December 24, 2012

Time to introspect...

Yet another heart breaking news from my country India. 5 year old girl in Bihar raped and killed. As if the Delhi gang rape incident was not enough to make me go restless. Day after day one hears about such traumatic and unfortunate incidents taking place in one or the other part of our country. We give an ear to it and then as usual continue living our lives because we are so confident of the fact that "IT CANNOT HAPPEN TO ME, SO WHY BOTHER". Exactly what we think about another menace called CANCER. We have this feeling that it is something that is not meant for me. Sadly but the fact is that I/WE can be a victim, today or tomorrow.

Time to think and take these incidents seriously and ponder upon. What is it that we as a part of civil society can do to STOP these shameful acts?. It is not only our responsibility but the people governing us also have to play a major role in it. BUT again we all know how it is back there?. To expect our Leaders to do something out of box for us is unimaginable unless and until they dont see their benefit or we don't force them to come forward !.

We have to continue mount our pressures and make the Governing bodies realize that RAPE is something which we wont tolerate happening anymore in our society. We will not subject ourselves, our daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, wives to this heinous crime and if it happens God forbid, we will raise our voices and throw you out.

The laws regarding RAPE need to be mended. We need application of law and not the application of personal views. We need a faster criminal justice system. We need police doing their job. It is here where lapses take place, it is here where a case is decided. It is here where a judgement is passed weather to prove innocent or to prove guilty, it is here where a women's integrity and honor can be restored back. We as a society have to force for an effective Policing which will be a beginning for removing such shame from our society.

Then back at home we have to ensure that we treat our kids at par. We have to ensure that we don't differentiate and make boys feel in any which way superior to girls. We have to stop growing that male ego attitude at homes and also have to encourage our daughters to be self dependent, strong and someone who carries her own opinion. We have to teach our children to respect humanity and the  Laws of the land. We also should start with sex education at schools and home as early as possible. The more we suppress issues related to SEX the more curiosity and opportunities to experiment with it are thrown open, which in turn is and can prove very harmful.

We also have to ensure that our Films, TV serials, theater and other visual mediums send  positive messages in the society. We take our films and dramas very seriously and are used to getting influenced by them very easily. In Films and dramas we should stop glorifying unnatural things which is beyond the reach of a common man. We should stop projecting our female character as showpiece, helpless or as suppressed "NAARI" who is always at helm of some Superman. Project our females as they are today, strong, stable, independent and with her own mind and someone who can be fat who can be average looking who can be wheatish and yet emerges as a winner without the help of a so called called Superhero or for that matter anyone else. Remove this image of "ABLA NAARI" and portray us as we are strong, intelligent, independent and capable of taking care of ourselves.

Also our NGO, Corporates, Clubs etc will have to come forward to help in spreading education amongst the poor section of our society and from time to time giving various motivational tools which will encourage them to think in a different way.

I also think  that we need to bring more women to education and jobs, especially on streets. 
As Brigham Young has rightly said “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”

December 9, 2012

Weihnacht's Wonder

Birth of Jesus
Birth of Jesus
Ever since I was a kid, was fascinated by Christmas and Lord Jesus. Maybe it started at school which was a Missionary, but till today fascination for the same has remained. Whenever Christmas was to come in Kashmir all of a sudden my woes would vanish in thin air and I would shine like a star! Christmas in Kashmir meant Cake from Jan bakery and going to church with my Bade Papa who was the only member of my family who encouraged me to follow what my heart likes. Ah! I felt like a queen on this day moving around in a chauffeur driven car then buying candle then praying before the Lord and then cutting the cake and distributing it among family. Unfortunately, due to migration I no longer could celebrate this Day. I don't know with loosing a home I somewhere lost the enthusiasm and faith. Hence Christmas was never ever celebrated again till the time I shifted to Germany. But the pain of not celebrating it kept tickling me.

Mutter Maria
Mutter Maria

Germany gave me a new lease of life and gave me back my dreams to follow. Germany! Thank you so much. I love you and owe a lot to you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In Germany, Christmas is called Weihnacht and the celebration for the same starts one month before. The entire city is illuminated with lights and from place to place you will find Weihnachtsmarket. In-fact Nürnberg holds the world's biggest Weihnacht's market. Laks and lacs of people travel to this part of the Germany only to have a glimpse of this market, in Winter.

Bayrische Schanz
Bayrische Schanz

I live in "Main Spessart" and we also have these markets. One such famous market is held in the middle of "Main Spessart" and is called "Bayrische Schanz Weihnachtsmarkt". It is really beautiful and if there is snow then it becomes magical.

In these markets you see all kinds of things made of normally wood, glass and stone with you can decorate your home, your tree or wherever you want to!. The specialty of these markets is a special type of Wine which is called Glühwein. This is a hot wine cooked in herbs like cinnamon, cloves, honey etc.. Trust me, it tastes like Divine and within no seconds after drinking it you are on top of the world:). Also don't forget to taste Lebkuchen - A traditional German baked Christmas treat, somewhat resembling gingerbread and the ingredients for the same usually include honey and spices such as aniseed, coriander, cloves, ginger, cardamom and nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts, or candied fruit.

Main Spessart
Main Spessart

Wooden and Stone Figures
Wooden and Stone Figures
Hand made Decorations

Licht Sterne
Stein Pilz
Stein Pilz

All these wonderful things and the atmosphere, filled with peace, happiness, joy and hope forced me to celebrate one of my favorite festival, once again!. I realized how much i have been missing in my life by not embracing it. Christmas has made me alive again and it has spread happiness and joy in my life. Though, I lost my Home, my School, my Jan Baker, my Church and above all my Bade Papa but that inner peace and happiness was brought back by this wonderful, wonderful festival.

Let this Christmas fill your hearts with love, joy, peace and happiness and hope it does wonders for you, the way it has for me!!!

December 4, 2012

Child abuse or Cultural differences?

Today is really one of the saddest day of my life. I feel, i have failed as a human being, as a parent and as a social worker. Early morning, I read about the Indian couple getting sentenced for 18 and 15 months for the child abuse in Norway. It sent shivers down my spine. Parents being punished for punishing their child, in order to make him a better person!

This is not the first time that something like this has happened with Indians living abroad. The memories of another Indian parents (Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya) being punished in Norway for child abuse and taking their 3 and 1 yr old child away from them and giving the custody of these unfortunate children to their uncle, is still afresh in our minds and now this.

India is a country where children especially boys live with their parents even after getting married and having own children.Indians make their children sleep with them sharing the same bed and same room. We have no concept of having a Kinder room or having a separate bed for a child till he or she is grown up enough to take care of himself or herself. Even after becoming adults children share their beds or rooms with their grandparents or siblings or in joint family with their cousins. This is our social system. We cannot imagine or think off placing a new born baby in a cradle or in a different room. Our parents spend almost entire life in taking care and protecting her children. We have no concept of having a family without children .Indian parents life begins with kids and ends with kids.

The environment around our children and to have sense of recognition amongst  hundreds of kids is enormous. Each child wants to come up and prove his/her worth because if he/she cannot then it is a big failure on their part but on the part of parents. The cut throat competition, lack of infrastructure, financial constraints and on top social norms make parents as well as our kids aggressive and thriving for the best. In this course the parents most of the time are harsh with their children and the measures taken to bring best in children is certainly not abuse, in any which way. They are just the corrective measures which actually help in keeping the children on right path and preparing him/her for tough life ahead.

Unfortunately countries like Noway have a different social set up. Their children leave their parents on being adult and from day one they are used to sleeping alone and taking care of themselves. If a child beyond certain age remains with his parents it is considered a big disorder and making child sleep with you a sexual abuse.Also in these countries if or not a child studies is not a major issue at all because other then education there are many many other ways by which he/she can establish himself in the society and the social system offers great support to such people. There is no shame in  not being perfect in every sphere of life.It is normal to have average or below average set of skills and yet be accepted in the society and this in no way hinder their growth and prosperity in the society.Hence the pressure on the parents as well as on the children is hardly any. 

Countries like Norway have to understand that Indian social set up is different form their social set up and if an Indian comes in their land permanently or temporarily it will take time for them to adapt to the new environment and the thing which they are used to since birth cannot be changed over night.They have to understand that this is the cultural difference and not any abuse!. Also it is important that India/Corporates should educate their people going abroad about the different cultural norms of such countries.

Indian diplomacy and media have to play a major role in educating west about our cultural norms and also people like me who have decided to make a foreign country as our other home. In order to stop such acts we have to begin now and hope that our efforts will yield results and parents like Bhattacharyas and Vallabhaneni's do not suffer in future.

All said and done frankly speaking I feel there is more to it. In today's world how is it possible that Norway is unaware about our cultural norms and the way we bring up our children...

Another interesting article on same topic read at Gaelikaa's Diary

July 14, 2012

Walking Down The Memory Lane

Though I have left my country INDIA way back but still keep myself connected with it by print and electronic media. Past few days I am coming across various news regarding molestation and stripping of girls by teachers, by roadside goons, by cops etc. The recent one where a girl was asked to drink her own urine by her teacher tore my heart away. What has gone wrong with us ?. In which era are we people living in and why are we still slaves ???. We say on International forums that we are country which is being led by a woman President ?. We say on international forums that we are on the verge of becoming super power soon ?. We say on international forums that we are the most fast growing and developing country of the world and yet we end up in behaving like TALIBAN. In fact I find we are worst then Taliban`s. They do what they say and do it openly but we do something,say something and show something else !!!.

Somewhere deep down, I cannot seem to detach myself from those all girls back in India who are victim of our corrupt and failed society. Actually it reminds me of a similar kind of an incident which took place with me at my school Presentation Convent, Srinagar. Maybe that's why I can feel their pain and suffering and understand through which hell they and their families must be going the same time I am also happy with this fact that at least today there is someone to listen to their woes and pleads and that is MEDIA and Social Networking. Media has come out openly in their support and they can freely express their feelings and seek Justice. Whether they get justice or not is a separate issue but at least they are raising their voices against in human acts. I am sure if not today but tomorrow someone, somewhere is going to get benefited by this.

What is happening is shameful but there is a ray of hope but unfortunately back there in 80`s we only had Doordarshan and no private channels. Hence surfacing of such similar incidents was out of question: Flow of information from one state to another was almost impossible and God only knows how many such incidents must have taken place and how many victims like me must have kept silent due to the fear of getting expelled from Schools or no one believing them and hence facing backlash from society or even by their own family members.

Today after 2 decades I have the courage to speak about my pain and my trauma that had shattered my inner self and actually started believing that  - I AM A LOOSER. Thanks to my parents who brought back my confidence in me and made me believe in myself again. Had it not been without them I would have either ended up in committing suicide or I would have left my studies.

Well it still hurts to remember about that incident which actually changed my life. I was in 7th standard and our class teacher was Mrs. Sehgal. It was our history period and we were all in our classrooms. In fact before this class we were in the school ground for PT. Anyways suddenly Mrs.Sehgal comes in our class and ask me to follow her out of the class as she has needs to talk to me regarding something. I was scared and wondered why am I asked to do so but without raising question; I went out of the class with her. Outside she tells me that our Principle Sister Elvira wants to talk to me. I asked what is it all about she said there has been a complaint against me. I was shocked. I had no idea what on earth she was talking about. I held her hand tightly and said Ma'am I have done nothing. She just kept quite and didn't answer me. I asked again Ma'am what is it all about still she kept quite. She took me in a room which was at the back of our Auditorium in first floor of our school and I noticed that this room was really dark and I could barely see anything or anyone. It scared me even more. I held my Ma'am 's hand and cried loudly. Why are we here ?. She said Sister Elvira is waiting for me here only and then I turned my head and heard the voice saying come here Indu. I somehow could see my principal. She was sitting in a chair and looked dreadful and trust me like a ghost in that darkness. Her voice was cold and firm. I remember I was standing in front of her and she was observing me with her eyes for about 5-10 minutes. Gosh those cold eyes were piercing me through and I was thinking why the hell am I here ?. I somehow drew some courage and asked her what have I done and she replied coldly "you are a thief, you have stolen some things from one girl (whom i wont name ) of your class". I looked at her in shock and said NO, that is not true. I am not a thief. I have not stolen anything from anyone. She spat back, "Oh yes! you have, that girl has named you." I swore that I was innocent and by this time tears had already started flowing down. I was pleading and swearing but she was not listening. She choose to become deaf and dumb at that moment. She said if I don't accept my mistake she will expel me from the school and I will not get admission in any other School in Kashmir. I also remember she saying that she will do this in front of the whole school during assembly in the morning and then everyone will spit on me and make fun of me. I kept crying and kept saying there is a mistake. I haven't done anything wrong. Then all of a sudden she told me that she wanted to frisk me, as I might have hidden money and paintings (imagine) in my uniform or shoes. I was literally dead by then. It was something that ripped my innocent soul but I had no other way. I had to do it and SHE FRISKED ME. WHILE BEING FRISKED I WISHED I COULD DIE THERE AND THEN ONLY. My modesty was outraged for the crime that I never committed. Even after all this she did not believe me, she had the guts to tell me again that if I don't accept my mistake she will carry on with her threat of expelling me. I told her I have not done it.In fact during PT period I was there in the playground with entire class and she can check it with our PT Sir and with the girls with whom I was sitting if or not I was there. She can also check my bag. She gets up and give me again that murderous look and walks out of that room. I kept standing there and crying God knows for how many minuets or hours and the finally Mrs. Sehgal comes and tells me to go back to my class. I walked like a dead soul and could not control my tears. My friends asked me what happened but I could not tell them. I was scared that they will also think like them and I will loose them. All I could do was cry and wonder why that girl framed me and why without any proof I was punished and made to go thorough such hell ????.

I went home and told about this incident to my parents and I was firm that I will not be going to school from morning. My parents calmed me down and assured me of their full support and love. For next 5 days I was running with high fever and I was asking god to take me away. This incident was too much for my young mind and soul to accept. All i kept asking was WHY ME ?.WHY ME ?.WHY ME.?

In the meantime my father went to school and confronted our Principal and ALL SHE HAD TO SAY WAS SORRY.

I joined back my school after 1 week and everything seem normal. Mrs. Sehgal had no words for me nor our Principal. They were behaving normally as if nothing had happened !!! Only I knew what was going in my mind and heart. Frankly speaking something very innocent deep down had died in me and I vowed to take my revenge when ever I can and maybe today is the time when I can actually think of giving it back to them. Wish we had such active media back then, maybe I too would have got justice......

By marring my self respect what have those people gained ????. In fact they have made me more strong and have given me courage to stand up for myself and raise my voice. But I will never ever forgive them for the damage that they did to my innocent mind and soul which could have ruined my life or their`s too. Thinking about it still makes me cry and shiver and I still wonder what would have happened if my parents would not have stood by me. Would I be alive today or would they be alive ?. Swear there were times when I actually thought of taking law in my own hands.

If I get a chance I would actually like to get Justice today in the Court Of law..............

January 13, 2012

What will you name it ?

I came to Germany 4 years back and the moment I kept my foot down I fell in love with it. I found Germany so similar to my Homeland, Kashmir. There and then I decided to make it my second home. My resolution further strengthened when I met Germans first time. I found them so friendly and straightforward. Though with the language barrier initially made my settling down a little hard but with the help and support from my German landlord and neighbors our stay out here started becoming comfortable and we felt soon at home.

During these years I came across many Germans and really started admiring them for their openness, warmth, hard-work and love and respect for humanity. Considering their history, this was the great and a welcoming surprise for me. I personally never ever faced any problem what so ever. Hence me and my partner decided to stick with our decision of making it our second home.

However on 31st December, 2011 three of our friends had gone to Airport, a DISCOTHEQUE in Würzburg, Germany to celebrate NEW YEAR EVE but after 10mins security guards along with the Manageress of the Disc came to them and asked them to leave immediately. When they asked the reason they were told that THE GERMANS OVER HERE ARE NOT LIKING YOUR PRESENCE. They couldn't believe what they had heard but nevertheless without creating a scene they left. One of the guys who had just opened his beer bottle requested the security to let him finish his drink but even that was not allowed and before leaving the 3 of them were handed their money back. They were in total shock and could not actually believe that such a thing could happen in today's time .

When I heard about it even me for a minute could not believe that such a thing could have happened. I told my hubby that maybe your friends did something to receive this kind of treatment but when I personally discussed the incident with them I realized how wrong I was in judging them. There and then I decided to take it up and make sure such an incident never ever happens again in future with anyone. If I keep quite this time maybe tomorrow I may have to go through it. For my integrity and my self respect I decided to fight it out.

We lodged our complaint with the German Police, informed the German Press and got in touch with the local town council members. Who did their investigation and found that the Airport authorities accept this incident taking place inside the Disc but the reason they give is, that there were 3 Indians few days back in the disc who turned to be the pick-pocketers so the Disc staff thought that these Indians were the same pick-pocketers hence this kind of reaction. WHAT AN EYE WASH ?.

Anyways most amazing part for me after 31st December, 2011, was, that one of the victims who says he is son of a bureaucrat decided to chicken out for taking any legal action against the disc authorities saying that his bureaucratic father has told him that " tum 6 mahene ke liya gaye ho ,kyon pango mein pad rahe ho,chup chap beetho aur kaam khatam kar ke vapas aa jao". Believe me, on hearing such a statement from an Indian bureaucrat, was more shocking and sickening, then hearing the incident itself. No wonder Indian bureaucrats are sucking the NATION but thank God we have people like Anna who can make the difference.Also interesting is that none of the Indian living in Germany (we have many around us) till now has approached us with any form of support !!!

But one guy from these 3 people has nerves and is gutsy. He decided to take it up along with me and  promised that we will take it up till its logical end. I realized again that a common man can actually make it, if he or she wants to !!! Hats off to him.

We have got support from Newspapers, TV Channels and also form the Local Authorities and people, who all agree that what happened in AIRPORT was Racism and should not be tolerated any more. We have assurance (minus Indians here) of full cooperation from our all quarters and even financial and legal assistance.

Whether we emerge as winner's or not we don't know but I will have one satisfaction that I didn't keep quite and closed my eyes. We have sown seed and If not today but tomorrow it will surely make a difference and we will hopefully hear no more about the incidents like that of  Anuj Bidve, Nitin Garg, Pradeep Singh, AIRPORT and so on, where Racism played dirty.


RACISM in any form and in any part of world is not acceptable and we should stand up against it and say a big NO.

Link to article in regional press: Rauswurf aus der Disco: Verwechslung?