Stop over-reacting & over-analyzing !

many-hands-1184796-1279x1196I wasn’t really convinced to write that Indians are getting intolerant until I woke up to the storm of news, social media lashes and protests against Aamir Khan’s comment which he did in one of his interviews.

Let me make it clear that I am not a die-hard fan of Aamir Khan. I do watch his movies every now and then. I am also a proud citizen of India who understands the fact that everyone has a freedom of expression which clearly doesn’t mean that people should only say what you like to hear.

His statement goes like this :

When I chat with Kiran at home, she says, ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day.”

He is bold enough to let it open in public what his wife and he think about his child’s safety in India. He never said in his statement that he appreciated his wife’s thought of moving out of India and he rather called it a disastrous statement to make.

Overreacting at Aamir Khan’s statement, “intolerant” people are only proving him right. Just because he is a celebrity, he shouldn’t be accused of saying something which is against patriotism. He doesn’t need to prove his patriotism to anybody just like us. India does not have something like “Aadhar Card” to show the level of patriotism one has towards the country.

How can we forget his work towards the welfare of our society when he addresses different social issues of our country in Satyamev Jayate? Nobody rates his patriotism then.

We should stop judging celebrities on their statements or at least stop over reacting on them. They have their own life besides what we see on camera screens and they have every right to think about their families and themselves. They don’t interfere in our ways of life so why should we do it to them. We should better use our criticism there when someone is being beaten to death just on the basis of rumours that he ate beef.

Happy to bleed

Menstruation has been a very sensitive topic in our country. As far as I remember, my teachers flipped the pages and skipped the chapter where it was discussed in details. Even I wasn’t told about this physical change in my body by my family before it actually happened to me. The day I got my first periods made me scared to death that I had blood cancer and I would die soon. Not only the ignorance about this painful physical change disturbs a girl but also a lot of taboos associated with it follows her rest of the life.

It is almost the end of 2015 and in a country where youth consists the major part of the population, worshipping centuries old taboos really doesn’t make sense at all. One of such case of blindly followed tradition is in Sabrimala Temple in Kerala where ladies aged 10 – 50 are not allowed. The priest in this temple has also demanded a scanner to scan the ladies if they are menstruating so that they can be refused to worship the same God who created them.

All thanks to the brave heart, Ms. Nikita Azad, who actually took it as a serious offence to her self-respect and brought it to the public attention worldwide. She launched a campaign #happytobleed against the prevailing patriarchal society we live in. In India, we worship female deities and we do not allow females into the temples when they are bleeding. Men and women are biologically different so why women are considered lesser beings in any aspect. Women go through the painful process of bleeding for most part of their lives which ensures their reproductive health. A biological process with which a new life is brought into this world.

The #happytobleed campaign is not about protesting against not letting women into the temples while they are having their periods. It is against the prevailing patriarchal society where women can be refused their rights on the grounds of them being just women. Girls like Ms. Azad show the modern picture of young Indian women who are not going to take their regressive images lightly and would challenge every finger being raised towards their non-equality quotient with men. It is not going to happen in a day but Rome was not built in a day either !

How intolerant are we?

Once again it is a wedding season in India and I have every other excuse to visit India. The country where everything seems changed even if I visit after a few months. This time I am visiting India after the country has got her new Prime Minister. Her capital got a new Chief Minister. This is just about a little change I mentioned.

After spending 30 hours in the long connecting flights, I finally reached Indira Gandhi International Airport where my family was waiting for me to arrive. I was so excited as soon as my plane landed and touched the ground of my holy motherland. I, immediately, started feeling even more desi and why not, I am surrounded by people who can speak and understand the first language I ever learnt to speak.

I quickly got off the plane and rushed to the immigration counter before collecting my luggage. At immigration counter, there were few people already waiting for their turns. I got myself in the queue and after that a lot of people who got off from different flights followed me but not in the queue. Interestingly, the middle aged man who followed me was not following the zigzag pattern of the queue which the authorities at the airport have enforced by placing the little poles. This was clearly to save the space and more people can be fitted in the queue. I requested the “the middle aged man” behind me who was clearly out of the loop in the queue and has a long line-up of people who were blindly following him and do not seem to have visited India before. I was quite shocked at his reply for just asking him to follow the queue pattern properly. I was told that it is India (which I’d have otherwise not known) and everything should not be followed. I am also told that here you should not stop your car at the red traffic signal because it is India.

“The middle aged man” seemed very Indian in his appearance doesn’t matter which country he flew from. I am very shocked at the picture of India being presented at the airport by a fellow Indian to me which I didn’t even ask for. I just realized that the queue fell apart at some point and some security personnel came to ask people to line up properly and the same “middle aged man” was in proper queue.

We are fighting over the intolerance issue in our country right now. This is not going to solve by returning awards or arguing in the parliament. This can be solved by self consciousness by simple  means. “The middle aged man” would have respected and followed every other law and order in the country where flew from but what happened when he was in India?  He knew that nobody is going to enforce the law and order where he was standing at that time, he was taking it for granted. In my opinion – we, Indians, are the highest tolerant people in the world when it comes to law and order and highly intolerant when someone asks us to follow them as well.

Karva Chauth by a progressive Indian woman

Today is my second Karva Chauth. For those who don’t know what Karva Chauth is – It is a fast kept by married Indian women for the long life of their husbands.
My day started at 4:30 am when I offered prayers and ate “Sargi” from mom-in-law. Around 7am, I was in the train for work. Spending whole day at work and working tirelessly, I was at home from work by 7pm. I did Karva Chauth rituals and waited for the moon. By 11pm, I ended my fast and prayed for the long life of my husband and strong bond of our marriage.
Some of you may be thinking that a progressive Indian woman should not believe in such rituals as nobody is going to get extra years of life by keeping his wife hungry or an educated woman should not believe in praying moon where some of us have already been to in a spacecraft. We should not simply follow a tradition just because it is old.
I am keeping Karva Chauth not because my mom or mom-in-law forced me into this but because I want to experience it. I want to be a part of the celebration associated with it when the whole family enjoys the feast at night. I want to adorn myself with the best jewelry I possess on this day (even though for a shorter time, as I spent 12 hours in commuting and work) which I normally don’t get to do most often. I want to put on the best dress I have. In short, I am keeping it because I want to.
I consider myself a progressive woman and I do abolish some rituals sometimes which I do not believe in. I follow all the rituals which I believe would not harm anyone while performing them. On the other hand, I also strongly believe that all of our rituals and traditions link to some scientific reasons. For example, Fasting relates to Ayurveda and ancient medical science according to which fasting helps in retaining the emotional balance of the body as well as its mechanisms are cleansed. So, all the progressive 21st century people, you must be going to Yoga classes and therefore, you must believe in Ayurveda.
I don’t know if my fasting will make my husband’s life expectancy longer or not, one thing I am sure about is that I learnt self-discipline by keeping  Karva Chauth and my body gets rid of the toxins  when all the digestive organs are at rest. Thanks to Ayurveda !

Pride & Shame

It has been eight years since I left India for higher studies and work. It does feel a long time when I hear stories of how much India has changed in those last eight years.
Back in my university days in Punjab, I’d return home late commuting in the bus and never felt unsafe. I’d spend more time in university so that I could use all the study resources at university which we couldn’t afford at home. Ultimately, I was the first girl in my conservative clan to have won “Gold Medal” in academics and got an opportunity to study abroad. My father, without giving a second thought, helped me in preparing for Canada despite continuous repulsion from relatives and friends on why is he sending “a girl” alone to a foreign land.
I have been always proud of my Indian culture, traditions, values, the ‘unity in diversity’ essence and the compassion every Indian adorns. The most important pride I carried with me is the freedom – the freedom of choice and voice – courtesy my liberal father !
In the last few years, I noticed a different picture of India. It is hard to believe that She is the same country where I am brought up keeping my head high of her being the largest democracy in the world. My heart bleeds to know about the rapes happening in the country and finding that not even little girls are spared from this brutal crime. We read articles, we protest on the streets, we debate on news channels, we debate in parliament, we pass few “strict” laws to ensure girls’ safety. Do they make a slight difference?
Of course not ! Delhi wouldn’t be stigmatized with the rapes of minors in the last 2 weeks.  I am ashamed even sitting 50,000 miles away from India, the country who has given me my legacy and prepared me to prove my worth on a foreign land and to make her proud. No matter how fair I fare, only a single mention of unsecured women in India is enough to bow down my head in shame amongst my friends in Toronto !
Today, Canada’s federal elections were held. My riding has all the 4 candidates as women. I am so proud once again for something which I’ve always dreamed about happening in India. Women in power is a long way to go. First, we have ensure that they feel safe in India even in daylight. When will my birth country achieve this? Long way to go my friends !!!
Charity begins at home so let’s just start making a difference from our own lives. Let your daughter feel that you are lucky to have her in your life and let your son know the same. Educating men about women rights is equally important so that they don’t treat women as piece of trash.
I wish every girl child is blessed with a father like mine who would give equal respect to her so that she could also be proud of the country and the family she is born in !