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I was speaking to an Indian-American colleague (born in the U.S. to Indian immigrant parents) who regularly used to visit India every year. When asked about this year, said she was reluctant to go there alone due to the high incidence of rape and sexual assault on women.
This post is in response to that.

 

Rape-Pencil-Sketch[1]

If I am raped tomorrow,
Leave me on my own,
Please don’t forward messages for my sake,
I am not worthy of your status’ ache.

Don’t give me your pity,
Don’t pray for my soul,
You are the same people who did not care when I lay there in a hole.

Your e-protests are not getting me justice,
Nor my sisters any protection,
The government is going to sensitize the issue, just to win the coming election.

First they objectified me,
Now the turn is yours,
How dare I step outside, I am just meant for the household chores.

Don’t console my father
Don’t try to cheer up my Mom,
It’s something you can forget tomorrow, but for them I’m forever gone.

I am dead now,
Humanity died with me
For I am a girl, I deserve every bit of this, I’m not to be seen equally.

This society is esoteric
A ‘fatal lie’, a ‘deadly truth’
it propagates such evil, and is the one to protest that it is ruth.

It cries for me and still mocks my death
for a few days later you’ll all forget,
hundreds like me will come and go,
For we are all going to reap what we once did plow.

Years ago the seed was sown,
‘She is a woman, she has to be tamed and made to moan’.

Now live with it, and dance with joy,
See her being meddled with, like a cheap plastic toy.

For she is a girl, she deserves every bit of this,
for her’s is weak and Mightier is His.!

Source: Gurnoor Kaur, Yes Punjab

 

If this video doesn’t touch you… please watch again! (:

I don’t endorse any product in my blog and am not promoting this soap here. However, truth be told, like all budget conscious Indians, I grew up using the brick like carbolic acid smelling Lifebuoy. When I was a student living alone on a thinner than shoe-string budget in Delhi, I could stretch this soap to last me a month and a half. Here is the image of the original Lifebuoy (which has now been replaced by a fancier looking smaller soap).

Now living in the US, I no longer use the above soap. Heck, even most people in India rarely buy it as its considered a poor man’s soap from grandfather’s era.

This soap was featured in the classic movie A Christmas Story where Ralphie as the narrator says, “Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. Though my personal preference was for Lux, I found that Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor – heavy, but with a touch of mellow smoothness. Lifebuoy, on the other hand… (Yechh!)” . His mother makes him wash his mouth with this soap after he blurts out the ‘F’ word!

The above video is closer to truth in under-developed countries like India where lack of hygiene and clean water is the leading cause of Child Mortality (source: Unicef). Simple fact that shows nutrition alone is not what is deprived for third world children. Though I admit, as a kid I did not always wash my hands before food unless forced to.

IndianrupeeSymbol

It’s official! The modest Indian Rupee now has a symbol.

After delaying its verdict by many weeks, a five-man jury finally chose IIT post-graduate D.Udaya Kumar’s design as the symbol of the Indian currency from shortlisted entries in an all-India contest late on Wednesday. And on Thursday afternoon, a Union Cabinet meeting and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the design.

Kumar’s symbol is formed by the merger of the Hindi Devanagari ‘Ra’ and the Roman capital ‘R’ without the stem. He wins a prize money of Rs 2.5 lakhs (about US$5400)  for his design. He is a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Technology.

"The Devanagari is the only script which has a line on the top. I also put another horizontal line…. so that we get a tricolour," he said.

"I wanted the flag to be flying high and be represented in the symbol," added Kumar, who is joining IIT-Guwahati as an Asst. Professor this week.

I like this symbol. However, I am biased and selfish. Though my native tongue is not Hindi (it is Tamil), I grew up in North and North-East of India where I studied Hindi in schools. I am more comfortable reading and writing in Hindi and struggle when it comes to Tamil. Also the first letter of my name रवि is the Devanagari ‘Ra’. Its a silly and childish reason, but then aren’t we all child-like in our idiosyncrasies? 🙂

On a different note, the value of Rupee is appreciating against the US Dollar, British Pound and the Euro. China has been keeping a tight leash on its currency but am not sure how long then can continue to keep it devalued. Pretty soon I expect prices of Chinese goods to go up. This would include the Apple iPhone, iPods and iPad, which are built in China. The craze for these gizmos continues to fail my understanding.

Rockfort Temple at Trichy at Sunrise

Pic: View at Sunrise from top of Rockfort Temple at Trichy, India.

I could never have imagined that cancer, especially breast cancer would touch my own life so closely, that too a few days after I ran the Virtual Breast Cancer half-marathon in New York City.

My parents had cancelled their visit to US this January due to my mother’s poor health. I was concerned and decided to go to India in February to see my mother. And I am glad I went.

I had no idea how bad her condition was and how rapidly her health had deteriorated. When I saw her, she was barely able to walk and had lost a lot of weight. She had had a hip surgery 2 years ago and is diabetic. She had also been diagnosed with post-menopausal osteoporosis. I had assumed she was unable to walk due to post-hip surgery complications, but as it turned out, I was terribly wrong.

She looked gaunt, frail, disheveled and depressed. Her immobility had meant fewer trips to the bathroom and infrequent baths. A few days into my stay at our home in Trichy, things got to a stage where she couldn’t even get up to walk and thus could no longer hobble to the toilet on her own. That’s when I realized how grave the situation was.

I took her to a well known Bone and Joint Hospital in Trichy. That’s how most orthopedic hospitals are called here for simplicity’s sake. The X-ray immediately confirmed her right femur (thigh) bone had fractured into two . No wonder she could not walk!

More was to come. A routine examination by a woman doctor also revealed a large tumor in her left breast. A complete scan the next day confirmed the presence of cancer in the breast, left shoulder and left arm. No one had taught her breast self-examination and though she had intuitively known something was seriously wrong with her, she had no idea what it could be. She had to be operated upon twice the same day, once to remove the breast  and surrounding tissues and again to fix her thigh bone with a metal plate.

I spent two stressful but fruitful weeks at the hospital. My mother was in much pain after the surgery, but the color had returned to her face and she no longer looked sickly. Her cancer treatment is yet to start but she now knows she can hope to recover.

She is only 69 years old, but with her rapidly worsening condition, she may not have survived for long and so I am glad I went to India. I could see her alive and do what I could to help her. I wish I could have stayed with her longer, but I have work in NY that I cannot abandon. I need to earn a living and when possible, financially support her care.

My mother’s case proves how vital early detection is in the fight against breast cancer.

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