Sunday, September 2, 2012


I do not wish to start this piece philosophically or on a  moral high, nor do I have any thoughts about  the greater good of any community or ‘society’. I wish to write this to justify me to myself. Yesterday on the 1st of September, at around 7:30 in the evening I was coming back from college I took a detour from my usual route and boarded the Blue line of the Delhi Metro from Rajiv Chowk. Being used to this chaos everyday, I was warned by my companion that we should board the ‘Ladies’ compartment and not the ‘General’ compartment. The sensible arguments I gave were, firstly that it is a ‘general’ compartment and not demarcated for men, so no harm boarding it. Secondly, that they are humans and not ‘animals’.  I lost the argument in the next few minutes.

I had to get off after four or so stations,  so it didn’t seem like the decision was going to cost me heavily. Being surrounded by 50 to 60 heavily sweating men was a  nightmare enough to take for one evening, but it had hardly begun. Throughout those 10 minutes that I was present there every part of my body was scanned in an inch by inch detail which made me feel like my sex was a curse with which I was born. The ordeal had started.

My station arrived, I shoved my way with great difficulty to make it to the door before it could close and during this struggle my top was pulled by a man to expose my breast for a good 15 seconds while at the same time somebody grabbed my behind. I was paralysed in shock. Nevertheless, I started pushing again and finally reached the door and stepped onto the platform. I  screamed my lungs out at those 5 to 6 men who were standing at the door. I hurled abuses at them which ideally no sensible Indian girl should utter even in thoughts, let alone whisper.

The reaction of those men was something that made the experience traumatic for me – they simply stared at me and LAUGHED. They continued laughing and my anger continued to rise. I was outraged at their sensibilities. I had always believed, that if ever I face such a situation in my life I would beat the daylights out of those people, but I could only stare at them. I was dumbfounded. My hurling abuses seemed like an impetus for them to laugh harder.  I was boiling inside.

I am not playing victim here. Self-pity is something I have done away with. This is not my intent. I want to know how come out of that entire compartment not even one man came forward to do something about it.
They could have stopped the metro immediately.
They could have called 1091 or simply stepped out of the metro to support me.
And, they could have stepped up and changed the situation there and then.

How low have you all sunken?
Does the status of being anonymous in a crowd fueled with this pathetic group mentality give them the freedom to do anything? Why blame the patriarchal setup, when the women present there looked at me as if I was at fault for being a girl and misplacing the societal norm of keeping quiet. Nobody present on that busy platform came forward to do ANYTHING.

If the frustration level of men in Delhi which seems to be so high then, they should go to places where sexual services are available. But,  MY BODY IS MY OWN and I do not give anybody the right to touch it.  This article is not about me; it’s about the psychological scars that I’ll have to live with for life. It’s about how incidents like these happen everyday and they are not even talked about because of the fear of being caught in something bigger and unwanted. It’s about how after going through all of this I for sometime blamed myself. In time, I remembered the words of my teacher, “It’s never your fault.” I do not know if this would help things or change the current scenarios, all I know is that I have lost my faith.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Red Ribbon - Review of Short Documentaries on HIV AIDS

As part of my curriculum three short documentaries were screened for the "Media and Globalisation" paper. The generic theme for all the three being awareness and creating sensitivity towards HIV Aids and it's patients alike. Directed by Indian cinema's leading filmmakers; a review of the documentaries was in order.

1. Blood Brothers
    Directed by Vishal Bharadwaj
    Produced by Bill Gates Foundation along with Mira Nair
    Cast: Siddharth, Pawan Malhotra and Ayesha Takia

A very simple narrative sewn in the most beautiful and effective manner by Mr. Bharadwaj. The story starts with a successful ad maker Arjun Dutt (played brilliantly by Siddharth) going for a routine medical check up which turns out to be HIV positive. This revelation turns his life upside down because he is expecting another child with his wife Keya (Ayesha Takia) and since he has been unfaithful during the course of the marriage, it leads him to think that due to unprotected sex with multiple partners must have led to the contraption of the virus. Now, the film puts light on a very important aspect and that is the fact that the society still treats people with this disease as a taboo which it makes all the more for the patient to cope with it. This can lead it to isolation for them, which is also highlighted by the protagonist. Pankaj Kapur's delightful cameo as the lively doctor is a treat to watch. His character raises an important point of the difference between people who actually have AIDS and people who are just HIV positive; besides giving a twist to the story.

The major theme of the movie is that inspite of contracting this deadly disease people still do not stop living their lives which is summed in a beautifully penned dialogue by Pawan Malhotra's character "Zindagi kam hui hai, khatam nahi hui". 

2. Positive
    Directed by Farhan Akhtar
    Produced by Bill Gates Foundation, Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani
    Cast: Boman Irani, Shabana Azmi and Arjun Mathur

Farhan Akthar once again proves his mettle as a director along with a cast people can only wish for. To watch Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani in the same frame is a viewer's delight but moreover when the film is based on such a sensitive issue it just adds to the whole aura. What the film primarily deals with is that many a times along with the HIV AIDS infected person the whole family has to go through the repercussions. The story centers around that due to the many illicit relationships that Boman Irani has he contracts AIDS and not only insults the constant plea by his wife (Shabana Azmi) and son (Arjun Mathur) but this also drives them away from him emotionally. The narrative also raises an important observation that in the Indian scenario many a times the wife is never even given an option to walk out of a relationship and is supposed to stay in it and take her husband's adulterous ways.

It shows the huamne side of any relationship that even though the husband never did any good to his wife, she still chooses to be by his side and till the end. Not only this but she also makes sure that their son does the same. Inspite of going through a fractured father - son relationship, in his last days their common passion for the camera brings both of them together. It in a way even helps Boman Irani to stay in peace in the end.

Ram Sampath has given a very soulful track to the 20 minute long documentary.

3. Parambha
    Directed by Santosh Sivan
    Produced by Bill Gates Foundation
    Cast: Prabhu Deva, B. Saroja Devi

The narrative talks about the deep rooted stereotyping and prejudices that we all hold against people suffering from AIDS. This doesn't only stop in offices or at homes; but even young, innocent kids are subjected to such inhuman behaviour. A right to education is every child's basic right and when that right is taken away from him because he is HIV positive forms the basic premise of the play. The fact that people are still not aware about a basic thing like touching, hugging or playing with an infected person does not lead to the spread of AIDS is an alarming situation. Because of unawareness such stereotypes are firstly formed in the society and later on they are even reinforced.

Even though the film is entirely shot in Kannada, the use of popular music and great acting skills by the cast makes it very easy to comprehend.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

That Best Friend.

There is always this 'best friend' that is lurking around somewhere when you are dating someone. When you see those two together something inside you (combined with the green eyed monster) tells you that they are better suited than you and him/her. They know them better than you can ever and probably spend even more time together. Then you ask yourself months later when you have parted ways and now they are together, "Why were we even together in the first place ?"

The answer is simple. It's because they never wanted to accept that they fell for each other or feared losing the friendship if they started dating. Their denial becomes your fate and you end with the wrong person. So, is it that in this whole process you were the one who ended up being hurt the most ? You feel angry and completely cheated. It's OKAY.

Because yes somewhere you were the one who was cheated. Not that you should start playing victim in this case but it's probably okay to feel hurt, jealous and angry but the question is till when ? Time is indeed the best healer. It's okay to stalk their new pictures together 20 times a day on Facebook and see how happy they are together but only if every time you promise yourself that this was for the best and YES, you do deserve better. Move on and I am sure you will find the one for you very soon :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Web - Relations that last !

I was recently sitting at a coffee shop, accompanied by The City of Djinns, and right beside me there was a large group of young boys and girls happily chatting away over a hot cuppa. Loud decibels had completely made me lose my patience so I decided to leave, but then suddenly snippets of their conversation made me sit again. It seemed that there was one broken couple amidst them and it was turning out to be quite an awkward evening for them. So, it got me thinking that if it was so difficult to sit with your 'ex' then why even make the effort and go through all the awkwardness ?

Discussing this thought with a few of my friends made me realise that it is was not as simple as it seemed on the surface. During the course of a relationship be it your boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse or even friends; you tend to meet several other people that might be your friends or your partner's. Now, these are what we label as 'mutual friends'. They have a very interesting role to play as even after the relation ends on a 'not so happy note', they are the ones who keep the two sides bonded through a thin social glue. Just because you found these friends during the relationship and they might just happen to be friends of your partner doesn't really mean that once the relation ends so do these new friendships. As a matter of fact many times they can be the ones that help you get over the bad phase and start afresh. No doubt that sometimes because of your 'ex partner'; situations with mutual friends may get sticky, awkwardness may also prevail. But, these are the friends who will remain through all the thick and thin.

Sometimes, you might just find a love interest in one of these mutual friends because they have seen you through your worst and best phases. They probably understand your emotional psyche a lot better. So, the point that I am trying to make here is that it doesn't really matter if that relation is over because it was never really worth the effort, (of course if it would have been; you wouldn't have been alone right now) and the worst thing would now be to also lose these new friends that you have made.

Keep them close.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

I am a die hard Feminist..

Yesterday I had the "opportunity" to accompany a friend of mine to a pre selection round of a beauty pageant. Now, I proudly consider myself to be a 'kurta and jeans' wearing girl so a place where the accepted dress code was only elaborate evening gowns and body highlighting dresses; I knew that I was a misfit. However, I decided to go ahead with the plan of going because I had the moral obligation to enthuse my friend !

Nevertheless, the evening didn't turn out as half bad as I had expected it to be infact in a way it was quite an entertaining affair. Young, endearing girls walking down in 6 inch dreadful heels, giving their best orthodontic smiles. Considering that these 2-3 minutes was their only ticket to easy fame and success. But what really caught my attention was the answer of a young 16 year old girl, clad in a teeny red dress, who after following the usual protocol of expected adjectives also added that she was a " DIE HARD FEMINIST". Really, did I hear correctly ? I doubted my aural abilities and checked once again with my companions and after getting an affirmative nod from them, I wondered to myself was this statement an example of her anxiousness or sheer stupidity. Didn't she just present one of the biggest paradoxes of the immature Indian society. I can sympathize with her for a moment because being brought up in a convent, all girls environment the term 'Feminism' is used at leisure. Sometimes, even without a second thought.

Now, interestingly would a radical (or even liberal) feminist endorse beauty pageants? The feminist arguments against beauty pageants are obvious, and have been around even before the famous 1968 demonstrations at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. I am not to be mistaken as a "bra burning radical feminist" but I do not endorse the idea of commodifying women in this way. Dressing up and looking pretty is no sin. Women are undoubtedly the more appealing gender (I did not use the term sex as that is a biological concept ) and wanting to be perceived as attractive is completely understandable. However, my problem is with we often fail to recognize how they operate within a greater context of generalized and widely accepted misogyny. The day women start buying those endorsed products and spend hours in front of the mirror when they are doing it for their own happiness and not to please anyone; that day would be revolutionary.

I dedicate this to an extraordinary woman; someone I always looked upto and will do so all my life. People say that in today's day and age rational people cannot really afford to have a hero. Well, I have one.
She would not appreciate being named here but she once told me that,"The world today does not need feminists or idealists, but, what we really need are Humanists."

That is what I am trying to be.
Cheers !