Sunday, June 27, 2010

Often in my line of work as a reporter, people ask me if I'm fearless.

And often I reply that I am already a martyr. I'm just waiting for the recognition!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm on Google

My daughter was looking for Wallpapers on Google. She did a search on me and found me..several pictures and articles I've written.

She is thrilled. She thinks I am famous.

Should I burst her bubble and reveal that it is SEO (search engine optimisation)?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A 'Perspective' Ramble

It's funny how a little something can put so much of ourselves into perspective.

For the past few days I've been suffering from repulsive mouth ulcers. Yes..eeewww... According to the doc it was a pretty bad case and for almost four days, I could not eat, drink or speak - a word. The pain was truly unbearable.

I survived day 1 of the gruesome ulcers without food or water. In the evening I had a cup of cool milk after I administered a gel that kinda numbed the area. But the gel was almost ineffective on the following days as the condition aggravated.

By day 3, I was dreaming of food. 'How nice it would be to have a thin crust pizza or a butter naan with dal makhani' my mind kept taunting me! I'd reached a pitiable state of craving for food in exactly 48 hours. What was strange to me was that for the past three months I'd been on a self imposed, restrictive diet that I was even beginning to enjoy. But 2 days of a 'compulsive' diet had virtually driven me crazy! Bottom line is I realised that I hate not having the choice "not" to eat!

The condition even took over my passion - writing!

My work depends on my yakking - if I can't speak I can't call/interview/interact with people for my newspaper stories.... A dear friend even joked, "Your dhanda must be affected coz you can't speak, right?" referring to my sense of helplessness as I sat at home, rented DVDs, watched my handphone call list pile up with 'Missed Calls'.... Again a 'compulsive' break that was wreaking havoc on my schedule and deadlines!

On day 4, I felt I could treat myself to an Idli dinner. Although I still couldn't speak, the gel was working long enough for me to gobble down a solid meal. Off I went to the nearby restaurant. I wrote - Idli parcel, no sambhar only chutney - on my handphone and showed it at the counter.

The man behind the counter instantly offered me a place to sit, not customary, because a lot of other 'parcel' people were standing around waiting in the filled-to-capacity restaurant. I realised that the staff assumed that I am disabled when the waiter who brought me my dinner chose to tap me on my shoulder to get my attention, rather than call out the token number given to me! Perhaps he assumed that I am speech and hearing impaired..

What does it feel to lose your job/career/passion when circumstances compel you? How does it feel to not be 'normal'? How does one go through life compromising with their very existence? Ulcers are not life threatening or contagious, but in four days I came this close to losing my demeanour, my sense of humour and my optimism...

I've known a few people who've lived through the worst circumstances that life could possibly offer. And they've done it with dignity. My feelings for them just moved up from mere 'empathy'...They're heroes... Hats off to them!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grooms for sale!

I wrote this piece over four years ago...and strangely, nothing's changed in the years gone by...

Lately we have begun bride hunting for my brother, who at 29 is an eligible bachelor and in baniya parlance, a little old to find a good bride. However, we have been barraged by relatives enquiring about what kind of a girl we are seeking and since he happens to be a handsome fella, our expectation has been narrowed down to looks. Fortunately my folks are not the dowry seeking type, despite the relative reserve of my close family regarding the stand. Even though I believe that there can never be a certain criteria to find a suitable match for anyone; especially not looks or money, my opinion hardly matters since I am a small fry in this vast cesspool.

But for all my relatives, including my parents, the search for a match has to begin with a criterion. In almost each case, it happens to be the affluence of the other party and / or their ability to hold a lavish wedding. Most parents go beyond their financial capacities because of the deep rooted belief that money can go a long way in ensuring the happiness of the wedlock.

The pressure is immense on parents who have a daughter. To understand how this works it is also important to understand that I belong to a community where your status in society is largely dependent on how lavishly you marry off your daughter, if you have any. Some of my close relatives have spent anywhere between 8 million to 10 million rupees for the future happiness of their daughters. My parents were spared the pleasure of going berserk at my wedding since I zeroed in on a tamilian. Yet, as per tamilian standards we had an ostentatious wedding and as per baniya standards, just average.

Parents stoop to all sorts of levels to get the marriage under way. I have been witness to weddings where the groom has refused to marry the girl but is coaxed and coerced into the same after the bride’s father offers to cough up a few lacs more. The groom’s parents readily squash their son’s feelings for the extra dough. Groom selling at its best. Similarly, the bride’s parents coax her into marrying a man far below her caliber simply because he is rich or affluent or both.

The very same cousins are certainly not the happiest lot in the family today but “at least they are married”. Incredible but true! Daughters are married / carted off to avoid the social stigma of having an unmarried girl staying put at home. Since all the girls are brought up in a relatively regressive atmosphere where education and empowerment are not encouraged, an unhappy married girl is left to find the ways and means of adjusting in her lot.

But do such parents sleep at night, knowing that their daughter is unhappy? A question that has no clear answer.

And that’s the reason why couples, from most North Indian communities, even from affluent families are so scared of having more than one daughter. Whether one purchases a groom or adjusts with what is available, marriage these days has become a trade. It is no longer a union of two souls and two families as was believed. It is a business deal, negotiated, bargained and closed with the satisfaction of both parties. I cringe at the thought that my brother is going to be on display in the marriage market. And I can't change the mind set of the clan.

Brings me back to the point I’d iterated through my post. That one cannot bring about any changes in society merely through legislation. The Anti Dowry Act is a law in point. Despite the rampant prevalence of the practice in almost all north Indian communities, how many cases are actually reported or registered? Marginal. It is the failure of law enforcing authorities as well as the society at large.

Going by the way things are, I am skeptical about the search being undertaken by members of my large clan to find a suitable match for my brother. I just hope the girl he will eventually marry walks in to our lives without compulsion or compromise. That will be a wedding to celebrate!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today I saw his profile on Face Book. It was in the 'You can add as a Friend' section on my page.

Stirred up a lot of uncomfortable memories. But then that was it. I felt nothing else. Guess I have ACTUALLY moved on.

Phew! I am relieved!