Sunday, January 27, 2013

And the tingling continues

Theme: You meet a random person and start talking… What happens next?

"Madam ji, last box, best box.. le lo.."

The little girl with the tinkle in her eyes, and a box of bright blue glass bangles in her hand, touched my elbow while I was looking at some kurtas in a stall. It was the annual diwali fete at Delhi Public School, Noida. My brother, who is a student there, sold me 5 tickets. So I thought of atleast using one out of them, and headed in the hullabaloo. 

"What's your name?" And the bright smile wrinkled a bit. 

"Pia... My name is Pia"... 

She didnt look like a typical bangle seller, with her neat clothes, and good vocabulary apt for her age. She was 7 year old, as she told me. I was very tired after checking all the stalls, and I had to wait for my brother who was DJ at the disco set up. 

"Pia, show me the bangles, I have to check the size. Would you like to come over to the bench, I would like to sit for a while"

"No problem madam ji..."

That was the first time I met Pia. I bought those bangles, they fit me perfectly well - size 2.6. Blue being my favorite color, those bangles had instantly caught my eye. I gave her the 50 rupee note, and she smiled at me. The same bright smile. 

Pia, as I had guessed, was not a bangle seller. She was a resident for Noida Orphanage. The children from the orphanage came to the fete to set up a stall. And they sold all kind of stuff, as per the wish of the kid. Pia loves bangles. The music of tingling and  jingling colorful glass bangles makes her dance with glee. I met the caretaker of the orphanage, Mrs Anand, who was there with the children, sharing their joy and excitement. I asked her about the utilization of the money they would make at the stall. She told me that the administration had spent money to buy all the stuff the kids were selling. And they were there to have fun, and make the kids happy. They were not making any money. Whatever the children would earn, they were allowed to spend it all in the next two hours at the fete. I was impressed. I could see Pia licking a lolly far away from the stall. I waved her bye, and she waved me back, and blew a kiss. My day was made. 

I started visiting the orphanage, once in a while, whenever I could find time from work and family. It was a modest set up. I donated some books, and asked my friends to give old books if they had any. Noida Orphanage soon had a small library. I used to read stories to the kids, or help them with their homework. All the kids were enrolled in a nearby government school, thanks to the school principal, Mr Thakur, who was an old friend of Mrs Anand. 

I started getting attached to Pia, and used to be particularly interested in her school grades. She used to do good, but not excellent. She was addicted to listening to Radio, and could not focus on her subjects. 

One day, Mrs Anand called me up, and said that she wanted to meet me away from the orphanage. I called her home, as my home was a mere 200 meters away. After a cup of coffee, and making her comfortable, I gently asked her whether there was some special purpose of her visit. Mrs Anand asked me whether I would like to be Pia's god mother. A smile as bright as sunlight spread across my lips. I agreed. This meant taking care of Pia's all needs - like a family member. Now, apart from Pia's grades I started looking for hobby classes for her. I got her enrolled in a dance and music class. And whoa... Pia had a inborn flare for music. 
She learned the notes in amazingly short time, and started playing the harmonium. She also started taking classes for Kathak.  

Today, I can proudly say, that Pia, the little girl with the tinkling smile, is spreading the tingling of her bangles across the world, as she performs Kathak, and sings brilliant self-composed songs on international platforms.  She is a part of the Young Musicians Society of India, who collaborate with World music societies and exchange the music and dance culture across the world. 

I am so glad, I bought those blue bangles. 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

All characters are fictitious. 

Image Courtesy:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It could have been me

It was a bright sunny morning when I got up to the news of the brutal gangrape of a 23 year old girl in the National Capital of India - New Delhi, my mind instantly rolled back to January 2012, when I was in india and working from the New Delhi office. I used to return back at around 10pm every night. The probability of me being in the same state as the little girl is pretty high - implying it could have been you as well. When I try to keep myself in her place, I feel numb. I can never ever understand what she would have gone through during those minutes of virtual murder, what her mindset would be like, neither can I understand the pain of the physical trauma she would have suffered from after regaining consciousness till the moment she breathed her last.

She died a brave heart, but she didn't deserve it for sure. 

Human beings have evolved, from being an ape to a man. We can see the evolution with our eyes, thats the physical evolution. But the mental evolution seems like its rolling back, whilst we see human beings turn into animals every now and then. Crime rate has increased exponentially. Pathetic state of affairs.

Amidst this hullabaloo, we have seen a blame game and statement throwing - played by politicians, bureaucrats and spiritual leaders. Some blame the fate of women, some blame short skirts, some make the victim a culprit because she didn't plead and beg for mercy. Well, talk is what the power holders do. What can we as common man do?
It is a difficult question to answer. "Curing" a society, which has fallen in a ditch full of shit, is impossible. We have succumbed to dirty politics with mindless politicians, crime such as murder and rape, bribery, and many other traditional rituals which are harmful to the society. This includes female infanticide, sati, patriarchal society structure and the likes. 

There is no way our country can solve the problem immediately. Nevertheless there is a ray of hope. In the form of you and me. Working towards "prevention" is possible. And that is what should be the focus. There are many ways in which this can be done.

Like, Learning Self defense should be made a primary subject in schools, not only for girls, but also for boys. It is necessary for everyone to know how to use the physical power one possesses. Learning the techniques is very important, otherwise you can easily get overpowered. As an individual, we should learn it ourselves, and get our children, brothers sisters and even our husbands or other family members trained in techniques of self defense.

Have a heart, stop being a mere spectator just because you are scared to get into it. Shout and scream when a man virtually rapes you with his eyes, make him feel ashamed. Help victims on the road. Victims who are dying need your immediate action and full compassion. Call the ambulance, take them to the hospital in your own car. The girl and the were lying naked in a busy New Delhi road with several onlookers merely staring at them. They begged for clothes, for help, but no one came forward. Sounds like a joke to me. We should help victims of domestic violence or any such crime. If you know it, report it. Help the old and the sick. Just open your heart. 

We could exemplify in our home, what we want in the society. A society is made by you and me and our families. Drops will make an ocean if we improvise within. Treat all men and woman equally.

Woman should be treated well, not to be oppressed. Our children learn from us, and if we solve the woman issues as well as other societal issues at home, it will be a small step towards a better India. Take my words for it. 

Another step is to contribute towards betterment of our society. Try to find an hour a week to work in an NGO, teach some poor kids, or adults, work for cleaner environment, help the orphans, enlighten the ignorant with the values you want to bore in your country - respect for woman, respect for others, cleanliness, child trafficking, issues of girl child, etcetera. Alternatively, if you dont want to get attached to an NGO, form a small circle of your own, just like a kitty, and work together towards meaningful goals like the ones above.

There could be even more ways to work towards the goals. Ideally, we should work to improvise the future instead of standing with a candle in our hand at India Gate without even remembering whom are you standing for. It is good to protest, but it is foolish to just talk/ scream slogans, and do nothing concrete. The day we all wake up, will be the sunrise for a new India. It will be slow, but it will happen. And happen for sure.
Jai Hind