Turning back

She found his sister-in-law walking down the street opposite to her house. It had been 8 years since she had seen any of his family members. Debating whether to avoid or not, she found her approaching. In her heart, she missed the friendship she had shared with his sister. It was an easy-going friendship, one that was without judgement. She called her ‘didi’, and not ‘bhabhi’. She did not want to bring the ‘weight’ of a bhabhi-wala relation into the simple sisterly friendship.

As didi approached, she hugged her, reminiscing the days gone by. Didi took her to her house, where there were a lot of people buzzing around, maybe for a wedding that was planned in the house. She felt amiss. Didi took her to a room and asked her to wait. On the other side of the room, she felt a presence. Ma. She jumped in surprise, went ahead and hugged ma too. Touched feet. Ma was distanced and detached. She handed me a letter. A handwritten letter.

She just took and just gave it a listless glance. No expression. When she went to her room, she found him there. She had forgiven him and had no weight in her heart. So, she greeted him politely.  Apparently, they all wanted him and her to get back together. She thought in her heart, that it was a foolish wishful want. She debated whether to cut this conversation short or see what he had to say. Curiosity took over and she took a seat 5 feet away from him. They spoke about inconsequential things. Then his intention was to move on to personal chat, but she sensed it and cut him short. She wanted to leave, but he got angry. All she said was, “You are still the same. Lower your temper.”

And she went to her parents to tell them to go and ask that family to move on. What did she achieve from that conversation? Not sure, maybe she had the satisfaction of knowing that it was the right thing to do, to walk out. Rather, to accept that he walked out. That a piece of paper with two signatures mean nothing when someone does not want to nurture a relationship. And of course, vice versa.

She thought of the man she now had in her life. Dynamic, mature and extremely loving. She thanked her stars. A small smile escaped her lips.

Track 2:

In her words:

The wedding atmosphere suddenly turned into tension filled melee. She was puzzled. Then people came running and shouting that the groom has halted the wedding celebrations because he wanted 10 lakhs immediately. The bride’s parents tried to ask our parents to arrange for the money. And fools that they are, they way they chose that man for me, they scrambled around, arranging for it.

I asked them to stop the madness. Just. Stop. It.

How dare that girl not stop this by taking a stand?? This for God’s sake is the 21st century. Educated people do NOT blackmail the bride’s family for money on the altar of marriage. What stops her from walking out? Is it okay to see her parents begging others for money? Is it okay to see the elderly couple scrambling around, and losing their wits on something as inconsequential as “buying a groom for their daughter”????

Track 3:

She wakes up with a jolt, angry and upset. Why after so many years, did she see this dream? Perhaps somewhere in her psyche, she expected him to come and apologize to her. And perhaps, somewhere in her psyche, she wants all those girls to stand up for their parents, who feel they are a victim of the society’s demands for sending a daughter with loads of materialistic things, with or without demand.

Track 4:

She thought of her parents who had the strength that ONLY true love could give, to support and in fact, help her in the brave decision she took so many years ago. She smiled as she saw the way her father’s head held high, when she told him of the salary hike she recently got. He is one proud father – he has seen her move from being a meek domestic girl to a confident corporate lady.

She immediately picked up her phone, and dialled Papa.

Smiling Female Business Leader With Arms Crossed

LinkedIn Policing

One of the ladies on LinkedIn, Suman Agarwal posted the following question:

Should a woman stay in an abusive marriage for her kids or move out for her kids?

It’s obvious that the question would invite a barrage of debatable comments. But I do not want to talk here about the answer to that question right now. We will come to that later. What shocked me is the number of people who started commenting on whether LinkedIn is the right forum for this question.

Some even advised Suman to post it on Facebook.

Some such high headed commentors included women – sadly.

Here are some classic comments and replies to them from level-headed people:

**Advance Warning: I have collated about 50 comments from 500 – worked hard on it. Go ahead only of you have the patience to read them. You can scroll down though, but won’t comprehend why I am so cross.

40

Can’t even talk English. But saving family is lady’s responsibility, even if she is abused.

39

Spend more time with the husband so that he can abuse her more. Mr srinivaas makes perfect sense.

And Ms Swetha Kala – wants to try and change the man, cater to his needs, understand… and what not, ridiculous!!!

38

We all are fools. Mr Tyagi has an IQ of Marilyn vos Savant.

36

Society is perfectly normal when it accepts man abusing woman. But raising a voice is misleading a society. Wow.

35

34

How spiritual!!

33

32

31

I want to go to the garden of Eden!!!

30

292827

ahem ahem, best poetry award!!

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People can not have the compassion to offer their view but have the galls to waste their precious time writing “Post in another forum”.

And, trust me, it made me livid. Such an important issue – every forum counts, every supporting comment, every possible solution counts!!! Sadly, people like this lady love posting such comments, diverting attention from an important issue to the relevance of the platform. Hello? Why are YOU commenting on that post if it’s not supposed to be on LinkedIn???

Instead of contributing value to the debate, they sit on their high chairs and JUDGE.

Too many rants these days, but the Justice Lady just can’t take it!!!

Why do people not let women be, not let them take their decisions, not let them flourish by themselves without raising fingers?

 

A Mundane Rant

Well, apparently the electricity board has got privatized. Yeah, I sometimes tend to be oblivious to some of the “important” developments in our country.

Well, last month was hectic and the electricity bill slipped off my mind. What do you know???

Ting Tong!!

I open the door. Madam, have you paid the electricity bill?

Me: I don’t think so. I will check in my mail box and pay it today.

She: No madam, pay it right now, within one hour. I am disconnecting the power supply to your home. When you pay it, someone will come and switch it on.

Me: thinking, What??? No reminder, no nothing, straight banging on my door with a threat!!

Me: Dekhiye madam, I told you I shall pay it. Don’t cut the light. There is a patient in my house. (A relative was getting treated for a serious health issue and she is staying with me.)

She: No madam. Nothing doing. Have you picked up your light bill?

Me: Not yet

HE (someone who accompanied this haughty lady): Kya madam, light bill dekhna maangta hai ki nahin??? Shouting at the TOP of his voice so that the entire neighborhood could hear.. the old lady on the ground floor actually came out of her flat and started asking those guys to efff off and not trouble me.

Me: thinking, unbelievable!!

Me: How can you guys just barge into an elite society and accuse someone of not paying the bill? It’s peanuts for God’s sake!!! WHYY?? Why would you create a scene and insult someone for such a measly amount??? AND not give time to pay it off.

Finally, on the old lady’s behest (God bless her, she loves me)… they agreed to give me a couple of hours. I did what was required.

But this incident left a bad taste in my mouth. THIS is our developed India, where respectable citizens are harassed and threatened of being denied of basic amenities on the spot. And two citizens, and I don’t know how many more, are employed to knock on the doors of every house and threaten perfectly sane people who have all intentions of paying their hard-earned incomes for electricity and water and gas!!

Here’s what I found out from Mr. Google:

  • That it’s illegal to disconnect power supply without 15 days’ notice
  • That it’s also misuse of powers by the authority
  • That we can lodge a complaint to report this kind of rude behavior and misuse of power

Read these news articles:

MSEB did not leave even eminent ecologist Dr Madhav Gadgil’s house in spite of timely payment of bills.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), an apex authority under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), has rapped MSEDCL for resorting to illegal practice of disconnecting power supply of consumers without issuing notice under section 56 (1) of the Indian Electricity Act (IEA) 2003.

And that’s that.

Rant over.

Phew.

Truly Befikre

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‘Befikre’ is a Hindi word meaning ‘Carefree’.

When I watched this movie, I was really impressed by the story line and the way the romance bloomed between the key protagonists despite all resistance to love.

An absolutely fresh movie, the story revolves under a couple in a live-in relationship who decide to break up. After their break up, they become thick friends. However, both share the ideology that love does not exist. As the lady decided to marry a supposedly “tall, fair, handsome rich” guy after discussing with the lead, both of them realize that they are in love. Everything else ensues, but I did not like the ending, which was turned into a humorous confusion ending with the lead couple just running away from the chaotic scene. The movie also touches hearts with its absolutely fresh and melodious songs with liberal use of French. I didn’t know French is such a beautiful language until I saw this movie. (Maybe I will learn French some day). My personal favorite songs are Je T’aime, Labon ka Karobar and You and Me.

I decided to write about this movie because some moments in the movie touched my heart. There is one scene where the lead heroine is upset with the hero and turns and walks away from him. That is an amazingly acted out scene, as the way she walks away, her head high, her steps confident, is outstanding. It’s a rarity, especially in the Indian society, where that kind of self-assuredness and headstrong attitude is seen as a negative trait, and women are mostly expected to be submissive and meek.

For me, a confident lady is the epitome of the ‘perfect’ woman.

She may belong to any walk of life, but she is to be celebrated for the sheer determination that she displays in leading a respectful life.

She is the successful lady that sits in the cabin and runs her business.

She is the lady in the white suit inside the VP Cabin, devising a strategy for her company.

She is the lady who sits in the cubicle, churning out thousands of lines of code to complete a client project.

She is the lady with dignity who is the pioneer of the small weaving industry in her village.

She is the lady who topped her IAS examination and is now making a huge difference in others’ lives.

She is the lady who plays the roles of a police officer, a sexy siren and a dumb babe with the same degree of poise.

She is the lady who chooses to stay with her partner without worrying about society rules – how does a marriage certificate stop a couple from tearing the relationship apart, and how does the absence of a marriage certificate stop a couple from leading a life of together forever?

She is the lady who expertly counsels individuals and couples with no inhibitions on any issue, and no judgments whatsoever.

She is the lady who decides to walk out of a relationship that’s marred by abuse.

She is the lady who says no to emotional manipulation.

She is the lady who starts life afresh after being ‘abandoned’ by her husband.

She is the lady who paints her heart out and wins accolades in her first art exhibition.

She is the lady that left a high paying job abroad to help poor and abandoned children lead a respectful life by training them on vocational courses.

She is the lady who….  need I say more?

These women are truly ‘befikre’ and I salute them. Do you?

Who is your She?

National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)

 

logo        capture

Do you know about NALSA?

I didn’t.

When I came to know about it through the advertisements displayed in movie theaters, I was really sad that I did not know about it before.

NALSA stands for National Legal Services Authority and provides free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society. It was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

NALSA ensures that justice is meted out to all citizens, irrespective of economic or any other problems. It identifies certain sections of the society that may need legal help / are entitled to legal help, and formulates various schemes for the implementation of preventive and strategic legal service programmes to be undertaken and implemented by the Legal Services Authorities at the various levels.

Citizens that come under the identified sections as in link above can lodge an online application and request for legal aid.

However, how many such people know about this forum, and how many have access to online means of sending a request?

I believe there should be widespread awareness of this initiative and we all should make it our duty to inform the weaker sections of the society that we come in contact with, for example, house help, etc and if needed, help them apply if they are in need of free legal help.

Justice is everybody’s right and we must ensure more and more people know about it.

How many of us know that 9th November was Legal Services Day?

We speak of 9-11 in so many ways, but this is something that needs to be celebrated so that a huge chunk of people know about NALSA and the free legal aid that it provides.

In 2015, Justice Thakur, who is also the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) stated, “Over 40 percent out of 1.25 billion Indians are acutely deprived of certain basic rights and opportunities”.

If you agree with me and believe that legal aid should be available to the weaker sections of the society, please forward/share/reblog this post as much as possible so that awareness can be spread.

Source: www.nalsa.gov.in

Movie review (sort of): PINK #IAMPINK

pink

Well, yes it is but obvious that I would go gaga over PINK. Amitabh Bachchan’s movie had me in tears and no, they definitely weren’t tears of joy.

How a woman is treated in our society is brought out beautifully in the movie PINK. We speak of being modern and yet, we are as backward as the monkey era where in, a woman can not even drink out with friends without being labeled with expletives such as ‘fast’, ‘promiscuous’, and ‘prostitute’.

Times may have changed for some, but for many, times remain in a limbo. Women for them are to cook ‘great’ food for the husband at home, stay confined to the kitchen and rear children. Any other role and she is labelled. Forever.

The best thing about the movie was that a point was made, without really making a point. Amitabh Bachchan’s acting prowess was perfect to the role, no one else could have done justice to the eccentric retired lawyer’s character. I have been in close proximity to friends who have dealt with lawyers and trust me, it is HELL capitalized, italicized and spelled out. Good lawyers close a case in 6 months. Those with motives will ensure that they are doing a huge favour to you by fighting your case, in spite of you paying them.

The movie brought out a lot of emotions in me. I have seen women who have risen from ashes as Phoenix, women who chose simply because it was their choice, women who wanted to be different and decided to be, women who carved new paths for themselves against all the barricades of the patriarchal society around them.

I have seen women who have taken a 180 degree turn, and lost everyone in the process because “they have changed”. I have seen women whose independence got rejected because the pitiful needy girl was better to handle. I have seen women who chose to remain single and go abroad for studies because the Indian society does not accept a single woman as a woman of good character. Women who travel are “fast”. Women who have “boy” friends have ill characters. Women who stand up for themselves against the atrocities of in-laws have loose character.

Women, Women, Women – the reason of all destruction, the reason of all fights in the house, the reason why friends got separated, and so on and so forth.  These women have just done one thing. They said NO. They said NO to submission. They said NO to oppression. They said NO because they wanted to say NO. 

Just like any man, who says NO to a BMW because he wants a Mercedes. As SIMPLE as that.

That was the crux of the movie, that a NO, even by a prostitute whom one has paid already, is a NO and that her modesty can not be compromised. That a woman has a right to say no, even if she is the wife, and that women have to be treated equally.

This is going to be the ONLY movie that I will remember in life. The only movie that made sense, makes sense and will always make sense.

Because I am a Woman. A proud one at that.

And I hope all women come out and speak in favour of this movie. This movie is going to be the revolution of the India era, one that will uplift the Indian woman to new heights.

 

Cults and Young Minds

Har Har Japoon Main Har Har

depressed-woman

Har Har Japoon Main Har Har

Har Har Japoon Main Har Har

Courtesy: Google Images

Courtesy: Google Images

Picture this:

A lone girl – Just divorced/Just broke up with her BF/staying alone in a big (or small) city

A middle-aged lady – son has left for US/ daughter just got married/ is in a middle age crisis/going through empty nest syndrome

A young man who has lost interest in life because he does not know how to earn million dollars.

A student who consistently fails in exams, but is promised miracles.

What do you think is common between all of them?

At first glance, perhaps nothing.

Think a bit more, and one word will resonate – VULNERABLE

EASY PREY

When you are low in life, apart from fighting your own demons, you also have to fight predators who are looking out for people like you. Cult members are everywhere around us. The reason why they are not apparent is because one of the requisites of their modus operandi is to remain inconspicuous to the general public, and very very ‘in-your-face’ conspicuous to those who are like the ones described above, vulnerable and easy prey.

In many cases, it starts with a trust building statement that goes like, “I know what you are going through. I have been there. I know how much it hurts. But I had ‘grace’ and was saved from this suffering’. And then begins the story. Then begins the seva. Then in the name of seva, they suck into your time, slowly and surely, through mental manipulation and guilt mechanisms; ensuring that everything you do, is connected to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘good’ and ‘sin’ and then, you end up spending a large chunk of your life with the cult members, doing seva of various forms. And then the Guru talks random stuff like, “I know what you are going through. Let it go, set it free. You will feel better.” – as though he knows what IT is. No, he does not. He is counting on your blind faith in him, to “fit” your issues into his words and believe, “Wow! Guruji is really omnipresent, he is really antaryami! He knows what is in my heart and mind.” And thus goes the story.

Meditation is a good way of calming your mind. You do it yourself, with a guided meditation audio in your phone, and you will still feel relief. Hence this is a primary weapon that these cults use. Through meditation, one’s mind does respond, in a different way. However, cults take this as their success. It is so harmful to have your senses opened by cults and to be left all alone in the darkness of the other planes, that the trap keeps getting deeper and deeper. The fear keeps getting larger, and your dependence on the Guruji solidifies into a life long relationship that sounds like, “My life is nothing without Guruji. I will get destroyed if I do not share my problems with him.”

Mostly, the cults have a “living master”, or a “living God” or someone like that. They insist on 100% devotion to “The One”. They can not bear anyone talking ill about their Master and will ensure that the person knows he/she has committed a sin that they would pay for. These Masters travel first class, stay in the best of luxuries and visit foreign countries in name of getting followers. They go to extent of publishing wrong statistics about their sermons. You can not ask them questions. You have to “trust” them unconditionally, because The One trusted YOU unconditionally and CHOSE YOU to be the fortunate one. Being among the followers is being fortunate.

This Master is a good preacher. He knows the psyche of the human mind. He knows how to twist it. He uses positives and negatives and negatives as positives to mess up the followers’ minds. He ensures that he talks about sadness, sorrows, circle of life, importance of Guru, why even Arjun needed Krishna to guide him, importance of surrender etc. etc. so on and so forth. This is to seal dependence of followers into him. When such people play with psyche, they turn young fresh vibrant minds into machines, clueless about what and why they are doing as told.

Another significant characteristic of cults is that nothing comes free. In name of seva, they collect funds, which they claim to use for various charities. However, no one know or dares to ask about where the funds go. Many followers who have given up their karmic lives, to do seva are cited as examples and glorified, saying, become like them. They have given up their luxuries and donated their earnings into the cult. So, slowly, followers who came here for peace of mind and direction to be able to learn ways of life and earn the luxuries of life, slowly are made to give up even what they currently have.

If you are in a similar organization and are being asked to keep it a secret, please ensure that all your antennae are up. Many cults encourage secrecy. They arrange member meetings behind closed doors and preach and preach and preach them to get  more members “inside”. There is an “inside circle” that is not open even to members, esp new members and the new members are encouraged to complete courses to move ahead in their “spiritual path leading to the Master”. As the members start with courses, they become elevated as the next course is always an attraction – to reach the Master. Thus, leaving the cult becomes almost close to impossible, as one keeps moving further, and further.

This circle of exploitation is never-ending and I have not mentioned the “out of ordinary” stuff in this blog post at all – stuff that is tricks of hand, hypnotism, magic, etc. I am assuming that the victims are intelligent enough to understand that “Sweet” can not come out of “thin air” – something a Guruji once produced, and gave it as “prasad/offering” to a troubled lady who had trouble conceiving.

Very recently, and the reason why I was prompted to write this blog, was because I came across the following blog published by Art of Living survivors, one of them, in fact, was an exalted teacher in the group. Although I am not against or in favour of AoL, I think the way these authors have presented the choice of knowledge without thrashing out the cult case in point, is commendable.

They clearly demarcate between their own discoveries within the AoL as an organization, and offer blog readers the choice to explore further or the choice to move away, if they are ardent followers. As opposed to a normal cult behaviour, that emphasizes “conversion”, they offer the wisdom of experience and the freedom to choose.

Anyone interested should check out this: https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/the-purpose-of-these-blogs/

Now, talking about the purpose of my blog, I was in a situation recently, where in I witnessed a young mind getting pulled into the trap of an organization deeper and deeper, and when I researched, I was shocked to see and read the truth. My own brush with another organization, and my “thank god for good sense” that I could recognize that things are not right and listening to my own intuition, walking out bravely, was something that served as a strong blast from the past. I did not want the same to happen to others, however, I have grown wiser and I do realize today, that each one has come into this world, to learn their own lessons and I can not influence anyone.

All I can plead is for God to give common sense to the vulnerable.