Sunday, January 4, 2015
As another year went by, I sat down to ponder on how the year faired. The tasks left undone, the accomplishments, the failures and the success all started flashing through my mind... It's then I realised that what's important to savour are the experiences and not so much the annual to do list.
So I decided to recall my various experiences both direct and indirect.
2014 gave me my biggest project till date, another stepping stone. A project that made me come out as a stronger person. I saw dreams coming true and friends and relationships falling apart. I saw money taking control of people and their behavior. I also had friends bailing me out of the crisis. I saw the joy of work well done on the faces of the labourers and I felt the muscles strain in the effort to meet deadlines.
The year made me cross my comfort zone and made me do work I had never attempted before. It made me experiment and it saw me out-perform my earlier work. I also connected with many new kids. Passionate about art and totally fun to be with. It had me teach art to moms who had their plate full but wanted to vent creatively.
While I felt the joy of playing the piano again, I missed my vocal lessons as my guru became too frail now to sing. I had the joy of growing my own vegetables and see little tomatoes... And I also felt pain when my 10 year old plant just died...
I attended a wild Bachelorette party where almost every one let their hair down... And painted the town (read Hyderabad) red with my girl friends...
In 2014 I lost a few old friends, people I had been with for years. With reasons not clear best course of action was to move on... Beginning of the year saw me through the roller coaster of first finding and then letting go of someone who was perceived to be my soul mate for last 22 years. Alas what's not meant to be is not meant to be...
They say that when a door closes another opens. I met new people and I experienced the joy of reconnecting with school mates from kanpur. The joy of talking about the days gone by was priceless.
This year I also vicariously went through a lot. Joys, sorrows and ecstasy... A knee surgery and painful recovery... A birth of boy child... Managing the tantrums of a 2 year old who was visibly upset at the entry of the little brother in her life... An adoption of a girl... And even taking the plunge to tie the knot. Each of these life changing event I witnessed and lived them closely.
I lost my favorite uncle and felt my aunt's loss of a partnership that had lasted 57 years.
I ran marathons and kept bettering my record. I walked and I cycled. I baked and cooked and experimented with the spices. I tried hard to diet and through some I was a success and somewhere else a failure.
Be it my own or others from all the experiences one thing I realised that everyone goes through their own shit. Some find others lose. Some lose their love, other their spouse, some their parents and other their siblings. Some lose their pets and some their jobs. And almost everyone tries to lose weight.
In 2014 I saw the high and low, I lost and found, I surged ahead and often staggered. I lacked discipline but not determination. I lost heart but never hope. I cried a lot but laughed even more.
With joy in my heart and determination in mind I surge ahead to welcome the year 2015 with another annual to do list. Tasks I'd like to complete, projects to undertake, places to visit, people to meet but keeping in mind to focus on and savour all the experiences big and small and good and bad alike... Happy 2014 it was and I hope happy 2015 it will be...
January 4, 2015
Thursday, December 18, 2014
It's been a year today since Khurshid Anwar jumped off his house. He succumbed to the trauma that he had been subjected to. Falsely accused of rape, instead of following the process and the law, he was pronounced guilty by a section of media and many others who maligned him, his reputation and his entire existence on social media and off it. He on 18th December, 2013 at about this time gave in to it all...
His perpetrators are free, enjoying life, active on Facebook, in social circles and some also in political circles. The said victim never showed up after her accusation. The police have still not filed an FIR on the complain registered by the family against some prominent people. The court has given dates and the process is on... System is working at its own pace.
Khurshid Anwar is no more and the world has moved on... His house got wound up. Family which was away from him but had united on his demise has also moved on. Organisation which was closest to him as they were together almost 24x7, picked pieces and pledged to take ahead what Khurshid had left behind. They faced financial crisis, board crisis but they got around it. They got a new board, and responsibilities were realigned. Not a single employee left the organization. They organised events, brought out books and tried to keep Khurshid alive through their work. But the void continues...
I knew Khurshid through Shruti my sister who works for ISD and in his absence now has been appointed the Chief Functionary of the organization. ISD was shruti's 1st job and Khurshid made sure she learns and learns well. He would be happy to see her perform today. He mentored her, was her friend and shared an amazing rapport with her. Every other day she would call and say "aaj sir ke yahan baithak hai, will eat there".
Through this one year I have seen whatever has happened through Shruti's eyes and through the voices of some of her colleagues. I have seen her cry and I have seen her angry. I have seen the team anxious before meeting with the funder and I have seen the team helpless when court extended the dates. Each in their own way want justice. Each in their own way are frustrated. They maybe the closest people Khurshid had but it's the family who takes decisions. Life is funny, those who are with you in life have little say about you when you are dead.
One year is over... Life changed for many, as it did for my sister. Khurshid is no more but alive in memories, in his stories, through his work. Often I hear Khurshid would have said this, he would have said that... his presence is missed by many... Magar ab koi message nahi aata Shruti se..
kyunki ab koi baithak hi nahi hoti...
December 18, 2014
Thursday, November 27, 2014
I take these interactive sessions on art with kids. In other words I go and teach them a thing or two about painting etc.. The kids are generally 6 yrs plus studying in various schools of South Delhi and Gurgaon.
Yesterday, was class with 2 girls who are close friends all of 8 years and studying in one of the best school of Delhi. During the class a conversation happened between these two which left me disturbed.
For now referring to the girls as A and B. The class was at A's house and B goes to the wash room and this is the conversation that follows...
" Do you have guests at home? " asked B to A.
" Yes, my dadu's friends have come." A replied.
"Are they from US or Canada?" B asked.
"No they are from Pakistan."
B jumps and says "Pakistan! please don't take me in front of them"
"They will be terrorist"
"We know them they are friends and they are not terrorist " said A.
I promptly intervened and asked B, "who told you people from Pakistan are terrorist?"
"My nani, told me that people from Pakistan came to Mumbai and killed many at the hotel. Even Nani's friend was killed." replied B
"But all people from Pakistan are not terrorist. There can be bad people anywhere. In India, in your own Delhi there are people who are bad who are doing wrong. In US or in any place there will be good people and bad people ", I tried to put some gyan in the little girl's head.
"Mam, then who are terrorist? Why do they kill?" asked A
"Beta these are people who are unwell in their head, they have lost sense of good and bad, someone tells them and they pick their guns and kill innocent people. They need treatment, they are not normal people. "
"If I take a gun and kill someone, will I also be called a terrorist?" asked B
Now, I knew I had to answer that carefully, so I said, if you surrender say sorry to court, you will be punished, you serve your punishment and then try to be a good human you will not be called a terrorist.
The kids seemed satisfied and got distracted with their art.
But it left me wondering. Today the kids have an information over load. They watch TV sit with adults when discussions are happening and by and by form opinions. All Pakistanis are terrorist, who is a terrorist, can I be a terrorist... All serious and dangerous thoughts and questions that are crossing the minds of these 7-8 year old kids.
As adults, teachers, parents we need to be better equipped with answers and with thoughts that will not prejudice a young mind. I have no clue whether how I handled the question was right or not...
But on the 26/11 anniversary a little girl telling me a Pakistani came to Mumbai and killed her nani's friend hence all Pakistanis are terrorist was a disturbing conversation...
November 27, 2014
Monday, November 3, 2014
Thursday, January 3, 2013
We fail to teach our children, especially girls, that it’s not their fault…
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The media, the police and the people at large are protesting at how no one is coming forth to offer some leads on the culprit.
Radhika Tanwar, all of 20 years of age was shot dead on a foot over bridge near her college in broad day light on March 8, 2011, at point blank range. She was with her friends when the culprit came from behind, shot at her and then ran away. As per the news paper reports, her friends who were walking with her fled away and no one even dared to take her to the hospital till a police constable did the needful.
A day later, students of her college and the other colleges are protesting on the streets demanding justice. The Chief Minister visits the family and voices her concerns over the security of women in the city. The ACP of Delhi Police is shouting out loud asking people to come forward and help. The headlines in news papers and television, the facebook updates and the tweets all seem to be blaming the public at large for not coming in front to help the cause of Radhika.
The students who are protesting and blocking the roads in all probability do not include with them the few who were with Radhika when she was on the foot over bridge. The reason is very clear. It’s easier to march to India Gate and light candles, initiate a Facebook cause but it really takes guts to stand up against the system, the goons and the mighty that have the power of money and the bullets with them. The police really cannot ensure fool proof protection to any such person who stands up. Not because the police cannot, but because the goons in such case are mightier then the constable who is guarding the house of the witness. It has been proven many a times and quite often true that many of the people in the system are bought over by the mighty and then all pleas for justice fall on deaf ear.
I write this today because I wonder what I would have done in this situation. My head and heart tells me that I would have come out and spoken. But what if I get a phone call in the middle of the night, “your parents live in Bhiwadi, they are old and alone……” or “we know what time your sister leaves the house and where she goes exactly…” This may sound dramatic, but I guess that’s how the threats are. Would I still have the guts? Can I afford to risk my parent’s life and security? These questions will definitely come to my mind. I really do not know what kind of courage it takes to still stand against all odds. But I do know only one in a thousand have that courage.
The two examples of what I am saying are from two cases that were in news recently. Jessica Lal and Ruchika Ghirhotra. While in Jessica’s case the witness all backed off due to the fear of the bullet. I remember a dialogue from the recent movie, “No one killed Jessica”, where one of the witness (Shyan Munshi) who turned hostile said, “I did not want Rs 1 crore but I also did not want a bullet”. In Ruchika’s case on the other hand, her friend Aradhna Prakash showed exemplary courage in standing against the mighty and powerful, Rathore. As per the reports in her case, one can see the harassment Ruchika and her family faced for complaining and how upon her suicide, her friend Aradhana and her family relentlessly kept at it to see that the guilty be punished. How many ARADHANA’s are there today?
The failure therefore is not in people’s mindset. The failure is largely on account of the law-order and justice system. A person who has a gun in his hand has the confidence that he will get away. It will be ages before he is caught, if he is he will get bail. Even after being charged, he has the money to hire big lawyers and who knows maybe influence the judges too. So the mindset is that if one has a Godfather, a gun and loads of money power, he/she can get away with murder. The mindset of the people who do not have money and power is different. Most of them are honest and want to fight injustice but lack the courage to fight against the mighty. They know that tomorrow it could be their daughter in Radhika’s situation, but they still fear that if they stand up today, tomorrow they will surely be in a situation similar.
So till the time somehow the police and judiciary come out clean and give the mighty the message that despite of your gun and money, you can still be hanged, they will continue on their criminal spree. The public at large will continue to face the dilemma: To stand up or not; To think of your loved ones or to think of the larger issues; To think of your life ahead or to risk it being wasted in coutrs.
We definitely need more Aradhnas and we need no Shayan Munshis but till then let us take a heart.
© shubhra chaturvedi, March 10, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Do we give up because life is unaffordable now?
Mukesh and Reena stay at the dairy near the Vasant Kunj block B-11. For their living they iron clothes. In addition Mukesh cleans the cars early morning. They have two children, a daughter and a son and an ailing mother to look after.
I had a chance to interact with Mukesh at length and figured out his journey from village to Delhi. He has taken two rooms in the nearby dairy, for himself and his mother, paying Rs 3000/- pm as rent. He uses almost 3-4 kgs of coal for his ironing. The cost of coal these days is Rs 40/kg. He charges Rs 3 per cloth from the households and clothes like saris and bed sheets are charged at Rs 7 and Rs 10 respectively. Reena and Mukesh got their daughter admission in a renowned south delhi school, DPS, Vasant Kunj. They got through under the category of economically weaker section. They are not paying as much fees but the monetary pressure of teaching children in a good school is always there.
Having all of the above expenses and their limited means of earning, life for them is indeed tough as it is for everyone. However they do not crib, Mukesh says, “jiske pass hai wo dabayega, jisko chaihiye wo dabega” very profound statement. Mukesh and Reena are just examples. There are several such couples who have come from their villages and are surviving in the city. Each of these people has done their cost analysis. On the basis of their expenses, they charge for their services, whether it is cleaning cars, doing domestic work, ironing clothes or whatever. Whether onions come at Rs 65/kg or Rs 15/kg they have found a way to survive and so is the case for the other classes of society. The local vegetable vendor tells me that he gets up at 1 am to get his stock from the “Azadpur Mandi” and therefore whatever price he gets there he hikes it up by at least Rs 5/kg and sometimes more sells it. Though it pinches my pocket but can I blame him for his strategy? The spirit is to survive; no one can just give up because life is unaffordable.
So when Mr. Montek Singh Alhuwalia says that the rising prices show economic growth and indicate people’s buying power, I wish to ask him if he really thinks it is true. Does the common man or the not so common man have a choice? On the pretext of inflation, everyone is hiking prices and those with power are negotiating prices. It’s a war of wits, whose need is more, who will crack first.
We maybe a democracy, but it almost seems like a monarchy. Billions of rupees have been siphoned away by the ministers, corporate, bureaucrats etc on account of their corrupt deeds. Neither have the guilty been punished nor has the money been recovered. The food prices have been rising, so have the petrol prices and the government say it really cannot do much to control inflation. Mr. Prime Minister, was the one to bail the country out when the worst economic crisis had gripped us and yet he has no solutions now. I am totally amazed at the helplessness displayed by the government. Even in a country like the US, the food prices are subsidized.
I was shocked and angry and still am when I read a few days back that Rahul Gandhi thinks it’s the coalition alliance which is holding the govt back from being able to control prices, and Mr Ahluwalia says that rising prices show prosperity. These are our leaders and our policy makers and who are so far away from the ground reality.
So Mr. Ahluwalia, please check your data again, maybe you can walk to your own kitchen and find out the difference. How much was being spent on cooking a meal for you earlier and how much is being spent now. Your salary is constant (I assume) but you are in a league where you may not feel the pinch at all. Maybe you could ask your cook if he thinks that the rising prices indicate prosperity.
© Shubhra Chaturvedi, January 20, 2011