Only girl can decide nature of touch

Only girl can decide nature of touch

A court ruled recently yesterday that Even if you keep your hand on the shoulder of a woman, it is for the lady to comment on the nature of the touch, whether it was friendly, brotherly or fatherly, in other words only a girl can decide the nature of the touch. This judgement comes as a huge relief as finally the protectors of law have understood the ‘good touch, bad touch’ we women often speak of and which is far too often rebuffed by men as a figment of our imagination. We women experience this time and again when the touch of a man who maybe part of our social circle or work environment or even part of our family sends a chill down our spine and makes us recoil in disgust. And it is wrong to believe that that this ability comes with experience. Far from that. Even a little child can feel the difference between good and bad touch. 

In India and I guess the world over children are abused relentlessly by people they know, people who are respected within their families, neighbours and others. These children know when the pat or the hug is good and when it is bad. But when they muster the courage to tell this to someone they trust, they are again brushed aside with an outraged reference to some absurd notion like family honour! 

Please remember that when a child summons up the courage to tell you about such an incident, it is because she trusts you implicitly and playing her down is condemning her to consequences that can destroy her whole life. Yes even a pat can be abuse if it is perceives as such. The reaction is intuitive and instinctive. Predators lurk at every corner and do not have horns! They look just like us and sometimes are people you trust. 

The statistics are terrifying. It is time we all took up the cudgels against this terrible crime.

The dot you do not see

The dot you do not see

The dot you do not see on the picture, is our planet Earth viewed from the Martian sky. It is a beautiful reminder of who we truly are and takes care of any hubris we may be tempted to fall into. This is all 7 billion of us viewed from the heavens above. Makes one feel tiny doesn’t it?

Maybe it is not hubris we should aim for, but its opposite Sophrosyne which is the virtue of  healthy-mindedness and from there self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance. Sophrosyne is a Greek Goddess considered to be one of the good spirit that escaped Pandora’s box. She is the spirit of  moderation, self-control, temperance, restraint, and discretion. Whereas we humans have embraced Hubris with great haste, few of us even know of Sophrosyne.

If we accept that we are the dot you do not see, then we are forced to abandon Hubris and seek Sophrosyne and remember that we are an infinitesimal part of a Universe we have no control on. All we can aspire to is temperance and self control. But sadly that is not the case around us.

If you look around, you see only hubris.

What would you call the politician who had everything on a platter should he have followed the precepts of Sophrosyne and moved with temperance and self control. But he wants to conquer Rome in a day!

What do you call the politicians who rush and pass bills to garner vote banks if not hubristic. No one cares about the outcome as long as one can get back in power. We have had quite a few of these lately. In today’s world no one is willing to wait. They want it all and they want it now!

Some want statues of themselves, others aim for the tallest one in the world. One who dreams of the top cuts a huge birthday cake in the shape of the Parliament House. Is it not hubris.

And that is not all, to garner more brownie points bills that have lain gathering dusts for years at an end and not been passed, are passed through Ordinances, there validity a mere months if they are not ratified by Parliament. Who cares. Elections are now and vote banks need to be seduced now!

Our politicians are great followers of hubris. More so if it gets them in power and what ensues.

And everything has conjured to make this possible. When we started our lives Ranjan and I, we had a scooter, no TV and very little in the bank. Things came slowly and steadily as we worked towards getting them. It was the BC days – before credit – and you had to live within your means. Now with you can get anything you want. You are even solicited to do so as is proved by the number of calls you get offering you loans and credit cards. Moderation, self-control, temperance, restraint, and discretion are all thrown out of the window.

Hubris breeds impatience. Hubris coaxes illusions of grandeur. And we all fall for it. I guess I did too when I thought I could build Planet Why and let myself be swayed by an impossible dream. And is it not hubris that makes me want to see Project Why live beyond me. Why can I not just accept the maxim: The King is dead, long live the kind.

It is time I took a serious look at the dot you cannot see and tempered my life. It is time I embraced Sophrosyne and accepted that it is not I, but someone greater that controls our lives and thus decideds what happens next. I simply need to follow. Only then will doors open!

Shalu and the brass band

Shalu and the brass band

Yesterday we had the Kikiristan Fanfare come play for our children. They were a merry band of 8 somewhat reminding me of Sergeant Pepper’s revisited. They played for our Okhla children and then for our very very Special children. The session with the Okhla  kids was great with the band members interacting with the children but what happened on the terrace of the special section was mind blowing and a one in a lifetime experience.

It all began with me asking Shalu whether she would dance with the band. I had no doubt that she would agree, as unlike us ‘normal’ people, special kids have no inhibitions. They simply follow their hearts. But nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.

I asked the band leader whether Shalu could dance with them and of course they agreed. Shalu went and took her place centre stage and broke into her dance. She danced with the band for over three minutes and to anyone who did not know the truth, it looked like a very well rehearsed bit and was mind blowing.

Shalu is incredible!

But that was not all. After the performance the children were invited to ‘try’ the instruments and it was heart warming how to see our little angels blow the big horn or try their hand at the drums. We were quite taken aback at Loveleen’s prowess at the drums and of course Munna trying to blow the horn was a unique moment.

The show was pure magic. The special kids and the French Fanfare: incredible project why.

Open the doors of your heart

Open the doors of your heart

My friend Saras runs a day care for disabled children and adults in Malaysia. Today she faces an eviction notice. The reason: two neighbours do not want the premisses to be used as a day care for special souls. My heart missed a beat when I heard this news as we too run a day care that is almost a clone to hers: in a residential area for children and adults between the age of 7 and 48. For them it is the only place where they can spend some hours being happy and accepted and loved and cared. It is the only place they can be who they are, and be appreciated for being who they are. In Saras’ case the applicants have suffered nuisance throughout the day from 8.30 am to 5pm, Monday to Friday as a result of intolerable noise made by the special children as well as their attendants and carers and nuisance of experiencing the uncomfortable sensation of seeing the disabilities and sufferings of all the special children, the whole day, day in day out.

I am speechless and do not know what to say to such people. My first thought would be to tell them that not to tempt the fates as a special child can be born in any family, even theirs. What world do they live in and how can seeing a special child be viewed as a nuisance. They are the most precious children in the world. Actually we are the ones who are truly disabled and challenged as we do not have the heart to accept anyone who is different. They open their hearts to each and everyone who has the guts and ability to look at them straight in their eyes. And once they accept you they never let you down as they know not what treachery or betrayal means. It is we, the so called abled who master these emotions.

I pray Saras can save her centre.

It is no mean task. I have battled many demons to keep our centre going and even then it is has not been easy. If things had happened as I wanted them to and had people reached out and opened their hearts and purses, then the little girl in this picture could have lived her life in dignity. Sadly, for want of funds, we had to shut our residential centre and were unable to raise the funds for our own building. Radha who suffers from brittle bone disease – osteogenis imperfecta – and lives in a dark damp hole with 7 other people, could have lived in a happy and safe place. For the past weeks she has not been able to come to our centre as our leg has festered and she may have to face amputation if gangrene sets in. It is too difficult and excruciatingly painful to take a bumpy auto rickshaw ride every day and be carried up three flight of stairs to our centre. We are helpless and can only bring her some support in her home, but can not fill it with sunlight or laughter.

All the very special souls who come to our day care, come from homes where they are not cared for and yes they are noisy, and yes they look different but they have come to this world the same way we have and are entitled to everything we have, if not more. But more than anything else, they need our love, our acceptance and our protection. They are the truly children of God and not being able to open our hearts to them in tantamount to shutting our door to God.

It is time we opened the doors of our hearts wide and unconditionally.

Saras we are with you in your fight.

The think the ayes have it, the ayes have it, the ayes have it

The think the ayes have it, the ayes have it, the ayes have it

For the past days I have been watching the shenanigans of our elected representatives with horror, sadness and shame. The democracy we hold so dear to our hearts and are so proud of looks like a joke when you see the behaviour of our august parliamentarians in the hallowed halls of parliament House. I am not going into the merits or demerits of any Bill in particular but simply highlighting how things happen. We all witnessed how our 49th state was created yesterday.You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand the reasons for the rush in passing this Bill in an election year. Once again sleeping with the enemy was acceptable as every party wanted a share of the pie.

To my simple mind, the very fact that there were so much dissent to this bill, would have meant that it should be looked at again and not passed in a hurry behind closed doors while a technical or tactical glitch kept the drama away from the very people whose government you are meant to be. Once rushed through the lower house, the higher house spent a ‘day’ discussing it before again passing it. What we saw was people shouting, holding placards, and shouting some more. One has to ensure that Parliamentarians have a good pair of lungs! But jokes apart it all seem well orchestrated: you will shout, you will try and speak, and the chair will intersperse it all with a dose of ‘please sit down’ and the ultimate ‘the house is adjourned for 10 minutes’ and the whole thing repeated over and over again till the time everyone wants to have his evening drink and meal. Then the show changes mode and you go on to pass the bill by what they call voice vote. The punch line then is either the ayes or the noes who have it, have it, have it and voila the fate of millions is decided. Yesterday there were many moments when MPs were busy laughing or talking and never said there ayes and noes. It was all prearranged.

One would have thought that Parliament is where people discuss and amend bills. Not at all. It is where politics is played at an astronomical cost paid by you and me. There are over 130 bills pending and one day to pass them.

There is one day left. I wonder how many bills will be passed today. Will the Disabilities Bill be passed or are the disabled people not a good vote bank, and what about the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act to ease restrictions on use of opioids like morphine for pain management. Will it be passed or will the cancer patients be denied an easy death because our MPs are too busy garnering brownie points. 

Only time will tell.