July 26, 2009

Salute to the Heroes

Today is Vijay Diwas, the 10th anniversary of the Kargil War. Today we remember the brave soldiers who laid down their lives for the motherland. The official estimates say that 527 were martyrs, 1,363 soliders were wounded. We attained victory at the cost of losing our bravest soldiers and destruction of countless families. But these are the harsh realities of war, we accept it or not we have to live with the loss of these heroes for the rest of our life.
Kargil war was the first war that my generation witnessed. Wars of 1962, 1965 & 1971 were just stories we heard from our parents and read in our history books. The 1999 Kargil war was our reality. The television bought the war in our drawing rooms; for the first time India witness the atrocities of war and none of us liked what we saw. But that's the reality of war, we like it or not we have to live with it, live with the guilt that while our brave soldiers were fighting to keep us safe in our homes; we were just sitting and watching it all unfold on television.
For us, Kargil was a war fought on far away land in the mountains of the Himalayas. The reality of this war has never hit us hard. But for the soldiers who scale these mountains, it's a hard everyday reality. The families of the soldiers live the nightmare of losing their loved ones. But the brave soldiers fight all the odds; their family have sleepless nights, so that we all sleep well in the comfort of our homes.
Sometimes movies do show the reality of life; LOC Kargil showed how difficult the battle was; Lakshya portrayed the determination of a soldier; Dhoop showcased the life of a family after they loose their son in the battlefield. But we never seem to understand the grimnnace of the wars. Maybe because we are not losing part of ourselves in it. We are so used to the comforts of our air-conditioned homes that we tend to overlook what exists even outside it's realms, then how can we look at the mountains and see what the soldiers are going through?
And what about the government? Are they not responsible for providing the soldiers with the best of facilities? Shouldn't it be the top priority of a government to take care of it's soldiers? Do they just care for the people who actually go and cast votes for them? It pains my heart when I see images of army officers camping in Delhi to get equal pay as the officers of their ranks in civilian duty. It's a shame on the government and all of us that our soldiers have to struggle for what is rightful theirs.
Peace always comes at a price. The price we have paid for peace after the Kargil war is the lives of our brave soldiers. But was their sacrifice really worth it? I don't see any peace around; I don't see the families of the martyrs feeling proud of the country for which the heroes laid there lives; and the tensions on the border is no where close to an end. People hold the military men in high esteem; army forces are one of the highly respected around but still do not give them what they deserve. It's my sincere appeal to everyone that in our own small way lets do what we can for our brave soldiers. Lets fight this battle with them, so that next time there is no Kargil. Lets work together to build a better India, India where no brave soldiers are lost. Let there be peace on earth and let it start with me.


As I sit at my window, watching the rains I can feel nothing but a feeling of joy. With every drop of rains falling, it seems like the world around me is getting a new life; the earth is totally refreshed. As for me, I am totally lost in the music of the rains. The rainy season bring with it, a feel of joy, new beginnings and pure happiness. The rains make me want to become a child again, go back to those carefree days when with the first showers we all kids would rush out of the house to soak in the monsoon madness. We did not care if we would get sick, catch cold or dirty or clothes; all we knew is that we wanted to be the first to experience the joys of monsoons. I have happy memories of my grandma telling us to go and get soaked in the first showers; according to get it was good to let the first drops from the heavens fall on your body and she was so right.
Mumbai and Rains have an integral bonding; the monsoons brings with a feeling of joy, it gets with it the message that now you have got a break from the summers and now you can enjoy the beautiful rainy season. The walks on Marine Drive and Worli Seaface are a must to do during every monsoons. As the waves rise above its embankments and shower on you, you cannot but help feel eternal bliss. The thought of a group of us trying to shelter under a tiny umbrella always brings smile on my face. We all know well that the umbrella is too tiny to accomodate so many of us but the joy of sharing the umbrella even though it means that we get totally soaked, is an amazing experience. It brings us all closer and connects our hearts.
Hindi Movies have used the rains to their atmost potential. Rains have shown love blooming between two people like in Hum Tum or 1942-A love story or the feeling of complete bliss expressed by Kareena in Chameli. Rains have a certain degree of romantism attached to them; just the thought of rains might bring the memories of ones loved ones to our mind. How can one ever forget the song "Pyaar hua, Ikraar Hua" in which Raj Kapoor & Nargis declare their love for each other while standing under an umbrella, caring only about their love for each other, with no concern about the rains around them. They were lost in love for each other and the rains provided the perfect set-up for this union of two hearts. The naughty side of love is also seen in the rains through movies. I love the song of Namak Haram "Aaj rapat jaaye toh humein na uthayo" picturised on Amitabh & Smita Patil. There is full masti and love in the song. The couple in the song just cares to have fun in the rains while they declare their love for each other. Rains through their beauty work wonders at bringing heart closer. If your loved one is mad, try taking them on a long drive in the rains; I bet s/he would just forget all their anger and come right back in your arms.
I am a rain baby. I was born during the rainy season and according to my mom the day I was born it was the first rains of the season. So for me there is a double attachment to the rainy season. Rains bring with it the feelings of happiness for me. I can just get completely soaked in the rains and forget all my troubles. I can become a child again when I feel the rains falling. One cup of hot coffee with my favorite book is a perfect rainy day for me. I always wish to sing the nursey rhyme (with a little twist), "Rain Rain don't go away... Come again and again... I always want to play..."

July 17, 2009

Looking back....

Today I complete a year of being back in India. I moved to India from USA exactly on this day in 2008. WOW! I can't believe it has already been a year. The year that went by has been an amazing one, filled with a new learning experience. When I left India, I was just out of college, high on life and totally a free bird. But over the years of living abroad, I matured and changed a lot as an individual. Now I feel that I have grown-up as an individual, a person who has a gained a different outlook towards life.
Today I want to look back at the year that has passed by. I was born and brought up in India, I have lived most of my life in this country, yet when the time came for me to make the shift back home, I was totally apprehensive. On one hand I was happy that I was going back to my family but on the other hand it was with a heavy heart that I was leaving my life in USA. I was now a changed person and I was scared of how I will accommodate life back in India. My life in USA had changed me, my approach to life had changed, my outlook of looking at things had changed and more importantly I was a much more independent person.
I would be lying if I say initially I had a problem adjusting back in India. I would find fault in everything around, the way people drive, the way people talk, everything everything. I still remember I would close my eyes when I car would come too close, shut my ears because of the excessive honking and always tell the driver to be careful. But then I realized that's the way we drive in India. I had a bad time dealing with the bureaucracy in India, the red-tape got onto me. Everywhere I went, I was asked for bribes. These were things I was totally used to while living in India but now these things seemed so alien to me. But this time, I was more adamant and determined to fight such evils. If I felt, there was something wrong happening with me, I stood up against it and made myself heard, no longer was I the subdued kid who left the Indian shores.
The attitude of people towards me also changed, in a good way and a bad way. For some people I was a smart, intelligent girl who had lived in a foreign land but for some people had a cheap attitude of looking at a girl who has lived abroad. I never cared for such scum-bags as I know they are there to just pull you down. The people who made this transition easier was my family and friends in India. My family was always there for me, even when I was not there for them. The understood me, supported me and loved me always. In this past one year, I have grown to love and respect my family more than I ever did. My other support system were my friends back in India. The many years of USA had somehow meant that I had lost touch with my friends. It doesn't mean that we never spoke or met but somehow were not a big part of each other's lives, distance seems to do that to relationships. I always knew that they were there for me and they new that whenever they needed a friend I was just a phone call away. But my move back to India gave a new meaning to my friendship with them. I feel that we have rediscovered our friendship and the bond is grown even more stronger.
My life in USA and this last one year has taught me a lot of things. I have become an independent, strong-willed and caring individual. I have learnt the value of family and friends in my life. I cherish the time I have spent in USA but I am happy that I am back in India. Like the say, a bird can fly anywhere but at the end of the day the bird returns to its own nest. India is my home and wherever I go in this world, I will always come back home.

July 12, 2009

Let's there be freedom to choose...

Everyone around seems to be talking about the Section 377. The Delhi High Court ruling said that section 377 is against the right of citizens. The Supreme Court has asked the government to take a stand on this issue. People who want the law to be abolished say that the ruling of the Delhi HC is historical and in with the changing times. Others like religious leaders who are against rights for homosexuals are shouting that these laws are against the grain of the Indian society. Then there are TV channels that are cashing on this by having debates for days without any concrete conclusion to the debates. But amongst all this we seem to forget that a person gay or straight is still one of us. He has the same right to lead his life as per his or her wishes just like you and I do. Karan Johar makes a stupid movie like Dostana and we say that the Indian society is opening up to the idea of homosexuality. But according to me we are miles away from making and accepting a Brokeback Mountain. My view is that a court ruling, few protests marches across the metros or making movies on this issue would not really solve the problem. The law is the problem but a bigger problem than the law is the fundamental attitude of the people. Unless people in the society are ready to accept the fact that not every man loves a woman or every woman loves a man, I do not see an end in sight for this issue.
We as Indians proudly say that we are a democratic country; people here have the freedom to do as they wish to. But we do not give the basic right to some of our citizens, the right to choose whom they wish to love. It’s like saying to them; you can live your life you want only if you follow the norms set by the society. If this is not double standard then what is? The sexual choice of a personal is a deeply personal matter. A person has the basic right to choose whom they want to be with, who is the society to dictate the terms of someone’s bedroom. Do these so called protectors of our culture ever go and stop a husband from sexual abusing his wife; Do they raise their voices and stand together when a husband or wife has cheats on their partners; or Do they ever make so much noise against child abuse? We have so many real issues that need a united front, why is that we cannot stand together to fight these issues?
Just because someone wants to be with the person of their own sex, does not mean that we cannot accept them in the society. They are just like us; they too have feelings. They feel love, anger, sorrow, happiness and all different emotions that we feel, so how can they not be part of our society. God never says just because you are gay, I love you any less. He takes us the way we are and as children of the same almighty we have to accept each other as we are. In today times, as we look around, everyday there are things happening that normally the religious leaders should stand up against. The Babri Masjid, Godhra, Polygamy, Forced Conversions, Terrorism, Religious extremism, Killing of innocents in the name of God, Child –Abuse, Rape, and so many others ills in the society; but I never see the religious leaders coming together, under one roof and say that we stand united against such mindless acts. Baba Ramdev never says that Yoga can cure religious hate. Then why single our own brothers and sisters? They are just trying to fall in love and be with someone, like any of us.
Delhi HC ruling on section 377 or the gay parades are tiny steps in the direction of changing the overall attitude of the society. It’s like our we just learning to crawl towards a more open and tolerant society; a society that does not discriminate a person based on his or her sexual orientation. This is the strangeness of our Indian society; we can do whatever we want behind close doors, no one will say a word but when you come out in the open and demand the right to do the same with all legal rights, people from all corners of the society will suddenly become the guardians of our culture. People say homosexual culture is not part of the Indian system; to such people I just want to say isn’t our culture the most welcoming culture in the world. Over centuries we have welcomed people from all over the world into our culture, made them feel at home and they have perfectly blended in the Indianness. Then why this discrimination with our own people; can’t we accept them the way they are? Indian culture teaches tolerance and love for all, then but discriminating aren’t we actually going against our own culture?
To the people who say homosexuality leads to diseases like AIDS, I just want to say please go back to the science class and get our facts right. If you are so concerned about the spread of AIDS then why not do something about prostitution, rape, child abuse, and drugs. I would like to see them work to curtail the spread of AIDS in all sections of the society. Just going on television channels and projecting yourself as guardians of the society, is not the solution. If you really believe in the issue, work for it. Why not work on tougher laws for child-abuse? Most cases of child-abuse take place in families and never get reported. These people should actually work on making the government pass the strictest laws against such un-punishable offences. Majority of the rape cases in India go unreported. Are we doing enough to save the females of our society? In Indian culture we place women on the highest pedestal, we give them the status of goddess and we rape the same female we call our mother, sister or wife. We love our daughters, wife and mother at home but once we go out, most of us would not think twice before maligning the “izzat” of women who are total strangers for us. If this is Indian culture then God also cannot save us here. If we want to protect our Indian culture, then fight for the right of our mothers, daughters and children. Work to protect them and then will you be hailed as the real heroes, the guardians of the Indian culture the way God wished it to be.
I wrote this only because I genuinely feel that it is time we change out attitude towards the people who have always been part of our Indian culture. It’s high time we open our minds and hearts to them, take them with in with open arms, as they are one of us.