Respect For Individual..

21 06 2008

This time I started with the title first, and as soon as I keyed it in, it sounded darn preachy! Especially when I have the Accenture core values pamphlet in front of me that has features the title as one of the core values. 🙂 Yet, it has been a lingering thought since sometime, and I have some interesting anecdotes to share.

Now that I mentioned Accenture, let me start with my induction programme that happened some months back. We were allotted some 2 hours session for discussion around this particular core value. Incidentally, this was I think the last session of the day and all of the participants were tired. The faculty walks in. The first question he posed to the listless audience was: “how much time do you all give to me?”. Someone answered 30 minutes. He quietly agrees and announces that this is ‘respect for individual’. I couldn’t help but burst clapping in appreciation. Yes. Indeed, he closed the session within agreed time and I did carry the message home. 🙂

One of my favorite anecdotes in office humor has been about ‘biscuit’. Though we often kid about the incident in lighter note, it did generate a serious thought too. It all happened in one of those office treks, where we are buying food stuff for snacking en route. One of the teammates wanted to pick some biscuits for it and he was made fun by some folks of being kiddish for his food choice. It is very easy to get carried away in light hearted banter. Most often, humor generated is at the expense of someone, especially in groups. Finally, that poor chap didn’t pick his biscuits and that did leave that feeling of denial with us.

Yet, that incident did trigger a new dictum in the gang, which we call by name biscuit. A rule to abide by the respective individual choices instead of succumbing to group think. And it did offer me some interesting experiences too. Respecting somebody’s interest in Art and Theatre did take me to ‘Water Lilies’, ‘Natyalakshana’ or ‘Don Muttuswami’, some of which I throughly enjoyed. “What’s your biscuit?”, this question that often happens among us, whilst we are thinking about weekend plans, often sounds like music. The idea of group coming to individual and celebrating independent thoughts, instead of individual interests being drowned in group is charming. And Yes. No one is denied of biscuit these days. 🙂





A Pachyderm Confession…

15 04 2008

And Indeed there is a huge reason behind this post. Just now, over one of those purposeless lazy browsing of the Internet world, I came across this news where I read about a hero Keshav Vishwakarma, whose story went unsung for the current day world either would ignore his sacrifice, or laugh at his rare moral standard. Keshav Vishwakarma tried to prevent three men from molesting a 40 year old woman in Surat, and the perpetrators BURNT him alive! Such was the strength and courage of the man, that after sustaining over 75% of burns, he walked about two kilometers to the nearest police station to report the incident and got them arrested.

Somehow, reading about his incident and the bestial brutality behind it, left me grossly unsettled. What have I become? A thick skinned Pachyderm who has no care or time for the world. How easy it has become to press the ignore button about life, news channels, media and about the happenings in the environment. How comfortable it is to get into a cocoon and believe that everything is fair and beautiful. Being a woman, I had heard my share of lectures on how to be safe, silent and muted over abuse and the uninvited groping public places. Will Keshav ever have his stand acknowledged by the women, who have come to accept the rowdy pandering of uncouth youth as a daily occurrence?

This is our pride and this indeed is our shame. What’s in there to be proud about, for this incident that happened in Jan 2008 got no great publicity. The values that Keshav espoused and the courage he showed went unrecognized, and his sacrifice died a silent death. Annie Zaidi has written a moving elegy as a glowing tribute to Keshav, which pricked my conscience to no end. I am quoting it verbatim, for I would want it to be read, and for people to spend a few seconds of their precious busy lives to say a prayer for Keshav’s soul.

“This much is set, Keshav ji – can I call you Keshav?
I feel an affinity, an ease, that is hard to explain,
Considering we’ve never met, and now, never will
Yet I’m sure you won’t mind my speaking so plain –

This much is certain: you will get no memorial, no statue
No marble slab with metal plaque, saying,‘Keshav: martyr’
Nobody will say you died that we might live, or less poetically,
That you upheld a nation’s head, honoured our civilizational charter.

What you died for – were killed for – was too much an everyday thing
So you will not go down as a human rights’ champion
Nor the leader of a bunch of people with a cause
Nor a just warrior for the aggrieved, the downtrodden

Nobody’s going to write that you’re a victim of what we’ve become
Nobody’s spine with tingle with the dread of this fact.
At least, not beyond next week, when you’ll be a statistic –
For that’s the way people keep their minds intact.

Don’t mind, Keshav, it is not on purpose that
Nobody will write you a full-length obit, or
That only one paper bothered to go and dig up
Info on how you lived, and who you lived for.

Keshav, if you knew (did you?) what they’d do
Perhaps you’d have shut up and let it be
Some insults, a woman – it happens all the time
Harassment and women – like sand and sea.

You see, we women rarely bother ourselves
We’ve learnt to shut up and stay shut; some say
Our eyes are glazed with the cataract of silence
We’re told, to live safe, there’s no other way.

Keshav, stupid Keshav, what made you take on
The mantle of hero? It is not as if
Someone was looking, and those who were, looked away
(as they do). Did you think they’d help? As if!

Keshav, young Keshav (only thirty-five, good God!)
They’ll forget. Oh, they forget, they forget each time
They’ve begun to forget the mobs of new years past,
And Meher of Lucknow? Her too! This forgetting’s sublime.

Keshav, it’s true, I cried for you, but so what?
You burnt, you died, and those three will live.
Noone’s clamouring for a public hanging (women’s security
Isn’t ‘national’) so… yes, some sentence the court may give.

That is, if the police finds those three.
You actually thought they would, and you walked
After being set on fire – two kilometers!
To the police station and there, you talked.

What did you say, Keshav? What were your dying words?
Were you angry rather than scared? Or both?
That I can relate to; it’s the same with me.
That tremulous rage – frustration and fear both.

Did you wonder, as you walked, if you’d actually die?
Did someone tell you, it was your own fault?
Did they say, why couldn’t you guess at
The demons-in-waiting? That you should, by default?

That’s what they tell us; that’s how we go on.
They tell us all the time and that’s how we know
No alone. No dark street. No panga. No sharp words.
No smart clothes. No reds. No smiling. Nono.

Where did you study, Keshav? Which school?
Which blighted, mind-altering, twisted-soul place?
Who taught you? Or forgot to? What kind of friends
Did you have that they tell you the rules of this race?

This race. These people. We. Our nation.
Women. Children. Cosmic pawns playing parts.
What shall I say? Keshav, should I say something like,
You’re a hero and will live in our hearts?

Oh, who cares? Heroes! I bet you’d rather just
Have been alive and maybe all heroes feel that way
To live! That would be nice, they must think, but
They go ahead and die if they must, anyway.

Not that it matters to you any more, Keshav
The writing of this. Any words. Anything.
You were burnt alive before you were properly burnt
And maybe you never did care of what poets sing.

I’d bring you flowers if you had a grave.
I’d build you a statue, if I had a piece of land
I’d write in big letters – ‘Look! This is our shame
And this our pride. This murder is man.’

Listen, Keshav, it is too late, but listen.
Wherever you are, lie in peace, now it’s over.
And know that you stepped up higher than man.
(And lower than man… even God sank no lower)

I’ll spare you the platitudes about how you are free
Or how, in heaven, the apsaras long to kiss you
But this fight you’ve fought, I’ll fight to the death
But Keshav, brother, in the meantime, we’ll miss you.”





A Take On Beauty..

10 03 2008

This post is dedicated to Anita Roddick for she led my personal favorite campaign on Self Esteem called ‘The Ruby Campaign’. Ruby was a realistically and generously proportioned doll that tried to mock the all so perfect Barbie which hammered the young girl generation in to getting into that perfect shape at any cost and there by falling prey to eating disorders, bulimia etc. Being a part of the very cosmetics industry, Anita champions an ethical revolution by quoting, “It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don’t exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and ageing by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.” Though am a self confessed prude, I cant resist posting the Ruby posters over here for the benefit of folks who are discovering Ruby right now.

Some facts that the Ruby Campaign highlights is

“# There are 3 billion women who don’t look like super models and only eight who do.
# Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14.
# If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
# The average woman weighs 144 lbs and wears between a 12-14.
# Scaled to life size, a Barbie doll would be 7’2″. She would have a 40″ bust, a 22″ waist and 36″ hips.
# One out of every four college-aged women has an eating disorder.
# A psychological study in 1995 found that three minutes spent looking at a fashion magazine caused 70 percent of women to feel depressed, guilty, and shameful.”

Ruby kind of explores in a deep way the notions of beauty, desirability and the society induced guilt which propagate unwholesome psychological needs of beauty. And now men are not left either in that pursuit of unreasonable Adonis. With all media going gaga about the chiseled muscle men, many of the guys are pumping their Testosterone in those high intensity workouts for that perfect V shape. Yesterday, in one of those engaging discussions with my pal, I had my first brush with this guilt in a guy. Though it gives a grim satisfaction if I consider those issues of equality in dark humor, I couldn’t digest my friends going through this phenomenon without an awareness of the baggage that they carry. If we are chiseling ourselves for being good enough and attractive to that illusionary partners, we are piling our subconscious under a mountain of guilt and inferiority complex. And tell me this. How can I expect to be loved for what I can be, if I don’t love myself for what I am? For love with oneself is expressed in the way we relate to humanity. Unless I am comfortable with myself and accept myself for what I am, I can never accept the other person for what he or she is. I would burden him or her with unreasonable expectations and may build pressure on them to live up to my love, almost expecting them to pay a price for a chance at a relationship with me.

Guess, I need to clarify here, as I have indeed suggested diet plans for a couple of my friends while advising them to keep their weight in check. I did so, as I experimented with myself with various diets and I indeed believe that holistic life includes being right sized for flexibility, health and activity. I do believe that a well balanced holistic lifestyle attuned to nature wouldn’t store excess fat or flab on body. Yet, we are the way we are based on the trade offs and the choices we made. I am comfortable with what I am and I won’t let some external entity alter my views on beauty, femininity or the acceptability or desirability of myself. To put it simply, I use or try things based on my interest or curiosity and not because ‘I am worth it’.

If I look at the entire process and concept of beautification, I feel that its an attempt by all of us to be loved and accepted a little more. Isn’t it? Yet, my appeal for all is to do it for oneself and internalize that idea of beauty that you have after keen reflection. I hate to see anyone being plagued by a concept called alienation: of being a part of the world you don’t want to be in and working for a goal that you can’t own in heart for societal or for ‘the significant other’s’ sake. We all try to change for those we love, yet do keep this in mind. Those who reciprocate wouldn’t care whether we are good enough and those who don’t doesn’t matter. Falling in love with oneself, and wearing that narcissistic hat once in a while is a great way to catch that conceptual perfect unicorn for yourself. Cherish all that is you, coz you are unique in our own special way just like everyone else is and noone can take that from you.

Here’s my favorite Darren Hayes’s “Good Enough” song for you all. I loved this song both for its lyrics and the music. 🙂

“If I woke up late
Couldn’t get out of bed
If I bought you a cafe latte instead
If I lied when I said
32 inches was the size of my waist
And can I admit
Every once in a while
Even though I dig alternative style
Occasionally
I can be caught dancin’ to Brittany
And can I confess
That art house doesn’t turn me on
But I like every single thing that Speilberg’s done

Could I be good enough
Could I be good enough
If the going got worse
And the worse got rough
The days became endless
And harder than tough
I’d be good enough
Better than best
Would be simply to be good enough
If everything I give
Doesn’t seem like a lot
If it’s all that I got
Baby tell that could be good enough “





Don’t Giveup On Faith..

16 12 2007

Came across this quote on the wall which made me pause by and think.

“A faith that can not survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.”

How true!

I always have this concrete belief that most of the vital and important things in life are run on trust, faith and all those intangible things that can only be felt. Many of us go through a lot of suffering and pangs as these convictions go challenged, yet guess thats what life is: adding new dimensions, new perspectives and enhancing our outlook while holding on to faith. What makes us more human is that pathological need to hope and long for all those rational and irrational things on earth while baring ourselves open for those logical rationalistic reasoning attacks. I for one, is of firm belief that I may not remember what logic I applied to sort something out, but would sure be able to expand on those moments that touched my heart. I can be quite verbose, trust me! 🙂





Some Thought..

6 12 2007

“Whatever we never seem to learn is that the world runs on a few dozen cliche’s. We spend our lives repeating ourselves..”

*********************

Thats the SMS that I received over my mobile from a Pal who loves to capture the beauty of expression from the books he engages with. What struck me is the potency of the thought in that simple statement. How true!

Many a times we are challenged by the circumstances to be true to ourselves.. Though the lessons and knowledge are universal, and we are equipped to deal with the world with enough cliches since childhood, the choices that we make in those moments of life are intensely personal. Choosing right over convenience, love over hatred, sharing over selfishness and honesty over deceit.. These are the choices that make our journey of life intensely personal.. These are the moments that ascertain our purpose of life and define its direction. We indeed spend reaffirming ourselves though the choices we make..

Indeed, life rolls in patterns!





Revisiting Bommarillu..

16 09 2007

This movie stole the heart and thought of me and my family and is arguably one of the best family movies that have come in the recent times. I still cant forget the time that my mom insisted me to watch this movie and came to theater along with me to watch it second time, when she is hardly a movie goer herself. For record, its still the most watched movie at home.

We typically use movies like a cushion. We want to be coddled, relaxed and consoled from the stress of the daily life. Yet, if we forget for a while that we are watching a drama, these fictional characters feel more real than the actual living people. Some movies stay with us for that moment, some come revisit us in life in some aha moment and some live with us as beautiful memories. This one is a practical experience for me and hence I am collecting my two cents on this beautiful celluloid journey when the memory is still afresh.

As my friend puts it beautifully, experiences can rarely be reviewed. One can only feel and connect to the sensation it kindles. Bommarillu is a realistic portrait of the current day family relationships that catches the reflection of the current day Telugu Youth who is bonded to his family through love and respect and yet strives to creates his individual mark in this world. It beautifully deals with the relationships between parents and children in a fast paced society.

I cant resist sketching the plot though. Prakash Raj is this current day loving dad. The one who carries the entire family responsibilities on his shoulders and longs to create the perfect world to his family. In his pursuit to offer the best of everything, he unawaringly tries to design the life of his son Siddhu and offer all the comforts of life in a platter. Siddhu is not our regular hero. He wants to live upto his traditional loving family’s expectations and yet play the maverick, charm the Juliet and grit it out in the rough world to carve his own niche which cant be done under the glance of his over protective father. He dreams of a career of his own making and a life partner who inspires love and how our hero sets to win both is the theme.

Genelia lives the role of Siddhu’s love interest, the pretty, charming, child-like, talkative, pretense less Hasini. She breathes life into the placid life of the Siddhu who is burdened by his accommodating nature and is already engaged to a girl of his father’s choice. Living with a widowed father Kota Srinivasa Rao who is more of a friend, Hasini is our bubbly, charming and after my heart kind of college girl who is unaffected by the complexities of a joint family setup. I basked in her exuberance and frankness and reveled in her innocent convictions. She is my hero of the movie!

Prakash Raj discovers his son’s love story and being an accommodative father wants to adjudge Hasini and hence requests her presence at his home for a week. Hasini charms her way through Siddhu’s family and to her shock discovers the dual roles of Siddhu: One as a traditional Rama at home and the other as a carefree, individualistic Siddhu with friends. As Siddhu forces Hasini to live upto his image at home, Hasini dumps him. Siddhu has many battles up to his sleeve now. Will he chooses to keep up the pretense and play the perfect son or will he stands up for himself in a confrontation with his family forms the crux of the story.

The tag line is just apt. “Love Makes Life Beautiful”, which kind of sums up the entire struggle of Siddhu for unconditional love and individual identity. Love that accepts him as he is and not for what he can be. Love that cherishes, enriches and supports him without any demands and obligations. I can empathize with the accommodating Siddhu’s of the world, yet I can only respect them when they stand up on their spine and learn to say no.

In the end, it all falls back to an old quote, ” To say ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I’ “. The movie raises some pertinent questions as well. Why do we pretend and lie to those who matter the most? Why are we afraid of sharing a piece of ourselves with our family? Is it a fear of rejection or the dread of loneliness? The movie brings out magnificently that avoidance is not a solution, personal space is vital in relationships and clarity in communication is essential in the journey of love. Love that inspires trust, acceptance and sets one free..





Reflections..

10 09 2007

After a hectic travel to Hyderabad and after feeling totally exhausted, my fingers reached out automatically to record some reflections.. This weekend has been a tough one for me, yet being with family has always had a calming effect. I had my lessons on protocols, values, integrity and trust and I can’t even express how much my family has made me proud. 🙂 It always helps if we start counting blessings instead of curses and lessons instead of bad moments.

As per the saying goes, “Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you”, I guess my parents have lived up to that. Somehow I have taken for granted that transparency, fairness and integrity lies in all families, and people have little time to judge their family members in the journey of life. I had my wake up call.

Though emotions stand for little reason, its priorities and values that ask for brutal sacrifices. So the question is how much are you willing to sacrifice to be your own self? Thats what defines a person as he or she is.

As Bach says.. “There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go.”