04 September 2015

an all women police station and a cafe run by acid attack survivors

these two stories that i came across yesterday made me smile, and feel tiny sparks of hope regarding the situation of women in india. first, this post regarding a women's only police station in haryana. and second, the story of 'sheroes hangout', a cafe in agra run and staffed by acid attack survivors.

having more women police officers can only be a good thing, although it will take much more than one women's only police station to balance out the current police force that has only some 5 percent women officers. i am now interested in knowing how the 400 or so women only police stations in the country are faring, and how much difference they make in reporting, punishing and preventing crime against women.

if sheroes was in mumbai, i would totally go and hangout there, to support these women, and create awareness regarding the atrocious crime of acid attacks. more power to them, and all women out there, struggling against the odds!

02 September 2015

where is india's alternative media?

i almost never watch news on indian tv. if you have ever seen it, you will understand how disturbing it is, how unlike ‘news’, it really is. i grew up watching the local hk news with my dad, which was so staid and serious in comparison. once i went to university, i read the news online, all international broadsheets: the iht, the guardian, and then slowly news websites like the bbc. as part of my journalism classes, i had to study tabloids like the sun, so i understood sensationalism and triviality and page 3 news. it is unfortunate that this is all that the indian news channels and papers are capable of.

i wonder what they teach journalism students here; distinctions between fact and rumour, between allegations and convictions, between innocence and guilt? do journalists even need any qualifications here? from what i can see of news anchors, they would be more suited in the theater/film world. the recent sheena bora murder has made a total circus of the media. i have read several opinion pieces disgusted with the way indian media has handled itself. and that too, at a time when there were other worthier stories at hand: the gujarat violence and reservations debate, the financial markets situation. prior to this, the yakub memon hanging was what occupied the indian media in a similar frenzy.

the average indian gleans his news from these news channels and papers. few indians will look at international news sources, and hence have no bar for comparison. india needs more alternative news outlets. magazines and newspapers that report news, not sensation. i don’t buy the cliche that ‘this is what people want’. the people don’t know anything else. if there was a choice, they would choose the better option.

31 August 2015

five star surrealness

i had a sleepover and breakfast with a college roommate last week, it was wonderful to see her after so long, to take a break from the twins. plus, the sleepover was at the taj hotel. total decadence! it felt like i was in another country, another world. we were hungry at midnight, and looking through the room service menu nearly gave me a heart attack. a simple chicken burger cost over 1000 rupees. (for an entire family meal at a restaurant, we usually pay 1200 rupees). my friend was telling me that the taj in delhi would fill up bubble baths for their patrons when they returned to the hotel.. these bath tubs were huge.. and many a time, the water is just wasted when bubble baths are not wanted. this is in a country where water shortages are always a problem. so much waste seems wrong, irresponsible. it reminded me of hotels in egypt where there were always signs in the bathroom to not waste water, and where sometimes, water would not be available 24-7. i found that to be a smart thing actually..

after breakfast, i had to return home to take my kids to school. this involved taking the local train. going from the taj to the local train was just too surreal. the station and trains were filled with people with disabilities, ordinary people struggling to make ends meet, hawkers trying to earn a few rupees, stall vendors selling their wares in the stifling heat. seeing the crowded trains transporting people to where they needed to go, to do what they needed to do, the taj seemed like an affront.

i’m sure five star hotels have their place in the world, but..

#microblog mondays

26 August 2015

reading the end first

okay, let me admit that i read the endings of certain books first. i need to know. i simply cannot sit still and enjoy the entire novel, until i know what the end is. i just can't do it. this is not necessary for all novels, not even for mysteries -in fact, i generally don't read the ends of mysteries first (that would just not be fun for me). but last night, i had to read the end of helene wecker's 'the golem and the djinni', before i could peacefully proceed. (i waited until halfway through the novel, so that is me at my most patient). and, i will also admit that i read the end of 'the order of the phoenix' to know who died; there is no way i could have sat through the novel without knowing this ultimate information!

when i was in high school, reading endings first was totally frowned upon. my english teachers would constantly tell me NOT to do that. my friends too would frown upon such behaviour. once i was at university, i could not care less; reading was MY hobby, and i would do it in any manner i desired. normally, i read the ends first if i wish, and i don't think twice about it. but in the case of the golem and the djinni, i tried really hard NOT to do that. at first i was waiting for the two main characters to meet, and surprisingly they met quite far down the novel.. now that they have met, there are suddenly other characters arriving who mean them harm.. and so, i had to know what would happen at the end, i wanted to be sure that everything would be okay. only then could i continue with the twists and turns of the novel.

now, if only life were like that. if i had known, so many years ago, that i would marry H, have twins, surely my path would have been different. i would not have suffered so much angst, i would have enjoyed myself more, i would have done so much more prior to meeting H. (or so i would like to believe).

but we don't have this information. and so we muddle along.. some of us are far more adept at this life business than others. i try to take one day at a time and make the most of it, but really, if i were looking back, i am sure i would tell myself that you could have done so much better. sigh.

18 August 2015

books, and when you are ready for them

i just finished 'life after life' by kate atkinson, which was another novel that i had started when it first came out, but just couldn’t get into it.. this was a severe disappointment, as atkinson is one of my favourite authors, her ‘behind the scenes at the museum’ being one of my favourite books in school. her later jackson brodie books were also wonderful literary mysteries that i thoroughly enjoyed.

at a loss for reading material, and after one of my friends who doesn’t like her other work told me that she enjoyed this novel, i thought i would give it another try. again, the beginning was slightly off putting, but once i got a little further into it, i was hooked. and now, at the end, i am totally glad i persevered: i feel my world view has expanded, while her descriptions of war time life were great, in britain and in germany. it was also interesting to see the sense that people did not hate germany or the germans, they just hated hitler. i am not sure how historically accurate that is, but it was a change from the way the japanese are portrayed in novels detailing the war situation in america..

some months ago, i read sara gruen’s like water for elephants, which is another novel that i had wanted to read eons ago, but decided was not my cup of coffee. when i finally got around to reading it, i LOVED it, and could not figure out why i had missed out for so long!! this brings to mind a quote i came across by doris lessing while in high school, about reading whatever books catch your fancy, and not worrying about whether they are ‘classics’, or ‘have to read’ books, or whatever. lessing was of the opinion that books came into your life as and when you were ready for them.. this piqued my teenage mind, particularly in the face of my english syllabus, where we ‘had’ to read so and so books..

today, i am a firm believer that books, like people, truly come and open up worlds for you when you are ready.. and you take from these books only that which you can digest. ayn rand’s ‘atlas shrugged’ was a huge revelation to me as a freshman, but i am not sure what i would think of it today :P a friend and i so eagerly read ‘the child that books built’, but were sorely disappointed. i love novels/memoirs about books and how they accompany people on their life journeys, and many a time point them in certain directions. this particular book fell so short of doing this, but the title has always stuck with me. perhaps one day i will detail the books that built me.. :)

any recommendations for future reads are welcome!

06 August 2015

catch up

it has been several months since i last wrote here.. so many things have been going on, it has been difficult to process and sit and write. now that i can take a step back from everything, i wanted to just put down the big things..

i went to hk for two months, which was AWESOME. the twins loved it, loved playing in all the gorgeous parks, the pool, the clubhouse. they loved sitting in the metro and the buses, loved all the escalators, loved spending time with their grandparents and their cousins. i got to go in to work! to wake up, get dressed, and make my way to the office. to talk to colleagues, to simply be immersed in work without worrying about the garbage lady ringing the bell, or any other house-y distractions :P (getting dressed in nice outfits and carrying cute bags that didn't include kid paraphernalia was probably the highlight of going to work!)

a week after we returned, the twins started nursery, and they are slowly adjusting to their new school (nursery is also part of elementary school here). they still occasionally whine and say they don't want to go to school, they still ask about their 'old school' (playgroup) and their former teachers, but it is slowwwwly getting better, alhumdolillah!

it was also ramadan at the same time, which was a bit of a struggle at the beginning, but then the month went oh so smoothly. we went for namaz daily, the kids divided between us, and overall it worked out well. i really wanted to carry forward praying namaz on time even after ramadan, and alhumdolillah, so far i am doing well. it helps that i need to wake up early for the kids' school anyways :P H and i have both started sabak as well, which is something else i am very excited about -in the five years since i've been here, this is the first time we have had this opportunity :)

the twins seem to be in a new phase of constant crankiness and violence. every little thing sets them off in tears or hitting or throwing things, or throwing themselves on to the floor and screaming. sigh. i hope this phase gets over fast!!! i find my patience totally dwindling, and by the end of the day i just want to run away!! (or drop them off at their grandparents' place!)

10 April 2015

the husband's secret, and all the things we don't know

i read liane moriarty's 'the husband's secret' a couple of months ago, and loved it. but what i loved the most, what i found the most fascinating, was the epilogue at the end, where moriarty tells us what actually happened, how janie really died. it totally made me sit up and wonder how much we really KNOW about life around us. we make choices and decisions based on what we think we know, which is only somewhere between 50-90 percent of the truth. and then we must live with these choices and decisions.

fascinating premise. and wonderful book :)

(on a side note: i told H about the ending, and he was like, gosh, they should make a hindi film out of this :P)