Will Write For Coffee

and food and vacations, too.

Month: December 2012 (page 1 of 2)

Let us join hands

I am angry.

I don’t want people telling me I should think twice before visiting Delhi because it is not safe for me.  I don’t want to be ‘cautious’ and ‘know how to protect myself’ when I’m travelling alone at night.  Just because I am a girl.

And I don’t really want to get into the Delhi vs rest of India debate.  Let us all agree that whether it is Delhi or Ahmedabad, no one should be raped.

And the rapists/sexual offenders deserve harshest of punishment.  I don’t know how much faith I have in the judiciary, but the government of India has set up a committee for finding out ways to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishments.  They are taking in public comments by January 5. 

Twitter is full of angry comments asking for the severest punishments, ranging from public beheading to castration to stranger things like tattoo on forehead.  People rejoiced when they read that the criminals were fed poop in the jail by inmates. An eye for an eye? I don’t know.

I am not sympathizing with the criminals, but I cannot desensitize myself completely.  While my prayers are with the victim (or the survivor or whatever alias you want to give her), I cannot stop myself from wondering what could be done about the whole incident, not just getting her justice, but for each one of us, who is at a risk of being sexually abused.  [I am not talking only about women here, women, men, children – what about marital rape? Are we ever going to recognise that as a crime at all?]

A friend suggested an online database of sexual offenders.  A quick search led me to this. It is the public website for registered sexual offenders in US. And no, we do not have that mechanism in place in India. Why not? I don’t know.  The people who run the country are busy creating uproar in parliament.

Few questions came up while discussing the same with a few people I know.

Here are some views on the same.

How will an online registry help?

Well, it public access to the data, which includes the criminals’ photograph and every other detail, it may act as a deterrent.  That such a publication of details may affect their current and future personal and professional relationships, may act as a deterrent.  People will be more alert and aware.

How to keep a track?

Unlike US, we do not have SSN that can be used to keep a track, but then, isn’t here where the UID project comes useful? But if you go through the US website for offenders, you’ll see you could also search on basis of first name and last name.  I guess the tracking with UID could be more useful for law enforcement agencies, but as civil citizens, something would be better than nothing. Keeping track is important to check whether the criminal is a repeat offender.  Because no matter how much we want all the rapists to be given the severest punishment of death, it is not going to happen. They will be released, and to ensure there is no relapse, there should be a regular tracking of such people.

What about the ones who are reformed and want to be rehabilitated? 

Yes, so the above list could be revised and such names could be removed.  Remember, this is a public listing, and not for law enforcement agencies.  Law enforcement agencies need to keep their record permanently, but, such names can be removed from public database to ensure social stigma doesn’t affect them till the end of time.  [social boycott and other punishments, though seem proper, are not practicable. Severest punishment doesn’t mean we stop treating other people as humans, even though their crime may be unpardonable.]

What about steps to prevent the crime?

A lot has been said about this. Pepper spray, self defense techniques, keeping people informed about your whereabouts, and being extra vigilant when travelling alone.  But what about catching the perpetrators before such crimes happen? I’m sure some sort of psychology goes through their minds when they choose to commit such crimes.  Why not profile the criminals and try and identify people who are more likely to commit crimes (not just rapists, but also murderers, paedophiles) and get them to seek help? How about we actually give mental illness the seriousness it deserves?  I don’t know, I’m just throwing in ideas.

What about the criminals’ family members? Why should they suffer?

No one should be punished for someone else’s crime.  Hence, such list should exclude personal details about the person who is registered.  It will be unfair if the family has to suffer because of him/her.  It must be ensured that the details of other family members are not disclosed.

What about rehabilitation of the survivors?

Yes, so life changes for them and their family.  Coping mechanism should also include regular counselling.  Whether the incident attracts media glare or not, their life has been altered.  But nothing unconditional love and support cannot help them overcome.  But along with that, some kind of counselling to help them fight their fears instead of repressing the memories.  To ensure that they feel like survivor and not a victim.  To enable them to walk on the streets with their head held high and not feel ashamed or violated.  I’m sure there are some things in place, but why not publicise the measures so that those who have suffered, muster up enough courage to speak up? Unless a crime is reported, it cannot be curbed, and it wont be reported if the people who have suffered do not have faith in the system.

How to go about getting things done? Or at least try our bit?

That is a good question.  I’m pretty much clueless.  I don’t know what will work, but I’m pretty sure outraging over Twitter wont.  I’m not saying you should not outrage, but the hollow outrage is now making me kind of sick.  So, here’s the thing, as I said above, the government has started committee, and has asked for public comments and suggestions.  Details here.  They’ve said we could send in our suggestions to justice.verma@nic.in.  So, I’m sending across the post I’ve written above, along with the suggestions I get in comments or you could mail me too.

I don’t know how to take it further.  I’m also skeptical of online petitions.  If you were to write emails, who should you write to? How do you follow up? I also intend to send a copy of the mail to Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat. Again, I’m not sure how much further it would go.  Or should you just send the mails and wait for the government to take steps? I’m open to all ideas, and would be glad to give support if anyone has any better ideas.  Let us try and take things in our hands, for a change.

And one more thing, irrespective of the outcome of whatever I wrote above, there is one thing I am determined to do.  Next time I see anyone being abused, I am raising a voice.  I’ll call in the cops and I’ll create a ruckus.  I’m not being a silent bystander anymore. Before I ask others to act on something, I am going to promise myself I will do something that I strongly believe in.

Thank you for reading.

Date A Girl Who Tweets

Date a girl who tweets.  Date a girl who spends her time tweeting instead of meeting people.  She has a problem with poor internet connectivity.  Date a girl who has a list of people she likes to stalk on Twitter.

Find a girl who tweets.  You’ll know because she has a smile on her face as she looks into her laptop.  She will be the one frantically pulling down to refresh, the phone, also called Tweeting Device.  You see the weird chick clicking pictures of books in a book shop? Twitpic or it didn’t happen.  They can never resist the urge to let the world know they’re reading.

She’s the girl waiting in that coffee shop, clicking picture of the heart on froth of your cappuccino.  If you take a peek at her mug, she would have thrown the spoon and sugar sachets messily to add character to the picture.  She might glare at you if you interrupt her as she checks in on Foursquare, as most girls who check in on Foursquare do.  Ask her, CCD or Filter Kaapi, #youprefer?

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Sagarika Ghose.  She if she got through first episode of The Newshour.  Understand that if she says she understands Deepak Chopra, she is saying it to sound intelligent.  Ask her if she loves Poonam Pandey or will be Poonam Pandey.

It’s easy to date a girl who tweets.  Compliment on her change of display picture, and favourite her tweets.  Give her the gifts of retweets.  Give her #FFs, RT and ♥ ♥ ♥.   Let her know that you understand the importance of stalking.  Understand that she knows the difference between tweets and real life, but by god, she’s going to make her life like around Twitter(as soon as Twitter gives option to archive your tweets).

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her.  Call her celebrity once in a while, and name her in “must follow” lists in magazines and newspapers.  It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who tweets knows that boring tweets will lead to people unfollowing her.  Because a girl who tweets knows that things come to and end, and will unfollow you eventually. That you can always follow back again. Through another id. And troll.  That Twitter is meant to have a troll or two.

If you find a girl who tweets, keep her close. Her sentences will be of 140 characters.  When you find her awake at 2 am, tweeting away to glory, threaten her to disconnect her internet connection.  You may lose her for a couple of hours, but she will thank you when she rediscovers life.  She’ll talk like the people she follows on Twitter are around her, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a Tweetup.  Or during an NH7 Weekender.  Or Metallica concert.  Or very casually next time she’s sick.  Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled all over your chest yet.  You will live tweet the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the internet memes and kitteh gifs, maybe on the same day.  You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will tell you the trending topics under her breath while you think of a witty pun.

Date a girl who tweets, because you deserve it.  You deserve the girl who can give you the most colourful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half baked proposals, then you’re better off without her. If you want the world and a parallel universe, date a girl who tweets.

Or better.  Stay #ForeverAlone. LOLJK. I’m cute.

In response to Date a girl who reads

Temple Run

A month back, mother suggested I join them on a pilgrimage to Somnath and Dwarka.  I’m not sure if I’m religious and I don’t think I need to be standing in front of an idol to pray.  In times of desperation, I’ve closed my eyes, looked up and prayed.

But I had visited the said places as a kid, and it had been 18 years since that visit, and I had faint recollections of the temples.  So I wanted to visit, just to see if the memories of the temples and the reality are the same.

Spotted on the Ahmedabad – Rajkot Highway. Stobary is SecC.

 The road to Somnath, especially once you enter Junagadh is like a roller coaster ride. Looks like nothing much has changed there since Mohammad Ghazni first attacked Somnath over a 1000 years ago.

Somnath temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlings and I must say it is beautiful. It is situated right on the coast and makes Shiva look like the coolest God ever to have a place of worship located at such a cool place. 

Right outside the temple. The Sunset.

  The best thing about Somnath temple (as like most Shiva temples) is that it is very peaceful, and generally clean.  I am not afraid I’ll accidentally step on cow poop, like one does in Krishna temples.  And no crazy darshan timings, so the crowd is usually controlled. Of course, the Aarti was very chaotic and so much crowd, that I could almost hear the idol tell me, ‘आतंकवादियों से डर नहीं लगता, भक्तों से लगता है।’

For me, my personal high point was reciting the Shiv Tandav Stotra.  Raavan was a genius to compose such an awesome piece of work.  Of course, I don’t know the entire one, but was happy with reciting first two stanza. :D

The Temple

 But you know, one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Somnath was the South Pole pointer. There is a column there, with an arrow crossing through it, which points south, saying there are no obstructions on the straight line, all the way to the South Pole.  How incredibly fascinating is that! Though I am petrified of water bodies, I wanted to just sit there and look into the ocean forever.  The ocean looked calm at one point, and it became violent the other. I saw 3 birds fly low, and followed them as far as I could see, and my eyes gave up.  The ocean looked like one magnificent beast.

Porbandar highway. Yes, coast right next to the highway.

Next day we left for Dwarka.  On our way, we stopped by at one temple at Bhalkateerth.  As per the legends, this is the place where Lord Krishna died.  That makes me wonder, what if the ones we worship as Gods are actually just human beings with extra ordinary strength? Wonder if people will take me seriously if I declare myself as God? Hmm.

Anyway, the highway ran parallel to the coast.  Beautiful, beautiful it was.  Also, so many windmills. Windmills are fascinating, just like lighthouses.  And I was so excited to see boats with sails in the ocean.  They looked like straight out of my high school drawing book.  (if you enlarge the picture above, you’ll see a boat on the horizon)

A bridge over the ocean.

Dwarka was also fascinating.  As per the legends, old Dwarka was the dwelling place of Krishna, and it is now submerged under ocean.  Even if it is a story, the fact that the temple was built hundreds of years ago gave me goosebumps.  So many people would’ve walked over the same floor, and so many more will walk over it in years to come.  (yeah, I always get such thoughts when I visit places which are hundreds of years old)  So much thought process must have gone into making such intricate work on the walls, and all this was done even when they knew they could not instagram their creation! Wonder what must be their motivation!

And then, somewhere I lost one of my slippers in the ocean water.  I hope the coast guards at Pakistan get hold of them and keep them as my prasad of some sort.

The most interesting moment for me in Dwarka temple was when some people climbed the top, and brought down the current flag to hoist a new one.  And the moment the flag unfurled itself flying high I stood there with my mouth wide open and said a silent prayer.

Oh, and did I mention the cows? One cow was sitting right in middle of temple, oblivious to the surroundings.  She did not care how crowded the place got, but she was just sitting there, chilling, communicating telepathically with her other buddies sitting across the temple, waving their tails occasionally.

One non-descript Shiva temple, which is in middle of ocean, and you have to walk across a bridge to reach there.  Apparently, sometimes, the bridge gets covered with ocean water too during tides and all.

Next day, we left for home, but before that, visited another Jyotirling, Nageshwar. (Apparently, the location of the same is controversial, so not sure if it is considered one, but whatisthere)

And then, eight hours of long drive later, we were home.  Tired, sleep deprived and slipper-less. Oh, and tanned. And happy.

Of childhood memories and changes

As per the legend, I was loved by all when I was a kid. Elder cousins and aunts (esp dad’s youngest sister who got married when I was 2 yrs old) recall my awesomeness at family gatherings all the time.

One of the many tales is about a visit to this mini zoo like place called Sundarvan near our house.  My aunt would take us all cousins there quite often on Sundays and apparently, the the caretaker got so used to seeing us there that he once let us in the place at 6 am to have a look at a bunch of dancing peacocks.  I, of course, have no memory of peacocks, but I do remember seeing a snake show there and how incredibly slimy it felt to touch the Rat Snake.  Guess, I will never get used to touching a reptile.

I remember feeding mamra (puffed rice) to the geese and once there was also a red panda in there.  Oh, and did I tell you about the porcupines? And the Indian cobra?

But then, I grew up.  School happened.  There was no novelty in visiting the Sundarvan.

And then, last year, history repeated itself.  My aunt took us all to Sundarvan again.  The reason was my cousin’s daughter, Dhyani. It was wonderful visiting the same places with the same set of us as grownups. But that visit was more of a trip back to memories.

Today, when my cousin called that Dhyani insisted I take her to Sundarvan, I could not say no.  So it was the two of us, having a look at the animals and birds and tried to answer her questions like, why are the geese eating mamra (yep, things haven’t changed much in Sundarvan) and why are the snakes inside a glassed cage!  I wondered if I had similar questions for my aunt too? Did she make up stories, or did she struggle explaining a 2//3 year old kid logic?

Some things remained same.  Geese still feasted on mamra, bajrigars still went berserk, snakes still looked slimy.  But things had also changed.  A generation had changed.  I was the one taking care of someone, and not the other way around.

We got back home, she had some food, and since cousin had still not got back, I sat with her on the swing, and when she started feeling sleepy, I held her in my arms and she fell asleep.  Her tiny hands around my neck, trusting me that I will not let her fall off.  After about twenty minutes of being on the swing, I brought her inside the room to put her on the bed.

The minute I put her on the bed, she woke up and gave the most adorable smile.  She was still sleepy so after softly moving her hands over my eyes, she fell back asleep. 

This reminded me of the another legendary tale from the past.  My aunt had always complained how she would sit with me on the swing and try to get me to sleep after 30 minutes, and moment she would put me on the bed, I’ll wake up. :P She still hasn’t forgotten her hourly exercise on the swing with me clinging on to her and not forgiven me for waking up immediately either. :P

And the swing also made me little sleepy, so I dozed off for while in the afternoon, and woke up when Dhyani came up to me and softly said, “Ninu, why are you sleeping?” :)

Guess, history repeats itself.

But you know, if and when I have kids, I wish to have a daughter.  I’ll take her to all the places I went to as a kid, because I was kind of awesome as a kid.

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