Ssshhh! Keep your mental illness a secret!

Imagine, someone with a bad headache approaches you. What would you tell that person? Sshhh! “Try to ignore it. You are brave. And sshhh! don’t tell this to anyone”. Or, imagine someone who is just diagnosed with cancer breaks the NEWS to you in a moment of despair. What would you tell that person? “Oh, you can deal with it. You are brave. Believe in yourself.” Awareness about mental illness is so less in our society that people who should seek professional help for their mental conditions are made to believe that there is no real problem to begin with — it’s all a figment of their imagination. “Be brave”, “Don’t act sissy”, “You are lost”, “Look at the positive side of things” is what they get instead of help.

There are also another kind of people who use the word ‘depression’ and ‘panic attack’ so casually that they make these sound like a seasonal flu.  Haven’t you heard statements like, “Oh, I am so depressed that I didn’t get a decent pair of shoes to match with my dress” or “I almost had a panic attack when Brad & Angelina broke up“. I wish it was casual as they made it sound. Alas! It’s not.

Very interestingly, patients with mental illness are also conveniently labelled as ‘attention seekers’, ‘weak’, and ‘someone unable to deal with pressure’. Unfortunately, the labeling and the stereotype prevents people from seeking help. It’s the result of this stereotyping that parents of kids with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autism Spectrum Disorders, or similar other issues, which can be managed with some patience and professional help, hesitate to first acknowledge the problem and then seek professional help. Some adults with mental illnesses (and aware of their condition) also hesitate to seek help because, you know, from there on the term ‘the mentally ill’ will overshadow all other aspects of their personalities & lives. The terms ‘people with mental illnesses’ and ‘the mentally ill’ are used so interchangeably that I, sometimes, wonder how difficult it is for people to see the difference in both the terms and the baggage that the latter one carries. It’s hard for one to deal with the illness in the first place and people around don’t always make things easier.

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As a kid, I was introverted and struggled a great deal with ‘social anxiety’. I would never understand why I did not enjoy weddings, gatherings, celebrations as much as others from my age would. Somehow, my parents understood my issues (while they might not have been aware of the term ‘social anxiety’ at that time) and gave me my space when needed. I am so glad they didn’t coerce me into attending every damn celebration within the family and their social circle. But I know how much slack my mom had to take because of this. Very often, people would express concerns about my marriage, because I was a loner and wouldn’t enthusiastically perform in front of uncles and aunties to garner praises. They were worried how I will take on the responsibilities in a new family if I don’t learn to socialize (and this was when I was barely 13).  Dear over-concerned uncles & aunties, fortunately, I am doing pretty well in my married life as an adult because I acknowledged and addressed my problems 🙂

My friend’s dad struggled with anxiety at one time and my dad struggled with it too. When my friend and I discussed about the intensity of their issues, we knew the problem was bigger than what we assume to be normal day-to-day stress. I am glad that we could talk about their issues freely because it was only then we realized our parents needed professional help. I am glad they agreed to seek help. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety finally overshadowed my friend’s dad’s will to live. By God’s grace, my dad could overcome the ordeal. But you know, during all this, I saw how the very acknowledgment of a mental problem makes many near and dear ones distance themselves from the entire family, as if, suddenly, the whole family has some sort of contagious disease.

I am glad that now many celebrities are now coming forward and acknowledging the fact that they have struggled with similar issues. Success, failure, temperament, money has nothing to do with it. Like any other kind of ‘illness’, it can happen to anyone. On a lighter note, I feel illness is less biased in its approach than the people around us 🙂

“Don_t-be-ashamed-of-your-story.-It-will-inspire-others.”

Anthony Bourdain’s suicide starts a dialogue on the acknowledgment of mental illness once again. People wonder, why Anthony Bourdain felt like his life of adventure was not worth living and suicide was his only possible option. The simple answer is, this is how advance stages of depression and anxiety make one feel. I am glad closer to home, Deepika Padukone and Shaheen Bhatt have spoken about their struggle with the problem. I am glad that we are, at least, at a juncture where there is a possibility of starting a dialogue. It’s only when we share, talk, acknowledge that we will be able to receive and provide help in time.

I wish more & more people come out and talk about this.

PS: If you are someone who is feeling extremely low and considering on giving up your life, please call Sneha India Foundation at 044-24640050 or write to help@snehaindia.org. It’s a 24×7 free helpline. And please, please, please seek professional help.

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Wear his ring, not his rank!

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Okay! Cool! Your husband is <insert his rank here>. That’s awesome. That’s more than awesome. I would love if you could thank him on my behalf for serving our country with his blood and sweat. Trust me, I understand, how much it takes to be away from family, friends, love, hometown, and everything that, in multiple ways, is a part of his identity. And of course, if you were not his pillar of strength, he wouldn’t be where he is right now. I am explicitly stating that he could not have done any of this without you. But oh dear, that’s where your role ends.

Being married to an army man, I know I always take the second precedence. Duty comes first, always — without any ifs, buts, whys, and why-nots . He has taken that oath and as his life partner, I must help him stand by his words. Well, but then, frankly, I am not doing this for the country, I am doing this for my man, and here is what makes his role very different from my role.

I rejoice his success. I help him overcome a failure. But I don’t sit in his chair or walk in his office, uninvited. They are his, not mine! I married my man for who he is, not for the brass on his shoulders; so of course, with or without the uniform, I take pride in my man and love him with all my heart.

Someone I know introduced herself to me in the first meeting as the wife of the second-in-command in the unit and I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Oh dear! you are not married to an appointment. You are married to a gentleman — all in flesh and blood“, I so wanted to say. But better late than never, Mrs so&so.

No, hold on! That’s not all. Some women talk about helping out their husbands with the duties.

So, am I supposed to share my husband’s duties? No, the answer is — I am not trained to do his tasks. I may be a coder, a doctor, a teacher, but of course, I am not supposed to take strategic or welfare related decisions for the unit/sub-unit on his behalf. I am not supposed to give any instructions to the staff meant to assist him. So, buddy bhaiya certainly is not arranging the school uniforms for kids in my house and escorting my babies and babas to the school bus stops. And in return, I am not grooming their wives. I trust their parents to have groomed the girls well. If at all they need my advice, I would love to offer one, but not in the capacity of an officer’s wife — but in the capacity of a fellow human being who shares similar problems as theirs. Do I feel great that they think that I am worthy of giving them advice? Oh yes! Of course. But I am no one to shove my choices in their life. For example, unless I am a Sangeet Visharad myself and they have come to me to learn music, I am not qualified to tell a JCO/OR wife, “Tumahara sur hi nahie lagta hai! (You can’t sing well!)”

I am glad that the men in uniform — full of chivalry and class — miss no opportunity to show us respect. Whether it is an NCO in the mess offering me a glass of cold water on a super sunny day or an officer pulling a chair for me at a formal dinner, I feel glad that ‘my husband’ socializes with men who respect women. I am proud that army as an organization welcomes me with open arms despite I NOT being a part of it in any official capacity. I remain a civilian. So, women who pass nasty comments on civilians make me wonder, “When did you don the OG, dear lady?”. Last I checked, you were a civilian yourself.

Also, how much ever I love my husband — he certainly is not the be-it-all of my existence. I have a career. My political viewpoint is different from his and we debate, the army parties are not the only occasions I shop for, and oh yes, he didn’t have to ‘groom me’ — my parents & alma mater did that really well.

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However proud I am of my husband for the person he is and, to some extent, the hardships he takes in the line of his duty, that’s not the only thing I am proud of in my life. There are many more achievements to my credit other than being an army wife, an-almost-single-mother, and grooming the ladies around me. So, when women say they gave the life to army because they couldn’t have enough time beyond army activities! Sorry, the army never asked for it! You did it out of your own free will. You did it for your life partner. Blame him with all your might for making your life challenging, but blame the army! Nay!!!

I am not taking away the fact that your life could have been easier if he was not in the army. He chose that life and you chose him! Ah! But that doesn’t mean, you show off his rank instead of his ring.

Sometimes wise, mostly otherwise…

I am a sucker of emotional dramas. Nah! Not the Ekta Kapoor kinds, but the real heart touching kinds! For example, I am hooked to the Netflix series, The Crown right now. And when I hear Elizabeth and Philip argue about the priorities in life, my heart bleeds for the Queen. I drop an invisible tear or so when she tells Philip that “Like other couples, we don’t have an easy way out…we are in a unique situation that needs to be worked out”. The character, Elizabeth, represents a woman who puts self-respect and love at the same pedestal — the toughest ever choice a woman makes in her life. Because, how easy it is to love and dream, and not let ‘self’ come in between! Ah, but women like Elizabeth have inspired a generation of women to fly high in love, but still remain grounded enough to deal with the realities of life.

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I know I will be jumping to a completely different zone if I tell you about my recurring nightmares in the same blog where I am talking of profound love and wise women. But you know, such is life. Here I am, past late twenties still getting recurring nightmares about my chemistry examination at the higher secondary level (ISC, as some of you call it!) and also empathizing with the longest living monarch in the world. However random it may sound, I feel the real wisdom comes from the deepest fears one buries inside their heart. I guess for me, the fear is ‘failure’ — the possibility of failing at anything in life helps me make wiser choices.

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But the question is, and I ask this to myself very often, ‘Am I wise?’. The answer is yes, sometimes I am wise, but I, mostly, am otherwise. For example, how much I wish to keep a poker face in situations when I am enraged, how much I wish to forgive people who have let me down, how much I wish to see people beyond their limitations, but the wisdom of sages — the art of non-reaction — doesn’t come to me even when I force it on myself.  My mother says, the art of not reacting to things/situations comes with age, when one has seen it all and one has understood that no one in the world gives a damn to anyone else’s emotions (however genuine, truthful, and heartfelt those might be!) and then one learns to channelize the reactions into real actions. For example, I may never learn to forgive, but over a period of time, I might learn to act cordial in spite of differences. I might never learn to keep a poker face, but may be, I will learn to politely walk out a conversation that challenges my principles.

Sometimes, I even wonder, why disruption is mostly considered negative? Why do I not work towards being vocal? Why do I think being wise is more an inward thing? Would I be wiser the day I become immune to pessimism, negativity, criticism, and pain? Ah, this brings me to another question, ‘why do I need to be wise’? I am happy when I am naive. I am happy when I know what’s wise, but deliberately act otherwise.

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Blame it on my personality type!

Someone asked me in the morning, “So, how are you today?” and I so desperately wanted to answer, “I am awkward, as usual”. No word in the dictionary other than ‘awkward’ can describe the emotion I have felt for most of the social situations in my life. Please, just because I am awkward, don’t assume, I am shy. Because, I am anything but shy. I am a personality full of contradictions — sometimes goofy, often very guarded, prone to deep emotions about a few, very specific things, and cold about most the people/situations in my life. I can’t help but resort to ghosting when stuck in a situation that needs too much of explanation or too many people.

But after glorious 28-years of pretending to be normal for the sake of being normal, hanging out with people for the sake of being social, someone introduced me to the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test and let me tell you this was a moment of self-discovery. According to the MBTI test, I happen to be the rarest personality type, INTJ that form just 2% of the population, and why am I not surprised to read that women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population. INTJs are the most misunderstood people because of their rare personality type. While the image below pretty much explains how, I know, most people perceive me, the correct full form of INTJ is Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, Judgement.

So, a few of my patent statements, such as “I don’t feel like interacting with humans today” (Introversion), “I had told you so” (Intuition), “I need some time to myself” (Thinking), and “Half of the people I know are stupid” (Judgement) are not about I trying to be mean. It is, frankly, I trying to be myself. 🙂

  • So, now, for a matter of fact, I know that I don’t hate humans at all. It’s just that I am not too excited about the existence of most of them!
  • I don’t like discussion laced with drama. So, if you are planning a 4-hour coffee table discussion about curtains and flower decoration dressed in chiffon sarees, I am sorry, I am a li’l too busy – sleeping.
  • I tend to be data oriented. So, if I tell you  “You are wrong”, trust me, I would have done my research, beforehand and I would be ready for an expert analysis as soon as you challenge my statement.
  • I sniff  jealously, hatred, stupidity from miles away. And while your ‘trying to be nice’ drama entertains me for a while, I can tell you, you can’t take me for a ride even if you come riding on a golden chariot.
  • Authority doesn’t impress me. Because I strongly believe, you can be popular, you can be in a leadership position, but that doesn’t certainly mean you cannot a nincompoop. I and only I decide whether you are worthy of my respect & attention, Czar!
  • I am open to new ideas if they are supported by logic. No, please don’t just assume that all ideas are supported by logic. If you don’t trust me, just look at the images below.

 

 

  • Friendships and relationships with INTJs take time—a long time. Don’t be impatient. I might like you, but still not call you my friend. Falling in love is another ball game altogether. Let’s not even get there.
  • My innate response to any personal problem is to look for answers and solutions. I don’t  sympathize with myself even when I am in neck-deep shit. I am sorry, I can’t be your shoulder to cry on if all you want to do is to rant.
  • There’s always a ‘right way’ to do things for me. So, when I insist on a ‘print out’ for editing your document, I am not being ‘old school’, I just know what will help me deliver the best.

In short, most of the time, what I say is more about how I look at things than how I can flatter or offend you. Fortunately or unfortunately, I live in my own head. You matter, but most likely a little less than you expect.

Story Of Amdavadi Freagles: From Numbers To Names, From Labs To Laps

When 21 beagles were recently released from a laboratory-run kennel in the country, they had already spent more than 6 years of their life in a dark cage. They had never seen sunshine, never ate home-cooked meal, never sniffed flowers, and never chased squirrels. 5-days into a free world and some of them still don’t know how wonderfully they can utilize this freedom. The smarter ones of the batch are busy exploring mud and the adventurous ones have taken to swimming like they are amphibians, but a few shy ones still run away when they see a human. They are currently living in a dog boarding center in Ahmedabad, their temporary home, till all of them find good homes. They still don’t have names – as for the laboratories, they were only numbers such as 8654378.

Freagles – the free beagles – as they lovingly called, are special dogs. Special because they don’t have the inherent characteristics that you might expect from a dog. They are afraid of noise, don’t know what to do with toys, and don’t know how to express love. As 6-years of their lives have passed into enclosed cages, freedom to them almost means re-birth. So, basically, they are 6-year old puppies who need to be toilet-trained and leash-trained. They need to be showered with love and allowed to be feasted on the tastiest home-cooked meal. They need to be given time and space to understand that they will eventually get a chance to choose their favorite human in the world.

When Richa Singh Choudhuri, an ex-corporate girl and, now, the owner of Bowsome Retreat, the boarding center hosting these 21 freagles, adopted Dexter, a 2016 batch freagle, she didn’t know this boy will change her life forever. Dex, as he is lovingly called, is now a 12-year-old bully in the pack of 9 dogs and 2 humans. He came as quiet dog and within 1.5 years of his adoption has become the most demanding, opiniated, and intelligent dog in the pack. He rules the pack of 9 dogs with an iron paw. Dex follows his mom, Richa, like a shadow everywhere. Richa proudly says, “No one on this planet can love me more than Dex”. Dex and his pack member, Duster, another freagle, taught Richa the compassion towards freagles. She says that “Freagles, once they taste love, reciprocate love in a manner that a human has never experienced”. Richa says that each freagle parent has a unique story to tell, but all of them would voice the same opinion “A freagle teaches you the meaning of love and freedom all over again”.

The 21 freagles, currently at the boarding, have slowly started coming out of their shells. They are currently being given the requisite medical attention and the time to grow into the real character that they are. Once they start showing their real nature, they will be given new names and then, they will leave past the identification number that once defined their existence. Once the medical check-ups and basic behavioral observation of the freagles are complete, they will be put for adoption to suitable families. For this batch of freagles, adoption is open for three states: Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Delhi. Freagles of India (FoI), a registered trust, with the objective to rehabilitate and re-home animals released from testing laboratories in India along with Bowsome team is involved in facilitating the adoption of these freagles through social media outreach.

If you are considering adopting a dog and can spare few hours for few consecutive months to train them, you must consider these freagles once. You never know you might meet your soulmate in this freagle batch and a freagle might find his/her forever human in you. As a pet parent, I can tell you, these matches are made in heaven and cherished in heart forever, you just need to start your search from the right place.

To apply for adoption of these freagles, please fill the form here.

Adult-ing!

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When I was 10-years old, I didn’t think of how my life should be/could be after I am 25-years old. My 10-year old self concluded the planning of my life as a happily ever after at 25 with an assumption that at 25, I am financially independent and can shop for all candies, books, clothes I like. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was financially independent at a tender age of 21. So, with 4-bonus years at my hands, I explored life to the craziest extent possible (oh my crazy is far more subtle than your crazy). So, yes, I shopped – Shopped for things I needed, things I wanted, things I thought I wanted, and things I thought I might need in future. I was a 21-year old who had no financial responsibilities back home but, as the much-awaited first child of two working Indian parents, certainly had the luxury of receiving pocket money from home even at the age of 21.

My bonus years 

So, yes, from the age of 21-25, all I was doing was working during weekdays, roaming around with friends over the weekend, and again, going out to the random-est places to wine and dine with friends and friends of friends. My job involved travelling all over the country to coordinate for press conferences and corporate events – so work took me almost everywhere from tier-2 towns like Benaras and Bhopal to tier-1 cities such as Hyderabad and Kolkata. For places such as Kasauni, Mussorie, Jammu, and Goa that work didn’t cover – I had the craziest bunch of friends who made plans to travel whenever work permitted. Friends who came from far more liberal families than mine also told me alcohol was not a bad thing if taken occasionally, exposure to people of different sexual orientation made me feel passionately for LGBT rights, and the proximity with the JNU campus made me ‘tolerant’ to conflicting opinions and political views. I learned to read, to listen, to debate. I learned that as long as someone had an opinion, which was based on not hearsay, it was worth being heard once.

Discovering myself 

These were the years that shaped my personality. These were the years that brought me closer to my own views about my life. By 24, when I decided to leave Delhi and move to Bangalore for a job that involved almost no travel, I was sure of what I wanted in my life. I had taken to writing seriously (the glitz and glam of PR, I had realized was not my thing). I was a hard worker – not necessarily a smart worker, always. Most people were not my cup of tea. Though I learned the art of being indifferent to people who didn’t matter much later! I loved my own space. Home, for me, was a sacred place. I preferred fine dining over discotheques for a date. I learned, I being nice to someone will not necessarily result in a fair reciprocation. I learned that I, even after acting as the flag bearer of morality, will act selfish when it came to love. In short, the bonus years of my life, 21-25, taught me a lot about myself.

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30 and stubborn 

Now, inching closer to 30, I have become a little rigid about how I look at my life. So, if I don’t like you I am not going to hangout with you whether you express disappointment, anger, or hatred. My mobile phone is not my best friend, neither are random calls. So, if there is no business talking to you over phone, most likely I am not calling you or taking your calls. WhatsApp/SMSes give me the time to react to ‘how are you?’ messages so I prefer these over over-enthusiastic, random greetings on calls. If you have added me on a WhatsApp group without my approval, be rest assured that the group is on mute for the longest possible duration. Flattery is not my best trait. In fact, I really lack this skill. My praises would either be genuine or there would be no praises from me. I am not complimenting you on your attire so that you compliment me back. Sorry, my grey t-shirt and black track pants are more about my comfort that your approval. Husband-talk is not my thing. Bitching, unless you are my soul sister, is not my thing. Shop-talk is reserved for my mom. Career-talk, family-talk is reserved for my brother. For everything else, I have a husband, a best friend, and my two, awesome dogs. I nurture a few handful relationships because I genuinely believe in quality over quantity.

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Being socially nice 

Now, adult-ing taught me one more good thing – to camouflage the fact that I judge you top to bottom the moment you utter an ultra-sexist comment. The fact that being socially nice comes to me with great difficulty makes it far more easier for me to drop my hesitance, the moment you hint inching towards meanness from sarcasm. Confrontation is not my favorite pass time, but if you really want a showdown, come loaded with logic. Unless you infringe in my personal space or try to disturb my sanity, I genuinely try hard to be socially nice irrespective of the opinion I have of you.

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Why care? 

I genuinely don’t understand why people care so much about fair-weather friendships? For me, reciprocation of socially accepted behavior is just about existing in harmony. At 30, I am not self-sustained, but of course, I refrain from relationships that serve no other purpose that ganging up against a common enemy or forming a mutual admiration club. May be because my necessity for external approval is less, I am more at peace with adult-ing than many others.

At 40, I will revisit this blog to see whether I am successfully on my way to become a khadoos middle aged woman or not. Like I said, I am living my life after 25 without a plan and it has been pretty gratifying so far.

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The ‘phone’ of contention

I feel pretty old writing this article because this makes me realize that I was born in a generation where landline phones were fashionable. I remember my boyfriend, now my husband, chasing me for 2 days after school hours to get my ‘phone number’ so that he can discuss the ‘seating arrangements’ for the exams with me (and we discussed everything else instead!). Anyways! I am that old! I belong to a generation that lived without SMSes and WhatsApp messages and still managed to make friends in school.  And, yes, before I hit 30, I can happily claim to have lived more than half of my life without a mobile phone.

Going by the standards of my generation, I was privileged to get an old and discarded Motorola mobile phone of my dad very early in life. But mind you, I was given a mobile phone with a strict warning that it has to be used only in the case of emergency. All that mobile phone allowed me to do was make calls & send, if I remember correctly, 142 characters messages. Sending multi-media messages were unaffordable for a kid like me whose monthly allowances were less than the cost of popcorn in PVRs today.

Anyways, coming back to the point, yes, a mobile phone, about a decade back, was a commodity all of us could live without.  But today, mobile phones are more than mobiles phones and that confuses an old-school-er like me. The society has defined a whole new way of measuring people’s amicability quotient by simply calculating the number of calls a person makes to his/her friends, family and acquaintances in a stipulated time frame.

Here is how the new social charter works:

  • You don’t pick up someone’s call once, you are deliberately ignoring the person.
  • You don’t pick up the call more than twice, you are annoyed with the person.
  • You pick up the call and tell you are busy, you are acting pricey.
  • You forget to charge your mobile’s battery, you are careless.
  • You don’t call someone often, you don’t like the person.
  • You don’t do useless, small talks on festivals, anniversaries and birthdays, you are defying family values and bringing bad name to the family.
  • You don’t talk to far, unknown relatives (mind you who you might have as met a toddler or never met at all), you are not interested in carrying forward the relationships your family nurtured over decades.
  • You don’t contact a person who you met socially on WhatsApp or over a call after the meeting, you are rude.   

In short, mobile phones have become the yardsticks of how much you value your relationships! Whoa! We have reached another level of social evolution with the invention of mobile technology.

For someone like me who has to be online on Instant Messengers for business day in and day out, putting away my mobile phone is a luxury. It’s actually relaxing to be not talking to people who can’t understand your pauses and tiredness (and I say that in the personal as well as professional context). And, oh yes! This reminds me of another point that should go up the list:

  • You don’t sound enthusiastic over the phone, you were not happy talking to the person on the line!

The relationships, the camaraderie, the love – everything now is simply calculated by the talk time spent your mobile phone or the success with which you emote (or pretend) over this virtual medium of communication.

I, sometimes, wonder if there is a quantifiable metric to categorize people based on their monthly mobile expenses or availability to attend mobile calls. For example, someone who spends Rs.2500 and/or 1000 minutes talking over the mobile phone in 30 days is an Amicable Person (Level 2)!

I won’t be surprised if you tell me a metric like this is already in place!  I am ‘socially’ less connected, you see!

10 Simple Ways to Live Peacefully!

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  1. Sleep till 9 a.m.
  2. Snore. Snore. Snore.
  3. Shout for a cup of tea right from your bed- Maid. Husband. Husband. Maid – Race who gets it first.
  4. Sit at the portico with your third cup of tea and a street dog for company because solid food & human interaction might interrupt with your inner harmony early in the morning.
  5. By 10:30 a.m, switch on the laptop and pretend to work for the next 10 hours because you get paid for pretending to work.
  6. Ignore all phone calls, because mobile radiations cause cancer. (For those who think I am joking  – click to read the article from National Cancer Institute).
  7. Talk to your pet fish during lunch because discussing ‘Sasural Simar Ka’ is way too advanced a topic for your level of mental evolution.
  8. Read 100-rupee literature such as ‘My 95th Love Story at IIT’ to get over crap that you can’t filter out of your system through your sad face & mad face.
  9. After you are done with your day’s work, switch on the TV, tune in Times now and watch ‘The News Hour’ on mute.
  10. Sleep at 11 p.m. Wake up at 1 a.m, switch on the lights and play Frank Sinatra on full volume. Let people who play Anuradha Paudwal, on full volume,  at 5 a.m. have logical reasons to complain.

PS: Please feel free to feel offended.

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Why is so easy to slut shame a girl? ‪#‎theproblemwithus‬ ‪#‎slutshamingneedstostop‬

Why do we glorify a sacrificing and docile woman instead of those who fight for freedom? ‪#‎theproblemwithus‬ ‪#‎slutshamingneedstostop‬

The news about Hrithik and Kangana’s relationship is being followed by the Indian media very closely. There are allegations, counter-allegations, supporters and shamers appearing from all possible directions.

Though we don’t know which side is the victim, the way the media is reacting to this NEWS poses one very serious question on our society – why slut shaming a girl an easy way to pump TRPs?  Doesn’t this clearly mean that some of us are busy enjoying this circus on TV?

Read the full article on: http://www.smartindianwomen.com/why-is-so-easy-to-slut-shame-a-girl/

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A mother to 500 streeties! #Mothersdaystory #adoptnotshop

By the time the volunteers come back after feeding all the dogs for the day, the preparations for next day’s meal has already begun in Sulakshmi’s kitchen.

When I ask her about her routine, she says that every morning around 5:30 a.m., she sends the first lot of food out for the dogs in the surrounding localities like Chittaranjan Park, Kalkaji, G.K-I and G.K-II. The final lot goes out at 1:30 p.m. for far off areas like Govindpuri and Okhla. By the time, the final lot is out, she is busy with the next day’s preparation. On an average day, she prepares about 90-95 kgs of rice and 50 kgs of chicken and mutton. It takes about 7-8 hours to prepare the meals and the day generally starts with mixing, packing and sending out the first lot of food.

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Giving food to the streeties is not the only responsibility she has taken upon herself, she also keeps a check on the sick dogs and the weak dogs regularly to ensure that they get their share of meals and medicines. Then there are accident cases – which are to be reported, taken to the veterinarians, fostered till they are healthy enough to live an independent life.

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When I ask her, how  does she manage so much in a day? “I am always behind my schedule.” she replies with such sincerity and modesty that makes me embarrassed about the endless complains that I make in a day when my 2 dogs fight or misbehave.

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There is not much of a support system that she has. “It’s a constant struggle.”, she says when asked about how she makes the humongous task possible every day. There are unhelpful and angry neighbors because they think she is encouraging the ‘dangerous’ stray dogs in the area. Then, there is a constant struggle to find regular volunteers. She has hired some people for help and pays them from her on own pocket. “There can’t be a day in the whole year that the dogs can go hungry. Be it a bandh or a public holiday, the dogs have to get their share of meals.”, she says with a sincerity in the tone.

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When she tells me that she has been feeding these dogs for the last 15 years, I can’t stop myself from asking what keeps her going (I am sure she has been asked these question umpteen number of times. But I can’t hold back my curiosity.). “Ek Junoon hai bus. Call it “Passion” – though I know it is a hackneyed, commonplace, overworked, banal, stock phrase.”, she says without a hint of tiredness or irritation in her voice.

In the last 15 years, there has not been much support from the local authorities as well. “One out 100 local authorities might come for any kind of help. People mostly have complaints even when we diligently clean up the area every day after feeding the dogs.”,  she says and this is the first time in the entire conversation that I sense despair in her tone.

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Sulakshmi takes care of the vaccination and neutering with the help and guidance from certified veterinarians. “I am 66 years old and it’s getting difficult for me. I have sold off my jewelry, ancestral property and, financially, it’s becoming challenging.”, she continues in a tone of despair. She has started a crowdfunding campaign on www.desiredwings.com/feedstrays to get some funds to manage the ever-growing needs.

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Sulakshmi also facilitates adoption of dogs. She says adoption depends on the luck of the puppy. Sometimes some people are taken in by the unconditional love and attention that a stray puppy has to offer; however, people mostly prefer buying pedigrees. “But we keep trying”, she says and I can sense the optimism back in the conversation.

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When I ask her if there is any particular dog that she loves the most, she quotes her mother to make a point about a mother’s unconditional love, “See all these fingers. None of them are same. But they all are equally important. Mother’s love is equal for all.”, she signs off on a note which makes me wonder if one single day in a calendar is good enough to celebrate a mother’s unconditional love.

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About Swargasaathi Charitable Trust (Regd.): The Swargasaathi Charitable Trust (Regd.) has been set up by Sulakshmi Dasgupta to support and take care of multiple stray dogs in New Delhi.

The trust is now open to charities, and cheques can be drawn out in the above mentioned name. For more information, one can write an email to swargasaathi@gmail.com or contact them at +91-9910576883.