Life In India

Swathi Santhanagopalakrishnan – just because someone couldn’t handle rejection

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Swathi / Nungambakkam / Infosys / Techie / Gruesome Murder – these are words that have been flying across our keyboards, in the media and also in our minds. Just the audacity that went into a stupid plan (hacking in broad daylight in a public place),  and the fact that it did materialise – upsets me no end.

People are rising up, holding candles, giving media bytes, clicking tongues, sharing facebook posts , feeling appalled and all that. We are thinking about Swathi, her family, her day and her life that was just cut short in one unpleasant surprise. The invisible Swathi who was unknown till last Thursday – is now on national media. We are commenting on efforts of the police, or lack of it, how there was no dignity to her body after being slain.

While all this disturbs me a lot,  we are still missing the main point here. The fact that Swathi was murdered was because the murderer could not take rejection. He could not understand a simple “No”. He did not want to accept it. And so, he feels justified in his mind to develop a plan to ease the pain in his mind. How? By eliminating the person who uttered those words.

There are reports about an altercation between Swathi and the unidentified person. Have we reached a stage, where altercations and arguments must end in only one party being alive? Who decides that? What gave the man-in- the -checked shirt the right to end Swathi’s life? And it was not an unintentional happening. It was pre-planned.

Let us observe, how people across society view this. As women, we feel more pressurized to be on our guard. You will have to have an extra few thoughts – before you voice your opinion in a meeting, comment on someone’s clothes, or just go for an early morning jog. You might get murdered, woman! Be careful.

The reaction amongst men – is slightly varied. There are those who have daughters – this is a group that feels extreme fear. Things could go wrong, how much ever effort you could take. Mr. Santhanagopalakrishnan made the effort to drop Swathi outside the station everyday. How much more care could he have taken of his daughter? Travel with her to office as well? There are many thoughts that would have taken a similar turn among fathers blessed with daughters.

And there is another group – despite being politically correct in groups, this group thinks a bit more. They do not think more about Swathi and the murder. But their attitudes mirror their views and generalisations about women. As a friend of mine noticed the scene at her office – there was a subtle ” After having moved for so many years, when women break it off – that is just not fair! ”

What irks me – is that I witnessed a similar mindset during the Nirbhaya incident. And during the Meghalaya groping episode. Many male colleagues / acquaintances also voiced a “What was she doing at 10 pm with a guy? ” ” She must have dressed provocatively”

It irks me that the people saying this are in the 20 – 35 age group. The so called youth or young population.

It irks me that these were people with access to an education, a degree or in some cases maybe even two.

It irks me that these were people who would actually be in the target group during such incidents.

It irks me that they are able to empathise with some who has psychologically gone astray.

Why are they not able to understand a “No” ? Sometimes you are rejected – painful as it may be, It happens. Socially, Emotionally, Professionally – sometimes even intentionally.So would you resort to murder?

Murder your boss because he did not give you a good appraisal? Or stole your idea? Murder the guy who rejects your visa? Or Murder the person who cheated you in a business deal? Murder the maid who declines to work in your house, but works at the neighbours’? Your best friend of those days who just cannot find a common topic to discuss with you now? The employee who takes a bribe, but does no close the deal?

Would you murder them all?  The right to say “No” is a person’s choice.

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The ability to accept it and move on – is a sign of maturity. Let us teach our children to handle rejection, to let go and move on, and to also learn to assert their ideas by saying a “No” firmly if the situation discerns it. That is the need of the hour. Much more than CCTvs, and police protection –  we need to change the apathy that is cancerous to our society and its people.

 

 

 

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The Chennai Rains – what it taught me!

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December 2nd 2015 – A day I will remember in great detail. And by that I mean like Sheldon – eidetic memory and all that! For the rest of my life! Why? Because I learnt a lot of lessons. Life lessons. Hopefully positive too!

December 2nd 2015 was a Wednesday. A very rainy one. The previous night was a bummer because there was a really long power cut. And we had to make do with no TV, low charged mobile phones for mindless whatsapping, and no microwaveable hot dishes.

Many near and dear ones called us in the morning to find if we were ok, thanks to tv reports, rumors and truth on social media, tamilnadu weatherman forecasts and the panchaangam (traditional methods of hindu astrology). Well, we were ok. We smiled. Reassured people. And stocked up for the rainy days ahead. And then it all began.

Lesson 1 . You think you have a plan.

I surely did. My plan was to live a “simple”life during the badly forecast days of rain. I prepared myself mentally for power cuts. So I had stocked up on provisions that would not be easily perishable (read rotis, dal and eggs). I had my work cut out. I was going to do a lot of written work that did not include electricity. Letters to write (Yes, I have a bunch of pen friends and we write to each other the pen and paper way), assignments to prepare for and the like. Priding myself on being ultra organised, I was relaxed that Wednesday morning.

But what did I really learn?: I thought I was preparing myself for a simple life. Turns out my version of simple was not simple. I should have thought minimalistic. Couple of hours down the line – I had no thoughts of food perishable or non perishable, no fancy words to write in my letters, and no creativity to showcase in my assignments. All I was thinking was how to creatively salvage what we could and how to get out of my house.

Lesson 2 . You think you are connected.

John Donne said ” No man is an Island” More so in today’s world where we are connected through Whatsapp groups, private chats, phone calls, Face time, Skype, Facebook, Instagram and what not. And you think that all these will help you in case of an emergency. I can upload on Facebook, tweet about it, send a message in groups  – that’s what we take for granted every single day.

But what did I really learn?: News Flash : You need wifi and there is no power. You need mobile data (Yes all the 3G and 4G the pretty girl tells you is unlimited on TV!) But the network operators decide to shut down. And you are relying on your senile memory to desperately grasp at phone numbers that are just an illusion in your head. Arrogantly displaying your useful as a brick smartphone. Pity, the landline is the only thing that works. But sadly redundant in our heads and homes. Sorry John Dunne. Man was indeed an island on Dec 2.

Lesson 3. You work hard so that you can afford stuff.

You buy a house. And then a car. And do it up well. Look up magazines, hire an architect. Paint it. Lights. A lawn. The works.

But what did I really learn ? : None of these matter. You cannot take them with you. You may have to leave it behind. All of them. The things you waited so many days to buy. Or saved up for. The envy of others. Anything. When I left home – I carried my wallet, mobile 2 sets of clothes, my grandparent’s photos, an ID proof and a couple of certificates. That’s all. None of the books I heavily invested in and thought were the reason for my life. Not the Laptop. Nor the Tablet. Nope. Din’t think of them even once.

In a way – the Chennai floods taught me a lot more. That you are never safe. That things change. That the things and people you thought you could rely on, may not be so reliable. But that random people you din’t think of, step up to the occasion. That people help. That some like to see you struggle. There are more expenses than you imagine.  But it does not seem important in that minute.You are powerless against Nature. Or stupid bureaucracy. That you yourself are not the person you thought you were. You are extremely strong on auto pilot. And can be really more arrogant and self-obsessed than we realise too.

 

Surprisingly, when people were clicking their tongues and enquiring about all the material damage (read vehicles, electronic equipments,cleaning, plumbing, carpentry ) – I feel like I have some clarity. Or maybe I am just zombied out.

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Reasons why I am single – clarifications.

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This image I observed on Social Media is the reason for today’s post.The whole single – ready-to- mingle stuff. Why is there so much hype attached to it? If someone is single, people are always trying to set you up. People talk to you about :

-The security of a relationship 

– Your biological clock

– having  your ‘own’ family

– a home

– becoming responsible

And woe betide you if you are single and Indian and over 30! Book your package deal with a therapist because you are going to have serious confidence, self -esteem issues. Depression even. Apathy? That’s better than depression. Seriously.

But wait. Talk to people in a relationship (read marriage) be it arranged or self made – the list of complaints is not short either.

– I just don’t have the time for myself

– In laws, In laws, In laws

– What do you know about the pressures of raising kids today?

– I’ve been taken for granted.

– I don’t know who I am , really.

– My Hobbies? Interests? What? Are you joking? I have forgotten those long ago..

– Don’t tell my wife/ husband about my outing… Please!

– I have to buy a “responsible” family car not the snazzy one I’ve been saving up for

– Career of my choice? Can’t shift now. Too much depends on me.

– Aah.. those were the carefree days when I was single. 

Sounds familiar? Well, I don’t understand. If you are single , you want to be in a relationship. If you are in a relationship you want to be single again. Or do you just want to be in that in-between- courting stage? What gives? Let me address each issue in the image above first.

1. I annoy people : Yes. I annoy people by being bold and standing up to them. I have thoughts. And opinions. Try to make me understand . I will respect you for that.

Yes,yes... it works both ways
Yes,yes… it works both ways

2. I am never anyone’s first choice : You might also not be mine.  Wondering why  Ms. PYTs  Or Mr.Balloon bicep type seem to always find the right person, while you struggle? Funny, when you are strong…

I am hoping this will be the trend
I am hoping this will be the trend

3. I f*** shit up : So people avoid me, as they need someone to cover up for them, because THEY f*** shit up too.

Remove,remove,remove
Remove,remove,remove

4. I am just bad with relationships : People are used to others putting up with their idiosyncrasies, so when I tell it to them on their face, they feel they’ve received a slap. And I have received my share of slaps of this genre too. So, I am just as bad / or good at this as you are.

Sometimes this happens too
Sometimes this happens too

5. I am not liked : I have wallowed in this area for quite awhile. And I am not afraid to admit that. Everyone wants someone to love them and someone whom they can love, so where’s the question of like?- They wanna leapfrog that and go straight for the love part! And you are so brought up to be the person others like. Else you might be considered selfish. Well, I have just one bit of advice – Give as much as you TAKE!

Be free..
Be free..

6. I’m an ugly ass mother-f***er : Body stereotypes. The bane of our lives today. Who sets these standards? Blue eyes. Fair skin. Bronzed look. Long legs. Tiny waist. Short hair. Long hair. Curly hair. Curvy but not curvaceous. Swimsuit body. Be the natural you. Be physically and mentally strong. Respect the inborn strengths of your body. Ugly ass or not .. you will figure out.

Irrespective of gender.. this works
Irrespective of gender.. this works

7. I spend my whole life locked up in a dark room with food and a laptop :  I think food and laptop are better companions than 90% of the people on the earth.

Not so much about the dark room.

And the rest?- books are a better choice! I wanted to use a lot of swear words here. Lalochezia and all that? Wondering what it is? Go read a book!

Learn,absorb, apply
Learn,absorb, apply

Coming back to the whole discussion about being single or otherwise. I have just one thought.

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And then, for sure, it won’t be all paradise. Be prepared to work on it. Put effort. Shed some tears. Raise your voice. But if, at the end of the day – you feel safe in your head and thoughts and the opinions you want to voice. It is worth it.

Peace out!

Legend of the Hidimba Temple (Built in 1553)

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The Hidimba Temple is located in Manali, famous resort town in Himachal Pradesh. This ancient temple situated at the foot of the Himalayas, in a forest of cedar trees is said to have been built in the year 1553.

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This is probably the sight you would see as you walked through the forest flanked by huge deciduous trees. A three-tiered structure that almost looks like a house. The deity is believed to be a part of a huge rock cut out of the ground around which this structure was built.

TRIVIA

The most surprising feature of the temple or what believers could call the most reassuring feature of the temple is the fact that inside the temple the imprint of the feet of the Godess carved on a block of stone are worshipped and if you go to Google Satellite and zoom into the area where the temple is located, you can clearly see the imprint of a giant foot spanning across the valley in the area near the temple. It’s thumb starts from where Google shows the Manali Heights hotel to be located and the rest of the foot goes all the way down the slope.” – Wikipedia

WHO IS HIDIMBA DEVI?

Hidimba Devi, is a character from the great epic Mahabharatha. Who was she? The mother of Gatothkacha (The Giant Asura – son of Bhima) and devoted wife to Bhima ( one of the five Pandavas, known for his extreme strength in combat.)

WHAT WAS THE LEGEND?

The Pandavas along with their mother, Kunti Devi  and wife Draupadi were wandering through the forests during course of the exile. Having arrived at this very forest the women in the group felt very tired and decided to halt for the night. Having climbed one of the huge deodars, Bhima looked around and decided it was safe enough for them to spend the night there.

As was common – the brothers took turns at keeping vigil while the others slept. When it was Bhima’s turn to keep watch – he spotted a very attractive woman walking towards him in the middle of the night. While the gallant Pandava asked her if she required any help, the beautiful woman begged him no end to leave the place immediately, for fear of their safety.

Not being one to give in to fear – Bhima asked her to explain herself. The young woman Hidimba told him the truth ” I am a man-eating Rakshasi (demon) staying with my brother. My brother has decided to kill you all this night and devour you. Please do go away as soon as possible. I have come in guise of a mortal to warn you”.

The courageous Pandava replied ” Fair maiden, thank you for having warned us. But I assure you, it your brother who has to be warned against us and not the other way around. I refuse to disturb my tired mother and brothers as they sleep so peacefully in order to humor your brother”

By this time Hidimba’s brother had tracked her down, and was furious that she had sought to warn the humans, mere mortals. Needless to say – a huge battle ensued. Trees were uprooted, violence galore as man and demon met face to face.

Trees  of this size are believed to have been uprooted during the battle.
Trees of this size are believed to have been uprooted during the battle.

Finally Bhima overpowered the Asura and killed him. The gentle Hidimba, having fallen in love with the strong and brave Bhima asked him to marry her. Bhima agreed, on the one condition that he will stay with her until a son is born to her after which he will join his brothers to complete the 13-year exile. The son – who was born later on was the gigantic and gentle Gatothkacha. His is another story to be told later. Thus ends the legend of the Hidimba Devi temple.

THE TEMPLE UP CLOSE

Sculptures and carving show the level of intricacy in detail even as far back as the mid 1500’s.

The carvings are believed to be 400 years old!
The carvings are believed to be 400 years old!

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While some people just pray to the Godess as the “Hill Godess” a legend and a story woven into the history always makes it more memorable – I think. I leave you now, with a final view of the temple.

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Temples and their near permanent residents

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I visited a temple recently and as always was awestruck by the gopuram (tower) , the colours, the statues, the paintings and the symmetry.

The temple tower

When I focussed on this serene statue of a saint… I noticed a flurry of activity in the background (See if you can spot him here)

Statue of a serene saint

And close by were the residents of the Gopuram, eating, playing and feeding their little ones…

Monkey biz – one with a banana, one hanging upside down, and the other just plain bored!

As I continued to focus on them  – they started getting restless with my intrusion into their privacy… So they gnarled at me, scowled and finally moved out.

God, This girl keeps following me around – call me when she has left.. Leaving now

The War Memorial – Madras

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The War Memorial on Beach road just opposite the Chennai port was built to commemorate the Victory of India over different wars viz . WWI, WWII, The Indo-Pak war, The Chinese Agression, and The Kashmir Agression. A circular structure from outside – You will have to mount the gigantic circular steps to reach the tall tower . As you walk around the memorial you will see inscriptions engraved into the wall – in different languages – expressing gratitude to those who laid down their lives for us in the war. Well maintained, with a small garden of flowers in the circumference – the War Memorial is a place that should be visited more often.

The Port of Chennai
The Memorial tower
The Circular Steps leading to the memorial
Close up of the Tower

 

Under the rays of the Sun

Words for the Martyrs
For World War I

 

For World War II

 

The Kashmir Agression of 47-48
The Chinese Agression of 1962

 

The Indo-Pak war of 1971

Inscriptions engraved into the wall –

I think this is Urdu – correct me if wrong
In Telugu
In Tamil

The inscription in Tamil reads – A memorial for the people from Madras province / presidency who served the country and gave up their lives in war.

Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our lives that we forget to stop and think of those who have given us something that we take for granted on an everyday basis – our life.

Pensive walk…

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A cut through the fields…

As I zoomed into these green fields from afar, I really enjoyed the sight of this narrow canal cutting it into two parts. The culmination of water, sunlight and greenery somehow made the simultaneous presence of all three factors seem so wonderful.

Pensive walk…

And almost from nowhere, appeared this sun-tanned old lady, sickle in hand and a small red cloth pouch tucked into her sari at the waist, nosering, golden bangles and her silver hair held in place by a careless “kondai” (hairstyle)- and oblivious of my attention directed towards her, she walked along the wall of the canal, unsmiling and deep in thought.