Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Rape Guide

Rape. One word that sends a chill down every woman’s spine. We know what it is. We know it can happen any time. We know what ‘scenarios and places’ we must avoid to lower our chances of us being assaulted. We’ve dealt with molestation and harassment at least four dozen times in our lives. We’re women. We know. Then why don’t you believe us when we tell you if someone has actually raped us?

"Of course I'm making it up! Why would anyone want to rape ME?"
In just the past eight months, there have been a lot of rape/molestation cases in India that have been brought to light. More importantly, we’ve also learnt the views of politicians and people in power and authority on matters like rape. It was shocking to learn about the Delhi cops who openly said “She asked for it” or “It was consensual, not rape”. And oh, dig this, Sunil Kumar, SHO, Ghazipur adds “In Delhi pubs, you’ll find women who will drink with you and have sex with you. But the day someone uses force, it is rape.” Pity our own police forces don’t know what rape means, huh?

                                              Rape IS forced sexual intercourse, you morons!

"Er, not my fault. Sorry. Media's fault. ALL media's fault. They LET women talk after all."
Not to be outdone, a few days back, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader and former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala backed the view that the marriageable age for girl be lowered to prevent the rising number of rapes in the state. Khap panchayat (community council) leader Sube Singh this week said that the lowering of marriageable age, which is 18 years for girls at present as per law, would help prevent rapes. Not to be outdone, yesterday, a Congress leader from Haryana, Dharamveer Goyat said that “90% of all rapes are consensual and most girls cook up such stories”.

Seriously, are they THAT stupid?

So I wanted to clear the air for all those people who don’t know what rape actually means (including our oh-so-smart prestigious politicians). Also, I’ve busted a few other myths that might help (and added random views wherever necessary).
  1. Rape is forced sexual intercourse. F-O-R-C-E-D. Even if a girl has agreed to get hot and heavy with you and changes her mind last minute, and you decide to have sex with her anyway, it IS rape. Overall, sexual intercourse without her consent/against her will is considered rape.
  2. Sex with a woman who is unconscious//drunkish passed out/fast asleep IS rape. Sexual advances on any woman who is unconscious is NOT okay.
  3. Sex with a girl who is under 16 years of age with or without her consent IS rape.
  4. Women who go to bars, drink and smoke have equal rights as men who do the same. Just because she goes to a bar does NOT mean she asked for it. And certainly does not mean she deserves to get raped.
  5. When a woman gets raped, her ‘virginity’ status must really not come to question and any such virginity test should NOT be required. Why do they have that silly test anyway? (ah, yes, to check if she was a morally dissolute woman or not)
  6. If a rape case is brought to court, questions like “Did you enjoy it?” or “How did it make you feel?” are irrelevant and unnecessary. It’s clear the woman abominated the evil spawn that violated her body and soul. There is NO way in hell she enjoyed the experience.
  7. A woman can wear whatever the hell she wants to. Her attire should make NO difference in case she was a victim of molestation/rape.
  8. If the marriageable age for women becomes 16, chances are the country will get extra populated soon (well, I’m not entirely right on this one). It will NOT lower the rape rate (this, I’m certainly right on).
  9. Rape is the most traumatic event that could happen to a woman. No woman in her right mind would cook up a story on how she got raped (yes, there are always exceptions, I know). When a woman approaches someone for help and registers a complaint on her rape story, for the love of God, please BELIEVE her and take necessary action.
  10. Most importantly, when a rape incident does happen, always, always, always blame the perpetrator, NOT the victim.

Unfortunately, the people sitting in political pedestals in our country have such sexist views on rape and everything related, that no wonder the rape rate is high and women feel unsafe here.

God bless India! (time to make this phrase popular, eh? I’m so tired of hearing ‘God bless America’ in every Hollywood movie!)


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Eve's Life

So I’m officially at a loss of words. For once. First, they convince all women to baste themselves in fairness creams as fair skin will bring them success, a great career, many suited proposals and a happy married life. Then, they bring out some vaginal fairness cream that is supposed to brighten up your lady areas and make your husband want to have sex with you again. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we now have the vaginal tightening gel being introduced in this country that will again, make your husband want to have sex with you, and not pick a virgin over you. Welcome to India.
Now that I'm fair, I'll be a successful career woman!

Sick. It makes me sick that such ideologies exist in today’s world. I’m a dusky woman and for the largest  
part of growing up in North India, I was called ‘Kaali’ everyday. It used to hurt me then, but now, I love my skin tone and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not all women think so though. Dusky women want to be fair, fair women want to be fairer (no, it’s not like the US, where they want to get tanned). Girls are not allowed to play sports after they turn 14 as they will get tanned. Matrimonial ads begin with ‘Looking for fair, slim girl’. It’s sick, it simply is.

As if escaping the sad looks of all my orthodox aunts on my skin colour wasn’t bad enough, some genius company has to introduce vaginal fairness wash. I mean, what the hell is that all about when? The TVC is even more disturbing. The dutiful wife brings out a steaming hot cup of coffee for her husband, who seems completely disinterested in her (I’m assuming the dark coffee denotes the dark skin tones of her vagina). She then showers herself and uses the vaginal wash, and lo and behold – her husband is in love with her again! Kissing her, cuddling her, adoring her. Awww. All because her vagina is now fair. Yay!
A fair vagina is a confident vagina!

And if things just couldn’t get any worse for us women out there, they now had to introduce the vaginal tightening gel. If you use it, your vagina gets nice and tight so that your husband will have sex with you again. The TVC of this ad is simply weird. There is a married couple doing hot dance moves in presence of the entire family. I’m not sure if I’m entirely against the product than I am to what the woman is crooning to in the ad. She keeps singing ‘I feel like a virgin.’ Seriously? I mean, seriously? What is the message here again? Use this gel, tighten up your vagina, and your husband will feel like he’s having sex with a virgin again and you will feel loved again with your tighter vagina. Woohoo!

As you may have guessed by now, I’m a feminist. I don’t see a reason not to be, but more on that later. But there are distinct male-dominated themes in what I’ve discussed here so far. Fairness creams were made for women as men preferred faired women as spouses for the longest time (this has changed slightly now, though not entirely). Mothers-in-law would never want a dusky daughter-in-law, worse, a dark child. Dusky women were never the favourites in the country.

My husband won't have sex with me because I have a brown vagina. Waaahhh! :'(
And this country that worships fair skin took it so far so as to create a vaginal fairness wash. And the ad theme is clear as well, make it fair so as to your distance, loveless marriage will be revived as your husband will want to have sex with you again because of your now fair tone of your vagina. Even the tightening gel focuses on how your husband will have sex with you now since you apparently ‘feel like a virgin’.

If that vaginal wash had a message that said it was to be used for more hygienic purposes than to make you fair, it would have made sense. If ‘I feel like a virgin’, wasn’t repeatedly crooned to in that ad, I may have tolerated it. If Fair & Lovely ads simply promised fairness and not success, happy marriages and fame associated with it, it would have been ok. But I have a problem with these associated messages, connotations, pleasing your husband techniques and fair skin worshipping.

No, I’m not asking for them to introduce a product to brighten up a man’s privates, but I’m simply tired of new things and products that are being dished out to lower a woman’s morale. Now that these creams and gels have come out, in addition to all the waxing, tweezing, facials, office trouble, tending to kids at home, women now have to worry about if they can give a ‘virgin-like’ sexual experience to their partners again. That to me is just depressing.

Most women are insecure about their bodies and perfect images of how women are supposed to be that are portrayed in the media don’t help at all. I know some incredibly beautiful women that have perfect bodies, yet they find themselves ugly. It’s a disheartening thing to see some amazing women lose out on their morale as they find themselves never physically competent enough.

I didn’t want to make this another blog post on how society is shaping crazy demands off women, but I guess this has simply become so. And I fear women will continue being pawns this way unless the societal mindset in this country will change. Which I don’t see happening for a long, long time.

Here’s a link to the vaginal tightening gel ad. *barfs*
I hope you despise it as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gay Pride!

Gay Pride Day was celebrated just last week, on June 25, and I found a very interesting Oreo graphic that the brand posted on their Facebook page. The ad simply had two Oreo biscuits filled with six layers of rainbow coloured icing celebrating homosexuality. The graphic drew more than 52,000 shares and 177,000 likes in 24 hours, sparking an online debate which translates into free adverting for Kraft Foods (the parent company of Nabisco), which introduced America's best-selling cookie in 1912.

I, for one, thought this was a brilliant campaign and it was nice to see how strong international brands could leverage their popularity for promoting a cause. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted “As if I needed another reason to love Oreo”. Another user on the fan page commented “I never liked Oreo cookies. But I’m going to start eating them henceforth.” While the ad received a lot of positive response from the public in general, the backlash it received was immense as well. Many called for a boycott of the product.

"This is absolutely disgusting. Your attempt to 'normalize' the behaviour of homosexuals has cost you a customer," one commenter wrote.
"Disliked Oreo page just because of this one post. Think about how much business you just killed, Oreo,” wrote another. “I can't support a business that supports gays.”

A "Boycott Oreo" Facebook page sprung up just the day after the image. The creator of the page wrote: "No. I do *not* hate gay people. I am not a ‘homophobe’ "I am against the lifestyle choice, however. It goes against Biblical principles and against how nature intended. That being said, I refuse to support the lifestyle or what Oreo/Kraft is doing. So I have decided to not buy their products."

The Oreo graphic that sparked controversy

Oreo is not the first brand to face such backlash from the public. Target, American Apparel and Starbucks are just three other corporations which were faced with anti-gay boycotts after either publicly endorsing LGBT rights themselves or releasing special products which did so. And oh, J.C. Penney, which has been condemned at least three times this year alone after hiring Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson and featuring same-sex couples in Mother's Day and Father's Day catalogues respectively.

What I absolutely fail to understand is, that how can such idiots actually exist in 2012? We talk about leaving a better planet to children, we’re becoming freakily vegan and switching to organic diets, we’re taking up causes and fighting for them, we’re volunteering to help at hospitals and the homeless, we’re teaching the illiterate. Yet we’re so fucking backward in our thinking that we simply cannot accept how homosexuality is simply a way of life.

We can’t deal with gay people. Gay people make us uncomfortable. Why the fuck are so many among us wired this way? We are okay with short-lived marriages like those of Britney Spears that lasted less than 60 hours (I’m not even sure if we can call that a marriage) and okay with the fact that divorce rates are climbing steadily everyday. Yet, we have something stuck up our ass when it comes to legalizing gay marriages or letting a gay couple adopt children.

A lot of couples tend to have children as ‘accidents’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condemn straight couples. Neither does that mean these couples love their children any lesser. Gay couples are not blessed that easily to be able to have children as simple ‘accidents’. Firstly, openly admitting you’re gay is hard, for all the possible ridicule you might face. Second, finding your true love in another partner is hard. Some families even disown their children if they learn about their homosexual relationships. Thirdly, when these gay couples decide to have children, it’s because they really WANT to. They’ve had it tough so far and want the opportunity to be good fathers/mothers to their children. Because of the fact that they’re gay, their paperwork is extensive when they decide to adopt. There is a lot more running around to do. There is a lot more work and effort required. In the process, they might be discriminated against because they are a gay couple. And they’re willing to undergo all of this so that they could be parents to a child. Yet, the fucked up society has to act like being gay is a sin and being a gay parent even more so.

I’m not asking people to be staunch activists or create support groups for gay people. Merely treating them as equals and not discriminating against them is a great step to start with. Why do we have to stare and point like they don’t belong? Why do we have to use the word ‘gay’ as a way of insulting or offending someone? Why are we so uncomfortable and stuck up with the idea of accepting gay people as one of our own?

I’m not gay, neither am I a gay right activist, but I do believe that one should simply live and let live. I don’t think it’s my fucking birthright to tell people how they should live, whom should they live with, etc. I just think this should be a fair world to be in and people should live however they want to. No one should decide upon certain ways to live just because a holy book or your stupid societal rules tell you so.

You don’t have to be gay to support gay rights. You just need to be human.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Leh Liya Mera Dil! :)

After discussing and planning this trip for years now, my family and I finally embarked on this pending Leh trip. The trip was scheduled to last only 6 days, with about 2 days going in travel alone. Our connecting flight to Leh was from Delhi, the duration of which lasted for only about an hour. Please, do not fall asleep or keep yourself occupied during this flight journey as it the sights are not to be missed.

 You can find a very picturesque view of Leh from the flight, while the stewards would be describing the hills you see (this happened in GoAir, not sure about about other airlines).

The moment we landed and stepped out of the aircraft, a cold breeze hit our faces. Yes, Leh was freezing at 8 degrees. Especially for a Bangalorean who was used to 28 degrees ka weather.

Snow-kissed Leh Mountains
The view from our room
A walk through the jewellery market

Adorable little things at the market!
Nowshera Old Market where you could find bags, jewellery, etc. But you'd have to do a LOT of bargaining if you're not a local.

Pity we didn't visit this.

Plenty of nuts and dried fruits to choose from.

The last of the sun's rays for the day. Twilight illuminates this place beautifully.

Chang La pass at 17,586 ft. You will pass this on your way to Lake Pang Gong Tso.

The journey to Lake Pang Gong Tso is very tiring. Ensure you have a light dinner the previous night and leave early, around 6 am, so that you could get back early as well. Wear at least 3 layers of clothes, 2 socks, and cover your ears and neck at all times.

Those who are not comfortable with hilly drives, eat just a fruit and some biscuits for breakfast. Also, pop in a pill if you can - it helped me tremendously; I didn't feel nauseous at all.

The drive is about 5 hours or more with a distance of 165 km to cover and it's very hilly that would make your stomach churn at some point. Eat light and maybe sleep for most of the journey to get rid of that motion sickness. That aside, the view of the lake is so breathtaking that all of that tiring journey is absolutely worth it! :)

A scene from 3 Idiots was shot here. What you're seeing is 'Kareena Point' :)

Leh, you beauty!


Family Photu!

Looks photoshopped, doesn't it? I haven't touched this picture.

Looks like a painting because of the beautiful stillness.

One is not allowed to get into the water as they might dirty it, and rightly so.

Wishing at the monastery.

Hemis Monastery

Momos from Tibetan Corner, a restaurant you HAVE to visit in Leh. Only open for lunch though.

The Hall of Fame showcasing brave acts and valour of the Indian Army during war time. A must visit to enrich yourself with history.

The Magnetic Hill that can pull your vehicle *shivers*

The car was moving, even though the engine was off, due to the magnetic pull by the hill.

The centre box has the maximum pull. Sadly, I'm not metallic and didn't get pulled.


Zaskar - Indus confluence, also known as Sangam. Worth a visit.

More where that snow came from.

I always thought of ice cream when I saw this.
Khardungla Pass - the highest motorable pass in the world, at 18,380 ft

And the breathtaking view from the pass.

Sunshine and Snow

Down the Indus River

Nubra Valley, a major tourist attraction at Leh.
Nubra Valley is a must-visit when you go to Leh. Its distance from Leh is 135 km, and the drive is much better than that of Lake Pang Gong Tso. Most tourist packages would require you stay a night at Nubra Valley, see the sand dunes, go for a camel ride, see the hot spring and two other monasteries. Take it from me, do not spend the night at Nubra Valley, it's a simple camp out with a very basic meal, and comes up with a lot of cost frills.

Leave early in the morning if you can - around 5 30 am, it's about a two and a half hour drive to Khardungla Pass, and another roughly 3 hours from there to Nubra Valley. You could take a look at the sand dunes, go for a camel ride (for 10 minutes, the cost is Rs. 150) and see the gold plated Maitreya Buddha near the Diskit monastery (again, if you've already visited the Thiksey/Hemis monastery, then you can skip this). You could give the hot spring and other monastery a miss. Leave by 2 or 3pm and your should reach Leh by 8ish.
The two-humped Bactrian camel, unique to Leh.

Maitreya Buddha

Compulsory family photo in front of the Buddha.

I think I had a screensaver similar to this.

More snow. Yay!

Stalactite like structures (the actual ones grow only in limestone caves)

Trying to venture into the snow, before slipping and falling down miserably.

What's the story, morning glory?

Supposed to be my Ice Wand first, but Ice Saber seemed more appropriate.
Rinchen Cafe :)

Did you know the Maggi story?

Hot and delicious Maggi at the highest cafe in the world!

Our (my) faces say it all.

The Siachen story.

View from Khardungla Pass.

And that's all, folks! If you may be looking for some food-specific pics of Leh, do go here.

Do let me know your thoughts on this post. And any other queries on travelling to Leh that I will be happy to answer :)