Monday, 19 December 2016

Be nice to me, 2017

2016 has been a wild ride for a few reasons. I did a lot of things I said I would never do. I tried. You see, 'failing' is irrelevant. I realised life is a bitch and came to terms with the idea of 'letting go'. Now, I live my life peacefully. I had a break-up in January; had a plastic surgery on my foot following an accident in February -- Switched jobs in July -- lost friends eventually. But everything is for good.

Thought I could quickly write down what all I learnt in the mean time...

1. Family is important any day, and you can trust only them.
2. When you are taking 'important' decisions in your life, don't consult many. The more you talk to, the more confused you end up be. Listen to yourself. Trust your capabilities and gut-feeling.
3. Darling, not every battle is worth-winning. Some are not even worth-fighting for. Never get into anything half-assed.
4. Prioritise what you really want in life. Health is primary; job is secondary.
5. You aren't right about people all the time. The first impressions aren’t everything.
6. People will disappoint. They backbite. Life is tough. You gotta move on.
7. Learn to say 'NO'. Life becomes better.
8. You are responsible for your happiness. We all deserve to be happy.
9. Never hesitate to remove toxic people from your life.
10. When people tell you that they are too busy to see you, they really mean it. Go by their actions, not words.
11. Save money. Learn to be selfish. That's okay!
12. It's necessary to be independent. Like Socrates said, "Find yourself, think for yourself."
13. Whatever happens, life goes on.
14. Life doesn't go by your plans. Everything is temporary. We may end up choosing wrong careers, wrong partners. That's absolutely fine. Don't make excuses for people and things that want to leave.
15. Be patient. Good things happen to those who wait. We can't control time.
16. We ought to face our fears. Running away doesn't help.
17. No matter what happens, don't sulk. Get-up, dress-up, and show-up.
18. Never compromise on your sleep for someone.
19. Not everyone is who they say they are.
20. Respect yourself.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

'Stop creating a scene; it’s just a dog'

My family has been feeding stray dogs regularly since 2011. There are 20 dogs now, but earlier, the count was higher. Not all neighbours are happy with us…many see dogs as a nuisance and a ‘sanitation threat’.

Four months ago, I saw a Corporation van pick up three pregnant dogs. Three men dragged the pups after beating them up with a steel rod. One of them bled.

“I take care of these dogs, please set them free. They’re pregnant. Maybe, you can take them with you after they’ve delivered,” I told them. They refused and claimed that someone in our neighbourhood had complained about the dog-menace, and hence the visit. I tried to stop them but they asked for money.

“Where’s the license-tag? If you want them back, then pay `1,000 (per dog). If you don’t, then we cannot guarantee what will happen to them. We won’t leave them in the same place either. If they are that important to you, keep them in your bedroom. Stop creating a scene. They’re just dogs after all,” they said, and took them away.

I went to the Corporation office to meet the official concerned. I was told that he was busy with back-to-back meetings. Later, I was able to get hold of him over the phone, and explained the whole story to him. He said that while Corporation is responsible of catching the dogs, the rest — including operations like sterlisation and leaving them back on the same streets they were picked from — lies with the Blue Cross. “Sometimes, we do the sterilisations as well. That depends on the zone the animal belongs to,” he said. I interrupted the conversation and asked if the dogs had been killed. He said, “No”, and enquired about the date, time and where the dogs were taken away from. Unfortunately, I couldn’t give him the exact details as I had forgotten everything.

The official added, “Why didn’t you bring this to our attention immediately? We are trying to be kind to the street dogs and our men have stopped all the ‘catching and killing’. Did you tell them who you are — that you work for the press, etc? They would have not been rude.” Then, I contacted Dawn Williams of Blue Cross. Why are pregnant dogs on the streets taken away? He said, “Both male and female dogs can be sterilised, but not when a pregnant dog close to her due date. Ideally, these people should have explained to you why they are taking the dogs. Each dog (after they reach us), will be tagged and given numbers. After sterilisation, either we, or the Corporation leave the dog at the place we picked them up.”

Dawn explained how Blue Cross had persuaded the Corporation to neuter them and administer anti-rabies vaccines before discharging them. “The infected and diseased dogs were killed earlier, now it is not so. Corporation dog-catchers will not demand money to do their job, but the sub-contractors do…they come in the middle of the night. They shouldn’t do it, but it happens. In any case, Corporation isn’t the villain,” he clarified.

But isn’t it the job of the Corporation to monitor what’s going on? “I always tell people to bring proper evidence before they approach us with complaints. Photos or videos bring more clarity. When someone stops you from taking photos — that’s an offence. Legal action can be taken that case,” he insisted.

He has a word of advice to thise feeding stray dogs. “If you’re looking after dogs, attend to their medical needs too. People should interact with street dogs more. By doing that, dogs become more friendly and there are fewer chances of them biting us. Also, when someone familiar with dogs approaches them, they obey and it’s easier to get them vaccinated, instead of someone forcing it on them.” And what about the dogs that were taken away from my neighbourhood? Your guess is as good as mine!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Speaking up is the answer

Many women dream of a romance that will blossom from a glance in the street. But when it's not mutual, then this rom-com can slide into a horror film! It was funny in the first few days when he chased me down the street on a two-wheeler, as I rode to work from home. Initially, I never took him seriously. I thought he was some random jobless guy! It stopped being funny when it became a routine - which continued almost for three weeks.

The reality of being stalked by a man is a mixture of disturbed sleep, violent nightmares and isolation. I didn't want to approach the local police station because I thought this would somehow eventually stop. But it never did. Though many times my friends suggested that I tell this to my parents, I didn't want to trouble them. They are aging. So, I chose to remain silent.

He used to wait at the street-end everyday between 12.30 and 1 pm. That's when I regularly come to work. A few well-wishers suggested that I change my route. "Avoid your two-wheeler, come by an auto or a taxi. Don't let things aggravate. Your safety is important," they said.

Picturise this: The creepy-mindless stalker stops me everyday and softly describes how he finds my private body parts desirable. I know - that's weird. And that's what he did. He started following me and also tried to find out where I live.

"Hey. I am interested in you. Can we go on a date? You have a good physique. Why don't you respond, woman? How long you are going to make me wait," he said once. Though those words were disturbing, I didn't respond to him. I thought if I didn't talk back, he would not come again. My assumption went wrong (like always) and he kept doing the same.

A couple of days later - I guess it was a Sunday. The IT parks in and around were shut. By 11.30 am, the sun was blazing as I reached Guindy. Unfortunately, my two-wheeler had conked off. As there was no mechanic shop nearby, I decided that I push my vehicle and walked all the way to office.

I was praying to god that the guy shouldn't be there. But I saw him standing at the same place!

He came running to me and said, "May I help you?" and caught hold of my hands. "I love you," he then smiled. I didn't know how to react and I lost my cool totally. It was freaking me out.

I started backing off. It was almost like I owed it to him. I was terrified. I asked him to stop. I developed courage to confront him, finally.

"Are you civilised and educated? You are neatly dressed up; I think you must be working for some IT company! I know that I look attractive. But have you looked yourself into the mirror? You look disgusting. Absolutely. The next time I see you stalking me, I'll file a complaint with the police. Get it?" I shouted. All these days, I remained quiet, but I don't know what made me say all this that day.

"Women like the thrill of being chased, right?", he laughed.

"I know if I keep doing this, you'll somehow talk to me. But... I am sorry! You were quiet. So, I thought you were equally interested in me. Had you told me this the very first day, I would have stopped waiting or stalking you (however you name it)," he said.

Yes, you read it right and I was shocked by his explanation.

"You're sounding narcissistic and don't attempt to justify your behaviour. I feel like a nuisance. No means 'no'. It can never be 'yes'. When some women like me say 'no'. It f***ing means 'no'," I said.

You know what? I didn't see him from the next day.

And, the message here is that - women should speak up! Men are like predators, they hunt and when they know what they want, they go for it at all costs. From that day, I realised that I need to fight back and I have been telling this out to protect any other potential victim.