Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Thank God You Weren't There

THANK GOD you weren't there....                                

     helping those who were there


 [Click on the picture to view details]

Monday, September 26, 2011

How Fair is it?

I have had discussions regarding the "discrimination on basis of skin colour in India" with a lot of people. Most of the times, the discussion ends too soon with responses like "It's not discrimination", "You are getting it all wrong" and even, "You are so negative"!

Really? Is the fact that a huge majority of people consider fair skin as beautiful and dark skin just the opposite, not discrimination? What is the reason that lighter skin colour is called "fair". Is dark skin colour "unfair?"

Once, my friend was telling us all about some girl. Someone asked "How does she look? Is she beautiful?", to which he replied, "Nah. She's absolutely black!" I was amazed. I interrupted with "what has being black got to do with being beautiful or ugly?" And to this, all others were amazed. They silenced me with, "What is it with you? Do you have to find reasons to argue all the time?"

When I was discussing this with my colleagues, someone said, "It is not bias. It is pretty obvious that human beings find anything that is cleaner and clearer more attractive." How is dark skin, unclean and unclear, I fail to understand.

I, myself, am not light-skinned. I have noticed several times that the pictures in which the flashlight makes me look light-skinned are liked by people. I tried putting up some of my pictures in which I looked dark, on Facebook, only to get so many negative comments that I felt embarrassed and had to pull them off. People keep telling me that if only I were "fairer", I would have swept all guys off their feet. Some offer me valuable advices like having my skin bleached or applying Fair & Lovely. I have never tried any of it.

Talking of fairness creams, why aren't they illegal? They feed the ego of light-skinned people and make dark-skinned Indians loathe their skin colour. In their advertisements they show lives of people changing miraculously on becoming fair-skinned. This might actually be true in India, considering the inherent obsession for light skin in Indian society. A bigger shock is that huge bollywood celebrities endorse such products.

But should it really come as a shock? Because Bollywood has since eternity promoted light skin. Dusky beauties have a place in Bollywood. There is Bipasha, and there is Rani. But they are artificially made to look fairer in movies and on magazine covers. When they don't have faith in their natural self, how would a common Indian admire dark skin?


It's not only about people liking light-skinned people, it is also about people disliking dark skin, even if it is their own! Is skin colour a valid reason to have low self-esteem?

Parents don't teach their kids to be proud of their dark skin. They ask them not to play in the sun for long, or they'll get tanned. They admire the light-skinned children in the family. They say "look, how fair you were when you were born. And look what you've become now!" I have seen little kids comparing their colours amongst themselves, and the light-skinned ones showing off theirs.

This bias becomes most discriminatory and apparent when marriages are being set up. Girls get their photographs clicked at photo studios, where they photoshop the picture to make the girl look fairer than she actually is. Let us consider a rare situation where in a couple, one is light skinned and one is dark skinned. What will be the most common public reaction? "He is so fair! How did he choose such a dark skinned girl?" and "The girl is so beautiful (because she is fair), I wonder what she saw in that black guy". Families of guys reject a girl only because "the girl is too black".

I have also noticed the difference in reactions of Indians towards a foreigner who is white skinned against the reaction to a foreigner who is black-skinned. People want to talk to white skinned foreigners, they want to get their picture clicked with them. And wherever a dark skinned foreigner goes, words like "kalu" and "negro" can be heard.

I have even seen people who think south Indians are ugly because they have darker skin than north Indians. Also, due to my dark skin, people have often asked if I am a south Indian. I wonder why Indians forget that Lord Krishna is called "Shyam" , he is said to be of the colour of the evening sky, and yet he is the most admired God for his beauty and charm. The general idea of beauty has been so messed up that people have starting depicting beautiful Krishna as fair-skinned. They do it to their kids. They do it to their Gods!

This is a serious issue and everybody ought to realize the need to do something about it. Parents and teachers should start teaching the kids the importance of preserving their identity gifted to them by God. Skin lightening creams and treatments should be devalued, and in fact, banned. Wouldn't you ban an advertisement that exploits caste differences to sell their product? Then why not ban the meaningless advertisements of these companies that exploit the senseless obsession of Indians with fair skin to sell their products? We want to see dark skinned models and actresses in ads and on magazine covers, so that a dark skinned little girl does not start thinking that she has to be fair to look like a model. We want more dark skinned beauty pageant winners.

There is much more to this issue than what I have mentioned here. You might have observed or experienced less than this or you might have experienced even more. High probability is that you might not have even noticed the wrongness of this. But it is time that everyone understands that it is wrong. Raise your voice against fairness products. Tell me your experiences. Share ideas to create awareness.

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.

Monday, August 15, 2011


This Independence Day, there is only one thing I am repeatedly reminded of. It has got nothing to do with Independence Day; But again, it might be somehow related.

Where I used to teach a little maths, science and english to children from underprivileged families, were staying a family, husband-wife and their two daughters, who had come to Delhi from Bihar to get the girls treated for an undiagnosed. Since it was a small place with two-rooms, the little girls played in the room where I taught the kids. One of the girls was calling for her mother, but the sound that came out of her mouth could easily be mistaken as a distant cat's cry. Her voice was so low that I had to go to the adjacent room and call out her mother for her. I noticed that even the mother spoke in such a low voice that there had to be pin drop silence to understand what she said. When asked for the reason, she told me that from where they belong, women are not taught to speak aloud.

This has got nothing to do with Independence Day......But again, it might actually be related.

She could say what she wanted to say, she had the right, but she couldn't say it the way she wanted to or the way she should have, because she hadn't learned it.

Happy Independence Day

But Remember
Independence is pending


Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Sick Sad Indian Wedding

Typical Indian marriages are beautiful. They smell of henna, roses and marigolds. They are a glittery and shiny affair.  But behind the scenes, they are usually fishy.  While the wedding day is as glamorous as Bollywood, the story behind the wedding is a miniature model of the real sad and smelly streets of India. Explanation follows.

·         Arranged Marriage!!??
For two decades, our parents keep teaching us not to talk to strangers and one day we find out that we are married to one.  Arranged marriage is a weird concept that is still accepted and followed by a whole lot of people from all classes of Indian society. [Please note that we are not talking about its success or failure rate, only its strangeness].
This is the mini episode from the series “Indian parents are always right and their children are dumb”.  “Engineering, not fashion designing” and “Girls with Boyfriends are spoilt and wasted” are some other episodes from this series.

·         How old is She?
In rural India, girls are ready for marriage at 12. In towns, their families wait for them to turn 18 or else they might be jailed. In cities, they’ll start worrying about her marriage as soon as she is done with college.  Here is the irony. No matter what place and no matter what her age, a girl is never mature enough to decide what guy is right for her.  If she is 25 and unmarried, the neighbors will start getting panic attacks. If she manages to stay unmarried till 29, she’ll probably never get married.  
This is an episode from the series “Paraya Dhan: Girls are Born to Marry”.  “Amount of dowry is exponentially proportional to the girl’s age” is another episode from this series.

·         How old is He?
23 is no age for a man to get married. He has to build a career, become stable, self-sufficient, self-dependent and mature and capable enough to handle responsibilities, and that’s not until he is 27. Okay. So what if a girl and a boy went to college together, and fell in love with each other?  Simple! They’ll never get married to each other because the girl’s family will want her to marry at 25 but the boy’s family will not agree because he is still too young for marriage. [This is an excerpt from a real story]
This is an episode from the series “Naam Karega Roshan: Boys are Born a Boon” from which is another episode called “Amount of dowry is exponentially proportional to the guy’s salary package”.

·         Inter-caste? Make faces. Inter-religion? Faint.
The boy is tall, dark and handsome. He doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink and is medically fit. He is a banker and earns a reasonable salary.  But they can’t marry their girl to him because he is not from their caste. But why does it matter? Well, because the relatives, the cousins, the neighbors, the maid, the colleagues will ridicule it, talk about it and make faces, or even a more lame reason – “it has never ever happened in our family”-bla-bla-blah.
This is a ridiculous episode from the disgusting series “fake honour”. To this series belongs another sickening episodes “The Untouchables”.

These are a few points that I could recall at the moment and posted hastily because I was angry about it. But I'm sure a lot of Indians can add more to these. For people who think this doesn't happen anymore, consider yourself very lucky. And for those who have fought for their right to love and happiness, I completely admire and applaud you.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The womb inside a Heart

I carried you within me.

Your womb rested slightly higher in my body and I'm sorry that it was a bit noisier, and it's walls contracted and expanded with the rhythm of the noise. I knew you could feel the beats slow down when I relaxed and you could make out my anxiety when the walls moved in and out faster. I knew that you would be this close to my heart even after you exit the womb.

I ate, slept, smiled and laughed against my will to keep myself alive so that I could feed you with my love. People tried hard to convince me to abort the thought of you. Their jibes increased day by day but with each passing day, you grew.

I fed you with love, and you grew.

People called me crazy and predicted mis-fate for you but I didn't let any of that seep into you because a man cannot conceive a child, but a woman can earn, and 'fatherless' means nothing.

And so I fed you with love, and you grew.

As the taunts grew, you grew.
As my determination grew, you grew.
An image of you in my mind grew.
A smile on the face in my mind grew.

And when you had grown enough to face the world I live in, I had grown stronger to bear all pain to be inflicted upon me by the World.

When I first saw you, I recognized that smile which had been growing inside a womb within my heart. I recognized you and from that recognition, you were born.
You were fed with love, and from that love you were born.
When a child is born, a mother is born.
When you were delivered from obscurity, I was delivered from all pain.

And this is why, my child, nobody under the sun has any right to call you 'adopted'.