Two Genders, One Pay


Okay, call me crazy, but the other day I was reading some article about how much Hollywood actors earn per movie… I know, I know, why would I want to know that? Unless my sub-conscience is trying to indicate the fact that my bank account is down to its last twenty rupees because of my ability to shop for clothes with the hit of a single button. *Sigh*

So anyway, Jennifer Lawrence was paid way less than her male co-stars in the Hollywood multi-starrer “American Hustle“, and this information was out for the world to devour when the infamous Sony leak happened. It’s far beyond my understanding abilities to comprehend why anyone would not want to pay JLaw what she deserves. I mean, have you not seen the way she conquers the screen? Some people will say I am a feminist, and I am PROUD to say I am one. What about feminism is so confusing? How hard is it to understand the word “equal”? Remember the ” = ” while studying Maths? Yup, that’s the one. Just use it here. Men = Women. That’s it. That’s the whole point of feminism.

It is not about putting down the other gender i.e males, or even saying that women are greater than men. It does not mean that ALL men look down upon women. It does not mean that feminists HATE men. All it means is equal rights, equal opportunities, equal pay. Behave like a human towards another human. That’s it.

Talking about equal pay, I was shocked to know that sexism of such sorts exists in Hollywood, since it is a bit more progressive as compared to Bollywood. They have been making chick-flicks and have had women-centric films in which the leading lady carries the entire movie on her shoulders for quite some time now, while we have had releases like Queen and NH10 just recently. I came across this Tumblr http://shitpeoplesaytowomendirectors.tumblr.com/ , and I quite don’t know how to put my feelings into words anymore. To get more incensed about this topic, you can also read this article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/maryanngeorgantopoulos/women-directors-share-stories-of-discrimination-in-hollywood. Are all women in the film industry just a commodity? Of course not everybody thinks that way, but sometimes that seems to be the blatant truth.

Women as writers and directors are a minority, not only in Bollywood, but also in Hollywood. I can only say one thing – with terrific writers like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling making us laugh so hard with their incredible writing skills as well as acting, imagine what kind of TV shows and movies we could get to watch if more females like them get a chance.

Recently, Kangana Ranaut also spoke out about sexism in Bollywood, women being paid less, and the kind of roles women get as they age. So let me get this straight- you need a woman to complete the film, but you refuse to pay her what the male actor working alongside her will earn? That does not even make sense. If both the actors have equally important roles and share equal screen time, on what basis are you paying the male actor extra money?

Watching films like Piku, Queen and NH10 really made me feel great as a woman; Times seem to be changing, and the world doesn’t seem to be so bad anymore. As an aspiring screenwriter myself, I refuse to be held back from living my dream just because a single person might think I am not good enough because I am a woman, or because such jobs are male-centric or whatever. I am looking forward to breaking stereotypes and writing something that I shall be proud to say is my creation. Because hey, if the machine is full of grease, and nobody else is willing to clean it, you gotta do it yourself right?

Aruna Shanbaug – Her Life Began After Death


Unfortunately, she needs no introduction. Aruna Shanbaug had been in a vegetative state for 42 years, until she breathed her last in Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital yesterday. Brutally raped, sodomized and strangulated with a dog chain by Sohanlal Bharta Valmiki, a ward boy who worked at KEM with her, she soon slipped into a coma – never to come out again. And what happened to him? As a “first-time offender”, Sohanlal was sentenced to seven years for attempted murder and robbery, after which he was released and went back to living a NORMAL LIFE.

What infuriates me about this case is that she was left for dead- no, wait, worse than dead – and he actually gets another chance at life? Agreed, that times were different, the laws were different, and sodomy wasn’t considered a crime back then. But shouldn’t the fact that she went into a vegetative state after that one incident prompt an immediate response to sentence him to a harsher punishment? But as usual in India, if you do the crime, you almost never do the time.

Pinki Virani, a journalist who wrote the book “Aruna’s Story” filed a case in court for the withdrawal of Aruna’s life support stating that she has been in a “persistent vegetative state” for 37 years and was “virtually a dead person”. But the nurses who regularly took care of Aruna were against this. The court also said that the medical evidence suggested that she should live.

Previously, active as well as passive euthanasia were illegal in India. Aruna’s case literally opened the doors for a serious debate on this issue.

Even though her own family was not in touch with her for all these years, the nurses who took care of Aruna became her family, bathing, feeding and even turning her over regularly so that she wouldn’t have bedsores. Having such people in your life is a blessing indeed- the ones who care for you at your absolute worst, knowing that you can’t pay them back likewise.

However, the bigger picture here is the kind of “life” Aruna lived. Euthanasia is one topic that is highly debated, and everyone has different opinions. But making a person stay in a vegetative state for 42 years? YEARS. Not only does that seem inhuman, but also against all logic. Why would you do that to any human? Which person would like to be in such a state where they are neither dead nor alive, and having to depend on others for every little thing?

While Aruna lost a one-sided battle, her assaulter is nowhere to be found. He had resumed working after his release, and there were reports saying he visited her hospital after his release, and tried to assault her again.There is so much in this case that can teach us about humanity. Or should I say brutality? There are so many laws that need to change. Active euthanasia is a whole other thing, but passive euthanasia is something that can definitely be thought upon.

If Aruna had the choice to choose her life, what would she have done? Would she have chosen to live the defunct life that she did, or would she have chosen to be euthanized? But we will never know. For Aruna died not yesterday, but on that day that he took her soul, and she served a death sentence instead.

Rain’s First Kiss


Dust rose in the air, dancing to it’s own rhythm. Dancing through the lanes and roads that lay empty under the sun’s glaring eyes. The parched ground was waiting for the clouds to open their doors and pour down upon it. The scorching sun beat down upon the earth below, as if taking out it’s anger on the tiny people that somehow seemed to have contributed to all this.

The leaves rustled impatiently, hearing the sighs of tired people walking by, wishing for a few drops of water.

Ah, water. Heaven. Bliss. Life.

But, no- the clouds were riding high on their ego today; they could feel the hopeful stares- a glance at the sky every now and then, a dark cloud brightening up their mood. They could see the tired people going about their work- that old man pushing his cart along the dusty road, wiping his face with a cloth. The woman crossing the road, her wailing child straddled on her waist. The vegetable vendor desperately trying to cover up his wares as a mini sand storm snaked it’s way around them, as his face sobbed beads of sweat under the naked heat.

Was it pity or sadness that made the clouds sob right then?

The sky burst open, strewing the canvas with droplets of water, quieting the furious sand as it fell gently to colour the ground into a beautiful shade of muddy brown. The leaves revealed their greenish hues as they escaped from the clutches of the dust that had coated them for so long. The sky laughed with happiness- it’s pleasure brightened the earth with a thunderous roar of laughter.

And the rain? Ah, it was embracing it’s star-crossed lover with a scintillating kiss.

Is India Safe For Women?


The gang rape of a twenty-something girl in Delhi, India on 16th of December 2012 took the world by the shoulders and shook it hard. They called her “Nirbhaya”, which means Fearless. The juvenile who inserted a rod into her private parts, was just a few months shy of becoming an adult, and hence was tried as a minor and sent to a reform facility. How can a person, who can even think of such a gruesome way to torture somebody, be considered as not of age? What kind of an example is being set, if the most brutal of all the rapists involved in this case, gets off so easily?

In the past two months alone, there have been a series of macabre rape cases that will make everybody question the existence of humanity. A mentally challenged woman in Rohtak, Haryana was horrifically raped and murdered and the post-mortem report indicated that some of her internal organs were missing and stones and blades were found in her stomach.

Some ministers and leaders have been quoted as saying that “Rape accused should not be hanged. Men make mistakes.” It seems as if the definiton of a mistake has taken a very wrong turn. Another political leader went on to say “No one commits rape intentionally. It happens by mistake.” If such people are our leaders, where do we see India a few years down the line? Some claim that rapes happen because of the clothes that the girl wears, specifically if they are “western” and not traditional. No matter what a girl wears, it is not an invitation for any random man to touch her. How hard is it to grasp that concept? If a girl wears a short skirt on a hot, summer day, it is NOT because she is “asking for it”. So many people reason that a woman’s attire provokes a man into raping her. If that were in fact true, why are five-year old girls being raped? We need to change the mentality of our nation in order to move forward. Women are encouraged to carry sharp objects or pepper sprays with them. I think it’s shameful in itself that we have to see such days where you NEED to carry around all that as an assurance of your safety. Covering up or wearing traditional clothes, is not the answer to this problem. Just pause and imagine a utopian India where a girl can stay out as late as she likes, wears whatever she wants to wear, or visit isolated places without having to worry about whether she might be raped.

One video that I watched online, which effectively portrayed the appalling situation we are facing, showed a scene where unknown men are following a girl home. One of the men is encouraging his fellow mate to go ahead and block the woman’s path. As the woman whips around in fear, the expression on the guy’s face changes to shock. The woman is his sister. This advertisement accurately portrays what we are facing in today’s world. That girl could have been anybody- a friend, a sister, or an acquaintance you say hello to as you pass by. How many women should be told to step out of the house carrying pepper sprays and wearing clothes that apparently won’t “provoke a guy into raping you”?

The light that shone through the darkness of the chilling Nirbhaya gang rape was that more women found the courage to come forward and lodge complaints against rapists, which otherwise was literally considered taboo. The root of the problem is the mentality of such men who think that if a girl stays out late or wears such clothes, she is not a “good woman”. A documentary has been made on this horrific case, though it has been banned in India. But as Kirron Kher rightly said in a session of the Parliament- “More important than whether the documentary should be made or not made, what those people said is what we need to concentrate on. Those people haven’t learned anything all these years.” But what Javed Akhtar said will send chills down your spine: “It is good that this film was made, it will reveal how many men think like Nirbhaya’s rapist.” Men who think like Nirbhaya’s rapists indeed need to be indentified before India is tacked on the map as a country where rapists have more freedom than innocent citizens to express themselves, and to do whatever the hell they want – and that too without getting severely punished.

After I read what the rapist said about the Nirbhaya rape case, all I felt was this rush of violent anger that made me want to push his head through a wall or just subject him to so much pain that he would feel some remorse- which there was not even a hint of while he was interviewed for the documentary. All this has been quoted from his interview: “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good. When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy. The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, ‘Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.’ Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.” He also called her a beggar girl whose life had no value.

I say, hand this man over to the public so that he can be subjected to the same amount of torture that Nirbhaya was, in the last moments of her life. India should focus on banning (punishing) rapists effectively rather than spending time on banning food. Like Nirbhaya’s father said: “Everyone should watch the film. If a man can speak like that in jail, imagine what he would say if he was walking free.” True, indeed. And perhaps the term “freedom of expression” for Indian citizens should also be removed from the Constitution of India. Barring rapists and politicians who think women are to be blamed for rape, of course.

12 Reasons Why “Log Kya Kahenge” Shouldn’t Matter


This is an article that I wrote as a Creative Writer at http://storypick.com . I am just reposting it here 🙂

If you are an Indian, you must be very familiar with the phrase “Log kya kahenge”. How many times have you wanted to do something in your life that is not normally accepted in India? – Drop out of college? Pursue a career as a photographer or a model? How many times has some or the other neighbour asked you when you are getting married? And deep down you wish that you could push all these judgemental hypocrites away and just follow your heart? This is a list of things about why you shouldn’t listen to “Log kya kahenge”:

1. Their opinions don’t pay your bills

16261671670_4362eb33e4_k
Image source

No matter what you do…or don’t do, everybody will still have an opinion about your life. But when you are in trouble, you can literally count on your fingers how many people will come forward to help you. I wish opinions could have paid bills- then I wouldn’t have to count the money in my wallet before ordering at my favourite restaurant.

2. Hanging out with the boys does not make the girl a tramp

248948019_1a9eeff5ea_b
Image source

Girls are “supposed” to marry boys and boys are “supposed” to marry girls. Oh but wait, you can’t hang out together, but oh yes you can get married to a stranger who liked your online profile. 

3. Choosing a career in Arts does not make you stupid

5332049234_5d4da25e79_b
Image source

“Humara beta engineer ya doctor banega.” Because they don’t realize creativity and creating art is a science in itself. So go make a career in dance, painting, photography or anything else that makes your heart sing from the rooftops!

4. A career in a field other than science is also a career

3_idiots_friendship_day
Image source

“There is only one Sachin Tendulkar.” If he had thought the same way, India wouldn’t have this God walking on our soil. Who knows – you could be the next M.F.Husain, Ratan Tata or A.R.Rahman.

5. Marrying people in your caste or religion does not guarantee happiness

indian-american-fusion-wedding
Image source

How does it matter who you marry as long as they are human? (or in India – trees, I guess?) Marry inside/outside/around your caste and religion and be happy because you will have that one “what-if” crossed off your list.

6. LGBT is not a curse

gaysupport
Image source

It’s not a choice, it’s who you are. You have just as much right to live happily even though most people in our country look down upon those who are a part of the LGBT community. You are not a criminal – don’t stay trapped in the closet!

7. School->College->Job-> Marriage isn’t a mandatory rule to be followed

college-quotes
Image source

This cycle is carved onto your forehead. Break the chain! Go back to college to get another degree if you wish to! Or change your job or field if you are unhappy with it. You have one life – are you going to spend it the way others want you to, or come back as a ghost so that it will haunt you forever?

 8. Getting tattoos or piercings does not make you a bad person

triquetra_tattoo_by_1stmoon-d5vd8eh
Image source

Pee on the road. Throw garbage AROUND the dust bin. Politicians saying “Men make mistakes. Ladkon se galti ho jaati hai.” Such nice people really. But have one tattoo declaring your beliefs on your arm, and the pathway to hell has started burning up below your feet.

9. Wearing short clothes is okay, no matter where you are

tumblr_n5lidcvcmt1rz6cy2o4_1280
Image source

Honestly, considering how hot it can get here in India, how do women even wear a sari or salwar kameez without melting their skin? Boys, girls, aunties and uncles- as long as you are not wandering nude on the road, clothes are still clothes!

10. Having kids late in your life is your choice

Kenya-Mother-and-child-by-Gates-Foundationcc-nc-nd1
Image source

Its’ okay if you don’t want to have kids at the age of 25. The next time somebody asks a 35 year old woman why she doesn’t have kids yet, they should ceremoniously be invited to change nappies and sing the wailing baby to sleep at the crack of dawn.

11. Staying unmarried or getting divorced shouldn’t be a taboo

Wedding_rings
Image source

So your marriage didn’t work out. Or you are 30 and unmarried. So what? Are those chaar log going to come offer you a bed in their house when your wife makes you sleep on the sofa after a fight?

12. Its your life; Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for living it your way!

200
Image source

Its your life. Run, scream, laugh, cry with joy. Do whatever the hell you want. How does it matter whether you wear tight or baggy clothes, or too much makeup or all you want to do is travel the world alone when the people around you are gasping at the thought of you dropping out of med school? *trots off into the sunset with the wind blowing through my beautiful hair*

10 THINGS EVERYONE FEELS AT THE DENTIST’S


Not all of us can be Deepika Padukone- with her dazzling smile, and as if that wasn’t enough, that cute dimple. For those of us who are not genetically blessed with perfect teeth, a great smile requires the help of an orthodontist, and an agonizing visit to the dentist’s.

1. Those instruments

You enter the dentist’s office, and you can see all those instruments laid out…waiting to poke and prod you in areas of your mouth you didn’t even know existed. It can also be called a modern day torture chamber perhaps?

2044560
Image source

2. That smell

I am not saying that it should smell like roses and lilies in there, but that typical smell of medicines, the sterilized instruments, and yes even the surgical gloves…. and this one smell that I can’t really pinpoint, but I associate it with dentists.

smellll
Image source

3. The drill

Anybody who has had dental work done knows about this one instrument of misery, which is enough to give you nightmares for a week. Maybe all those serial killer movies were inspired by this device?

76
Image source

4. The pain

Anybody who has had a cavity cleaned and filled knows the pain that you feel when they clean it with that needle-like device. (I have no idea what it is called and I don’t even intend to know more about it- the shape is scary enough) Why can’t pixies and fairies fix my teeth with some magic dust? *sigh*

2090
Image source

5. The sounds that the drill makes.

Seriously, are you digging up to my brain? Because the vibrations feel like a mini earthquake inside my mouth.

drillsound
Image source

6. People peering into your mouth

There was one time when the assistants to the dentist were all wondering whether this much blood loss was normal after pulling out teeth. Yes people, I am stupid enough to eat a lot of chocolates, but I can still hear you!

mil
Image source

7. Umm…

I had no idea so many instruments could fit into my mouth, what with suction, a mirror, a needle….my jaw is permanently locked.

sdfnjsn
Image source

8.  *Tears of happiness*  “There are no more cavities. The treatment is complete.”

happy
Image source

9. Shock

Funny how torturing yourself can cost so much.

22222222200
Image source

10. Relief

Yessss…I got out of it without crying, dying or strangling the dentist!

mon
Image source

No more visits…unless I learn some new way to brush my teeth…

Perspective


toiletpaper-300x269
Image source

After visiting an old age home for blind women along with an NGO, my perspective of looking at a “bad day” has changed. The human mind strives for perfection – perfection not in its sole definition, but in the quest for a perfect life. Is there ever a single day that we feel we are happy and blessed with what we have? Is there a single day that goes by where we wish that a certain situation could be different or that we could get something that we don’t have? It takes a few moments of walking on the other side for the realization to strike that what we have is more than enough to lead a content life.

Before going in, we had been told not to ask the women any personal questions, or talk to them about movies, colours, other people, or anything that connected them to the visual world. Such a simple request- but never have I had to try so hard to fulfill one, as I did with this. All the women were really friendly, and treated us like their own grandchildren. One sweet lady even told me that strangers not related by blood can also be family- and I realized what she said was really true: you could feel that their love and care was genuine when they asked about us and blessed us to grow up and succeed in life.

When you start talking to a person, the flow of conversation is pretty simple- you ask them about them self, their job or education, the places they have been to, the movies they have watched, the TV shows that you both might be addicted to, or the mutual people you might know. How hard can it be to strike up a conversation? After I started talking to these women, I realized that we hardly ever take the time to think before we talk. But knowing that there were a few limited subjects that we could discuss, I realized the power of thinking before saying it out loud.

Some of the women were weaving baskets out of some colourful plastic threads. Not once did they stop doing that while interacting with us and that too without making any mistakes in their handicraft. A musician from Japan had been called to play an instrument; it was shaped like a flute- it looked like 4-5 flutes had been stuck together in an order of gradually decreasing size. The music was hauntingly beautiful. One of the ladies wanted to talk to him but she did not know English, so I translated her questions and asked him about his passion, why he had come to India, and also conveyed her blessings. She seemed so excited to talk to him, her excitement palpable on her face, like that of a little child given ice-cream, as she asked me “Call him; I want to talk to him. Has he come yet? But he won’t understand my language. Will you ask him for me? I want to ask him so much”.

Her excitement brought a smile to my face, and also a realization that happiness can be found even in the tiniest of moments, and it is how you choose to react to it- even if it was listening to a musician from another country play music and knowing that you couldn’t see what he looks like, and that language was a barrier. She seemed to have accepted her fate that she was blind and that she could do nothing about it even though there were days that she got tired of it all. She told me that she did not wear her sari today as it was dirty, and since she couldn’t see where the dirt was, it was very tiring to wash the entire sari with soap.

All of the ladies had a smile on their face when they met us, and they waved good-bye as they walked back to their respective rooms, making us promise that we would visit them again. As I walked out of the old age home, I realized that we do take for granted most of the things we have. Even without the power of sight, the ladies had managed to construct a life, learn to look after themselves, and made friends. Even though some things cannot be changed, and most- like old age and declining health, are inevitable, it’s all about perspective and how you play the cards that you have been dealt with.

After this particular visit, it seems really stupid to complain that I am bored because I am tired of watching TV show or movies, or that I have to sit at home since my friends are busy, or that I can’t find a book engrossing enough to read. Because the fact of the matter is, behind this wall on which we have written what all is missing from our life, there is far much more that we are truly lucky to have, and should learn to appreciate. I have a variety of choices laid out in front of me, just because I am blessed with a healthy body and mind. It’s not that I don’t have the right to complain about a day that soaked up all my energy- it’s just that there is so much more that I have as compared to people who don’t really have a choice with certain situations in their life. There is no new episode of my favourite TV show to watch? My internet is not working? I have to eat some green leafy vegetable for lunch instead of something that teases my taste buds? It all seems to trivial now. I choose to take a deep breath and cherish my beautiful life instead. Count your blessings. Somebody else is happy with something far less than what you have. “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.”