Picture Monologues- Bhutan !

A few of my Photographs from Bhutan recently featured in the Eneloop campaign gallery, and are currently in the running for the Eneloop Asia Contest in India powered by Shutterlock and Better Photography Magazine (https://eneloop.shuttlerock.com/content/2nd-photo-contest-in-india)

These photographs are symbolic of the peace and tranquility that I experienced when I was travelling through the Last Shangri-la, as they call it. Expression without words is probably the most effective way to convey to you what I felt on my trip to this country. Some of my favorite shots, compiled into this post..


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How deep is your Love? – #neverstaysilent against animal abuse

“The Darkest corners of hell are reserved for those, who in times of a crisis maintain neutrality.”

It is a little challenging not to wake up and voice your thoughts when mornings begin with “news” like this. A little over a year ago an incident that occured in the Delhi zoo where Vijay the Tiger “maulled” a man to death compels you to question- What is the extent to which one can be held responsible for his or her Reactions? As the “responsible” people in power sat and contemplated whether Vijay had turned into a man eater and should be “put down” , it made many of us wonder if “putting an animal down” or “executing and clearing landmasses because they were potential roads” were options commonly resorted to just because they were feasible and easy actions that COULD be performed.

You see, there is nothing special about us Humans. The greatest advantage that we have over other species is that we have the power to choose. The power to choose what we do with our lives, and unfortunately to choose what we do with other’s lives. Blame it on an age long struggle to ensure survival of the fittest or simply the lack of anything more imaginative, we humans have become a selfish race, a lazy race which would rather get rid of problems than face them. In light of cruelty subjected towards animals in the past year, I would like to take this opportunity to express grief, sorrow and fury… but lets not forget shame over the actions of my fellow humans.

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I have always maintained through my articles that we have been pushed into turbulent, disturbed times where no man and no animal is safe. Seeing acts of atrocities towards animals in specific and this planet in general all over the the world, one begins to question the basic core of his or her own foundations. Are we as a race really so discontent that we look for such outlets to destroy and acquire? I have listed a few events here which in my opinion need to be escalated, need to be pondered upon. Take some time out, click on the links, see whats happening and process it. This happened, but whats important is what can be done about it now that its out there. These events affected me deeply and I cannot wake up everyday knowing this is still happening while I do nothing. Circumstances have made me an activist and I hope that a look into a mere handful of cruelties in the last year will shake your beliefs and awaken your soul as well.

Whale Hunting in Japan, Iceland, Faroe Islands- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/faroeislands/11762447/Horrific-images-show-slaughter-of-250-whales-in-Faroe-Islands-hunt.html

Follow WDC- an organization committed to helping dave whales and dolphins around the world- http://us.whales.org/wdc-in-action/whaling

More than 2000 whales killed every year. (Above) A pic from the whale hunting festival, Farow Islans 2015

Dog Meat festival in China – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-33220235

Upto 10000 Dogs  Tortured, Mutilated, killed and eaten every year in China. Picture from the Yulin festival 2015

Dolphin hunting festival, Japan

To fight Such hunting practices and to help release  whales and dolphins back into the wild in a challenging fight against Sea worlds around the world, follows Ric O’ Barry’s Dolphin project and be part of a movement which is the need of the hour. Always aiming at #thecoverunsblue.

You can also follow the Ocean preservation society and Mission Blue, which is fighting the never-ending doog fight everyday.

Dolphin killing in Taiji.. Picture from the OVS journalism blog

Lion Poaching in Africa: http://www.worldanimalprotection.org.in/news/un-resolution-tackles-illegal-wildlife-trade-wake-cecil-lion-outrage

Be it Cecil the Lion’s story who was poached within a sanctuary or the the fight against zoos and parks which use lions as entertainment value-ads, You can follow inspiring leaders like Kevin Richardson or follow World Animal Protection to do your bit and help make a difference!

Kevin Richardson- The Lion Whisperer. Follow him to be inspired each and every day!

Shark Poaching, Africa- http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29418983

Shark poaching in Somali

Shark Poaching in Somali

Tiger Hunting: www.savetigersnow.org

Tigers today have advanced towards the endangered species list. There used to be over 100,000 roaming the asian wild with less than 322 left today.

WHY HASN'T THIS MADE IT TO THE NEWSPAPER COVER?
WHY HASN’T THIS MADE IT TO THE NEWSPAPER COVER?

In the name of Fashion?

Canada Seal Slaughter – http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur/canadian-seal-slaughter/

Skinning of crocodile and snakes for fashion, All in the bags and shoes- http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/exotic-skins-animals/

Don’t get me wrong, I love my bags and shoes, but in today’s day and age of alternatives isn’t there an ethical way to be fashionable? Be responsible, not callous.

Monkey Kidnapping in india- http://www.petaindia.com/blog/alleged-monkey-kidnappers-arrested/

Poaching of Rhinos- http://www.kariega.co.za/blog/video-thandi%E2%80%99s-inspirational-story-and-baby-rhino

From Poaching victim to Doting Mom, Follow Thandi the Rhino’s inspirational rescue story through wildlife film-maker Adrien Stern

As of today, September 2015- Experts claim that there has been a decline in the natural ecosystem and corresponding wildlife by 52%. 52%.. If now is now the time to wake up, I don’t know when is. Animal populations have halved, fresh water species have dwindled by 76 %, marine animals show a decline of 39%. Tigers and elephants are being driven towards extinction while the human population has doubled. What now? It doesn’t really matter what you work for, if you you remain this apathetic towards the state of your own planet, and of the animals on it. Please live responsibly, and work everyday towards making a change. Little changes DO matter. Follow world organizations, almost all of which have active branches in India. Volunteer, make a difference, and more importantly learn to say NO!

I have been to several animal enclosures around the world, The Tiger temple in Thailand, Sea world enclosures in Asia, elephant orphanages in Sri Lanka…but I honestly believe that we are conditioning animals in a way that is against their nature. Before we forget how we are supposed to exist, let us join hands and do the right thing no matter how hard it may seem. Join the movements protesting against the taming of wild animals for the sake of entertainment and focusing on releasing them into the wild, the only right way to co-exist. And if we do take their responsibility lets take better care and speak up for those who do not have a voice. Let us not come to a stage where we lose faith in humanity altogether.Wildlife-population-decline-jpg
Main Threats to SpeciesJoin world organizations today- WWF, PETA, Greenpeace International, Greenpeace India, Change.org, Humane society International India- Something. anything. Our own extinction starts with the extinction of every minute species that has died in the name of humanity. There is so much awareness today, everyone is fighting some or the other battle, whether iit involves freedom of animals from circuses, putting an end to animal sacrifice, preventing destruction of mangroves.. but mostly I’ll probably just request you to go easy on yourselves, take a moment and decide how you can make a difference. the world is well connected today, it is smaller than we think it is absolutely fragile. Its time to stop taking it for granted and show some compassion to fellow humans, to stray dogs, to animals and to nature.

Maybe it is time to Stop acting like we actually have another planet to go to.

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I will #neverstaysilent against animal abuse. #tryme

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.