" It's the same land, the same sky, but perceptions differ
it's the same road, the same turn, but journeys differ. "

Sunday, 27 April 2014

LIVES IN EXILE: Exploring the Inner world of Tibetan Refugees

“I look at myself in a full length mirror, not once but twice and I see a void… Nothing, not a thing. Am I really invisible? Exiledom is a process of being made less a person than a non-person.”
-Gullerino Crabera Infante (a Tibetan refugee)

My intrigue and admiration for Tibetan people started with my interaction with a few of them at a sweater bazar (http://promenadeforyou.blogspot.in/2013/03/tibetans-in-exile.html). From then on, any news concerning the refugees from Tibet or Indian confrontations with China or His Holiness Dalai Lama’s peace plans has always caught my attention, almost instinctively. I read and followed many sites and books on the issue but one of the amazing works of note is by Ms/ Mrs (I’m not sure) Honey Oberoi Vahali. She is an Associate Professor at Department of Psychology, Delhi University. She has compiled and analyzed stories that date back to at least 3-5 decades back when the very lovely people of Tibet had to flee from their homes, leaving their hearts behind. The book, LIVES IN EXILE: Exploring the Inner world of Tibetan Refugees, is a heart wrenching collection of real stories of people who have faced severe inhumanities and troubles and who, despite all the wrath didn’t succumb to death. Instead, they gathered courage and fought for their rights. One cannot ignore noticing that they are still fighting for their cause but peacefully and this makes their fight special.

It amazes me how, after the extreme level of difficulties, torture and inhuman behavior these people had to face; they have still chosen the path of non-violence and peace. Buddhism is a very strong religion, I must say. It teaches you to forgive and be at peace with your body and soul, because unless that happens; you will never be able to forgive your own tormentors. While reading the book, I came across stories of ladies, who were raped repeatedly and not allowed to have a bath or change clothes for 11 years! (How long is that? Ever wondered?) Every month when they had menstrual bleeding, they let their blood flow to ground and kept wearing the same clothes, didn’t wash and kept living in filth and dirt. I came across stories of men who were paraded naked and were given electric shocks but the unity of Tibetan people didn’t give way. These people were fighting for a bigger cause, for freedom from exile, for freedom of life. When His Holiness seeked refuge in India, many Tibetans followed. Indian government allotted places in Manali, Dharamsala and Mcleodganj to them and they started re-building their lives here. But when life is harsh and struggle-some, God is bound to take more merciless decisions. Initially people were kind and helpful but with time, the sense of having helped for much longer than expected has peeped in. Troubles have started brewing in the lush green and peaceful valley of Himachal and Tibetans have nostalgically started feeling uprooted once again. When you live in a place for more than 4 decades, when you have seen your children growing and getting married at a place, you make it your home, another home. The Tibetans still struggle for food, to keep hunger at bay, to educate their children but for them, life is here.

While the old Tibetans, who have faced the cruelties first-hand, are still in turmoil inside, they say the younger generations have become materialistic. They are more interested in mobiles, bikes and brands and less interested in knowing about the struggles of their forefathers. Although many young and active volunteers like Tenzin Tsundae, and people from TYC (Tibetan Youth Congress) have come up with foundations and charities which work extensively for the cause of freedom from exile, the more common ones still look detached. This hurts the elderly who still have nightmares about getting raped, about being paraded naked, about being tortured by inserting things into their vagina/ anus, about their nails being chipped by bamboo fine sticks and about being hungry for ages. Those who have seen the nightmarish days have set up schools and institutes (Norbulingkar Institute, Tibetan Children Villages, TIPA, etc.) to protect their heritage, arts and culture.

Mcleodganj, a small hamlet in Himachal Pradesh is a savior of sorts. It is home to 3 sets of uprooted people- Gaddis (refugee Muslims), Tibetans (people from Tibet/Lhasa) and the local Dharamsala people (from Sind). I feel proud of the fact that we have provided homes to the uprooted but the recent news of upheavals in the valley, about clashes between local people and refugees, pains me enormously. Although I understand that where 3 sets of cultures and people mix, languages mix, co-existence becomes tough but at the same time, I believe that sheltering and helping is the best form of mankind. If we lose hope and heart, lives will go haywire. I am not a Tibetan, neither do I live in any of the places around their settlements but I feel very strongly for the people who have lost their homes, their parents, their children and their lives. Physical torments heal with time but what remains are the scratches on heart and mind. Psychological wounds never heal, their pain subsides but when the pain is excruciating even after decades, it calls for help, it calls for fight; fight for freedom from the clutches of foreign powers. As children from young times, we have seen none of it; no wars, no fights for freedom, no impoverishment, no tortures but education has opened me up to a plethora of dark realities in existence.

Sometimes I wonder, if even in 21st century we have a scope of world war 3 (Ukraine and Russia), scope for slavery and exile; then what worth is education? When we seem to touch the highest pinnacles of technology, these sinful mishappenings pull us back and throw us on the ground. It’s high time for a reality check! I and you will never experience what people have had; neither can we ever wash away the permanent markers of agony. We cannot understand what hanging between namelessness and homelessness means. I don’t know how I could help but I’m sure I’ll find ways. Till I find the right channels I can at least spread the word and do something meaningful of my education and life.
As I wrap this up, I would quote the voice of a hurt, wounded lady from the refugee camp-
“The one who keeps hoping in the face of a hopeless situation suffers much more than the one who no longer hopes…” 


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

An Average Indian Girl in LOVE!!!!

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within."
                                                           James Baldwin

True that!
Welcome to the life of an average Indian girl under spell: the magical spell of love, cast upon her by some random guy who enters her life at the most unexpected time of life, in the most hilarious way she could ever have imagined! This magical spell which transforms this girl into the sweetest girl ever, for whole family "to-be" and rest, changes too many things to be counted straight. The girl changes her accent, changes her patterns; starting with the way she prays, to the way she greets people; from the way she does house chores to the way she dresses; from restricting her old circle to creating a brand new circle of friends and family, this little girl would bring sea changes in her life, making it dramatic enough to shoot one documentary on the whole 'change thing'! Old friends (especially guys) would take a backseat or rather will lose contact completely. Old girl friends would start getting sidelined as their useless babbles no more give pleasure. The pleasure shifts to your guy's words, his songs, his expressions and elements of his life. You almost overnight change into this respectful girl who will now not need to utter any of those swear words, who would now not shout in front of elders, who would now behave, who would now suddenly become woman-ish and start planning things which she never knows would ever happen or not! Your 'haan' would turn into 'hanji'. Your 'what's up' would turn into 'namaste ji' and the most appalling of all, you start taking interest in household chores! It's as if you want to become this perfect girl for this guy so that the family has one less annoying reason to deny the liasion. Unfortunately, parents in India still reLate to the old norms of caste and creed; they still adhere to the long existing practises of denying their child its right to chose a partener for life. I always wonder how my uncle/aunty's child doing love marriage is a great step but my confessing the same becomes a huge issue of ego; a tug of war of sorts! Your parents and relatives on one side, your sibings and you on one. All others, the pathetic spectators who have no other agenda in life except peeking into your home and collect gossip  to monger it elsewhere. Disgusting it is!

Arrange marriages last longer- a bullshit notion religiously followed in India. Let me cut to some facts straight! Yes, arranged marriages last longer because splitting or breaking marriage while your relatives and family slapping on your back, is never easy! you adjust, your partner adjusts. To others, a happy married couple, to each other, a friend, may be or may not be; relationships/affairs blossom outside the marriage but that's fine as long as people don't know about it! Is that what we preach? Lectures aplenty from families and fights with your love, the girl's life goes completely haywire!

All future thoughts are accounted for both and the guy's family. All aspirations take a backseat because the very essence which keeps you afloat, boosts you is love and staying away from him, focus vanishes. May be living together could make lives better, sooner. But that's what an average girl from an average family faces in our country. One, you cannot love because you have an obligation towards your parents; you are suppossed to make love to the guy your family selects (read a prize bachelor! - daulat, shauhrat aur chhat). Two, if you do, you have some conditions required to attain something which should be a prerogative (choosing the guy you love, the guy who loves you). Three, when nothing goes right, you and your guy would go mad and fight and this possibly is the worst of all! Sigh!

If the girl tells her family, she's damned (all the circus that follows!). If she doesn't tell her family, she's damned (if you have cunning people out there who sneak, peek and speak!). All the talks of 'samaaj' and society which follows! You get warnings about crooks roaming everywhere, about guys who rape girls on the pretext of love. You are called to watch every piece of news flashing on television which comprise of words like 'pyaar' and 'dhoka'; the most alarming of the news will be discussed repeatedly to highlight the cons of the most divine feeling in this world- love. The constant one liner would do the rounds regularly- "aajkal bachcho k dimag hi kharab hain, abhi samajh me ni ata, jab jhelenge tab pata chalega."; "humne tumhare papa ko dekha bhi nahin tha." Uff!

To go over it all again, you fall for someone, you start loving him, you build your whole life around him, sometimes your career is ruined, your plans stalled, your friends ignored and your family will be mad at you. After all this, you do whatever it takes to handle yourself and your guy emotionally, physically and mentally. And that is what all average Indian girls in love do. Nobody realizes that if we have it in us to change our names and adopt a completely new family; if we have it in us to move to a new place, live among new people and build a life; if we can rear children and if we can cracks competitive exams, we CAN very well chose a guy who is best for us, who'll be the best father to their children, the best companion for life, the best support system she could rely on forever.

Oh my! An average Indian Girl in LOVE is still a taboo, for most sections of the society. One more generation and maybe things would turn for good.

The quote which follows has nothing to do with my write- up. I just found it and i loved it! Is that not a reason good enough? :P 
"He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you."
                                                                      Bob Marley

PS: Sorry to all the uncles and aunties whom I offend but Love is the best feeling in this world and taking away the right to proclaim it for somebody is the most pathetic form of bound on mankind.

Monday, 17 February 2014


Back in school, when I sat among groups chit chatting, discussing and pondering over the changing times, dissecting the many facets of human behaviour and science behind them (me being an engineer, logic pokes in everywhere), winning had many connotations, to each his own. 

While for some, it were getting the top marks, top degrees and dreams of building palatial homes (much like the Chatur Ramalingam of 3 Idiots!), for others, which included me, it was a parallel world of hidden dreams. Dreams, best known to us! Everybody had aspirations and different struggles. To some wooing popular girls or having trophy girlfriends was a win (in the race for fame), to others, flashing latest gadgets in the mart was a win ( in the race for being a gizmo freak). Some had targets, of getting into white collared jobs or reaching the pinnacle of top IT companies, few had dreams of becoming famous by getting into some reality shows! I, on the other hand, somewhat offbeat, a little or may be too off track, had absolutely and completely complementary notions for this term! 

Winning to me was not about marks, top ranks or cash prizes. It was always associated with that ‘high’ which i felt after accomplishing the goal I had set. That one smile or rather the glee I flashed after scoring a point over my friends when it came to arguments on life and love; that hug which I won after doing something really needful for a friend; those drops of sweat that I had running through my temple after having reached the place I set as a deal (while jogging); all this was winning, all this is winning! The moment of triumph to me!

If I complete a book in a day and I read it really well, I win. If I jog a round track of 8 km successfully in one go, I win. If I complete 50% of the course chapters with complete understanding before the university exam, I win. If I am able to clarify my students’ queries satisfactorily and prevent from learning some wrong concept, I win. If I can pay my own bus fare, with my very own hard earned money, I win. If I can help a blind man cross a road and not walk past him, I win. If I decide to lose weight but can’t, yet I smile and look forward to another day’s plan and not crib over it, I win. If I get over the sickening news of rapes and murders flashed everyday on television and yet allow my young ones to face the world confidently and not be scared, I win. If I can earn my family’s respect and trust with my deeds, I win. If I can have a cup of tea peacefully every morning, even in solitude, I win. I win over the hectic lives, the pace of erratic human existence! If I can make people see reason in loving and marrying a guy of my choice, I win. If I can walk with my partner through the life’s many phases, I win. If I can rear my child to grow to respect women and not think of them as an object ever, I win. If I can build a home for my parents, however small it may be, I win. If I can do 10 % of what my parents have done for me, for them, I win. Winning has nothing to do with being the richest man on the face of earth. 

Winning has nothing to do with topping universitiesor reaching the moon. Winning is building a lovable family, brooding love andemotions, knowledge and conscience, thoughts and wisdom; in times of turbulenceand peace; in times of exultation and melancholy; in times of distress and excitement!Winning is never flashy, never whining, never degrading; winning is a personal winwin innings!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Annual feedback ! 2014's on the go!

Hi guys. As we welcome 2014, it strikes me that i have been writing for many years now, though the blog came up in 2010, a little late than what it should have been. Anyway, i gather that there are a few, and may i say, very few staunch followers who care to read all the posts put up here. To those, i appeal, please help me improve. i call for you suggestions, be it about the blog layout, articles, poems, themes, pictures, etc; do tell me what you would like to see here and what you expect me to write on. Frankly, i am pretty impulsive and hence writing articles/poems doesn't come regularly to me but whenevr it does, it's cats and dogs! :) So guys, feedback, suggestions, crtique... please feel free to tell me. And may this year , I fulfill your expectations better :)

Have a great year ahead!

Welcome 2014 :)

Ah! So we completed another year.
 Another year of smiles and tears,
another year of joys and turmoil,
another year of laziness and toil,
another year of strong and fragile,
another year of scams and donations,
another year of political upheavals,
another year of cinema and music,
another year of religion and brawl,
another year of joys and ahoys,
another year of rueful eyes and
another year of love and sighs!

So many forms, so many shapes,
life of all, different path it takes
petrified of tomorrow, we do not stop dreams
nowhere does, a heart not screams
we get some of what we desire
the rest Allah gives to others
we pray for all and so do others
thus He grants us all,
a pie of this and a pie of that
 He keeps his mercy cover us all.

Rejoice, recover, laugh I say,
happiness and laughter will sweep the way
don't let spirits low, come what may
have fun, be hep and hay!