Monday, 30 November 2015

Life on the road!

UAE is celebrating 44 years of it's being on the National Day, 2nd December with decorations, lit up roads, buildings, bridges; events and a parade showcasing the various nationalities represented in the population.

The other day I was coming back from work and the car in front of me stopped abruptly, to drop off the passengers. I didn't know what to do hence moved to the wrong side of the narrow street but was blocked off by an open car door. I stopped and then saw another car from the opposite side come and stop right in front of me. I looked at the Arab driver and in response he threateningly inched his car closer with blazing head lights.

Needless to say I turned around to reverse to find another 4x4 waiting behind me. How the usually deserted street accumulated so much traffic in a minute, I had no idea. For the first time I felt tearful and homesick for polite Britain, where people wave and flash lights to thank you for waiting, never to intimidate or bully. Or that is just the experience I have had, others might have had a different experience.

Nobody waits in busy traffic junctions regardless of whether it is Britain, India, Bahrain or UAE but this was my quiet neighbourhood.....

To balance the story about my tears I now need to tell you another story. One month into our stay here I suddenly realised my son needed to exit and re enter the border to legally extend his stay in the country until his residency papers were processed. By the time I realised, I had reached the date of the deadline. Even though my hospital helped by ensuring I had a valid UAE driver's licence and gave me directions about how to get to the border post and the stamps that were needed in the passport, it was up to me to actually go and get it done.

I set off in my rented car with my son and decided to follow one of the staff who apparently used to travel everyday from Oman. Little did I realise that there wasn't just one border post in the city of Al Ain and border posts were different for Gulf Country Citizens and others.  Start, stop, start again, go back, questions, answers in broken Arabic and broken English, officials in uniform asking me to switch off my head lights every time I was asked to stop, others wanting to check the boot of the car, others asking for papers for the car and I tried finding this Omani border post supposedly 45 km away and failed miserably. I reached a turn where the road was deserted and dark and decided to turn back. Hubby dear was constantly on google maps at home which only showed the rugged topography of deserts and mountains, not the well lit new road I was on. He was on the phone constantly, making me worry about running out of battery, asking me to fill up on petrol and asking pointless questions which I had no answer to.

Finally I found a taxi driver fixing some promotional material on the road side. This was around 9.30 pm by now. I went up to him and told him that he needed to take me to the Omani border post. He reiterated that I should just follow the road and I can't miss it until I looked really distressed and said I had tried and failed.

He was a young man in his twenties, in the traditional white Arabic tunic and head gear. His English was limited as was my Arabic and after an exchange of "Hini, Mini" (this that), he walked to my car and reassured to find my son inside, said he would help me. He got into his car and I started following him but I realised he had parked the car and he came and sat beside me in my car, smelling of freshly sprayed traditional perfume and sweat. He then in sign language took permission to turn the rear view mirror towards himself and wiped his face, adjusted his head gear and then we set off.

We chatted and in between when I missed seeing a speed breaker and made the car jump or swerve, he would look worried and offer to drive. Hubby meanwhile was continuing to call my son to update himself on his crazy wife's exploits. This man then in a very understanding tone would gesture towards my son on the phone and say-"Baba?" I nodded and asked him if he had kids to which he replied he was not married.

He took me to the border post, got the pieces of paper needed for parking and leaving the border post and directed me back to near where he had parked his car. He gave me instructions about how to get back to Al Ain and got out of the car. I tried to pay him but realised I had no Omani Riyals but he firmly refused, smiled with a hand on his heart wished me well. All I could do was say thank you and wish well for his safety, health and well being from my heart.

Life is like that. Good people are everywhere. If it hadn't been for them I definitely would not survive!


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Amsterdam- cycles, canals and chefs

We took an overnight ferry called the Stena Line from Harwich, a port on the East coast of England to the Hook of Holland. The ticket was a rail-sail one. Hence the ticket price included rail fare from any station in East Anglia to Harwich and likewise from Hook of Holland to another city in Holland. The ferry is like a mini cruise, with restaurants, casinos, shops and even a cinema to keep you occupied. On one of the decks is a basket ball court, enclosed in a cage, lest the balls end up floating in the sea. I have never been on a proper cruise, I had taken a similar ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm on the Baltic Sea called Silja Line, which was a bit more posh or may be I was less posh back then.

Trains in the Netherlands seemed superior, there seemed to be a lot of them, a lot being double deckers and very fast. We reached Amsterdam around half ten in the morning and were told by the information desk that if we walk out of the station we would be able to see our Movenpick Hotel (yes of the ice cream fame.) Sure enough we did and were able to walk to the mutistoried building, check in, leave our luggage, pick up maps, have a Movenpick icecream and start walking again. The lady at the desk realised from my passport that it was my birthday and gave me some chocolates too, it was all very pleasant!

Next we got on to the hop on hop off canal cruise. Amsterdam is full of canals and bridges, which were dug and built in the 17th century to help with the sea trade. Today the canals are said to be three meters deep, according to our tour guide- one meter mud, one meter bicycles and one meter water. Yes, Amsterdam, true to how it was pictured in Aamir Khan's PK, is a city of bicycles. The cycle tracks or two wheeler tracks are as wide as the roads for cars, only thing the bikes ply in both directions. All bridges, railings etc have cycles locked on to them. People of all ages cycle around the city. The canal boats are supposedly run on natural gas thus making Amsterdam a very green city indeed. 

Our first stop was the Anne Frank house, which had a very very long queue and the temperatures reaching 26 degrees did not make it very inviting for us to wait hence we carried on to stop at a church, a market and a cafe which serves world famous Dutch apple pie with cream! I could not have imagined apple pie could taste so delicious, it looked like a cake in height and was crispy and crumbly making me wonder involuntarily about how rich in calories it must be. Monday Market days are busy days for the apple pie cafe hence they have a restricted menu. 

The hop on hop off canal cruise was a good way to see the touristy places near the museums. Amsterdam had recently hosted the Gay Pride, the slogan- I amsterdam in shape of a monument, was a place where young people were climbing on to pose for photographs.

In the evening I planned to take my teenage children to the famous red light district. Needless to say it was making me nervous but having experienced the shock when I first saw it, many years ago, I wanted them to see it. The red light district is in the old town, where the streets and canals are narrow and we encountered China Town and eateries of all kinds on the way. Lebanese, Chinese, Thai, Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican, Italian, American but we ate at a Malaysian restaurant. Wow, I had never had Malaysian food and I knew it would have Indian influence but since I am a great fan of Chinese food, I found Malaysian food has the best of both worlds. It was spicy, had a myriad of ingredients including fish, prawn and eggs in my fried rice but the taste, they do know how to cook. My daughter had noodles with a chicken dish and my son had lamb seekh kebabs with satay sauce. All of us felt it was one of the best meals we had had. 

While we were walking to the red light district, my nervousness was making me mutter to my kids that we did not want to stay for long at all, we will get there and back and that is it etc etc. My dear daughter armed with her map was trying to get us there and suddenly we saw the windows and I said- Right we are going back! My son who had been quiet all this while, was really irritated and said- "I haven't seen anything yet!" I reassured him he would and we then walked into the busy street with lit up windows with women in underwear, sex shops and thronging crowds of people on both sides of the canal. 

Next day our target was to queue up for the Anne Frank's House. We reached there to find the queue was already 3 hours long. I stood while the kids went to find breakfast first and then  a follow on hot chocolate. It had been cloudy since the morning contrary to the scorching 26 degrees the previous day, but it soon began to rain. People went and bought umbrellas while I hoped it would stop but it only got worse and worse, until I called the kids to come fetch money and find an umbrella. So we have a souvenir from Amsterdam, one of those I love Amsterdam umbrellas!

 It was a strange feeling to see people queuing up for hours to go into the house where Anne Frank lived in hiding when she wrote her diary. The fate of the sixteen year old in the gas chambers of the concentration camp should serve as a reminder to us today. Looking at the crowd of people in the queue, we were from all over the world and I think in our hearts we all know and fear that this injustice is happening today too to a sixteen year old in some part of the world, but we hope and pray it will never happen again to so many people and of the magnitude it did, all those years ago. 

Today I read in the news that it has been 70 years since the bomb which killed 140,000 people was dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. 

Visit to the Anne Frank House is an emotional experience with quotes from her diary, her photographs, videos of her dad and sister and a friend who saw her before she was killed at the camp. They talk about her life as a normal sixteen year old who wanted to decorate the wall of her room with posters of celebrities. There are actual documents on display from Otto Frank's Jam making business, photographs of the people who brought them food and gifts, model of the furnished version of the annexe where members of three families lived. One comes out humbled and teary eyed.

Trip to Amsterdam was interesting with shopping for dry clothes, looking for the famous Dutch pancake and kids getting on to  a tram without me or any money. This happened because of my mistaken belief that tickets were only given out by the driver at the front of the tram. This is obviously not the case, but in the process of my trying to get to the front, the tram left without me. Thank God for mobile phones!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Human Watch- Hats and Hijabs

I happened to spend nearly two hours outside London Dungeons waiting for my kids, just next to the London Eye, which is situated on the banks of Thames; overlooking the Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in Westminister.

Watching crowds of tourists from literally all around the world was a refreshing and enjoyable experience.

There were the big footed Americans with their twangy accents, the quiet little Chinese and Japanese, the tall, pale Russians and Eastern Europeans, the loud, dark eyed Spanish and Italians, stately Arabs and of course lots of Indians, amongst the other South East Asians. There were shorts, mini skirts, figure sculpting leggings, flowing abayas, saris, hats and hijabs!

There was an elderly Indian mother dressed in her best for the London experience in what looked like gold brocade Kanjeevaram sari; being helped along, in her waddling gait, (probably from osteo arthiritis in her knees), by a young man (son, possibly). There was an Oriental looking couple too, the lady in bridal finery and man in a three piece suit with flashes of red satin in his outfit. They looked like they were either coming from their wedding or were models for a photo shoot. The lady had gathered up the trail of her delicate fabric and lace gown and was carrying it nonchalantly in her right arm while she joined the crowd in her now clearly visible stilettos.

Most people were in T shirts, which were fun to read too- "Yes, I am a Unicorn", "Keep calm and take a selfie" "Love is....I wouldn't know, I am still falling", Another big woman had a large cat in patchwork stitched on the front of her top which just said HAPPINESS. There were quite a few brands like Jack Wills claiming to be "Fabulously British", though the company has come under a lot of scrutiny over what was fabulously British about their manufacturing units abroad.

There were lots of young people holding up selfie sticks, which seemed a bit dangerous in the crowd, jostling along neck to neck. Since I was near the landmarks I witnessed a lot of people taking selfies. One self conscious huge man was struggling to fit himself in with Big Ben but walked away before I could muster up courage to offer to take his photograph.

There was a group of middle aged American couples who were taking turns to take photographs of each other with Big Ben. On one of these photo shoots, one of the ladies watching, spotted that even though in the photograph the man looked like he had an innocent arm around his partner, in actual fact he was pinching her bottom, while she smiled to the camera. They laughed and joked boisterously as they moved on. Clearly, the photos were not going to tell the whole story even though they would have caught the spirit and they would be reminded of the memory every time they looked at the photos.

Food was in short supply as we soon discovered after queuing up for road side noodles, only to be told it was all gone. McDonald's looked like they were giving away burgers for free. McDonald's has been doing more to connect with the world than all the American embassies put together, I think. All parents of kids who are fussy eaters will agree with me. Writing off Greek debt or the Iran nuclear deal would not get consensus from world over but if we rounded up kids from all parts of the world and asked for consensus on what lunch should be, offering McDonald's would clinch the deal!

Talking of kids, we saw lots and lots of them. Little people in school uniforms usually with fluorescent little aprons, holding hands, again very diverse groups with all regions of the world represented looking at their souvenirs from the London Aquarium, while being pulled along in a queue. The little ones were from London itself but there were older school children too, usually speaking in European languages, moving together in groups and queuing up for attractions.

The excitement was palpable in all except the people in suits! They were just going to work or having client meetings and looking miserable while trying to look smart.

I was held up by the energy being generated from a very heterogenous, dynamic, moving, changing crowd of happy faces visiting London.....

My achievement that afternoon, which kept me buoyed up and smiling; was getting a baby to look at the camera, when I clicked a photo of a couple with a little son.
Long Live London!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

It is not easy to forgive!

What makes me feel better when I am feeling rotten? A glass of wine, I hear you all say.

 Yes, most of us will try to distract ourselves by spending hours on a screen, by going on a binge or by taking off for some retail therapy. Some of us will call a friend and rant about all that went wrong during the day or worse still, we will make ourselves feel good by off loading our venomous opinion about the person or situation, we believe responsible for our agitated state of mind.

It seems it doesn't matter. Rationalizing and trying to summon logic to tell ourselves that this ranting and raving is not helping our blood pressure or for that matter our coronaries, usually has very little effect on how we feel.

To understand why logical reasoning doesn't help at such times we need to know about the four layers of our personality, as described in the self help text I have been reading.

Our innermost core is the pure, unadulterated shining light within us, a consciousness which is present in each of us, which remains unchanged and does not need anybody or anything to be pure and happy. Believe me, that is what our true nature is. How we have become the venom spouting person drowning our woes in wine, is what we will soon find out.

Sadly our inner core is covered by a cloud of ignorance, which doesn't allow us to be in touch with our true nature. This unconscious layer (which according to Hindu philosophy carries over from past births) is really the delusion (maya), which when shattered would allow us to recognize our true selves. This layer contains our vices and negative tendencies. I am guessing this is where we start believing in the multiple identities assigned to us, the numerous parts we play on the world stage, which like Shakespeare implied, is after all an illusion. The attachment to the letters in front of my name, the ego attached to being a twosome, the disproportionate swelling of chest on a child's success...

Over this unconscious layer is the sub conscious layer, our mind, intellect, memory and ego. This is the layer which carries our fears, our insecurities, the anger, the pride, the sadness but also has immense power to transform our lives. This is the layer being referred to in Joseph Murphy's "The Power of the Subconscious mind". Our subconscious, as has been explained in the book, works on "Faith". It is faith in the healers which heals, just as the placebo effect of similar coloured pills devoid of any active ingredients, does too. Without faith, healing of mental and physical ailments becomes more difficult. We know we learn a subject much better if we like and respect the teacher, have faith in his or her competence. Hypnotism is known to work on this layer of our personality to rid us of old hurts and deep scars. Faith has been known to transform lives.

Finally what we tangibly are able to experience in ourselves and others is the outermost conscious layer. This is what interacts with the outside world. Hence this layer allows us to change our behaviour by logical thinking. Even if you want to throw something at your boss, you smile and say "Yes, Sure". The anger remains at the subconscious level and if it remains unprocessed it can give rise to mental and physical ill health. 

This is what is wrong with today's world. It deals with the immediate and the tangible. We attend numerous communication skills and risk management workshops where we are taught about what to say and how to say it, the words, the mannerisms, the legal loopholes etc etc. Everything is right and logical but if it is entrenched in an environment of mistrust, vested interest and competition, it is unlikely to succeed in bringing about the transformation we desire. Unless our subconscious is in tune with our actions, unless we feel the compassion we are being asked to portray, our words will not have the effect we desire. We could also be asked to do things which are in conflict with our values, beliefs and convictions. We could be rejecting the ways of the world in our heads while being asked to function in it.

Holding on to a hurt or anger or non acceptance of people and situations can manifest in many ways. It may make us want to pull somebody down like crabs in a bucket tend to do to each other or may make us feel we are superior to the rest of the world or may make us generally unhappy about where we are in our lives.

On the other hand, being able to forgive people and situations makes us stop progressing in our negative thoughts and intents of comparing ourselves to others while realizing we are mere spectators of the drama of life unfolding before us and that instantly makes us peaceful and tranquil. We tend to sleep better, it helps unlock our potential and creativity. It allows us to work on ourselves and makes us endeavour to get in touch with our true selves.

But to be able to accept people, situations and to be able to forgive and forget, it is the subconscious layer of our personality, we need to work on. Forgiveness is not an action or emotion, it is something deeper. All of us remember being told to shake hands with a friend or sibling we had a stinking row with. We remember too how angry, unforgiving and indignant we felt. We shook hands but that action did nothing until we actually forgot all about it the next day. 

Forgiveness is a state of being, when I don't react. I respond, I respond without any anger, hatred or malice.  Sometimes we keep away from a person or situation in response, at other times we do what needs to be done. This may be perceived as an action against the person we are trying to forgive but the action is taken on principle of doing the right thing for the future or for the organisation but not as a personal vendetta against that person. Something like a punishment meted out to a child by the mother for wrong doing. The punishment is never to cause pain but is mother's conviction that it is the best thing for the child. 

Let go of the hurt and feel free!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

My Alma mater- Lady Hardinge Medical College!

Lady Hardinge Medical College is celebrating 100 years of existence.  Year end is also our 25th year reunion. Such events tend to evoke nostalgia and good old college spirit!

I have fond memories of being a medical student in an all girls college, situated in Connaught Place, in the heart of New Delhi.

Ragging was harmless fun. All girls college meant we felt safe and secure and there was a laid back comfort level with the seniors. I was caught, so to say in the canteen by a boisterous good natured senior who usually had a gang trailing after her. There were a few of us who were asked to alternate between being Bikram and Betal, therefore carrying each other on piggy back or becoming the flag who the other had to hoist by climbing tables and chairs on tables or become a singing group or start swimming on the floor. It was all in good fun with loads of laughter and ending in friendship. I thought that was the point of ragging, to get to know each other. It did not have any obscenity or undermining. One of the seniors did ask me to copy a whole notebook of notes but I managed to get out of it.

I learnt to swim in the Lady Hardinge pool. That was an experience too. Feeling horrendously self conscious in a swimming costume and running to jump into the pool when the all pervading restraining self conscious feeling strangely vanished into the rippling cool water, exactly as predicted by veterans at the sport. The pool was frequented by other staff and needless to say there were young men in toned torsos to be ogled at. This was a privilege not available to the short sighted girls who wore glasses outside the pool. Alas, they couldn't be part of our heated discussions about the blue trunks who so and so banged into...One could then see them making amends by waiting to go into the pool near twilight and sneakily putting on their spectacles to steal a look!

There were some age old traditions of Lady Hardinge Medical College. One of them was the Staff Social when the faculty went up on stage to entertain the students. It was a laughter riot usually with Male professors in shorts and the usually sari clad female professors in skirts or dresses. There was usually a modern Ramayana or some such mythological  epic when Lakshman would be looking in the mike or under the carpet for Sita.

Another tradition was bunking the first term exams on the commencement of the so called "honey moon year" the third year. The year after we said bye bye to the torturous volumes of anatomy and the year when we started visiting the wards. We, as a giggling group of aspiring doctors had to be taught ward and clinic etiquette often. We were taught not to gasp at the sight of an unsightly scar, not to screw up our noses at vomit and blood, we were taught to look and behave like doctors. But those days patients would still be subjected to a group scrutiny, with or without consent, of their bodies and ailments. Young men suffering from lumps and bumps in the private areas were threatened with no treatment to get them to disrobe in front of a group of suppressed giggles, which sometimes resulted in embarrassing and unwanted reactions from the men's organs. Patients however were very helpful in exams when some experienced ones would tell you the diagnosis and the findings like heart murmurs, which I still can't figure out for myself. But thanks to technological advancement, one is not required to do.

Our batch saw the auditorium come up and we, as third years organised our first festival, Splash! LH, LH,LH! That you can guess was the refrain used during festivals, to cheer our teams on. It used to be customary for the crowd to ask to have an audience with the prettiest girl in the fashion show, at the end. On one such occasion the tall long legged beauty from LHMC was asked by the anchor- "If a gunda (rogue) was coming towards you and on one side was a guy from Maulana Azad and another side a guy from University College of Medical Sciences, who would you turn to?"

The girl said- "I will run to the gunda"

I am still not sure who we preferred. MAMC being the top choice at the Delhi Pre Medical Test Entrance, we always found them a bit full of themselves while UCMS were the nice guys, the ones who staged leftist street plays and gave us a lot of "bhav" (attention), or may be that was just my opinion!

Auditorium steps were witness to rock shows, late night dances and meets during Splash and was the general meeting place all around the year at all times for friends and batchmates. The white marble was witness to many a Adam teasing which involuntarily was a sport all of us tended to engage in. My lasting memory is of dozens of girls basking in the sun on the auditorium steps on any normal day and one male PG (doctors pursuing post graduation- that was not restricted to girls only) trying to cross the road opposite the auditorium steps to go to the canteen or another department.

He would have his head down as he was conscious of the fact that all these girls would be watching him, which they would. It must have been because they were in such scarce numbers as compared to us or for whatever reason they attracted a lot of attention. So there would be groups of jean clad girls hanging out with arms around each other's shoulders debating the origin of the rare species- "Is he in Ophthalmology?" "No I think he is ENT." "He is always hanging out with so and so" "Who are you talking about?" "Not bad looking, is he?" "Looks like a Tam Brahm" "Yes he came through All India PG" and so on the conversation would flow until everyone had looked up from their book or food and turned around to identify this poor PG who was glad he had reached the end of the road.

I loved being in Lady Hardinge, gave me the confidence of a martyr when dealing with DTC bus hooligans, when bargaining in Palika Bazar or when the nine of us cornered the tour operator in Nainital to arrange a taxi for us because the bus had broken down. Our cohesiveness though was soon ripped apart by the Senior resident, who was listening to our tale of food poisoning to explain our absence. "You forget that we have done it all before you" he told a miserable looking group of us faced with the threat of having to repeat our internship even though we had not utilised our leave.

Life was good in spite of the relentless spate of tests, demonstrations, vivas and examinations. Bag of bones next to our seat helped us keep perverts at bay in the DTC bus. Groups of us in white coats trying to get back to Hardinge from Ram Manohar Lohia or Wellington hospital would be helped by DTC bus conductors asking people to make way for the doctors and also by private cars who we dared to thumb a ride in.

Internship also saw us in rural posting at Najafgarh centre, full of roaming peacocks at the time. Bushy tailed mums trailed by chicks and preening cocks with long flowing tails. The bus rides were fun with stoppages for sugarcane to be chewed on the way back or for lemonade drinks but the stay was the most adventurous as we were left to our devices until we could convince the medical officer to attend a call out of hours, which rarely happened.

We turned out ok or so I would like to believe! Thanks to our Alma Mater.

Now the meeting place instead of auditorium steps is Whattsapp, where we find out what is cooking in each other's lives while we wait for the daal to cook!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

My blog, my mind, my choice

We are the privileged lot. Earlier we used to argue to solve the problems of the world, in dimly lit drawing rooms with coffee, tea or a glass of wine and now we talk on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp etc etc....

There is a lot being said about "my body, my mind, my choice". I wonder if celebrities who survive and thrive on how they and their bodies look, who go around insuring their legs for obscene amounts of money and who are constantly walking the tight rope of what they are comfortable with versus what the "role demands" are really in a position to have a choice. Choice to not care what the media will say if they turned up at an event without make up or without perfect shoes (Aishwarya Rai is still seen giving explanations for why she wore flats at Cannes).

My idea of an empowered woman is Savitri. I met her in Dhanbad, she used to work as a cleaner at my mother's nursing home. She was young and very attractive. She had a smooth dark complexion, wavy black hair which was braided while a fringe teased her forehead. She wore mummy's old saris and invariably mummy would wonder how come the old worn out sari seems to look so much better on her. She wore some silver jewellery on her ears, toes and ankles but her smile, her perfect teeth, her large kohl lined eyes, the flower she always sported on her hair and her seductive gait were her real accessories.

She had two children and mummy used to attend to the younger one's nutritional needs while monitoring her growth, because she was malnourished. With a glass of milk everyday, she seemed to be catching up with milestones quickly. Needless to say both the daughters were always impeccably turned out too, in clean clothes, well oiled hair, flowers and slippers.

The story was that Savitri lived alone with her two daughters. Everybody was aware that Savitri had a number of male admirers, who would make enquiries about her shifts at the nursing home but Savitri was never too excited about anybody in particular and was quite clear in her head, She had been married to a man who never provided for her or her children and whatever little she earned, he spent on alcohol. When she tried to save the money from him, he resorted to wife beating, Quite a familiar scenario but Savitri made her choice. She walked out on him and refused let any man try to control her.

She was happy. She worked hard and learned as she provided for her family. She progressed from being a cleaner to a support worker for the trained nurses. That is the last I heard as she went to work for another nursing home. I hope she is doing well. I wonder if she found anybody worth his salt to settle down with, someone who would treat her daughters well. She should have been on that video saying- "My body, my mind, my choice" and all the bull shit about premarital and extra marital sex as if that in itself  is in some magical way supposed to liberate us all so that we float above the rest of the world as the world looks at us in awe and says- "Wow she is having illicit sex"

Laws were made to empower women. Laws which make men guilty unless proved otherwise have been a deterrant. One nurse was jokingly threatened by her husband's brother, who said "Maroonga mai tumhe" (I will hit you) and she told him in no uncertain terms that today he had voiced the intent for violence and that she was going to let it go but tomorrow if he was to repeat this indiscretion he would land up in jail. This is not unjustified when I think of my doctor friend whose mother in law used to constantly emotionally and verbally abuse her while relating to her instances within family, friends and neighbourhood about husbands who beat their wives if they didn't tow the line. Thankfully the husband, also a doctor, found no incredible reason to give in to his mother's demands and decided to live separately from her.

But then the same laws landed a husband in jail when the wife, a known patient with mental health illness for more than ten years, on medication for depression, committed suicide.

Sadly empowerment and freedom are loaded words. Nothing is black and white or easy, there are umpteen shades of grey in society in every country, in every religion, in every class.

 If it was OK for your daughter to indulge in premarital sex and your husband to indulge in extramarital sex and for your son to experiment being bisexual, I guess nobody really would have the time, inclination or energy to worry about what you are upto and society would be one big happy family, don't you think?

Women should accept that they are superior beings, the ones who give birth and nurture. If a mother can read and write it impacts the kids positively, if she smokes weed, that too impacts the kids and sadly it impacts the society much more than if a man (Savitri's husband in this case) decided to be an alcoholic!

Yes it is our choice, but with the freedom of choice comes responsibility. Yes others' rules should not apply to us but we have to make ourselves capable to be able to live at our own terms. Malala and Kailash Satyarthi are showing the way to empowerment, through education. Not by fancy movie clips starring celebrities opening bra straps!