April 24, 2013

The typecasting syndrome

Instance 1 
A little boy cries because a certain thing does not go his way. 
"Don't cry. Are you a girl to cry?", snubs the parent.

Instance 2 
Another little boy whines for some reason. 
"Don't whine. Only girls whine", chides the parent.

Instance3
An innocent lad plays an innocent game of "dress-up" or is playing with a kitchen set
"Don't play like this. Only girls play this game."

Instance 4
A small boy falls down while playing, is hurt and is crying.
"Stop crying now. Be brave and strong. You are a boy."

Yes, the crying had to be stopped. But the more important lesson to be taught is that, that it is OK when sometimes things don't go your way and life has to be taken in its stride. Unfortunately the only lesson learnt is-boys cannot/should not cry and that the expression, rather than the reason, is wrong.

Yes, whining is not a pleasant way to react to a particular situation. The boy had to be taught that one cannot keep complaining about a certain situation and that it is up to us to turn any situation to our advantage instead of looking at the negative side of it. However the lesson learnt was that girls generally behave in a disapproving manner.

Little kids like to play dress-up as it gives them an opportunity to explore and experiment. It is not important or necessary to give them an insight of worldly perception right then. The understanding or perception that the kitchen belongs to girls/women is injected so subtly yet effectively at this tender age that when these boys become husbands, it is no surprise to see them continue to hold the thought.

To cry when you are hurt physically and mentally is a way of expression. There is no harm in shedding tears if you are going to feel better at the end of it. Be it when you are 3 or 30. It is a natural reflex and it gives relief.  When you deny someone the right to express in a particular manner, there is every likelihood of the emotion getting manifested in a different level and perhaps unpleasant manner.

Girls have as much right to lessons of courage and bravery as boys. Masculinity and femininity have nothing to do with the gender. Yin-yang, male-female, X and Y are just attributes that are applicable to any living being. No one person can live a balanced and fulfilled life with just one set of emotions functioning. Being sensitive, kind and compassionate does not make a man effeminate. In fact, it makes him much more humane.

Maybe if we could stop typecasting our children and be more sensitive to what we say, we can perhaps raise a generation that is far more sensitive towards the other gender, less violent in thoughts and action, and more considerate and compassionate to the others' feelings. A new world of goodness in the future-however distant it might seem today-might perhaps be a possibility and reality. Can we hope and try?

April 16, 2013

Person or procedure- who takes precedence?

I wanted to surrender an insurance policy taken years ago. I took it on a whim as soon as I began my first job and never really understood the benefits, if at all. Over the years, especially after changing cities, it became a pain to service it as the online payment rarely worked. To add to it, I no longer have a steady flow of income, so it didn't really make sense maintaining the policy. So, I decided to surrender it. Simple enough, right? Wrong! When you buy something, you don't need to move a finger, just work them enough to dole out the required cash and lo, behold, the world is placed at your feet. But when you want to get rid of the product, you are made to feel miserable in many ways.

Firstly, I realized that I had misplaced the policy bond. My fault. Totally, I agree. But, the procedure to get a duplicate one is like sentencing a person to life imprisonment and then hanging him at the end of it. That's not all. When you go to the office, you realize that complimentary punishments like a name correction, signature change and address correction are involved too. Producing the correct proofs is no cake walk either. Even after complying with all the necessary and unnecessary documentation, attestation and copies of various proofs, I hit a roadblock because the name on proof D does not match my current name. This, despite giving multiple proofs of documents bearing my current name. Proof D was simply given as an ID proof.

So, you have proof A, with current name and address, proof B to corroborate the name change and Proof C to corroborate address change, proof D is simply an ID proof but unfortunately the ID proof contains old name. Any one with good eyesight and plain logic will have no issues validating that the person on all the documents is the same. But, not our geniuses, who have developed the rigid procedures. It is like saying, "I know you are alive but the computer shows you are dead, so I have to believe that you are dead!" Finally, I was let off with a self-declaration letter that stated the obvious.

And, know what, I was under the wrong impression that recent bank transaction meant anywhere between last three months. I was wrong here too. Recent meant as recent as the current month. Only, because I cannot produce a government bill like the gas or electricity bill under my name, in which case, any time period is acceptable. Tell me, when scores of working professionals keep changing cities every two years, most live in rented apartments, where the heck will we get an government authorized proof of the address?

What gets my goat is that despite such multiple (and redundant) layers of locks, unscrupulous activities flourish and only the honest get more and more enmeshed in the quick sand of red tapism. I am assuming, all the documents are in place and there are no more surprises in store. I hope to find the money in my account shortly. Fingers crossed until then.

ETA: I got my refund and quite quickly too. Thought this needs a special mention since I crib so much, the good part gets marginalized many times.

April 11, 2013

That special relationship called friendship!

In school and college, I always yearned to have a big group of friends, bonding over small and big things and in general painting the town red. That never happened. I was a shy and introverted girl and this seemed more like a fantasy. I was naive and short of perspective to package friendship into certain brackets. Sharing the same bench in school and college was not the only factor that went into this complex, but beautiful relationship.

What I also didn't know was that, I would develop a thick bond of friendship with a bunch of people from different family backgrounds, each from a different educational institute, who'd later go on to choose  different career paths, get married at different points and go on to live in different states and countries, yet having the one and only common thread between us, that of friendship remaining intact, despite all these differences.

We 'd hang out in the evenings after our respective college hours, go out for movies, party hard on special occasions, have frequent sleep overs, gossiping all through the night, the likes ; the typical  stuff teenage and the adrenalin of independence brings along. All of us did have a good head over our shoulders too. We all belonged to different interests and stream of education, yet we shared the common bond of having the same values and outlook towards life. Life took each one of us to task in its own way and at different points of our lives. We were extremely lucky to have one or the other among the gang to provide the proverbial shoulder to lean on while going through a low phase in life.

Life has been more than kind to let this friendship grow even after we got married and had kids. The icing on the cake has been having three of us coming to reside in the same city after many years, to discover the husbands getting along well and our kids (being of the same age) becoming default friends too! As is the rule of life, this ideal situation is soon going to change since one of us is about to relocate abroad for a while now. The time seemed apt to have a reunion of sorts when our fourth friend who stays at Bombay decided to pay us a visit, for who knows, when the planets would align like this again in future!

So, last weekend was such a time when all of us got together. It was so much fun catching up. It seemed like the time had never passed by. Of course, we now had kids to remind us of how much things had changed. Yet, nothing had changed between us.  We are like the spokes of a wheel: diverging in different directions with different aspirations and goals, yet we converge at the central point that is our trademark of being friends together.

April 4, 2013

CSAAM 2013

Dear Friends,

As you are all aware, through the month of April we talk about the menace of CSA across social media, via Facebook, twitter and blogs. We count on your support and participation as always.
Partnering us in our efforts this year will be organisations working in this field like Arpan, Tulir, Human Rights Watch as well as online initiatives like Blogadda and Womens Web.
You will see personal testimonials, expert advice, twitter chats, information sources, resources, workshops, an iPhone app and lots and lots of blog posts across the blogosphere.
We need to get people talking about this elephant in the room. If you would like to post on your blogs, do send us a tentative date, so we can schedule your post in. If you would like to participate in a twitterthon, do let us know. Even forwarding this email to anyone you think might be interested in participating and contributing would be welcome.
If you would like to add to the discussion or know somebody else who would, please note that we welcome entries
• mailed to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com OR
• posted as FB notes and linked to Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Page OR
• posted on your own blog with the badge and linked to the main blog OR
• linked or posted on Twitter tagged twitter.com/CSAAwareness OR
• Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will of course be honoured.
• You can also support us simply by adding our the logo of the initiative to your blog’s sidebar. Grab the code below to do so http://csaawarenessmonth.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/batch-code-txt-2013.docx
• Please remember to send in a mail with all necessary links or just your input to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com so that we can track your contribution and make sure that it is not inadvertently lost or something.
Some guidelines
1) Please precede the title of your post with CSAAM April 2013. Then add a hyphen and your title.
2) Please insert the badge html in your post. If you carry it on your sidebar for the entire month of April too apart from just within your post, we would be honoured.
3) If you refer to sources for information kindly italicise that part of your post which is taken from the source and provide the link to the original source in a bracket.
4) And finally please avoid graphic descriptions of the abuse. Stay as factual as possible if you’re doing first person accounts.
We need all your help to make this month a success, and are counting on your support.
We look forward to hearing from you.


Warm regards,
CSAAM team