From a Stranger to the Departed Stranger

The dead silence bears down heavily, an unwillingness to enter the thickening lane as the colourful tent stands up, this time brewing not with excited chatter and traffic of people but only silent onlookers, reluctant to enter the epicentre.

I know not the name or the face clearly in my mind or the story  but that there are lone children in the this multi-faceted, unjust world. The smile and the long, strange, unlike anyone, linger to watch, what may have been reflections play, is all I remember, the last I saw, the one that etched a stranger in my mind.

The rest faded into an insignificant blur of life, until it stopped, the next to mark the existence of the stranger to another stranger living right in the front of the face of each other.

The unfathomable reason to a soul untouched by all of that life that ended the other. And the morbid, embarrassing, lowly human curiosity that spins the many pictures of the life, lack of it and the reason, having no right on any.

The unbelievable tragedy, in which many strangers want to bathe in and be a part of it, for the ultimate human masochistic fancy, but willing and praying to only play the role of a stranger.

However, the ultimate question that haunts every being, what does it take to end a life with its own hands?

What could have dished death as the sweetest deal?

How are the lives connected going to wake up tomorrow, to the drastic, unforseen, tragic change?

The little ones?

Will the instance fade, would it even be believable? 

Or will they be able to happily pretend and avoid the void? 

When will it become, just another faded memory? Will it? 

Would it have made a difference if the stranger been invited into those reflections that the eyes watched, smiling?

All that remains is reflections, upon oneself, the pain unimaginable to the ones in life over the loving and losing of another.

Now, the wind blows loud as if taking a much-needed breath after continuously sobbing, as if drowning in painful melancholic hiccups.

The mind in its unthinking part, already’s changed the language while referring to the stranger.

 

 

The Palace

I love palaces and am fascinated by them. However, if I were given a chance to live in one, I wouldn’t even last a day, thanks to all the horror movies. They are beautiful, unique, majestic and all the other adjectives, but it is also too easy to get lost in one. But these  are the places where you can time travel and for a limited time get a glimpse into the past — at the time of the Kings and the Queens.

Here is the Vijay Vilas Palace from Mandvi, Gujarat which maybe 100 or so years old. There are many picture of this monument in the same manner but if you observe carefully every one of them is different because every eye that clicked them was different.

Parts of Bollywood movies, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan were shot here.

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The Protest that MAY make a Difference

This post may be coming a bit late but what matters is that it is being posted — at least for me.

Dalits and muslims in certain parts of India are being targeted in the name of cow protection. Now, the phrase ‘Cows over Humans’ has become a cliché in Indian languages. Recently, dalits in Gujarat, India were harassed for skinning a dead cow by some cow vigilante groups. The harassment still continues.

In the wake of these harassments, Bangalore city in Karnataka, South India came together — albeit a small group — to voice their displeasure on the issue.

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These small protests hundreds of miles away from the conflict area may not make a big difference or even be newsworthy enough to be covered by mainstream media but what matters is that there were people socially concerned enough to carry out the protest — as pointed out to me by a friend of mine. At the least the discussions on such issues isn’t dying over only a dinner argument.

A picture A day – 5

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Dumping Yard Everywhere

This picture is taken in Kalasipalya, near K.R. Market, Bangalore, India. This place is supposed to be a bus stop for private buses. Garbage is dumped almost everywhere in K.R. Market even the bus stops aren’t spared. People navigate through the same dirt everyday without giving it a spare thought and some even use it as a public restroom while having a real public restroom in the same lane.

A picture A day – 4

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A Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Garbage Picker

The BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) employs conservancy workers in the Bangalore city of India.

Srinivas is one such, among the uncountable numbers who suffer through the same problems but are too uneducated to demand their rights. This man standing in a pile of dirty stinking garbage has to load the pile into the garbage moving truck everyday; but this feat is to be achieved without any safety gear. His rubber boots, hand gloves and safety clothes, worn out after a month’s usage but he is too uneducated and ignorant to demand for a new pair. If the safety gear can be damaged working in such conditions in a month, one can only imagine what it will do the human body coming in direct contact. While Srinivas at least got one pair of safety gear, some alleged they weren’t even given that.

For more on conservancy workers, Sudharak Olwe, an Indian photojournalist has photographed the lives of conservancy workers in Mumbai, India. Click Here to view Olwe’s work.

 

 

A picture A day – 3

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Home of the ‘Children of the Slum’

Another follow up on the previous two images. This is the picture of the slum kids home. Originally, I thought of doing it in Black and White since it show the darkness and hopelessness better; but I didn’t because this story needed its colour. In colour we can clearly see what their roof is made up of and we can see the dirt in front of the man and the child sitting. Colour has highlighted the details in the story.

A picture A day – 2

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Children of the Slum – 2

This is a follow up on my previous image. Here, in the background you can actually see where they live and it isn’t just one or two kids living there but a whole bunch of them. The teenager in a dark blue sweater in the back is Sunitha with eye sight issue. Her parents can’t afford any good treatment. They tried at several government hospitals but in vain as they  were unable to help her. In the coming years, there is a high probability that she might lose her sight completely.

 

MRJACKMARTIN rightly commented on the previous picture saying it showed the innocence of the children. It is true. But unfortunately, in a few years it won’t remain the same. These children are the most vulnerable target for every bad thing in this world. Some might grow up dealing in drugs and some might become prostitutes or maybe raise generations and generations in the same destitute of unescapable poverty.

Even though I haven’t been able to help these people in any way, I didn’t want their stories to be forgotten deep in the back of my mind and hence I am putting this up for the world to hear them.

A picture A day – 1

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The Children of Slum

Me and my friend visited this slum during our practical hour and I got to take this picture of a bunch of curious and excited kids. They were excited to see two strangers with a camera in hand. These kids fortunately do go to school but their living conditions is as bad as you can probably imagine. They are to grow up in small roadside place where the garbage is dumped. But the dirt isn’t theirs, instead its that of the city dwellers living in posh apartments with clean surroundings and who would never accept garbage being dumped near their living place.

I took this shot as the kids curiously peered up into the camera.

The Stoning of Soraya M.

It all began at the college. We were made to watch the movie, The Stoning of Soraya M. By the title, I know most of you have already guessed its content. The movie is based on a woman in Iran, who is framed by her husband, and is falsely accused of adultery. The punishment to such a crime is death by stoning.

This movie, even though disturbing, is based on real events. It is adapted from the international bestseller La Femme Lapidée by Freidoune SahebjamThe author of the book is a French-Iranian Journalist who records the story of the woman as told by her aunt.

The movie has touched and wrenched my heart. So here, I have written a poem on all such women as Soraya.


...THUD! And the stone hits me
'That's gonna leave a bruise'
I think, while I look down on those kids
Playing, who hit me, accidently
CHILDREN! I smile at 'em and go on about my work.

I do this, I do that
I clean the house, I cook the food
I look after the children
And fall in love with 'em, again and again
But I love all this
'Cause all this comes in the daylight
And daylight is so much better
than the dark of the night...

Darkness eventually falls
It could have been beautiful
To look at the diamonds in the sky
Had my eyes teared not
Blurring them down to dark again
It's time, HE is about to come
And HE does, we've dinner together
Like all other family does.

As the innocents close their eyes,
the Beast opens his;
And my body prepares itself,
But all in vain...
HE hits me, HE robs me,
HE takes me,
HE takes all that I could give,
And much much more...

Day shines again
And I forget the night, again
My Aunt warns me 
HE doesn't want me
But I know that
Also, that I can't leave
For there would be no one
for the girls and me.

Night falls again, Day shines thereafter
Aunt warns me again
HE wants to rid me
I know that and that he can't
Aunt warns me again
But I turn deaf
'It can't get worse than it is'
I sneer in myself.

Day shined again
But this time, the dark followed through
Aunt is a nervous ball
NOW, it's all justified
the warnings
The verdict has come and I've grown cold
I don't mind death, it is peaceful
But I mind the dying, and the stones...

...THUD, the stone didn't hit me
HE can't hit me
My father who has disowned me,
THUD, and it hits me
The pain, ohhh... the pain
HE hit me, but that is ancient
They all hit me, it is dying
My sons hit me, it is death...

THUD! THUD! THUD!
PAIN! PAIN! PAIN!
BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!
Decorating the barren mud,
THUD! THUD! THUD!
THUD! THUD! THUD!
BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!
BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!...

THUD! THUD! THUD!
NUMB! NUMB! NUMB!
It is a relief
Finally, I'm leaving
HIM and the men
My misery and the pain
My body and the bruises
For the meadow and the flowers...


Soraya isn’t the only one who is a victim of this heinous crime and oppression. There are, disappointingly, millions like her out there and another million dead. There are still stories untold and unheard of. The world needs to stand up together against these laws. Laws that oppresses women, which punishes the innocents (man or woman) and which carries out torturous executions.

I write this, hoping that it will somewhere, somehow make a difference, no matter how small.

 

Returning the Awards

This is another article stating my opinion on the issue of intolerance. Here, I have discussed about the protests made by writers in the wake of intolerance. You can also check out an earlier post on intolerance by clicking on the blue title

Religious Politics Harmful for Secular India


Ban on beef has lifted the ban on man turning into meat, freedom of speech has come under the endangered list with the murder of a South Indian writer M.M. Kalburgi and the recent incident by insulting a Pakistani writer’s organizer by throwing ink on his face has insulted the moto ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ as well as the Indian writers. Secular India used to respect every individual and the individual’s choices as well, but the ‘now’ India which promises to bring on about good days or ‘Achhe Din’ has brought about days of utter intolerance amongst its more dominant group of people.

 This intolerance has also met with protests from all around the nation. Protests from prominent writers, artists, scientists, etc. is raging on. One of the most attention grabbing protest is the returning of the Sahithya Akademi award by writers who have won the coveted award. It is India’s most prestigious and coveted literary honour where the winning book is translated into the many Indian languages, hence promoting its readership. Sahithya Akademi is an autonomous institute funded by the Indian central government which chooses its awardees independently.

 The protest by returning awards started when a prominent Kannada writer and a Sahithya Akademi award winner, was murdered for opposing the superstitions prevalent in the Hindu religion. Then on incidents indicating the intolerance brewing within the majority of the nation’s people kept taking place, forcing writers, scientists and artists, all Sahithya Akademi award winners to return their awards in protest.

 While some support the protest of returning awards, some don’t. Reasons to support, range from doing what is ‘politically right’ — while not in reality practicing the same support — to believing it to be honestly the only way to solve the problem of intolerance of views and opinions in the country. Those who oppose the returning of awards are either defending their government, their academy or honestly believe that the way of protest is ineffective.

 In the support of the way of protesting, supporters have said that it is more instantly attention grabbing as well as courageous on the part of the winners who are returning it. By returning the award they are giving up the prize amount, the recognition and the wide readership, that the award promised.

 And in opposing, people have made comments on how it is not right. While some have made comments on how it is ineffective — which seems to make sense — some have made comments in their defence of government or academy.

BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy said, according to the Times of India, “By giving away the Sahithya Akademi awards, the writers are dishonouring the UPA government. It was under their rule that they got these awards and now they are returning it to the BJP. It does not make any sense.” What does not make sense in this statement is the fact that the academy is an autonomous body which chooses its awardees independently and that the government or the previous government have nothing to do with it.

 On the other hand, Chairman of a Central Government funded national academy, while speaking to IBNLIVE said, “As Chairman of a Central government funded national academy I oppose returning of awards. These awards are not decided by the government. All academies are autonomous. A committee comprising the eminent writers or artists who should get which award. By returning the awards these writers and others are actually insulting the academies and the jury,” which made some sense. This protest has also threatened the very autonomous existence of the Sahithya Akademi. Some writers have rightly pointed out that if the controversy ends up destroying the authority of the Akademi then it might prompt the government to take over, thus destroying everything that the protestors have been fighting for.

 Some have said that returning the awards is mere tokenism and is not practically helping. The protests should be carried out by creating awareness on the threat free speech is facing. This can be accomplished by giving in views through writing or by speaking out loud, by ways that may actually change people’s mind and force them to think on the issue.

 So, what is your point of view.

Comments, constructive criticism are all welcome.

Please do like and comment. Your interest keeps me writing.

 

Religious Politics Harmful for Secular India

I know this topic of intolerance prevailing in India (also many other countries as well) has become an old one now. There are no discussions going on, on the topic except in classrooms perhaps but that doesn’t mean that the issue has to be abandoned. Also, this write up is to prove that an issue can be addressed without having celebrities in the limelight. So, this is me putting forth my opinion on the same.


 

Promising to build a temple in Ayodhya has become an old trick now for the Indian politicians to win votes. So to keep all the politicians out there updated, the new trend is to promise bringing effective ban on consumption of beef. For further reference you can also take advantage of our country’s constitution, made keeping in mind the secularism of our country, which protects cows from slaughter in its Article 48. All that you will need to do is to keep the people from discovering how it contradicts our democratic system of government which allows a person to live with utter freedom. And you will also have to hide the fact that this law tilts slightly in the favour of the Hindu society in a so-called secular country. But of course an easy solution to this problem will be to say that the constitution also includes some Islamic rules such as letting a Muslim man orally divorce his wife or to have the lawful right to marry four women. So you know you can say “Equal rights” or rather “Balanced rights.”

Secularism is India’s strongest point and it seems that the politicians are very well aware of it, for they exploit it thoroughly. It seems, with reference to the recent Dadri lynching incident, it is very much logical in accordance with religion that man slaughter is permissible but not cow slaughter. So, it seems logical to ban cow meat but not man meat. But did anyone pay attention to the 2015’s budget list, which lists leather footwear priced above ₨. 1,000 per pair will be spared from paying more because the government has cut taxes on leather footwear. And most importantly does anyone know that leather is made of cow skin, where a cow is skinned alive? And so, the hypocrisy continues.

What makes sense, more specifically common sense, is to let freedom prevail in a secular India. To eat or not to eat beef should be an individual’s choice, a choice where no one should neither be allowed to stop one from consuming it nor force anyone to consume it. This individual choice, will keep the freedom part intact.

Besides, it isn’t smart to let Hinduism grow to extremism much like Jihad. If it is let then India might as well turn into a Hindu version of ISIS itself. Nor is it smart to let religion rule a country, much less a country this diverse in its religious and cultural form.

 

Memories in Pictures: Part 1

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Somnath Temple, Gujarat
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Near Somnath Shiva Sculpture, Gujarat
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The Camel and its Owner, Dwarka, Gujarat
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Morvi, Gujarat
The Flying Fishes
Beach near Somnath, Gujarat
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Hanging Bridge, Morvi, Gujarat
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Camels in Somnath, Gujarat
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Mani Mandir, Morvi,Gujarat
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Hanging Bridge, Morvi, Gujarat
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Morvi, Gujarat
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Junagarh Forest, Gujarat
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Mani Mandir, Morvi, Gujarat
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Hanging Bridge
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Hanging Bridge
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Hanging Bridge
Getting a Glimpse
Somnath Beach

RACISM in the minds of CHILDREN ?

It is no myth that siblings fight. Sometimes it is healthy for the relationship and in my case always fun. But till what extent?

Its a story about two sisters. One social and the other reserved. One could adjust just about anywhere in the world and the other couldn’t. One bearing the responsibilities of being an elder one and the  other enjoying being the younger much doted upon daughter.

Fight, they did. Occasional whiny quarrels, they had. Parents always acting as the referee between them. While one was loud enough and had glass clear soul, the other fought in dark. While one refused to share, the other did share. While with one it was everything or nothing, with the other it was ‘I’ll take the bigger slice’.

And the last but certainly not the least —  in the minds of shallow, self-contradicting and hypocritical people — difference between their apparent skin colour.

While their loving parents; who say that they love each of them equally; doted on the younger, more fair in coloured daughter often making the ‘being fair’ fact much prominent than necessary. Whether in front of the other daughter or not, did make a negative impact on both of their minds.

While complimenting the younger daughter, the parents made a mistake of making it seem like the ‘being fair’ quotient was a beauty quotient and a very important and desirable fact. So now that made think the younger one as being the beautiful one amongst the sisters. And while they fought their juvenile fights, one of the not-so-innocent jibes at the other was for not being white enough.

Jealousy is a common human trait. It too is sometimes good and most of the time bad for any sort of relationship.

So, yesterday, the elder sister shed her innocent tears because she isn’t fair enough. Now whoever, made her feel that having a fair coloured skin is important was brutally wrong.

I didn’t feel like the younger sister was at fault, she could hardly help what she was, apparently taught. Their parents, maybe yes, they were at fault. Apparently they too were brought up, being taught such racist thoughts. So intentional or not, they did put in the mind of the younger daughter, that being fair was preferred to not being fair.

Unconsciously, today parents are teaching their children, the racist thoughts. The so-called modern and educated beings are teaching their children, especially daughters, of the importance of being beautiful and being fair.

So, whatever happened to looking deep into one’s soul to search for beauty? Is that what parents are teaching now, that being beautiful and fair is the only way and if you are not you need to put on fake beauty using make-up or perhaps plastic surgery.

Now, I don’t understand whether I should feel complimented or insulted when people give me as an example to being fair. I want to ask all these people, that is that all I am worth? What about all the other talents of mine, which you never mention or compliment me on?

Is that women empowerment?

Blind Journeys – A new beginning

It’s never happened before that I have been desperate to leave a place and go some place else l, but it’s happening now. I am happy, excited and afraid of the new found hobby. I feel good for acting out on it, though.

Sitting in a general, non reserved bogey of a train, is not something I would dream of. But it is a place where I can discover more than any of the finest tourist destinations.

I have never felt with anyone, the class difference that people usually talk about. I had the impression about myself that I could never be narrow-minded. It was for me non-existent — not that it didn’t exist in the societal context but that it didn’t exist for me. But sitting here is extracting the truth of it.

I know the difference, that I can’t deny, between me and my co-passengers. Though we talk about bringing this gap back in the city, it is not something that is achieved so easily. From language barriers to the life and the lifestyle we come from, in one setting it’s difficult to get your thoughts sorted to make it happen. However, that seems to be a problem only with me not with them.

As the time seems to pass, they seem nothing more than mere strangers, class issues in the mind. The credit goes to them, that they were more social than us.

#travelteaches