Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother's Day Special

Dear Son,

I've been often asked when I plan to become a mother. Sometimes I feel like telling them that I'm already one. But they wouldn't understand. Every mother's day I see a whole lot of wishes exchanged between mothers, which usually doesn't include me. But it doesn't matter. You are 7 now and since the time you have learned to speak, you always have wished me with utmost sincerity. I also have to thank our family, especially my mother (your grandmother) and your biological mother (my sister) for making it happen. And that's what matter's the most.

I didn't become a mother when you were born. It was before that, when you were in your mom's womb. I've guarded you with everything I had. I have fought with autorickshaw drivers if they drive fast on bumpy roads, I've fought with people on the street who don't watch where they are going and come remotely close to your mother. It was my sole duty to protect my sister, not just because she was my sister, but now she was also carrying something so precious to me.

I've fed your mom, taken care of her likes and dislikes, handled her mood swings and what not. ;)
I was her constant companion whenever she had to visit the doctor; I've been to every one of your sonograms barring one. And you refused to show your face in that one! Guess, we had already formed a connection back then itself.

I also used to stick to the wall against the bed, like a lizard at nights as I constantly worried that I might squish you while sleeping; and eventually gave the entire bed to you and your mom while I slept on the floor padded with some sofa cushions. I've read you anime, I've taught you how to play video games while you were still in the womb! No wonder, you rocked the Nintendo DS in 7 months!


You and I in this beautiful world
The day you were born, I was waiting outside walking restlessly worried sick for you and your mom. I could hear her screams and thought I might faint. And then there was silence and they brought you to us. I saw you, and I couldn't see anything else; the most beautiful thing ever! Your eyes were wide open, it felt like we spoke to each other. I wanted to hold you, but I was scared. Then finally my mom made me sit on the bed and put you in my lap. I was thrilled! You slept on my lap and I didn't move a muscle. I didn't care if my feet hurt or my back hurt; all that mattered was you shouldn't get disturbed. You were wrapped up in a cloth 'cocoon style', and you felt so comfortable. You communicated so well with your eyes. I think we have have shared stories like that, because we used to just stare at each other!

One night at the hospital, you were crying so loud. Your mom was fast asleep and under the influence of medicines. My mom had just gone home to freshen up and get some clothes and food. I didn't know what to do. I had to somehow stop your tears. I asked the nurse to come and feed you or do something. She ignored me as she had other "important" stuff to attend to. I asked some three four times and she didn't turn up. You ARE the only thing that was important to me! I finally lost my temper and screamed at her. That's when she came and fed you.

When my mom came back, I complained to her about how the horrible nurse treated you. My mom said it is not a big deal and smiled at me. She is experienced after all. But it was a big deal for me. I'm not waiting for a nurse to help you out when I'm there! I asked my mom to teach me how to carry you, to feed you when your mom wasn't around, to clean up etc. I learnt everything. It was my mission to understand your needs even when you couldn't communicate it in the language I understood.

Everyday I rushed home after work to spend as much quality time as I can with you. All my weekends were devoted to you. Time spent with you was never enough. You loved to sleep on me. I'm not nicknamed 'the water bed' for nothing! ;)

When someone asks me who you are, I whisper 'my son' to myself and say 'my nephew' out loud. Because they won't understand. And when some stranger on the street mistakes us for a mom & son duo, I don't correct them, because we are! As you grew up and occasionally mistook me for your mom and called me 'Mama' were some of my most cherished memories! Every time we have to part, it breaks my heart.

You know, there are many mothers like me, who are every bit a mother but they are never acknowledged as that. Society dictates that giving birth is the most important aspect to becoming a mother. Society couldn't be more wrong.

On this day, I usually wish the beautiful women in my life. But today, I'm going to thank you for making me the mother that I am.

You're "MY PRECIOUS"! [Gollum style from Lord of the Rings. Yes, I will be sending you the books in a few years!]

Love,
Your Chithi (aka Aunt, aka the other Mom)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Women Empowerment

Yes, it's the Deepika Padukone video I'm talking about. If you haven't seen it yet; here it is:



If the motive of this short film was to tell the age old patriarchs and matriarchs of the society that the times have changed, we have equal rights, etc etc, then I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have not really succeeded in conveying that.

Everything we do in life is a choice we make. Morality is a choice, loyalty is a choice, sexuality is a choice, career is a choice, to be or not to be is a choice! Agreed, but choices do have consequences. Every line spoken in this video has been analyzed in depth by many. So I'm not going to do that. Instead, dear creator and participants of the video, I have just a few things to say:
  1. What one should remember is, if she has a choice, so does he, so does anyone, no gender barred.
  2. What anyone's choice shouldn't do is cause another physical harm.
  3. What anyone's choice should try not to do is cause another mental or emotional harm.
  4. What one should focus on is justice and not just randomly cry for equality. What works for one need not work for another. Very aptly conveyed by this image:
Image Source: http://goo.gl/Wcz9o
I'm not against a film like this, but let's get the right message across, the right way. It will be more effective then. :)
Besides that, Deepika just looks absolutely gorgeous!

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A while back, Vogue came up with another video:



The first time I saw this video, I was quite happy; till the ending happened, I was totally hoping that we were trying to tell the following two points via the short film:

Image Source: http://goo.gl/KbIkXC
  1. Any one can cry, if they want, irrespective of their gender.
  2. Crying is not a sign of weakness; it is just another form of expression.
I really thought it was gonna end with someone telling the little boys, and men that it's okay to cry and hug them. Instead, we went into some crazy logic. Let's definitely talk about domestic violence, but not this way. Let's try and identify the root cause of the problems and not plaster Women Empowerment for the sake of it. 

Let's start focusing on real problems here. Let's make the world a place of equality with justice and not cry wolf. 



Not gonna talk about the Alia Bhatt Vogue Empowerment video.

Friday, March 27, 2015

True Blue Cricket

Now that India is out of the World Cup, things can return to normal eh? Nope! Now we will continue to trash our team for not making it to the Finals. Who cares how they performed before. It is always about the last match we didn't win!

Let me get this out. I'm not an ardent cricket fan at all. Athough I have been the designer for definitely more than one Cricket game in my career so far! I don't stop work or other engagement and get glued to the TV. But living in India, the spirit of cricket is hard to pass. You become part of it, whether you want it or not. I don't even know the names of all the cricketers, but honestly it's gorgeous to see the men in blue on the play field.

Image Source: http://goo.gl/OFwtxo

Albeit, not being a crazy fan, I've had my own stupid superstition moments when it comes to India playing. We all know what I'm talking about. If I move from this seated position, India will win / lose. If I watch the match, India will win / lose etc. We are all guilty of it and I'm not here to question that. But even that should be taken lightheartedly. I find the experience fun (ny). And it bloody well should be!

So Virat Kohli was dismissed for 1, when we had a big total of 329 to chase. That unfortunate hit that cost us his wicket, made everyone sad and skip a heart beat. Do you even imagine what Virat Kohli and his loved ones must be feeling? Hell, we don't even let poor Anushka emote properly by zooming in the damn camera on her. You can argue that being celebrities, they signed up for this, the lack of privacy in turn for all the fame and luxury. Fine. A good argument maybe. But what's up with bashing Virat and terming Anushka as the "panauti" (someone who brings bad luck)!

Grow up, you damn idiots! So, what if that shot by Virat ended in a 4 or a 6? Then Virat is awesome and Anushka is?

I'm not saying that I'm some saint who didn't laugh at some of the jokes that were made. Let's face it, some were genuinely funny! And it's nice to have the ability to laugh at ourselves. But I do question the intentions behind some of the jokes. And few others were just in bad taste.

To all the nut jobs, who take the blame game too far: I wrote about our own superstitions while India is playing a few paragraphs above. Have you ever wondered that you may be the reason Virat Kohli was dismissed or the reason behind India's loss? Maybe you are the "Panauti"?
"That's absurd!", you may say. How can "you" watching / not watching that match contribute to the actual game? Exactly, you dumasses!

Would just like to quickly mention how we all termed Deepika Padukone as "Panauti" for Kingfisher's fall and for other things. Yep, it was all her, the cause behind the fall of Kingfisher Airlines! *This sentence is brought to you by 'Sarcasm'. In case your lovely brains don't get it the first time!*

I'm not gonna write an open letter to Anushka, because I'm pretty sure she is a head strong girl, who will let this also pass. If she is even midly troubled, I wish her the strength to get past it. The same to Virat Kohli and to all the cricketers & their loved ones.

Leaving the whole blame game on
the girl friend aside, we also go into trashing the team's performance. Yes, maybe they could have done better; maybe they did give it their best. I don't know. All I know is, it's okay to analyze about something you are passionate about. But remember one thing, you are not the one standing on the field, playing the game. If you take your analyzing skills to a whole another level, then please get started on your training, join the team and prove it!
It's so much easier to talk about what went wrong after it's over. When you are put there, things are a lot different.

And if you want to break your TVs over this, well... up to you really! I paid good hard-earned money for mine. So stay away from it! And to this young man, I have no words to say. Pun not intended.

My dear Indian Cricket Team,  I'm not one of your typical die hard fan. But when you do something awesome, I totally scream with happiness and when you fail to do so, I am a tad bit sad, clap for your effort, look forward to the next epic win and move on. #BleedBlue

My dear Men in Blue, you did great this time. Go home, relax, spend time with your loved ones and party! Before you know, there's another match waiting for you.

My dear Indians who refuse to grow up, please do or keep your mouth shut and your hands away from contributing to more garbage. #SwacchBharat

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Onam!

Onam is one of the most important festival of Keralites. Onam celebrates King Mahabali's visit. He is lovingly called as Maveli. There is a story behind this festival. The story in my words:

Once upon a time, there was a King called Mahabali. During his reign, everything was perfect. People were treated equally. Deceit, lies, thefts, murders, corruption etc were unheard of! Everyone adored him. A generous, just and loving King. There was no poverty and everyone was content. He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. The only problem was he was born into an Asura family (the Prahlada lineage). This was not a problem with his subjects.

Image source: http://goo.gl/fqaktC
It was a problem for the super jealous Devas. They were scared that their so called supremacy was going to be challenged by him. How can the stupid subjects prefer a King who does everything for them over the Devas who devote their precious time watching the Apsaras dance for them!? And our God Vishnu decides to take the Devas side for He-knows-what reason. He disguises himself as a poor Brahmin and goes to the generous King Mahabali and asks for pieces of land that he could cover with three steps. Mahabali obviously said he could have as much land as he wants.

As soon as Mahabali promised, Vishnu (disguised as the brahmin -Vamana) grew into some giant-ass size and with one step covered the whole earth, the skies with the other and asked the King as to where he should keep the third step. Mahabali offers his head to keep up the promise. Our God places the third step on his head and pushes him into the Patala(the underworld, the netherworld.)

Onam is the boon that Vishnu gave Mahabali as part of fulfilling the promise; 10 days to visit his subjects every year! Excellent work. Deprived us of a good King! I mean, that's brilliant! Wow!

So well... At least the King gets to come and meet his beloved subjects (who, thanks to him being in Patala have become murderers, rapists, criminals, corrupt & what not).  After seeing his subjects' current state, I don't think he comes anymore. But I would love to believe he does and in this 10 days, decides to take some of the above mentioned subjects back with him to Patala and make sure they get "treated well".

I, on my part, try to please him, to do the needful with some mere food offerings (that ideally we end up eating).
Avial, Pal payasam, Malabar Kootu curry,
Sambhar, Matta Rice
This year we did not put any pookalam (Flower decorations). Here's one from 2010. We had access to two flower types of the same species and managed this, thanks to some leaves :) :
Pookalam @ 2010

You can read the full story (not my version) here: King Mahabali & Onam. The only thing that is probably wrong is that Asuras are not Demons; much like how the Devas are not Gods.

Side Note: There are versions of the story which says that Mahabali went to Patala as that was the only realm left for him, thanks to Vamana (aka Vishnu). There are some versions which says that Mahabali was over ambitious and snatched Heaven from the Devas and which is why Vishnu helped them regain Heaven from Mahabali. I don't even want to comment on that. Just putting it here!

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There is a beautiful folk song that describes the story in Malayalam. I'm embedding two renditions here. The first follows the original tune. The second is a newer take on the song and I like it too.

The song is long and people shift / skip the verses in various renditions. The overall translation is as follows:

When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people were equal.
And people were joyful and merry;
They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
Deaths of children were unheard of,
There were no lies,
There was neither theft nor deceit,
And no one was false in speech either.
Measures and weights were right;
No one cheated or wronged his neighbor.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people formed one casteless races

Source: Wiki



Friday, August 16, 2013

Dreams & Premonitions - Part 1

I've always been interested about this topic. I have had my share of premonitions. By premonitions, I mean a look into the future event which is not necessarily evil. In fact, some of my premonitions were happy ones!

Image Source: http://goo.gl/7zigub
Some of my dreams usually tell a huge story; most people wonder how I could watch an entire movie as a dream ;)

When I have a nightmare, 90% of the time, I enter a pause state. From this state I can always choose to continue or get out of the nightmare. It's weird really; but it happens to me.

In almost all my dreams, I see myself in third person as well as in first person. That is I'm a character in the dream as well as the audience. And both of them have a link, where the "audience" me who is watching the dream could somehow help the "character" me.

I always wanted to do a detailed study of dreams and premonitions, but never got around doing it. I finally decided to do it. On the side, I have decided to document some of my dreams.

The very first memory of a dream was when I was 2 or 3 years old. A close-up face of an old man, who told me that he came to see me and will be always there with me. The next morning I went to mom to tell her. But she was busy. Then I went and pestered my sister. She laughed at me and then to get rid of me decided to showed me some family photos. I pointed at the old man. My sister told me I'm trying to fool her and revealed that it was our grandpa (dad's dad). I swore to her that I had no idea! She didn't believe me (not back then). Our grandpa had passed away much before my birth. While I'm sure that my parents would have shown me the photo when I was younger or so; but I'm most certain I was unaware. At least my conscious mind was.

At that age itself I started wondering about the significance. That dream is something that's absolutely clear in my mind. I can still see that entire dream with open eyes.

I once had a dream about my boyfriend. He was a gem of a person, but my past had made me vary about commitments and relationships. I started doubting if I even loved him! One night, in my dream, I was at his wedding. We were at the stairs. He held my hand, looked at me lovingly, and without saying anything, he turned away and left. The wedding rituals began. I stood at the stairs, speechless, watching him go far from me and wept uncontrollably. My heart felt heavy and I could barely breath. I woke up and I continued to weep. I could feel the pain. In reality I did attend his wedding and instead of standing at the stairs & weeping, I stood next to him in my bridal attire sporting a smile :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The (sad) State of Journalism

July 18th, 2013. The morning of my birthday. I'm featured on Page 1 of Bangalore Mirror (BM) Newspaper. Amidst birthday wishes, I also get "wow" messages for getting featured on BM; until I specified that the photo that appeared was without my consent. And then all the "wow" turned to "wtf"!

The news was related to the terrible experience I had with an auto driver and the swift action taken by Bangalore Traffic Police and the involvement of a concerned citizen who followed up the complaint to it's fulfillment. You can find more details about that in my previous post: Click here

Here's the only interaction I had with the BM reporter (Screenshot of what was posted as comment on the post I made on BTP followed by facebook message interaction)

Interaction with Bangalore Mirror reporter

Nowhere in this interaction have I mentioned about allowing the to use my photo nor have I been requested for the same. 

Given the nature of the article, there could be a possible retaliation from the auto driver; considering he knows the apartment I stay in. And instead of protecting my identity, they have gone ahead and printed my photo. 

Now the argument could be that I have already posted on my blog and raised a complaint to BTP on facebook. and both carried my profile pics or so. But please note that the "blog" here is my own and the facebook profile is mine too. I don't need to take any permission for that. Also online media is way different than print media. Print media is more accessible to people. Also, this news was on Page 1! with a picture of the auto driver and a picture of me right there inset. 

I wish the reporter was more sensitive about it. Or at least consulted me before using the picture and I would have denied it right there and then. They could have ran the article with just the quotes and the pictures posted by BTP (BTP did not post my pictures)

My parents were quite worried! I have started carrying a pepper spray and now being extra cautious. 
But Purnima Iyer (Seetharaman), who came to the city from Palakkad, Kerala, is a gutsy woman. 
The above is a quote from the BM paper. This information was taken off my public profile on facebook. Palakkad is listed as my hometown. The photo too was probably taken from my facebook profile. 

Please note that my photo on facebook is privately shared. Non-facebook users don't have access and facebook users who are not my friends see only a small profile picture (as per how facebook shows) which is view-able only (cannot be clicked and enlarged). And this is what was used to print in the article. 

Which means, that a private photo was printed without taking due permission. However, I'm sure loopholes will be found around the use of my photo. Especially since online rules are just weird and not transparent to people like me.

I wrote a letter to the editor at bmfeedback@gmail.com. No response. I wanted to file a complaint to Press Council of India. As per rules, I was to write a letter to the editor and try to resolve matters if possible. If not, I can go ahead with the complaint but a letter to the editor was a must. Which I had already done. 

However, considering the amount of mails the Editor must be getting in a day,  I decided to call the BM office and requested to talk to someone regarding this. I was directed to the Editor. I spoke to him. He tried to convince me saying it was a positive article. I agreed and told even though it was a positive article, they should not have printed my photo without my permission. To which he said they are aware of my concern, will see about it. I against insisted it was not right and then he told me that whatever was printed was on public forum and they had every right to print it. I tried to reason with him saying that my photo was not on public forum and was not public property to use. To which he said it was on public forum and they could print it. He was keen on hanging up and when I asked if I could proceed with a formal complaint; he said I may do so.

As per what some journo friends have been telling me, what BM did was probably not illegal. It is a question of morals and ethics.

They printed my photo without clearing it with me. When I reached out to them, I at least expected an apology. But... Sigh...

Even the source of the picture was not mentioned...

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And then of course, thanks to BM's news, I now have hate comments. No one entertained it though. But it's just weird people try to make a racist issue out of everything (the comment on BTP page)

Screenshot of comments on BTP page


And this at Bangalore Mirror article's comments section:
This still seems a one sided story... it seems that she is clearly exaggerating and playing a naive victim. But I don't think that is the case here. Unfortunate the driver has no say in this :-(

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However I'm not generalizing all reporters. Because I did have an ethical reporter approach me on the same incident. A screenshot of the interaction of facebook follows:

Interaction with Deccan Chronicle Reporter

Hope there are more reporters like the DC reporter who wanted to talk to me before printing anything. Also, the reason I had agreed to talk to DC was because it was going to be a general issue as seen in the conversation.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Auto Driver or Gunda?


I just had a terrible experience with an auto driver. The vehicle number is KA 41 1504. The driver's name is Reddy

Image Source: http://coloringpages101.com/printable_page/368/Vehicle_Transport/Auto_Rikshaw


I took the auto from Fortis Hospital at Bannerghatta to Electronic city Phase 1. As usual no auto drivers were ready to come by meter. Finally a rate of 300 Rs was fixed with this guy.

Since I was unwell, I told him to take via the Silkboard road. Instead he took via some alleys, full of speed bumps and bad roads now and then. And finally when he dropped me at my destination, he demanded more since the drop location was about 3-4 kms inside from the main road.

I argued that I have been dropped here before for the same rate and to that he started screaming. Argument is not what mattered to me, but his language and tone. He was screaming unnecessarily on the top of his voice for no reason when I was not being disrespectful. I kept mentioning that there was no reason for him to raise his voice as I'm talking politely.

For that he went on to talk that he is a "Reddy" and flaunting what he could do etc.

I told him that he was wrong in the eyes of law that he did not switch on the meter and now he is arguing for more money.

I finally asked how much he was expecting as this was beginning to worsen my headache. He said extra 80 rs for 4 kms. I told him that it was not going to happen and gave him 330 rs as total instead. For which he said "what will happen with 30 rs".

By that time, I had heard enough of him and I said 30 rs is a big amount for me and that if he doesn't want it, I will keep it with me. To which, he almost threw the money at me and started screaming more. So much that all the security guards and people were beginning to gather.

Then just as soon as I was about to get down, he snatched the money from my hand. (Obviously he wasn't gonna let it go!) He was beaming with anger for no apparent reason.

The security guard helped me out of the auto and I told the auto driver again to be respectful and talk properly. I reminded him again that he is wrong to have NOT switched the meter on and that I could take him to a concerned official and his license maybe cancelled.

To which he said he doesn't care about all that and he knows how to manage that. I noted his number and walked away while he was still screaming behind me.

This was a really disturbing experience for me. This is not the first time I have argued. But this is the first time someone has spoken as rudely as this guy. I'm quite amazed that I still managed to keep calm. He did not deserve it though...

I rarely take auto rickshaws... Now I'm going to outright ban them from my life! I'm not sure if I have conveyed the rudeness of that driver enough here. Wish I had recorded the whole thing! As simple as just starting the voice recorder on my phone.... Sigh..


P.S: I've messaged the Bangalore Traffic Police about the same via their facebook group. It's high time the auto rickshaws started using the bloody "meter"!

Image Source: http://sansui.tradeindia.com/digital-auto-rickshaw-meter-8111.html


ANDROID USERS:
Try this app. Once everyone starts using it, it will be very helpful!
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Vehicle_saviour
About Saviour: http://www.nextbigwhat.com/reviews-of-autos-taxis-saviour-297/

P.P.S: Some information I got off the facebook group from a civilian facing the auto rickshaw woes:
(Thanks to Mr. Chandan (as seen in the comments section) for the same)

For Refusal SMS
AUTO REF AUTO NO. LOCATION TIME OF REFUSAL
EXAMPLE: AUTO REF KA01XY1234 MG ROAD TO KORAMANGALA 5:30PM

For Overcharging
AUTO OVR AUTO NO. LOCATION TIME OF OVERCHARGING
EXAMPLE: AUTO OVR KA01XY1234 MG ROAD TO KORAMANGALA 5:30PM

SEND TO 52225 For Airtel Subscribers.
and SEND TO 9663952225 for Non-Airtel Subscribers.

The SMS hasn't worked for me though...

To register complaints against autorickshaw drivers demanding more money than normal meter fare, people can dial 080-25588444/555 and register the complaint.After the welcome message, register your complaint by a voice message. The duration is 60 seconds.

During the call, provide details like the auto’s registration number; the place (of the incident), date and time; and type of offence (whether refusal or demanding more fare).

UPDATE: July 17th 2013:
Bangalore Traffic Police has taken action. Auto driver was fined 1100 Rs, asked for a written letter of apology and given serious counselling. Click this link to see the effort by BTP :)

Update: July 20th 2013: Click here


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