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melangedetout

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Why the blog?

Starting a blog has been in my to-do list since forever but I’ve been stonewalling myself because I was and I am extremely indecisive. Being ambivalent is like my forte. I was uncertain because I know I cannot be persistent if I have to keep writing about one genre and that genre alone. It  kept me on the fence for a really long time. I spent many sleepless nights brainstorming, trying to come up with one topic that I could base my blog under, that I would love writing about and not get bored with it either. Turns out I couldn’t come to a conclusion. This shouldn’t come off as a surprise as I have already led on the fact about my superlative indecisiveness.

There are things that I am really passionate about and things that I would love to write about but I realised that I need a constant change. I need variation. So after a lot of indecisive useless thinking, I decided to go with the flow and write about just anything. I will put my writings under categories but will not restrain myself to just one topic. This way, I get to explore and write about many things as I’ve always desired and you will also get to read a variety of stories. So ultimately, the one thing I’m proud of now is that I’ve come out of my ambiguous shell.

Keeping all this in mind, I named my blog ‘A melange de tout’ which simply means  ‘a varied mixture of everything’ but  it sounds a bit more sophisticated and sexy in French, doesn’t it?

So, I will post at regular intervals. Feel free to leave comments. This being the start of something new and productive, (Trust me, the two adjectives don’t meet each other too often in my life) I hope it leaves behind a delightful experience and a corking first attempt. Cheers!

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Kill the system; not the girl child.

On January 6th, 2017, it was alleged that a 21 year-old newlywed woman, an ambitious spirit, was barbarously set on fire by her husband and mother-in-law in the middle of the road. A few minutes after the kerosene and fire anguished her body, she succumbed to the injuries and died. The root-cause of the brutal murder was dowry. This incident marks the first dowry-related death of 2017.

In the month of September last year, a woman, merely 31 years old, committed suicide inside her apartment due to continuous harassment by in-laws and her inability to meet her husband’s dowry demands. In July, a woman, 28 years old, drowned her one-year-old daughter and later killed herself for reasons owing to persecution by her husband and parents-in-law in the name of dowry.

These women were young and had their whole life ahead of them but it was whisked away for no fault of theirs’ but due to issues relating to dowry – something that should be defunct in today’s generation. These are just a handful of incidents among hundreds of other similar cases that has been in occurrence every single day in our country.

Marriages in India are steeped in traditions and deep-rooted cultural beliefs. While some practices are followed and passed down by word of mouth, others are re-interpreted to fit the ideologies of today’s generation. However, there is one socially evil practice that never ceases to hold itself down – dowry.

The idea of dowry in medieval times was to gift the daughter with cash or kind (by her parents) to help her lead an equally independent life after she left to live with her husband. The very reason behind the custom of dowry was that, in an Indian (Hindu) society, most of the family wealth was transferred from the father to the son(s) only. The women in the family did not have any rights to claim wealth. Therefore, in order to have a fair division of wealth between the boy & girl children, the parents used to assess their assets and give a fair share to the daughter during her marriage. This was purely to ensure fairness of ownership of the family’s assets. It was purely discretionary and at the will and fair assessment of the father of the bride to decide on the amount/value of the dowry.

During the colonial period, as the British made the practice of dowry compulsory, it became the only way to get legally married. The practice of dowry was never intended to pressurise the bride’s family. It was an act of love from the woman’s family. In today’s world, with the booming economy in our country, dowry has become a demand attached to the strata of marriage. It has become a matter of status and prestige due to which violence against women post marriage and the pressure in the families of the bride are ever-increasing.

“My father gave away dowry, in the name of gifts, when I got married. My husband wanted nothing from my parents but my father had to do it for his own satisfaction. Not giving anything to the groom was pricking my father’s ego and he considered it as lowering the family’s self-esteem,” says a newlywed bride who would like to remain anonymous.  This is one of the reasons that dowry is still prevalent in our society. It might not be harmful to the relationship between the two families; it might not be a matter of demand; it might not be called dowry as such, but it still instils the practice in the country.

Dowry-related issues are one of the biggest reasons behind violence against women, female foeticide etc. The dowry price paid at the time of marriage may be significant, but the greed of husbands and in-laws can grow after marriage. This frequently translates into physical, mental or sexual violence against the bride.

Although seeking a dowry has been outlawed in India since 1961, the ban has been a challenge to enforce. An amendment to the law in 1986 mandated that any death or violence within the first seven years of marriage would be tried as related to dowry. The reality is that most cases of dowry violence go unreported.

In 2012, 8,233 dowry death cases were reported across India, while in 2013, 8,083 dowry deaths were reported. This means a dowry-related crime causes the death of a woman every 90 minutes, or 1.4 deaths per year per 100,000 women in India. The statistics are shocking. We like to call ourselves modern and tend to dust off many traditional practices as they are ‘outdated’ to the way of lives today but fail to address issues that are of urging prominence to be ridden off the society.

Although there is a ban on dowry and it’s condemned as illegal, it is still predominantly existent. There are steps being taken against such evil practices but how much of it has proven to be fruitful is still under question.

If we, as the future generation, obliterate the idea of dowry from people’s minds – it is a job done. The change starts with us. As the popular saying goes, “we have to be the change we want to see.”

 

Needs saving…

Through the hole on the roof, cracked and old, the moonlight shone. The house was just enough to fit three people in, with a cleft on the floor – splitting the living area from the kitchen. However, inside, a small happy family. On a tiny tattered sheet spread on the floor, sat an old man, his face so gnarly and hands so weary. With a fraying smile on his face, he looked at the innocent face of a small girl, on his lap, her eyes closed and legs stretched out. He recited to her, her favorite bedtime story but her eyes were nowhere close to drifting shut. She was wide awake, keenly listening to her father. For a story that’s just five minutes long, 38 questions were a bit too much for the old man, but a child’s a child and that day quite specifically, he answered each and every question with patience. The liveliness in the little girl’s eyes, the curiosity, will take her to great heights, he thought.

Just as he finished the story, he peeked into her face and saw her eyes shut, face so peaceful and innocent. The old man, just as he thought his daughter had fallen asleep, lifted her head and softly placed it over a few old bed-sheets. Before he stood up, the little girl caught a hold of his finger and whispered “I love you,” eyes still shut and barely conscious. The old man, unaware of his emotions, started to sob immediately. In an attempt to hold firm to his decisions, he wiped his tears off his face, took a long, hard look at his daughter, then shifted his sight to his wife, fast asleep, unmindful of what the next day held.

He lingered for a few minutes at his doorstep, couldn’t get himself to step out, out of his house, out of the world. For a minute there, he wanted to lash in and hug his family, cry his feelings out. But images flashed in his mind – it’s either the drought land making impossible for him to earn his daily bread as a farmer, or doing his job but still not getting enough money to support his family, make them happy. His life was beyond repair and so was his debt, he thought. Before he knew his mind would change, he rushed out and ran to the nearest tree, where he had already set things up for his last day on earth.

“What’s the purpose of my life if I can’t fend for my family?” he thought. Holding firm to that thought, he fumbled with the ropes, processed it over the tree and before he knew it, he was struggling, legs swaying violently. Even that second, he thought that maybe it was still a better idea than to fight for his life every single day, for the rest of his life.

The next day, his family was in shatters. The little girl, hugged the legs of her father, fought to never let go. She screamed and screamed, for there was nothing else she could do. Her mother just sat a few feet away, blatantly staring at nothing, shocked and broken. – That was the rest of their lives.

This is not just a story of one family’s. It is the plain plight of the lives of many farmers and their families in India. Little girls live their lives, each and everyday, hoping their parents won’t take their lives. Farmers, be it men or women, are in despair and are taking their lives everyday. Farmers. They provide us our daily bread. We have the money to buy their produce; they just don’t have enough to produce. Debts and droughts; depression and dejection; their lives dwell into the deepest pits, trying to produce their daily bread as well as ours.

India is an agrarian economy. Agriculture is a pre-dominant sector in the Indian economy. Though the economic growth is steadily increasing, 70% of the population still depends on agriculture for their local livelihood. In 2016, let alone previous years’ data, around 6800 farmers from just 5 states in India, committed suicide. 16.8% of the suicides owes its reason to failure of crops and 15.4%, to debts and chit funds. What have we done to stop this? What can we do to stop this?

It’s not just a social issue; it’s a national concern. If there’s failure of crops, it’s not the farmers’ problem; it’s ours’. Personally, the most disheartening fact is the disregard of this issue by the government. With their excessive fetish towards cows, they fail to address issues of more intensity. Leaders will go on and talk about cow vigilantism but will not have the time or the mind to address the hopeless increase in the cases of suicides by farmers. It’s high time we address it; it’s high time we create measures to solve it – for the lives of farmers and their families are at stake every single day.

 

What’s your excuse?

Some scars leave a mark but some leave behind a story. Malvika Iyer is the definition of courage and determination. From surviving a tragic accident at her early teen, she has come a long way to winning the Woman in the World Emerging Leaders Award at the Seventh Annual Women in the World Summit in New York teaching us how giving up is never an option.

At the age of 13, in Bikaner, Rajastan, Malvika did what any normal kid would do – be playfully experimenting, but fate was written differently for her. The day she still vividly remembers like it was yesterday, she was just being her own exuberant self and as she was trying to stick something to her jean pocket, she looked for something heavy to hammer it with. Little did she know about an ammunition depot that had deployed a few days earlier and hand shells and debris from the explosion had landed in her neighbourhood. She friskily took one of the shells and hit it against her pocket. That was when her whole life changed. On the first hit, the shell exploded on her hand.

The severe bomb-blast caused her to lose both her hands and left her despondent with severely damaged legs. “I remember a lot of blood, a lot of my own flesh being burnt and the mere smell of it was appalling. I blacked out for a few second; but did not lose my consciousness. I heard my parents bawl. It took me a minute to realise what just happened. I lost my sensation as the main nerve that connected my hands and legs was cut. There was 80% blood loss instantly,” says Malvika recalling the tragic incident of her life.

Anyone would be horror-struck after such a terrifying accident. That day changed her whole course of life and it is surprising to hear how intensely she remembers the incident. “When my dad carried me to the hospital, I could see my left leg dangling up-side down. No one seemed to notice my legs as all their attention was on my hands that were cut off from the shoulder immediately after the explosion. I tried acutely to notify my uncle who was holding my leg that it was literally falling off,” she says.

There was fire wherever she looked. All she could see of her body was blood dripping and pouring out. Her whole life flashed in front of her and she thought that was the end of it. Though she couldn’t feel anything for the first few days and her body remained numb, she knew it was bad and she knew that it had hit her hard.

Being a naughty child, she was always funny, cracking jokes about everything but not that day; not after what had happened. She knew it was serious. “I realised the intensity of the accident. I could hear my mother crying her eyes out and I remember apologising to my mom because at that moment, the terrible situation I put my parents through, dawned on me and the only thing that I wanted to do was to apologise to them, says Malvika.

But through all the affliction, she gave no way for weakness. It was her time to stay strong and determined. At that point of her life, hope was her therapy and that was her strength.

Even when the doctors were negative about her survival, it was her perseverance that kept her going.

After several extensive treatments and multiple surgeries, she was bedridden for two years. “I had external fixators and rods inserted inside me and at that point I never thought I would be able to walk again,” she says. Throughout the 14 years of rehabilitation that followed the accident, Malvika and her mother had shared many emotions and feelings. There was a string of sentiments that filled up the room ranging from sadness to frustration but ‘patience’ was what helped them overcome it. “My mother always kept me grounded. Reaching the state of happiness and content was the goal and that is what we worked for, together,” says Malvika recollecting the days she spent with her mother.

After all the surgeries and damage fixing, her hands were replaced with a skin grafting operation. The doctors were still unsure about saving her left leg which was dangling from a small grit of skin and amputation was the doctor’s say. As her parents did not want to take any more risks, they suggested that they try to save the leg. “After intense treatment, the doctors were able to save the leg and though it was completely disfigured, I was happy to have them,” she says with an ironic smile.

At a time when any other person would have felt the need to give up, she rose to ace her Tenth Board exams with only three months to prepare. Making it as the State topper, she made heads turn and all the media channels wrote about this inspiring woman.

She was invited to meet the former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. All this attention boosted her self-confidence which made her feel that she can still do wonders with her life. “Initially, during the first few years, I always felt very inferior and I felt my complex taking over me. I was only 13 when the accident happened and I had honestly not seen anyone without hands or a disability like mine. That made me feel insecure about my body. I had people stare at me and whispering to each other that there was something wrong with me. It took a lot of courage and support from my mom to get over it and accept my body,” she says.

Going ahead to blend with the society, she graduated from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. She continued her education doing a degree in Social work. She believed that it was the encouragement and the support that the society gave her that made her who she is now, giving her the confidence in herself. Thus, she wanted to give something back to the society where she found herself a part of.

She started helping differently abled children. She engaged herself in many social services. Never giving up on her thrive for social service, she did her Ph.D in social work and continued to motivate, inspire and support the differently abled.

The years of social work, though it made her feel good, did not erase her notion that she was still different from the others. While she was still getting over her little complexes, TEDxTalks approached her and offered her a platform to talk about her life on a public forum.

This was a perfect opportunity for her to find herself and she realised that she was much more than what she thought she was. Talking about her stories got rid of all her insecurities. It helped her realise that she was indeed much better off than many other people in the world. In days to follow, she became a motivational speaker inspiring millions to bid goodbyes to their insecurities and take on the world with courage and confidence.

Soon enough, she was invited to host the India Inclusion Summit in Bangalore which gave her the opportunity to be present among a lot of other inspiring differently abled people. Apart from all the speeches, she also became a dashing model for accessible clothing, an initiative of Ability Foundation and NIFT.

She is now not only known as a bilateral amputee or a bomb-blast survivor but also as a Global Shaper, a social worker, International motivational speaker and a model.

Through ups and downs, she made it out of the ugly twists that life threw at her with utmost determination. In a world where people give up so easily, this story of Malvika Iyer would be a perfect example for all of us to learn how to hold on to life even when it is hanging by a thread.

 

‘Controlling’ emotions

With wretched hopelessness, it is disheartening to acknowledge the fact that domestic abuse and violence have become a part and parcel of most women’s lives. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, a crime against women is committed every three minutes and at this point in life, it has become an inevitable factor. With horrors such as abuse and violence, perceived as taboos in our society, it has become increasingly difficult for women to come out and fight for their life and rights.

Amidst such persisting threats, while I write this very line, there might be a woman, shut inside her own house, strangled to the point where she can barely breathe, tightening grips leaving behind scars; yet just patiently waiting for the pain to cease away. On the other end of the situation, there is one question that runs through the minds of people who are witnessing, hearing and reading about the stories of victims of domestic violence – Why don’t they just leave? Well for starters, it is easier said than done.

It is one thing to listen to such traumatising stories and questioning the reason for their persistent choice to stay in the relationship and it is a whole other perspective for the victim to even consider that thought, due to various social, personal and psychological reasons. The physical and the mental trauma that the woman goes through is beyond an outsider’s understanding. There is a theory that women prefer to stay in abusive relationships primarily because of the phenomenon called co-dependency.

Due to perhaps a few torturous experiences in a woman’s childhood, one might develop certain emotional and behavioural condition that in the long run, does not allow them to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. That is when one imbibes the feeling of co-dependency which leads to being okay with one-sided, emotionally destructive or an abusive relationship. Co-dependents often struggle to identify their feelings, and attempt to minimize, deny or alter their true feelings once they are known. They tend to avoid confrontation, and remain loyal to their own detriment out of fear of abandonment or loss of a job that has essentially taken over their life.

This phenomenon explains the reason for women who have been exposed to vulnerability from a very small age to become undeniably dependant on their counterpart. However, on another perspective, women who have had a normal childhood are also put in similar situations. While there are different reasons to women from various backgrounds choosing to stay in an abusive relationship, the crux of the reason remains the same.

In almost most of the cases of domestic abuse, the frequency of inflicted violence is wary. While the husband is a living nightmare for some days, he is also the high school sweetheart that the woman fell in love with, on the other days.

The point is, the abuse is not a daily occurrence; not in most cases. There are people who have gone through hell and there are a few days they breakdown and pine for some comfort and freedom but in reality, they could only see the possibilities of their counterparts being as nice as they are capable of. This makes it more difficult for them to walk away from him or her.

The fact established is that it is not easy to ‘just leave.’ Psychologically, there will be too much on a woman’s mind to think straight. Moreover, it becomes more difficult for a woman to leave an abusive relationship when she has a child to think of. She has to be able to provide for the child – socially and financially and if she is not independent enough to do so, she feels the need to stick to the shadow for the betterment of her child. It is a mother’s instinct.

Some women have a lot to think through and some just want out. Women have always known to be selfless and solicitous and the traits show here as well. It might sound easy for a person outside these horrendous circumstances to say it takes nothing to just leave and walk out but it is not the goodbye that is daunting, it is the flashback that follows. By insisting on abuse faced by women, I’m not in any way disregarding the fact that men face abuse too. The ratio is just extreme to least.

Through empowering efforts by many people in the world now, women feel more enthused and free to come out of an abusive marriage. Earlier, there was a social norm and women were worried about the society looking down on them. They tended to feel victimised and always carried the baggage on their shoulders. Now, with the society becoming more and more open-minded and accepting of people’s choices and freedom, it empowers more women to come free, out of their cages.

There is only one thing left to acknowledge. Women are not things. They deserve so much more than what they are provided in such abusive relationships. Only setback is that women often fail to realise that fact sooner. Now, with many women standing up for themselves, they are setting examples for all of us, to always put ourselves on top of the pedestal and settle for nothing less than the life that we deserve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repressed; not suppressed.

We fight for what we want. Whether it’s with our mother, for our monthly dose of junk; or with our father, for a slight leap in the daily allowance; or with our friends, for the last piece of pizza; we fight for what we want, even when it’s marginally unnecessary and more vehemently, when it is of grave significance. For Zenab Tareef and her fellow Bahranians (people of Bahrain), the fight was for something bigger; something imperative; something we all so desperately need, have but take it for granted – democracy.

In the world we live in today, freedom is what is expected by each and every one of us – whether it is inside our houses or outside. Democracy gives us the freedom; it gives us the power to act our thoughts and not be afraid to speak our opinions. In a place where there’s no democracy, there’s no humanity; there’s no equality.

In Bahrain, people don’t protest to legalize gay marriages; they don’t protest for women rights because they lack the most basic necessity of all, liberty – liberty to speak their mind; liberty to be free. The protests for democracy started in 2011 by the citizens seeking a change in government, politically, legally and economically.  The brutal repression of the protests by the government is saddening. “In an attempt to squash the revolution, the government started to arrest people randomly. That is when I got abducted – on the 26th of April, 2011,” Zenab recalls.

Zenab wasn’t targeted because she engaged in the on-going protests, she was arrested because she shared a video on her Facebook wall about the state of her country, something that all teenagers do, almost everyday, but the situation was different in Bahrain and there was a price to pay. “A few weeks later in the middle of the night, masked people with guns broke into my house and took me away. I later found out that it was the riot police. I was blindfolded with my hijab. It was a long ride to the prison and I was clueless about what was really going on,”

It wasn’t just jail time. Before we even get to that, the people who were arrested were to forcibly go through what they called, the torture rooms. Yes. It means just that. People were blindfolded, beaten and persecuted. “They weren’t torture rooms; I would call it freezers.”

People were pushed amidst the throng and they were shoved into the torture rooms. No mercy; none whatsoever. They weren’t allowed to sleep, sit or use the restroom. They called it right. It was torture and torture at its extremity. If you are a woman, you were of course, harassed and even raped. Who is stopping them anyway? When the government, which should be protecting people from getting raped is mercilessly raping women who are at no fault, the situation was hopeless and in despair.

“I had another girl in the room with me but we weren’t allowed to speak to each other. In the room, we could hear people screaming being tortured next door. The occasional beating lasted a few days, starvation as well, we were not allowed to eat or use the bathroom or pray. There was a moment when I collapsed and they unfolded my blindfold, that was the first time I saw the room. It was bloody apparently from people who were tortured before me, stains on the floor, some blood and pee. Hair everywhere. Teeth. Nails.” So was the life of Zenab and a number of faceless others, for days or even months. If your eyes are drooping shut and you listen to them for a brief second, you get beaten. If you try to whisper to the person sitting next to you, seeking nothing but a comforting ‘hi’ back, you get beaten. You do anything, you get beaten.

How do you survive this trauma? How do you get over it? You don’t. It taunts you. It traumatizes you. It torments you. You just have to live with it. “After a point, my mind blurred and kind of shut down. I got used to it,” the sadness in that very sentence is unsettling. How much would she have gone through to have just ‘gotten used to it.’

They weren’t spared. Political prisoners had it worse. Physical harassment, sexual abuse, you name it and there are victims of it. “In prison I was shocked to see my body all purple in bruises. It wasn’t just me, I met the other political prisoners and some had it worse. Some couldn’t stand, some were as old as 50. Some lost nails. I was the youngest in the cell so they looked after me,” Finally some compassion? I guess not.  Not after everything they did to her.

The day she got dismissed was the worst. Tortured and humiliated. That part of her story was the most horrific of all. “I was told my mother was on the other side of the door, all I needed to do was kiss a poster of the Prime Minister Khalifa and that’s it. They basically shoved my face into the poster. They told me they’ll be watching me and if they did not like my posts, they’ll abduct me again.” What do they get out of this? Joy? Delight? Because the public now fears the government? That’s certainly not something to be proud of.

It is unjust and unfortunate that some people are going through such brutalities but what can we do about it? Nothing. As common people, we can only empathize with the victims, show our respect to the citizens and share our compassion.

Through all the anguish, Zaneb survived. She is now a strong, vibrant woman, a mother of an adorable 2-year-old. I spent almost half a day with her and she did not let any of her past traumas blind her liveliness in her character. She was smiling and beaming with positivity. Zaneb is an inspiration to all of us here.

If you think your life is miserable because you don’t have enough money to shop for luxuries, think again. If you think you don’t have the freedom to do what you want when you so clearly do, more so than many others, think again. If you think you are restricted from doing whatever you want to, think again. There are people going through things we wouldn’t even imagine of; things we only watch in movies – eyes half-closed and body cringed. So think again. Appreciate things that you take for granted because for some people, even freedom and liberty is out of reach.

 

Feminism 101

“You are the woman of the house and you should learn how to cook.” “Why study? Get married.” “Women are responsible for taking care of the family and that alone.” To reasons unknown, there existed a common perception among people about what women can and cannot do since pre-historic times. People were rather exacted to believe that the only job of women was to stay indoors and serve the men.

There was a world-wide concern of gender discrimination and women were treated like servants. Through time, while some women adjusted and married themselves to the stereotype, the others wanted a revolution. They wanted to break the ceiling and emerge as equal to men. It was the combined effort of such women who wanted to retaliate against the conservative clichés about women that led to the birth of feminism.

Feminism is a social and a national movement that advocates women’s rights and promotes equality by overcoming gender discrimination. It is not about making women strong. Women are already strong. It is to change the perception of how the world sees that strength. To crush major gender stereotypes and to bring women on par with men were the prime and the only goal of the feminism movement.

Feminism started to evolve as an international movement during and after the 1960s. Since the 1960s, the feminism movement has taken over the world in three waves. The three waves hit the world like a tsunami and left a mark in every person’s mind and rehabilitated their ideal image of women.

The first wave lasted from the early 1960s to the beginning of the 21st century. Women from different parts of the world came together for one reason – to reduce the suffrage of women and to improve their plight. The first wave of the movement focused on establishing the reason behind women being categorised as the weaker sex and once the reason was in the spotlight, the goal was to destroy it.

The first wave was considered to be the most effective as it opened the minds of people and inserted a different perspective of a better world. In the late 1900s, men slowly started to reap the values of women.

The movement primarily succeeded in gaining women the right to vote and other such legal liberties. This was one of the historic landmark made by the efforts of the feminists.

Though the image of a ‘typical woman’ changed through due course of time, the discrimination never ceased to exist. After 2000, though people started to recognise and accept women in the workforce, discrimination still existed but now in the name of unequal pay. The fight for equal wages determined the second wave of feminism.

The second wave indeed widened the views of people across the world. We cannot overlook the fact that many states and governments are now loosening up and are providing equal pay and equality in general to all women participants. Although, it is bound geographically. While some parts of the country and the world are opening up to gender equality, there are areas where people are stoic about their ideals.

The third wave hit us rather controversially. Once the rage of feminists started to substantially increase to advocate their rights, the basic purpose behind feminism was misconstrued by many. Thus, the third wave of the feminist movement has brought anger and hatred towards the ‘cult.’ What is this misconception about? Why are people starting to loathe feminists?

The basic ambition of feminism was not to make women the greater sex but to instigate equality for both genders. With the rise of so many women fighting for equality, it gave a sense of insecurity and resentment among men as it stirred the allegation that feminists are trying to put men down and raise above them. While the odds of being attacked by a shark is 1 in 3,748,067, the odds of a woman being raped by a man is 1 in 6. Yet, the fear of sharks is conceived as a rational one whereas, the need for women to protect themselves and be cautious around men is seen as misandry. This is the problem that has caused hatred. Men confused feminism with misandry while women tried to spread equality.

Through time, feminists have fought for equal rights and protested against discrimination of any sort. Though equality is seemed to have made its mark, the stereotypes have only increased. Why does the phrase ‘like a girl’ mean for the weak? Why shouldn’t ‘throw like a girl’ mean throw with vigorous force instead of referring to a person who can’t throw? Why should ‘run like a girl’ mean run sloppily instead of running swiftly? It is because of how men and the world perceive women to be. This misconception has to be broken. People do not actually understand what the word ‘feminism’ means and what feminists stand for which gives way to the hatred.

Many women in today’s world do not go by feminism because they don’t actually realise the values that feminism stands for. The common reputation that reaches the public is that feminists are crazy men haters and I think people are fearful of being associated with that. Those who do not get involved may get ridiculed by peers who see feminism as a ludicrous political statement. Unfortunately, this means that the issue is perpetuated among many circles simple due to a lack of understanding and support.

The perpetuation of the issue – the reason for feminism to take a negative turn is solely because people tend to overlook the actual meaning and purpose behind the movement. Feminists are asking for nothing but freedom. The freedom for a woman to do or say what she wants without being judged or ridiculed for it. A girl should not just be born as a daughter, live as a wife and die as a mother. A woman is much more than just that. That is what the battle is for. That’s the war. It’s not a war between the genders, it is a war for freedom for women. Once this freedom is achieved, equality will by itself fall into place. It just needs a little bang on people’s head to open it up a little.

That is all it takes. An open mind – to bridge the gap between genders and make the world a place where both genders can live the life they want to and not the life other people want them to. One day, there will exist a world where women are not scared anymore, the word ‘stereotype’ goes non-existent and gender does not play a barricade in personal or professional life and that day, feminists will celebrate their victory – not over men but over the world.

 

 

 

 

FNW2017: AN indelible journey.

I was on my flight, on my way to Edinburgh, Scotland, and as the wheels screeched the floors of the airport, my heart pounced. I was exhilarated to a point that I was nervous. The thought of having gotten selected as one of the 100 delegates among the 2000 that applied to attend a conference about Journalism, so far away from home, still makes my heart skip a beat, proud and profound.

On landing, we took a bus to Brae House and all through the journey, I was somehow trying to wrap my head around the fact that it was real and it was happening. We skimmed through beautiful brick houses stacked across the roads from within the bus where there was already an international amalgamation among people in process.

However, the introductions weren’t customary. It wasn’t all about who we were and where we were from, for that was only a minute part of it. The conversations dwelled into serious and informative discussions and debates. The excitement and readiness to connect with each other within every one of the delegates was astonishing.

The Scottish Parliament was not accessible to just everyone. To be able to just flash an id and get into the architectural marvel was such a pride. A spread of a variety of food was set to welcome all the delegates. That right there, good food and amazing people was a constant throughout the conference. As it was my first time alone in a different country, all alone, of course I was a wee overwhelmed but just as I let myself in, it felt like we were family. All of us had one core prospect; one desire; one goal and it was to tell our stories and in the most passionate way possible – and we did just that, with ourselves and with each other.

The two-day conference went by swiftly. We had the honour of listening to the most informative and inspiring speeches by strong and influential minds in today’s media. Few of them impelled us to do what we love and love what we do, and a few taught us how to do what we love at its best.

David Pratt of The Herald opened us to the idea that opinionated story-telling is not propaganda, it is just the truth. Anne McElvoy of The Economist said “There are only two kinds of journalists; one who ask for permission and one who ask for forgiveness.” and exhorted us to go for what we want without second-guessing. Esteemed speakers from Google and Facebook taught us that social media is much more than just a socialising platform. A panel discussion by the best of bests in the media industry imbibed us with an end thought that ideas are the key currency to get into journalism.

The two-day conference was educative and entertaining; engaging and enrapturing. The icing on top of the cake was hearing Mark Wood of the BC say “The future of journalism is sitting in this room.” I would like to believe it and take immense pleasure in getting to meet and make accomplices with the top names in media and journalism.

Getting along with 100 fellow delegates in 2 days was not plausible. However, we did the best we could. We got together a lot, spoke for hours, faced a bit of a struggle with the Scottish accent, took long walks in the night, had a taste of Scottish beers, caught up with pizza in the midnight, played games till 3 a.m, but at the end of the two most enjoyable days, I just couldn’t get enough of the city or the people. I hope we have now established a friendly house in nooks and corners of the world to crash if we ever visit, which we hope to.

Though not all 100 of us had the chance to meet each other personally, though two days went by too fast that it all seems like a dream now, though we did not have enough time to sit by and get to know each other, we did have the time of our lives. The memories will stay in each of our hearts and it will be etched with a plethora of emotions.

A reunion is what we are all waiting for and till then, I will bear in my heart, all conversations and arguments, all the happiness and experiences and it will never cease to fade away. Until next time, hopefully not far away!

Be free. Free of hope.

“Hope” is a good thing. Sometimes, hope is therapy. I once believed in hope. I presumed that hope can bring you closer to your fantasy and farther from reality. That’s the world I wanted to live in. A world where anything is possible and a world where ‘hope’ can constrain your failures and get you closer to your strengths.

Whenever we face problems, we hope. Whenever we face sadness, we hope. We hope for things to better; for things to get back to normal. But what is normal? Normal does not exist. Routines do but ‘normal’ is an illusion. We think life has been ‘normal’ for so long and it will continue to be if we want it to but life hits us in ways we don’t imagine; in ways we don’t dare to envision. You can be cruising on a ship amidst the Indian Ocean one minute, spending money like water, and lay dead on the shore the next. It is not in our hands. Believe it or not, we do not have the control over life.

We imagine our life to be one way and the next thing you know, life might be giving a hysteric laugh at your imagination. Because, it does not work that way. You give life the control. You give it the duty to take you where it wants but what you can do is navigate. That is all we can do and that is all that we should.

You try to take things in your own hands, life will throw a curveball at you. But so very often, that’s what we do; that is what we are exacted to do. And when things go wrong, terribly wrong, we cling on to hope. But like everything else, hope has a dark side.

The more you hope, the more weak you become. The more you hope, the more it draws you to its control – to a point where your life is hanging by a thread and all you are doing is pulling the thread further by clinging on to hope. The thread here, is hope. The more you cling on to it, the strainer it becomes.

Hope is dangerous when it makes you fight a battle that you can’t win. It incapacitates your feelings. 

Thus sometimes, just sometimes, hope is your enemy. There will come a point in life where hoping for things to go back to normal will only worsen the plight.

By hoping, we build fantasies inside our heads, knowingly or otherwise. We connect to our subconscious and visualise how our lives would be when hope finally succeeds. Most of the time, it might. But sometimes, it doesn’t. That is when we lose it. This is something that people often do and we call it a ‘breakdown.’ We don’t break down when there is still hope, we break down when we lose it; we break down when we get rid of the hope that once hugged us and comforted us. When the comfort swiftly leaves the body, it hurts. That is when we break down. But we, at a point in life where we are congested in overcrowded emotions, we forget to do the simplest of things to get us out of it. The answer is to lose all hope. Get rid of hope and feel the fresh air gushing against your face. That is freedom. When we lose all hope, we get that much closer to the reality and as hard as it can be, it gives you a sense of strength to get over anything. It gives you freedom. ‘Losing all hope is freedom.’

 

What you should ditch

How not to write your resume

Being a year closer to applying for jobs or further studies, the importance of resumes just dawned on me. While I sit amidst a puddle of old certificates and endowments, frantically trying to fit in every  little achievement and skill in my life to bring out a good resume, it is a possibility to go a little out of hand adding things just out of pure desperation.

Such little things, for example, your working experience as a mascot dressed like a bunny outside a restaurant might have been an accomplishment to you considering the ‘hardships’ that you went through passing college, but crazy things like this will make your resume a game of ‘Who can throw this paper ball inside the bin from here’ to your hiring managers.

While it is important that you add everything that you’ve achieved, it is also of uber-importance to know what you shouldn’t be adding.

A crazy objective

What you might call out-of-the-box thinking, your hiring managers might call it crazy. Becoming the next Bill Gates might be first on your bucket list, but putting it first on the objective list in your resume almost always ensures that the rest of your resume will go unread.

Irrelevant information

It’s fair for you to think that the longer your resume is, the stronger it speaks of you. But one thing that all teenagers miss out on is that you just have to make it crisp. Irrelevant information like elaborating on your physical appearance or mentioning an inapposite job experience will just make your managers frown upon your resume. That’s the last thing you want to happen.

Achievements that aren’t achievements

Achievements are an important part of your resume. However, while having won a lemon-spoon competition or having gotten a gold star for you drawing in second grade might mean a lot to you, it should not make it to your resume. Stick to your adept achievements and make it completely relevant to the type of job you’re applying for.

 Unprofessionalism

If your contact e-mail address is something like “sweetyrockzz@cuty.com,” don’t add it to your resume. Change it or delete it from your resume. On a similar note, using colourful fonts and glitters on your resume might seek the manager’s attention, but not in a good way. Always keep it professional in every way possible.

Convoluted language (Exactly what I’m talking about)

The worst nightmare of any job seeker is for his resume to be passed across the HR room, laughed upon and then tossed away. Bad grammar and obscure words are going to make your worst nightmare come to life. Do not use complicated words. There is no need to mention that you are ‘endowed with frugality’ when you can just go with ‘economical.’ Make it simple and smart.

‘Trying’ to be funny

Being funny and cracking jokes at everything might be your forte but your resume isn’t the best of places to show your skills. If you think jokes make your resume impressive, you’re wrong. You can attempt and give the ‘Robin Williams’ in you a shot during your interview but not in your resume. As informed before, keep it professional. The chances of your hiring managers laughing at your resume might be high (for various other reasons) but the chances of them laughing at your jokes are slim.

Typos and spelling mistakes

While your resume is being scrutinised carefully and is in a good flow, a simple ‘sexually’ instead of the intended ‘sincerely’ might change its whole course of action, from getting a call back to getting your application thrown in the dustbin. Be careful with auto-corrects. Those bitches can ruin your life and your image.

And, for God’s sake, get your usage of ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ and ‘who’ and ‘whom’ right. For the last time, it is not difficult and it’s frustrating when you mix the two up.

BS-ing

Lastly, do not write stories. Stick to what you’ve done. Don’t add what you ‘might’ do in your resume. If there was a separate column for what you might do in the future in resumes, hiring managers will have a tough time recruiting people considering the numerous and strange things one might want  to do. Make your statements crisp and clear.

Lastly, proof read your resume. This step might just save you from landing in the ‘no’ pile. Know a few tricks. Instead of putting bulletins for your achievements, put numbers. Though most of it might be primitive, there is hope that the hiring managers will be impressed with the numbers. If you’re penning down your internship details, do not mention if it was paid or unpaid. I mean, who cares? You’ve got experience – that’s what you want to establish. Try to avoid mentioning skills that are common like Microsoft or the internet and add more of strenuous skills that you possess.

Just be smart. For once at least. Be honest. Have a few skills and the job is yours!

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