29 December 2012

In death you live longer: Amanat

Amanat has passed away. Some are shocked, some are surprised, everyone is sad. The dailies have reported various rapes, in the city, in the country. The debate continues to rage, with hang'ims and actually, just hang'ims.

The people blame the government, the government blames the cops, and the cops say prove it, passing the buck to some independent committee that will find results. These results will talk a dialogue, that no one understands or cares to understand, because we, the people have judged them all to be crooks.

And what of it all? The marches continue, everyone supports her, we all want justice. We march, like Gandhi.. except we don't have a Gandhi in our midst. Was the march successful because it was a march- the Great Salt March of course, or was it successful because Gandhi was there?

Did we pause to think? Do we pause now or do we continue to rage? This week I got wolf whistled twice and this morning there was a throaty whisper of "SUPER FIGURE", very close to my ear by a stranger on the road. I did something extra, I stopped and stared back until he quickened his step. Two weeks ago I held my hand out and stuck out both my middle fingers at a passing car with men shouting some random ape shit.

I highly doubt, that in both cases those individuals found in me, the last victim of their screwed up version of 'entertainment'.  Mind you, both was when I was on my way to work, so NO I was not dressed to outrage my modesty or anyone else's. A passing goat would have been a more lucrative option to tease, in my mind anyways. And it's hard to tell, if they're just being INDIAN or if they'll graduate to molesters some day. Who knows? Have we done a study?

I'm angry, as is everyone. But what of it? I've always tugged at the collar of any friend of mine who thinks he can pass comments. I've derided and argued that gender is a choice, who we are and what we want to be is a choice.. since I knew male from female.

I want to do something, like everyone else out there. We've waxed and waned this week, with protests over the weekend, Christmas during the week and a death at the end of it, followed by a New Year.

But I'll be honest, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do to make a difference TODAY. But to hold myself together, and say to myself that I will stay informed and inform as best I can. That one day, when there's a Gandhi, a Bose, a Nehru, a Mandela, a Theresa, a Merkel or anyone else with a new name,  I will put my vote there, where it belongs, with a voice of reason.

Till then, I know that we should all thank the life, that left today, for making Rape a crime that is abhorred and make sure that in death, she lives longer in our hearts, minds but more importantly in our Actions. Till then I believe, the time to pause (not hibernate, end or forget) is here.  

26 December 2012

Shave or Crave

It's a cold, dark December night, the sort that gets reported the next day in the news as a cold wave. There are no noises in the dark, except for the silent whimpers from a dimly lit basement and in the distance, the howl of stray dogs welcoming the moon.

He walks towards the light, rolling his feet to minimize any disturbance to the silent night. That way, he could, perhaps get through this night alive.

He moves closer to the window of the basement, and the sight below makes him loose his balance. As he came crashing onto the ground he knew, that he'd be next.


In the basement was a man, tied to the chair. He was by himself now, but he couldn't trick himself into thinking that meant he could do what he wanted to. They were all watching him, he knew that for sure. It'd all begun a short month ago, when his girl friend and him were out for dinner:

She: Darling, this food is fantastic nah. The mushroom soup is really creamy
She: Eeew Baby, you have soup on our beard.
He: Ah I'm wiping it off no. Either ways, I brought you a present.
She: Me too! That's soooo perfect!
He: Ok you go first, what did you get me?
She: It's a book, that your beard inspired me to buy!
He: Oh?
She: It's called Revolting Recipes- see this bit- " Twit's Beard Food - consists of mashed potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms cocktail sausages, tinned sardines,  and more!
He: Huh?
She: Mr Twit, from Roald Dahl's The Twits. In the book, he gets food stuck in his beard, and he wouldn't wash it off proper. And what he'd do, when he's having his favorite mug of beer is grab a bite off his beard, literally. Like what happened just now with the soup, that's what I think off when I see you with it!

And it didn't stop there

Later that night she pushed him away when he kissed her, claiming his moustache hair was going into her nose.
And on their next dinner met she told him she'd found him a parlour for men, that specialised in hair removal.
And on their scheduled movie nigh, she kept him watching Home Improvement, comparing Tim and Al- handsome and not
And during Halloween she dressed up as cave women and told him he didn't need a pairing costume, since he already had it on
And then she started getting hairier, suddenly he felt prickles on his face when he kissed her
And when she was cold, she looked porcupine-ish, with her hair standing on its ends
And one day, when he'd had enough he'd told her

And that was yesterday. She'd had enough, and had tried enough. So she brought him to the basement and had him tied up. They were all watching him, waiting for him to crack. For him to ask to be let out, and for him to say he'd comply, he'd shave. For him to crave freedom, to feel good again, to be attractive. And all around him were the instruments he was to use, to be free.

Some of them had told her to give up, to find a man who knew what he had to have and what he had to loose. But she held strong, knowing that his Gillette moment would arrive.

And that's when the women heard a thud.....

This post is a part of the 'Shave or Crave' movement in association with BlogAdda.com


Young Love- My entry for the Get Published Contest

The Idea

This story is of a young girl, insecure and lonely who has a big crush with this boy in school, who resembles her favorite cinema actor. The boy for his part, is mostly ambigous, almost sphinx like, to her frustration.

The story spans a decade, maintaining the base character traits of both, travels borders, and reaches milestones to end in a climax, but does it end at all? The story encompasses the difficult years of growing up, vis a vis diary entries, e-mails and conversations exchanged between  these two as they try and understand this magnetism, to conclude in a merry ending that's sure to satisfy everyone.

What makes the story real?

It is real! But more importantly, it's the story of so many, both young and old, of this seemingly irrelevant crush, that ends in a life event, like love creeping up on you, when it is least expected. More importantly, it's an ode to all those who question themselves, their feelings and most importantly their self image and let that stop them from pursuing what make them happy. This story has regret, immense regret and turning points and how love is never perfect, never smooth sailing and how there are so many many shades of love :)

End Note: This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India. Please go over to Indiblogger at http://www.indiblogger.in/getpublished/idea/342 if you like the post (and of course, you'd like to read the whole story) and vote for me, by clicking on the heart.

Thank you, Saro

24 December 2012

The Straight Hair Experiment- IMPOSSIBLE

I grew up in a country with a lot of Chinese people. Have you seen their hair? Thick, straight and long.. when they want it long of course. Growing up, this was a big problem for me... and the humidity didn't help either.

So began a quest almost to get my hair straight. I didn't have just one best idea, I had several.

    X To comb my hair through and through when it was wet till it got dry
    X To dry my hair between a heavy book (adapted from the flower pressing method)
    X To tie my hair to something heavy (a bottle of water) till it dried (like how you'd make sure someone drowned)
    X To use hairspray
    X To use an ironing bench because I didn't know about the hair straightener then and people just referred to it as iron your hair
    X To use oil (of course loosing the volume)
    Hair Dryer... except, it took too long in the morning!

      And now having grown up, I've been using a hair straightener to straighten my hair (because re-bonding/ chemical straightening kills volume and I already suffer from a shortage of hair!) I carry it in my bag, and the rain is my worst friend!!!

       This post has been submitted as Sunsilk “Prefect Straight Hair contest” in Indiblogger. 

      Saying No: To the Death Penalty

      There have been many times in history where emotions have been exploited by various ideologies to carry forward their agendas/ recommendations/ thoughts.

      Simple history knows that Hitler moved like a wave at a time when Germany was defeated in battle in WWI and then defeated in paper by the Versailles Treaty. The country was disillusioned and had lost its identity and it's pride in having to concede its' land (Alsace/Lorraine) along with so much more. Then came a man who promised to return pride, and promoted nationalism- not many were willing to question, at what cost. As they say a desperate man, clutches at straws.

      We will not be desperate today nor will we let our emotions carry us into a tomorrow that we will not like, and sadly have no one to blame but ourselves. A crime has been committed, one that has rightfully caught the attention of all and sundry. It's rightfully angered a lot of people, and rightfully started a debate about what we can do, should do, they must do and we all have to do.
      The country's face of tomorrow, it's youth, has gotten together and said that it has had ENOUGH. And as that is endearing, what is not are some of the suggestions that have been put through, on what we could do with these criminals that have been caught. Some are just plain appalling.

      Stone them publicly, hang them publicly, castrate them publicly...? Weren't we the same people that looked West and condemned the Shariah Laws a few years ago, when a woman was publicly stoned for having an extra marital affair?  And who are we to decide on punishment, did we not elect into the government our choice of representative to take this case forward as they should and recommend to the magistrate, but not decide..  for that is the sole responsibility of our courts?

      I read some where else that there's been an agreement by the lawyers, that no one will represent the accused in court. This is disheartening, not because I empathize with the accused, but because it sets precedence- that lawyers in this country can agree to not represent someone because of what they have done, and that the state will not have one assigned (there by declaring the party guilty before the case even reaches to court.)

      As heinous as a crime is, and as much as it is in the interest of society to remove these criminals from our streets, it is just as important that we do not take a gigantic U turn and turn into something out of a Dorris Lessing novel on a dystopic society. Let's recognize that our legal system is not bullet proof, and introducing a death penalty for rape is as dangerous, as anyone can then be hung under such a law.

      I heard someone else dissing Amnesty International for condemning the treatment of the accused, as being against human rights terms agreed to. The right to speak, opinionate and express are rights that we have to guard along with the right to a fair trial, and fair representation. As passionate as we are, we cannot just demand a type of punishment, but demand that the guilty be punished.

      Every single person who's heard about the case has something to say about the government, I need to ask, how many of us took the time to choose the government? India this year has a voting population of 812 million people, can we say that even 50% of those votes will be cast? I know I haven't, and until I do, I don't know if I can talk about change.

      This is why hanging them is not a solution. I think we need to keep them, study them, understand them, use that information to change the system that builds minds like this. What we see today, is only the tip of an iceberg, and chopping the tip off will only mean what is hidden stays hidden. We cannot destroy everything we dislike.

      Like it or not, we live in a world where there's a few key systemic issues that need to be changed. One small part of that is, something as simple as, teaching children about sex & gender. There are so so many more. And it has to be you and me and then some. And we can't do that, until we change the way we think. Say No: To the Death Penalty.

      23 December 2012

      Direct Emergency Numbers- Bangalore- Police

      Police Control Room - Direct Phone numbers. If you are being harassed/Eve-teased anywhere in Bangalore, immediately call: 080-22943225 OR 080-22864023 ..... Extremely important to have these numbers on your phone. Save now! Pass on the message... One of the important Take Away from yesterday's Peaceful Protest Meet at Town hall, Bangalore

      The Orange Revolution- Bangalore

      We met yesterday, on the steps of Town Hall. Ofcourse we expected a larger crowd, and more gusto, but I found that this forum was perfect to have a discussion. I've got this message from one of the organisers of yesterdays vigil as below followed by a seperate post on emergency numbers for Bangalore  (so it can be picked up google search as well) to follow.

      A show of solidarity is definitely important to help stop the feeling of helplessness from another's person's plight, but as someone once said, in order to help others we need to first help ourselves.  
      From Pradip Bhandari:
      Firstly thank you everyone who came out there. It was brilliant interacting with everyone, women voicing their opinions, citizens speaking rather than just protesting. We tried to do something instead of sitting back and saying"kuch naahi ho saakta kuch naahi badalega.."
      This is what we came up after discussion during the candle light resolve-
      Immediate steps towards: 

       1) Tough laws with the strictest punishment, ammend the law so that there is the fear of law in the minds of the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. A tough law will form the backbone of any further efforts that can be taken by us and the government. Furthermore, an agreement on a non bailable warrant under this case after the crime has been proven in the court of law.

       2) Time bound judgements in fast track courts..we don't want fast track court which takes 15 years for the verdict to come.

      3) Urge the parliament of India to have an emergency session -to address the matter immediately, as is allowed in the constituition.

       3) Women being given self defense training -the family should support it ..a lady even agreed to provide free martial arts training to women in Bangalore and has circulated her number

       4) We technocrats of Bangalore come up with some way in which we form a network in which any eve teasing case ,or reported case can be brought to the notice of poeople living in nearby communities ..so that they can help if police or administration reach late -In this way we as citizens will help the police and administration rather than just being a deterring force shouting slogans-"an app in this regard will be welcomed"-already started iin colleges like Ramaiah college in Bangalore

       5) All citizens should be fullly aware of whom to contact ..the emergency contact number of the police ..know their police station in the vicinty, officer in charge ,which officials to contact in terms of crisis.

       6) Certain groups had come forward and a lady suggested on having campaign with the police ..a joint venture with the government in which the police force is made much more educated on how to deal with such sensitive cases -a police should be more of your friend than a bully- I must really appreciate the way police forces conducted themselves at the time of protest

       7) Shouting saab netaa chor does not help -we have send the netas with criminal charges in the parliament and we have send some good politicians there. We've elected them -hence and specially the educated class needs to understand the value of their vote ..elect what you want to see ..voting percent has to be increased

       8) The basic mentality of people should change -that girl was lying for half an hour, no one picked her up after the incident nor did they help police ---"aapne andar ki cheez ho sudhaaro -pahale".  In this regard the need of improving the social backwardness through education was stressed -It is a long term step

       9) "Eve teasing" in colleges in Bangalore or anywhere in Bangalore .. to be taken very stictly. If certain things happen, having a group number which could help in people being aware and when caught red handed -handed over to the police.
      "Take collective responsibility to ensure that such people when caught red handed are handed over rather then girl feeling helpless that no one is there for her......


      22 December 2012

      Gang Rape- Delhi Protest- Bangalore Gathering


      Let us end the Violence Against Women.
      Its time you step out. Its better to come out against the perpetrators now, than to be a victim later.

      Step out on the streets. Come together. Unleash your latent power.

      Make sure that you end the years long repression that has degraded the society. You can be a homemaker, a student, a professional, just anyone who has ever wanted to end this ordeal.

      It's time.


      Step out. Wear Orange. Show your power.

      Please please share the event and invite everyone you can. We expect amazing participation.


      16 December 2012

      Reluctant Shopper at Shoppers Stop

      When I was growing up... the formative early teens, I used to have this recurrent dream before any big event. I would star in a game show, where the rules were simple. You had one minute and you grabbed what ever you could get your hands on, and who ever had the highest value of goods in their trolley at the end of the minute got to keep what they'd grabbed.

      I kid you not about the adrenaline rush that one could experience when this happened. I also kid you not, about that sinking feeling I'd get when I woke up to realize that sadly, it was just a dream. Needless to say, I always won and got to keep everything I had in my trolley!

      That's why this contest is on my blog. Despite the title, that I'm sure a few of you would have related to it, I think everyone is a shopper at heart. We all want luxury, except when it costs money. So this virtual shopping spree has a few rules. 1. I have to pick my absolute favorite, so I cannot have too many clothes. 2. I don't have to look at the prices, because Shoppers Stop as a brand guarantees quality and value for money. I didn't know until this contest, that they have online shopping too, which is fantastic!

      So here she goes, dressed up for work during the holidays. Whilst most of us are off to celebrate, I know that that is not true for everyone :) That's why I opted to dress up a corporate working lady, who may or may not have plans for the evening. Here's my outfit, day/evening.. in case she decides

      I'll begin with the perfume... there's only one that I own, and have used forever now, for work/evening it has to be DKNY Be Delicious Cherry Blossom. Price at Rs 2420 for 50ml.

      And to break it down...

      This beautiful dress from Allen Solly is both feminine and strong. The gentle soft colour reminded me of a Japanese kimono dress, and priced at Rs.3499 (with an offer of 25% off if you buy two) it's definitely worth the look!

      Matching the shade of the flower print of the dress above, and with a soft satin bow, is this evening shoe (I thought this was work appropriate) from Lemon Pepper. Priced at Rs1499, this shoe has to be the one that one that falls off at midnight at the end of this long work day meets party night!

      Sling bags are the in thing, and so is contrasting colours. Working women know that small bags are easy to carry, but it's the bigger ones, sturdy as ever that can be relied upon to get us through the day. That, along with this unique shade of green, that makes the outfit pop is what made this bag from Hidesign stand out from the rest of the herd. An even square price at Rs 4195 and made out of faux leather, definitely a fit in on our celebratory day.

      It's winter here in Bangalore but the sun is out in the afternoon in all brightness. For stylish protection, here's a name in the sunglasses industry that needs no introduction, Ray Ban. A definite investment at Rs 7390!


      This dragonfly bracelet from Misaki Cultured pearls and the Cocoon Pearl Pendant with sterling silver chain ( chain suggested by the tool on Shoppers Stop) completes the outfit. An absolutely breathtaking pair, I was confident this was the last piece of the puzzle. Priced at Rs 6600Rs 6000 , the pair complete our shopping spree.

      And I am aware I ran the bill quite high, especially for my reluctant shopper.. but hey, how often do you get to get a pick from the cream of the crop? Actually, let me answer that, just walk or sign into Shoppers Stop!

      This post was written for Indiblogger for the Perfect Festive Look Contest.  

      10 December 2012

      Thran- Korean Food in Bangalore- Restaurant Review

      We've had a recent influx of Korean restuarants in Kamanahalli and Thran, located right opposite Extreme Sports Bar has been on the hit list for a while now. So when my company wasn't feeling well, and wanted hot and spicy soup to loosen up his nasal passage, we opted to lunch at Thran. It was 3:15 when we arrived there, and the time of closure on their door was 3:00.. and they never made us feel like we were imposing, and welcomed us with a big smile!

      As you may be aware, Korean food is generally served accompanied with Banchan. This is various side dishes, in plates accompanied by a pancake or Haemul Pajeon. We'd previously been to Soo Ra Sang in Indira Nagar (Wind Tunnel Road) and it wasn't a surprise this time.

      The Banchan consisted of Sookju Namul (Mung Sprout Salad), Kimchi (Pickled Chinese Cabbage with Red chilli pepper), Sausage in Red Chili Pepper sauce, Vegetable Salad and  Gaji Namul (Eggplant Salad). My favorite, without a doubt was the Sookju Namul- fresh, crunch and tangy, this was the best I'd ever had and it got refilled several times when we were there.

      What did this cost? It was part of the meal, in Korean tradition :)
      Banchan Spread :)

      Seafood Ramen
      Dish 1: Seafood Ramen (Seafood Noodle Soup)                                                   
      Price: Rs 250                                                                                                
      Rating: 3.5/ 5                   
      What I liked: It must be a crime to order ramen (generally Japanese noodles) but that's what I was in the mood to have. The noodles had generous portions of calamari, shrimp, egg and octopus. It was nice and comforting, and honestly took me back to College when I survived on noodles, and ramen was adding variety ;)                                  
      What I didn't like: Not much really. I suppose it was this overwhelming feeling that most of the dish came out of a packet! I will not fault the price though, a packet of imported Ramen costs about Rs 80 and with the seafood and the ambience it's bought at fair value.

      Dish 2: Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup) served with a bowl of rice                   
      Price: Rs 360                                                                                                  
      Rating: 4.5/5            
      What I liked: I didn't eat this dish nor really taste it. But what I liked is that in ordering it my companion got what they wanted: something spicy, something that loosened their nasals, something filling and something that they forgot me for! What I didn't like: I think the portion is relatively big. I don't think that this would be a problem for most people, but if you're a small eater, it's better that you split it between two!                                                                                                  
      Hyeonemi Cha
      What we washed it down with: Korea has a wide range of teas, but my absolute favorite is Hyeonemi Cha (Roasted Rice Tea) I remember drinking it off friends in school, who diligently brought it to school everyday as a replacement for just plain water. Though it didn't really matter then, I suppose it's funny, when in hindsight I remember it all being in those metallic flasks, almost as though it was standard issue!                                                                                     
      Extra: Other standouts about this place is the decor. It's just so neatly Korean, with the pretty gold curtains and clean white walls and flower decal. The staff/ owners are also really hospitable, taking care of any questions we had (turn off the fan, can i charge my phone please) with little fuss and a big smile. I would definitely go back here again. Our total bill was a measely Rs 640.. all the more reason to get there!

      02 December 2012

      Screams in your head

      Just had another episode with the neighbours, over the dogs. The second one this week. With three stick yielding boys of college going age, who earlier this week claimed that the dogs were disturbing their studying.

      Mum and I questioned it (having seen them hitting the dogs with cricket bats earlier), how they had so much time in that case to run around chasing the poor things to hit them. And howcome they were laughing like (trying to avoid swearing) hyenas at the squeal.

      Your blood curdles and god, you thank every inch of the patience you were born to practice, to avoid slamming a fist into their face. They stopped it that day, but not today. I got the camera out and took a few pics, nothing inciriminating because I shouted out first. Then came back to the room to read the law of this beautiful land.

      The PCA (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act) 1960, enforces fines of up to Rs 100 (guaranteed to put a HUGE dent in your pocket) or 3 months in jail. Armed with this knowledge I went back out, found one of the boys and told him it was illegal and I had a video of them in action. He looked worried and walked off.

      I'm hoping that made a difference, I really do. But what of this  law, another outdated seemingly menial good to have, bunch of words, contributing to another chapter in a Law student's studies, worth nothing.. what of it?

      It took me so long to calm down enough to write something here, but the frustration of just being helpless is overwhelming. Why can't we just get our act together in this country?