Share it

Saturday, 29 June 2013


I decided to write this post for two reasons:
  1. I miss..miss..and terribly miss being a kid; and
  2. The obvious..I am guilty of not writing for what feels like ages.
I am almost nearing the completion of a quarter of my life and with every passing day I only seem to be missing my childhood even more. To be more precise, let me list down the things I miss the most about childhood:

    If anyone of you reading this happens to be the human rights activist types please don’t take the sub-head literally. When I say freedom of speech I mean saying only politically correct things. When I was a kid I could talk all I wanted and sometimes even say the most horrible things and yet get away with them (are bhayi..bachche mann ke sache hote hain). If my parents did ever get upset with me for saying certain things, all I had to do was make a sad face- enough to melt their hearts :P.      

    Err..what exactly is that? I thought I was sent on this planet to eat, drink, sleep and make merry. But then soon I entered adulthood. Purpose of life translated to what it is for most of us. Get a job with a fat pay cheque and ace every household chore so that one fine day my prospective mother-in-law doesn’t pack me off back to my mai-ka (mother’s I write this line my mind replays the scene of my grandma talking about me and my cousins to our mothers and saying “Ye ladkiyaan apni sasuraal mein humari naak katwaengi”). As of now I have been able to accomplish neither of these goals, so the purpose hangs in there like an elusive trophy.

    Mr. Shakespeare, after all these years of hearing this famous statement given by you, it finally makes sense. The world is indeed a stage sir and the audience is anything but kind. You falter a bit and the critics will unleash their wrath on you. Having a bad hair day?? Brace yourself for all those judgemental looks.  In contrast, as a kid I didn’t have to give a damn about how I dressed or how my hair looked because I was cute anyways (not being’s the case with all of us).

    The little I would come from school and completing my homework was a sure shot way of putting a smile on the faces of my parents. They would praise me and the graph of my self-worth would touch the roof. But then I wonder what changed as I can certainly not bring my office work home. If at all I work beyond my office hours my mother will ask that if I am so indispensable for my company that if I took some time out for household chores the company would come crashing down ( real breaks..I can’t afford to be seen around doing nothing, lead a ‘purposeful’ life or die). In such a case all I can do is respond with a blank look to pretend that I was engrossed in work and tuned out of everything else. There are times I feel like asking her..“Isn’t this a part of the purpose?” For some strange reason I feel making them smile is only getting harder these days.

Enough about the joys of childhood, let me talk about adulthood. These days it seems all about enduring the long metro rides to office every day, giving a co-passenger ‘the looks’ and hoping that she would realise that her weight is about to squeeze the life out of me and she should rather lean on to a non-living thing.

Amongst all this madness, there are times when I am able to steal some moments for myself (when my guilt inducing parents are not around). In these moments I wonder why it is so easy to find reasons to be grumpy about. I would love to be that kid again whose smile could calm people down even when they were about to blow their lids off. As a kid growing up, going to office and making money seemed like ultimate bliss, but today I think I should only let my parents do that.

Today I miss the careless smiles and uncluttered brain. Though adulthood is not really a punishment, but comparing it with childhood I can’t help but ask myself “Why the heck did I have to grow up at all?”   

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


As per the Mayan calendar, the human race was to end in 2012. But I guess what the Mayan calendar really meant to convey was that humanity would end and Mayans predicted it quite accurately. On the night of 16th Dec, 2012, a Delhi girl who was out on the roads of the city with a male friend of hers, at a not so late hour, went through a spine-chilling physical and sexual assault. Her friend too was brutally assaulted. The girl was raped and put through unimaginable physical torture in a moving bus and finally dumped on a roadside by six men. She lay there unconscious with her friend when some policemen saw the two, covered the girl up in a sheet and took them to the hospital. The doctors there fell short of words when asked to describe her condition and were amazed to see her alive despite arriving at the hospital three hours after the unfortunate incident.
This news was soon flashed all over TV and newspapers. The city went numb with fear and disgust. People talked in hushed tones about this everywhere from the Metro to the office canteens, while the doctors in the hospital struggled to save the girl. This female was an iron lady and had no intentions of giving in. Right from the moment when she encountered the perpetrators she had been fighting, now in the hospital she was fighting death. She showed the will to live despite all and soon her health seemed tad better. The hushed tones grew into one loud and firm voice. This voice encompassed emotions which had been simmering for a while now. Unfortunately we waited too long to let them over-flow. Not just Delhi, but the entire country was angry and sentiments ran high. Protests and prayers across the country united the citizens. People questioned those in power and demanded befitting punishment for the culprits. Meanwhile the girl was flown to Singapore to save her failing health and may be calm down the scenario in India which once had Central Delhi locked up from all sides. She breathed her last in Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore on 29th December.
Honestly, going by the fight she had put up, for once I really thought that she might just pull through it. She paid the cost for awakening a nation of people who had been taking it all, lying down till now. I must say, it took a lot to prick our conscience. A family lost its sunshine, a child who was chirpy and a brilliant student. But now that we are up, it’s time we don’t rest unless the needful is done. The momentum must not be lost unless the guilty are awarded exemplary punishment and the anti-rape law amended. Out of the six culprits, one falls a few months short of being an adult and hence has chances of getting away with a maximum of three years and that too in a reformatory home. It would be an utter disappointment for two reasons: first- this one is said to have assaulted the girl most brutally and second- this case clearly qualifies as ‘rarest of rare’. I say the police makes the faces of the culprits known and gives them a dip in the sea of people and let these six realise how it feels to be helpless and know what fear is (human rights activists, please excuse as these six only ‘seem’ to be humans).
The girl lost her life wishing to see these men being sent to their rightful place. It’s time her last wish is fulfilled. Nobody and nobody at all has the right to rob a female of her dignity and overrule her right over her own body. We can’t afford any more of this, the government must prove to us that we didn’t waste our time and vote on the voting day. I don’t think me or anyone can ever write enough conveying the anguish each one of us feels. From the deepest corner of my heart I wish the girl’s family all the strength and pray for the innocent life lost.
This fight has to be won without any more sacrifices and the scum bags have to be shown their place. WE HAVE TO KEEP GOING..THERE’S A LONG WAY AHEAD OF US!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


In this post I will be talking about a war, a war I was fighting since I was the height of the table in my drawing room. Somehow I realised too late that my side of the team as well as the counterparts had moved out of the battlefield long back while I stood there thinking that the enemy could do with a few more whacks.

Being a kid meant all the good things, say wearing pretty dresses, getting cuddly stuff toys (at times getting treated like one), not having to worry about walking long distances (one sad look on the face & you will be lifted up by a noble soul i.e. either parent) & not worrying about bad hair days (a kid with messed up hair equals cuteness). If there was something that would ring alarm bells in my head, it was war with my male contemporaries. It’s funny how as kids I & my friends viewed the people in the world as two major tribes- the male tribe & the female tribe. I must confess that I took this tribe thing tad too seriously & as I mentioned in the beginning the war lasted comparatively longer for me.
So courtesy the tribe divide I viewed boys as vile creatures who:
a)      had no brain;
b)      were always mean; &
c)       couldn’t even remotely come close to the ‘friend-zone’.
Studying in a co-ed school meant enemy was all around me & could attack anytime so, I was always on the defensive. I have distinct memories of thrashing up guys starting from my kindergarten days (I guess in nursery I was trying to understand the enemy & its you see, this battle began real early). I have thrashed boys for a variety of reasons..some for the good, some unintentionally (c’mon now..accidents happen) & some simply because they dared to mess up with my brother (I & my brother were a team back then & messing up with my brother was my copyright).
Few years down the line, I felt like some veteran of the war who took pride in talking about her war glories. On the other hand, some members of my tribe had started interacting with the opposition in a cordial way. I didn’t view those friends as traitors, they simply confused me & made me wonder- How in the world you can have a normal conversation with boys..aren’t they the same brainless counterparts who we are supposed to protect our tribe from? But in the due course I accepted the possibility of cordial relations with boys.
By the time I reached this point I saw that my friends had taken yet another leap. They were developing soft corners in their hearts for the opposite camp members (having first crushes of their lives). I would listen to their mushy talks & try hard to understand the games god was playing with their once-normal brains. The next step was eventually the intensification of feelings & then my friends were crying their eyes out as they were heartbroken for some or the other reason (You see, life sort of came a full circle..enemiesàfriendsàmushy timeàheartbreakàenemies).
Somewhere in my head where I had buried the memories of the gender war a light bulb was lit. The enemy was at it again, hurting my tribe’s members. But because this time it was a consequence of love gone sour (that involved the boy & girl equally) I had no plans of restarting the war. Instead I built my own kingdom, at a safe distance from boys, they were allowed only till the periphery of my castle.
Another few years down the line it was time for some introspection. I asked myself if living a guarded life meant not living life at all. So the war veteran went back to the war planning room (that’s where my brain has always worked the best :P) & raised a question for herself to answer:
“Boys don’t bite or eat girls alive, nor have there been any such cases in my war years so why this animosity & fear?”
The answer was clearly an enlightenment that was always waiting at one of the entrances of my kingdom:
“Boys are like my own tribe, made of flesh & blood, have both a heart as well as a brain & are certainly not cannibals.”
With this question answered my kingdom welcomed all the same, the world now seemed more like the world map in an atlas & was no longer the earth divided into two tribes. Ultimately & gradually some decent interactions happened with the new found ‘amicable’ contemporaries. Today when I count the people who matter in my life I am glad to say that some of them are males & central parts of my life (lift your jaw back up please).
Now the memories of gender wars from the younger days make me giggle. I am sure you & your friends have been there & done that (though I don’t know if you took it as literally as I did).
So here’s to the serene co-existence of women & men!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

F.R.I.E.N.D.S :)

The lone pack of chips eaten up in no time, the coffees & cold drinks, half a dozen people eating out of the same plate, sitting in the sun & talking like it’s the last day we are with each other. At times ordering food more than our appetite & then pushing it into each other’s plates & acting all thrifty & finally tonnes of those seemingly trivial but immensely special moments make me feel like the richest person on earth.

FRIENDS: when god thought of creating this relation he must have been in the best & kindest of his moods. He made friends because he knew that no human could bear to live alone in this huge world. Though he had already thought about making families but he thought of friendship because he knew that friends can be the some of the strongest pillars supporting people in their lives when the family seems lost or judgemental.
I have to admit, when I say this word out loud or even silently my heart fills up with immense warmth & I can’t help but smile. It is said that in your bad times one should count his/her blessings, as per me the word ‘blessings’ here is a metaphor for friends. Friends indeed are an extended family. You fight with them & regret it later, you have the best times of your life with them, you make memories with them, you cry with them, laugh with them, gossip with them, pour your hearts out (you get the gist..don’t you?).
Today I happened to be going through pictures of my days so far in college & the pictures almost left me teary eyed (this college wraps up in another 4 months). This college has given me the most amazing people & I am more than glad that I can count on them as my friends. I have always been a homebody & have hated going out much leave alone lying to my parents to go out. But here*drum roll* I have learnt to tell lies :D (The harmless white one’s of course). College became my second home. Deadline for reaching home was gradually extended because I want to be in college a ‘little longer’.
Inside this campus, life is carefree, easy going & almost every good thing that I can probably think of. Here I have shoulders to cry on, lunch boxes to smuggle food from (literally), backs to lean against & hands to hold. However tomorrow shall hold a stark contrast with deadlines to meet, cut-throat competition, politics & hardly any time for oneself courtesy the numerous responsibilities.
Whenever I think of myself sitting in my office on my desk somehow I am pretty sure that I will think about college at least once every day. The rhapsodic days spent here shall be my drug to make it through those arduous days. On second thoughts there’s no denying that the future has its own charm. I would love to have those bash-up-your-boss discussions with my friends \m/. The catharsis will charge me up to deal with another round of work days.
There’s so much I want to write but somehow I think I can never write enough about these lovely people. The best testimony to my feelings is a smile that is reaching the eyes right now.
So if any of you guys (my friends) happen to read this I just want you to know that you breathe a new life into my heart. You are the reason why I look forward to everyday & no matter how far the physical distances take us from each other I will always be glad that I met you. I know I have been stupid & have hurt you but I can never wish anything bad for you guys!  I will love all of you forever..dated to ETERNITY! xoxo

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Every year when some festival rings in I ask myself the same question: “What happened to the child within?” I have distinct memories of me looking forward to festivals as a kid. Now that it’s Diwali time, I wonder where the enthusiasm is gone!

As a kid I was somewhat sacred of crackers & even today that hasn’t changed much. I was never a dare-devil who would light crackers in hand & throw them in the air just a few moments before they would burst. Watching me light crackers was often a funny sight for my parents. First, my brother would remove the paper so that I would have ample time to run away to a safe distance :D. Using an incense stick I would light a cracker & run for my life with the incense stick tossed god-knows-where & my hands tightly pressed against my ears. After a while I would re-enter the scene like someone who had been a part of some robbery trying to avoid the policemen on patrol. Soon my father would inform me that the cracker went off & I would be the *proud-one* B).
Back then in school we were made to sign innumerable pledges to ‘say no to crackers’. Irrespective of my resolve while signing the pledges, I would burst crackers anyways (C’mon now! I was only a school going kid back then.) Gradually as age caught up with me (trust me I am not as old as I sound), I developed an aversion to the same crackers that made me smile & feel like a war hero(ine).  Now the noise & the pollution annoy me.
Right now when I compare these two different ‘ME’ I wonder what led to this difference?!?! Irrespective of our age, all of us ask ourselves this question at some point in our lives. Aging or growing up sounds all good courtesy the apparent (refer to article: Wise enough yet?) wisdom, financial freedom, the fact that your parents start trusting your choices. But seriously, all of this sounds worthless to me right now. The reasons are simple:
·         I am no longer interested in bursting crackers, suddenly it’s all too juvenile (you would like this only if you are the environment-activist kinds);
·         I don’t run around my place eager to place more diyas than my brother in various corners of the house;
·         I am content making a twisted face every once in a while when I have had enough of locals singing in the temples & out of the loudspeakers, because they are too loud & I can’t hear my TV properly.
Based on the above-mentioned reasons I officially declare today: I HATE GROWING-UP! {..& mind you wrinkles are placed way low on my list of reasons..for the time-being ;)} I hate it how I let the kid within me (not an actual kid O.o) succumb to the so-called responsibilities & maturity. Hold your horses..I am not shunning adulthood, I am simply going to allow myself to let loose a little. :D
NOTE OF HONESTY: When I sat down to write down this piece of my mind, I was quite sure that I will end up blaming the elders of the house aka parents for making the festivities so boring, but now I say unleash the carefree kid in you & watch it infect others. We often complain “Nobody bothers”, however we never say “I should try.” J

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Central Delhi is synonymous with offices, eating joints, all in all an atmosphere bustling with activity. Daily a number of people come to their office, toil & head home. Not many of them are aware that this part of Delhi also hides some of the most exquisite pieces of history like Ugrasen Ki Baoli. This monument is hidden between the tall buildings.

Ugrasen ki Baoli is one of the many unexplored monuments in the capital. What adds to its lack of visibility is its location on the primarily placid Hailey Road. It is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the Ancient Monuments & Remains Act, 1958. A small garden leads to the entrance into the baoli. The very first look at this beauty of stone overwhelms you with its grandeur. The main entrance welcomes you with the information about the monument inscribed on a rock, which reads:
The Step well (Baoli) is an underground structure for the storage of water, mainly constructed to cope with the seasonal fluctuations in water availability. The step well is said to be have been built by Raja Ugrasen, the forefather of the Agarwal community. The architectural features of this baoli resemble those of the late Tughlaq or Lodi period.
It measures 60m along North-South & is 15m wide at the ground level. Built with rubble & dressed stones, it is one of the finest baolis in Delhi. The main feature of the structure is the long flight of steps leading down to the step well situated in the North. The steps are flanked on both sides by thick walls with series of arched corridors.”

One of the arched corridors leads to a staircase which takes you to the terrace. The terrace gives a top view of the apparently bottomless well. Not many people know about this place or frequent it & hence it is not crowded. The stairs are something one can’t help but marvel at.
This place is at walking distance from the Barakhamba metro station & the entry is free. Once you have spent your time here, you can head to the Max Mueller Bhawan to stuff yourself with delectable food at an affordable price. So if you think you have seen the city & seen it well, think again!!

Sunday, 14 August 2011


·        Progress towards the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is measured through 21 targets & 60 official indicators.
·       This report presents an accounting to date of how far the (developing) world has come in meeting the using data available as of June 2011.
·        Regional & sub-regional figures presented in this report are complied by member of the United Nations Inter-Agency & Expert Group on MDG Indicators (IAEG). Data are typically drawn from official statistics provided by governments to the international agencies responsible for the indicator.
·        Based on the progress in various indicators since 1990, the report places the countries in four   categories:
1)      Early achiever – Already achieved the 2015 target
2)      On-track – Expected to meet the target by 2015
3)      Off-track: slow – Expected to meet the target, but after 2015
4)      Off-track: no progress/regressing – Stagnating or slipping backwards

TARGET: Halve, between 1990 & 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.
·        In India, the change in India for population living below $ 1.25/day has changed from 49.4% in 1994 to 41.6% in2005. 
·        Undernourishment in India is moderately high (15 to 24%) & India has been slow in reducing the extent of hunger.
·        The change in the India for children under-5 who are underweight has been 53.4% in 1993 to 47.8% in 2005.
·         For this MDG India is placed in the third category.

Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys & girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
·        India has shown a change from 85% to 95% in the enrollment in primary education ratio from 2000 to 2007.
·        India is an early achiever for this MDG.
·        However the data includes only registered refugees. Factors like discrimination & inability to understand the language of instruction pose problems for refugees in getting education.
·        Ironically the dropout rates are high & from 1999 to 2005 the change in the ratio of reaching the last grade has only been from 62% to 65.8%


Eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education no later than 2015.
·        India is an early achiever for gender parity in the primary education with the percentage change from 1991 to 2007 being 0.76 & 0.97 respectively.
·        It's on-track for gender parity in secondary education with the percentage change from 1999 to 2007 being 0.70 & 0.86 respectively.
·        However the progress for gender parity in tertiary education is slow with the percentage change from 1991 to 2007 being 0.54 & 0.70 respectively.
·        In Southern Asia the participation rates in tertiary education are skewed in favour of boys.

Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 & 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
·        India is slow in the process of bringing down the under-5 & infant mortality & is placed in the third category.
·        Undernourishment & lack of proper post-natal care are sighted as reasons for the slow progress.
·        The under-5 mortality rate for per 1,000 live births has changed from 116 in1990 to 69 in 2008.
·        The infant mortality rate for per 1,000 live births for the same years has changed from 83 to 52.
·        A mother's education is the key to determine the probability of her child's survival in the first five years i.e. more the education, better the chances.
·        Recommendations to better the figures- increasing the accountability of health systems at the local level & encouraging innovations to make critical services available to the poor.


Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 & 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.
·        This is another MDG where India is placed in the third category.
·        India lags behind in skilled birth attendance (from34.2% in 1993 to 46.6% in 2006) in & proper antenatal care (from 61.9% in 1993 to 74.2% in 2006).
·        Maximum maternal deaths caused by obstetric haemorrhage- mostly just after or during the deliver, followed by sepsis, eclampsia, & complications of unsafe abortion.
·        Southern Asia as a whole saw an increase from 32% in 1990 to 50% in 2009 in the proportion of deliveries attended by skilled personnel.


Have halted by 2015 & begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
·        India is placed in the first category for reduction in HIV prevalence, which has gone down from 0.5% in 2001 to 0.3% in 2007.
·        The TB incidence rate per 100,000 has remained at a stable 170 from 1990 to 2008 in India & the country gets a place in the second category for the same.
·        The TB prevalence rate per 100,000 has gone down from 340 in 1990 to 190 in 2008 & India stands in the first category.
·        In India, the number of physicians available per 10,000 population is just 6.


Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies & programmes & reverse the loss of environmental sources.
·        From a forest cover of 21.5% in 1990, India's forest cover increased to 22.5% in 2005.
·       The protected area (% territorial area) has gone up from 4.79 in 1990 to 5.12 in 2009.
·       The percentage of population in India receiving safe drinking water has gone up from 72 to 88 from 1990 to 2008.
·       Though the percentage of population having access to basic sanitation has gone up from 18 in 1990 to 31 in 2008, but still India is places in the third category as not even half the country has basic sanitation facilities.
·       Almost two-thirds of the people who practice open sanitation reside in Southern Asia.

In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies especially information & communications.
·        By the end of 2010, 90% of the world's inhabitants were covered by a mobile cellular signal.
·        The number of Internet users continues to expand. However, penetration levels in the developing world remain relatively low, at 21% by the end of 2010.
·        Globally two out of three people are not using the Internet.

ANJALI GOPALAN, Executive Director of the Delhi based non-profit Naz Foundation (India) Trust says, “I think they are being over congratulatory. Though yes in some states the incidence rate has gone down but it is increasing in the other states & especially the northern belt. This is because there is not a proper mechanism to provide people with the antiretroviral treatment (ART). At one level we can pat our backs, but the picture is still not so gleeful.”
The National AIDS Control Organisation's (NACO) website says:

“In terms of geographical break-up, 118 districts have HIV prevalence more than 1 percent among mothers attending ante-natal clinics. The 2006 estimates indicate that the epidemic has stabilised or seen a drop in Tamil Nadu and other southern states with a high HIV burden. Yet, new areas have seen a rise in HIV prevalence, particularly in the northern and eastern regions. Twenty-six districts have been identified with high prevalence, largely in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan and Bihar.
HIV prevalence continues to be higher among vulnerable groups. For instance, there is a significant population living with HIV and AIDS among Injection Drug Users' in four of India’s biggest cities – Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh. Young people are at greater risk, with the under-15 category accounting for 3.8 percent of all HIV infections, as against 3 percent in 2002.
Between 2005 and 2006, prevalence has fallen in some major states – Maharashtra from 0.80 to 0.74 percent, in Tamil Nadu from 0.47 to 0.39 percent – for instance. Yet, new areas of concern have emerged. In West Bengal, prevalence has gone up from 0.21 to 0.30 percent and in Rajasthan from 0.12 to 0.17 percent.” (Figures representative of only those who are taking treatment in public hospitals & not private hospitals)
Q) The UN report says that the incidence rates are moderately high in Southern Asia & there haven't been any major changes in the trend. Is it true for India as well?
Dr. YOGESH JAIN, associated with the Chhattisgarh based non-profit Jan Swasthya Sahyog, says, “The incidence rate has not come down & even as per the country data it is increasing & this is a cause of concern. If you ask me as a person working in Chhattisgarh, it is bad & though we could give the excuse of the cities where it is not so bad, in Chhattisgarh the situation is bad.”
The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) TB India 2011 status report says:
India is the highest TB burden country accounting for one-fifth (21%) of the global incidence (Global annual incidence estimate is 9.4 million cases out of which it is estimated that 2 million cases are from India.) India is 17th among 22 high burden countries in terms of TB incidence rates.”