Tuesday, January 15, 2013

बोलना मना हैं, लेकिन बलात्कार नहीं।

इस देश की खासियत ही कुछ ऐसे है की जब गलत कामो के लिए किसीका हाथ उठता हैं, तब हमारी आवाज नहीं उठती। उन गलत कामो को रोकने की कोशिश नहीं होती। सो तो सो ऐसी बातो की आवाम चर्चा भी नहीं होती।
इन हलाथो को देखते हुए कुछ आश्चर्य नहीं होता जब भारतीयों को अपनी बात बताने की आज़ादी नहीं मिलती।
आवाज़ उठाना अपनी संस्कृति के खिलाफ है ऐसा माना जाता है। पर क्या इस देश की भलाई के लिए कुछ कहना गलत बात है? क्या जुर्म को रोकना, आम आदमी की परेशानियों को सामने लाना और अपने जजबातो को बयां करना गैरकानूनी है?
जब दिल्ली मै बलात्कारियों के खिलाफ मोर्चा चल रहा था, तब पुलिस ने मोर्चा मै शामिल होने वालो को दंडी दी।
यही दंड उन बलात्कारियों को क्यूँ नहीं मिली जब वोह इतना घिनौना कृत्य कर रहे थे?
क्या यह देश मै सब को अपने मुह पे ताला लगाके घूमना चाहिए?
क़ानून की दी गयी आजादियों का फायदा ही क्या जब आम जनता उनका उपयोग ही न कर सके?
कोई उनको बाते करने से क्यों नहीं रोकता जो औरतो को भला बुरा सुनाते है?
यह कैसी आज़ादी जहाँ पे जनता को उनके अधिकार का उपयोग ही नहीं?
असली आज़ादी चाहिए, तो लोगो की बातो को सुनो, उनकी तकलीफों को समझो, और देश को उनकी नज़रों से देखो। तभी भारत सचमुच आज़ाद होगा।

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What a writer thinks when asked to write 500 words

So I heard today that I needed to write a 500 word article today. Writing isn’t a problem. I can write. But things like writer’s block, low self-confidence, insufficient vocabulary, etc. come in the way of writing; which again is fine!

What’s not fine is other people stopping me from writing what I want to, what I feel to and what I need to.

The problem lies in the fact that I am asked to Shut Up before the sentence is complete, that I am asked to apologize before the conclusion is reached, that my writings are banned before they understand what I really want to say.

I should have the freedom to write according to my whim and fancy. Sounds too bold! But that’s a fact.

To accept it or not is one’s own discretion. And so is it to write or not!

I was asked to write a 500 word article today and I thought “Hey! I can do that.” But then mean thoughts started to creep into my head.

Ugly voices started saying, “No. you can’t write that, it’s apolitical.” “How could you criticize a mantri who has been elected by you, at your own will?” “Who are you talking ill about, the ones who can come after you once they read about it?” “You could be detained, arrested, imprisoned, and a lot more” “People are burned, bruised, shot, threatened and what not!”

So I paused, pondered and backspaced all that I’d written.

I was told that I needed to write 500 words. And I thought “Hey! Can I do that?” and then I thought why not? I can write about everything under the Sun (umm.. well.. almost!).

When I was told I was to write 500 words, I thought maybe it’s a Big Deal. But then what harm can 500 words actually do?

I could defame someone and so could I apologize. I could ruin someone’s reputation but restore it by foiling mine. I could expose some wrongdoing but soon it will be one among the many. I could make a good man look bad, but only to a few. I could probably also write something scandalous, like something one had never heard before, but then there’s a first time to everything right?

It’s problematic when it’s an official document, but is it so if it’s a personal blog?

If opinions of common men don’t matter among the powerful, why do common man’s writings, tarring their image matter so much to them?

If I knew I could write my 500 words without any fear, I could write better. I’m sure I would. But with the fear of reprimand, I thought I’d write about my feelings. Unless this too is outrageous, hurting religious feelings of any group, I see this writing as completely innocent. But as they say, ‘Trouble does not knock on the door before it arrives’

Nevertheless, living up to my word, I somehow managed writing this piece. With this, I end my 500 words!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is Mumbai against Freedom of Speech?

With what started as one of the rarest of incidents of violation of Freedom of Speech, Mumbai is now gripped in an intense debate about where our rights lie and where should we draw the line.
A High Court judge criticized the Mumbai police for having arrested controversial cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on “frivolous grounds”.
His cartoons used metaphors like a commode for the Indian Parliament and Wolves for the Indian Emblem.
More recently, on 18th November in Mumbai, 2 college students were arrested on charges of hurting ‘religious sentiments’, after a Facebook status spoke of the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and the Mumbai Bandh that followed his death.
Shaheen Dhada was the prime accused whose status on Facebook triggred a massive debate in Mumbai about the purview and limitations of Section 19(A) of the Indian Constitution, which protects Freedom of Speech and Expression. Her friend was arrested too, for having liked the status.
Not only that, Shaheen’s uncle’s hospital was vandalised by supporters of Bal Thackeray’s political party, Shiv Sena.
The original Facebook status read, “With all respect, everyday, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on. Just due to one politician died a natural death, everyone just goes bonkers. They should know, we are resilient by force, not by choice. When was the last time, did anyone showed some respect or even a two-minute silence for Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Azad, Sukhdev or any of the people because of whom we are free-living Indians? Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.”
In India, a businessman and active participant of IAC (Indian against Corruption) in Puducherry, was arrested in October, for comments made on Twitter against finance minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram.
Mr Ravi, 46, was arrested by Puducherry Police for tweeting on October 19 that “Mr Karti had amassed more wealth than Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law, Robert Vadra”.
In relation to the recent arrests in Mumbai and Puducherry, a PIL against Section 66A (Sedition under IT act) has been filed by 21-year-old student Shreya Singhal from Delhi. Her lawyer Mukul Rohatgi has requested the court to give an interim order so that arrests under the section are made only with the permission of a senior police officer.
“Apart from the incident at Palghar involving the two girls, Singhal’s PIL referred to an April incident in which a professor of chemistry from Jadavpur University in West Bengal, Ambikesh Mahapatra, was arrested for posting a cartoon concerning chief minister Mamata Banerjee on a social networking site.
She referred to the Puducherry case as well as the May arrests of two Air India Ltd employees, V. Jaganatharao and Mayank Sharma, by the Mumbai Police under the IT Act for posting content on Facebook and Orkut against a trade union leader and some politicians,” says an article published in Livemint.com, dated 30th November 2012.
Sharma and Rao were arrested and jailed for 12 days after their colleage Sagar Karnik’s complaint in May, alleging that the two had posted “derogatory” remarks against the Prime Minister’s Office, the national flag and the Supreme Court, while commenting on a strike by Air India pilots.
The duo was charged under Section 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 66 A and 67 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, besides relevant sections of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
In a recent follow up to this case, Karnaik himself is arrested for ‘Misleading the Police’.
In other attempts to sabotage Freedom of Speech, Bollywood movie Shanghai, in June, was under the scanner for its song ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, which used sarcasm to critique the shortcomings of India, mainly in civil matters. Also in January this year, Indian-born author Salman Rushdie was asked to give a miss to the Jaipur Literature Festival for fear of 'Security Risk'. This is a spill over from the controversy surrounding his book The Satanic Verses.
All this, points at the regressive nature of people in Mumbai and in India. People are becoming highly intolerant towards anything that hurt their Personal feelings, and protest against them in the name of community/religion/national sentiment, etc.
Indeed, people must be reasonable and abstain from publishing any content which is blasphemous, derogatory or largely hurtful and insulting.
However, stopping, banning and protesting against any new expression or opinion, without due consideration of the author/maker’s point of view, is a very unsophisticated response to creative expression, as a whole.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mumbai: A Man’s Domain

So we’ve all written, read, seen or been a part of Mumbai. We know Mumbai for Dhobi Ghaat, for Gateway of India, for Taj and Trident and for Nariman Point. We also identify it with commerce, trade and money. But how many times do we reflect upon the masculinity of Mumbai?

Yes, Mumbai is a man and its fast, strong and sturdy life makes all of its inhabitants masculine. So here I am, technically a female Mumbaikar but emotionally a very boisterous individual.

My encounters with the Man have been ever since childhood. I grew up brushing against men and women in the buses of Mumbai. I got nudged and pushed in the crowd at major markets. I ran on the railway platform to get to my compartment before the train left. But besides all this, there have been a lot of individual experiences which shaped me into my male self.

As a child, I accompanied my dad to a lot of places he went to. He was speed walker. So as much as I hated it, I had to walk super fast to keep pace with him; and soon I got into the habit of automatically brisk walking.

Looking back, this unconscious training has helped me a lot to stay on time. In spite of having an envious public transport system here, there is no escape from delays; and also from walking. Occasionally to often, there are lack of rickshaws and taxis on the street. Sometimes, the drivers say a straight right ‘No’ to ply you to your destination.

In such cases, it is best to forget the daintiness of a woman and march-past like a soldier heading to war!

To be very honest, I have also taken pride in overtaking strangers on the road during my self-proclaimed sessions of racing.

That apart, I have learned to be technology-friendly, taken interest in speeding cars and developed a liking for male scents; in this transitional process of going from a Miss Misfit to Mister Right.

I’ve also learned to ignore roadside Romeos who perform a plethora of stunts ranging from intentionally brushing past you to whistling to singing Godforsaken songs to ogling at you for prolonged periods of time.

This of course was an outcome of personal experience and immunity building, rather than the learning obtained from parents and peers.

In Mumbai you have women working in all male dominated professions. Also, a lot more women are being educated in management and engineering studies, which were previously thought of as being a man’s terrain. As a matter of fact, the class I am studying in has two times the number of female students than male students.

I’m sure other women in Mumbai also share the same raucousness that I do. This city tends to do that to women. It makes them strong and self sufficing people.

It’s not like it throws a lot of hurdles and hardships in your face, all at once. It’s more like it gradually trains you to face the reality; the selfishness, the rat race, the deadlines and the targets.

It keeps you from being the damsel in distress. And if you are one, you can blame only Bollywood, and not Mumbai, for putting you in that spot.

Bollywood, another thing Mumbai takes a lot of pride in, is the only fantasy, the only ‘escape from reality’ that the city provides its people. The rest is just Mumbai, the big male boss of Mumbaikars.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Travel Guide: Nagothana

Ever been to Nagothana? No?
Here’s why you should go there...

Nagothana is situated in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, about 2 hours from Mumbai by road. The railway station closest to this holiday town is Pen.

The feel of Nagothana makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. One could also describe it as the countryside of the west. The beauty of this place is enhanced by the mountaintops which tower high and lovingly protect the people of Nagothana.

One of the first few observations you’ll make en route to Nagothana is the sudden change of atmosphere; from the smell of car exhaust to the aroma of moist mud, from high rise buildings to low lying hutments and from sites of concrete road and streetlights to those of dried hay and green grass.

Once there, it is easy to find accommodation in hotels near the marketplace or in a rented farmhouse by the riverside. Besides the food market, there are other local markets which sell saris in bright colours, enriched with traditional Indian designs.

For all you sea food lovers, the market offers a wide variety of fresh river fishes to choose from. So you can pick one of the biggest catches and add spice to your meal!

Though there are few recreation options within Nagothana, Alibag is a preferred get-away locale for international and national tourists alike. Alibag is in close proximity to Nagothana. So you can consider hiring a car to reach there.

If you’re planning to escape the madness of the metros and find comfort in the countryside, a retreat to Nagothana is much recommended.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Confessions of a Blog-a-holic

I owned a blog. It was my personal online diary. I spilled all my emotions into the blog. The only space on the world wide web that was, which I believed, reserved for me was my blog. It bore my name, my characteristics, and my personality. My blog belonged to me!

I always maintained a low profile regarding my blog. I would regularly check my stats to confirm that no one was prying into my life through my blog. The road was all clear!

My diary became more and more popular with me. I would post my every single life detail in it. I would occasionally go back and read my posts and contemplate about who I was!

It was so comforting to know I had a pal who would reflect my thoughts and express them in my own words.

But very soon my blog travelled across borders and people read more about me. They liked my posts and the reasoning which went into writing those. They understood my emotions, my psyche. They heard the cries of a tender heart safely wrapped within a strong body and a tough character.

The more the followers accumulated the less personal my diary became. For few months I even gave up writing. But something within me said, “Aren’t you an inspiration to the many bloggers out there, who will learn the art of writing only if they imitate you?”

Not unlike others, I too started looking at my blog as a piece of art, one that can be appreciated only by those who have fine aesthetic sense and one which will be a classic people will yearn to read.

My pride soon hardened the soft core within me. My writing became much more stylized and my vocabulary more profound. My blog looked less like a blog and more like an online novel.

I hoped to get more audience, more followers and more feedback. Paradoxically, I lost out on my existing audience and followers. I could not comprehend how such a phenomenon could occur. I tried harder each day to make my text more flowery than before, but every time my efforts to restore my lost glory went in vain!

Ultimately, the blog that I earlier nurtured with so much care was left alone to wither away. I stopped writing for it any longer. My enthusiasm for writing had gone. After meeting such a failure who would care to write anyway; and for whom?

Today I’m looking at my redundant blog once again and I’m contemplating about who I was and what became of me!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


“Have I killed him? Have I not?
Have I? Have I not?”

Delnaz was seated on a garden bench murmuring these words to herself, as she plucked the petals of a withered yellow rose.

Delnaz had no idea what to think of herself. Was she schizophrenic? The doctors could not tell; not yet!

Her life story was pretty complicated. She believed she’d killed someone named Karan Agarwal. She was affirmative! She herself reported her crime to the police, in the wee hours of the day. She was frantically running around the police station pleading to the inspectors to arrest her.

She said she’d been having a rendez-vous with Karan since the past 4 months. She even started developing affection for him. Karan usually dropped by her house to say hello! Theirs was a perfect love story to one’s eye. But there lay many dark secrets underneath.

Karan was a fraud. He developed relations with Delnaz to coax her into assisting him in his crimes. He was a smuggler and he needed Delnaz to hoard all the smuggled goods in her house till they were delivered to their destination.

Delnaz, though reluctant, was pulled into this gamble. The everyday hellos were actually a means to drop bags full of smuggled items in her house.

She’d become weary of being used. She wanted Karan’s love, not these illegal things he would stack up in her room.

One day when Karan visited her with a new load of smuggled goods, Delnaz pulled out an elephant tusk and stabbed Karan in the stomach.

This is what she confessed to the police.

Upon investigation, the police was left clueless. No body, no ivory tusk and not one bag of smuggled goods. The police interrogated the neigbours if they had seen a particular man frequent Delnaz’s apartment. But each one denied!

The police looked up the criminal records but they didn’t find any record of Karan Agarwal.
So the questions that arose were such:

Did a smuggler names Karan Agarwal exist?
If he did, was this his real identity?
If it was, was it given that he was a smuggler?
If the answers to all these questions were negative, was it wise to believe that Delnaz was Schizophrenic? Or was she just taking the police for a ride?

What was the truth behind this story and the woman?
No one could tell, not yet!