Friday, March 12, 2021

THIS IS NOT A WOMAN’S DAY SPECIAL!

 This is not for women alone and not a woman's day special ! This is for true humans, for real life hero's, for leaders embracing diversity and inclusion and for the one's who are taking proactive steps for initiating global changes that is much needed today.

I was born a human about 46 years back. My parents had no qualms about my gender. Some family members did as we were a family dominated by the girl child but dad simply whiffed them off. They were celebrating my worth as a human. They aimed to raise me as a true human and I pray everyday that their wish comes true even if they are in their heavenly abode.

When I was 6 years old, someone from my family touched me. He hushed up the incident and I was too young to understand that there is a demarcation between being just a human and being a woman. My parents and teachers in school were trying to figure out the reasons why I was losing concentration in my studies. For the next two years another family member continued abusing me (between 7-9 years) during his occasional visits in our house.


I have spoken about my abuse many times, written, spoken about it on public platforms but I could not ever let go of those moments that caused so much damage to me, physically and mentally. By the time I started my cycle, I was having distorted ideas about my body because there was no outlet or counselling for my internal trauma.

No matter how much I had risen from those ashes and picked up my arms to hit out for any social menace, it had become impossible to let go of it.

With time I gradually taught myself to accept that, love my body, however it is, and rise above the abuse. I believed in myself, learning to trust the fact that I was rising above the challenges.

I grew up with the honest principals instilled in me and took the courage to speak about the challenges women in general are subjected to. I took charge of ensuring that women, including myself to rise beyond the shame and look past the negativity we all go through at some point in life. With time, I started sharing my experiences either through writing or public speaking and counselling many other women like me who faced deeper hardships in life. With help from my peers, I learned to overlook the shame which I was no longer ashamed of, and cherish what I was within as a human.

Till the time someone touched some my body, which was not even properly developed, I was bought up by two amazing human beings, my parents, who never made me feel that there is any difference between being a girl and a boy. My teachers in school had a farsight about how to enhance the human mind and later in life I realized their guidance and inspiration always work wonders to instill self believe and trust in myself.

Till someone hit and abused me for being his woman, I never felt the difference between the genders. For being married, for being a daughter in law and for not being a biological mother – the list never ended - I was always made to feel all the difference because of my gender. If at all there were actually any differences! The difference was simply and just socially made by humans – taboos served on an artificial platter of inflated egos and the sense of inferiority!

With time, I realized how the taboos were filling up my platter. Though I did understand all of them, I ignored to touch them and tried my best to keep others away from them too.

I was bought up in a liberal ambience with much to learn from. My male friends, who belonged to a neighboring school used to come over to my house to chat up with my father and gorge on the delicacies my mother made. My parents were very excited when I joined the Leadership Training Service in school under the mentorship of a teacher who may have realized that I was abused physically as a child.

Joining LTS enabled me to hone my skills and improve my concentration level. Though I remained an average student all through, my parents or friends never belittled me due to that. Neither that did not act as a hindrance for me to move ahead. I completed my post graduation in Mass Communications and started my professional journey after my marriage. I continued my passion for writing, public speaking, photography with the constant support of my parents and peers. We all face our shit in our way. The hurdles - with each experience, is a learning experience which we need to overcome and accept.

A woman might seem vulnerable when her circumstances are challenging or when she is facing a personal, professional and financial turmoil and the flesh may seem to come for free, but it doesn’t always work that way. It is integral to hold onto our beliefs, no matter what!

I didn’t feel till then that if I married the man of my choice, I would have to fight for my identity and my space. I didn’t feel till then that I was any different from a boy. My parents never told me or taught me that. Even if I feel all this today at the helm of 46, I am proud of who I am.

I refuse to be judged on the basis of my looks or my relationship status or my financial limitations and do not encourage anyone including women who stick onto social taboos that are often a part of our dual faced society! 

I have some grey matter, I hope! I certainly love learning everyday from my workplace, from my seniors. I look upon them and derive the inspiration to be a better human being everyday. I may smoke and drink occasionally but that makes me no different from a man who has probably been bought up the same way I was. I love to travel, take pictures, I love my pets. I enjoy talking to people from any part of the world, for heaven’s sake, I am a human and a woman who has created her own space for respect. My liberal upbringing doesn't make me available for anybody and everybody, anytime.

I am more than a pound of flesh, as a human, a woman, I have an identity. We all do. Even a woman who’s in the flesh business is – she’s doing her job. She deserves some respect. Our social taboos have already crippled us. Definitely when the respect of a woman is torn off, the man who rapes her has a distorted thinking pattern. Before punishing the men, it is important to teach them to walk the right path. To ensure every child has a healthy upbringing. The cycle of growth in our society moves in a zig-zag pattern, where gender disparity plays a pivot role for the challenges women face in their daily life.

It is beyond high time to encourage gender equality and address the challenges of gender differences that has spread like a global pandemic in today’s world.

Over the last year when COVID took the better of our lives, huge numbers of girl child has been forced to step back from the education they were receiving due to various reasons. We have to encourage education no matter how and contribute in our own way to erase the differences. We need to enable women to empower themselves so that they can freely contribute to the changes in the global scenario. It is important and a significant aspect to enable women to respect themselves so that they never face the inequalities, injustices and disparities which many face today. 

 This is not a woman’s day special article. This is a human day special.

 Whatever we go through, we have to go on. The hardships teach us lessons, and we learn from them and move on.  

 


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Gift of the Judgement Day





Someone I know told me that day, ‘people had such a bad impression about me when I was struggling!’

I paused for a moment and asked him, ‘does any of that make a difference now?’

Mr Cool Boy, this one is for you.

Do the perceptions of other people matter? Is first impression always the last impression? Questions about how people judge us do the rounds in our mind or even by word of mouth, but if we pause for a while and think if any of that actually makes a difference, the answer is a big No!

Mr Cool Boy (name not published for judgmental reasons!) is one such person I met during my professional journey. Much junior to me, this young bright boy had completed his higher studies and was somehow struggling to get a job initially. That phase was leaving him confused and restless. Though doubts were creeping in his mind, he always seemed to be confident about himself and kept moving on despite the challenges he was facing. 

He looked beyond the obvious. People were talking behind his back; giving him negative vibes and making him feel low about himself. He was wondering where all his hard work will lead to. But kept saying, ‘I know I can do it, it’s just a matter of time’. And then one day he messaged me and shared that he has got his first job. A moment to congratulate him and celebrate indeed.

Upon talking to him further, he mentioned that he got the job by applying for it through a routine job application. After months of trying to start his career, he cracked an interview and got selected by a reputed organization. I met him recently and he asked, ‘people had such misconceptions about me, hope all that has changed.’ I told him, in fact, kind of asked him, ‘did all of that really make any difference to who you are today? Did those misconceptions and judgement matter? What matters is that you are proud of who you are today, and how you made it. Nothing else does.’

In a bid to separate the wheat from the chaff, people get into the habit of forming a perception about other people, being judgmental and spreading negative vibes. It seems to become very easy to judge people and demean them by picking up on some of their actions. When we turn on the judgement button, everything about people and situations seems to make a difference. However, at the same time we fail to realize that we all are different in our own ways. We have our unique qualities. We are defined with our own characteristics.

Though we cannot stop people from being judgemental and negative about us, we can learn from our experiences that any judgements made by others do not help us grow in anyway. In a process to impose our perceptions on others, we fail to realize that each individual has their own integral patterns which should be recognized. Pulling down someone with our judgement and opinion doesn’t help anyway.During the struggling days, I noticed that while there were seniors who were guiding and recognizing him for his achievements, there were others who were speaking negative things about him. While he was trying to keep things casual, there were times he could actually feel the negativity spreading. That phase gradually passed with patience, consistency and learning from his experiences and knowledge. Not for him alone, but that’s how it should be for everyone else.

We are not born with good or bad qualities and characteristics. We acquire characteristics through the journey. We falter. We fail to learn many times. But I am sure there is some learning at some point of time. While uplifting one another is vital, it is also important to continuously evaluate ourselves through the process. While ignoring people who keep hitting us with negative vibes is not always easy, it is important to shift the focus from that one point of melodrama. To trust ourselves, to be confident and keep moving.


Do not judge, but continue to empower. Mr Cool Boy, you deserve more than you think you do. Be who you are.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Motivators can feel low too



A young dashing fella about 14 years old, asked me on my visit to Goa in 2012. I was doing a workshop with one of slum schools there during my visit and he was one of the most interesting children I came across. I couldn't turn my back to his query.

The conversation started with a casual hi and how are you. When I answered I am fine, he instantly baffled me by saying, "I saw you crying sometime back. You are not fine."

Silent for a while, I decided to have a face to face with the child and told him, "I didn't know you noticed I was crying. But I am kind of low, upset, silent and not doing anything much today."

He looked at me for a while and then asked me, "would you like to take me for a small walk by the sunset?" I obliged.

As we walked in silence towards the sunset, he said after a while, "How can you feel low? You are so strong and motivate people all along the way." 


I looked at him and could feel the tears brimming up in my eyes. I wanted to hide my tears but didn't do so. The child looked at me, almost dumbstruck. He probably didn't except to see my tears.


After a silent pause, he held my hand with a firm grip and said, "it's okay. You don't have to say it now. Maybe some other time." I was certainly take aback by this kid's maturity and gained some composure by then. We walked in silence on the beach as the sun was setting.

I then told him, "Thank You for understanding. But you know what, we are all humans. A motivator too has feelings and can be in pain. I agree I always tell others to keep smiling through challenges, but I also tell them it's okay to cry. It's okay to feel sad. It's okay to express our feelings and let go."

The child looked at me and smiled. I smiled back at him too. We sat there and watched the sunset and after sometime headed home.

He never needed to ask me anything after that for the rest of the days I was there. Whenever we met, we had the best conversations and lessons to learn from each other. Today, he's a grown up adult, well established in his life. We remain connected and have lots to share.

"Be blessed thy pain, if not for you, I would have never experienced the meaning of happiness and freedom."

pic courtesy (c)upal_rene, Goa, 2012

Friday, November 15, 2019

Let the Child in You Take Charge



A child raped. Forced into child labour. Forced into prostitution. Forced into drugs. Forced into violence. Forced into pregnancy. Forced into married. The list is never ending. The force is never stopping.
Solutions, laws are there, but the eradication of all these forceful activities against children globally are nowhere close by to stop. 
For each child, their childhood should be preserved. Their freedom. Their rights. Their innocence. But, each is denied in a large percentage globally and in our country too.
The real world should have a holistic ambiance for children to grow up with peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality, and solidarity. But the global scenario for the same gives a different picture which again unfortunately is real. Leaving apart the statistics and the countless researches and initiatives done on a constant basis to ensure a healthy life for a child, we do have a long long way to go.


In many parts of our country children are often deprived of education, right nutrition and care for a healthy and fulfilled life. They are forced to live a life that refuses to give them a space to grow and develop, denied of their right to survive or be raised with protection.
All these factors not only affects the society as a whole, but badly damages the child’s well being, mental and physical. To deny the fundamental rights of a child and rob them off their innocence itself it a heinous crime. But where does all this end? What are the solutions to this ever impending problem? Is there a day in the near future when we will children in the entire world living a healthy, happy and free life?
Well, to write of this or anything related to this on Children’s Day that is celebrated in India today is not to denote anything special. I write this on the eve of Children’s Day because it is important for all of us to remember that only by putting up balloons or cutting cakes in schools we are not celebrating the rights of children.
To celebrate each and every child, we need to ensure the fact that they are given their rights as children and future citizens of the world. 

It is important to remember and to set aside any other discrimination to ensure that each child indeed should and does celebrate his/her childhood. 

It is mandatory to give them access to education, good health, protection and all other aspects that contribute to their overall well-being.
I start the article with the darker side because that is the naked reality. Not to increase the negativity but in hope that each one of us take charge to change the way it is. 

To stand with every child. To give them freedom and to imagine and get a free sky to grow and explore themselves. 

Ending this article with the lines from Imagine by John Lenon - “Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky”. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Comfort Zones Decoded


What are comfort zones? What makes or breaks them? What defines them? What are their parameters or boundaries?
The existence of comfort zones is the most wanted thing in life. A make belief shield that is imbibed in us since childhood, a comfort zone is created to make us believe that everything in life is comfortable. Stopping us to learn and be prepared for the unknown challenges we face through the entire journey of life.

The entire journey, however, is to decode the myth of the comfort zone. which is nothing but a notion that makes us wary of facing fears in life.



When it comes to humans, comfort zones take a different turn as it is associated to all good and comfortable things in life. While we wish a good life for ourselves and everyone else, such is not the case always. To learn to accept what exists in our current situation, to practice overcoming fears and disappointments is to take a step ahead out of the comfort zone. To know the limitations of life, to challenge ourselves and take failure as our teacher. To be on a continuous fight to make the best out of life and break the limitations gifted by ‘comfort zones’.

With time, each and every experience in my life has enabled me to give up the set comfort zone, designed in my mind that I thought existed when I was younger. As I grew, I learned to build the best out of the worst of situations and times.

When carrying the baggage begins a burden and we are caught up in a tight spot unable to come out of that space, we must take a step and move out of that specific zone.



Yesterday was another day. Today is another. In such situations, it becomes vital to realize and reset our priorities. Every time I fail, I keep telling myself: This is the worst and the best I have to myself, and I have to live through it. All that is going wrong – it will pass. There is some unseen door which will open at the most unexpected moment. Not only for myself, but for all of us. 

Each time the comfort zones try to scare me, I tell myself, have faith and embrace the unknown. In situations like this I repeatedly ask myself what is important. The finances, yes. More than that, it is my identity and integrity. My mental peace.The moment our fears know that we are stronger than them, they would not try to mess up with us. Dark situations are naked realities we have to learn from.



With multiple issues and responsibilities, it boggles me down at times, like anyone else I am sure. There are days when I find a blank canvas in front of me with no hope. But good grief! It’s blank. I can draw a random stroke across the canvas anytime.

That time is NOW. That space is Hope! That is where freedom lies, to explore and start from zero again. A voice from within tells me, with every comfort zone I decode – I grow one step closer in becoming a stronger human. This applies for all of us, to move with the flow, with what we have. With what makes us. With what we are. And in the process find ourselves.

Create your comfort zone in moments of ‘dis-comfort’, defined by you. Be prepared to face the uncertainties of life, and as you confront each one of those moments, learn to embrace them. To clearly identify the discomforts and accept and overcome them, like the peeling of the dead skin, let go of the set comforts we are used to.

We should take the journey through our ‘un-comfortable zone‘, to prepare us for the hard knocks in life. Taking risks prepare us to face the unprecedented situations in our life. They help us know move out of the ‘comfort zone’ and explore the potential we have.

During the fall, we all need to continue our fight and never ever give up. After a certain period of time, we all realize, that the darkness, failures, the deep painful wounds of life give us the push to go on. There is some light inside the deepest darkest rooms of life.

 That is what we all need to start trying, try to float. Yes, you just have to make it possible to take that one step forward. To just keep going on, for not being ashamed of yourself for anything, not drowning with how people judge us and go on with the flow.

The protected, safe and nurtured zone is a blessing indeed. However, the moment the bubble bursts – we curse life and blame situations or our surroundings. Comfort zones limits us to fears because of the little that we are allowed to know. Nothing can be taken for granted, nothing can be shielded by an unbreakable mold forever. Things will fall apart, things will happen in unpredictable ways, and that will teach us that ‘comfort zones’ are a myth.

 Being honest to ourselves help us go a long way. Practicing self-honesty gives us a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

To move out of the routine, to explore the unknown, to stand on the verge of an edge – We need to do it all to test ourselves. To take the test and to pass through them. Even if we fail, to learn to rise from them and that’s exactly how we learn that the comfort of ‘comfort zones’ are nothing but a myth.

 Comfort zones teach us that the dark is full of evil happenings. Trust me it doesn’t. Explore life, talk to strangers, and take a walk down the untrodden path. Stumble. Fall. Be open to try new things in life. Even if that doesn’t work out for you, know that you will learn something from it. To move ahead and try again. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rise Above The Shame


Over time, most of the time many people have made me feel that I should be ashamed of my story. The dark part. The bad part. They made me feel and told me that the least I should ever even dare to try to do is speak about the dark sides of my life. They tried to convince me that I will be shunned upon, hated, looked down upon, outcasted from the society. Many times my parent were told that I was way too liberal and restless in nature.

Little did I realize at that tender age, that the activities my parents and teachers got me involved into would make me - UNASHAMED.

What I learnt from my father and mother, some of my teachers and rock-solid friends, taught me in silent words to rise above the adversities and not be ashamed of them.

Yes, I am not ashamed of my story. Because my story is good, bad and ugly. Because I learnt with time that if I can love the good part of the story of my life and that of others, why can I not channelize the bad moments, situations and turn them to driving strengths?
I am not ashamed of my story because it taught me to accept myself, the obstacles in life, face them, collapse and rise up again. All in a cycle called life. Today, I rise above the social stigmas and encourage people not to be ashamed of their story. 

I sit with myself and others to have a tête-à-tête often. What I was deprived of in my childhood and what I was blessed with from my early years makes me who I am today. I have more to learn and grow, till my last drop.

My story - which people thought I should be ashamed of comprised of sexual abuse as a child. I could not speak about to it for years because I did not know it was something to be spoken about. Four decades back there was more of hush hush to talk of such issues and hide it under the table. The stigma still exists. Break the wall!

My story witnessed a disturbance in the marital life of my parents for years due to the influence of other relatives, how they overcame those attempts made by people trying to break the marriage, ruin their life and that of mine - how they fought it together, planting seeds of unbreakable faith and strength in myself for always. Patience and perseverance pays.


The dark side of my story which others decided I should be ashamed of - I am not ashamed of, even today. The dark side of my story only made me stronger, bold, cut throat, a stubborn motivator.
The irony, the society I live in told me in more ways than one that I should be ashamed of myself because I am bold, I am fearless. As a girl, I shouldn’t be so. Hell! No, I am not ashamed to be so.

A marriage out of love became estranged with time. An abortion and two miscarriages. I did not become a biological mother later. 

I was told not to talk about it as not being able to give birth to a child is considered something to be ashamed of in our society. No, I am not ashamed to be labelled as 'infertile'. I am not ashamed of my story. 


Losing my father - my idol; my mother - my bestie to an accident, there I was, broken, shattered, tattered and torn. Turned alcoholic, became an active smoker. I came out from there with strength. No, I am not ashamed to say it all.

A sexual abuse at workplace – in the hospitality industry - which almost attempted to ruin my life, my estranged husband stood by me and fought for me. No, I am not ashamed just because things did not work out perfectly between us. He stood by me and told me, “Do not be ashamed of your story.”

Therein came multiple nervous breakdowns, lying in a comatose state when a miracle called the love of life happened to me. When I was back from the hospital, some people started saying I have gone insane and stayed away from me. I Thank God they are not anywhere around me today.

Some people wearing the mask of well-wishers, wanted to sleep with me. Many suggested my life will turn around if I take personal and professional favours underneath the tables. No I am not ashamed for not giving in to their whims and fancies.

Penniless, broken, I was crawling inside my room. The darkness taught me a lot. My friends stood unconditionally by me. Because I call a spade a spade, does not imply I am not soft. My heart goes out for my friends and even strangers who have faced worse situations in life. It’s all a part of the struggle, a part of the fight, till the last breath.

A woman, whom I trusted to be my friend, stabbed me. A man in the disguise of a well-wisher till date attempts to ruin the social and private life that of myself and the best of my friends because I refused to sleep with him. I gathered my ashes up and am taking legal help. I do not know if Justice prevails in my country, but I will at least be able to look eye to eye with myself, telling, “Yes, I tried.” No, I am not ashamed of my story.





Confused relationships, broken heart, love finding its way maybe to be lost again – I am not ashamed of my story. At every turn I rise from my ashes, I crumble, I cry, I fall, I laugh, I writhe in pain, I have fun times with friends, family and my dogs. I write, I continue working professionally.

I am on a constant drive to empower humans - either through my writing, or through speaking on public forums, raising awareness and motivating myself and others to rise up and say – NO! I AM NOT ASHAMED OF MY STORY. DARE ME IF YOU CAN. PERIOD.

#beproudofyourstory #empoweredwoman #strenghtofwomen 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My beautiful wife…


He does not tell her most of the times how pretty she is looking. He does not ask her for a selfie when he wants to see her. At times, when she teases him asking him how she is looking when she is going for a party or has dressed up for an occasion, he just says one thing, ‘my beautiful wife.’
He addresses her as his beautiful wife not because he feels that she is good looking. It’s because he believes and knows that she is a beautiful human being from within.
At a time she did not realize who or what she was, he silently watched her and told her in unsaid words, ‘you have it in you.’ He appreciated her for strength, her confidence and her grace all along.
When her strength was breaking, he was right there to hold her and give her that lift. Every time she was splitting up, he remained calm and patience because he believed in her.
When she fought with him over silly reasons, he kept up with her. He fought back and they both made up by being there for each other irrespective of their differences at times.
When she was sick, he didn’t care whether her hair was unkept, whether she did not have any make-up, what she was wearing – he wanted to see her no matter what every day, every moment. The smile on his face lighted her up. Yes, indeed, she felt she was beautiful for who she was and what she is.
With all the years that passed in-between them, he for once did not let the courtesy, gratitude and care wear off. The same person, whom, once upon a time, one she would thank for little things, now felt and realized what she actually was worth.
The unsaid words, his untold conviction in her paid off. Every time he reached out to her, he made her days filled with opportunities to tell how fulfilling the relationship meant for both of them.
Like all humans, she knew there were imperfections. In fact, she had a lot of flaws that she hated to admit. But he knew them all and he loved her anyway. When they both said "yes" to walk together, giving a meaning to each other’s life, they became companions forever.

On the beginning of another year of togetherness, she thanks him for choosing her. She thanks him for putting up with her. With all the imperfections, the flaws, the scars, the trials, he made her truly feel, “his beautiful wife.”