Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 : To WOMEN

On 23 March, 2012 on the occasion of Gudi Padwa, which signals the arrival of the Hindu New year, i achieved a personal milestone, overcame a huge personal challenge.  So moved was i by this achievement which i attained singlehandedly that i made the above Logo.

I had NO idea then, that nine months later  in December Jyoti Singh Pandey would strike like  lightning, rousing every Indian from every corner of our country, in a united outrage at the gang rape.

Yes, 2012, indeed is the year Women AWAKEN and ARISE..

Last evening i was part of a Candle march for Damini and for every  woman , a silent, peaceful protest that her death and sacrifice does not go in vain.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in 2013 would be to sustain the fight for Women's safety and let Damini be a harbinger of CHANGE in our society.  A change of mindsets that grants women RESPECT , SAFETY and EQUAL rights as citizens of India.

Good bye 2012, indeed you were like NO other year of my Life.

May we all enter 2013 with NEW perspectives on every issue that matters to us on a daily basis.

It's time to look ahead to 2013.

The count down begins..................

The 150 Milestone

Happy to share that Daffodils  has made its way to 150 countries now.

It is milestones like these that egg you on to be regular churn out yet another interesting post and enjoy Blogging.

In one day we will enter a new year.

2012 was different from any other year of my life. It was







Action Oriented

Goal oriented



Have always looked forward to the New Year, but never like this.  2013 should be awesome after the dramatic and unbelievably action packed 2012.

More about 2013 in my next post.  So enjoy the remaining hours of 2012  and wait for the countdown!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jyoti Singh Pandey : An ANGEL in disguise

29 Dcember, 2012,  2.15 a.m. An ANGEL died in Mount Elizabeth Hospital , Singapore.

To all of us Indians Damini, or Amanat, the gang rape victim, a  Physiotherapist  by profession, became a symbol of CHANGE.  Change for the way we view women   The way we view women' s safety.  The way a nation treats  the second half of is population.

For  thirteen days this ANGEL  held the country together  in one momentum that cried out INJUSTICE. protests occurred all over the country.

 We have had ENOUGH .  It was heartening to see the youth spell out their anger and outrage at this ghastly incidence.  More heartening that the literate and illiterate  BOTH condemn this ghastly act.

It was a sense  of outrage that made me and my daughter protest  at India Ggate with the Delhi cyclists.  Since Section 144 had been declared by the govt., we were  not allowed to go as per our plan to go on a silent protest from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhawan with our banners.  So we stood quietly with our banners, talking  to the media who was present there.

During the past fourteen days,  as Damini battled  with death bravely,  was  reminded of two incidents in my life.  They had been shelved in some back corridors of my life and they were fished out to the present  in wake of what Damini endured.

To be gang raped and be hit by rods.  To have rids inserted in you.  God, are they even humans? What kind of psychopaths  are these men?

My first awareness of what  it means to be a woman in this country and what kind of silent sufferings , fear and injustice a woman has to bear came at age 12.

We were in Mumbai.  The year was 1976.   My mother and my three sisters were stopping by at Mumbai on our way to Zambia.  In the short time we had in  Mumbai, we traveled via  the Mumbai local trains.

I vividly recall what i was wearing   The memory is still crystal clear.  I was wearing a maroon parallel and a green and maroon  skivi.  As we got in the crowded train and stood in the centre, a man who must have been between 25 and 30 touched me in a most offensive manner   Shell shocked i could not believe that this could happen to me when my family was around me.  But he took advantage of the crowd.  I stood frozen, bearing it all unable to protest, call for help or  say a word.  I was all of 12.  Some time later  relief came as i sat on the seat and was relatively SAFER.

I was so stunned by this incidence that till date i never told anyone about it.  But it has stayed in my memory all these years  Damini's death has led me to share my most personal encounter.

The second incidence happened when i 20. I had to travel to Delhi for n entrance exam.  The entrance  exam happened to be in between my semester dates   So i had no choice bit to travel in the afternoon, from Chndigarh after my exam was over.

It was winters and by the time i reached ISBT, it was dark.  I had taken the risk to travel and reach Delhi in the evening as my cousin had promised to pick me up from ISBT. Those days there wet no mobiles.

As i lugged my air bag ans stood waiting for my cousin to arrive, i had the scariest  one hour of my life.  Every passer by gave ma glare  a young girl, all alone, presumably waiting for someone.  And a little while later a  man  with luisty, beqdy eyes came  and stayed put near me.  He said nothinga nd did nothing, but his presence and offensive eyes  sent shivers down my spine.  I havd never seen such evil and lusty eyes in my life.

The bus in which i was travelling  had an elite looking man in his mid thirties .  As i stood waiting there he  crossed me and i was in a dilemna .  could i appeal to him for help? For protection.  He seemed well educated and  from a good family   But would he help? What if he too turned out to be suspicious.  It seemed he too was waiting for someone as he stood near  by me. Althouhg i never got any negative vibes from him  could not muster enough courage to appeal to him for help.  After ll he too was a stranger.  A man. The way this beady man looked  as i  stood there u what i needed to Oscillating between asking for help or not.   i prayed to God for my safety and wondered why my  cousin  had not been  careful enough to reach ISBT at the time we had fixed in advance.

That one hour was full of  cold fright for my safety.  And i  cursed myself for making that trip to Delhi at evening hour.  Finally when i had given up all hope of surviving that day, my cousin appeared  from nowhere and i burst out crying.  Such were our times.

Any young girl/woman who has traveled by public transport has faced  eve teasing and sexual harrasment  ( putting it so mildly) and a fear of her safety at some point of her life. When will all this change?

 As a mother of two young daughters it has always been a dilemma granting them freedom at the expense of their safety.

Perhaps the one thing which has changed is  awareness.  Today it is heart warming  to see young males fighting for women/s cause.   Raising their voice at the gross injustice of Damini's gang rape.

And it is not just the literate man who is aware of the wrongs doings happen to the women in our country.  My dhobi who has two young daughters, said  to me:

I  saw you giving your interview on NDTV.  Good to see such protest .'In sab ko PHAANSI de deni chahiye'.

And  as i sit here typing, he walks in to clean the car and says:  Ladki mar gayi.  Ab to phaansi DENI he padegi.

Damini, you are the harbinger of CHANGE.  With the  PM Dr Manmohan Singh,  The President Pranab Mukerjee ,  CM of Delhi Shiela Dixit condemning the  gang rape and subsequent death of Damini, you have singlehandedly made our country wake up to  the sorry plight of women's safety.

The fight will continue.  We will not let your death go in vain.You will live in the hearts  of not only every  Indian, but every ounce of humanity  You were indeed an ANGEL in disguise. One who sacrificed her life for  WOMEN's cause. For SAFETY  of women. For JUSTICE . For New LAWS . For exemplary PUNISHMENT. For WRONGS  against women

RIP Damini

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The TAMANA Cause

Today i spent a lovely afternoon with the  Tamana group.  This was the winter Carnival in aid of Tamana's vocational Training school and i simply had to make the journey from Faidabad to Chanakyapuri.

The Canival's venue were the lush green, enormous lawns of the British High Commission in Rajaji Marg.

The roads along side the venue were lined up with parked cars as more and more Delhites  came to show their support for the NGO and the Cause.

The whole  carnival  had a festive look with balloons  at the gate, inviting you inside.

Tamana is a non-profit voluntary organization registered in March 1984, created solely with the purpose of helping the cause of mentally challenged, multiply disabled and autistic. Tamana is recognized by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India, Department of Social Welfare; Govt. of NCT Delhi and is registered with the National Trust.

Tamana offers an Individual Educational Program for every student, aimed at social and economic independence, which incorporates special education, regular academic program through the NIOS, therapeutic interventions and vocational training. Each Centre of Tamana offers -speech, occupational and physiotherapy, life skills training, computer education, music and dance, weight management and physical fitness, sports and extracurricular activities, counseling, behaviour modification, diagnostics and assessment facilities, family counseling.

Tamana was born out of the living faith and optimism of Shyama Chona, mother of Tamana Chona, who was born with cerebral palsy. To begin with, this child was saddled with problems. But slowly, bit by bit, with the help and guidance of her mother, she started to cross the innumerable hurdles that hindered her progress. At times. her progress was nothing short of miraculous. This inspired her mother to extend the same kind of help and guidance to other handicapped children. And thus, the Tamana -the charitable society- was born.

The journey for Tamana the organization and Tamana herself has been arduous. Nonetheless both are success stories today. Tamana Chona has fought all odds and is a teacher in the Infant branch of Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram. Tamana the organisation which started with 4 students, today has hundreds of students between ages of 4 years -30 years enrolled in its three Delhi branches- Autism Centre -School of Hope, Tamana Special School and Nai Disha.

Thee was everything from Home Linen, Jewellery, Apparels , Kiddie stuff and more: 

 Students of  Tamana school and  Nai Disha, performing at the Carnival:

And finally Tamana Shona took to the stage: 

She wouldn't rest till her mother, Dr Shayma Chona joined her :)

  And she was in a real festive mood.  So she went over and invited a male audience to shake a leg

and he obliged happily!

And guess who was the Surprise of the day.  None other than the Herbal Queen.  Shahnaz Hussain came to lend support and appreciation to the Tamana Cause.

The Carnival had an inviting Food Court where you could sit and enjoy food under the bright Winter Sunshine:

For the Non Vegetarians there  were plenty of Kababs and delicacies.

And this was my Lunch :))

Innovative Cushions for Home Decor.

The mandatory Kid's Section :

As the post tells it was a wonderful Carnival for an even more wonderful Cause!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ageing with Waheeda

This article appears in Today's issue of BRUNCH Magazine. I found it  to be very good advice from an iconic actor, Waheeda  Rehaman .  So sharing it here.

ACCEPT YOU AGE : With age, you grow as a person. so learn to understand yourself.

SAY NO TO BLACK : Don't dye your hair.  when you are 70, everyone knows  you are grey, so why hide it.  So let it be.  It is more graceful.

ACT YOUR AGE : Don't try to look younger than you are. - even if you are an actor.

KEEP IT CLEAN : Don't use make up when it is not needed.  I still don't use anything but kajal, unless i am shooting or having a big event.

BE CALM : Yoga, walks and meditation help a lot.  I have been doing it for years. If you are calm from within, it always shows.

MOISTURE :  It helps,  every season

STAY HAPPY : Happiness is the key to beauty.  If you are content mentally and emotionally, you'll stay beautiful, no matter hoe old you are.

I agree with most of them.  Perhaps you too do  :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Broken Hearts

As i woke up this morning, i woke up to the deadly news of the Newtown massacre in the US.

Using three guns, Adam Lanza, age 20,  killed twenty Kindergarten  children, six adults and himself at Sandy hook Elementary school in Connecticut.

The shooting appeared to be the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, according to AP.
Reacting to the senseless and bone chilling shooting, a tearful President Obama said:

``As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.'' 

So what made Adam Lanza so mad that he forgot reason, goodness and every other sensible thing, and ALL he could think of was giving DEATH to innocent people.  His madness fueled by anger would not even spare the twenty innocent kids?

It is incidents like these which  make us wonder, where we have gone wrong as a family, as a neighborhood, as a society,  as a nation, and as a world.

Such incidents dont just happen.  They have been simmering and brewing in the killer's mind.  

There is perhaps only one remedy for such rage.  Care. Love.  Afffection. Empathy.  Hug.

But it too late.  Gone is Adam.  And gone are those innocent 26 people massacred.

A blot on 2012, just as it was on the verge of ending.

If we could learn from such incidents..... I for one am very keen to  folllow the investigation of this heinous act.

Let this be a lesson for all of us as we enter 2013.  Let us not bee unfair, to anyone. let us not hesitate from showing a little care, a little love, a little empathy.  let us endeavor NEVER to allow rage to overcome all sense of reason and logic.

We grieve for your Newtown. For your broken hearts.