Sunday, April 24, 2016

Turning 30

I remember thinking when I turned 25, that I’d be 30 in no time!  I dreaded turning 30 since I was 25! Turning 30 has been made into this really big deal and while some us of might think it’s not, there are whole lot out there who think otherwise. I have to admit, I have been a part of that lot till about a month ago. For most it’s the general social checklist i.e.  the job, car, house, marriage, kids etc and if you’ve got the ticks in.  Me thinks, the whole lot is usually people who are not 30 yet (or those pesky aunts/relatives trying to get you hitched)! 

A month after turning 20, I had moved to Mumbai because of a job.  I’m still a part of that company and would be completing a decade working there!  At the end of the recruitment season in college I had two offers in hand, one was Hewlett-Packard and other was JP Morgan.  HP had been coming to our college for years and we knew our seniors were working there; we would have someone to go to if we ever needed advice.  JP Morgan on the other hand was a company none of the students had heard of. Whoever chose it would be the first batch, I chose the latter because it would be an adventure.  At the time I thought why not discover something new? 

I’ve grown and learnt so much about life in the last 10 years!  Made loads of friends, built relationships, grown up, grown apart and even lost a few friends.   The first five years of the last decade were spent mostly at work, not just because I was a workaholic but because it was work + at office.  I made some of the best friends during this time of life and I’m to say I still have almost all of them.  I honestly did not realise the first 4 years pass and office was the first home away from home.  It was after these dear friends changed jobs and moved away that brought the differentiation of personal and professional time.

I do have a few regrets (wouldn’t be life without it right?) like not having enough time with my family  and not  being around while my little brother grew up from being 3.5 ft to almost 6ft tall. Taking some things too seriously when I should have chilled out and relaxed and other times being silly instead of having known better.  Wait, they’re not all regrets, some of them, most of them have been lessons and I’m still glad it all happened. If someone now asks me ‘Would you do it all over again?’ I’d say ‘No!’ Because its one life, you learn and move ahead.  Why would anyone do the same thing twice unless it was like the Ground Hog Day movie? :P

Today I am thinking of all the people I have met over the last decade and thanking those that have made a difference.  I also thank my parents for the values I hold and take responsibility for any shortcomings I have.  Parent’s support is one of the most important thing in a child’s life and I feel truly been blessed for the constant support my parents provide me.

Looking back at the decade I feel extremely proud of what I have achieved.  I think its living alone and managing everything myself that has taught me the most.  Although I have friends who I could call on in tough times I have weathered some storms alone and that has only made me stronger.  It’s like knowing you have a net but still making that successful tight rope walk without having a wire attached. Life is going to throw some punches but as long as you keep getting up its going to be okay.

So much of life has happened in a decade and I can’t wait to see what else is in the future store!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rape

A friend and I were recently chatting where the end topic happened to be Rape. She said she read somewhere that women fantasize being raped. I argued she must have misunderstood it, that no woman ever wants to be raped if she understands the complete meaning of the term. May be she meant rough sex but surely not rape.  She said it was out there on Google somewhere so I looked and found this link in Wiki on the subject. Though this page talks about a common fantasy among men and women in the 1970-80s it also states the following:
Female fantasies do not necessarily imply that the subject desires to be forced into non-consensual sex in reality – the fantasies often contain romantic images where the woman imagines herself being seduced, and the male that she imagines is desirable. Most importantly, the woman remains in full control of her fantasy. The fantasies do not usually involve the woman getting hurt."

There have been lots of incidents in the news about rapes committed in this country yet not many seem to understand the seriousness of this term. When one team loses badly there are jokes being made about how the losing team was 'raped' by the opposition. Has all the news about rapes made us insensitive? Why do people feel like its just something that is accidental?  How can the word rape be used in a joke? And it makes people laugh? One UP Minister said men make mistake, another MP from West Bengal said he would send his boys to rape women of another party - he made that open threat. Later the clarification provided said it was a slip of tongue! Rape, a slip of tongue?

Nirbhaya was not the first rape victim.  The crime committed was horrendous and nothing like anyone had ever heard of.  Is that what it takes to get the attention? A heinous crime, an amplified level of rape, to get the law amended. Nirbhaya died and I'm glad she did instead of having to live a life of pain and suffering. The law was amended in 2013 but the acts of violence haven't stopped.  There are still horrific cases in the news about women and young children being abused and everyone continues to read and flip the pages or just skip and read other articles. Its the same bottom line is it? What can we do besides feel sorry? Have we become immune? Or is this what they said, let the story cool off there will be some bigger news and people will forget as they always do.

Rape is not just forced sex. It is a violation on every level that a human can feel - physical, emotional, mental, social. Imagine this: You are in your home when suddenly thugs crash in breaking the main door and everything in the house, steal valuables, beat you till you can't move, and leave you naked in an empty shadow of what was once your safe haven. This would not come close to even 2% of what a rape victim would be going through. Rape is not just forced sex, its violation of personal space, assault that leaves the person broken from the inside, leaving mental scars, shock and emotional trauma that is difficult to emerge from. No woman EVER wants to be Raped. She is NEVER asking for it. Rape is not a term that should ever be used in a joke.


Most times, actually almost always the news is about female victims. This doesn't mean men don't get raped. Children and teenagers, male or female are equally susceptible to being molested and raped. Media doesn't have all the stories. Due to the social stigma attached to rape/victims of sexual abuse most people don't report it. It's not about shouting out against abuse but the fear that the victims would be social outcasts. Even if the child / person does talk about such incidents parents or family sometimes would choose to shut them up.  It  is easier to find the daughters a husband if they just keep it a secret. Who would marry someone who reported she was raped. Even though it wasn't her fault, she would never be accepted by anyone or may be in a rare case someone might marry her if they offered a huge dowry. And what would happen then. Let her suffer further at the hands of the husband but not complain about him. He did her a favour, she has to be indebted to him and be the slave she was sold off to be along with the huge dowry.


Even if the person is strong enough to emerge from the emotional and mental trauma would the society accept them, let them live a normal life?  The victims never wished for what happened to them, it wasn't their choice, then why do they end up as outcasts?  Why are treated differently than someone who had been in an accident? We hear everyone say 'society needs to change' but when it comes to leading the change they shy away. Society needs to change alright but it should begin from the next house is it?

What made me write this little article was my friends acceptance of the idea that some women might want to be raped.  There are people out there today not just men even women who blame the victims for what happened to them.  I just wish people understood the seriousness of this offence. NOBODY wants or even remotely fantasises about becoming a victim of rape (in the full sense of the term). Understand what the word means and the damage that it can causes.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

For The Love of Mysore

When I was little I found these picture postcards of a Mysore - The palace fully light up at night, the daytime view of the palace, the inner chanbers, the Vrindavan garden.  I thought I would definitely go there someday.  Our family travelled in summer or the winter vacations but we never really went to Mysore. 

Years later when I started working we also started interacting with the Bangalore branch folks and over time some became quiet good friends. So I took a 4 day trip to Bangalore to meet the friends there.  Mysore is quiet close to Bangalore and I was really keen to include it in the itenerary. On Friday when I reached I asked if anyone would want to come along there were about ten people who said they would join me however by end of the day the numbers had dwindled to just three girls.  There was Baby Boo, Raspy Rams and me (ofcourse these aren't the real names!).  It was too late in the day to get a booking with a tour guide so we decided we shall go to Mysore on our own take the early morning 7 a.m. bus to Mysore. 

The next day I reached the bus depot at 9 a.m. and by the time the girls arrived it was 10 a.m. We reached Mysore City at around 1 p.m. and more than half of the day was spent just getting there. We had thought of a day's trip in the city but with all the sights to see we realised we would need to spend the night in that city. After a nice sumptous meal we scoured around to find a nice hotel where three girls would be safe. After checking 3-4 places we finally booked one. I was the most happiest.  This was the place I wanted to visit for so long and I was finally here.  I couldn't stop jumping :D We quickly freshened up and left to see the much famous palace.

The Brave Trio
The Mysore palace was everything was so much more than I imagined it to be. It really takes your breath away. To imagine that once upon a time a royal family lived in there. It was also sad that something that was home to royalty is now just a meuseum. Photography isn't allowed inside the premises, the below photographs are postcards that were sold there.
The Royal Seat
Golden Room


The Palace Exterior
 It really felt quiet fulfilling to see the place I always wanted to visit. It was 6 p.m. when we finally finished touring the palace grounds.  The next place was Vrindavan Gardens.  We headed to the bus depot since one of the locals (atleast we thought was a local) told us that Vrindavan was just an hour away by bus. Rams knew it closes by 9 p.m. and thought we would have enough time and would be able to get back in time.  We got in a bus and were happily chatting away.  It was about 1.5 hrs later that we realised there might be a problem.  It was the longest time I spent stuck in  traffic ever.  We realised we were lagging due to this crazy traffic, the queue of vehicles went on and on we couldn't see the end of it.  A few people started to disembark and started to walk.  Thats when I started to get worried.  

It was almost 8.p.m. the place would close dowm by 9 anyway and we were still far from it. I was considering if we should just take the buses going in the opposite direction to take us back to Mysore and back to our hotel. But Rams was still optimistic that we would make it.  We stayed put. another hour went by the bus had moved a little and it was the edge of patience for me.  The girls and I got off the bus and started to walk in the direction that all the cars and buses were headed. We could see Vrindavan compund at a distance but we knew it must be closing.  Walking more further we saw hordes of school childern walking toward the opposite direction. It was a weekend and kids walking away from the Garden - enough proof that the place had closed.  We decided to turn back, find a bus that was now going toward Mysore city. 

It was almost 9.30 and I was extremely worried. I was the oldest and I felt a sense of responsibility for the girls.  It was because of me that we had made this plan.  The place that looked so wonderful in pictures now seemed a forsaken end of the world.  Away from familiar surroundings, amongst strangers and none of us trained in defence, it felt like we could be vulnerable targets.  What if we were kidnapped or killed or if something worse happens.  All horrible thoughts started to cloud my mind.  The bus we had left behind was now finally reaching where we were. I was tense and very quiet.  Baby Boo realised it and was trying to cheer me up.  Both the girls were calm like they knew we would make it back.  I just wanted to get us back to the comfort of the hotel room. After walking and waiting for buses we finally managed to get one.  I was relieved. Tt was 10 o'clock and we were tired, I was also very hungry. 

We hadn't eaten anything since lunch.  Tensed and hungry are not a good combination.  I was starting to get agitated and was just quiet lest I vent my anger on the girls. Baby Boo was making jokes. That girl is a one pack of energy.  The whole time she was soo cheerful I guess she balanced out the tense mood between the three of us. Both the girls were chatting and trying to make me laugh.  Baby Boo said something which I now find couldn't be anymore true.  She said "Nikki, years later when we talk of this trip we are going to think of this very moment in the bus and laugh :)"

We finally reached our hotel dead tired and hungry as hell.  The hotel had a cave themed restaurant and the food was good.  After dinner we felt like our oldselves again. The next day we ventured out, hired a rickshaw and saw the places close to the hotel.  We had a noon bus back to Bangalore so we weren't able to see anymore of Mysore.  But we all hope that someday we shall return to see the Vrindavan ga rdens and other places that we did not manage that day.  What seemed like a night of ordeal is now a crazy fun trip that we all took - one that built a bond which is truly rare.  As Baby Boo said we do laugh when we talk of that Mysore trip.


This is an entry for #JodeyDilonkon meet happenin on 21st June by IndiBlogger and a new channel Zindagitv that starts on 23rd June.  Check out their site http://zindagitv.in/ :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Recent Disney Movies - Reflection of Changing Times?

The movies could most possibly be categorised into one of the three types:
a) Story that talks about what happened.
b) Story that reflect the current conditions in society.
c) Story of human imagination and possibilities of what future might look like.

Every decade would have movies that would fall in one the above categories. What triggered today's post was movie Maleficent.  But before that a summary of what I noticed in movies Frozen and Tangled.  Frozen was based on the story the Snow Queen and Tangled which was based on Rapunzel

Until the movie 'Frozen' Disney's Fairy Tale adaptations had always stuck to the 'True Love's Kiss' theory where a Prince must kiss the female lead in order to save the day / world. Disney's Frozen broke this trend when the Princess Elsa accidentally freezes her sister's heart only an act of true love can save Anna from turning to ice. The Prince that Anna thinks loves her dupes her and the kiss is not what saves the day.  It was the act of sisterly love that Anna displays by saving Elsa when Prince Hans is about to kill her even as she is turning to ice. The other distinct change was that Elsa is made queen of her kingdom without having to get married and the 'Happily ever after' does not include marriage or a 'Price Charming'.

The previous movie Tangled took a slightly different take at the Rapunzel story.  Though Rapunzel is locked in the tower it and has long hair it seems she is quiet independent and is confident of defending herself with her frying pan.  She meets not a Prince but a charming thief who agrees to show her the world and in that journey she discovers who is really is. Toward the end Gothel (the villainess) kidnaps Rapunzel and brings her back to the tower. Flynn arrives to rescue Rapunzel only to be engaged in a fight with the witch but in the end its not the him but Rapunzel that saves his life and that too not by the much heard of True loves kiss but her tear that falls on him. So Rapunzel is not the damsel in distress but the Hero!
 
Brave was another movie where the Princess was an absolute rebel who did not want to get married just because it was the norm.  She fought and even beat the suitors that were competing for her hand. If she hadn't been brave and had done just as she was told she would have just been a prize to the suitor that won all the rounds.  That movie did not not have a prince or romantic angle and was more focussd on the mother daughter relationship and inspired to chase your dream.

The latest Disney movie that is a based on the story of Sleeping Beauty. Growing up we all read the story of sleeping beauty and must have watched the old Disney movie Sleeping Beauty I'm sure.  Even though there were changes to the original Sleeping Beauty story you would still love it if you keep an open mind. [spoiler alert] Maleficent does curse the baby Aurora but then she is also the one looking out for her as she grows up. Aurora calls Maleficent her Fairy Godmother because she has feels Maleficent has been watching over her since she was a baby. But the most striking change in the story is its not Prince Philip's kiss that awakens Sleeping Beauty (it does not work in the movie) but Maleficent motherly kiss that she places on the sleeping Princess' forehead promising that she will not let anything harm Aurora which brings her back to life.

The common theme in the retelling of the stories as I notice it is that:
1.  With changing times may be we are all moving away from the idea of a Prince Charming / Knight in shining armour.  The ladies can take care of themselves and can overcome barriers if they believe in themselves.
2.  True love's kiss which is an idea of the romantic love is not the only thing that can save us but there are also other relationships in our life - our family that can do the same or even more to save us.
3.  There seems to be an acceptance that a 'Happily Ever After' doesn't really need a marriage. It's not really marriage but LOVE that is needed to be happy.

All the above said I think the underlying message is that of  'Women Empowerment'.  We hear about it at our Workplace, Business, Politics and I'm guessing Disney is doing their bit in changing mindsets. Its not about special treatment for women but encouraging and providing them with equal opportunities.  In the old stoies women were just damsels in distress that had to be saved by strong men and that could be seen as conditioning of the minds to be the norm. But with changing times the stories are being re-told to usher new views.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dove Play Date - The Best Indiblogger Meet

I have been excited from the minute I saw the email from Indiblogger about the Dove PlayDate that was planned on 11th May.  I had quickly registered and called up my blogger buddy the one I met at the first Indiblogger event. This was an all ladies event held at the JW Marriot Mumbai and the dress code was anything in white!

The first thing we do at every event is register (this was the third event and I'm now getting a hang of it).  The faces are starting to get familiar and I like that feeling of familiarity.  But there were and are always many many new faces.  

As soon as we registered we were given badges with our name and a wristband with a team number.  All of us were being clubbed into teams. We were handed a map of the area and a list of the activities planned for the day.  It was all so beautiful especially the hall as soon as we entered.


 After the intital introduction we were split into teams and asked to name our team after a hair style.  We were 10 ladies and the name we finally decided on was Messy Buns.   There were a few ice breaker games followed by a quick 10 minute Zumba workout.  The workout was invigorating and set the mood for the games ahead.  

We were then explained the different games we would play and taken to the different setups.  They were all team building games. One was finding dove balls and tossing them in a basket which was quiet exciting.  Next was a hairstyling game where each lady had to pick a hairstyle and do thier partner's hair. My partner did this very pretty pony and I did her hair in another type of pony (now I wish I had clicked her pic!)

After that was a jigsaw puzzel where we had to put part of a Dove poster together.  We completed it in 3 minutes and felt quiet proud.
Team Messy Bun
 The next section was one of the best - Dove Salon where we could get pampered, relax, get a hair cut or styled.  Most laties from the team decided to curl up thier hair.  I went it for a quick trim and the hairdresser suggested I should blow dry my hair straight.  While the stewards served us delicious wine.  It was indeed very relaxing.

However our team had then to go and complete a final task called Hips don't lie - a Hula Hooping activity. None of us were any good so we just got the default score for this.
The last contest of the day was Cocktail Making.  None of us ladies in our team had ever made one.  I assumed we would be given instructions and stepped up for the task.  The judge explained what is absolutely necessary for a good cocktail - Ice, Lemon, Sugar and the Spirits. He also explained what is a large (60 ml) advising that the drink should not be strong and the different types of glasses to be used. We had a choice of three spirits to choose from - Rum, Vodka and Gin.  I had tatsed the Cosmopolitan once and had quiet liked it.  I was told it was a Vodka based drink.  So I decided to replicate it with a little twist.  I put together Raspberry juice, less than half of that large measure and added lemon juice.  This was a drink that had to be shaken - so I was advised by the assistants so I added ice and the mixture to the shaker and after some shaking poured out the drink in a Martini glass.  I added a bit of mint and we decided to name the drink 'Sassy Berry'.  When it was time for the results I was excited but since I had made a drink for the first time thouhgt I might not win and it would be okay.  To my surprise I made it third! I was really happy. Even thought it was a third place but it was something I did for the first time.

After the last event there was prize distribution for the team with maximum scores. Our team did not win but we all made some friends and it was great getting to know them.
This event was about the new Dove Intense Repair Shampoo.  I have been and advocate of Dove for quiet a few years and this shampoo is the best so far! It really takes care of your hair and let you WHATEVER you want - Iron it straight or make them curl - Dove will take care of the damage. Here's a link to the Dove page with more details on this new shampoo.

Everybody was talking about how this was the best blogger event and it was! It was also one of the most interactive events I ever attended. 11th May was also Mother's day but its made everybody at the feel special.  We were all women, mothers or potential mothers :) DovePlay made our day!

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