Category Archives: Social Causes & Human Rights

Children of the world

When one man dies, it is a tragedy. When thousands die, it is statistics.No one chooses to be a refugee. In a time when humans are proving to be the biggest villains, we have to step up and be the heroes for each other that we know we need. There is no running away from this. It’s time to stop being escapists and start accepting the reality of all that is going on around the world. 

Waking up to a little and then a little more heartbreak every single day, It’s easy to be sitting miles away and browsing through global crises’ and local “intolerance” wars, but the truth is we as a breed are losing our grip on humanity- a little every day. Wherever the stories are coming in from- Lebanon, Beirut, Baghdad, Afghanistan, Peshawar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, gaza, Paris, Syria- remember that this is our story. This is a world our predecessors have created for us and left us to survive in. What we build together is the only thing that will count. We are one with those without a home, without a country and without a god. We can simply not deny ourselves the reality that we are who the refugees will be, and the refugees will be who we make them. 

Acceptance is a funny thing. Dynamics do not offer the possobilities of taking sides. Having lived in Mumbai all my life apart from my time spent our studying, I understand the complicated equations of tolerance and intolerance that Indians from different parts of the country have towards each other. One cannot be blamed for being uncomfortable with people taking over their homes, their cities. With a growing population we face issues of placement and displacement all the time in India. 

However, survival is core. And that is what everything really boils down to. I think it’s imperative to recognise a feeling  of empathy towards those that are suffering. We can not get anywhere till we empathise. It’s pointless trying to decide who is right and who is wrong, this issue is must more complicated than anyone has anticipated with large scale political agendas and missions that have been in the making for decades now. 

I hope I can get the message across to whoever may be reading this, that the point is to not get drawn into the politics of the situation but rather understand the relevance of your own opinions and support towards those suffering at this point of time. We are all children of the same world, the same sky, the same God. #refugeecrisis 

 

My Story: Being True to yourself, Despite your Gender!

We are faced with turbulent times as we face a changing India in front of us, in an era where the fight for justice is inherently being fought every day, every second. It is challenging to keep up with a country which has so many changing dynamics where people’s views and ideals are constantly shifting shapes with the events making “news” around us. I have been raised in Mumbai and one of the followers of the notion that almost every Mumbaikar carries within him or herself- “You can remove a person from Bombay but you cannot remove Bombay from a person”.
In an age where India has become so aware of crimes against women and women empowerment, most girls and women don’t realize that we are consistently being built around a foundation that we need to fight for equality, raise our voices against the slightest injustice and adopt absolute intolerance towards people who “dare to enrage our modestly”, it may be an eve teaser on the road or one of the guys that gawks and stares till the hairs on your arms rise! In my opinion we women carry a rage inside us, always ready to retaliate and set the world right if necessary. Keeping this in mind, I have a story to share which my friends and family think I should talk about to send across a message to women in general, Society in particular! I have led a sheltered childhood in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai where I live with my mother who is a teacher at Hiranandani Foundation School and has single handedly brought me up in this beautiful city after the demise of my father in the early years. My mother has always taught me to be fiercely independent which might be a good way to start the retelling of my account.
This happened at the Goregaon Oberoi Mall junction, which is known not only for the tediously long signals but also for the notorious lot of eve teasers and pick pocketers who have terrorized people there springing back and forth from the adjacent Pathanwadi slums. It was a weeknight and I was travelling back from work at about 9:30 PM when my auto-rikshaw stopped at the signal junction while I furiously sat inside typing away a message on my phone. This was the same area where my colleague had been harassed by a man two nights ago who tried to snatch her bag from inside the rikshaw. The thing with any unfortunate incident is that one always thinks it cannot happen to him or herself. As I waited at the signal, Suddenly out of nowhere I felt someone pass by me almost like a ghost staring straight at me and then within a second, my phone was snatched away from my hand. I don’t remember feeling anything but instant rage at that point which has led me to opinionate that we have a latent fury that we carry wherever we go. I looked out and saw the man running towards the slums. Instantly on impulse I dropped whatever I was holding, jumped out of the rikshaw and ran behind the man. I followed him into the slums and ran behind him through the turning and twisting alleys of the slum. Soon people in the slum started noticing that something was up, and before I knew it I was joined in my chase by 10-15 other people- men, women and children.
As we ran behind the guy who had my phone, we suddenly reached a dead end where three men were standing having a conversation. Seeing us run into the clearing chasing the thief, the men rounded him up and started questioning me as to why I was chasing him. At that moment all I could feel was fury. So much rage it is almost impossible to fathom. It was then that I realized, I felt this way not because the man had run away with my phone but because he thought he COULD just snatch my phone and run away, not because he ran away with something that was not his but because he thought he COULD just violate my personal space and then run away because a “girl would not chase him” or a “girl would not risk the chase into a chawl” or a “girl would rather lose her phone than FIGHT”!
Fathoming all the strength and rage I could, I slapped the man hard against his face. He was shocked. I will never forget the look on his face, which screamed that he had not expected this and then the people around me took over as I began to catch my breath and understand what it was that had taken over me. I then dragged the man out while the slum dwellers told me how common this had become and that I should hand him over to the cops. Next thing I knew he snatched his hand back and ran into the busy street, and while I stood there holding my phone I realized I have never seen anyone running for their life the way I saw him that day.
As I thanked the slum dwellers for their help I realized that I had left my bag in the rikshaw when I had run behind the man on impulse and just as I was beginning to lose faith in humanity there I saw the auto rikshaw guy, standing on the side of the road searching for me, with my bag in his hands. There is a reason why we love our Mumbai auto rikshaw bhaiyas no matter how much grief they give us they will never lag behind when it comes to honesty. I took the rikshaw and went over to the closest police station where I lodged a complaint. At first none of the police officers wanted to write down an FIR against someone from the pathanwadi slums but on much coaxing and seeing my bruises they agreed and made an entry.
All this while the rikshaw driver waited with me at the police station while I called my colleagues over telling them what had happened. I realized I had dropped my wallet on the street as well and gave up hope on finding it almost as soon as I had realized it was missing. However, about an hour after the incident I got a call on my phone asking me if I had lost my wallet! When I asked the man on the phone where he had found it he said he had found it fallen at the signal but hadnt been able to locate anyone around it or find a number to contact. So he used my shopper’s stop card to call the store, find my number and return the wallet to me! To see someone go through such an effort just to return something to the rightful owner just after seeing someone steal something from me had me overwhelmed, and it was then that I realized the paradox which was this city! A day of so much bad, and yet so much good!
My friends have often debated whether it was right of me to chase the man that day, I know my family would prefer me not pulling stunts but the fact of the matter is that if I had not run behind the man the other day, a part of my would have always carried the weight of that around. Women go through a lot in this country on a daily basis, and I believe that it is the women of today that can change that. We can’t wait for men to come and change the way things are, it is time to take responsibility and to fight our own battles. The answer may not always be running behind a stranger or getting into inadvisable confrontations. But the answer does lie in being true to yourself and not letting a gender bias ever, ever hold you back.