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Monday, November 25, 2013

Ending Violence Against Women: First, Lets End Impunity

It's 25th Nov - the day for Eliminating Violence Against Women. I began my day with the news of a senior government official in Uttarakhand - a state in northern India being accused of raping a 29-year old woman.  And I thought "well, here you go - the official proof that we really do need a day to end violence"
:Original image: oil on canvas by S. Ilayaraja

In the following hours, so many other pieces of news came in, each of them about a woman or a girl who's been violated or tortured. For example, in Assam, 4 men gangraped woman, gougeed her eyes out before killing her. In Delhi, a journalist from Tehelka news magazine who was recently sexually assaulted by her boss and chief editor Tarun Tejpal, said that she was intimidated by one of Tejpal's  relatives. Also in Delhi, the court convicted --and Nupur Talwar -a  doctor couple of murdering their teenage daughter four years ago. (And, not to forget, every 40 minutes a girl also got raped).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A toast to Tarun Tejpal!

So, just when you thought you had heard enough stories of  rape and sexual assaults and all that s**t coming of India, here comes yet another headline: Tarun Tejpal, chief editor of Tehelka - an Indian  news magazine that is known for its bold and honest journalism - has sexually assaulted one of his woman colleagues.

Now, sexual assaults are no laughing matter. And yet this one has me in splits. The reason is, this man Tarun Tejpal - one of the country's 'most respected' journalists (and also often seen as a panelist/speaker/chief guest at events organized to condemn rapes/violence against women etc) has figured out the punishment for his crime all by himself :  a 6-month long holiday which he calls "atonement".

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kartik Purnima: The Moon is beautiful tonight, so is Life!

 Its Kartik Purnima - the full moon night of Kartik - the 7th month in our Indian calendar.
They say, the moon is at its brightest tonight.  And I believe them. Because, the moon is shinning so bright, I can look back and see my childhood. Mooonlight clear.

I see a courtyard - cleaned and mopped with water mixed with cowdung in the morning. Hours later, its hardened, cool and there's not  a speck of dust anywhere.

On that courtyard, someone's drawn paintings with rice powder. This is the courtyard of my Mamu (maternal uncle) Anil Singh.


After the courtyard, comes a large, stand alone, pentagonal room. This is the 'raas mandap' (raas auditorium). On either side of the room's doors, Marigold bushes are on the bloom. Inside the room, a stage has been set for a performance. Tonight, in this Raas Mandap, a little boy and a little girl - dressed as Hindu god Krishna and his lady love Radha will sit . And surrounding them will be sixteen women of the community. They will dance and sing as Gopini (consort of Krishna) all night, enacting roles from stories of  Krishna Leela (romance of Krishna and Radha).

Monday, November 04, 2013

Groundwater: being misers is better than being paupers

Imagine yourself in a situation where a hundred bomber planes flying overhead, ripping your eardrums apart with horrible noise and belching black smoke, choking your lungs. Well I just spent an agonizing 48 ours in that situation. No, I wasn't in Syria or Afghanistan. It happened right next door when yet another neighbor was trying to bore a well. 

The noise, the smoke and a pool of flouride-filled,liquid mud left behind, was the result of that bore well drilling.

It started early morning on Friday and ended last night. In these 48 hours, they drilled up to 60 meters, I was told, but finally abandoned the drilling and left because, there was still no sign of usable water!