I WISH TO BE A BOY SOON- Dealing With A Daughter’s Dilemma

(This is the true story of a close friend in ‘first person)

I am a house maker, in my mid thirties and mother to a stubborn teenage, hyper sensitive offspring with a Gender Identity Disorder (GID).

Yes, I have a 14 year old daughter who is yearning for a gender reversal or as we more commonly know it- a ‘sex change operation’.

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I did not recognise her shocking transformation until three years back when she displayed visible signs of this utter dislike with her ‘female body’. Although, her demeanour was nearly boyish, that too, in the all girls’ convent school, it hardly seemed to trigger the keen desire in her at present. I didn’t realise as to when her appearance, clothing or body language took a drastic aversion and culminated into a strong mindset, adamant at doing away with her biological identity.

As a mother I carry layers of pain and struggle that I have locked firmly within, for years.

Well who wants the Pandora’s Box out in the open and send tremors down, into our calm and normal life. We were certainly not ready to encounter such a sensitive situation, that too, in the kind of dubious and ever pointing social set up we are a part of. I knew I had a bunch of otherwise mature individuals around me in the family and society, who perceive such behaviour as odd, unconventional and by large, unacceptable.

The mentally laborious process of denying and defying began a few years ago when she was 11. Our first face off with her ‘truth’ was very challenging. For my husband it was extremely distressing to cope up with the bitter reality. He often raised his hand at her and I told him, this was not the way out. He is yet to cover the long gap between acknowledgment and acceptance of her only daughter’s ‘identity in transition’.

The scolding’s and the unwelcoming attitude has pushed her into a traumatic silent world. She lives in this hard shell of solitude, keeping at bay with the world that surrounds her, juggling between her sense of ‘body betrayal’ and the resistance from her own father.

We have been through endless psychiatric consultations, counselling sessions, leaving us mentally exhausted. We had been keeping it under wraps for all these years. The fear of social stigma has haunted us for long and we have been hiding this uncomfortable fact from our family and friends, although, her appearance and gestures catch an eye or two, every now and then. My husband doesn’t prefer to take her for outings. Another day during a movie interval, she entered a ladies toilet, only to be mistaken for a boy, faced immediate objection and was asked to leave. Such situations are far more embarrassing and she too, behaves abruptly being hyper sensitive.

The onset of puberty was another task to tackle. It was a reminder that her physicality wasn’t in alignment with her mind. A year back, her dislike for her female being scaled another level when she happened to watch a you tube video on sex change operation. She has now been constantly insisting for the same. Our efforts, to tell her that it is not possible before a certain age and doesn’t guarantee success, have failed to convince her.

I was in fact surprised that she had access to terms like ‘puberty blockers’ and ‘hormonal injections’. I wasn’t shocked either, as we live in this age of information explosion. Nevertheless, she had been counselled that puberty suppression with hormones to develop traits of the gender that she identified with may be her way out, but at the same time, the changes may be hard to reverse. I have been at logger heads, every time, attempting to explain her regarding the medical complications and the possible repercussions.

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Having a young child with Gender Dysphoria earlier known as Gender Identity Disorder is not uncommon. It’s just that our awareness of such a fast growing sensitive issue among children worldwide is very limited. How to come to terms with a feeling that your body does not reflect your true gender and that significant discontent with your biological sex. However, the mismatch between body and internal sense of gender is not a mental illness, which the society otherwise is so adamant to label.

And our social responsibility to not disappoint people around us; that grave fear of rejection and the much bigger fact that everyone has been treating them as ‘one gender’, forbids us to gather the courage to confront the cruel world.

I always urge my husband to be friendlier with her and take her along out, though he still ignores my request. He loves her so much, but has lately, become a reservoir of conflict. And she too, in the process, adapted to his indifference. She has turned into a loner, opening up to a very limited set of friends.

I feel guilty, at times, as to how we put our own children to a solitary confinement, few friends and forced social deprivation, only because they deal with something that has sprung naturally and we are wary of accepting it. I am in constant pain to see my daughter’s dilemma.

Her disorientation and increased levels of discomfort with her body needed a more favourable approach from her father first; who believes it is something terribly wrong with her. In that case how can I point a finger at the world outside when my own better half is reluctant to accept her the way she is. And for that matter, how many of us are willing to accept and digest the fact that it is not an illness?

An offbeat situation like this raises our eyebrows and leaves us wide eyed open. I guess we are never conditioned to accept and absorb the ‘most sensitive’ issues of life with ease and maturity. Rather we grow up with inherent mute instructions to disregard them, as such behaviour is profoundly questionable, until the trauma tends to be unbearable and we desperately seek a helping hand and look for solutions in a psychiatrist or a therapist.

Gender confusion and problems like cross dressing, awkwardness with peers and such others are issues to be handled more sensitively, rather respond with a beating or threaten with dire consequences. Being unable to embrace one’s masculinity or feminine being, is treatable, and if persists, only requires a broader mindset.

Unlike the western nations where they have more ‘gender management clinics’ and a wider acceptability of the situation, I wish we rise above our levels of intolerance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ON BEHALF OF TAIMUR

I have just landed four days ago

A newbie

In a fragile little body 

Snuggled in the arms of my guardians

Their prized possession

A much awaited ‘offspring’ to my celebrity parents

 

They had been anxiously waiting for my arrival

Ecstatic and intrigued…..

They announced me to the world.

I was conferred with my share of ‘instant fame’

Embarking on to a helpless journey

Into the murkier corridors of paparazzi

Thanks to the Almighty!

I am already a sensation.

 

The moment I became a physical separate being

They gave me an identity

A name

I am called ‘Taimur’.

My father, a history buff

Chose this for me

It comprehends to ‘iron’ or iron like in Arabic

But the ‘people’ have a problem with it.

 

They have labelled me barbarian

An invader,

My name equated to a ‘mass murder’

Wondering….

 If the same ‘Taimur’ has incarnated

 

 Someone said

 I share my name with the Pak missile

Another contemplated

If ‘Mughals’ had invaded us once again.

 

 And a few others,

Churning their ingenious brains

Ridiculously assumed

That I might not find a girlfriend,

For my name was too old fashioned.

 

Disfavour, disapproval, a disregard

My name has them in abundance.

They have trolled, mocked, condemned

Speculated and scrutinised to the core

A concoction of interpretations indeed!

 

However,

I am too tiny to respond

To your generous outpouring of displeasure!

And to the painstaking post-mortem

Of my name

Or, for that matter

Reciprocate your immense adulation

On the social media.

You have meticulously exercised

Your freedom of expression

 With a rhetoric

 

 I urge

Now, If  you could mind your own lives

Than dissect and decode my name.

 

 Let my parents revel my homecoming

Till then, put your utter nonsense to rest.

 

Yours lovingly,

Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

LET THEM QUESTION !

 

Nearly more than a decade ago, working with a national daily, while interviewing a NGO member associated with AIDS awareness, I had come across some disturbing disclosures cum queries from a general survey, that they had conducted in a prominent convent girl’s school in Shimla.

An apprehensive question like “What do I do about the physical complications that I have developed, post a hook up with my boyfriend”?, from a rather fretful and confused 14 year old, was an eye-opener indeed.

For that matter, have you ever felt terribly shy in the company of your children (and they, too experience it) in the midst of a passionate love making scene in a movie or a serial, a contraceptive or a sanitary napkins’ ad? Or when they ask you, “what is a ‘suhaagraat’ “? I have to admit; I too, have been through them on many occasions.

And now, when I look back, and ponder over the significance and the urgency of educating children regarding their physicality, puberty onset, sexual urges, levels of intimacy, relationship woes and the behavioural changes originating from such bodily transformations; I strongly feel such ‘questions’ are all around us, silently screaming for answers , and such ‘apprehensions’ waiting to get distinct.

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Notwithstanding the need for it, we still become ‘embarrassed dumb heads’. We still shun such queries and wish to evade their appropriate replies. Don’t we?

We Are Escapists

Well ! you know what; actually such questions and conversations are embarrassing, uncomfortable and inapt. And predominantly, not a part of our culture and sensible upbringing. We are inhabitants of a conservative set up, and a suitable distance is mandatory. Sex and sex related questions are labelled inappropriate, usually not discussed and elaborated.

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We primarily believe in action. Quite commendable for a nation, scaling high peaks of population growth, child sex abuse, sex crimes, and a merit holder for a country, with maximum porn viewership.

So What Have We Actually Done?

  • In the absence of a progressive and supportive mindset for education and information on sex related issues, we have successfully powered a generation with perverted perspective towards women, who find it absolutely normal to justify a ‘rejection’ in the form of any severe sexual harassment. In addition to that we have‘disillusioned’ adolescents and teenagers who experiment with their sexuality in a bid to prove that they have grown up, sometimes, ignorant of the potentially negative outcomes.

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  • And for that matter, why not? We have spoon fed technology to them and that now, information explosion is a substantial part of their growing up, our children too, have full access. Fingers on Facebook, a constant eye on you tube, and of, course the generous amount of porn easily available today, the resources are plenty for them, to explore, comprehend and indulge in such activities. Although, often, unreliable and misleading.

Did We Encourage A Healthy Communication?

Have a look at the two situations below, one from my school days and the other from my daughter’s class.

  • As I recollect a biology class in progress, (nearly 20 years ago) apparently, each one of us had a peculiar awkwardness on our faces, while the chapter on ‘reproduction’ was being taught. We were not the only ones who felt a bit hesitant, even our female teacher was visibly uneasy and shy.
  • On the other hand, my ten year old daughter came up to me with a comprehensive narrative of how they were introduced to the approaching physical changes in their bodies, in a puberty orientation programme called ‘Growing up’. Initially, separate sessions for boys & girls.

I am sure each one of us has faced an awkwardness of that sort at some point in life, simply, because the doors were always closed, hence, no one to guide. And a notice reading “Do not even think of asking such questions”, hanged permanently.

I am sorry to say, but we as a society and nation are still ‘blockhead’ and evasive. Over the years, we have remained indifferent when it comes to giving the requisite knowledge and adequate counselling to our own children in this regard.

New Age Parenting

The effort begins at home.

We can be more contributing towards common sexual misinterpretations and pertinent queries faced by children at this age .

As a parent myself, I at least attempt, not to evade these questions. I know easier said than done, I do try to deal it with patience, than tag it nuisance. At times, the mere explanation poses a challenge. However, all I ask for is some amount of time. Then in a simplified manner & in a language suited to their sensibilities,  satisfy their curiosity and strangeness towards it. And yes, I make it sure they do not feel ashamed of it. For instance, I said it was natural and just a process of growing up when she asked me about pubic hair. The outcome being, she seldom hides or keeps such awkwardness inside.

We can certainly help raise more ‘gender sensitised’ adolescents.

I know ‘we’ are yet not ready. Our age old values and upbringing pose a stiff resistance but we can at least try and strike a balance between our morals and their inquisitiveness.

The Schools Need To Step Forward 

So as the opening paragraph of my write up fairly clarifies as to what the absence of sex education can lead to, the role of educational institutions becomes all the more significant.

WHO clearly states that 34 % of the HIV infected persons are in the age group of 12 to 19. Therefore, it advocates imparting of sex education for children who are 12 years and above.

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The Benefits

  • Helps them being less inquisitive about the other gender.
  • Relieves them of the usual curiosity relating to their changes in body.
  • Helps in preventing child abuse, unwanted pregnancies, and educates about unprotected sex and it’s after effects.
  • A better way to deal with sexual issues in adulthood.
  • It may not be the only resort to prevent sex crimes, but is vital in shaping their mind sets.

Thankfully, a few private and government schools have taken up the cudgels for making our children less vulnerable to changing times, a lot of them still do not think of it as a necessity. They fail to view it as a learning process that can be parallel to the conventional teaching methods.

As some students are reluctant to open up and ask, a few teachers are equally wary of getting into that ‘forbidden zone’.The way some parents think sex education shouldn’t be part of the school curriculum, some teachers, too, believe it is not their job to teach it. Perhaps, all of them are not equipped to counsel. Most of them lack the expertise & carry a vague idea about sexual health themselves.

A guide to the ‘good touch bad touch’ and the growing up sessions may just be the beginning. But what if every child could confidently open up before its teacher, since most of the times, home is not the ideal place to talk about it.

Why Not Be The Change?

Let’s just accept the fact that a clear scientifically inclined emphasis on sexual needs, its complexities and its possible consequences, will help cultivate the adolescent’s minds towards a more ‘responsible sexual behaviour’.

The benefits can be rewarding.

Let’s just shed our inhibitions and be ‘friends’ to them. Help them decide what they should know and when they should know.

Let’s open the doors. Let the curiosities unfold, and let them be more sorted out.

Let them question!

 

 

 

 

THE ‘DEADLY DEMONETIZATION’: A letter to Mr. Prime Minister

I am agitated, frustrated and utterly displeased. There is discontent in abundance and the disheartening tales of precious lives lost in the ‘currency chaos’ is no less than an emotional ordeal.

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Yes, Mr. Prime Minister, i am a resentful citizen of your nation, who feels deceived and disappointed . Your otherwise, thoughtful & sensible historic decision is marred by ‘pathetic preparedness’ ,  poor implementation & a definite ‘lack of insight’ into the common man’s plight in the aftermath of demonetization.

Not surprisingly, your administrative brigade is an army of a ‘great King’ who is determined to conquer his enemy but somewhere lacks the requisite plan, skill & artillery to face the fierce battle.

A string of unfortunate & uncalled for ‘deaths due to demonetization’ is yet to make a sensational headline. Nonetheless, the death toll has crossed 80. And with the present appalling situation, the ‘dragon’ of demonetization still  seems hungry for more.

The alarming figures may just appear insignificant against your dream of a ‘cashless India’. Although, there have been nearly, 40 deaths in the first week of your ambitious announcement. You may have attempted to turn the tables for a ‘corruption free nation’ …but look who is paying for it?

A number of your ‘poor & lower middle class’ citizens collapsed standing in never ending bank & ATM queues from dusk to dawn. And for some of them a ‘heart attack’ was enough to relieve them of this overbearing ‘note ban stress’.

And there were few others who weren’t brave enough to come to terms with your well contrived ‘black money eradication drive’. A middle aged, common man whose patience gave away after a six day excruciating wait outside the bank, that too, without a single penny in return. So he chose to hang himself to death. A farmer who took his life because he too, was unable to keep pace with the surging crowds.

An elderly woman who succumbed to her worries, only out of shock , failing to understand & accept the sudden currency ban. A man in his fifties, who sat helplessly besides his ‘dead wife’, waiting in vain, to perform her burial rights. Gratitude to the bank officials who refused him cash for the burial.

Poor man, he doesn’t understand that the country’s economic upliftment is far above his wife’s lifeless body.

And for that matter a two year old toddler (having high fever) in Odisha, who was laid to rest in peace just because an auto rickshaw  driver outwardly refused his father a ride for he didn’t have lower denomination note to pay for the fare. A number of  chemists who refused medicine for the banned 500 note, despite the clear instruction by your government. Hospitals denying admission and treatment to the needy patients as they too, wished to escape the onslaught of old currency notes. Its business after all and not ‘ humanity’ which helps in the long run.

And very recently, the exhausting wait outside a bank , transformed into a delivery room  for  a mother to be. Its not a new thing in this country for babies to be born in the open, on roads.

To add to the horror, an increasingly frustrated man in Howrah , who threw his wife to death from the tenth floor as she had returned empty handed hours after standing in  queue outside an ATM.

The muddle & the unruliness has already derailed many lives.

Yes, your emotionally charged speech addressed to the nation was pretty impressive and nevertheless, we hailed your decision. But wish you had a more well chalked out implementation strategy before rolling out a series of inconveniences.

The ‘cash crunch’ is your giving.As if you deliberately defied the basics of ‘demand & supply’ . The new currency is still in the process of printing, the banks are still denying the allowed cash withdrawal, the people are still struggling,still being bashed up and the courts , too, are so helpless.  And the ones who actually have pyramids of unethical assets have already mastered the art of ‘hide & save’. Further, the confusion has only accelerated with RBI  coming up with a new rule every now & then.

So, the suicides, the deaths, the denials, the disappointments, the depression & the endless agonizing wait ….will someday disappear. However, the ‘scars’ are here to stay, for a very very long time.

DEATH IN THE AIR : Are we ready to make a difference?

“You have to pay the price for living in Delhi”, a helpless reaction, that my doctor gave a few years back, citing this to be the major cause behind recurrent respiratory problems in our small off springs.

I didn’t pay much heed to it then, believing it to be a common occurrence with younger children. However, now , years later, a rather dismal addition to my knowledge of the city i call home, instills an unseen fear in me.

It is more than disheartening to accept the fact that 2.2 million children in Delhi have ‘irreversible lung damage due to the poor quality of air. An alarming reality indeed!

air-pollution

Not surprisingly, India has the world’s highest ‘death rate from chronic respiratory diseases’ and asthma. Another survey predicting that Delhi will record the highest number of premature deaths from air pollution by 2025. I don’t think you knew this. ( it came as a surprise to me too). Well! in a way preparing us psychologically in advance , for the severe physical ailments that would come knocking in the near future.

So, a major chunk of the city’s population is worried, scared and clueless.The actual petrified ones are strictly adhering to the appeals & instructions. Queuing up for the masks. (Earlier i was unaware if something like a N 91 or N 95 mask  existed?). Skipping the usual weekend outings, keeping their little ones indoors, giving the morning walks a skip. The others lining outside doctor’s clinics, well that i call a ‘seasonal dent’ in the pocket, which for Delhiwalas has extended a bit too long this time.

Most of us are hooked to news & analysis that is more of sensation than sense. Still there are some of us who are thinking of shifting to a better environment with at least better air to breathe. And the rest are still busy living their mundane lives; informed but not bothered, a little afraid but unprepared, aware but unfazed.

We are Indians and we are accustomed to living in hell or hell like conditions. So what if this time it is a near fatal ‘gas chamber’ that is gradually squeezing life out of our lungs? So what if the pollution levels have gone much beyond permissible levels?

I know we are gasping for breath, our throats are sour than usual, a cough that doesn’t seem to end, lower immunity, fatigued and steadily heading towards a ‘reduced lung capacity’. So what if we live in the 6th most polluted  metropolis in the world? Well! Gwalior and Raipur have worst air quality than us. Why not nail them first?

What if we in collaboration with our bordering cities (NCR) generate nearly 10,000 tons per day of municipal waste , much of which is eventually burnt, adding to the already high and alarming pollution levels.

As a Delhite, shouldn’t  we should be proud of the fact that we have 7.4 million vehicles on our roads. Nonetheless, we have been indulgent enough to have increased the number of vehicles in the last decade by 97% , gifting our present generation, a direct exposure to toxic fumes. We have been equally generous in adding numerous diesel cars to the vehicular pollution and city traffic, thereby lending an explosive growth to the car sector. After all, we earn very well and we have every right to upgrade ourselves with a fleet of cars, mandatory to sustain our ‘high society status’.

Who cares if WHO categories the ‘diesel emissions’ from old & new cars as dangerous bringing it par with tobacco smoking. Even the Supreme Court can go on banning the old diesel vehicles from entering and plying in the city. Where’s the dam will to implement it anyways?   And not to miss, India is the second largest emitter of sulfur dioxide (another deadly gas) after China, from its coal fired power plants.

So, here we are playing our best sport……the “blame game”. All the fingers pointed sharply at the people in power.

‘What is the government doing to tackle the rising poor quality of air’?

‘Why there hasn’t been a ban on old diesel vehicles & generators’?

‘Why is the burning of garbage & dry leaves still continuing’?

‘Why are the farmers in the neighborhood burning stubble , adding to our existing woes’?

‘Why don’t they completely ban crackers’?

‘Why isn’t there a check on the illegal industrial activities and rampant construction work’?

Well another relevant question is, as to why the governments should intervene and put a cap on people’s liberty ? Why should they stop its citizens from using their vehicles when the wealthy ones and their own ministers  too, travel in private jets & choppers? How can the government be ‘anti people’? How will they be able to project themselves as pro – business if they try to enforce regulations on industry?

Well, chances are bright that the grievous issue of pollution might turn into all about ‘people’s rights‘. It doesn’t take long in our country to  shift attention to another matter, deviating from the original.

Yes, of course, there are ample, unanswered queries. Yes, the government does lack political will and has miserably failed to implement rules efficiently at the center & state levels. They should certainly have been much more strict with us.

But amid all this chaos and ever multiplying health issues, have we stopped for a second and dared to point a finger at ourselves? Aren’t we directly or indirectly responsible for this ‘lethal mix’ of pollution from human activities, vehicles, construction, industry , road dust, blah…. blab…. blah ?  We all know we are the creators of this ‘slow poison’.

For now, we have painted the sky ‘black’ with our selfish endeavors. Sure, be a voice of protest for the right reasons and keep questioning the government. but are we doing our bit?

Instead of blaming the government every now & then, believe me there’s a lot we can do in alliance with our fellow beings.

Here’s  a list of few simple yet requisite life saving solutions or rather questions for which answers lie only in your sincere efforts.

  • Can we convert the garbage in our localities into compost?
  • Can we start a dedicated once a month plantation drive in our colonies and societies?
  • Can we have strict rules and stricter implementations of keeping our gated colonies garbage & dust free? A fortnightly supervision involving the elders & the children?
  • Can we restrict our buying and usage of vehicles, volunteering for car pool and using public conveyance as far as possible?
  • Can we reduce the use of chemicals, cleaning agents to help reduce water pollution?
  • Can we plant more air purifying, dense, leafy trees and bushes?
  • Can we restrain our construction activities in a certain time frame and each building have a 360 degree curtain to contain particles and smoke?

I know we are all breathing slow poison every single day, bracing up for masks and air purifiers and borrowing ideas from other nations, in an attempt to satisfy the growing angry voices.

The laxity on part of the administration may have made the matters worse , but haven’t we taken our own lives for granted?

I really wish there will be a day in the near future when instead of the ‘killer smog’, ‘twinkling stars’ will be visible to our children at night in the sky. I just wish so.

‘WINGS OF FANCY’ : A trip, five days and I was richer in many ways

  • Travelers, a far away land, a rocking holiday and  a bunch of young married women……hold on…..sounds like what…out of the box? Women without their guardians?

And, that too, taking control of their own lives  for the very first time….a fact which didn’t go down too well with a few of our ‘protectors & providers’.

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I know women traveling alone  for work or pleasure isn’t an alien concept and the  scenario may have changed, although,  sometimes i tend to forget ….we are part of the so called progressive, yet hypocrite society, where’ permission’ is requisite specially if you fall under the category ‘female’.

Frame it! It was ‘modernity vs morals’ , raised eyebrows vs “can’t i make my own decisions?” , ‘prejudiced apprehensions ‘vs ‘let’s break the stereotypes’, ‘how can a woman go alone without her man vs ‘why should boys have all the fun?’ . An initial struggle  with a few ,( barring the three of us) the entire euphoria eventually culminated into a ‘trip of a lifetime’ and a much needed ‘self nurturing’ break.

Holding back the ‘thrill of the moment’ was a bit difficult, however, the flamboyant, free spirited ‘me’, for the past few years had been silently but eagerly waiting to encounter an opportunity like this. With several failed attempts…most of which never advanced beyond  ‘flights of fancy’, had already filled me with the recurring thought that ” it may just not happen”. Nonetheless, the dream remained vibrant & alive.

So, when my friends popped up the question, it immediately triggered my long cherished desire to travel and more importantly, be on my own. And  not just travel only , the thought held a deeper significance rather. A decade of motherhood , raising a set of twins, and all that life jolts you with, the women in me was longing for an enthusiastic ‘escape’. Though, I wasn’t a caged bird, a getaway was long pending.

But as they say, nothing comes easy. Unwanted suggestions poured in.”Why don’t you plan for a trip to Haridwar instead of going abroad”? , one of the males mocked. The other said it wasn’t a feasible idea for us since we would not be able to reach a consensus and might end up being incompatible. And its not a good idea for women to tarvel alone.

The challenge was accepted there itself.

I had made up my mind and I was clearly aware  that a yes won’t come easily since looking after the children in my absence was a big debate. I was asked to change my decision as it might not suit others in the family, and for a moment i felt i had still to grow up being an adult, to be able to take my decisions.  I did have my share of discussions and heated arguments. But the rebel in me was ready for the faceoff.

In all that exhausting chaos there was another strong woman who came to my rescue, held me high, raising my spirit all the way. It was a pleasure knowing there was one like me.

And when i took up the cudgels for that ‘mandatory’ consent from the elders in the family, half the battle was won. However, taking decisions before consulting, didn’t go down that well with them.  But now the speculations had been buried and that nod was achieved. Nevertheless, the effort was exhilarating.

However, it was pretty much ‘revolutionary’ on part of another friend, who had made up her mind to be a part of the journey despite the shock & surprise at her decision. Someone who had never stepped out before, anywhere without her ‘man’, was doubtful, yet ready to take the plunge. A rigid mother in law with deep rooted values and her approval…a major issue, the permission with a smile, was far from expected. Adding on to that, an elder brother,who had long back replaced her father, burdened her with doubts & cautions, in his bid to halt her voyage to happiness.

But obviously, because she is a woman. And she is supposed to adhere and  abide to the family norms and the society at large. She has her husband, her brothers, her sons to decide for her. Roaming freely in another country with a set of friends was not acceptable.

But she had made up her mind. There was no stopping. The convincing sessions were over, tickets were booked, the paper work was finalised, and our feet firm, amidst wide eyed eyes with dissent.

The arduous task was anyways achieved with some ifs & buts, some typical moral instructions  and the rest had to be ignored, avoided and forgotten.

So, we were a ‘pack of five’ mavericks, beaming with excitement, for our maiden adventure, overcoming all possible obstacles. The following five days were a once in a lifetime experience. The strength was enormous and somewhere we had achieved nothing less than ‘impossible’. We were much more elated to have chosen this opportunity more than the destination.

The ending to the fairy tale trip wasn’t less heartening either. It had so much to offer . The timid sheep had transformed into a lioness. The one who was the most cautious had turned more confident & fearless. I had in the course, unknowingly,  added a lifetime friend to my list. Not only that, but encountered many more facets of womanhood and acknowledged & accepted people as they are, apart from an overdose of fun.

Here, I take the liberty to thank them for bonding, inspiring and entertaining to the core. My strength doubled because of you. I have an everlasting memory because of you. Last but not the least, i have so many smiles because of you.

One trip, five days and i was richer in many ways.

But believe me, it wasn’t easy convincing  our close ones, and adorning the wings of freedom. Don’t you have men and women around you, who still  have two thoughts sending the woman of the house alone? Aren’t we still subjected to morality & responsibility  when it comes to demanding a piece of ‘sovereignty’ ? Let alone the idea of a trip abroad with friends.

For us, ‘freedom’ may be propagated, but isn’t practiced much. A fearless, enterprising, self sustaining woman, still disturbs the psyches of a large section of society.

And for all those women hoping for a time like this….go ahead and command your wishes. It’s just not only about a journey.  Responsibilities are by choice….family may be a supreme priority but then it’s not a crime to be generous to yourself once in a while. I know of so many women who yearn for such offloading but do not have the courage to speak for themselves. One doesn’t necessarily need to be a rebel to fulfill one’s desires. At the end of  the day, freedom & bondage are a state of mind and you don’t have to be a feminist to achieve it.

PAK ,CHINA & THE ‘BANS’: Patriotism vs Economics

An era of prolonged patience eventually  came to a halt with a befitting reply 

Some heavily guarded and spirited ‘men in uniform’ knocked it out.The guns were in action again, this time, more fiercely…for the long awaited’ revenge’. Hell broke lose on the other side of the border. And the nation gripped by a sense of helplessness was  charged with’ patriotic fervor’, overnight.

A clear message to the ‘not so friendly’ neighborhood’ had been delivered and, of course, to the super powers of the world. And then followed the obvious aftermaths of India’s lethal response. Reactions poured in as ‘torrential rains’.

The word ‘ban’ was omnipresent. And  then came the electrifying response to it….barring a few intellectuals. The ‘eye to eye’ & ‘tooth for a tooth’ proverb was evident with a series of ban called for by an aggravated bunch of  patriots. The guest artistes  felt the pinch. Fawad Khan making the first exit and the elite class of the conventional cinema kept fuming. Well we do admire them , but for now they can leave. We have enough talent in our own land.

The conspiring neighbor, exhibiting no remorse as usual, hastily retaliated. Banning of Bollywood movies & Indian premier channels didn’t come as  a surprise.What else can u expect from a nation that has an extravagant budget for its defense than welfare. And the shielded Let chief Hafiz Saeed too,  growled, “we don’t need potatoes & onions from India”. Do we really care when such dogs howl?

Both the nuclear powers are at tenter heads.The friction between New Delhi and Islamabad may have escalated, however, scores will not be leveled.

The sentiment is rising and for apt reasons but the underlying reality hasn’t yet transpired in the public arena. It is the ‘patrionomics’ that makes all the difference. Why do you think India will probably never impose a blanket ban on its trade ties with Pakistan?

ban-chinese

Similar euphoria is gaining momentum with ‘banning’ Chinese products coinciding with the already high state of aggression against Pakistan.

Well here are the statistics & the probable answers.

Higher Indian exports to Pakistan

Everything comes at a price .The bilateral trade between both the nations is estimated at $2 billion annually. India exports much more than it imports from the other side. A whopping $2.17 billion of exports in 2015- 16 and the imports were below $500 million. So its ‘we‘ who will suffer a dent in our export revenue…as per the analysis from the trade pundits.

Moreover, the terror saga never really made matters worse  and the trade went smoothly, even after the Parliament & the Mumbai attacks.Only partial sanctions were imposed and trade continued through the sea route. Liberalization on the business front for the sake of peace with our ‘enemy’ progressed, with the latter bringing down the number of banned Indian goods, and India minimizing  duties on their products.

The bilateral trade, although, accounting for less than half a percent of India’s total global trade; it is less likely that the decision makers will do away or entirely scrap the business ties.

So, you can continue flaunting the Pakistani lawn & prints and relish their pickles & spices.

Ban on Chinese goods not possible due to WTO rules 

 The moment the dragon ‘ announced its plan of building a dam over Brahmaputra inside its territory, the patriotic brigade once again trolled with ‘ban Chinese goods’ campaign. As if all this while they were waiting for China to give us a reason.

Yes, the whimpers are gaining momentum. The hue & cry over picking up make in India over its Chinese counterparts, for  Diwali ,is gradually soaring.  Indeed, the Chinese firecrackers will not add to the sparkle of the festive spirit in the capital as the Environment ministry imposes a  complete ban on them across Delhi, labeling them unsafe and hazardous for public health. As if the made in India  ones are highly eco-friendly. And by the way they will still be smuggled and available anyways.
However, the recurrent pleading messages asking to opt for Indian decorative lights and boycotting the Chinese ones, that the markets are flooded with around this time, made me further inquisitive, when a friend mocked on social media, “Thankfully i have an American cellphone , since we are supposed to throw away all our Chinese products before Diwali. Why doesn’t the government ban them when they wish to patronize the Indian goods?”

The arrow is sharply pointed towards the figures touching $65.16 billion worth of bilateral trade with China and to highlight, its the increasing trade deficit, which too, makes us have two thoughts. The govt clearly puts forth the situation, “it is not possible now to ban Chinese products due to World Trade Organization rules even if we have diplomatic, territorial or military conflict with them”.
Anyways, the swadeshi in us had died down long back when we heartily embraced the foreign products in the wake of economic liberalization, way back in the early 90’s.

The made in China tag hangs over a major chunk of essential commodities including apparels, footwear,cosmetics, furniture, plastic toys, decorative items, sports equipments, car accessories, electrical, iron & steel machinery, power generation equipment and even your vehicles ,be it public or private .

Not only we have unknowingly become addicts of the Chinese intrusion, but India , too, lacks the manufacturing base to feed the ever increasing demand of its fast growing upward population. Further, banning the imports will be directly proportional to ‘smugglers making the moolah’ and the govt getting robbed of its revenue. ( Similarly why they cant ban liquor & cigarettes stringently)

So, for a tit for a tat response to the dragon isn’t a viable option.

Chinese goods have definitely elevated our lifestyles. Isn’t it?  High on technology,design, variety (may be low on  quality) and pocket friendly ..its simply hard to avoid.  And if u are still assessing  weather  being patriotic and patronizing Indian items is a good idea  over the foreign labels.. at the end of the day it is your call.  Instead of propagating and forwarding the ‘ban campaign’ messages in bulk, do the needful . Consumer rejection can probably be a game changer. The question is are u ready for it?