Trying Not to Cry

She was a young girl, 23 years of age, just out of a medical college, opening her eyes to a new and promising world. She came to Delhi in the hope of a better life. Delhi – the city of greater opportunities, broader roads, and taller buildings than the town she hailed from. Little did she know when she had happily set foot in the city, and bid farewell to her teary eyed father, assuring him that she was a young empowered Indian woman who had to be in the capital city of the country to realize her true potential, that one fateful day when she would be going home in a bus with a male friend for company, she would be brutally raped, beaten with iron rods by half a dozen animals and thrown out naked to die.


It was wee hours of morning when she was heading back from office along with a colleague. US Shift of a call-center ends at that time. Young girl in Delhi on a beautiful and quiet morning tired from fatigue, wanting to head back home as soon as possible and crash on her bed so that she’s bright and active for the next day. She was in her thoughts, planning what she could quickly fix for herself to eat before sleeping when a car stopped by and pulled her in. The car smelled of liquor and before she knew it there were brute hands ripping her. She had long lost consciousness before the monsters dumped her somewhere in the outskirts.


A young college student of Delhi University; about 18 years of age was done with her classes and was on her way home. No auto rickshaws in sight, she began walking to the bus stop when a car stopped by to ask for an address. The helpful girl that she was she gave the instructions when the man in the car asked her if she wanted a lift. Hesitant and wise, the girl refused. But the man insisted. About 50 years of age, he assured her he was like her father and she could trust him. Needless to say he broke her trust and scarred her for life.


A final year medical student of a very prestigious medical college in Delhi was on her way home when some goons cornered her. They snatched her bag at knifepoint and began rummaging through it only to find there was hardly any money in it. Realizing this steal was a waste of time, they decided to make good of the bad situation. They took the girl to a nearby heritage site (Delhi is full of old forts, most of them are archeological heritage sites) and took turns to rape her. The youngest of the perpetrators was 13 years of age.


My Entry for Inspirational Monday this week.

I wish I could say these are works of fiction, but unfortunately that won’t be entirely true. All these “stories” have a strong base in reality. I rarely write about real life affairs, but I couldn’t keep myself this time.

My head hangs in shame. I have been let down by my country and by my city, where I was born, where I have lived for most part of my life. It has not happened once, it has not happened twice, it has happened so many times that I have lost count.

These are just some of the crimes that get reported. There are so many that go unheard, so many where the victim is victimized further by the legal system or by their own families, so much so that they just flee the city to never return or simply quit.

And what about the men who don’t commit the crime but aspire for it in their hearts? What about the next man I see ogling at me when I am walking on the streets? What about the one who scans me “discreetly” when I am not looking or choosing not to look?

Times like these make me wonder, this entire chase for money and financial stability at a national level, for showing the world how promising a nation we are, is it worth it? When we are so infected and rotten within that we have brought almost our entire population to a state of sheer disgust and helplessness, what use is an honorary stamp from the outside world? I think we should be exposed for what we are. We should feel ashamed of our deeds, because that’s what truly defines us.

The first story is the most recent of the series of ghastly incidents that have plagued the city of Delhi and has created an unprecedented nationwide uproar, of which I am glad. I am happy that even the international media picked up the story. We deserve the public ignominy.

Older and Wiser?

“Mom, do you remember our old little picnic spot? The Roman Invader’s castle? I drove there this afternoon. It’s in ruins now! Nothing like its old majestic self! It’s like the place was bombed!”

“But it was always like that darling. When you were young, I didn’t have money to afford a nice getaway, so I used to drive you to the deserted army base and tell you that it was a castle. You were such a delightful kid; you improved my version with every visit!”

“I don’t believe this!”

“Yeah I know, but you were a believer back then.”


100 words for Madison’s Friday Prompt:


As Mumbai Burned…

I feel ashamed, humiliated and helpless. What has unfolded in Mumbai in the last couple of days has left me wondering if the reason why I happen to be alive is something as fickle as my own callous fate… That if all that happened in the last three days in Mumbai repeats itself in some other part of the country, it would find us just about as vulnerable and unprepared as we have proven ourselves to be. That we would lose out more Karkares, Salaskars, UnniKrishnans, glued helplessly to our television sets, or worse, hoping for a rescue in the midst of capricious bullets and grenades.

It’s a national shame to let a conspiracy of this magnitude realize and grip the very soul of our country. I’ve been hearing about martyrdom stories for the last three days. It’s unfortunate that the best of our men lost their lives fighting not on a hostile border, but in the womb of the nation, combating infiltrators in hotels and houses. What makes it worse is the fact that all this madness could have been avoided, had we learnt from the innumerable incidents that preceded this one. But for that to happen, we needed to look beyond our religious divides, beyond our state divides, beyond our caste divides, in short, beyond our inane trivial-mindedness. But, it seems like pettiness is so much a part of our being, that it takes the iconic Taj burning to make us all shut up and take notice of how we are betraying our motherland with all this meaningless bickering.

I have been following the news very closely. But, with all due respect, I haven’t yet seen, read or heard the Prime Minister’s address to the nation. I flip the newspaper page when all it has to offer is some politician’s comments on the happenings in Mumbai. I change the channel when a news channel talks about some politician or the other addressing the media. In my own skewed sense of understanding, I find our so called leaders worse perpetrators of terror than those who terrorized the nation for the last 60 or so hours. 

More than the casualty rate, it’s the emotional impact that makes this attack unprecedented. A lot is being said in various forums, and a lot of furious voices are raising questions, demanding immediate answers and changes. What remains to be seen is whether the lessons learnt by this mis-happening lead to unprecedented measures too. What remains to be seen is how long the memory of the shock and trauma every Indian experienced in the last 60 hours, keeps him from focusing on the pettiness that surrounds him.


Blogs, as far as I know, have been around for quite some time now… And I remember bumping into one odd article about blogging in its varied forms in the papers back then.

Things seem to have changed now, and I am amazed at how media has almost obsessively started talking about the subject lately, thanks to the potshots that our not-so-celebrated celebrities make at each other on their blogs. I have my reservations to a lot of things around here, but I’d rather keep them to myself… I’ve realized, with time, that an undirected fury shot in the open hits none but your own self… hence… 

I read in one of the papers some time back about a thing called ‘blogstress’ – a phenomenon where bloggers addicted to their blogs stress out their grey cells to come up with the best post(whatever that means! ) around and spend sleepless nights and restless days to conjure something out-of-the-box(Reminds me of the new HP ad series about Innovation). What was even more astounding was that the article also had views of some psychiatrists on the issue. I mean… it’s gotta be serious with the psychiatrists and all…!

Reading about this blog-o-mania, I was wondering if I have become one of those obsolete bloggers who write for their own selves… Maybe even this small corner of the world has also been invaded by… well… those who occupy the other larger corner of it…   

I don’t know how dear the situation is… As for me, I still enjoy my occasional blogging and blog surfing… It de-stresses me on a stressful day… Having said that, and with the article still running in my mind… I’m wondering… am I okay or is something wrong with the world??? Like for so many other things in life… I wouldn’t know the answer to this one too… 🙂

The ‘I-Don’t-want-to-hate-you’ Exercise!

A few months before last year led the way for this one, I had attended a small workshop related to something that was to follow the workshop… but never mind that. More often than not, the specifics of interesting things fail to interest as much as the things themselves do. So, I’ll straightaway move to the interesting part of my otherwise not-so-interesting (for all save me and a few others) story.

Among a lot of other things, there was this small exercise we were asked to put into practice each time this sudden feeling of dislike or hatred crops up for someone or something. Thanks for the little practice; I managed the last couple of months without hating so many potentially hateful things. The Good Samaritan that I am, I thought I’ll share it with the opinionated world I live in.

So the exercise goes something like this: Each time you find something/someone you would so love to hate, take a pen in your left hand (assuming that you are right handed, it’s the other way round for a lefty) and write five good things about it or him/her. It doesn’t stop you from hating the thing/person, but it consumes your intellectual brain so much that your emotional brain takes a backseat and the feeling is consumed in the act of writing the uneasy things with unease. But of course, it won’t work if you are ambidextrous.

It’s an irritating little practice, but it helps if your conscience doesn’t allow you to hate people or things with the freedom you want to. Hope it helps…


 P.S. I know the title could have been better, but heck! it was a lot of pressure on my bird sized brain…!

The Globe, The Warming…et al

“We have some 8 more years to mend things”, said my bro gravely as I switched on the air conditioner the other day. I patted him reassuringly aiming an earnest smile, increased the volume of the music player, closed my eyes and drifted in my own thoughts.

“It wouldn’t be long before the humankind wipes out. A befitting end to the ceaseless crimes committed in the pursuit of a better life… Oh the irony! “, said the reporter on a news channel, with a sincerity that made me wonder if she had burst into tears right after the shoot.

“Global Warming-The end of the world?”, shrieked the front page of a weekly magazine I read almost regularly.

Ohkk…! So all this is indeed happening…

I’ve been hearing about global warming since I started hearing about latitudes, longitudes, tectonic plates etc. Maybe a little before. But the point is that, like the rest, I learnt the definition, causes, effects and related blahs about this one too by rote, least interested in the minutiae (I was never a great student to be honest, and geography and related stuff don’t really deserve a special mention in my, as it is, not-so-boastful academic track)

Finally the poor thing has taken centre stage. The neglected “Global Warming” issue I mean. So what are we doing about it? Naah, nothing much, just some talks here or there, few raised voices, few concerned whispers, and of course, lotsa heated arguments, about what/who is causing all the heat.

A survey said that the Indian and Chinese populace is the most concerned in the world on the issue, leaving behind its Ooh-So-Haute counterparts in Europe and The States. And why wouldn’t they be? They had only just begun getting haute after all… I mean, let’s face it; Indians haven’t had enough of the chic Metro Rails coming up in all those metropolitans (It’s only in Delhi that they are partly functional as of now, with things mostly under planning or design phase elsewhere)…Or the glamorous malls for that matter… or the 24 hour power supplies (thanks to those DG back ups and inverters). And China… it’s only recently, that the world has started feeling uneasy about those quiet, meticulous men that comprise the Republic. The world can’t end so soon! I mean, these two aren’t yet ready to…well…get their acts together…!

But, as they say, bad things happen more often than what those probability figures claim…So a melt down is inevitable. What then? Lotsa water and too little land. And too many people of course (Indians and Chinese rock the charts there too!). Some affluent ones making it to land… as for the rest of us, we could do with a remix of the old song “Aajkal paav zameen par nahi padte mere” … There could be gill implants if science develops itself to that extent. Some of those who don’t get property might go for the implants. But even after that, a major chunk would be left with nowhere to plant their feet.

Like it’s always with life, it will be a classic case of comedy in tragedy. All this warming business can be compared with those cartoon storylines, where a big, sturdy woman falls in love with a weak frail-hearted male, and smothers him with her looove, while he gasps for life in between all the running, escaping, and of course, smothering. The earth seems to have developed some real warm and cosy feelings for us humans, and it wouldn’t be long before all the smothering becomes too hot to handle.

In a different time and age, someone had said , “Love hurts”… But no point saying that now…In any case, humans are inherently averse to caveats…!

Rock on guys…till the party lasts…!

Struggling in Shambles

Not until we dare to regard ourselves as a nation, not until we respect ourselves, can we gain the esteem of others, or rather only then will it come of its own accord”-Albert Einstein

The last couple of months have seen me traveling more than I have in the last few years. I’ve observed more than was required; guess partly out of habit but primarily because of a highly intellectual and thought stimulating company during these trips.

We have a rich history as a nation, but somewhere down the line, things got awry… something terrible happened with the common Indian psyche… this I speak of the huge faceless and nameless masses that comprise the nation… if those few who come across this piece feel offended, I’d like to point that they comprise of the privileged handfuls who have access to a computer and an internet connection and are lucky exceptions in the grand scenario.

I have been pondering about the roots of this sense of awe that an average Indian associates with the western culture…

Lord Macaulay(who introduced the British system of education in India in 1835) stated the following words on Feb 2, 1835 in the British Parliament:

“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in the country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of the nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

I think it’s been a vicious circle since then… India as a country has been short of people passionate enough for its cause, and Indians as countrymen, haven’t been able to find reasons to ignite their passions for the betterment of their own motherland…

A sure shot solution to the situation? My answer, A Time Machine…!

Reject the West’s rejects

The following article appeared in the saturday issue of “The Mint”.  Since it made an interesting read, I thought of sharing it here…

I’m waiting for the Rs400 hot dog. It’s possible, really, as a recent barrage of retail investment has turned India into a fast-food nation believing it is consuming something epicurean—and willing to pay big bucks for mediocrity. Before you think I am insulting you, I assure you I count my American self among the seduced.

TGI Friday’s? I hate it in New Jersey, associating it with mall culture and plaid-clad guys who don cheap cologne and eat disgusting things like bacon on top of potatoes dripping with cheese.

Here, I freshen my lipstick before I walk in, revel in frozen margaritas balanced on a waiter’s elbow and order greasy appetizers. My bill is almost double what I would pay in the United States for such a second-class meal.

Several friends and I have had similar experiences with brands and outlets such as Marks & Spencer, Ruby Tuesday and Mango. They don’t quite promote themselves as luxury but still command premium prices—for questionable quality and service.

Every day, I wake up to headlines announcing another Western business has big plans for India. Occasionally, I’ll cringe and turn to my husband: “Didn’t that company go under?”

Like earlier this month, when pizza chain Sbarro Inc. announced plans to open 100 restaurants here in a joint venture with Hotz Industries (India) Ltd. You deserve to know the truth about Sbarro. It’s the pizza of choice at railway stations and airports, usually delayed travellers’ lone choice.

Luckily, we no longer live in such desperate times. Indians have long contended with subpar products—colours fading after one wash, fraying office chairs—but the pricing generally reflected this. Why are we not discriminating with pricey imports?

The companies mentioned in this column were contacted for comment; most were unavailable but those reached blame exorbitant import duties and said they are continuously revisiting their India strategy—especially with more competition arriving.

Thank god for that; it’s the only thing that gives us freedom as consumers to reject the West’s rejects.

Like Barney the dinosaur. In case you haven’t heard of him, take a second to be grateful. Once upon a time, Barney, a big purple dinosaur, endeared himself to American parents eager to plop their children in front of a television for lessons on sharing and caring. He was really popular through the 1990s. The operative word is was.

So there he was in mid-February performing with his equally plush and sappy friends in New Delhi, tickets priced between Rs300 and Rs1,500.

Even my daughter’s tony preschool advertised the Barney programme and encouraged attendance. I happily stayed home with my kid and watched Sesame Street DVDs, timeless imports of my choosing from the US.

“When will India stop getting the world’s leftovers?” one friend of mine often asks.

Not until we stop accepting them with our wallets. That’s the ironic benefit of open markets—our discontent can help drive down inflated prices and increase standards of quality.

As with all of my frustrations in India, the experts advised patience.

“We are progressing later compared to the West, said Tejaswini Aparanji, deputy general manager of Branding Entertainment. “Brands like Mango, these are not the Chanels of the world, but Chanel is not far behind. There’s a premium attached to being new.”

Earlier this week, the Hard Rock Café, another Western institution I love to hate because there’s definitely not enough cool rockers’ paraphernalia to go around, also announced plans to expand in India.

“Hard Rock would close restaurants in less glamorous locations in the United States and Britain but double outlets globally to around 250,” Reuters said.

Oh thanks, I initially thought, close the Hard Rock Café in Indianapolis, and please export the guitar used by Michael Jackson’s security guard to hang in the new Patna location.

In Mumbai this week, I gave India’s first Hard Rock Café a chance, mostly to keep my perceptions honest and in check. I was dubious as we drove deep into the compound of the former Bombay Dyeing Mill but impressed upon entry: 6,000sq. ft of a tastefully redone industrial space, red-velvet walls, the perfect dim of lighting, even Richie Sambora’s shirt and guitar. It made the New York outlet seem like a dump. The food was excellent and the waiters staged a dance to the “YMCA” song.

At last, I thought, a new business trying to win over customers with more than a brand name.

The line of retailers, restaurants, cartoon characters, even employees like yours truly, arriving on Indian shores need to learn from mistakes made in the West. Indian customers should stop accepting all things imported as better and return to their roots as demanding connoisseurs on the lookout for a bargain.

And I hope they never pay more than Rs50 for a hot dog.

-S.Mitra Kalita

More of her articles can be found here:Wider Angle

Dooms day Closing By?

Seen those big, hideous creatures hovering in the sky over cadavers… yes I’m referring to vultures… I’ve despised them all my life… those little beasts that feed on the flesh of the dead… The very sight of these creatures leaves me sick to the stomach… I avert my eyes without even noticing the frown that appears on my forehead…


Well that’s not my point of writing this… recently while I was mindlessly surfing through the news channels( one doesn’t need mind for this particular exercise these days), I saw those loathsome creatures again on my TV screen… much to my dislike, my index finger refused to oblige… so there I sat staring disbelievingly at my screen, wishing it could blast into pieces then and there… a part of me was wondering what it was that made the news channel stoop this low…I mean it was tolerable till these people were senselessly discussing what xyz was wearing at the Cannes or how a family felt at the death of a kinsman( is that not obvious?)… But this was beyond my wildest imaginations!


While I was in the process of exercising my share of profanities for the channel, I was pacified by the voice of the news reader… it was shocking what I was hearing… it couldn’t be true… in the last 10 years or so, 97% of the vultures are dead…!


This had my head reeling! I did a fast forward to peep into the world 75 yrs from now… all these creatures like vultures, pigeons, pandas, deers etc would b extinct!
And humans? How long would earth be able to support us after all the desecration we’ve subjected it to… I don’t know… I don’t want to know…

(Guess I can’t let bygones be bygones… A yet another post from the other blog… This was written on May 28,2006)

The Famous Infamy

A lot has been said and written about the execution of Saddam Hussein. People are expressing their views in every opportunity that comes handy… then be it through the newspapers, the blogosphere or by climbing on the top of a tower, there aren’t many stones left unturned…


People who haven’t seen the famous cell phone video of the entire affair can be counted on fingers. What amazed me the most about the whole event was the grace (yes you read it right) with which Saddam handled his death. Not at any point does he seem scared or cornered. I don’t understand Arabic, but thanks to the newspapers I had easy translation of the dialogues that had been exchanged available. It requires superhuman presence of mind to retort with the panache Saddam exhibited so effortlessly. And it requires hatred bred since yester lives to treat a man about to die at the hands of his own adversaries the way Saddam was treated till moments before his death.


I know for sure that there’s no one who can be termed as heroic here… what is truly tasking is answering who is more evil? The tyrant who ruled over Iraq from ’79 to ’03, did mass murders on grounds of discrimination, killed all those he feared could bring about a coup, waged wars against various countries, scaled Iraq’s economy to new heights exploiting its oil resources in it’s best interests, and brought about industrialization in this otherwise agriculture dominated country? Or the self anointed messiah’s of the world who have worn the veil of altruism to hide their own vested interests and have successfully made a mess out of a situation that I’m sure could have been entirely avoided? Or the present government of Iraq under Mr. Javad-Al-Maliki that has won neither confidence nor respect from the fellow Iraqis?


No matter what conclusions derive, no matter how long the debate continues and no matter how many more people die in Iraq in support or opposition of one thing or the other… It’s all immaterial now… The fact remains…


Saddam was hanged on the first day of Eid-Ul-Adha, December 30, 2006 at 6:00 am Arabic Standard Time, as Bush slept peacefully in his ranch in Texas.

There is no God but God and Mohammed is His prophet… 

Whose side would God and His Mohammed take here? The answer is beyond me…