On Hero Worship

blind faith

I am APOLITICAL.

I was born a Hindu. I love being one, not the “My Gods need me to protect them” kind. My religious outlook is pretty simple and straightforward, practical if you must: Respect life.

I am very much a Buddhist, the philosophical outlook that is. I love some aspects of Christianity and Islam. I have spent 10 of my childhood years in a missionary-run boarding school in India. No one tried to convert me.

I spent my last ten years in an Islamic nation, worked in an office surrounded by Arab colleagues. No one wanted to convert me.

I felt safe in both scenarios.

But not anymore. Back in India, reconnecting with old friends, I seriously feel insecure, unsafe, scared for my life, in my own country! So much hatred among communities, many think they are safeguarding a culture that is based on tolerance by being senselessly intolerant to anyone who doesn’t adore the politicians they worship! Hero worship has acquired a new meaning, and post-truth the new religion.

Increasingly, I realise our world is going downhill, culturally, spiritually and emotionally. Harmless conversations, even in  the social media and private groups , are impossible. This is no way to live.

One of my old classmates even told me today that half of my name is in Pakistan (Sindh-u). What was that? I asked him if he wanted me to send half of me across the border?

Seriously, is this a progressive nation?

And by the way, I WILL NOT HATE anyone, based on religion, politics, gender or whatever else fancies anyone. YOU SHALL NOT CORRUPT MY MIND. GET LOST, hate-mongers…

Want to die better?

Ever since I had the misfortune of watching helplessly my father being tortured to death in a hospital ICU in India, I have not had a single day of peace, for the past 22 months. I started feeling useful only after I got associated with Pallium India, a non profit organisation based in Kerala, which is making painstaking efforts to help patients with life limiting illnesses get basic pain relief. dying_flowers____by_ladybutterly83

A day spent with the medical staff and volunteers of Pallium in January was a beautiful experience, more so since we had the company of Dr. Rajagopal, the founder of Pallium and a couple of guests from the UK, among them senior journalist Jeremy Laurance, who was working on a feature story on palliative care in India.

The link here is the article Jeremy wrote, published on Mosaic, and republished by prominent publishers such as the Independent.

This article was first published by Wellcome on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/death-doulas-dying-palliative-care-hospice-kerala-india-a7597496.html

Cop meant good; Chill people…

In a laid-back southern state of India, a senior IPS officer and Excise Commissioner of Kerala Rishi Raj Singh recently became the butt of many jokes when he asked a gathering of girl students, “Are you aware of the legal protection women have in our country. If a man stares at a woman uncomfortably (meaning indecently or say in sexually suggestive manner) even for 14 seconds, he could be sent to jail. (This is a rough translation of what he spoke in the native language Malayalam.) woman safety

Mr. Singh was addressing a crowd at a women’s college in a state where staring at women and even teasing comments were traditionally considered compliments. Being noticed by young and desirable men meant you were attractive, maybe irresistible. No, I do not subscribe to this notion, nor would young girls of this generation.

But our poor cop became a butt of many online jokes following the statement. While men complained, many mockingly, that women would misuse the law and land them in jail if they had some old score to settle. Women too complained, some saying 14 second was too long a time to allow some lecher to check them out, compelling Mr. Singh to respond with a hilarious, “It is not the period of staring but the manner and intention that mattered”.

A trail of mocking trolls later Mr Singh even gave a full comment to a national daily: “The stare need not really linger for a full 14 seconds to make it an offence. It is an offence if it makes a woman uncomfortable even for a few seconds. Womenfolk should come forward to register complaints against such offenders,’’ he told The Hindu.

It all started of well-meaningly with the cop trying to educate girls about the legal protection guaranteed in Section 354 A, B, C and D of Indian Penal Code in the face of eve teasing or molestation in public spaces. Perverts are aplenty in the state, as in many other states in India; the menace of flashers around women’s colleges and ladies’ hostels is no secret.

Mr Singh was only saying that though there was now a strong law to protect women against voyeurism and stalking, no case has so far been booked for such offences. The reason, he said, was women largely being unaware that staring at a woman becomes an offence under IPC Section 354 D when the stare has an obvious sexual implication.

But with everything else in life, this legal protection for women could drive some harmless admirers or absent-minded habitual ‘starers’, not oglers, into tight spots.

Men, moderate your appreciation; women, make sure you are not branding innocent men, sentencing them to lifetime disgrace.

 

 

Rs 2,000 crores worth women safety? Wow! But how?

 

womanIndia’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced an additional Rs 1,000 crores to the Nirbhaya fund to create safe public spaces for women. The women safety fund now stands at Rs 2000 crore. Wow!

But how is all this money going to be spent? Who is to decide how the money is spent? The women and child development ministry is in charge of planning schemes to create safe spaces for women. And do we trust the ministry to come up with concrete programmes? Unfortunately, no, due to its poor credibility and failed past records.

The railway minister announced part of the fund will be used to install CCTV in trains so as to make long distance trains safer for women. But what use are they when goons cover their faces and drag women out of crowded vehicle, and gang rape them? Why not have armed police personal in women only compartments, let there be more ladies compartments. Why not distribute free pepper sprays and stun guns to women? Till such time, the men of our country accept women as equal stakeholders and admit equal rights, the country must protect its women, young and old, rich and poor, rural and urban. Period.

Last year, the government allotted Rs 150 crore for making Indian cities safer for women and Rs 50 crore for securing public transport. But still highway gang-rapes happen! We now have 36 Rape Crisis Centres in place. Good moves. But can there be better moves. Surely, unarguably, urgently, yes.

It is a good thing to have separate social security schemes for women worth Rs 79,258 crore. Appreciate it. But no woman can benefit from any welfare scheme when public spaces are playing fields of sexual predators. How safe can women feel when streets, public transport, parks, schools, workplaces, and their own neighbourhoods are increasingly turning unsafe?

It is comforting to know New Delhi is part of the Safe Cities Free of Violence against Women and Girls initiative by the UN Women. Why not copy it in all cities, towns and villages? Let us quickly prevent and respond to sexual harassment and all forms of sexual violence against women across diverse backdrops.indianwomen

We could learn from Egypt and adopt women’s safety audits to guide urban planning and from. Port Moresby and take steps to improve women’s safety in local markets. Why can’t we do all that and more?

In India, sexual harassment in public spaces remains a largely neglected issue, with few policies in place address it, or prevent it. To start with, we need to put young people at the heart of prevention efforts. India needs to develop a non-formal curriculum to end violence against women and girls. We also need to change norms and behaviour of men and boys on gender equality and women’s rights.

Why doesn’t India take international Orange Day seriously? Why don’t our celebrities join in to end violence against women? Why not observe 25th of every month as awareness day against violence against women? World over, Orange Day has garnered support as a high-profile initiative involving celebrities and sports stars to raise the profile of the issue. Why don’t Indian celebrities take up this opportunity real seriously, commit an advocacy initiative, and pledge to end violence against women?

Sometimes I wonder, is the government of India seriously clueless about the plight of women in the country? Or is it unconcerned?

The government must run back to back awareness campaigns to prevent violence against women in order to change attitudes and behaviours which tolerate and perpetuate gender inequality. Maybe, we should extend the clean India campaign to cover the filthy gender bias.

If you love love or hate love

For those who tried but could not buy my novella ‘Meantime Girl’ on Amazon for technical reasons, I have made it available on Smashwords for 99 cents. You can read 20% for free. Do check out.

Enjoy.

Here’s the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/870

or try

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/610682

cover copy full

 

He lived my dream life!

Image“Since I have no faith in God, nor in the day of judgement, nor in reincarnation, I have to come to terms with the complete full stop.”

– Khushwant Singh (Author, journalist)

ImageIndian author and journalist Khushwant Singh breathed his last today, at 99.

He wrote several hugely successful books during his long writing career. I could easily say he was probably the most influential writer in my life. Not only was I drawn into writing a book by his perfectly scripted books, my life path itself has been much influenced by the thoughts he inadvertently popularized through his humour laden works.

I am yet to read his later works, The Good, The Bad and The Ridiculous and the Sunset Club, which I will in the coming weeks.

An editor who made popular the now defunct Illustrated Weekly of India and later the Hindustan Times, his column ‘With Malice Towards One and All’ was syndicated in many dailies.

Mr Singh was a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986.

Some of his popular books:

train to Pakistan

Company of women

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Proud mom

Yes, I am a proud mom. ImageMy son made his debut on the professional stage last week in Mumbai with ‘One Coin Please’. Sure, he had wanted to be an actor for a while now. Advaaith has been training for the acting career for the past five years. And as far as I can see, and as far as his mentors’ say, he will be ready for the big screen in a couple of years. But this entry into the theatre world was unexpected. 1960857_820839307931137_939024920_o He did well. More than that, he enjoyed the theatre experience. It is only the beginning of a long promising career, I know. Never mind the many setbacks an actor is bound to come across. I know, in the end, anyone with great talent and a stubborn determination has to succeed. Both being on his side, I wish him the best for his actor life. 1932738_821424477872620_705067743_o 1900744_820835197931548_993856414_o

Rain Burst

Morning Drizzle (Photo: Mandeep Singh)

Morning drizzle (Photo: Mandeep Singh)

It’s a dull day today in Bahrain. After some rain, drizzle by Indian standards, the roads are drying up, except for some odd patches of wetness, like sparingly used blotting paper. Image

Some seemed excited about the fact that “it rained while they were sleeping”, while some others seemed disappointed about the same fact.

Anyway, there is still hope of more rains/showers in the evening, with the dullness hung around as are the dampened spirits.

Rains, even these scanty ones, make me moderately crave for ‘pakodas’ (veggie-fries), but ever since I have turned weight conscious, my gluttony too has thankfully switched to a bake/grill mode.

rain 3 Rains make me want to sleep endlessly, which I can do even without the showers actually. I am a sloth, have always been one, and am proud of it. But rains make it better, curling up under a warm blanket, drifting into sleep watching ‘Iron Chef America’, or ‘Master Chef Australia’, just about when the results are being announced. Somehow it makes me feel empowered, exercising the right to fall asleep just when you don’t have to. It’s like defying logic and taking my own, albeit inconsequential, personal decisions.

It might sound silly, but that’s what I thrive on: silly stuff.

CID Spoof – A family vacation project

A hilarious enactment of Indian (Sony) television series the CID happened as a fun project during a family meetup in Thiruvananthaprum, Kerala. Once it all came together, we couldn’t not release it to the world, for not doing so would be being too selfish with the ha ha ha-s. Enjoy the full episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDw4r…

Judge’s commentry for my book, Writer’s Digest

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Entry Title: The Plunge

Author: Sindhu S.

Category: Genre Fiction

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.

Structure and Organization: 5

Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot : 4

Character Development : 4

Judges Commentary*:

I found this an intriguing book that introduced me to a culture I don’t know at all. So interesting to learn more about modern India and especially the modern Indian woman! I felt so much familiarity with Anjali, because she had some of the conflicts that face so many women. But she was unique too– more than just a representative modern woman. She had her own particular reasons for needing love and also needing her freedom.

A few aspects that impressed me particularly:

The women’s friendships. They really rang true, and you showed how there can be conflicts and differences but still loyalty.

Siddharth could have come across just as a cad, but when you explained his thoughts and feelings, he became more sympathetic. The ending was quite poignant and sad.

I also want to compliment you on the cover. The cover is so well done– quite contemporary in style, and eye-catching. What a great thought to have her “upside down” above the title! That really illustrates “The Plunge” and amplifies what you meant by that, the dizzying “fall” in love. The cover model is lovely and “looks” like Anjali. Very nicely done. I think it will attract readers.

Just one suggestion. In the beginning especially I found some of the sentences confusing because for the pronouns. It’s really hard when you have two women in a scene to use “she” as that could apply to either woman. So I wasn’t sure if “she” in a given line would refer to Anjali or Swapna. I know it’s clumsy, but sometimes the only way to do this clearly is to use the names instead of “she”.

Good work on the story and the design– crisp and contemporary!”

– Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards