Jul 30, 2012

How to hit where it hurts !

Sometimes I feel that most men in this country consider eve teasing and leching at women as their constitutional right, especially since the Police or the law does nothing to prove them otherwise.

We have all had to deal with “lechers” who ogle at us as we walk down the street, men in buses who try to touch and grope and stand too close. Most of us ignore such incidents. This is our biggest mistake. Ignoring these men will just make them more confident. They need to be taught a lesson. I have lost count of the number of times I have stomped on a man’s foot in a crowded bus or poked him with a safety pin. Once a group of us even confronted the men who were ogling at us through the window of the café we were sitting in.

I also strongly feel that every girl needs to learn some self-defense tactics so that she knows how to defend herself if the need arises.

Last week, my company organized a session on self-defense for women. As much as I applaud this initiative by them a part of me is also very angry that in this godforsaken society of ours, the crime against women are on such a high that organizations are actually having sessions on how to protect yourself from a potential rapist!

I have listed some of the things that we were taught there. Some of you may already be aware of these points, or may want to add more points that you think are worth sharing. Please feel free to do so.

1. Pepper spray is one of the best defenses. It is 100 times stronger than your average chili powder and will debilitate a man for at least 10-15 minutes. Keep it handy where it can be reached for easily. For example instead of putting it inside your purse, put it in an outside pocket.

2. Safety pins come in very handy if someone is standing too close to you in a bus – try poking the man really hard with it. You can also hit him with your elbow or stomp on his feet with all your might – works very well especially if you are wearing heels!

3. There are many handy “weapons” in our handbags. We can use our keys and pens to poke the man in his eyes, credit cards to slash against the neck or arm, even a comb if used with a lot of force against the arm can tear skin and draw blood. Even better, take the comb and run it with a lot of force on the upper lip of the man – just under the nose – if done with enough force it can actually tear the lips and gums.

4. Keep a whistle in your purse that has a very piercing and sharp sound. In a danger situation, try blowing on the whistle. Works better than shouting for help.

5. Suppose you have been pushed down grab whatever comes in your hand – sand/mud and fling it in his face. Or try to grab a stone and hit him hard with it.

6. If you are alone in the lift with a man who looks shady to you, simply press all the buttons till the floor you want to go to. This way the lift will stop at every floor.

7. When travelling alone by an auto or taxi at night, call someone and give them the vehicle number and other details. This way the driver will know that someone has his details. Even if you can’t get hold of anyone on the phone, pretend to have a conversation with someone.

If your car is parked in a lonely spot, always take out your car keys before you leave the building to walk towards your car.Make sure you are not standing in a lonely spot rummaging in your purse for the keys. Same applies to house keys. 

We were also taught the various ways in which you can hit a man and debilitate him for the few precious seconds that you need to run. We also identified the various body parts you can cause injury to and how you should do it:

·With your fingers, poke him in the eye with as much force as you can. A finger straight in the eye is extremely painful.

· If the assaulter is facing you, try choking him. Don’t try to choke him by putting both your hands around his neck. That doesn’t work. Put your fingers near to where his tonsils are (on both sides of the wind pipe) and press hard.

· Punch him on the nose. Or even better try putting your fingers in his nostrils and push upwards with all your might (yuck I now, but it might give you those few seconds to run!)

·Grab his ears and pull with all your might. If if you are grabbed from behind under your arm pits – raise your hands and get hold of his ears – then pull downwards as hard as possible. A lady tried his and literally tore off the top of the ears of the assaulter.  

· Grab hold of his finger and pull backwards with all your strength till you hear a click sound. A Broken finger is extremely painful ! 

· Bite anywhere and bite hard enough to draw blood

· Punch the man hard in his stomach or hit with your knee.

· With your leg or knee, hit him between the legs – but divert his mind by hitting somewhere else first because if he moves even a bit you will end up hitting him on the thigh which will just make you lose your balance.

· Kick him hard in his shin, especially if you are wearing shoes.

· Take your foot behind his leg and hit him hard on the back of his knee or shin – he will just topple over.

· If he is behind you,hit him hard with your elbow. Try raising your elbow as high as you can so you manage to hit his face.

· If he has grabbed you from behind and pinned down your arms, raise your leg backwards and hit him hard between the legs or stomp on his foot, or bite on the arm holding you down till you draw blood.

Last but not the least don’t Panic. A cool mind helps you think rationally. It’s not always physical strength that matters. Most of the time it’s the presence of mind and courage that helps you save yourself.

Jul 27, 2012

Oprah and the Art of putting your Foot in the Mouth!

I used to almost like Oprah. I've never watched her show, but I was among the crowd that attended her session at the Jaipur Literary fest. Although I really couldn't understand the adulation even then, she did come across as someone sensible to me. Then last weekend I saw her show “Oprah’s New Chapter: India” On Discovery.

I was prepared to see poverty, the slums, the cows and the half-naked kids. That’s how we are usually portrayed in the west. What I was not prepared for was Oprah’s totally crass and insensitive attitude.

The show begins with Oprah paying a visit to where else but the slums.! Perhaps we should promote Dharavi as one of our tourist destinations! She visits a young family (A couple and their 3 daughters) living in a 10X10 room and after kissing and cuddling the kids and saying how honored she felt to visit them, she got down to business. While sitting with the family in their small room she kept emphasizing how this family of 5 was living in such a cramped space. And to make sure that the viewers don’t miss her point, she slid across the entire room to indicate just how tiny it was. Then she had the insensitivity to ask the young daughter if she was unhappy or if she ever felt cramped living here. More shocked exclamations and “Oh my Gods “followed when the girl promptly replied “No”. 

After spending about five minutes pontificating about the size of the room and repeatedly wondering aloud about how they manage to sleep and live here, she turns to the father and asks him if he was happy and satisfied with what he was doing for his family. After getting the poor man all teary eyed and riddled with guilt she then turned to the kids and remarked how difficult it must be to see ones father cry ! I am sure the kids who till that point were just excited to have a celebrity visit their home were left feeling ashamed of how they lived. How sensitive of you Oprah, to make a young impressionable child suddenly realize how much she is lacking in life! I hated the uncouth way she treated those decent people who so gracefully welcomed her in their home - For god’s sake this was a family and not some exhibits in a freak show! 

And in her myopic way she doggedly refused to see how all the girls went to school, spoke in perfect English to her and looked so very confident of themselves. That the house, however small was neat and clean,that there was a LCD TV on the wall and the parents deserved appreciation for what they were giving their girls and not pity or guilt trips.

I suppose she wanted to highlight the economic disparity in India because next she visited the Somanis, a rich family living in the posh part of Mumbai. The family welcomed her grandly and literally served her food in silver thalis. So what does our lady do? She sits down at the table and in that very condescending manner of hers remarks “I hear some people in India still eat with their hands”. Dear God! I expected a lot more cultural sensitivity here. Who sits down with a meal with their host and then nonchalantly pass comments on how they eat? Just stop playing the dumb, ignorant foreigner! This is just like sitting down to dinner with a Japanese family and remarking “So I hear people in japan still eat with two small pieces of wood?”

The least I expected from her was to do her homework. She should know everybody in this country – irrespective of their economic or social status eat with their hands. Or perhaps she was naïve enough to think that we of the land of snake charmers and elephants have never heard of cutlery?

During the meal she continued to enlighten the viewers about how every Indian family is a joint family and how the Mother in Law still rules and the daughter in Law still does her bidding.

Next, she took herself off to a Bollywood party where she cornered poor A R Rahman and instead of talking about his music proceeded to be amazed by the fact that he had an arranged marriage and still lived with his mother. Insufferable!

My problem is not so much that Oprah showed the side of India many of us don’t want the world to see. Yes, we do have our poverty, we do have horrible infrastructure and we do have our widows of Vrindavan. It would be ridiculous to bury our head in the sand like ostriches and cry foul every time someone criticizes us. What I do take umbrage to however, is her insensitivity, her gross ignorance and her insistence of portraying India in a skewed manner.

I agree that India is a land of dichotomy and in the caricatured image that the western media usually portrays of us, everybody is either wretchedly poor or unbelievably rich. But beyond the glaring poverty and the opulence, there is another India – An India of the rising urban middle class, An India of technological progress, An India of women Power – where despite the enormous gender issues that we still face our women are so much more empowered than their counterparts of even a generation back; an India that is fast on the track to becoming an economic superpower. I wonder why all this is never mentioned! 

But then as the undisputed queen of melodrama Oprah knows what gets the show’s ratings up and what doesn't!

Oprah is an extremely popular chat show host, and with popularity comes immense responsibility. She knew this show would be watched by millions across the world, and I expected a more balanced, sensible and unprejudiced approach from her. Instead her show was riddled with stereotypes and clichés, her manner patronizing and her research shoddy.

Sorry Oprah, but for the millions of Indians who actually liked you, you just fell off their pedestal with a loud thump !

Jul 25, 2012

Book Review:The Mad Tibetan - Stories from then and Now By Deepti Naval

I have been a great fan of Deepti Naval since her Miss Chamko days (Anybody who has seen chashme baddoor will know what I am talking about!). In my opinion, she is one the finest actors we have. It was at the Jaipur Literary Festival that I realized that she was an equally good writer. We attended a session in which she read out a chapter from her book “The Mad Tibetan – Stories from Now and Then” and I was instantly hooked. Apart from the fact that the storyline was captivating it was her very emotive and expressive reading that kept us riveted to our seats. Obviously I simply had to buy the book after that !

Deepti Naval is a recluse and guards her privacy fiercely. Unlike most of the celebrities at the festival, she shied away from being photographed and hardly interacted with people. Some of her reclusiveness and search for solitude is reflected in her stories. So is her love for nature and her very perceptive understanding of life.“The Mad Tibetan – Stories from Now and Then” is a superb collection of short stories that covers almost all aspects of human nature and relationships. Her choice of characters is unusual – loners, madmen, recluses, failures. Deepti nonchalantly accepts all quirks and peculiarities as a part of life as she digs deep into the human psyche to unearth and explore deep rooted emotions, feelings and insecurities. I have rarely seen such profound, accurate and stunning portrayal of human complexities. 

The stories cover a wide range of topics right from a tale of two young girls and their trauma as they face the ridicule of the whole town because they have to get their heads shaved, to and old piano tuner and his despair as he battles loneliness and poverty in his twilight years. 

A story that I really liked was “D”. Deepti recounts meeting an old friend whom she recognizes but whose name she is unable to remember. Her anguish at not being able to put a name to that face is almost palpable. The most riveting story is Thulli, where Deepti recounts her sojourn into Falkland road of Bombay in search of prostitutes so that she can study them for her role in a movie. It’s excellently written and moves you beyond words. But my favourite story is the Mad Tibetan - Perhaps because as someone who likes her solitude and also likes to travel I could relate to her desire to live in Ladakh that too in the winter when the landscape is desolate but very peaceful.

Deepti’s writing style is very distinct. I am tempted to describe it as austere and intense at the same time. Her very striking and poignant characterization as well as expressive descriptions of situation and place paint images that are astoundingly vivid and realistic and leave you with a very strong almost visual impact. 

Read "The Mad Tibetan" if you are fond of Deepti as an actor, read it even if your are not .. This book is not to be missed if you have a passion for words ! 

Deepti reading out from her book at the Jaipur Literary Festival

Jul 4, 2012

Bhoojo To Jaane ! - 2

Sand dunes and camel rides with Snow capped mountains in the background ! Now where in the world can this be :) 


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