30 March 2012

My change in the world

They say that change is the only constant in life, and that I cannot agree with more, it is isn't it. So when there's a a contest rolled out asking you what would you like to change, it's easy to just say EVERYTHING!

But, that's only because that's the easiest thing to say. I want you to turn your favorite musical composition- music that makes you happy and read the rest of this post.

No seriously, it makes a difference. Go ahead.

I think the one main thing I'd change in this world, is the way we treat our animals. Living on the Outer Ring Road in Bangalore, there's a carcass of a dead dog evey other day. Thanks to our friendly neighbourhood truck driver. I've always wondered if the truck stopped to turn around to find out what that thump was, or if he was too sleepy to realise there was a thump at all. Just like that, a life lost.

There are lives lost, then there are those for whom lives are trivialised. Driving through the Ring Road again, just the other week, I remember seeing two men lifting a big stone slab together with some difficulty and plop it onto a cart driven by a bullock. Large horns and white skinned, this animal had been reduced to prodding rib cages. The bad news was, that this was only the first slab of stone on that bullock cart for that bullock. We all know how they get driven, slapped, poked and pushed till they cannot move anymore. To either be sold for leather or eaten.

Add to this an image of chicken in coop, baby goats running around with their ears flapping to later be sacrificed in the name of God. I have known people who object to the use of flowers in prayer(they look prettier on the plant), who sacrifice goats in the name of religion.

There is one street dog in our area, where one side of the dogs face has been peeled back, possibly by a thrown stone. He no longer has a lip on one side, just teeth. He survived, to his own detriment. Yes, cringe.

Cringing doesn't make a difference, going out and doing something about it does. I know that everyone of us sees this, but we don't tune into it, and realise that we can do something about it.

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men.

The human race
Has climbed on protest.
Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.

The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many.
Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle.

Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws

That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.
Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.

Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,

Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
Gods soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.

Wilcox, Ella Wheeler

It is my hope, that this very small post can make some impact in whoever reads this. There's more to say, more to share, but I hope the next time you listen to you're favorite song, you remember that you have the power to change this world, but that change can only begin when you change yourself.

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http://facebook.com/sftimetochange

03 March 2012

Dear Emilie: A Young Woman's Journal

Dear Emilie,

I've landed to hear the most shocking news. I've become a woman now. No, Emilie, I know what you're thinking, but it's not that I didn't know I was a girl, but I'm a woman now. I can't believe it either! Grandma said it shouldn't come this early, but it has, at 10. Savita Aunty says that I can't talk to boys now, but she's so silly she doesn't know that talking doesn't make a difference. I pity these girls in India who don't know anything about these things.. sigh.. OK, got to go now, dad's coming over from Malaysia, have to find out why and what they plan on doing.

Love,

Your New Woman.


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Dearest Emilie, my only friend in the world!!! You are not going to believe what they want to do to me.. they want to print out cards for me and have a PUBERTY CEREMONY!! I was so happy to come back to India and get it, and now it turns out this was the worst thing ever, can you imagine having to sit there in front of everyone and them coming up to congratulate me? CAN YOUUUUU??????? EMilie, do something to help. Please. Please. Please. Please.. (how many times do I have to say it before you perform the magical things that journals can do?)

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Emilie,

I'm undergoing mental, physical torture. I'm under house arrest, something about what grandma saying that my spirit being weak right now. She says that I'm vulnerable to black magic spirits. There are these things that she keeps saying. Like how there were women in her Temple Town who were not careful and left the house mid way and had to have neem leaves whacked all around before they became normal. I've drawn up a brief list of things I'm not allowed to do. As follows:

1. Can't touch plants (evil spirits live in them, even if it's the potted plants in the garden)

2. The house is defined as the main door frame, upstairs door frame and the back door frame. Yes, I'm not allowed to see Ashwin playing cricket anymore (heartbroken sniff sniff)

3. Can't eat meat, evil spirits linger in meat and they make my impure state worse.

4. Can't enter the pooja room, because I'm impure (rolling eyes as I write this)

5. Can't touch people. Can't touch the sofa set.. yes, I've been restricted to one corner of the hall, with a mat, a pillow and a blanket. I've been told I have to wash it myself. IT's just unfair, how come no one else has to go through this bullshit, but ME. Not fair!!!!!!! Ancient customs belong in Ancient land!

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Em,

Dad got me a pile of second hand Nancy Drew books. I'm almost in heavan.. except for the being tied up like a badly treated dog bit! Raj came to ask me what was wrong with me, I told him, for my brother he was stupid. He then grabbed the remote from my hand (he touched me!) and switched the tv channel. So I told on him to grandma, and he had to take a shower... ha ha ha it's so funny. Maybe this thing is not so bad afterall..

3 days to freedom.

P.S. Boys are so stupid!
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Emilie,

I've been wondering about what every one would do if I went to the Pooja room and told them, I had been cleansed. They have 3 options.. maybe a fourth one

a. Shout at me
b. Believe me
c. Disown me
d. Forget these dumb tradition things and we all be happy...

I wish. 2 more days Em, and I'm out of here. Why I had to come now and waste Vacation time not being able to do anything is beyond me, but I guess God has a way of testing us..

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Imli,

AS they would call you here.. ha ha ha ha...don't be angry. I'm just entertaining myself. Tomorrow I am freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..... I can move, talk, dance do what ever it is I want. But only after a Puja..cleansing Puja and then I have my oh so embarassing Ceremony... but I've picked out the card design. It's got a green border and is cream colour and has flowers indented. Not bad indeed, I guess you can't be too unlucky in life

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Em,

Ashwin came for my ceremony. He looked soooo nice, and he was shy as well. I don't think I mind this anymore. I got a tonne of presents, like a tonne and mum said I could keep everything I got but the jewellery. I don't know Em.. I love grandma.. do you think I felt so bad because of the spirits in me..? :) Either ways back home soon, can't wait to tell the girls what happened.. they're going to be sooo embarassed for me :)

Love love love loads,

Now a woman..

The best good person

I was never the smartest girl, prettiest or the most outgoing girl. A lot of people call that self esteem issues, I just think that those are the facts and all my life I've always tried to remove any negative or positive connotations from those words.

Not the tallest doesn't mean you're the shortest, and even if it did, why does that make a difference?

Let's try another one: Not the most attractive, doesn't mean, you're the ugliest, and if if did, is that you're opinion or someone elses? Is it coming from a loved one who's angry or a random stranger on the road? And if a loved one, is that loved on referring to your physical attrtibutes or your character attributes...and so on

I love that my thoughts have been shaped this way, I love being able to punch in some logic to a spiralling state of mind to find a way to still balance and continue with life, stressing on my need to always be a good person, no matter what and let myself be the only one to judge me. So when I flew to Australia, for a work trip, I took this idea with me.

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First things first, was the airport staff. Big Aussie smiles and the blasted heat of the Adelaide summer. No serious, it was so hot, you could see the heat waves emanating from the hard black tarred surface of the road. Bright, clean skies, with fluffy clouds... arid ground, green/brown trees fencing off the road and neat cottage houses, all almost all equipped with sprinklers. The silence of the place, in mid afternoon heat was an almost unbearable contrast to the cancophony of traffic noises that would other wise form a street orchestra in India.

But I kept in mind, that I was there on work, and I had a job to do, come the heat or the rain. I have to admit though, during that short ride to the hotel, I wondered where all the kangaroos were.

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Work the next day, I had a session to do. Ahh.. the joy of having a jet lag, waking up to a 34C heat morning (and this was at 7), the first day passed in a blur of introductions, sitting in a session sweating the fact that the next day I'd have to do it myself with a foreign crowd. That sweat did not stop during the greek lunch we had or the malaysian dinner we had. I kept playing bits of the session in my head.. health and safety section, the new induction session.. and with these thoughts running through my head, it was sleep that came before confidence.

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Apparently it was the next morning and the sweat still did not stop. With a wet collar, increasingly sticky pants I walked aroudn the training room, trying to hold it together. I urged myself to remember to breath, remember to talk and more importantly, remember to smile.. not too much like a clown, but not too little like s strict little miss from India.

"Well, then we're now read..read.. read... " what came after? What did? I couln't for the life of me remember what came after. Visually I bought myself some time by swallowing a big gulp of water. Internally, I could swear I was going to black out, get fired, shipped back and re fired again.. In a flash of panic I imagined my whole life unravel..

It was then, at the back I found Jane. Big smile, hard nods and unrelenting gaze that told me, out of the faces in the room that didn't care, were curious, wanted a break or just wanted to get done and over with the training sessions, I knew there was a friendly face. There was support.

Mid session break. "Julie, do I sound nervous?"
"Ahh.. that's ok, you only just got here yesterday didn't yea"
"Well, as long as you've got good things to say about the session, it won't matter when I came" I added cheekily.

And with that, Jane walked me through the rest of the 2 weeks. I wouldn't call it hand holding, I would call it extensive support. And I made it, to have Jane drive me to the airport. She didn't look too happy, or too sad. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck yet again. This time, to leave, knowing I;d done a good job, praying nothing would rain on my parade.

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Months later the project ended, and I found some time to breathe. I was cleaning out my e-mails, and found one from Jane saying good bye to all who'd she'd known for the 7 years she worked with the organisation.

Where did she go, I wondered. Got my answer a few weeks later, when the boss rolled in and the boss read the feedback she'd given. Turns out, I was trained as a replacement for her when she leaves. Except, she was told she'd have to go, because the company couldn't afford her anymore.

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Then I realized, that there's no such thing as the best good person.