Guess who’s here? Summer :)

The day dragged itself befote beginning till 11 in the morning and once it started, everything moved in slow motion.
Summer is here. The mangoes aren’t.

It is sunny and the children have dispersed earlier than usual from school. They quarrel on the way back home while I hang my clothes to dry on the innumerable strings that’s criss cross in my verandah.

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The streets are desolate, with every house and their owners snoring. It’s not hot enough for the air conditioners to be put on. The ceiling fan rotating at a comfortable pace, the body covered with a light cotton chador is the perfect mix for a comfortable nap.

I won’t nap, not today. Songs from the days past entertain me while I stare at the crow that sits perched upon a bamboo pole, which is jutting out of a building under construction. I see it eyeing the rat that scurried into a hole a few seconds back.

There are so many things that happen around us that should get more attention than they deserve. The sun plays a game of peek a boo with the trees and me. The blue tarpaulin over the shed next door is an appropriate mirror for the sky.

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The saree that was wet last night, has dried and is proudly dancing in the summer breeze. A tender coconut vender wipes his brow after a hard days work, as he walks past my room.
Dada, may I get one?
Small pleasures of life, indeed.

My eyes gradually tire of the constant concentration, my head grows heavy. The monster called the Afternoon Nap seems to be catching up with me.

Must run away.

Till then, have a happy summer.

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Holi thhi!!

It was Holi today. The festival to celebrate the beginning of a season and also, to make sure no one resembles themselves but smothering them with colours. WoOt! It is the best festival EVER. I love it. I wait for it, earnestly every year. A lot of my friends aren’t pro-holi, given that the colours (called abeer in bengali) aren’t herbal or organic, so there’s the huge issue of skin rashes… and then, people start slinging mud and eggs, rotten tomatoes, the entire mass of things-we-don’t-want-on-our-face.

But I love it. More because, I don’t mind a few rashes and acne on my face. I have so many, anyway, what harm could a few more do, right? And there’s children running around with cute little water guns (pichkarisand uncles and aunts boozing away, halfway down till Sunday, everybody’s hands are pink and faces are red, nails are filled with colour which refuses to come out and there is bhaang everywhere. Bhaang is the best Indian concoction of an illegal (?) drink, and even children gulp it down, cause well, Burra na maano HOLI HAIIII  !

I live in a colony, so the mud slinging and tomato throwing remains contained to a minimum and there is just a lo of water and colours and drying up in the sun, while lying on the grassy lawn, tripping a little on the bhaang that you were given by the adults of the colony, all of this while really bad bollywood songs are blasted on the hired speakers and you’re so thrilled, you actually dance to them like there is no tomorrow. And then when the body begins to ache, you slug back home to sit under the shower, trying in vain, to get back the normal complexion. It sounds dreary and scary but it is double the amount of fun than what I can possibly describe. Imagine, running after your buddy to paint his/her face a shiny golden or a smoky green…which all, in the end, turns to black cause all the colours get mixed up.

It is a day to make amends and forgive, forget and hug things out. It is a day to make merry, to drink openly, to eat great food and visit relatives, cousins, friends, the shizz. It is a day where being dirty is accepted. It is a day where being high is the norm. It is a day where there is colour everywhere… happiness, joy and rainbows being farted out at every corner. How cool can a festival get? Yes, I look like a red-faced bozo right now but I loved every moment of getting painted and thrown water balloons at. It hurts like crazy (that’s the only minus point), but then again, we pay good money to play Paintball, which also hurts life crazy. Tomato-tomaato, then?

Here are some really ugly photos from the day that was, and will always be the day I look forward to every year.

 

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Fuck me, I have a vagina.

Have you ever been so angry that you felt tears sting your eyes? So angry, that your lips shivered and your fists tightened into a pale white? So angry that your heart beat quickened and you could feel blood gush to your head? I have.
I am. I am that angry. I am that angry because I refuse to understand any justification given by the administration and government for the lathi charge and water cannon firing by the police on innocent protesters. They weren’t agitators who needed to be shooed away, they were regular people of the city who felt so moved by a singular event (of a gang rape) that they all stepped out unanimously and asked for a solution to a problem that has been tainting the reputation of not just the city and the country but that of the men as well.

Treating the symptom instead of the the disease is the solution the Delhi Police chose. When the young girls of the capital city of India reached the gates of the authorities at the Rashtriya Pati bhavan, no-one stepped out, not one authority and instead the people of the nation were hit, mistreated and manhandled. I find it funny, to believe, that the girls protesting against a gang rape were themselves hurt and bruised by the Police.

Switch on your television sets. See what is happening to those who protest. Instead of feeling scared, feel angered and step out. There is a peaceful march on 25th of December at Park street. Make this Christmas of yours count. Show up with a candle and walk.

In a country where women are given the position of goddesses, I don’t feel safe in a room full of men, my mother doesn’t let me travel alone post sundown and my father is worried about my well being solely because I have ovaries instead or testicles.
Do I really want to be known as ‘Sweta, the one from the country of rapes and no action against the rapists’? I had been to Thailand, BKK to be more precise, in October and in a country like theirs where prostitution is open and hormones run amuck, I felt safer than I do in India. No-one felt me up even in Walking Street. No-one uttered one lewd comment while I wore a low neck cleavage showing dress. No-one even noticed that I was there, wearing minimal clothes, why? Because everyone knows how to behave and because everyone is comfortable with seeing skin.

Our country, India, has a long way to go in accepting this visual display of skin and hell, even affection. But before this acceptance kicks in, the tolerance against those who cannot keep it in their pants needs to be reduced. Zero tolerance is what is required. What is my fault to have been born with two X chromosomes? Just because your mother couldn’t get through your thick skull and teach you manners, just because your father couldn’t make you behave in front of your girl cousins, just because you are a man, you can not rape me. And unfortunately, this certainty of not being raped will not get into our heads either until there is a zero tolerance that is developed towards those who commit any sort of crime against women.

No, this is not feminism. This is not me, demanding for special laws for women. This is a girl,  demanding for simple laws for a human being. The scenario has reached a stage where women are special human beings, where men are the only ones enjoing the benefits of human laws and women, are outcast. Or else, why would a rape victim be forced to prove herself of being raped? Why else would the authorities dilly dally in hanging the ones who have so openly raped a girl in a moving bus? Why else would the government let a man shoot Jessica and get away with it for so many years? Why does justice take a such a long time to get served?

The outrageous number of rapes that happen in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata combined make me shudder with fear sometimes. Make the streets calm. And make the police shove their lathis up their you-know-where.

Section 144 is not the answer to ending the protest. The only way to end these processions demanding justice, is very simple. Provide justice. Barricading the area an protecting the President will not serve its purpose because India is a huge country with an even larger population. If all of us decide to come together, no amount of force will be able to stop us. They couldn’t stop us 7 decades ago when the British were here and they wouldn’t be able to stop us now.

What men need to do and how they need to behave as been enough emphasised on and I will not write about it. All I am going to say is make his country a safer place. Make it a place where people, especially women, from other nations feel safe. Make it a destination where girls can travel when they want and not get raped. Change the people or change the laws. Or both, if possible.
And men, be the change you want to see. The next time you compliment a girl, make sure it sounds like one. And girls, fight. Fight with all your might and make India a better place.

It isn’t a crime to protest. This is not a case of one girl suffering in the ICU. (She is currently better but has a respiratory tract infection and will have to live on intravenous nutrition for the rest of her life if her intestine isn’t transplanted..and even that has its side effects.). This is a protest against all crimes towards women. This is a fight of every women. The question do you feel safe should be answered with I AM NOT SAFE.

-make the world look down upon India for this day so that we are forced to look down with shame and by we, I mean the government. Make the world change India.

Living life like a boss. And CAKES!

Whenever I feel lazy to type in a blog entry, I start hyper ventilating. I keep saying to myself (while I procrastinate)- ‘OMG, Sweta, this is it, this is going to be the last time you try to write something and your blog will slowly decay into oblivion and no-one will care’. I start thinking of topics. Every thing, even ants and dust seem to motivate me to write but nothing is ever good enough. I know, some of you do read my blog regularly (have i ever thanked you enough?) and some don’t (why, WHY?) but will it matter if I stop writing?

Now this is not a quest for fishing compliments. I am only just being honest. I would miss a blog if it dies (given that I like it already and it is awesome and its death is untimely). I love the blogs I follow and I read them regularly. I am like this dog that returns to its place of worship but then, there are days where I just don’t feel inspired enough to write something substantial. I mean, hello? I have a standard to keep here! So days go by before I write something for the blog and by that time the stats fall down to a trickle. Shaa, what a waste huh?

Anyway, so what i was saying was that every time I decide that ‘that, that post was IT and my blog will definitely die NOW’, I get a new follower or a new like or a new comment. Something positive always happens and I get all bubbly and bouncy about it. I feel like a little girl on a sugar rush and my fingers automatically type in a new post. 😀

So here’s one for today-
I have been on vacation. post-exams I have nothing to do but laze around, surf the internet, watch TV, watch movies (i recently watched Casablanca, An accidental husband, Autumn in New York, Lost in Translation and Barfi :D), watch House and catch up on Gossip Girl. Oh, and blog. And Read!  It being international book week and all, I decided to buy one of the International best sellers. I am currently reading Shantaram. I am loving it till now and I am only on the 30th page. Shantaram is also my mum’s gift to me on Daughter’s Day! (thank you ma!)

Thats what I did last night- Some old wine, a new book, and chocolates. 😀

My mother’s going on an exchange programme to Germany as a teacher representative and India being a tropical country, we were short on the required woollens so she and I went shopping. She bought her stuff while I looked around the clothes and wandered into Crossword and then, I got stuck. All the books literally stared back at me so I went through some of them (Catcher in the Rye, What Young India Wants, etc) and then decided to buy a book instead of buying clothes. And the moment in which I made that decision, I felt so happy and grown up. I felt like I was buying something that was for life. And so, I am now a proud owner of Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. And then mum and I went to a cake shop and I ate a big slice each, of  Blueberry cheese cake and Chocolate Truffle Cake. And then I was bloated. And then we went out decided against having Puchka. We ate Puchka nonetheless and happily trotted back home.

Yumm.

Double yumm.

I read the first page of the book out loud (because it was that good) while mamma tried on her new acquisitions. Oh, and she recently purchased a saree for herself which I wore as well, yknow, just to try it on and my god did I look awesome or whaaa? 😛

India, Incredible India?

Life has become and endless session of TV-Internet-Shopping and phone calls and I am not complaining. College reopens on 1st and holidays (for Durga puja) begin soon after so yes, I am living life right the way I want to!

-Enjoy and don’t detangle!

Dude, we ARE free! So, Happy Independence Day.

15th August was India’s Independence day and I came across at least 7 (i did not count) posts asking if we are ‘actually‘ free. Every one questioned the existence of freedom in the true sense of the word. So, I googled the word and tried to answer (and justify) to myself that India, is in fact free and carries forth this message across to her inhabitants.
According to the Oxford dictionary, freedom is defined as the following:

  • the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants
  • the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved
  • (freedom from) the state of not being subject to or affected by (something undesirable)
  • archaic familiarity or openness in speech or behaviour

The country deserves to be respected for what has been tried. 65 years is young. I agree that we have a long, long way to go, but India, has provided for a lot of what we enjoy. We know how badly rotten the system gets in here because we ‘know‘ it. How many of us actually, truly, diligently follow world news? Unless there is a major scam or err, the Olympics, do we really care about how China, or USA are faring? No. Not until our money is involved in the economic meltdown that happened a few years ago. No. Not until our children were working in their nations and got laid-off.

So, no. It is not fair to compare the ‘freedom’ in our nation to that in theirs. A parent shouldn’t compare two siblings because however similar they are genetically, they are each different. Similarly, every country has its history and its unique set of issues and problems.
The American constitution was written in the year 1787 and they have the advantage of more than a century (i suck at math) to themselves!
So quit comparing ‘how fast the internet is’ in the two countries to judge how free WE are.
The political issues there are not even close to the number of issues we have, point noted. The number of political parties which actively participate are TWO. Just two. The number of people in the House are lesser. Whereas, in India, there are this many parties. I could not fit all the parties in ONE screenshot, so you can do the math without me having to actually go through the mammoth task of counting them out for you. I also agree, that this volume is no excuse to be corrupt. Of course it isn’t. Nothing can be an excuse to be corrupt and gobble the money paid by the citizens as taxes. But it also doesn’t state that we are un-free. We are! If this isn’t freedom then what is? If you have a cause, make your party and stand for it, contest elections, win and then, change the nation.

source: wiki

As for the corruption that everyone is SO constipated about. Don’t blame freedom for corruption. If people are dishonest and have questionable morals then what role does freedom has to play in it? It is our sad luck that we are taught the art of bribing. I see many of my friends bribe police officials to get out of traffic hassles and then I see the same friends write status updates on Facebook regarding the Anna hazare issue and voicing how strongly they feel about (or against) corruption. The change has to come from within. You cannot keep asking the same and incorrect questions year after year. Ask if this nation is honest, and there will be an answer in the negative, because ‘honestly’, no one is honest. Not in india and not abroad.
So if your quest is to live in a world free of dishonesty, cheating and liars then you my friend, desire a utopic world, cuz let’s be sensible and understand that this world is not going to happen. WHY? Because there is always a person who will cheat and lie and that ruins the entire cycle of honesty.

And then, let me come to the whole ‘rape’ ‘murder’ and crime point of freedom. According to statistics, 1 in 200 women in the United Kingdom have been raped at some point in their life. Remember, the population in India is far higher than out there, so the number WILL be higher. What is wrong in this country is the Justice system, which is slow. There, because of whatever reasons (efficient jurisdiction and laws?!) the processing seems to be quicker. I’ll need my lawyer friends to guide me through this, so I shall refrain from commenting on this further.
Now I stressed on the word ‘seem’ because I don’t know how fast or quick it really is. It is quicker than ours, especially if we take Kasab’s example! Again, women are allowed to wear what they want and wander on the streets when they want. What we need ‘freedom’ from is the constant fear of being raped. The solution to this problem is NOT running away to a foreign country and pretend like we have gotten away from everything that was possibly ‘wrong’. Men are there everywhere and so is crime. Face it. The chances may reduce but never diminish to an absolute zero. Click here to see how many women feel something similar to, or are actually raped every year in different countries. What needs to change is HOW we think. What needs to change is actually, a lot. But why question freedom?

I recently read an article about how a Hindu family was split in two fractions because their house was exactly at the Indo-Bangladesh border. And no, they were not allowed to stay together in the same nation. Most of the family which was in the West-Bengal region of the house slowly joined into the state. After 65 years, when the grandson went to visit his ‘siblings across the border’, he was astonished to find that they had all converted to Islam as they found it increasingly difficult to live in Bangladesh as hindus. Aside from Shiv Sena’s example in Maharashtra (which was highly criticised as it is), I haven’t heard of any such personal event of forced change of religion. If anything, the minority is placed at a pedestal in India, with all the reservations they get. I don’t wish to get into any of the debate encircling this topic, but hey they’re free here aren’t they?

[On a side note: As far as education abroad goes, yes the universities in certain countries feature in the world’s best whereas ours don’t even feature in the top 200. Agreed. But tell someone from Harvard that you’re from a university in India and they will look at you with an admiration that will make you glow. Trust me, because I have felt it myself.]

I have only touched upon some very basic and fundamental topics here. My aim was merely to tell all my extremely educated friends that questioning isn’t the way out of everything. I know, that joining the politics isn’t possible for everyone (it is not for me) and neither is changing the country possible single-handedly. Yes, maybe the roads abroad are cleaner, but by abroad do you mean just the USA and UK or do you also count Ethiopia as abroad? It is narrow, the way we think. India may not be as good as ‘them’ but we aren’t half as bad either. Give this lady a chance before you run off to a foreign nation on your folks’ money and earn in dollars. She will surprise you. Also, I request you to change your parameters of judgement. Don’t compare freedom by the success that we’ve achieved. Freedom is different. Freedom is when you’re allowed to be who you are and feel what you feel and say what you want to.
What everyone is asking for (non-spittable roads, non-urinated sidewalks, clean government and you-know-the-drift) requires a dictatorship and then, we’ll see how many want the ‘freedom’ back. Aha.

The biggest test of freedom is in the freedom to criticise

So is India free? Yes.
Are we free? Yes.

Don’t stop questioning. Just change your questions and strive for what YOU can do.

-love, stay tangled.

Happy Independence Day!