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Jun 26, 2015

When the earth shook and tore our souls apart (In Nepal, two months after the earthquakes)

  I landed in Nepal today, exactly two months after the earth shattering earthquakes destroyed so much here. Apparently, there have been two minor earthquakes since I've landed, and they've become such a normal part of life here, that even I didn't notice them. But, tomorrow seems to be on alert for a big quake, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do when the earth below me shakes!
     As to why I'm here at just this time in Nepal's history, well I'm trying to be superwoman. You know when there is someone in distress or in trouble, there is this highly empathetic, big-hearted, kind souled person, who sacrifices to help those in need? Well technically I'm supposed to be playing that role.
     Let me tell you the truth. One small little me, with two small little hands that have NEVER seen hard labour, can't do anything!
     We all walk around thinking we have control over things! As I heard my friend's first hand experience of how the entire building shook off its hinges, as she watched her little brother and sisters screaming for her, only thinking "we are going to die today!" as she lied to the little ones "don't panic, it'll be fine!", that feeling of control slipped like sand between my fingers as tears rolled down my face. Few hours later she heard her home back in the village was a pile of rubble, just a few minutes before all communications died. She said when she realised what life around her had turned into, she told herself "this is life". I'm not sure if there was sadness in her voice or a sense of acceptance.
     I ask myself now, what can I really do here? How can I help? I know what the action plan for the next few weeks will be for me, but I know I can not help them, I can not help anyone here or anywhere. This is life! Disaster, dread and death are all a part of it, and I have a feeling my journey now on will be that of accepting this simple truth. I can't help it, because it's not meant to be helped.
     Humanity will continue to suffer in natural disasters, cancer, mental illness and everything that is life, and all that we have is each other, all that we have is humanity. That is why I'm here, not to help, not to build, not to be superwoman, but to be a part of humanity.

NOTE : This post is an expression of what I felt and thought about during my visit to Nepal, and hope no body is offended by my piece of writing! The people here have faced a lot in the past couple of months and this is in no way a comment on that.

Jun 2, 2015

Big Cute Puppy Eyes

     Remember that dog that just got hit, by a car that didn't even stop to see if its alive? Remember that little puppy with a broken bleeding leg crying in pain? Remember that cow withering in pain near the garbage bin? Remember that litter of kittens whose mother just got run over by a truck?

     Today I found a puppy with the cutest eyes on the road. But, it was only after falling for his buggy eyes did I notice the disease affected skin and his badly fractured leg. I knew I had to help him!
Though he was wounded, he was happy to meet someone new!

     I came running back to get a cloth that I could cover him with to pick him up, and told my mom about the little soul waiting for help. She said "don't worry! Dogs get affected on the road all the time. He'll get well without your help" .

     You guys know me well, I gave her a mean dirty stare and went ahead calling the People For Animals, Mysore to come take the puppy for treatment. But as I walked towards the puppy, I realised what my mom said wasn't as shocking as I had made it seem!

     Thousands of people had passed by the puppy in obvious pain, with the exact same thought that was running through my mom's mind. Street dogs heal on their own, we don't need to help them. Well, I'm sorry to say but you couldn't be more wrong!

     All animals, especially the ones on the streets need our help when they are injured. I'm going to say this at the risk of sounding cheesy, but they don't have a voice! They just sit there in pain waiting for help, which unfortunately doesn't ever come most of the times.

      The good news is, most cities have animal shelters with ambulance services and treatment for street animals. I have personally visited the ones in Mysore, Udaipur, Gangtok and Hyderabad. They are all amazing centres with amazing people to take care of these animals.

     Check it out RIGHT NOW, and save their phone numbers, it takes not more than five minutes. That number could help save a dog or cat in pain, the next time you notice one in a corner with a broken limb or a bleeding tail. DON'T pass them by thinking they'll be okay, they won't! Unless you help them.

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May 14, 2015

Burying our daughters

     We always tell our girls "it's unsafe outside, don't go", instead imagine a world where we told them "it's unsafe outside, go make it better!".
     The fact that I am a girl and hence vulnerable and unsafe, doesn't ever escape my mind(I'm sure a lot of women will share the same feeling), because the world around me keeps reminding me that I shall be eaten alive the very next moment. Will we ever teach ourselves to be fearless, and fight for ourselves?
     I've had to see my mother go through the struggle of letting me go, and I always thought what's her problem? I need to go out someday! But having worked with beautiful children the past two years, I can see where the protective instincts come from.
     When she finally let go two years ago, I forgot to tell her how proud I was of her! But, little did I know the world hadn't stopped trying to hide me, to bury me! People all around me, even today, 'advise me' not to travel alone, not to go out after 9 or not to hang out with young boys too much!
     But is burying our women in safety, or rather disguised safety, really the answer? What is the difference between restricting a woman from living her life fully and ending the life of a female foetus? We don't want to be responsible for either one's repercussions. 
     Nineteen years of my life my protective mom taught me that I couldn't fight for myself because the world outside was mean and evil, I wouldn't be safe. But despite the love, when I flew out of my nest the world took up the task of telling me to hide behind safety.      Ironically, as I hear these voices who only see the vulnerability of my gender, the past month has been so inspiring and uplifting because of all the strong kick-arse women I've met! I've heard the CEO of India's biggest fellowship pour her heart out, I've heard the founder of an amazing school tell me gender biases are just an excuse, I've met a founder of a weavers society who worked with them for fourteen years to empower and build an enterprise from nothing to a 5 crore turn over, and oh so many women with the power in their voices that are still flashing before my eyes.
     Maybe I should just listen to these women, and tune out the rest, atleast that's what my mom says.

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Feb 21, 2015

The Tea Boiling Over

     The year 2013 was a very tough one, especially the month of December. I lived in a typical Indian rural village, caught between the traditions of the old times and the advancements of modern societies. I had to live with a family from the village, as any other family member, experiencing their lives without the luxuries that I came from.
       Amidst all of this, was the little daughter and her friend living every day as it came. Waiting for the tea they made everyday for all household members, and watching them in their childish freedom, wrote a poem. 
      Despite the shift in the society towards womens' rights and equality, the reality in our daily lives remains unchanged. Perhaps this pain is what brought on this expression. 

The girls making serving tea in the school.
Every inch of the old dusty mud house
Touched by their loud innocent giggles
The air slowly invaded
By the aroma of the tea they make.
Their mother bathing half naked
By the open tap overlooking the hills,
Warns them of the tea boiling over,
As they continue amusing each other like kids.
How are they to know
Every minute spent here with mother
Is just another step
Towards their new destined homes?
Homes decided while they sat dreaming
Of their futures untold to them yet.

Their very mother by their side
Shall send them off with packed suitcases
Before their childhood giggles mature into a woman’s laughter.
Their innocence blind
To how their families will soon,
Very soon,
Sell them off in marriage
Only to fill their old dusty mud house
With sobs of another’s little daughter.

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