Thursday, June 20, 2013

Poisoned Souls inside the Smoky Screens

Swapnil's family was adamant*

And the list doesn't end here...Go to and simply search for "Dowry Deaths in India" and you'll get an endless list of such gruesome cases-even more than the total number of grooms you'll find at all the matrimonial sites!

And for me, it’s not just the newspaper articles which make me feel sad about the mindset of the people. When I was in Class 3,there was one classmate of mine, a newly enrolled girl, who used to come to school with red swollen eyes daily. This continued for days together! One day, unable to see her pain, I went to her and asked "Any problem? Do you need any kind of help? ".It was quite clear from her state that she had nobody to share her grief with. So she let out all her sorrows and woes in front of me describing what all she was going through those days. She revealed to me that her mom and the rest of her grandpa's family was accused of burning her aunt alive due to some dowry related issues and they were all locked up in the Sabarmati Jail,Ahmedabad.As a third grade kid, all that I could understand at that moment were the words "Burn" and "Jail ".That day, I returned home and questioned my mom to what this "dowry" meant. She just briefed me saying it was gifts that girls take to the boy’s family when she gets married. Gifts to me, then, were just the Dairy-milks and the Five-stars. I counter attacked my mom saying "I won’t take anything when I get married. The boy whom I shall marry will give me gifts instead!”.And now, 13 years later, my arguments have grown even stronger (and a bit logical too!).But the sad thing is that, that during those difficult days, I failed to understand that girl's agony. I couldn't be of any help to her. I wonder how brave she would have been then to learn of what her mom had done and about this cheap mentality of the Indian society.

More than a decade,and a transformation to a mature young girl from an innocent kid ,only to notice the same events happening around me even today. Reminding me of that classmate, her agony, her mom and her traumatized childhood. It’s not just Shobhana, Sanju or Anuradha about whom you read (and quite often ignore if they don't happen to be even your distant relative!) about daily in the newspapers. It could be you, your daughter or your own sister facing this tomorrow. I question today, as to why is it that a girl’s family starts assembling gold and ornaments from the day she is born. Why is it that a daughter's mom not enjoy her money wearing gold accessories but rather prefers saving the money as FD's in the banks? Why is it that a daughter's daddy considers driving his scooter his luck and gifting his son-in-law a Ford his dream? Why it that the marriage cost starts bothering him long before even the wedding date is fixed?

The kind of toys may differ...
But doesn't a daughter’s dad spend more or less the same as a son's dad on the toyshop bills?
The food habits may differ...
But doesn't a daughter’s dad spend more or less the same as a son's dad on the grocery bills?
The school may be different...
But doesn't a daughter's dad spend more or less the same as a son's dad on the school fee?
The book's authors may differ...
But doesn't a daughter’s dad spend more or less the same as a son's dad on the tuition fee?
The college may be different...
But doesn't a daughter’s dad spend more or less the same as a son's dad on the college fee?

So, why when it comes to marriage, the society gets greedy? Why is it that the entire responsibility of the marriage fall upon a girl's family? Why do you expect her to bring with her, riches, instead of welcoming wisdom and knowledge?
When her father spends an equal amount on her as your father throughout his life, why should he send his daughter loaded with gold and wealth to your family?

"Where's my dowry?"
"Right here Mister!!!"
When I and my sissy were kids, of the age when this dowry thing had started getting into our heads, we had made an agreement that, in future, whenever we are on our way towards finding a groom, one thing would be well in advance decided.First,No Dowry or No Marriage and second, we had decided that the marriage proposal would advance to its next stage only if the to-be-groom agrees to stay with his in-laws for half-a-year and for the next six months we would go to stay with our in-laws. And I still believe that this could be done!?Not a bad idea daughters, is it? When a guy's parents can boast of having a son to look after them in the later stage of their life, why shouldn't our dads?

It’s the time, girl’s fathers, that you feel proud of being a daughter's dad!

For all the women out there,who consider themselves to be subordinate to men and believe that dowry leads to a happier life:

This post is written with an intention to support the IndiBlogger's RING THE BELL campaign.

For more details about the campaign and to make your promise to act to end the violence against women,visit .

Also visit the facebook page of Youth Against Dowry (YAD),an initiative by a team of Youngsters from Mangalore and Udupi,  to protest and agitate against dowry.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Being a South-Indian

FS: I was born in Bangalore and was a toddler when we had shifted to Gujarat, India.

Two years back, I remember, how excited I was! It was an end to the oily-haired-pony life and the long assembles in the morning. An end to the heavy bags at the back and an end to the routine of ironing the school uniform each day. I was about to dwell into an entire new chapter of life. A phase illusioned into my mind as being the most wonderful years of my life...Most happening moments and befriending some people who would be my lifelong treasures.
The morning of July 24, 2011 was, I admit, the most uneasy morning of my life. Just one high school friend of mine who was joining the same university as mine! I put on a cream colored cross bag ,my favorite pair of jeans with a red collared-neck tee and my branded floaters. I still remember the number of hours I spent in front of the mirror just to look like a college going gal! All in all I couldn't get rid of the butterflies in my stomach!

I entered a huge classroom, which looked no different from the teaching rooms of school, but it had no particular rows reserved  for boys and girls as it used to be even in the high school.I,with my high school friend, occupied the fifth from the last seat. Next to us was a guy, who, I assume, would not have spent an hour less than me in front of the mirror. The friend and he went through a formal introduction with me sitting beside her, preparing the answers, as each question was fired upon her. Then came my turn.

"Your name?"
"Pooja...Pooja Karadgi."
"Right.But its gi and not ji"
"You're from Saurashtra?"
"No..I'm from Bangalore,Karnataka"
"Eh! South Indian! Ayyo Amma! Idli-Dosa! (smirks)"

I felt like whacking him hard on his face but somehow controlled my emotions being the day,the first of my dream life.

I don’t know why people give me such reactions when they come to know that I'm a South Indian. Not just me, many of my south Indian friends have experienced this. And I bet,you would be so proud of your general knowledge after reading this--When I say, I am from Bangalore, they so confidently ask me

"Toh to tujhe Telugu aata hi hoga bolna"
And I'm like "Wow!"

Then starts a series of lecture making them realize that the entire South India is divided into four states each having their own mother tongues..blah..blah!

What’s more?!

Recently I joined a driving school. My experience of studying different hair types says that my hair can be regarded as wavy. On the 7th day, while waiting in the traffic jam, I received a call from momma. I picked up and began speaking in my native language while,at the same time,observing the instructor stare at me as if I was using some slang! I disconnected the phone halfway just to know what wrong I had done again, only to get fired with another question

"Tum South Indian ho?"
I proudly said "Yess!"
Reply came " Par south Indian ke to curly-curly baal hotey hai na!"

And I nodded thinking how would it be like if all the South Indians inherited ditto genes.

Adding to this chapter of South Indian vs. West Indians, we had a South Indian Economics faculty in the recently concluded sem. First thing about economics is I still wonder why they have such a course in the engineering studies. To append to it were his uncountable "Ayyo Amma”‘s in a peculiar pitch. Each time he said these two words, almost the entire class used to stare and smile at me as if I was the one to discover this accent.
JFYI: I am the only South Indian in my class.

 "Pooja..Tu bhi bolke dikha na..Please"
I was like "Whaht?Mujhe nahi aata!"
And naturally, being brought up in Gujarat, I don’t get that accent!

And then it all ends up with my police-ki-dhamki! :D