The Joy of Giving!

Gift

While I love to shop for myself and buy nice things, the biggest satisfaction I get is from giving to people. It brings me happiness, peace and contentment. I don’t dedicate any special day for giving. I try to make it an everyday habit. Sometimes, I’ll pay a rickshaw driver Rs. 10 extra just to bring a smile on his face, sometimes I’ll feed street kids the food that they ask for. Sometimes I’ll help an old person or a young child cross the road – that is also a form of giving for me. I love to send gifts to my friends and see the smile of happiness on their face.

Giving to people should be something that we follow everyday. It shouldn’t be done on any one special day only dedicated to someone. Make it an everyday habit. Give a smile to a sad looking stranger, compliment a woman on her outfit and watch her confidence soar, thank a man who makes way for you and even better ( this goes especially for us women) – don’t expect a man to make way for you always, hold the door open for you or show you courtesy. Instead, do it sometimes for a man, it can even be a stranger. They will feel happy because rarely do they get to experience such gestures.

Make giving and caring for people an everyday habit. You don’t need any other mood booster or stress relieving activities!

This post is written to participate in the #DaanUtsav Initiative on Indiblogger.

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A Place to Revisit!

This post is written as a part of Indispire Edition # 175 – Share about any place that you would love to revisit. What makes the place special? #TimeToRevisit

From a very young age, I have been passionate about travelling with a list of many dream destinations. The love for travelling comes from my army background and frequent transfers. The place that topped the list of my dream destinations is Paris. So it was a dream come true when in 2008, my dad said that we will go on a holiday to Paris. I was ecstatic and on Cloud Nine. I made all the preparations, we applied for a visa and got it quite easily. My brother was a frequent traveller all over the world for work purposes. We were travelling in April and we checked with him if we need to carry warm clothes. He advised us to carry light woollens. So we were all set and left in April 2008.

On the day that we landed in Paris, it snowed heavily and the temperature dropped drastically to 3 degrees centigrade. I was carrying a very light jacket as were my parents. We all got exposed to the cold but I was the only one who got a terrible viral fever attack. I was sightseeing in Paris with a fever of 103 degrees, sometimes touching 104 degrees. I was at a loss at how to buy medicines as the employees at the pharmacies there only spoke and understood French. We were strolling in Paris one day and we came across an Indian restaurant. I had been dying for some Masala chai(we all know how good that tastes in cold and fever). I walked into the restaurant with mom and we started chatting with the owner. We ordered food and very hestitantly I asked if I could get some adrak chai(Ginger Tea) as I have a cold. He personally made it for me and henceforth, whenever I visited his restaurant, my ginger tea would be ready. I will never forget his kindness and warm hospitality. The restaurant was quite close to our hotel.

Because of my sickness, I could not enjoy my time at Paris at all. It is all a hazy blur. My worst regret is when we went to see the cabaret at Moulin Rouge. I took a heavy dose of medicine so that I could enjoy the show. It had a different adverse effect on me and the medicines made me drowsy and I slept through the show.

So the place that I really want to revisit in good health and good weather is Paris. I really hope I get to see Paris again in my lifetime. Here is a picture of Eiffel Tower at night that i took with my mom standing in front of it. You can gauge the size of Eiffel Tower by comparing it with the size of people standing under and in front of it.

The Saga of the Under Attack Feminist

When I was a little girl, my grandmother would keep teaching me about everything a girl should be – a girl should be softspoken, she should be modest, she should not have strong opinions and views, she should be extremely tolerant whatever the circumstances and protesting against injustice, what’s that(she still is the most beautiful memory of my childhood days because of the lovely summer memories she created for us). And today when she is no more and I am the exact antithesis of whatever she taught me, she must be squirming or finally she is proud of me?

On one side, I had my grandmother moulding me into her idea of a perfect woman(or wife) and on the other side I had my dad bringing me up to be a strong, self respecting woman who is the epitome of kindness but God help you if you mess with her. I guess dad’s upbringing had a heavier influence than my grandmother’s.

So I grew up to be a strong minded woman who knew what she wants in most things life and could not compromise on the things that most girls are asked to compromise on. In today’s 21st Century, if you are a woman with clear views and thoughts and if you set very clear standards for yourself, you are labelled a Feminist with a screwed up mouth making it sound like a dirty word. If you stand up for your rights and don’t let people mess with you or cross the lines, what are you? Yes, you guessed it right! The dirty word again.

I have been quite used to people calling me a feminist with their nose turned up like they have some dirty smell right under their nose. And I can smell those kind of people from far away. But then some people surprise(shock) you too. They preach about being modern, free thinking, broad minded and believing in equality. They gain your respect and you are truly impressed that here is the WOMAN/MAN of today. And one day they show you your true colours!

A few days back, I shared an article condemning the men who gang raped a woman who was out of her house in the night with her baby. She was in the auto when they threw the baby out of the auto and took the woman to a secluded area and gang raped her. Needless to say, the baby passed away.

Deeply saddened by the crime, I shared a sketch of the culprits that was released with a statement hoping that they are arrested. Most of the people had sad or angry reactions to what I shared.

Then a friend of mine totally opened my eyes to her. Till then, she had always come across to as someone who believed in the emancipation of women. But the truth was revealed to me that day. Her comment – While I deeply sympathize with her, I think she is at fault because she shouldn’t have gone out in the night alone with her baby especially since one truck driver had already tried to molest her. I asked her – how can you even say that? Does she even have to explain why she stepped out of her house or feel guilty about it? She says I agree with you and women’s freedom shouldn’t be restricted. I said – good, then let’s stick to that and not make statements like she shouldn’t have stepped out.

Then she messaged me and started writing a long saga about her ex-husband used to beat her up, yet she never left the house etc etc. I ignored her messages because there was no way I could justify her sentence to myself. Then two days later, she was probably miffed that I ignored her. So she messages me and says that I am far removed from reality and she labelled me as a ‘bra burning feminist’. I mustered up all my dignity and responded – I don’t wish to discuss this with you. Thanks.

So here is a modern 21st Century woman who escaped an abusive marriage with a daughter of her own and is now married to a wonderful loving man for which I am truly happy for her. Instead of fighting stereotypes and working towards a safe world where her daughter can move about freely, she is feeding the dangerous stereotypes where a man can strut about at any time of the day or night thinking that all women are things to be used and abused while women should lock themselves inside four walls to keep themselves from tempting the uncontrollable man. The bra-burning feminist rests her case here!!

My Life as Written by Myself!

When I was 14 years old, I got it into my head that I wanted to be a journalist. I was very keen on it and was working towards that goal by honing my English skills and writing. But life has its own twists and turns.

My father was an army officer and he didn’t have a very high salary. My brother and I are just one year and nine months apart with him being older than I am. He went into Engineering college and I was in 11th standard that time. When I passed out of 12th, he was in 2nd Year of Engineering. There was no way my parents could afford to send us both to college at the same time. He was living in a hostel and I would have to also as we were in Shillong at that time and I couldn’t join college there. So I had to settle for a correspondence course for my Graduation. I was terribly upset.

Then we came to Mumbai and by then I was in third year of my graduation. So there was no point in my joining college at that time. It was at this time that I started drifting in life. Because of this educational setback, I lost the courage to pursue Journalism. I started working in a call center and worked in this field for many years.

At the back of mind, there was a new dream that had started forming. I wanted to get into being a homebaker. But I lacked the courage to convince my parents because at that time people had very set views about jobs and careers. This was in the late 90’s. I kept working in different jobs and now I have a PostGraduate Degree in PR and I even worked in that field for sometime. But my dream of being a homebaker started getting stronger.

After a major setback in my company, I eventually decided to quit and turn Homebaker. I was past the age of 30 when I took this decision. It took sometime to convince my parents. I did it gradually over a few months.

If I were the Writer of my life story, I’d go back to the time when I finished my Graduation and pursue my dream of being a Homebaker and Chocolatier(my special expertise).

This post is written for the IndiSpire topic on Indiblogger – ‘If you were the writer of your own story – Your Life. How would you have altered it? #choice

Tribal Museum, Bhopal

Recently, I went on a vacation to Mhow, Indore and Bhopal. I visited many beautiful places there but the highlight of my visit was definitely the Tribal Museum in Bhopal. It is so beautifully made, reflecting the tribal life of olden days with such beautiful structures that I was left awestruck. This place is a must visit for anyone going to Bhopal. Take a look at the pictures. There are a lot of pictures, but trust me, browsing through them will be an experience.

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Narmada Ghat, Omkareshwar

Living in a city takes you away from the beauty and grandeur of nature and makes you long for the serenity and peace that only nature can provide. We were on the way to Omkareshwar to see the Jyotiringa there. Unfortunately, we could not see it due to the Kumbh Mela Rush. However, on the way we stopped at the beautiful Narmada Ghat. A very serene and beautiful spot with clean river water and relatively clean Ghat(river bank). Pictures of the beautiful spot:

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Bloggers and Social Responsibility!

Pen is mightier than the sword! A very well known saying and so true and holds especially true for us bloggers. We can influence change, raise awareness of various issues being faced by the country and the world. Whether it is social issues like dowry, child marriage, injustices and politics, we can make a difference.

However, it is not where our responsibility stops! A lot of us endorse brands as paid projects or as a favour. Do you think we should endorse any brands or be very careful of the brands we endorse? I personally don’t endorse brands that are not socially, environmentally safe or brands that endorse social evils. For example, I stay away from endorsing brands that are known for testing their products on brands and also fairness products. Brands that cause environmental harm are a complete no-no for me. I would love to have the views of my fellow bloggers on this.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Life of a left-handed girl in India

Today is World Left Handers Day and this is the perfect opportunity for me to share my experiences as a left handed person in India.

In India, it is not considered the norm to use your left hand instead of your right hand. I was a born leftie, a fact that my parents discovered when I was approximately 5-6 years old when my dad was trying to teach me to write. He kept trying to make me hold the pencil with my right hand and write and I just wouldn’t. After some time, he lost his patience, kept the pencil down and told me to write when I feel like and started to walk away. I calmly picked up the pencil with my left hand and started writing. That’s when it struck him that I am a leftie.

In those times in India, it was considered inauspicious for people to use their left hand to eat, write or any other activities which were normally done with the right hand. Today, things are a little different, but not at that time. My parents never tried to convert me from a leftie to a right handed person, especially my father who would say that he wouldn’t try to change me from what my natural habit is.

But I faced really tough times with other people. When I would go to the temple, when I would put my left hand forward for the prasad(a sweet dish which is the holy offering that is given to all the people visiting the temple), the priest would look at me like I had just desecrated the temple with my presence. For an innocent kid who didn’t understand what she did wrong, it was really upsetting. But I would still insist on taking the Prasad in my left hand.

We experienced this many times while visiting temples. One day, my dad couldn’t control himself. When the priest at another temple insisted on giving me the Prasad in my right hand, my dad said to the priest, ” The things that you do with your left hand, she does with her right hand. Do you still want to give her the Prasad in her right hand?” The priest was left speechless. I still laugh my heart out at the expression on the priest’s face.

In school too, I would be asked all kinds of weird questions on being a leftie as it was not the norm. Parents who would have children who were lefties would forcibly convert them to using the right hand, sometimes even resorting to beating them to make them convert – all because it was considered inauspicious.

I hope things are different now. If there are any parents who are still forcing their kids to convert to the right hand, please stop. It is not their natural instinct. You are also messing up the functioning of their brain. There is nothing inauspicious about it.

Pornography Ban in India

In the last 24 hours, a lot of conversations have been happening on the Internet and Social Media on the topic of 800 odd pornographic websites being banned in India. People were protesting all over the Internet against the ban. And there was only one question in my mind – what is wrong if these websites are banned? I agree that we are the country of Khajuraho and Kamasutra. But, for how long are people going to justify this as an excuse to support Pornography in the country?

I don’t buy this argument at all. What happened was centuries back. Why should anyone use that as an argument to support and promote something that’s degrading, humiliating and disgusting for a man or a woman? A lot of people may get a lot of pleasure out of it, but do we spare a thought for the people who shoot for these videos? Isn’t it humiliating for them but the only means of earning money(as they may feel)?

If this mode of earning money is not there, they may think of other options which are far more wholesome. Does anyone agree with me? There is one more aspect that we have completely ignored in our “RIGHTEOUS” fight for people’s rights. What about the videos that are shot without the consent or knowledge of so many couples through hidden cameras? So many such cases have come out into the open. Do we realise how humiliating it is for the unsuspecting couple, married or not?

If the government bans these porn websites, people will automatically develop a fear of visiting these websites and the demand will gradually stop. When there is no demand, will anyone bother to supply the same?

Oh and not to forget the hypocritical angle. I have heard countless number of derogatory comments against Sunny Leone for being a porn star. I have complete respect for her in being honest about it. We don’t mind watching and supporting porn, but we won’t have any qualms in insulting someone who has worked in them. I may be completely wrong in my views, but this is what it is.

As of now, the latest news is that the ban has been lifted from these websites after protests from people, except for the websites that had child pornography. While I am happy that we have a government that listens to its people when they protest against something, it is also raising a question in my mind – If what people watch is their choice, why isn’t it their choice to eat what they want? Why has a ban on beef been forced on people in Maharashtra? Is eating beef worse than watching pornography?

To conclude, I feel that porn videos, content and websites should be banned. These are strictly my personal views.