I have nothing to say…

I had for quite sometime been sensitive and sympathetic to terrorists as victims themselves who have little opportunity but to turn to violence… But now I’m left dumbstruck after witnessing the recent mumbai terror attacks… I guess it had to happen where I live for me to shed out the idealistic thoughts I held about the whole issue. It has left me completely clueless and confused about human beings and their capacity to do evil…

One of my friend said while we were discussing the mumbai attack, “We as human beings do not have natural predators. Perhaps this was nature’s (or God’s) way of trimming the herd!”

And then there was this other opinion by another friend when we were discussing about why such things would happen. She said,

“we as humans are constantly trying to find answers to why somethings happen. May be there is no reason or rationale behind individual actions! May be political agenda of some people is strong enough to manipulate a large number of people to behave in ways that are destructive and unreasonable. And we as humans derive comfort from knowing that some uproar happened as a result of oppression. What if there is no such connection? What if these actions are random and the motive is pure destruction?” This is a completely scary thought!

What if we are capable of pure and complete evil for no rhyme or reason? This got me thinking about the compulsive need of human beings to put two and two together, to look for causal relationships and connections in actions.

I believe (and agree to Kelley’s theory) that all of us are researchers in our own way. We observe, analyse, interpret and derive theories about the issues that we encounter in our everyday lives. We are constantly looking at understanding the reasons behind actions. This is so important that when somebody acts in ways which does not provide any reasonable explanation, it is considered a disorder…

Connections and causal relationships provide comfort to an otherwise chaotic world. But are these relationships true or are they socially constructed? Or is there any absolute truth in the world of human behavior?

Published in: on December 1, 2008 at 9:35 AM  Comments (1)  

About Terrorism

Terrorism- a much debated and discussed topic right from the parliament to the local café. So what is terrorism? According to me, terrorism is a mode of communication evolved as a result of fanaticism followed by an organisation or a group of people, who target, to hurt, threaten, kill, or spread fear, societies and communities.

 

But the question we need to ask here is this, “Is terrorism a weapon only of the minority groups of the world?”  

 

Technically the answer here is a clear no. However, reality narrates a different story. And it is not due to the misinterpretation of theory; it’s because of the denial of the communities to recognize the patterns of majority organizations as terrorism. Today, terrorism has become synonymous to Islam. But what about those numerous saffron clad, tika adorned Hindu activist groups in India that use force and threat to ensure minorities stay minorities? Would that count as terrorism? Or do we as Hindus, being majority, have the luxury of twisting our theories?

 

What we need to understand is the pattern of terrorism- its vicious circle in order to break it. And those which were the cause of terrorism need to also be recognized as terrorist activities.

 

No act of terrorism begins out of a vacuum. The fanaticism grows as a result of continued oppression by the majority group. What is necessary at this hour is that we recognize such treatments by majority groups as terrorist acts. The harassment of Muslims by the Hindus has never been considered as acts of terrorism because of our own convenience and the minorities had least opportunities to voice their concern. This resulted in an upheaval of the cruel kind. And, now we are quick to act, just because we are the majority and have the power to choose what we will overlook and what we would not.

 

The instigators are never labeled as terrorists, but only those who revolt against oppression (and unfortunately, though understandably, their actions can ‘theoretically’ be called so). I am not justifying the acts of the Muslim extremist groups. I’m just trying to delve deep into the causes of such acts.

 

Though it could be too late to look back and make amends, it is a valuable lesson for future. It is time that we use the term terrorism (if at all we intend on using it) without prejudice and to all factions applicable- whether majority or minority. Its time we looked at terror groups of the majority groups like the Hindu extremists under the lens of Terrorist groups. Personally, I believe that would be the accurate categorization. Their acts of spreading terror have to be strictly condemned and handled with the same seriousness as Islamic extremist groups. This would perhaps, to a certain extent, reduce the probability of future extremist minority groups attacking innocent people.

Published in: on October 1, 2008 at 1:01 PM  Comments (2)  

My experience of an almost painless open Myomectomy (Lapratomy)

I am writing this blog post to share my experience of undergoing an open myomectomy- surgical removal of a large fibroid attached to my uterus. My experience has been a successful one, and almost painless that I feel I need to share it with all the women who are exploring surgery options for fibroids. I hope my blog post answers at least some of the questions or doubts.

While undergoing a pelvic ultrasound as part of my first ever annual health checkup, I discovered a large subserosal myoma (commonly known as fibroid) on top of my uterus. Based on the ultrasound, the size was 11x8x8 centrimetres (my first question was to confirm the unit- that it is cm and not mm). The preliminary recommendation from the doctor was to undergo a surgery to remove the fibroid since I am 32 years old and yet to have a child. Given that it was a large fibroid, the doctors advised me to go in for an open myomectomy or a lapratomy. The doctors assured no complication since I had a subserosal fibroid (which means the fibroid is outside the uterus, more like a mushroom). Having understood that it is not an emergency, but something that I need to act on real soon, I wanted to understand my options and make an informed choice.

Open versus Laparoscopic Myomectomy
As any individual in the present generation, to understand about fibroids, I turned to Google and I got all the information that I needed. I had 4 options in front of me- 2 non-invasive techniques that can shrink the fibroid and 2 invasive techniques- laparoscopic surgery and the traditional open surgery. Clearly, given the size of my fibroid and lack of reliable data on possible effects of the procedures, the non-invasive techniques were not my options.
I wanted to consider laparoscopy as my surgical option because the procedure guaranteed lesser blood loss, quicker recovery, and no cutting open the body. Now my health checkup and first opinion was in the city of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu where my parents live and I wanted to understand my treatment options in the city where I live- Delhi. Clearly Delhi would have better infrastructure and facilities compared to a small town. So, we approached doctors in Delhi to understand my surgery options.
In laparoscopic surgery, the fibroid is basically churned into smaller bits by using a morcelator and absorbed through a pipe. In laparoscopy, if the small bits are not completely removed, there is a chance of these bits growing into individual fibroids in the future. Hence, the morcellation is done inside a bag and the bag is removed making sure there is no spillage. An open surgery is a traditional method of cutting open at the bikini line and clamping the contact between the uterus and fibroid, cutting and removing the fibroid, and suturing the uterus layers and stitching back all the different layers. A laparoscopy would mean recovery in 2 weeks while open myomectomy requires at least 4 weeks recovery.
The more I spoke to my doctor in Delhi, the more I was confused because the approach was very much like the west wherein all possible pros and cons of all procedures were laid out in front of me, all ifs and buts were explained in detail, and if anything goes wrong, the doctor and the team will go in for the foolproof open method. Also, even though the Doctor showed confidence that she could pull off a laparocospic surgery, I was told that given the size of my fibroid, it would not be possible to churn it in a bag (which means greater possibility of spillage). What troubled me the most was that at no time did the doctor suggest what she thought was the best course of action. No matter how much I read up, I am not a doctor to know what the best alternative is. And in the Indian context, we expect the doctors to tell us what is best for us, since they have the expertise. This burden of responsibility to choose my treatment really troubled me.

The Decision
So we turned to our friends and relatives who are gynecologists to get expert opinion. All of them said one thing- “if it was me, I’d recommend an open surgery.” The reasons were that the fibroid is too big, and a lot of time larger fibroids overshadow smaller ones in MRIs and if detected during surgery, would be difficult to pull off through a laparoscopy. My finally verdict, I decided, would be based on my Uncle’s input. He is the Dean of the medical college in Coimbatore and a true well-wisher, not because he is my uncle, but because he is the sort of person who believes in access to best healthcare for all. My uncle suggested the same- go in for the foolproof method of an open surgery. A laparoscopy for a large fibroids are messy. And since it is large, the contact space with the uterus would also be greater. This means that suturing of the uterine wall after the removal of the fibroid needs expert hands, and if not done properly, could result in greater complications in the future, especially during pregnancy. Thus, I decided to go in for an open surgery, and decided to get it done in Coimbatore- where I’ve known the Gynecologist since the time of my puberty, and completely trusted her ability and decisions (and where my parents live).

The Anesthesia Dilemma
My surgery date was fixed for the 30th of March 2016- 5th day of my period so that when it is time for my next period, my uterus would be substantially healed (this is one thing the Delhi doctor did not discuss with me, and I find it disturbing. The surgery was based on her availability than my body clock). I got admitted on the day before. My next big question was the type of anesthesia. Basically there are 2 types- General Anesthesia (GA) and Spinal Anesthesia (SA) and the recent addition of epidural with SA (E&SA). I was presented with GA and ESA and the anesthesiologist suggested that I go in for ESA since they recommend it as a safe option for any surgery in the lower half of the body. GA is where you are completely knocked off, while in ESA, only the lower half of the body is numb and you are aware of what is going on. If that awareness freaks you out, they will sedate you and you go into a happy sleep state (where you respond to questions and are not unconscious).
Too much information can be a bane and having asked some people of their experience of ESA, I was terrified. My friend told me that before her C-section the doctor poked her 5 times in the spine to find the right spot. My sister-in-law gave such a horrible explanation of her epidural experience. I told my Anesthetist I wanted a GA, and she was very unhappy, but reluctantly agreed and sent me to the Head of Gynecology- the Doctor who would be doing the operation.
The Doctor explained that the ESA needle is shorter than the regular injection needle and there is hardly any discomfort. Also, in GA, since you are completely unconscious, they will put a tube in your mouth to ensure respiration, which means coughing and irritation once the tube is out. Also, in ESA, the wearing-off of the numbing is gradual and painkillers can be given accordingly. In GA, the wearing-off is not so gradual and hence, the pain hits you all of a sudden. Once again, trusting my Doctor’s decision, I decided to go in for an ESA, but was having nightmare about it the whole time. It was also decided that I would be given mild dose of epidural for 48 hours to deal with the pain.

The Day of the Surgery
My surgery was scheduled at 9:00 am. I was put on nil-per-oral (no food or water to be consumed orally) for 12 hours before surgery, given a laxative and an enema at 5 am on the day of surgery. I was given saline through IV. By 6:30 my family members arrived, and the situation was so emotional. My mother brought holy ash from her temple, and I also smeared the holy ash my mother-in-law sent from Delhi. By about 7 am the nurses came to check my vitals and gave me the green hospital robe to change into, and informed me that I’d be taken to the Pre-op ward on a stretcher by 8 am. That was the most scared I have ever been. It was as if I was going to war, and as if there was a good probability I was going to end up dead! By 8 the stretcher arrived and so did the flood of tears. I managed to run to the loo before anyone saw me crying, gave myself a strict pep- talk that I was going to come out of this stronger, and walked to the stretcher. I was rolled out with a battalion of my family following me, and my mother had to be stopped and asked to step out of the pre-op ward. That last person I saw before the door close was my sister giving that awkward grin! 🙂
I was brought to the pre-op ward one hour prior to surgery, and I was so thankful for that. Having some time alone, I did some deep breathing exercises, spoke to the lady in the next bed, meditated a little bit, all the while telling myself that it is going to be ok, and I would come out healthier. The men and women who pushed the stretcher to the operating theatre were so kind and encouraging, I am forever thankful to them. By 9:15, I was taken to the operating room, where I have to face the spinal prick.

Spinal Anesthesia was a Breeze!
All the horror stories I had heard about ESA were proven wrong… It took all of 5 mins for the process. At first, she inserted a small catheter (like a little vein) in my spinal column for the epidural post-surgery. I was asked to crawl up into a fetal position to identify the exact location for the injection. The first injection was to numb that space for the actual spinal anesthesia. The local injection was just like any other injection, just a prick. In a matter of seconds the place was numb. Then I could feel a needle piercing my back, but there was no pain and followed by that, I felt trickling of fluids down my spine, a mild tickling of my feet and lower back, and before I knew, my lower back was starting to get numb. I was quickly ordered to turn around and lie on my back, and after that everything went off so very methodically. The first few minutes I couldn’t stop praising my Anesthetist about her Golden Fingers!
On my one hand I had the saline IV and the clip on the finger that monitors heart beat and on the other the instrument measured my BP every 2 minutes (half way into surgery I would start counting to know the exact time when the squeeze would start again). They sedated me mildly, just to ease me into a drowsy state, but I was awake during the entire time of surgery. I heard talk about the size of the fibroid, the location, the noisy interns and juniors getting reprimanded, and some random mobile phone going off. When the fibroid was removed, one of the Anesthetist informed me that it was removed and whether I wanted to see it, my Doctor would make sure that I saw it only when the surgery was completed, and everything was stabilised. The fibroid was a massive pink blob (pink is a sign that is has high vascularity- blood supply and has been growing consistently).
Post-surgery, I was transferred to the post-op room for observation for 3-4 hours. While my numbing was reducing and I could feel a little bit of pain, I was put on .1 level of epidural along with other combination of painkillers to manage post-op pain. The 48 hrs epidural was a blessing. For those 2 days, I felt absolutely NO PAIN. The only drawback was the mild numbing (about 30-40%) of my legs as a result.  Also, during those 48 hours I was asked to lie straight on my back, which was very frustrating especially the last 5-7 hours. But it was totally worth the pain relief. But the numbing was gone after 48 hours, and I was given a set of exercises to strengthen my legs and to reduce discomfort of ESA on my spine.
Today is the 21st of April- about 22 days after my surgery, I am able to climb stairs, I have been going out for about 1.7-2 kms walk every day since the past 3 days (on a slow pace). I do all my work, except for lifting heavy stuff, bending, and sitting on the floor, which would take about 3 months minimum. My next visit to the doctor will be after my period, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that if everything goes well, I should be able to resume work soon…

Moral of the Story
1. It is so important that as a patient, you seek treatment from the doctor you are confident about and truly trust that they have your best interest in mind.
2. Also, rely on doctors who give you advice that they think is best for you rather than letting you make all your decisions.
3. Spinal anesthesia is not as scary as it sounds, in fact it was a breeze. If you have the option of ESA definitely consider it.
4. Ensure you return to your normal life as soon as your body allows you, but expose it to activities gradually.
5. The body is an amazing machine that heals itself so fast and gives you a chance for normal living. I have so much respect and love for my body now that I have undergone a surgery.

I hope my blog has helped you, as a reader, in some way, in the process of your deliberations towards treatment of fibroids.

The lives of Animals

I am back after a long hiatus! I must admit I missed writing… I missed the clarity it gave me, the vent for my frustrations… I hope to be diligent from this year!

Today I came across this book called “The Lives of Animals” by JM Coetzee, though it was publised some 10 years ago. I was much delighted to find a book on the sheer exploitation of animals because, off late I have been seeing things and becoming more and more exposed to the atrocities that animals endure and the sheer callousness with which we ignore their plight. I saw this video a friend had posted on facebook about cruel treatment of animals in China for their fur (lets not forget that cruelty to animals is a worldwide phenomenon). The video was soooo disturbing I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even now, I feel the pain and anguish every time. Since then, I gave up eating meat (which I had started 3 years ago), though I am still struggling when it comes to giving up dairy products and eggs. Coming from India, we never really had use for fur… I do have leather shoes and every time I wear them, I feel guilty…

Confessions apart, the reasons I find use of animal products undesirable and cruel is because of the way it is made available to us. Sure on the covers of eggs and meat products, the animated face of a chicken/ bull is happy and smiling that someone has killed and packed it for someone else to devour it. But the truth is this, animals are mass produced and grown in discomforting and painful environments just so that they can be killed in mass and supplied around to be consumed.

Some of my friends tell me that these animals need to be eaten because, due to decreasing forests, their natural predators no long perform the task of trimming the herd (because they are long gone). Who are we kidding, chickens and roosters and goats we never known to have lived in wild environments… These are just excuses for us to be guilt free. In the book, the slaughter is compared to a holocaust and I think there cannot be a better way to describe it… I must confess I haven’t read the book as yet, but I’ve read many reviews (just today) and I’m dying to get myself a copy.

And since they are produced and killed in mass and the industry is flourishing in spite of many scandalous news about the state of the slaughter houses and quality of meat, it is obvious that there is demand, and hence, there is supply. But does this imply we can reduce supply when demand reduces? I honestly do not know, but I wish to believe it is true.

There is always someone who raises the question of plants when we talk about animals. “Don’t you think plants are living creatures as well. How can one justify cutting and eating vegetables, fruits and greens then?” Well, we all live in a world with complex systems wherein the dark sides are always hidden. When we are exposed to them, it is better to be inquisitive about it, explore than to live in denial.

I’m adding the link to the video that I saw… I must warn you, it is very disturbing…
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=130719592342&comments

Even now I am only talking about consumption of animals and animal products… There are many other forms of animal cruelty, some I am not even familiar with and am slowly exploring as I read on it more… Like Horton says, It is time to get the “illusion of superiority” out of our heads!!!

I’ll end with something I heard today. Though it’s not verbatim, it goes something like this: If all species of insects slowly become extinct, all living forms will come to an end. But if the human beings become extinct, all living forms would flourish…

It is time to put the brakes on our ravenous appetite I guess…

Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 8:54 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Tacit Agreement

My interaction with one of my friends this week brought back the whole debate of a woman’s body and her basic right to safety and well being. There is, at least in countries like India, this tacit understanding that if a woman maintains herself as a “good” woman, there will be certain degree of safety that can be assured to her! But who is this “good” woman? In short, she is someone who is careful enough to make her presence known in places and times only where it is sanctioned by men. What do I mean by that? Well, there is this exercise my Professor used to carry out in her courses on Gender. She would ask, “If you see a woman walking by herself, and hanging out alone on the streets without any purpose or task, who do you think she is?” And in many cases, the response was that she must be ‘working the streets’ or soliciting clients. And that is one profession where there is not much respect!!! It is as if, it’s a male prerogative to occupy spaces as and how they wish and women can occupy spaces only if there is a purpose to it.

This tacit rule gets reinforced every time it is challenged, and the politics of fear continues to reign. A woman going out late in the night, a woman dressing in ways she pleases to dress, a woman in places and times which are considered ‘inappropriate’ for her are all ‘looking’ for trouble… Perhaps she is not. Perhaps she is just living her life the way she wants. And the worst part of it all is that the wonderful fellow women are the ones who fiercely guard this tacit rule. My Professor tells me there is a reason for this too… Pardon me for bringing in the concept of ‘patriarchy’ again but in order to do justice to the explanation, it has to be visited. Those women who are guardians of patriarchy enjoy a higher status in the society than other women. It’s more like the Jewish police group which helped Nazis in the ‘cleansing.’ These Jews occupy a better status than the regular Jews. The intention is quite clear actually. Any group, no matter how marginalised will have some allies with the group with the highest power, that’s how the group in power can dictate the lives of the marginalised. In the process, the allies enjoy a fake sense of power which can be stripped off any minute and is completely at the mercy of the powerful.

For those of us, who are the so called ‘creamy layer,’ these statements might look like they are of the past, but for the majority of women out there, it is very much real and they are constantly subverting and redefining what it is to be a woman in a man’s world!

Now this gets me thinking, is it really a man’s world? Is all the fight for equality in access to resources, and experiences in general, an illusion? Are men deprived/ marginalised of certain social life experiences because they are men? Or is this phenomenon peculiar to women? Men are marginalised too! Shocker!!! But true… Men from marginalised communities, tribes, dalits, poor men, black men, aborigines are marginalised and have to live by the scripts given to them by the majority in power. Till now we are talking in binaries as if the world is made of only men and women… But what about those who occupy the spaces in between? They are in many cases invisible and lead a life none of us care to know about. The kind of violence and sheer indifference towards other/ multiple gendered individuals would need another blog dedicated specifically to these concerns.

The silver lining to it all is that there is subversion and rebellion and there is fight for equal rights. This is a tough battle and there will be a heavy loss before victory. But victory, will change the course of the future. Perhaps the future will create newer margins and oppression, but in time, they will fight for their rights too. But what we all need is a change in attitude and beliefs. We need to believe that we are all equal. Just because somebody is educated, is rich, is heterosexual, is of a powerful sex, is of a better caste/race doesn’t make them better and shouldn’t be given the right to dictate others’ life.

Being a feminist, I come back to concerns around women. I wish to believe that a day will come, when women can walk free of the fear of sexual preying. That even if a woman walks a street naked, she will not be sexually attacked… But somehow a doubt constantly lingers….

Published in: on May 15, 2010 at 6:47 PM  Comments (2)  

The irony of “seeking” knowledge

Not all of us stand first in class. Not all of us in a class make the same career choice. Not all of us understand a sentence in the same way…..

Knowledge has a way of playing hide and seek with us. We cannot seek knowledge unless it wishes to reveal itself to us. Otherwise, no matter how much you seek, it can never be comprehended. If we are ready to obtain it, it will make itself available and understandable to us.

In a way, everything around the world functions in a similar way. If the kind of love that I know and understand is conditional, then it is only conditional love that will make itself available to me, the rest blur away and I’d become oblivious to their existence.

Interestingly, what we seek- the perspectives, the options, the flavor, changes with time… I guess it must. Otherwise, where is the growth? If such is the case, is it safe to say we have no control over life?

The series of life events before something determines what that something is going to be… But the way we react and respond to that something will determine what will follow it… Its as if life wants us to push our boundaries and get a little out of our comfort level in every situation given to us. Else, we’d be the horse following the carrot, just that there is no carrot and we’re not squeezing out any oil in the process.

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 7:58 PM  Comments (2)  

The Day I Lost My Faith…

I’m sure I’d not be wrong in thinking that all of us who have turned agnostic or atheistic distinctly remember the day when we started to question our faith. I remember mine…

I was 18, and it hit me when I was in my car, on the way to college. I’m always late to leave home and prayers were kept for the way to college. This one day, I left home, just like every other day. I was saying my prayers and suddenly felt that I was doing something redundant, stopping myself to ritualistic ways of thinking. I did not pray that day and it nagged me. This led to a chain of events, exploring why I pray, why I participate in rituals, why I follow certain things and not other practices.

My mom could give me scientific reasons behind rituals and practices. She said women were expected to live in seclusion during their monthly period because they need rest for those 3-4 days. I thought, “Why not just let us rest? Why seclude us and treat us like filth depriving physical contact and freedom of movement?” There were no answers. I knew she was itching to break the barriers and live in peace, but then the rituals have exerted such a strong power over us, that it becomes unimaginable to question it.

I started to stay far away from rituals of any kind. And I never regretted that decision. It keeps my mind open, like a child, curious to observe and learn, not to become a cog in the wheel. I questioned and argued just for the sake of it, so that I don’t get pulled into doing things like a keyed-up doll. I stopped clasping my hands as a sign of quick reverence when I pass by a temple. I find that to be the biggest hypocrisy. When I see God in all small things and in unexpected places, who am I kidding when I say God lives only in temples. I believe God does not live in temples of any form since God I am sure is allergic to all the political muck in such places.

Becoming a feminist was a big step in understanding the political undercurrents of everyday happenings. Religious rituals are clearly, at least according to me, a form of oppressing women. A woman is a rag doll in the world of religious rituals wherein she is seen as impure and at the same time is the agent for transfer of traditions, customs and rituals. I don’t need these rituals which does not respect me and my body; and expects my body to suffer for others’ wellbeing!

Culture, society, and tradition are some of the most compelling factors in a person’s life and it has the potential to turn venomous. Questioning such overarching influences becomes a monumental task even if it is for your own sake and you don’t intend to change the world. I’m not asking the people around me to turn agnostic or atheistic, I’m just asking them to let me live in peace, in my terms.

Now, I am 26 years old. I am happy with how I am living my life. I don’t ridicule people who pray. I pray too. But what I pray for and how I pray has seen distinct changes over the years. And I am proud to say I am against all forms of religious rituals that makes my existence mundane.

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM  Leave a Comment  

Women and Climate change

Today I read this very interesting article in the Times of India, Mumbai about how women bear the brunt of climate change. With the basic resources becoming scarce, it is the woman who spends more time and energy in search of these resources. Also, in times of food scarcity at home, it is the woman (and the girls in the house) who mostly takes the smallest share. This results in malnutrition and anemia which continues into further complications like maternal mortality.

As more and more men migrate into the urban spaces for livelihood, it is mostly the woman who is left behind to fend for herself and her family. Most interesting info was that around 80% of world’s agricultural produce is by women and yet (in India) they are not recognised as farmers and are not eligible to avail any schemes and services. It is now more important to start looking at women as collaborators in every field. Dalit women and tribal women face further marginalisation and deprivation.

It is becoming more and more evident that due to marginalisation and less opportunities to make their concerns heard, women are forced to march into unchartered territories in order to survive, be it Dardpura in Kashmir or the rural poor of many states, trafficking of women and girls or exploitation for sexual purposes are on the increase. And the worst part is their invisibility.

It is time to look at all developmental frameworks from a gender sensitive lens if at all it is to benefit the community. We cannot afford to marginalise women or ignore their voices any longer.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 8:43 AM  Comments (1)  

Swine flu in Mumbai…

Educational Institutions, multiplexes and malls were closed down in Mumbai for a week as a means of containing the spread of swine flu… In the last few weeks, people of mumbai have been paying more attention to the filthy habits of others (conveniently ignoring their own!).  Like the other day i saw a woman buying vegetables from a vendor who coughed without covering his mouth. The woman’s heart skipped a beat… I thought she’s now more prone to a heart attack than swine flu. Quickly she grabbed the first thing she can cover her mouth with- her dupatta, and was soon in peace with the reassurance that her dupatta will save her from the deadly virus…

I was walking to college the other day when I saw a woman who kept spitting every few steps. With my tolerance pushed to the brink I approached her the next time and told her politely “Sister, please don’t spit, it spreads tuberculosis.” The second she saw me approach her, she covered her mouth and nose with whatever she was holding- ainterestingly, an umbrella!!! And she had that terror in her face… As if I was committing some kind of crime against her!!!

Tuberculosis kills more people (atleast ten times more) in India and especially in mumbai than any such flu outbreak could. Unfortunately people are so ambivalent about this deadly disease. Every now and then I see an autorickshaw which carries the message “Do not spit. Spitting spreads TB” on the rear side of the hood. Unfortunately it is always written in English, its not like english speaking people come to the city with the aim of spitting everywhere and spreading TB. The failure to understand the objective behind such causes and provide appropriate forms of awareness messages is depressing.

At this rate, I think there is a high chance of Mumbai drowning in the spit of its people than the water body that surrouds it.

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 7:12 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Unbearable Gaze…

I’m back after a hiatus to involve in some retrospection of what it is to be a woman… But before that lets trace back and look at some basic questions… What is a woman? Who is a woman?

The gray area that was always misunderstood to be the shadow… The mute spectator and bearer of the most subtle yet strong insinuations of the society.

So when does a woman take centre stage? Well, it happens when there is a vacancy for the position of upholder of culture, traditions and customs… She is vested with the responsibility to follow and uphold the good old values and make sure that her daughters follow the same path. But what purpose does it serve? The values and lifestyle of the women in the family determines the family’s respect and honor. So it is important to keep the women at home and safegaurd the honor. The interesting twist in the story comes when the girl in the family is to be married. Here, the values and honor which the girl has been carrying will be transferred to the husband and his family and it is their responsibility to make sure the girls is kept aware of it constantly…

Even the middle and upper middle class families of India are not free from such attitudes (though it is much more subtle). In my opinion, every girl who is venturing out of home to do her education and have a career, thus breaking the mould, is a hero in her own unique way. I wish I could conclude this by saying that these girls come out victorious and live happily ever after… But then, I would be lying.

The insinuations from the world around her (I include even the women) does not ever cease. A woman cannot carry out any activity mechanically even a simple one like walking on the street. There are so many things she needs to be aware of- the male gaze which never seems to end no matter where she is and what she is wearing, the gaze of the moral police who give the stink eye when the dupatta goes a little askew, the constant maneuvering in the crowd which holds the possibility of any random man groping or nudging her…. The list is endless. When my friends tease me about the privileges women get for being women I can only laugh at it. They are not privileges, they are charity and there is a heavy price women have to pay for it- their freedom… My only reply to those who belive women have more privileges is this:

“You would understand what it is to be a woman only when you become one.”

At this point let me clarify that I’m not preaching against men. I’m just stating the plight of women wherein the peretrators are both men and women who refuse to look the other way and question the norms…

To be continued in the next post…

Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 8:48 AM  Leave a Comment