Wednesday, March 29, 2006


How I wish I could say NO to people like some persons I know! I wonder how some people say NO so easily! Inability to say NO can be an irritating quality. I hate it.


Hmmm....Well, on the hindsight, I think this post of mine is kind of misleading. Well, when i say I cannot say NO, I should have added that I cannot say No to my loved ones. Otherwise, I can and I have easily said NO. However, when it comes to loved ones, saying No is tough.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Buhahaha.....Hahahahahhaaaa....couldn't control my fits of laughter when i saw this....Hilarious stuff..

Image courtesy: MTV India

Friday, March 24, 2006


Well, I was on my way to post something else till I chanced upon Annie's post. The images are very interesting and many among them have moved me. This post is just an emotional reaction of mine regarding a picture I saw.

This one has seriously disturbed me. So what they are prostitutes, I don't think they deserve this....I know, it's their decision to work, I know. However, this line"One of the many prostitutes who work until the last day of their pregnancies." just brings a chill within me. I somehow don't feel that it is right. I think prostitutes should have maternity leave too :( Very depressing....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Random musings

**Before I start writing my new post just wanted to inform that my previous post was not about the forward that I received. It was about the thought provoking response I received for that forward. So, please scroll down and make it a point to read it. **


I read this and I felt sad. I don't know Sowmya personally. Neither do i know her as a blogger. Though, I had seen her comments in various posts, I somehow never bothered to check her blog. However, when I read Chakra's post informing about her demise, I felt bad. You know, it is very weird to read a blog of a dead person :| It really is. I cannot imagine what the family would be going through. I know, death is inevitable, a harsh fact of life. However, I just wonder, how would it be for the family to go through her blog post her demise. Would it threaupatic for the family or would it prove to be a hindrance for them in 'moving on....'? It's a very weird situation. At the end of the day, I just pray god that her soul rests in peace.

Couple of days back I went to meet Mr S for one of my stories. I knew Mr S as I interacted with him earlier too. It was just that I was meeting him after a couple of months. I reached his house and I rang the bell. Mrs S answered the door.
Me: Hello, is Mr S at home?

Mrs S: [puzzled expression] Aaapan Kon? {Whose this?}

Me: Oh, I am Shobha. Remember I had met Mr S in connection with a story I had done earlier. Is he there? I wanted to talk to him regarding a story I am doing now.

Mrs S: Oh, tey vaarley {he expired} [ I should add that the way she informed me about his death was really weird. Her tone was as if she was informing me that he's not home. No melodrama, absolutely matter of fact. :|]

Me: WHAT?????? Oh shit... I am so sorry....

Mrs S then proceeded to give me the details while I stood there shell shocked. She explained to me about Mr S's death in a very matter of fact way. I apologised profusely and after few minutes left the place. This was a perfect "what is life?" moment. I mean, I just go to meet someone and I get informed that he died. He was a sweet man, a very active citizen. Damn it.... This was the last thing that I had expected. I swear weird things happen to me....Dear God, may his soul rest in peace too...

I am talking too much about death na....Ok, let me give you a cool news. Let me introduce my Pakistani buddy to all you guys for he has stepped his baby feet in the world of blogdom. He is one of my nicest friends, an absolute sweetheart. Ok world, drumrolls please.....

Welcome NOOR

Please guys, go and visit his blog. He is a very interesting person and an Indophile. I am sure none of you would be bored. You know, currently he's facing a weird problem. He cannot access his blog hosted by Blogger/Blogspot. This is because, post the Danish cartoons controversy, the Pakistani government had banned many webjournal sites including blogger. Read more here Though he can write entries, edit them, he cannot view them in his blog. An optimist that he is, he feels it would be a temporary glitch. Anyways, visit his blog, it would make an enjoyable read.

P.S. In a very weird way....Noor's latest post also talks about death :|

Friday, March 17, 2006

Response to the Tribute FWD

Couple of weeks back I received this mail as a forward. {Please read the response to the forward below}

Late Mr. Surjan Singh Bhandari

N.S.G. Commando

During The Attack on Akshardham temple on 24th September 2002 this Brave Man fought the greatest battle of his life. Yes he was the N.S.G. Commando Late Mr. Surjan Singh , who sacrificed his life for the Nation. Sadly On 19th May 2004 he lost the Toughest an d Longest battle against life exactly after 600 Days being in Coma, he lost this life.

The Bullet which hit him in the head made him Unconscious for almost 600 days. His family members were hoping that one day their Hero will open his eyes but he didn't.

It was the Longest Wait for the family members of this Brave Man. When the whole India was busy in Guessing Who will be the Next PM of the country - Will it be Sonia or will it be Manmohan Singh, This man was fighting his Last battle. But it's so sad that in the hype of all the Political Drama, the News about his Death was Lost like a needle in a hay stack! Even the leading News Papers & So Called Best News Channels of India which Works on 24 X 7 basis, failed to highlight this story of the Brave Man. Unfortunately it was mentioned somewhere on the middle page of some newspaper.....This was the Reward for the Brave task for which he lost his life.

Besides his Family members, only one thing was there with him during those toughest 600 days. It was there near his bed till the last Moment. Can you guess what it was?............... It was the "Tiranga", yes! Our National Flag, which was saluting him for his Great cause. Absolutely No words can suffice our Gratitude towards him...

If news papers refuse to cover, TV channels refuse to cover, let us do our bit.

Please forward this mail to as many people as you can.

This is the only way we can salute his Bravery...

As a reply to this mail, I received another mail by mr Vijayan M J of Pakistan India People's Forum for peace and democracy. It was such a thoyght provoking mail that I could not stop myself from posting it here. Therefore with due permission, I reproduce the response to that forward.

Dear friends (response to mail below),

As an Indian, I fully support remembering (forever), sacrifices made by
brave men like Mr. Surjan and feels that we need to challege the 'selective'
public/governmental and media memory also... But do we only remember these
(like our media does to Kargil heroes and those jawans and officers who get
killed in Kashmir or other disputed areas of this great nation)?

Am asking this question and taking time to write this note as I feel mails like the one below are part of our own fraud attempts to forget these people and their 'sacrifices' and 'martyrdom' and an effort to boost our morale and patriotism. This is a self-inflicted 'feel good' that we are upto. Some get goose pimples by involving in this sort of nationalistic/patriotic/jingoistic acts. But sadly neither does this kind of e-activism contribute to remembering people like Surjan or others who have at different levels given their life for any cause, nor does these help prevent deaths of future surjans...

Do we know why??? Because it is an established national defence policy of countries like India and US (among some others) to waste people on the armed front and this is no guess - some of us are involved in related studies. We are an over populated country (as we have been repeatedly told) and it does not matter to us how many jawans of Indian origin are getting killed in internal egoistic battles that we have been figting over the past 59 years. We have prepared speeches that officers patriotically deliver when jawans and fellow men die to militant bulltes or grenades in Kashmir, Nagaland or elsewhere. We have ready press releases from the Ministry of Home afairs for them and about those who killed them (blaming ISI for every action in this country - like Pakistan blames RAW).

But we do not want to stop these killings or make sure atleast that we try our best to support the lives of those who are better living then dead. This forces me to say, in India, we prefer some soldiers dying every year (that too, thanks to Bofors scams where we end up buying fake weaponry, we eat money from their coffins even - like what our defence minister and co did during kargil, we boast about their sacrifice to their country after their death and immediaely forget about them, and most importantly we think - even while reading this mail that all these are problems created by a section of us called politicians, alone)...

As a people, we have done nothing to expose the culprits of Kargil war - those in our intellingence and political circles, who thought it was not even important to inform our soldiers in advance that Pakistani army had already dug graves for them, this left a thousand soldiers killed (in a semi-war that was necessary for the then BJP to survive in power and three US weapon companies to promote their arms trade with GOI). We do nothing when we hear about the regular 'practise warfare' that our soldiers are taught to fight in Kashmir - including the rapes, the fake encounters and the disappearances... Lets leave romanticism aside and ask ourselves since when is raping a woman important to protect our national sovereignity and integrity. I have heard from soldiers and more embarassingly from army officers that "since the women in Kashmir lift their skirts for Jehadis to make more jehadis, it is an important anti-insurgency strategy to sexually and pysically thrash them"... Would you and I stay quite if that was to happen in our backyards in Kerala, West Bengal or Maharashtra? Imagine Indian army man doing this to you or your sister and you will never utter the word patriotism (the way it is pronounced now by jingoists) again in your life, I promise...

So here we have a serious problem in hand. A government which has a policy to waste men in conflicts or to (expired) Mig-29 crashes on the one hand and WE who only want to remember the men who get killed by orchestrated and planned actions of any tom dick or harry...

Please remember, rarely people are born mad to kill others or to get killed on the first instance. They are taught and trained to do so in most instances... *Everyone, including our soldiers*, our *agricultural workers*(who are committing suicide in thousands in our villages due to starvation -
they are also equally patriotic and are giving their life for the nation, they pay the price for a nationally accepted policy called advanced capitalism), *our students* [yes they do get killed very often in Kashmir (remember fake encounters, whic govt has officially apologised for, now), in Meghalaya (ten school students were killed by state police and CRPF, for demonstrating against an unjust educational policy), in Assam (when they tried to protect the dignity of a fellow girl student, who was asked for favours by some jawans travelling in the train)], *our rural folk and tribal* *country men and women* in Kalinga Nagar (in Orissa) for asking the government to give their land back to them and not to MNCs and Indian corporates, etc etc *deserve to be remembered. None's life is more precious than some others... *

Unlike what our media tells us, there is no point in getting agitated only when a Manu Sharma laughs at our system and gets away with a murder in public, because of money power, we need to be equally agitated and active when Narendra Modi mocks justice in Gujarat and get away with killing 2000 of them or when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv got away with killing thousand of Sikhs in Punjab, Tamils in Sri Lanka (through our IPKF), etc... Is there an sms number of a channel I can send 'punish' to get Warren Anderson (of the famous Bopal Gas tragedy fame) punished for criminal negligence that resulted in a genocide of Indians!!! Will Bush and Manmohan be talking this time about bringing that fellow to justice??? No, never...

I realise life is not 'Rang De Basanti' and that this mail has already tested your patience. But let us atleast not fool ourselves and get bitten by patriotism and nationalism + concern for our fellow country men and women, only when it is convenient to us - to get goose pimples. Their memories and our lives are worth more than that!!!

Thanks to those who reached this part of the mail

Vijayan MJ

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My story---Blank Noise Project

As a policy, I usually stay away from writing extremely personal stuff in my blog. However, today I make an exception. For the first time ever, I am penning down extremely personal thoughts regarding sexual harrasment at streetplaces. Yup, it includes an harrowing experience that I went through. Trust me, it still seems weird. I never thought I could do it i.e. share my experience eith anyone. However when I read about BlankNoiseProject, I convinced myself that I will write about it. Well, it wouldn't just be a social commentary, but also sharing an experience that almost scarred me. I don't want any sympathy. I am writing it because for me, this is an opportunity to come out and accept what happened to me. I am writing for myself.

I still remember the day. It was a republic day and I was in 9th standard. I was all set to go to my school for the republic day parade and to attend other celebrations. I was on my way to school with one friend who happened to be a year senior to me. we were both walking and suddenly a man walking to my left suddenly came from nowhere and cooly groped me and left. I stood there rooted at the spot unable to comprehend what had just happened to me. I kept wondering what to do since I could see that bastard walking down coolly as if nothing happened. Finally I screamed, "Pakdo....usko....catch hold of him." However once I screamed, that coward ran away. I couldn't control anymore and burst crying. The friend who was along with me couldn't understand what was happening. She thought that it was a thief who stole something. I told her what happened. I don't know how I did that, but well, she got the drift. We were just a minute away from school and an autowallah came by and seeing me cry asked me what happened. Both of us stood there staring at him blankly wondering what o tell him. I think, he got the drift and asked us to hop into his rickshaw and dropped us in the school.

I went to our school ground. I couldn't bear to see anyone. Guilt and shame engulfed me. I didn't go to the place wherein my class students were standing, I did not want to go anywhere near them. Usually on the Republic day, students from all the students come to attend the parade simultaneously, it's huge ground. I stood with the primary section children, at the fag end of the line. I stood there like a statue unable to still stomach what had happened to me. All the two hours that i was in school, I had my head down. I couldn't bear to look above. I tried to control the tears which came rushing.....however I was sucessful only to a certain extent. I wanted to cry, cry loudly and badly. i was embarrased, embarrased to the core. A feeling of revulsion overtook me, i couldn't face myself.

Finally it was time to go home. I somehow went home. I rang the bell and appa opened the door. I entered the house and then the volcano burst. I just burst crying, I couldn't control anymore. i somehow managed to control myself in school. My parents were confused, they didn't know what happened to me. I told them. Both Amma and appa just looked at me helplessly. I howled, I did not know what else to do. I was all of 13. I was consoled. Later I was told, "Don't tell this to anyone haan beta." I heard it and kept quiet. I tried not to think of it and yea not to tell anyone about it.

Days passed by, but the memories did not. It still haunted me. The hurt. The physical hurt had gone but the mental scars remained. I felt guilty and ashamed. yea...I did, for no fucking fault of mine. I couldn't even talk to that friend who was with me that day. I would just change my route if I find her walking in the same road. i would run away from seeing her since I felt ashamed, she reminded me about that incident which i was desperately trying to forget. From then on, whenever I would be late at home, amma and appa would always fret. "Look, don't be late, remember what happened that day na?" I would listen and nod, blankly, totally understanding. I know they are concerned. But I don't know why it functions the way it is. I HATE IT. I am not allowed to go out late because men will letch at me, or there is a danger of molestation. WHY? WHY? WHY? Why do I live in such a world dominated by men wherein WOMEN HAVE TO ADJUST TO THEIR MISDEEDS? I still don't have an answer. I have to conform many a times that's practical. But I still wonder.

Years passed on. I was in FYJC {11th std} I was talking to one of my buddies. She told me how she was also molested in a similar manner. I was shocked. I was shocked that it happened to others too. Till that time, i hadn't spoken to anybody about it. I wonder why....That incident had scarred me so much that I refused to talk about it. I kept mum and acted as if nothing happened. Anyways, when I heard it, I was amazed as to how my friend was narrating it to me without any guilt and shame in an absolutely matter-of-fact way. Somehow that was a threaupatic experience. I realised that I wasn't the sole victim at all.

From then on, I was more alert and I became more assertive. I would scream loudly if someone brushed aside me. I have beaten up guys who have tried to act fresh. If I find someone staring, I simply go and ask them, "Kya hain? Kya dekh raha hain? kaam dhanda nahi hain kya?" {What? what are you looking at? No work or what? } Most of the times they chicken out. A cold hard stare back most of the times works. Never let them stare at you. Stare back and hard and mutter abuses.

Just two days ago, I was getting home at 12 in the night. I was alighting from the rickshaw when a qualis went past me with hooligans hooting. i stood there and abused them in the most filthy language. I stood there till they disappeared from my eyesight. The autowallah stood there and told me, "jaane do, madam." I was so angry. I looked at him and said, "Jaane kaise doon? Aise logon ko gaali dena chahiye, nahi toh aise karte rahenge." {Leave it ma'am. } {How can I simply let go? we have to abuse such people, otherwise they will keep doing it.} I wanted the hooligans to know that they can't always get away with doing everything. And that not all the girls will simply put their head down and walk away when you eve tease. But I also wonder that iw as able to do this since it was my area, my locality. The familiarity helps since if anything happens, you know people will just come to help even at midnight. I wondered if I would have been able to do the same in an unknown place. I would have probably put my head down and walked off. I cringed at the very thought. I hated myself for that. But well, that's the reality.

But what am I doing to protect myself? Well, I am thinking to join a self-defence classes. I have to learn the techniques. Coz no one else is gonna help me especially when I need the most. Self-defence techniques should be introduced in schools. It's surprisingly, rather than empowering the girls, it's their freedom that is always restricted. Che....

Even today, society views a woman who has undergone molestation, rape etc with shame. I mean, nothing is done to remove the shameful feeling. I remember a case when a group of parents had written to the school complaining about a teacher misbehaving with the girl students. The school surprisingly did not do anything. Frustrated, they gave the same complaint letter to the police. The police asked them to file a polcie complaint. THEY REFUSED. I was shocked. They told me that they did not want to file a polcie complaint since they did not want to spoil their daughters' future. "Their names and all will come in the polcie complaint. We will have to explain in details as to what happened. Many of them would have to be married in another 5 years. It would prove difficult then." WHAT THE FUCK....I wondered. But well, that's what happened. Did you see, that the victim is made to feel shameful. Even though, the family is with the victim, they never empower her to take a bold step. I understand it would be difficult. However, the step needs to be taken. Whilst doing this, the victimiser walks freely while the victim is made to feel guilty and ashamed. Weird na? I wonder what message are the parents sending to their girls? "Too bad that something like this happened. However you are not telling anyone about this coz what happened was shameful even though it wasn't your fault." ha.....bloody society. Bloody patriacrchy. I just wish the parents instill the confidence in child that despite the lack of support, one should be brave enough coz simply, it isn't you fault, child. Please, that's the best thing you can give your girl.

Despite all this, I still have to come to terms with the first experience I had. This is the first time I am writing about it. First time, i am letting even my friends know about it. Enough is enough. We girls don't ask for it. No one likes to be molested. Also we also value our freedom. Freedom to be ourselves. Unfortunately it's a battle to be fought and fight we will since enough is enough.

However, all said and done, Blank Noise project could also have men down their experiences of sexual harassment. Well, as we all know, even men aren't spared.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Danish cartoons controversy

Hello everyone... The culture editor of the Danish Newspaper Jyllands-Posten writes why he published those cartoons. {For the uninitiated, here is the background to the whole controversy}

Childish. Irresponsible. Hate speech. A provocation just for the sake of provocation. A PR stunt. Critics of 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad I decided to publish in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten have not minced their words. They say that freedom of expression does not imply an endorsement of insulting people's religious feelings, and besides, they add, the media censor themselves every day. So, please do not teach us a lesson about limitless freedom of speech.

I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn't mean you publish everything. Jyllands-Posten would not publish pornographic images or graphic details of dead bodies; swear words rarely make it into our pages. So we are not fundamentalists in our support for freedom of expression.

Read more.....

In his column, he justifies his right to publish the cartoons. He says, "Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy."

{with reference to the comments} Atlas asked me that there is nothing wrong with the justification. Well, the argument doesn't hold true all the time. The cartoonists drew a caricature of Prophet Mohammad which according to Islam is blasphemous. Any form of depiction of Prophet Mohammad is prohibited since it would promote idol worship and Islam doesn't approve idol worship. Atlas, how will majority of hindu community feel if pics of Lord Ganesha or Lord Krishna is used as toilet covers {its a real instance?} Well, it may not really make much of a difference to the non-hindu population. but well, of course majority of the Hindu population will be offended and will protest coz their religious sentiments would be hurt. See, there are always jokes made about religions. However, it's an invisible line which if you cross, then expect angry reactions. See, everyone needn't have the same kind of tolerance level. However if a large number of people's sentiments been hurt, then you have done something wrong. Well as I said earlier, the whole world needn't see each other through the Westerner's glasses....

The first thing that stuck me when I was reading his justification was the fundamental difference in the way the West and the East viewed relegion. I think the West fails to realise the enormity of the situation. They are quite baffled by the entire controversy and regard the whole fallback of the cartoon incident as "they-have-no-work-so-they-will-protest" kind of of an attitude.

But it is high time that they see the world with a different outlook. It's high time they see the world from an ordinary Easterner's point of view. For the simple reason, RELEGION HERE FORMS THE BASIS OF A PERSON'S IDENTITY. No one takes it kindly if there is a threat to a person's identity. When you attack the crux of the beliefs a person has had all his/her life, how do you expect them to understand your point of view of freedom of speech? Things don't work this way Boss. It doesn't. (I had posted something a similar incident few days ago.

I totally understand the freedom of expression argument. However your freedom of expression doesn't give you the right to hurt someone. If there have been protests all over the world, there has been something fundamentally wrong that you have conveyed through the cartoons to have elicited such a violent reaction. Of course, I am not justifying the violent reactions. Everyone has a right to prtest. However if you want your case to be legitimately heard, then you should make sure that your protest is non-violent.

However, when I read incidents like these {link via kiruba} I somehow get a feeling that the West hasn't made an attempt to understand the psyche of the majority of the people for whom Relegion is more than just faith. Mind you, I am not justifying the violent act. I am just delving deep into the reasons that might have prompted them to do something so henious. The westerners might just dismiss it off as a cyclic barbaric reaction of islamic community. but I think, they should atleast now try to understand the way RELEGION is percieved in this part of the land.

The bottomline is when you say that you respect other relegions, you can divorce it by saying that I don't have to follow other relegions' tabboos. You don't have to follow, perfectly fine. But you also don't have to act, comment on it in such a way that it becomes a like an insult to their beliefs, something they really hold very dear.

R K Narayan

Please, check the blogathon at the end of the post and spread the word

The first book of R K Narayan that I laid my hands on was 'My Days', his autobiography. It's a small book. It is unusual since autobiographies are usually huge. Now, people would wonder that reading My Days would have been a bad idea especially since I hadn't read even a single novel or essay by him before that. However on the contrary I think that is one of the best things I have done. Reading R K's autobio gave me an insight of his personality. After that, I could actually sense his personality even in his fictional works.

I think it's a compliment to an author and his writing skills that the reader is able to decipher his/her personality even in a fictionalised account. He simply amazes me. I could never for once fathom that a person like him existed in an era wherein orthodoxy ruled roost. Most of the typical idiosyncrasies of Tam-Brams that he has written about in the year 1950s-60s hold true till date. I can imagine how tough it must have been for him to retain his sanity amidst such enormous stupidity and pressure and still remain such a liberal minded person and also retain his honesty at that.

HONESTY--->That's one quality I thought that oozed from his autobio. But it was heartening to note that even his other novels also had the same endearing quality. For me, personally, nothing can be more appealing than honesty and simplicity. He had that in abundance. His writings are so simple, so lifelike and filled with mischief, that it almost seems like I know him personally. He is the first author who has made me cry, howl if I may add. Yup, reading , The English teacher, did that to me. Man, how can someone love someone so much.........Sigh...{Please read it guys, if you haven't yet}

This incident triggered off this post. Today, one friend of mine told me how she hunted and finally found R K Narayan's house in Mysore. She said, "The house was locked. It is almost like a ghost house. There's no one. However i just stood by the gate and looked inside." When i heard her, I had goosebumps all over. I just visualised my friend standing by thr house and I just thought she was so lucky. To just envisage R K staying in the house writing the evergreen classics is just an inexplicable feeling. Even I wanna go there. Even i wanna relive the moments that R K might have spent there. Damn, too bad, I started reading him after his death only :( One of my life's biggest regrets. However as cliched as it may sound, he's alive through his writings. and Well....I love you Mr R K Narayan. There's just no one like you, no one ever....

Blog-a-thon 2006
Marking our one year foray into the blog world, we’ve decided to host a Blog-a-thon on the issue of street harassment. No, you don’t have to run anywhere (thankfully) to participate, you’ve just got to get to your computer this TUESDAY (7th MARCH) and post your thoughts on street harassment/ eve teasing on your blog. You can write about anything related to the topic: testimonies, opinions on harassment, comments about the Blank Noise project, would all be great. It doesn't matter where you're from, where you live, or whether you're a man or a woman - we'd love to have you on board. If you’d like to participate, send an email to blurtblanknoise[AT] before the coming Monday (6th March). We’ll add your name and blogsite to the ‘running’ list of participants on the Blank Noise blogsite so that everyone can see what everyone else is writing about the topic. Also, just to get the maximum number of people 'out' for this event - we'd request that you put up a posting on your blog prior to Monday to encourage other people to participate, and to let them know to check your blog on Monday. So join one, join all!