Women’s Rights vs Equal Rights

If you are following the news in India, you will be aware of the recent events of crimes against women. The number of incidences of rape, police apathy and mob justice and crimes against women has increased. This caused a renewed concern for the safety of women and women’s rights in society. As bad as it is to hear about the cases of women being brutalised, killed and raped, it is worse when we hear the comments of people. Some say that women are weak and that is why such things happen to them. Labelling women as weak and wrapping them in cotton wool does not reduce the chance of crimes against them. Such labels only strangle their chances to fight back against injustice. Now they will be restricted even more from chasing their dreams. Would it be a wrong time to raise the debate of women’s rights now?

At the cost of sounding insensitive, I would like to point out that rape, assault against women are as grievous as the assault against men, racist crimes, hate crime etc. Every crime done against another human being is just as bad as the others. They should al be punished just as severely as the other.

I believe in equal rights for men and women, although I am not a feminist. It appears that since I do not believe in ‘women first’, I cannot be a feminist. However, there is no field of study, work, research, or society that should be barred for women or for men. Both women and men should be praised, applauded, tried, tested and punished equally. Both genders should be given equal opportunity to greatness and stupidity, justice and crime, prosperity and destruction, virtue and vice etc. Everyone should be treated equitably, hence all crimes against everyone should be treated uniformly. However, I agree that this is an idealistic view.

Women should not be treated like porcelain dolls that are unable to withstand rough conditions. At the same time, when hard work and labour is required, women should not back down. I do not mean offence, but I have seen women use their gender as an excuse. They try to escape certain work with this reason. To be fair to women, most times we are not assigned some work, though we are ready to take on the challenge. We should stop expecting men to open doors for us, let us enter first or wait on us in the name of chivalry. We cannot ask for equal rights and special treatment at the same time.

Time and again, women have proven that they are as strong as men, both physically and mentally. From armed forces to scientific research, from arts to business, from sports to politics, women have proven their mettle in every field. When we can work shoulder to shoulder with men, we should not expect them to pave the way for women or protect us from crimes.

Disclaimer: I have sourced the image from Google images. I do not own the image.

Variety In Life

They say that variety is the spice of life. One would have to accept that diversity is what makes life fun to live. It is what make innovation and learning easy and achievable.

Let us not lose this diversity that we have with petty misunderstandings and ego clashes. Let us rise above our differences and start to appreciate them and accept them.

Beware Of The Evil Eye

Anyone who is from India or who has visited India is aware of the evil eye, or ‘Buri Nazar’ as we like to call it. As I pride myself on being a person of science, I always dismissed this concept of evil eye or ‘Buri Nazar’. It is a widespread notion that says when an envious or ill-intentioned person regards us or our possessions than it will cause harm to the person or the possession. It sounds magical, doesn’t it?

For a long time, people around me have supported this concept of an evil eye and told me many anecdotes of suffering caused by it. There are also just as many people who denounce this notion as being unscientific. They say, these anecdotes are based on hearsay and are stories of uneducated minds. I belonged to the latter thought process. I felt that the idea of causing a person to lose their wealth or health or happiness with just one envious thought seemed magical and fantastical. It happens only in fairy tales. But what if there was a way to prove this evil eye.

Do not worry, neither have I not lost my mind, nor have I turned into a believer. It is not a study or thesis that I have conducted on this subject. I stumbled upon the work of Dr Masaru Emoto on water crystals and the impact of human thoughts, words, emotions etc, on these crystal formations. He says that water carries a consciousness that is gathered from the people and the emotions around it. In his book, ‘The Hidden Messages In Water’ Dr Emoto says, “water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations”.

I have attached a link to his interview from this YouTube video. https://youtu.be/ujQAk9EM3xg

From my understanding, what Dr Emoto says is that a positive and loving thought or person invokes positivity and peace around them. Hence, the water crystals are symmetrically and aesthetically beautiful. Similarly, a negative, hateful and envious person or thought invokes discord and unhealthy environment around them. Hence, the water crystals are deformed and shapeless. Since a human body is made up mostly of water, it would be safe to say that these water experiments hold true on people as well. I felt that the same explanation holds true for the concept of the evil eye as well.

I am still not convinced a 100% about this evil eye. It is because I do not like the idea that all my hard work could crumble just because of the jealous and weak thoughts of a person. However, Dr Emoto has made me rethink this concept. I may not have become a believer, but I do not denounce the concept either. There is sufficient experimental proof about the impact of loving words and hateful words that are carried through the water. I do not agree that evil eye works every time, but I believe that positive thoughts and love begets positivity and love. If I surround myself with loving and positive people and emotions, then I will only attract love and happiness. What do you say??

Let Us Agree To Disagree

People all over the world, irrespective of ethnicity, race, religion, gender etc are all obsessed with being in agreement. People want to be in conformity with others in everything, be it appearance, ideas, opinions, even in priorities. The funny thing is, even when you disagree on something, we all want to disagree on the same thing. Conforming to a norm or a set of rules of utmost importance.

We all speak very highly of heterogeneity, uniqueness, out of the box thinking. However, the minute an unconventional idea, or fresh thinking or something different comes up, we all want to remove it, to change it or to kill the uniqueness. Basically, our first instinct is to remove anything that stands out and bring back uniformity. We might enjoy discussing this new idea, we may argue about its pros and cons. We could also debate about it, but we all want everyone to reach a consensus and stand by it. We do not accept fringe groups who want to make their own path.

In today’s world, diversity in the true sense is not tolerated. It is a superficial concept that we like to boast about. However, in our hearts, we secretly plan to remedy this situation. At the core, we want everyone to think, function and behave alike. This notion is what brings about the death of a culture. When we get into a herd mentality, individual thought dies. Without independent individual thought, society cannot grow and evolve. It will die a slow and painful death.

We all need to make an effort to accept our differences. Not just on a superficial level, but also in our hearts. We should understand that there is nothing wrong with being different. We must make an effort to realise that there is nothing wrong in seeing a different perspective. There cannot be a hero without a coward, no white without black or no good without evil. So diversity is a requirement to every society rather than a nuisance that you have to put up with.

Image Source: I have sourced the featured image from Google images. I do not own this image.

Celebrate Your Victory, Not Their Loss

Celebration after victory is required after any contest. Be it in sports, business, politics, elections, cinemas, academic pursuits etc, it is common to see the boisterous celebration, partying, and quite a bit of chest-thumping. Especially in sports, we get to see spirited voices that speak of the greatness of their team, players, strategy, execution and much more. Any football fan would vouch this being a common practice. Even as part of the ‘after analysis’ of the game, we see experts on both sides break the game down, play by play for their viewers.

As long as the discussion is limited to the performance and play, it is all good. The trouble starts when the fun and celebration start to get personal about the players of the losing team. To make one team look great, followers start to demean and insult the opposite team. They make a show of how bad their performance was, the number of errors they made, the flaw in their strategy and play etc. This is the most unsportsmanlike behaviour, but it is particularly common among the fans.

We see such mudslinging, offensive and personal attacks being made toward the opposing team not just in sports, but also in politics, elections and business competitions too. Something about participating in a contest brings out the darkest and meanest attitude in people. They resort to various below-the-belt tactics to take cheap shots at one another. Celebration becomes more of a slugfest. It takes away the joy of winning and the fun of participation.

True sportsmanship is an attitude that should reflect in all of us. In those who participate in the contest and the revellers who come to support the contestants. By resorting to demeaning our opponents, we only prove that our victory is undeserving. It shows that our team won, not because of our superiority, but because of the opposing team’s inferiority. Nothing is more insulting than being robbed of our victory because we did not deserve it. It is something that the world needs to learn.

Inspiration

Inspiration is the positive driver that guides us and urges us to achieve our target. I have written a few times, on a similar theme in my earlier posts. I wrote about motivation, how the quality of motivation is important, and how we can turn our fear into a positive driver. I do not want to be monotonous. The reason for speaking on this topic again was a heated discussion that I was part of. It brought upon a sudden urge to rant to my readers on the topic about what should and should not inspire us.
I have always believed that inspiration and the root of inspiration is an individual choice. What encourages us and what discourages us is a personal choice based on our experiences and perspectives. Yet, I hear people denouncing and ridiculing others on what they base their inspiration on. How can one decide what is inspiring or not for other people?
I often notice that people make fun of one another as a way to make them take up a dare or a challenge. It is all part of the friendly ribbing that is common among kids. It was fine when it was between kids, but when we see elders employ the same tactic, it gets disturbing. There are instances when grown-ups poke fun at kids on their weaknesses and expect them to get inspired by it.
They think that when they say, “You are stupid”, or ” You can’t manage the job” or ” You run like a girl” etc, we will take it as a challenge and complete the task to prove them wrong.
I find this tactic to be childish and counterproductive. Picking on a person’s weaknesses or insulting them will only discourage them and make a person doubt. It will in no way, encourage the kid.
Kids generally draw inspiration from famous people or sportsperson. It is quite common to be influenced by positive example that we see in the outside world. This idea was shot down stating that we should not look outside for inspiration and that it should come from within. I agree with this argument but, being mean to a kid is no way to reinforce their confidence or boost their morale.
At times, it might be tricky to encourage a person or to give them a confidence boost. However, it is not necessary to kill their faith with harsh reality checks. You might come from a good place, but insulting a kid or picking on their weaknesses is just called bullying. If your intention is not to bully a kid, please change your tactic. I can only suggest that we all should be mindful of the way our words are perceived. If we have nothing motivating to say, then it would be better to hold our tongue.

My Halloween Experience

Of late, I have noticed an increase in the number of paranormal shows that are aired on television. It’s the month of October and some channels have Halloween specials going on too. How many of you believe in the paranormal? I think most people watch it for entertainment and don’t believe in it. Some people are curious and want to know whether such entities really exist. Very few people believe in the paranormal as they may have had an experience of their own. These shows give people the courage to speak about their experience. Everything bottles down to whether you had a paranormal encounter or not. If you did, you probably are a believer, else you are a sceptic.

As a child, a long-time back, I saw something that I could not make sense of at that time. Back then, people always said that everything has a scientific explanation and the rest is either imagination or insanity. However, I dare to share my experience today.

I woke up one night and couldn’t get back to sleep. I walked up to the window and looked out into the yard. Right in front of me, within a close range, I saw the white silhouette of a young lady walking slowly up and down the yard. I started wondering who it was. My eyes followed down her profile and the figure just faded into thin air under the knees. Yet, she silently kept moving up and down the yard as if she were fulfilling some duty.

Suddenly it struck me that this thing is not a real person. At that point, she was right in front of the window. For the first time that night, she turned towards me. I felt as though she could hear my thoughts.

“Ghost!!!” screamed my mind. I ran into the other room as fast as my feet could carry me and stumbled into someone’s bed. I crawled under the blanket and hugged the person tight. The next morning, I realized I was in my aunt’s bed and she went around the whole house announcing this. I was thoroughly embarrassed by this, yet I was also puzzled about what I saw. Too scared to talk about it, I buried the incident in my mind.

That encounter changed me. I was scared of dark places and I never looked out of the window, in case I woke up at night. I never indulged in horror movies, horror stories and discussions about the paranormal. It was a long fight against my fears until I was able to stand my ground against them. Please do share any such experiences that you have had.
Happy Halloween!!!

Where Have All The Good Horror Movies Gone?

It is October and Halloween is fast approaching. It brings back memories of horror movie marathons, sitting in the dark telling ghost stories, playing pranks on cousins to scare them etc. At one time in my life, Halloween was one of the most awaited days of the year. I would get scared of all those gory movies yet, I would stay up to watch them with my cousins. This brings me to the title of this blog, “Where are all the good horror movies gone?”

Nowadays, all horror movies have become predictable. They follow a set formula, and it can be figured out just by watching the trailer. When I was a kid, I was scared of all those deformed faces and gory images that were shown in horror movies. Later, I moved to slasher movies where a bunch of dumb kids unleash the devil. There was a slew of possession movies and they scared me for some time. Biblical horror, sci-fi horror, alien invasions, creature features, demons walking on earth, exorcisms, witchcraft etc, have all been covered in horror genre.

However, one style of horror still continues to scare me. It is good Psychological horror. Dracula, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, demons, antichrist, vengeful spirits all have a limitation of possibilities. Psychological horror is one area where there is no real limitation of things that can go wrong. One can never fathom the extent to which our mind can wreak havoc when cornered against a wall.

I continue to get scared of this genre of horror. The others might seem impossible, but there is no way to tell if Psychological horror is an impossible occurrence. Movies like Psycho, The Shining, Seven, Misery, Silence Of The Lambs, etc are just a few of the scary movies I like.
I’m sure everyone has their own list ready for Halloween this year. Have a great and memorable Halloween this year.

Image Source: Google Images. I Do Not Own This Poster. It Is Sourced From Google.

Have We Lost Our Sense Of Wonder?

There was once a time, when we were kids, that beautiful things amazed us. Shiny lights, fireworks, porcelain dolls, huge trees, ferocious animals, the list is endless. As children, we would watch everything with a sense of wonder and incredulity. As we grew, it is only natural that we lose some of that feeling. However, I feel that this generation particularly lacks the sense of wonder. Everything is seen with a blasé attitude. In fact, they are more cynical than ever. In a time of great scientific growth, 5G wireless internet, new knowledge of black holes, pulsars, etc. why have we become so jaded?

We recently had a family reunion and many of our grandparents, uncles and aunts were present. As with all such events, the topic soon deviated into reminiscence. As I heard their stories of simple childhood explorations and their first time experiencing technology, I was enthralled by their feeling of shock, fear and amazement. An elderly uncle described his first experience in the cinema hall. He spoke about his first time at the talkies (the talking movies as they were called). It was a mythological film and he described how everyone got down on their knees to pray when the image of the lord came on the screen. Another grand uncle spoke about the first time he saw an automobile, it was during a parade by the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad. There were many more such stories doing the rounds. What saddened me, however, was my lack of such experiences.

Do not get me wrong here; there were many great innovations and new creations in our generation too. The personal computer, mobile phones, smartphones, internet, Wi-Fi is just a few examples of the great scientific breakthroughs that we have seen. Yet, I could not conjure up one memorable event that truly amazed me. I realised that I took all of this for granted. All these major, life-changing gadgets were just another gadget that would become obsolete soon enough. I refused to get excited over the mobile phone since the smartphone was just around the corner. A personal computer did not excite me as a laptop and then a tablet was available.

With this blasé attitude, I have realised that I have lost out on many extraordinary landmarks. Moreover, with this attitude, I started to feel old and tired. I felt that I am unable to keep track of all the developments. I felt like one of those obsolete gadgets. I realised that I, urgently, need to change my attitude. Lucky for me that scientific progress doesn’t stop, so, I can still find something new to fascinate me.

Wondrous Nature in all its beauty

If you have been on the same road as me, then wake up. It is not too late yet. Make an effort to gain back your childlike wonder. Open your eyes to all the fabulous sights and sounds around you. Start feeling young again.

Review of a short film: Juice

Published by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films on 22nd November 2017, Juice is a brilliant film with a power message written and directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. It was produced by Lalit Prem Sharma. It is 14minutes and 39 seconds long. If you haven’t watched this one, here is the link to the video:

Juice is a film par excellence. The story is very realistic, the direction is superb and acting of all the actors and actresses is perfect. In fact, it feels like a page from the life of any regular, middle (or upper middle) class Indian woman. I saw this drama unfold countless times at get-togethers within the known circles. The only difference between reel life and real life is the last scene in this movie. Well! You understood. In real life we rarely, or should I say never, try to do what Manju Singh, the main character, has done.

Manju Singh and her husband are hosting a get-together at their house for a group of friends, on a summer evening. The movie depicts what generally happens at such get-togethers. All the men are sitting comfortably in the living room with the air cooler taking care of the temperature. The coffee table is filled with a delicious spread of appetizers all prepared by Manju. She serves the guests, while they are relaxed and gossiping about different topics. The children are in a separate room playing video games and having conversations of their own and all the ladies are in the hot, smoke filled kitchen engrossed in their conversations. Every now and then, they wipe the steam of sweat, fan their faces with the pallu of their saree and complain of the heat in the kitchen. Manju and her maid, Parbatiya, are the only persons doing most of the work while the rest of them are just hanging around and chatting.

This story has so many layers to it. It shows the complexities and hurdles in the path of women who desire so much to break free from the shackles of male domination in the society. Simple conversational dialogues show the viewers how much and where we have gone wrong. It is gender bias, class discrimination and male chauvinism against women all cooked into one short story.

Men alone are not responsible for this disgraceful state of affairs; it is some women who feed fodder to this kind of deplorable thought process by their mindless actions. This is quite evident when Mrs. Sarla, one of the guests, calls Dolly, the girl child, to help her serve food for the men but allows the boys to continue playing. The women don’t help each other as we see in the case of the chicken getting burnt while the two ladies standing right there and watching photos on the phone. They sermon the other ladies that women have to choose either motherhood or job but not both. Mrs. Chawla, the guest offers tea to the hardworking domestic help in a shabby steel glass while they drink in a decent porcelain cup. The list goes on and on.

Meanwhile the men in the living room have even American political scenarios dunked into the gravy of gender bias and presented it. They call women weaklings but they need women to take care of every single thing for them. They behave as if they are glued to the couch and the only movable part of their body is their mouth.

Every single dialogue in this short film has volumes to tell and every scene adds flavour to the story. In short it is a must watch. Shefali Shah plays the role of the hostess Manju Singh effortlessly and she has done an excellent job.

Immortals Of Meluha – A Book Review

Hello everyone. I am Sharda, I love to read but my busy life leaves little time for any of my hobbies. When I do get a chance to indulge, I love to talk about it. Here I am today to talk about this book I read. If you also happen to have read this one, I would love to hear your thoughts about this book. Now, without holding you up for too long, let me dive into the topic.

Title of the book I read is: The Immortals of Meluha (Book 1 of the Shiva Trilogy). The author of the book is Amish Tripathi. It was first published in New Delhi, India in the year 2010 and has 424 pages in all.

The time setting for this fictional story is 1900 BC. In this book Amish Tripathi, muses about or, should I say, toys around the idea – what if Shiva, one of the three main Gods of the Hindu mythology, was in fact a mortal who lived an exemplary life and eventually became a God due to the heroic actions done during his life time. This story thus uses many of the characters from the actual Shiva purana around which Amish has skillfully woven his own work of fiction. The story in this book has been divided into twenty-six chapters and there are two more books following after this first book.

The setting for the story is the empires of Meluha and Swadweep, which includes: most of Northern India, Pakistan and Egypt were also mentioned in books two and three. All through the story, one thing that stands out is the effort the author makes to give details about locations. It reminded me of the history lessons that I learnt in school. He describes the culture of the Meluhan and Swadweepan people in great detail and the stark contrast between the two cultures is more than obvious. The description of the cities is so detailed that at times I felt that it hindered the smooth narration of the story. I found myself thinking “Come on now, enough of the description, get back to the story!” Generally, I don’t skip even a single word while reading a book but this is the first time I skipped a few paragraphs here and there in order to avoid the unnecessary description and to get to the actual point. I wonder if any of you felt the same way.

The main characters in this story are Shiva, his wife – Princess Sati, emperor Daksha of Meluha, Capt. Nandi, the doctor Ayurvathi, General Parvateshwar, chief scientist Brishaspathi, Naga the mysterious hooded figure, Prime Minister Kanakhala, emperor Dilipa of Swadweep, his children Princess Anandmayi and Prince Bhagirath etc. There are many other secondary characters that make their appearance at different points in the story and play a vital role in shaping up the story such as Vidyunmali, Mayasheinik, the different Pandit ji at the temples etc. The other thing I observed is that there are too many characters in this book. Even though I am familiar with Hindu mythology it was hard to keep track of the characters, who is who and who is doing what. There were times when I had to turn back the pages to cross check the character. I can only imagine the plight of a person who is not familiar with the Hindu mythology. Having said that, I must emphasize that each and every character had a role to play in the story and none of them felt out of place or unrequired.  The character of each and every person has been developed with clarity and all persons in the story act according to their character.

Plot of the story involves many intricacies and the author took his time to gradually unfold the main plot and several subplots. The revealing of each incident and unveiling of each and every concept drags us deeper and deeper into the story. His exceptional story telling skill makes us question what needs to be questioned, form opinions and feel the emotions relating to the events. Shiva the leader of the Guna tribe comes to Meluha on Nandi’s invitation. He is fed up with the constant wars and struggle for survival and wants a peaceful settlement for his tribe. In Meluha he is suddenly looked upon as Lord Neelkant – the prophesied savior. This is because the manner of his arrival and the outcome, of events that followed after his arrival, fit the description perfectly. It takes another 100 to 115 pages to understand the nature of help that Meluha expects from their Neelkant. During this time the author includes many subplots such as the love affair that develops between Sati and Shiva, the concept of Vikarma, the magical somras and its effects, the mystery of the evil Nagas, the Maika system, the Suryavanshi and Chandravanshis etc. The author, very skillfully, paints a picture of who is good and who is bad by the time we reach the halfway mark in the story and then takes the readers racing to the anti-climax. Emotions are high at this point in the story and what is expected in the climax is obvious to all. Just as the all expected actions are executed with full fervor we are in for a rude shock. The last quarter of the book makes the readers question everything and everyone in the story just as some of the main characters do. At this point the story comes to an abrupt halt as Amish cruelly leads us to a situation where the hooded Naga is advancing towards an unsuspecting Sati while Shiva is frantically racing to save her.

To sum up I enjoyed reading the story with all its intricacies. However, I also feel that the elaborate descriptions could have been a little shorter. The story has used a lot of terminology that relates to Sanskrit language and Hinduism.  For this reason, the author has even included a glossary at the end of the book. Thus some sections in the story felt like an educational documentary on the beliefs and culture of ancient Hindus. Some of these details, I felt, could have been avoided. Finally, in order to enjoy the story one has to forget all about the actual story of Lord Shiva and treat this book as just a work of fiction that consists of similar character names.

The Most Happening City Of Hyderabad

Hello everyone!! I am a working girl from Hyderabad, India. I consider myself independent, not only financially, since I am working, but, also in my ideas and ideologies. I would like to think that I form my own opinions and do not get swayed by popular notions.

After having described myself as such, I think I need to explain why I had to assert this point. I was born and brought up in Hyderabad. I have always viewed the city as laid back. No one is ever in a rush to be on time, though they are always hurrying around in traffic. Hyderabadis are known for the ’nawabi’ attitude. We open our shops at 10:30 or 11 in the morning, we float traffic rules like nobody’s business, yet we don’t tolerate rule breakers, we are loud in our celebrations, prayers and sorrow etc.

If I sit down to speak of the attitude of the people in general, it will take another separate blog in itself. Having described the city as the most laid-back place with a “Devil may care” attitude, I was pleasantly surprised when I read a news article that Hyderabad was adjudged the most happening city in India. How did we end up being a happening place with an attitude like ours? This was the question in my mind for quite a while.

Do not get me wrong here. Hyderabad has all the requisites for a great metro. We have very good malls, shopping center like Inorbit, GVK One, Forum mall, Central mall etc with the latest fashion. We have many good restaurants and pubs for the youth to hang around. Hyderabad is the host to many MNCs, software giants, educational institutions etc too. There was never a dearth for the right people or the right places. Yet, Hyderabad got the tag of ‘the most happening city’ only in 2018.

What could be the reason? What did we change to get that tag? What made the difference only now? These were all the questions floating around in my mind.

After some consideration I realized that Hyderabad never lacked in any of these facets. It was only the publicity and marketing that changed. We always had clubs and discos, shopping malls and restaurants. The only thing that changed is the PR. We always had noisy Holi parties, Ganesh nimarjan was always a big happy procession, Iftar parties were the place to be for amazing food, Durga Pooja and dandiya nights still draw the young and hip crowds any day. What is new is the way we highlight our culture, uniqueness and flavour that makes all the difference.