Fight Your Inner Demons! Happy Diwali

Wish all of you a very Happy Diwali!! Some are celebrating it today. Some are celebrating it tomorrow.  But the festivities have started. I have fond memories of Diwali from when I was younger.

When I was growing up, and I think even when most of you were growing up we did not know / care much about pollution. We played with patakas, anaar, phooljhadi, and rockets in all its glory. Diwali was about going out with my dad and shopping for fire crackers. My mother would make me wear jeans, shirt and a jacket so that I am fully covered and safe from blisters. I would want to dress up in a pretty lehenga with a dupatta like the older girls. I was scared of most patakas but I would watch my dad, brothers, neighbors burst it. I would scream and run away when they would burst it, then look back, laugh and clap. Jump around like a monkey. We would also go the roof of the house from where we could see the whole town lit up. We would never be able to use up everything we bought. So the leftover patakas would be used up in the days following Diwali. If there was a cricket match coming up in the next week, then even better use of the leftovers. For me, it was a consolation. I did not want the fun and the excitement to be over. Leftover patakas meant that there was something to look forward to.

I don’t know what growing up does to you! No excitement for anything! Unhappiness, dissatisfaction, non-fulfillment, loneliness, bitterness, jealousy, regret!

Diwali is a celebration of victory and winning over demons. But what about our inner demons? Aren’t they the most difficult to conquer?

If you ever want to tame your inner demons, you must consciously choose never to become too attached to any particular life plan – and always remain open to the idea that there might be an even better life plan for you. –  Karen Salmansohn

                                                                 ***

I woke up feeling a sense of emptiness. It is hard to describe it. It is not the same as sadness. When you are sad, you at least manage to cry. When you are angry, you yell or be rude to someone. But it’s not that. It is a feeling of nothingness.  It just is. It is the fear of not knowing how you may feel the next moment yet trying hard to control it. It is trying not to break up. As if you are a balloon that can burst any moment.  There are so many triggers. It cannot be explained.

Me: Life is beautiful. Life is full of surprises. I should be positive.

Inner demon: Life is beautiful. Yours is not! You have nothing.

Me: Hey, can’t say nothing! I am doing alright.

Inner demon: It depends what alright means! In your case it means just surviving!

Me: I am very grateful. There are people around me dealing with so much more!

Inner demon: Like who? The ones who are earning more than you? The ones who have a family? The ones who are on vacation in some pretty place enjoying while you sit here writing some bitter piece which no one will even read! Hahha!

Me: We should never compare our life with others’.

Inner demon: Then let’s compare your life now with this time last year! Last Diwali you were so happy. You know why. This year started out well for you too. You had high hopes. You were doing well. But now? Nothing that you had planned for yourself turned out the way you wanted. And I think this is how it will be for you from now on. Worse and worse..

Inner demon was winning. I texted a friend. She is always understanding. She asked me to cheer up. She said I should meet her in the evening. But I knew that was not the solution. I would be okay when I meet her. But once I am back, it would be just me and inner demon.

I was sure I would break down. I was sure I would have an outburst. I felt helpless. Like my thoughts are not in my control. My emotions are not in my control. And ofcourse life is not in my control.

Then something happened. I thought of what I had written a few days back. Don’t underestimate the power of little things in life.  Little moments of joy help in healing. Be greedy and grab them all. When you laugh you laugh. It does not matter if you were sad a moment before.  

I decided to distract myself.

  • Saw a KFC styled chicken recipe on youtube and made it. (It was awesome)
  • Watched a movie on Netflix – The Invisible Guest. It was in Spanish with subtitles. Crisp and gripping thriller.
  • Tried out some tests online for improving my English. Brushed up on some mathematical concepts. Nothing helps heal like learning new things. It makes you humble. There is so much to learn!!
  • My domestic helper wore glasses for the first time today. I was surprised. She claimed that she always had it. She does not bother wearing it because she wants to look pretty. I teased her that no wonder her work is so bad! She cannot see dust and dirt! She laughed too. She made the Rangoli outside the house.
  • I took a picture of the Rangoli and sent it to my sister. Also sent to her a picture of my homemade KFC chicken.
  • Searched Halloween costumes online for my niece. Have shortlisted some. Will talk to her soon.
  • Got a call from an old friend. Shared a lame joke.

None of the above involved doing anything drastic. But I am feeling good. More importantly, feeling in charge of my emotions.  There is no outburst. No breaking down.

I have beaten the inner demon. She may be there. But it is my choice whether I listen to her or not. I am not her slave…

It is indeed a Happy Diwali! It is a victory of me over my inner demons. Wish you all the same!

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

– Lord Buddha

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Hrithik Breaks His Dignified Silence on Kangana

Hrithik Roshan recently tweeted his response to the controversy with Kangana. You could read it here.

It was so well-written. It is difficult to find anything wrong with it. It was so dignified, graceful and respectful.

I do not know Hrithik or Kangana personally so it would be stupid of me to say who is right or wrong in this.   I also do not plan to be Sherlock Holmes and refute each and every statement made by Hrithik with evidence available on the public domain, like KRK did recently against Kangana.

Had I seen Kangana’s interview on ‘Aap ki Adalat’ or read this tweet of Hrithik’s few years back, my views would have been very different.  I had not met so many people in life. I had not seen as much as I have seen now. I was far behind in the dating scene myself and had had far less interactions with the opposite gender.

I request you to read the following keeping Hrithik Kangana aside. It is NOT a reflection on them. I will come back to them.

When I was growing up, I thought that men do not hide relationships. Women do. Men are considered studs when they are with multiple women. They take pride in it. It boosts their ego. However, women are called names for doing the same. Women are also expected to be more careful, because they have so much more at stake in relationships, physically and emotionally.

At the risk of generalizing, men sometimes get into relationships with women they have no intention of marrying. Women more often than not get attached in relationships. These relationships have to end because one person had no intention of anything ‘serious’ and he knew this from the beginning.  How do such relationships end?  Is it possible to end it amicably? Or would it leave one person bitter, usually the one dumped?

I have seen that men are also very particular about their reputation. They would not want their mothers, parents, sisters etc. to know that they are “sleeping around”. They can be quite secretive when it comes to the girls they are dating, who they are not serious about. They would lie. They would deny. Are they trying to protect the woman? Are they trying to protect themselves? Nobody wants to be the bad guy who hurt and betrayed a woman!

Ending a relationship involves a lot of drama. You have to deal with someone’s emotions, allegations, take the blame, guilt. Denying the relationship on the other hand is very convenient. Defenses such as ‘I never promised to marry you, I never lied” are strategically applied. “Ghosting” is a term very commonly used in the western dating cultures where a person ends a personal relationship with someone abruptly, without offering any explanation and withdrawing all forms of communication.

Men fall in love with their eyes. Women fall in love with ears. Such a cliché! Yes. Some men know how to say all the right things.

I have met men who consider themselves very “ethical”. They claim they have immense “respect for women”.

What he says:

A married man with a child told me that he has had multiple affairs. He said there is nothing wrong with it, as he treats his wife very well. He has never bitched about her to other women. He never projects that he is in an unhappy marriage and therefore needs support. He is honest that he wants to have a good time, and if the woman “consents” then why not! I asked him if it is okay if his wife does the same. He said sure, he is liberal.

Reality:

He does not tell women with whom he has had extra marital affairs that he is married! His wife has no idea what he does! When she does not know, where is the question of being okay with it, or doing the same herself!

What he says:

 Another guy who is a player dates a lot of women. He says that he treats the women very nicely, and has never done anything without their “consent”. He said that he would love to be friends with them even after things end. But it is women who are complicated and don’t like to stay in touch with their exes.

Reality:

He starts dating other women while he is still with someone! By the time the woman realizes this, she is already an ex, without a choice! He tells her that he could still be friends, if she would stop behaving like a needy psycho! How generous of him!

Psycho, clingy, crazy, needy are terms used for women who are attached to a man who no longer wants to be with them.  The guys in the above example consider themselves good and respectful of women because of one reason: They have never violated a woman’s consent. In a country where rape and domestic violence is so high, it is a virtue when a man does not force himself upon a woman, or abuses her.

But if you ask the women they have been with, would they also say they are “good”?

Average, middle-class, single, non-celebrity men try to protect their reputation.  Those with money, power, access to the best lawyers, wife, ex-wife, children can go to even greater extents.

Words can be beautiful. But the actions have to match the words. I would like to say this to all the women who are dating – Do not just fall for the words. See that the actions should match up as well.

Now coming back to Hrithik Roshan,  where is the “dignified silence”?

  • Making a statement, “Ther r more chances of me having had an affair with d Pope dan any of d (Im sure wonderful women d media hs ben naming. Thanks but no thanks!”
  • Sending a legal notice to Kangana for calling him a “silly ex”!
  • Making a statement that “She suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome!” Was she in love with an imposter, or did she imagine it because she is mentally ill? Pick one!!
  • Revealing personal emails?

Does Hrithik have the right to do the above in his defense? Sure. But how is doing the above “silence” or “dignified” as he claims? I also have some other questions:

  • Kangana works with many people (and we know movie starts shoot 24’7), producers, directors, co-stars, teams. Nobody could ever figure out all this while that she is so crazy?
  • Wouldn’t a sensible person block unsolicited emails or would wait for the spammer to send 3000 emails?
  • An actress who has received three national awards would do something like this for publicity?

I am not supporting Kangana because she is a woman. I do not support having an affair with a married man either. I support her because what she has been saying makes sense to me.  I like her brutal honesty and lack of tact.  People who oppose her from the industry have little credibility. Like a certain older man whose son has been responsible for a young  woman’s alleged suicide and whose wife supports her cheating husband, and even worse son unconditionally. Or another young man and his father who allege that she is a “witch” and performs black magic!!

Hrithik’s tweets were beautiful. Politically correct. Kangana’s words;

“Mere birthday party pe floor par lot lot kar kyun naachta tha woh?”

Such words cannot be planned, rehearsed and made up!!!

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She Deserved it!

I think like me most of you knew even before Anamika Majumdar started playing Kaun Banega Crorepati, that she is the contestant who would be winning Rs 1 crore, thanks to news and previews of the episode. Anamika Majumdar was the first contestant of this season to win Rs 1 crore. She is a homemaker from Jamshedpur who runs an NGO called ‘Faith in India’ which uplifts children and women through arts and social awareness. It was not clear to me whether she educates or employs them, but it seemed like she gives them a direction in life by engaging the children in dance, and the women in bhajans while teaching them about personal hygiene. I will update this article once I find out more about her NGO.

I have been writing a lot on KBC episodes lately. People who come on this show are ordinary people like you and me and they reflect societal attitudes. I also feel guilty because these are not celebrities and they are not putting themselves out there to be judged. Therefore, I do not want to make this article about attacking her husband. But here is what happened:

Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar’s husband how he feels about her NGO work. He said that it is okay as long as she is able to manage her household work. He added that if he comes home, and she is not there then it may not be so great. Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar something like who needs her more, her own kids or the NGO kids. It was a strange thing to ask, and I felt that his only intention was to get the response from her, that she manages both well.

Would a male contestant ever be questioned on how he spends his time and justify how much of it is worth spending on other than his family?

Then there was an audio visual where the lady went on to explain how she finishes all her work of home, and then only she goes to the NGO. She added that initially the kids may not have been used to not having her own around but they soon understood that their needs are being taken care of. Her mother who by the way was very intelligent herself, and answered one of the ‘jodidar’ lifeline questions correctly, supported her daughter.

Ms. Majumdar was beautiful. She had such a sweet voice. She knew the answers. She had great general knowledge. She was so smart that even when she did not know the answer for sure, she could make an educative guess through the process of elimination. She was confident. She was kind-hearted. She cares about children and women who are not her own, and she wants to do something for them. I could not stop admiring her.

I know a lot of women like Ms. Majumdar. They are almost perfect. But forget about being admired, they are made to feel undervalued. They are made to feel guilty and worthless. Often, by a person who has vowed to support them for life.

She said on the show that at one point she had felt hopeless in life, and would speak to a tree for guidance. I do not know this couple personally so I would not like to blow all of this out of proportion and impose my assumptions.

Keeping them aside, I would like to say something to the women reading this:

You are much more than what you may be given credit for. Don’t let anyone define your self-worth. Do what gives you happiness. People will always be unhappy no matter what you do. Might as well do what makes you happy.

And to all men, please value your wife. She is probably doing the best she can. A little empathy and support from you could you make all the difference.

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I Am A Good Man – I Did Not Take Dowry!

  • So, yesterday it was raining during my exercise time. I had just downloaded ‘Shape of you’ on my cell-phone and was excited about jogging.

I took two rounds despite the rain, convincing myself that it was just a drizzle. I got wet and had to finally accept the fact that I cannot be out anymore. I headed to the gym. I don’t like going to gym at that time because it is too crowded. But ever since KBC started, I go early so that I can be home by 9 pm to watch the show peacefully.

The gym has stopped playing music on the music system. These days they just switch on the TV and put on one of the music channels. I am wondering if I started that? Because one day when I went to gym late, a cricket match was playing on the TV. I had got bored listening to the same CD again and again. So, I requested the guard to leave the TV on and I kept changing the music channels from MTV, to 9XM, to B4u music to Bindaasplay etc. Ever since then, I have seen the TV on.

Zetc channel was on. I didn’t like the songs they were playing – “Hoke man aaj magan naache hai chanan chanan’ types. I usually don’t mind such songs but in the gym, I prefer something more fast and catchy like ‘Main tera boyfriend’ or ‘Tenu suit suit karda’. Those songs immediately raise my speed. I wondered if it is okay if I change the channel. Then I thought everybody else is too busy in their work-out. Here I am obsessing about the music. I decided against it. I miss my post 9:15 pm slot when the place is empty. It like having a private gym…

It was almost 9pm. My mother had told me that the roll-over contestant from KBC will reach up to the one crore question. I did not want to miss that episode. So, I rushed home, panting and sweating. Just when I was leaving the gym, they started playing , ‘Tenu suit suit karda!’ How very unfair!!

This gentleman who won Rs 50 lakh in yesterday’s episode was 29 years old and had multiple degrees – M.A. Hindi, M.A. English, PGDM etc. Very educated person. Some of the questions that he was asked seemed very easy to me – like the state with the maximum rainfall with options such as Meghalaya, Karnataka, Maharashtra etc.! He seemed to be guessing in a lot of questions. But anyway, none of my business!

At some point, Mr. Bachhan remarked that this gentleman had got married very early. The gentleman replied that he is very happily married and has three kids. He said proudly that when he got married, he did not take any dowry!

I do not want to write more about this gentleman, because I do not want to make this article about attacking him. I just felt sad that our society is so regressive that not taking dowry is a matter of pride, something to boast about on national television. I am generally disappointed with the “good men” in our country.

Few years back, I had met a gentleman in an arranged marriage set-up. He asked me if I drink. I said yes. He said that he does not have a problem with that. He added that he is such a “cool, liberal guy” that he would even take me out for drinks after marriage!

“Some of my friends, they drink with other guys and leave their wives home. But I will allow my wife to drink with me!” he said proudly.

I told him that he has no right to “allow” another human being to do anything! And he is not doing his future wife a favour by “not having a problem with her drinking”.

P.S. – If you think you are a “nice guy” by waiving off dowry or being okay with your wife drinking you are not a nice guy! You are still a chauvinistic, probably trying to evolve but it will still take you another 100 years to understand the meaning of “gender equality”. And no I will not admire you because compared to some bigger idiots, you are “still better”.

 

 

 

Kangana Ranaut on Aap ki Adalat- Refreshingly Original And Honest

I have been a fan of Kangana Ranaut. Not after Fashion. Or Queen. Or Tanu weds Manu 2. I have been a fan of her since I saw her in Gangster, when I was in college. Her acting was unbelievable for a first movie. People would say, ‘What! She is a nobody!’

Her beauty was unconventional. So was her story. A nobody from Himachal Pradesh. Very beautiful. Very talented. But she could not speak English. She was not a star kid. Nothing unusual about that. There are examples of non-star kids who have done well in Bollywood. The unusual part was that she did not care to be in the good books of the star kids and their parents!

Today, after watching her in ‘Aap ki adalat’ with Rajat Sharma, I am more in awe of her than ever. There are parts of interview that I just loved:

1. Nepotism

All famous and non-famous people have shared their views on her remark in Koffee with Karan that Karan Johar is “the flagbearer of nepotism”. People said that so many non-star kids have also done well. Sure! Ultimately talent matters. But do we really believe that people who are not from the filmy background get equal opportunities as the star kids? Star kids get a lavish launch with the best directors. They have friends and contacts from the industry. Even if their movies flop, they can always get re-launched with a home production. They are from the industry. Yes, there may be more expectations from them, more comparisons with their successful parents, and more pressure. But does that compare to the struggle of a 17-year-old girl who leaves her home in Himachal Pradesh with no connections in Bollywood? Someone who makes through an audition only because of talent, while supporting herself in an expensive city like Mumbai? Are star kids really on the same level as the millions of nobodies who go to Mumbai every day to try their luck? At the least they are financially secure, and have their parents to offer them guidance and second chances.

2. Her stand on fairness creams and item numbers

She does not endorse fairness products. She does not act in the raunchy item numbers that objectify women. It is remarkable for a country where even men advertise for fairness creams and do not care about its impact on society.

3. Controversy with Hrithik Roshan

At some point in the show Kangana said that Hrithik promised to marry her, but did not. Because of him, she ended up not marrying somebody else either who was willing. Now she is 30 and still single! Even celebrities think like this? I thought this was a very middle class feeling.

She said a lot on the show about the controversy involving Hrithik Roshan. I do not want to comment on it. Relationships are complicated even for ordinary, middle class people. It would be beyond complicated when famous people are involved, where the man is married / getting divorced, there is a legal notice with emails accusing the girl of being a psycho, and the whole world having an opinion on it.

But, assuming she was saying the truth, the letters she had written to her lover at that point were released in the public domain. She was threatened that her private pictures and videos would be released as well. I don’t know in what context such an invasion of privacy can be justified. She had filed a complaint in the Women’s Commission who also did not bother because the other party was more powerful. If a successful, rich, famous woman also does not get help in such situations, I don’t want to imagine the plight of the common woman.

Kangana said that she loved Hrithik at that point of time. He had initially told her he would never marry her, because he was already married then. But after his divorce, he did consider it.

I do not understand why so many women date married men. It is not good for the man’s marriage. It may never turn into a marriage for the women either. It may happen for celebrities because they have a lot of money. But ordinary men do not prefer to divorce their wives, leave their children, pay alimony and child support to their ex-wives and marry the woman they were dating with no serious intentions. They let the affair go on till the time that the woman is not demanding commitment. When she does, things go wrong. Yes, some may decide to end their marriage. But it is really the best choice to make as a woman when it results in breaking a family? Because love just happens? Great! If you believe in love, then there is hope. Go make it happen with a single man. (Of course I am not blaming the woman solely. It is the man who is committing adultery, but since I am writing from a woman’s point of view here).

I would like to believe that Kangana is telling the truth. But it does not matter what I think. We do not know what really happened. I wish people would stop maligning her by calling her “drama-queen” “cheap”, “attention hungry” “crazy” etc. Let us give the benefit of doubt to both of them!

How come people are so easily accusing her of lying for publicity? Do they know her personally? Because she is a woman? Because she is not part of the “cream” of Bollywood? Because she is outspoken? Or because she is successful in spite of all this? Famous people probably do not support her because they do not want to mess with the big people she speaks against. Ironically the same people get upset when she talks about Bollywood’s nepotism and favoritism!

Kangana, you are fearless. You speak your mind. It is not easy to speak up against people who run the industry in which you work. But you do it anyway! For every 10 people who like to demean you, there would be one woman like me who looks at you and says, “Wow! Finally somebody who is original, and honest!” You must continue to be yourself for the millions of women like me. Not every woman works in movies. Yet, she must have gone through something similar:

The one who has left her hometown for employment but is on the verge of giving up and packing herself back.

The one who has a job but does not know how to deal with group-ism and sexism at work.

The one who was in a relationship that was later denied by the man.

The one who has been called psycho by ex/current boyfriend because he could not find a better reason to dump her.

For all the women who may not have supportive parents, good relationships, money, great contacts or friends but only their work, and their conviction in themselves to become somebody from a nobody. We may not quite there yet, but we have started our journey.

And we need more women role models like you because we have no reference to deal with these situations.

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KBC And Women Empowerment

Started watching Kaun Banega Crorepati since Monday. The show has unexpectedly changed my daily routine as someone who goes to gym / walk late after dinner. Now I have to complete my exercise before 9 pm so that I can watch it peacefully. I don’t know after how long I am watching something on television. The good old days when we ran to the kitchen or the wash room during a break. For the longest time that I can remember it has been Netflix, and Hotstar, Ozee (Mom misses her Zindagi channel) and Altbalaji. (Don’t judge me… I am a fan of Sakshi Tanwar and could not resist Kar le tu bhi mohabbat).

Coming back to the show, last two episodes there was a female contestant from Uttar Pradesh, Archana Vijay. She was full of spunk. I would have loved to see her win more. She said some things on the show which I could completely relate to:

• How every girl is told to get up early, do household work etc so that she is prepared for marriage! As if marriage is the sole goal of our existence!

• As a perfect career advice people give young women – Why don’t you do B. Ed and get into teaching. It is perceived as such a future husband, future in-laws and future children friendly profession! Well, what if the woman is not interested in that?

• She also talked about how following tradition blindly makes no sense. We have conveniently adopted all kinds of new techniques to save time and effort. Why be regressive when it comes to women?

People always say society is like this. People are like that. What can we do? What can we possibly change? Well, nobody is expecting anyone to change the society. But we can at least take charge of our own life. This lady started a cyber café. She speaks up against what she does not feel right. She is not badtameez, she is just logical. I loved the example she gave of aata chakki. But regressive people don’t like logic. Logic defies tradition.

On a completely irrelevant note, she referred to her husband as her “Mister”. Mr. Bachchan interrupted her and clarified that she was addressing her husband and that some people may not get it as it is a very UP thing. Throughout my childhood I have heard people say, “Humare Mr. yeh karte hai, Unki Mrs. nahi hai.. etc.” The fact that I did not find it odd at all, was a reminder that I am quite rustic myself! 🙂

One of the questions asked to her was ‘Which movie has won the National Award for a social message in 2017?’ The answer was Pink. How could I have missed that? A movie with the message ‘No means no’ won an award. The same movie that so many progressive people failed to understand and said,‘But why did the woman go inside a room with an unknown man? What was she thinking?’ Mr. Bachchan then reemphasized that message – No means no whether the woman is your wife or girlfriend.

The next contestant who came on the show spoke about female infanticide. I missed that part but my mother later told me that he coaches women for competitive exams.

By the end of the show, I felt really happy. A financially empowered woman who spoke her mind. A man who wants to empower women. A movie on woman’s consent winning an award. And the greatest superstar of all times spreading the message.

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How Do You React To Married Men Jokes (On Women)!

A bus full of housewives going on a picnic fell into a river, all aboard died. Each husband cried for a week, one husband continued for more than two weeks. When asked, he replied miserably – “My wife missed the bus.”

A man inserted an ‘ad’ in the classifieds: “Wife wanted.” Next day he received a hundred letters. They all said the same thing: “You can have mine.”

You get the idea – The married men jokes that get circulated on whatsapp. It is not just men who share it but women too.

I have received messages from several women saying that they feel offended by these jokes. But when they express their discomfort, they are told that they are “Too sensitive” or “Take it easy” or “It is just a joke, relax!!!”

I have blogged about how I feel about it before. Sharing an excerpt from the old article:

Jet airways launched a scheme where a husband can take his wife free on their business trip.
After big Success of the scheme, Jet Airways sent letters to all wives asking about their experience?
99% wives replied
What scheme??
Which trip??
and When was it??

Do married men really have women throwing themselves at them? That women will jump at the first opportunity to travel with men who are not their husbands? Is cheating a joke? What if I edited this joke:

Jet airways launched a scheme where a wife can take her husband free on their business trip.
After big Success of the scheme.
Jet Airways sent letters to all husbands asking about their experience?
99% husbands replied
What scheme??
Which trip??
and When was it??

Is it funny anymore? Do we circulate jokes like this? I guess because women don’t get to go on business trips (sarcasm!)? Or maybe society does not consider it acceptable that wives could cheat on their husbands, and then laugh about it too!

Without making this post any longer, and as requested by a reader, would like to know how do you react when someone sends such a joke?

1. Come-on! It is light-hearted humour! I find it funny.
2. I don’t find it funny. But I don’t mind it either.
3. I unfollow such people or exit from such groups.
4. I try to make them understand that this is offensive.

Are accidents really just ‘accidents’?

I read the post of a mother who lost her 23-year daughter in a road accident.  The girl was riding pillion wearing a helmet.  There was a pothole.  She fell, got hit by a truck.  The truck driver never got punished. Though there was an FIR, nothing much happened. It was an ‘accident’ after all.

Another post was of a woman who lost her 32-year-old brother in a hit and run case by a speeding Mercedes driven by a ‘juvenile’.  The man was simply crossing the road near his house, carefully when an over speeding car driven by a ‘minor’ hit him.  There is a video of the incident caught on CCTV. The case is going on.

These families are now crusaders for road safety.  They try to create more awareness about poor habits such drunk driving, texting while driving, not following traffic signals as well as take measures to fix bad roads.

You could read more about them if you follow the links. Needless to say, it is extremely disturbing and unfair.

How would  it feel to lose a loved one, because some idiot decided to be on the road?

I had started driving two years back.  I was a slow and careful driver to begin with.

I remember the day I had got a tiny, first scratch in my brand new car. As I touched the scratch, it broke my heart. My perfect little car had to suffer because of somebody else’s stupidity.

Since then, I have had two accidents. Nobody got hurt, thankfully. I was alone both times, and it was not my fault.  The first time, it was with a cab. I don’t think the driver had any license, or registration.  He had snatched my phone and had bullied me into giving him lots of money. Remember the movie ‘Hindi Medium’, where the ‘poor guy’ extracts money out of the guy who was driving the car, even though he had deliberately got himself hit? The scene was meant to evoke sympathy, as the guy had put his life on risk for money for his friend.  I thought it was a horribly wrong message in an otherwise good movie.

The second accident was when a minibus hit my car and another two wheeler. I have blogged about it here. This time, I was smarter and called the police. It was still a lot of hassle.

Two accidents, major repairs, and money extraction by a callous driver later, I have become EXTRA careful.

My ‘grandma driving’ has been subject of ridicule. The jokes come from all kinds of people. Even the ones who do not know how to drive. Or the ones who may know theoretically? but have never driven:

  • I insisted that my friend  who sat in my car on the front seat must wear a seat-belt.  His response: ‘You drive like a bullock cart. I don’t need a seat-belt!’ I wanted to reason that the seat-belt would protect if somebody hits us from behind because no, not all drivers on the road drive like me.  Never mind!
  • Near my office, there is an empty, broken road, with dogs and pigeons resting during the day time. Now, pigeons are supposed to fly when you come near them. But on that quiet day, and quieter street, there was this one pigeon that was refusing to move. I stopped and honked.  There were some guys nearby who motioned me to keep driving, and it would eventually fly. I thought it was cruel to take a chance with hurting the poor bird. I reversed my car a little, and then drove a distance away from it. The guys laughed at me.
  • I was waiting to take a right turn at an intersection where there are no signals. It was not a one way, and there was traffic from both sides. One of my office cabs came after me, took a quick turn in high speed, while I continued to wait. The next day, one of the colleagues who was in that cab, asked me why I was so scared to take a turn. I told him that I was not scared. I was just waiting for the traffic to slow down.  ‘Traffic will be there! In that only you have to go inside! Otherwise you will keep waiting!’ he said with a wise, broad smile. ‘No I will not keep waiting. Every day, I manage to reach home! Maybe I have to wait an extra minute,’ I replied politely.
  • A neighbor was talking to another one about how she was anxious that her 18-year-old son had just started riding a motorcycle. She felt that two wheelers are unsafe and that her son was young. The other woman laughed at her ‘unreasonable fear’. She said that he is starting out late as 15, 16-year-old kids manage to drive.

I know of friends who drive recklessly. Are they ever shamed for their driving skills? No. In fact, they are considered cool and confident. One friend proudly told me how she had driven her team to an event within 20 minutes on a road that takes an hour, saving them from the disaster of being late.

We all know of people who drink and drive, and manage to get away with it. We know of teenagers, and adults who do not know how to drive, yet learn on the roads. We know of people who jump traffic lights. ‘Itna to chalta hai’ is the attitude.

Why do we take pride in putting our lives and more importantly other people’s lives at risk? Is it really something to be proud of? This must be the attitude behind the juvenile who ended up killing the man I was referring to. His parents must have thought it is not a big deal to give the keys to their minor son.

Underage drivers, drunk drivers, bus drivers, cab drivers or heavy vehicle drivers who callously drive on the roads probably may not be following my blog. But someone like the lady who trivialized driving by teenagers might be reading this. Or the colleague who believes waiting for two more minutes is a waste of time.

Is it worth it?

It is time we stopped shaming people who are doing the right thing. Let us pass on the shame to the ones who think they can get away with anything.  This kind of attitude that we have is more damaging that we think.

Next time we hear of someone bragging about their son / daughter who is driving without a valid license, let us shame them for being irresponsible parents. When we are in the car with that friend who breaks all rules, cuts into lines and has no respect for speed limits, let us not encourage him / her.

Let us ask these daredevils to join the circus. Or apply for positions of stunt artists.  The road is not the right place for them to showcase their skills.

Our roads, our legal system, other drivers on the road are all factors beyond our control. But our attitude is.