data) – 28 days validity Rs. 43  (Target Price)

 

While Vodafone has remained with its high priced model, other telecom service providers have been playing with their rates bringing them down every year. Airtel revised its prices this year slashing down data rates by almost 80% of individual users and by 150% for corporate users. After an initial expenditure of Rs. 1,498 for 1GB data plan, users can enjoy the rate of Rs. 51 per GB after exhausting initial data pack.

Does that make you feel delighted as a mobile user? If yes, then here are some small catches for you –

  • An upfront payment of entire year may be asked giving you an attraction for saving 30-40% more annually on data
  • The validity of data plan is 28 days and not the entire months which means that in an year, you will be buying 13 data packs instead of 12. Same is the story with every telecom service provider.

Despite these catches, you still have a lot of benefit to gain in terms of savings on data plans.

Enters Reliance Jio

No roaming, free night-time surfing, free calls, free messages and rates going to rock bottom prices – what more can a mobile user expect? Reliance Jio is up for making the prices go even lower. An offer of free SIM with 3 months of unlimited data has already created a buzz for Reliance and on the top of it, the target price of Rs. 43 for a 1GB data pack is definitely going to get more subscribers to Reliance. With the current growth in the data volumes utilized by 4G mobile users, a 50% rise is expected in the coming year and this as per Goldman Sachs would convert into an addition of 35 million subscribers for Reliance Jio.

jio-tariff-plan.png

Beside the tariff cuts, Reliance has also planned to come up with bundled offers like free calling with high value plans. 7 plans are already made available starting from Rs. 149 to Rs. 4999, no stone remains unturned by Reliance for giving opportunities to users to enjoy lowest 4G-LTE rates. No roaming when you shift your circle – Another golden egg that users would be up for a grab – Great times are ahead for Mobile Internet Users!

The Background Story

Mukesh Ambani, the RIL Chairman talks about three pillars on which the tariffs are based –

  1. Pay only for voice or for data
  2. Data should be affordable: Small packs starting from Rs. 149 give you 0.3 G data wth 100 SMSs
  3. Pricing structure should be simple : Small plans give you free SMSs, medium packs lets you access 4G at night and large packs give you free voice calls

jiowelcome

 

Not to forget, for all Jio users, the Jio premium apps like JioPlay, JioOnDemand, JioBeats, JioMags, JioXpressNews, JioDrive, JioSecurity and JioMoney are free for Jio users till December 31, 2017 with access to free voice calls – something called “Jio Welcome Offer” by Reliance. Jio LYF Preview Offer, a trial service that was launched for LYF device users grabbed 1.5 million test users and the trial if further extended now for all LYF users.

If this doesn’t excite you much, there is more you can get from Reliance:

  • Jiofi personal routers available at Rs. 1,999
  • Real time billing details
  • Special rates for students (25% less)
  • LYF Smart Phones made affordable (starting from mere Rs. 2,999)

Besides the offers visible from Reliance, you may also want to take a dive into the network and operations of Reliance that are going to get you all this:

  • Reliance Jio is present in 29 states in India including 18000 urban and rural towns and 1,50,000 villages
  • Jio has around 0.5 million activation outlets and close to 1 million recharge outlets.
  • All Reliance Jio outlets would be connected to 1,072 Jio offices in real time
  • Reliance is already the fifth largest Smartphone seller in India considering shipments figures.

After Reliance Jio takes hold of the market, the obvious response would be further cuts in tariffs from remaining telecom players. Idea Cellular has already set plans to reduce tariffs at the target price of Rs. 155. Vodafone is set to give more data on its existing 3G and 4G data plans. The toughened competition is likely to get more of stories in future and more of considerations for data and smart phone users.

Categories: Business

The Effect of Fountainhead

January 20, 2015 1 comment

Ayn Rand

This is not a story nor is an opinion piece but just an experience of a discussion session that I want to share. Fountainhead, a major literary success, read by most authors and loved by most readers was the central point of discussion. The name itself attracted book lovers to a small hall in Vile Parle. There were many first time attendants in an active Meetup group, Book Exchange Club.

The discussion started with few takers of objectivism. The host was carrying Fountainhead, the famous Ayn Rand book in her hands. Soon, the hall was filled with more enthusiasts.

Initially, I felt a bit discomfort on seeing small clusters of people, with none having a place for a new joiner like me. But, as the story began, I was engrossed in the aura of characters created by Ayn. I had not read the whole book yet I could remember all key characters of the book.

The bright and confident looking lady took out small chunks of events from the book to weave the story for a refresh. She not just presented the story but also the views of Ayn Rand on Objectivism. At first, she had been dominant enough to not let any interference but often, she was interrupted by another fine lady who had a take on every part of the story. More than a discussion, It sounded like a two way talk till some more people participated.

There was a small break given when she asked others to continue the story but there was none comfortable enough to take it forward and she was asked to continue as she knew finer details. We waited for her to complete after which she gave chance to everyone.

When everyone was asked to present views one by one, many unique views came but with common patterns of fictional jargons. I came up with one without and said,’ I didn’t want to be a good girl and this book told me that there was nothing wrong in that”, people laughed and I smiled.

I do not have the capacity to register views of everyone but here are some I can remember. I would particularly not name anyone not just to keep anonymity, but also because I do not remember their names.

I remember one guy saying that he was more of an altruist for he came for the discussion despite his dislike for the book. His views were obviously not welcomed by advocates of objectivism and were laughed at. Another girl added to the view of discomfort with the character Dominique whom she found foolish and of disturbed mind.

For those who have not read the book, my descriptions may not sound comprehensible so I take a chance to tell the story here.
The story begins with a naked man standing on the rocks, highlighting the boldness a reader can expect from the book. This man called Howard Roark is an architecture student who has his own ideas of the field that he is not willing to part with in any case. He sees himself as an individual creator of the art and reserve the right to own the ideas in full.

Opposite to him is another architect, Peter Keating who believes in making everyone happy by making adjustments. Getting results and getting famous are his motivations. He is often helped by Roark but credits are always taken for self.

Roark, a strong follower of individualism does not get acceptance in the university because of his strict ideals and has to leave the college. Peter, on the other side excels with top scores and gets a job in the most respected architecture firm founded by Cameron.

The story goes is a fight between communism and individualism.  Howard Roark with strength of his character remains unaltered despite rejections. Peter on the other side uses deception to get ahead. He cheats, he kills and he also gets to marry Roark’s girlfriend Dominique, who is another very strong and complex character in the book. She is unhappy with her life, is looking for an exile through self-torture and loves Roark but yet she marries Peter, the  growing businessman.

Peter’s career soon goes down and is then helped by Gail Wynad, owner and chief editor of a publication in exchange of a generous offer to marry Domnique. The second marriage of Dominique comes as another blow to Roark yet he lets her love go.

In the end, Roark succeeds unexpectedly with his unique ideas and gets to design several buildings. However, one of his designs are modified before beginning construction without his knowledge. This project called Cortlandt becomes very successful but Roark bombs the building and has to face a trial. In this trial, he justifies his reasons for his conduct.

He said that he was a creator and he wanted the building to look the way he imagined but the actual result was not what he wanted. He claimed that he did not get the price of his work which was not the money but the ability to see the building as he wanted.

There is one beautiful speech by Roark  in the end which I cannot replicate but you must read it from the book or you may choose to watch the movie based on the book. The story ends with most awaited contract given to Roark by Gail, to create tallest building in New York, on his own terms and exactly as he wanted. Gail tells Roark that he did not want to see Roark again while signing the contract and after Roark leaves, Gail shoots himself accepting the defeat.

The final victory of Roark is shaped by the dominant figure standing against the self constructed tallest building of New York. Domnique comes back to him.

Let us now have some reader views.

There was one lady whom I knew nothing about except that she was not an Indian. She told that when she was in her college, this book was like the bible for behaving like rebels. She got applaud from others but I particularly did not agree with her. Being a rebellion means you are going against others but if you are following someone, be it a rebellion himself /herself, you are actually not a rebellion because rebellion is a person who has his own views or individuality that he or she practices without considering others views. But, that’s only my view. For others, she had a great time.

Another foreigner expressed his wonders  about how religious bodies would have reacted to the ideals presented in this book. There was no response to his thoughts, may be because people found it difficult to understand what he was saying. I was continuously looking at him with sticky eyes to understand what he was saying. I wonder what he may be thinking about me! About the response of religious bodies, I am sure they must be breaking their heads and their wrath would have been faced by Ayn Rand. The 12 rejections from publisher itself suggest that her defiant views were not welcomed instantly.

There was a girl who could not come, but had sent a letter which was read. It was a long letter so I would only present the crux here. She did not particularly agree with Ayn Rand on virtue of selfishness. Her view was that she could feel pleasure helping others which was not a selfish act. But her views were countered by the presenter of the story. She had said that if one is able to gather happiness by helping others then that itself reflects that one is actually practicing objectivism.

There were few people who said that the book has changed their lives. I don’t know if that was true but if it did positively, then may be the author was able to create a better world. The discussion was heated and people had many strong views about objectivism.

In total, most agreed with the concept of objectivism and liked the views of Ayn Rand. I particularly liked the story, the way two worlds of individualists and communists were presented. Common takings agreed by the most were:

  • Being Selfish is not being self-centered but doing what you like
  • Highest responsibility of a person is to serve one’s own goals.
  • You must do what you wish to do without worrying about what others believe.
  • It was necessary to understand individualism and follow it to resolve problems in the world.
  • For making others happy, it is important to first make oneself happy.

Overall it felt good to be a part of a crowd that did not have a problem with who I was, even if I did not want to be a good. Instead, when I had said that I didn’t want to be a good girl, one girl said, “I like people who don’t want to be good”.

I don’t know how these people behaved at their homes but here, everybody was looking for liberation, was advocating objectivism, and sounded like preachers of individualism.

It was a different environment from what I have been through earlier where people always wanted to be on the social side, religious, and good. But here everyone wanted to be what they were.

May be, it was not the way they always talk but was the effect of Ayn Rand and her principle of objectivity which took over, not just the discussion but minds of people who participated . I could feel the strength of the personality of the author, from the way people were advocating her principles. It was like a wave of change that they wanted to bring to the world. I liked the aura!

I am a book lover and have read many books and rarely do I find authors who are able to capture imaginations to this extent. Ayn Rand is one of them.

I would not become Roark after reading the book like one girl said that everybody had started to behave like Roark in her college of architecture, after reading the book for I do not want to lose my individuality.

There were two more people from the architecture background and they were particularly interested in this book because they were told about this book in their institutes or colleges. I didn’t know that this book was considered important even in architecture schools. There may be some elements of architecture that these students could have learned from this book that I am not aware of. But it was wonderful to know that the book has captured not only the concept of objectivism well, but also bits of architecture, the occupation of the protagonist making it worthy to become the part of the curriculum in architecture schools.

Categories: Uncategorized

Let my child live with peace!

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Your eyes start to twinkle the day you hear the news of a life in your womb. That is the first time when you cry for you are unable to hold the happiness. The bond soon begins to develop as you imagine your baby cuddling you as she kicks your womb with her tiny legs. A new world begins to unravel as you imagine how your child may look, her face, her smile, her eyes, and everything. You suddenly start believing in dreams and start making plans for the new ones arrival. You build a new world for her, wanting her to have all the love and comfort of life. The colours of your house, size of objects and everything else begins to change.

When finally, your baby is in your arms, you let out a second cry when you hold her close. Now, the world that you created for her starts to change as your life shrinks into hers and it is your baby who now creates the world for you. Your baby now decides when you should eat, when you should sleep! In this new world, the bond created transforms into an obsession where all your plan start with consideration of your child. If you go out, it is for your child, if you see a movie, it is for the child and everything around you that was tiny and went noticed, suddenly start to look prominent as now you have become expert in noticing small things in life.

Your life becomes an adventure which is flowing with surprises, you wait to see her first turn, her first smile, first walk, first talk and you want to capture every milestone your child develops. Your life now revolves around the child, you smile at her innocence, you laugh with her, play with her, you sleep cuddling her and everything except her starts to look unimportant. Your emotions reach a new level when you cry at the slightest, and even stories of others now start to impact you deeply.

It was this time when my child got up from sleep, smiled at me, his eyes looking at me with innocence, when I imagined the feeling of a mother whose child was killed in Peshawar terrorist attack and I could not hold my tears. I can’t imagine my life without my child and if a day comes when he suddenly disappears, I can’t even imagine how I would live. I can only imagine myself with him, not beyond. His innocent eyes looked at me wondering why I was crying. He is too small to even understand tears and why they come unless someone is hungry or in pain. He only understands bodily discomforts. He is not aware of the world outside that has many more ways to give you pain.

I imagined telling my child stories of fairies where good triumphs over evil, of heroic men as victors but what about the generation that is built over this massacre. Will they hear the stories of innocence getting killed as they grow up? I may be lucky to have been born in this part of the world but the other world that we have on the same earth is what makes me cry often. Brutality is becoming less rare with death floating all over and their stories are touching everyone in a way that either they ignore it or they get scared of life.

Pehawar Killings

The stories that always began with “Once upon a time” would now see an obvious addition, “Once upon a time, life was beautiful”. Where is this world going and who is leading this world towards this un-beautiful, scary, horrifying life? I have no words, no response that could be considered relevant in such situation where you hear not people, but the innocence itself getting killed. If a child without whom we have no life, the only human being who only loves, who only sees good become a part of an unimagined brutality, then what do you feel? How do you feel? or Are you at all left with any feeling?

I saw my little child walking slowly with his tiny legs, an unbalanced gait, and eyes still looking at me. My heart cried for a fear that scared me even before I could imagine it and I pulled him to hold in my arms. He cuddled me and I cuddled him tighter. He did not move but was only clinging to me as if saying, “Mom, never leave me alone”. He never liked hugging like this unless he sees me after a long time or he is scared. It appeared like he was able to sense my fear without knowledge and hugged me to give assurance that he was with me. I want him to stay with me always. I want this world to become better. I want this world to be like ones in the stories I heard as a child. I want this world to run on emotions and not on ammunitions.

But all I have is a world full of blood and slaughter with no guarantee of a normal life to a normal person. You stay healthy only till you are lucky but you never know when your luck may leave you. I only request God, if not me, at least let my child live with peace!

Categories: Uncategorized

Who changed her?

December 12, 2014 Leave a comment

married woman

I saw a video on Storypick on a marriage date in Delhi which showed a girl embarrassing a guy after he asked her to not wear western clothes and leave her well established career. She boldly refuses the guy to marry and leaves. The video depicts the feeling of a modern woman through her character. This is the common dilemma of an Indian society which is a blend of followers of the old traditions and those living with westernized views.

The problem is but only partially presented. It is not just about the girl who refuses to marry if the guy does not allow her freedom. But it is the collective pressure that she receives from the family and the society. Her family would tell her that it is impossible to get a guy she wants and thus she must choose to settle in minimum compromised marriage. In the small cities, the girls are prepared to be an ideal woman from the day they start going to school. The society has its own definition of an ideal woman “A woman who is able to cook well, dress well (saree or at least long salwar suit), able to take care of entire family including her husband and kids and has no problem in leaving her career for her family. She cares for home and cares for everyone. She is expected to a one-woman-army at home taking care of logistics, hospitality, catering, baby sitting, education of kids and their character building.

These norms have been strengthened by older generations imparting these outdated notions in their boys so that when they grow up, the responsibility of controlling a woman can be easily thrown upon them. If the man gets a promotion, he gets a pat on the back and when the woman is able to serve a dozen of guests alone, she gets a pat.

At first these seem like consequences of an arranged marriage but love marriages are not unaffected. It starts with a modern girl meeting a modern looking guy who makes her enjoy her freedom and love her the way she is. Once the acceptance of love is achieved from both the sides, things start to change as if the guy is put on a mission to transform the spoiled girl into an ideal woman. A few years back this used to be a typical theme of Indian movies in which a girl was shown in her extreme moods and her modern clothes, then she falls in love with a handsome ideal man who changes her at last, which is the biggest achievement shown in the movie.

In reality, something similar happens and gradually a girl is made to change. First, her mind is shadowed and control by love to make her accept forthcoming. Then her clothes would be modified telling her that she looks more beautiful in tradition clothes, her career would be given a back seat and slowly everything changes. She doesn’t change for the society but for the love of her life which soon dies as she loses herself to love.

Her ambitions are not important any more but only till she realizes that she lost lot more than her career to keep her marriage. She keeps looking at other women in similar conditions faking happiness with smiling faces and tries to convince herself that she can be happy too, without realizing that there could be a similar storm behind those happy faces. In the end she loses her charm. Her husband loses interest in her. He tells her that she is no more the woman he loved who was full of life but has become boring. Once the bubbly girl is now a typical woman busy with home chores.

She doesn’t try to look her best, she doesn’t make many friends. She is no more a movie buff or a traveler; she is no more a cool minded person. Her husband makes her depressed by showing her examples of charming women and making her realize that she is no more beautiful. Her man keeps complaining “You have changed.

The question is “who changed her?”

Categories: Women Tags: ,