Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…


Ek shaam abhi kaam per hi the,
Ke achaanak TV se maloom huwa,
Adhi raat12 baje Corona ke chalte,
Poora desh lockdown ho jayega
Pher sab kuch such mein ruk bhi gaya.
Kya factories ki anthek masheenein,
Kya dukanon ke khuley shutter
Kya chalti rail aur buson ke engine
Kya malik ki vinamr sahanubhooti
Sabhi kuch per hii taala per gaya.

Buss khuley the tou peit ki bhook,
Gaaon se aati ma ke phone ki ghanti,
Aur us phone se nikalti Ma ki pukaar,
“Beta jaldi ghar aa ja, jaise bhi ho ghar aa ja.
Kab tak bhooka rahega,
kab tak footpath per soyega,
Wahan kaun hai tera?
Shehr ki pakke makaan
aur pakki sarak ki tarah,
Wahan log bhi pather ke hain.

Yahan gaon ki pagdandi ki urti mitti,
kuwein ka ghattaa thanda paani,
Ghar ka purana bikherta chapper,
Choolhey per pakti bajre ki khichri,
Sab ke sab jaise bhi hain,apne hain.
Aur pher mayn bhi tou huun yahan.

“Wahan Corona huwa tou kya hoga?
Bhagwan na kare,
hospital mein lawaris number ban ker<
barafkhane mein jama diye jaaogey.
Na koi royega na chhaati peetega.

“Nahin nahin,
jaise bhi ho gaaon chale aao.
Yaad nahin,
kitne sookhe, kitni baarhein,
Kitne bukhar, kitna jullab,
Jhel chukey hain mil jul ker.
Corona ko bhi dekh lengey.
Aur marna hi likha hai ager,
Yahan, apni mitti tou milegi.”

Bois Locker Room


Where did the little boys learn from?

Trending fire against #boyslockerroom has been blazing on Instagram and Twitter since 2 days, shocking many on how boys as young as 16-18 years were sharing pictures of underage girls and dissecting their anatomy in a group.
I am no underage girl, and I am not surprised at 55 yrs of age. Is this not what we have all known since our childhood that #BoysWillBeBoys– reinforced not just by our fathers, uncles, brothers, male friends but by even mothers, grandmothers and aunts? So what is there to be shocked about?
Have we not seen lewd images of private anatomy drawn or etched on public or train washroom walls, or tree trunks in playgrounds with names of the artists bravely signed at the bottom?
If you have studied in a co-ed school from junior, middle to senior grades you know how boys of your grade have been noticing and talking among themselves about your emerging signs of puberty and exactly when started to wear a bra. Some even could guess by your walk in school.uniform if you were having periods.
Yes we girls knew it too that we were being discussed..It was so normalized that we were told by our parents that the onus was entirely on us to ensure our own safety because “boys will be boys”.
Did you not hear an uncle joking openly in a party of how his young secretary has better measurements than your auntie? Or something similar? Or how he ordered a tall blonde from Starbucks with a twinkle in his eyes. This is exactly where the little boys got the clue to objectify and make sexual jokes on little girls.
If at all anything that has changed now is that this shit called ‘boys will be boys’ has gone digital and could be captured with screenshots as a proof. Rest it has been the same conversation over generations.
And thanks to #MeToo movement, there has been a significant disruption in the normalization of such patriarchal norms.
Victimblaming, gaslighting or retaliatory responses with #girlslockerroom screenshots are an age old tactics to divert the conversation. There are no binaries to “boys will be boys”. Kudos to young girls mustering courage to stand up. Yes it’s time now for “girls to be Empowered GIRLS, so that boys won’t be boys. No more.
#girlempowerment #patriarchy #misogyny#boyswillbeboys #nomore.

Original post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_9UYwNgxOd/


Here is a story:

Sonia and Vicky( names not real) are both a working couple.
Sonia works as a school teacher. Vicky works in a hotel as a floor manager. He loves socializing with friends and spent at least 3-4 evenings with his friends drinking. Freuently, he comes home drunk, and it just takes him a silly excuse to either hurl abuses or sometimes even physically hit Sonia. Kids are scared of him when drunk. Sonia tries to avoid too. But often questions herself: “Why did I say this or do this to enrage him?”
She has mentioned this to her Mom and her reply was, “Havent you seen your father? How he behaves when drunk?”
She tries her best to not trigger Vicky, but she unfortunately always fails.
Then came Corona. Soon it was declared a pandemic and all countries started to lock down.
Within 2 weeks Vicky was laid off. He was depressed, not just because he had lost his job but also because he could not drink with his friends.
Sonia was asked by school to work remotely and she had to spend extra hours learning the art of digital lessons. Her two kids, 5 and 9 were also home, as the schools were closed. Sonia helped them navigate the digital lessons and homeworks too. Ofcourse cooking, cleaning, washing were part of her responsibilities too.
One day Vicky woke up at 12 Noon with loud laughter from the kids room.
“Why are the kids screaming? Sonia? I cant even sleep?”
Sonia was busy on the dining table with her laptop and preparing lessons for her next class.
“Sonia, why cant you listen? Why cant you mind the kids?” screamed Vicky from the room.
Sonia: “I am working for my lesson. They are on a break after 2 hours of work.”
V
icky: “But I am heaving a headache.”
Sonia: “Yes, I understand. But please bear with it. I will tell the kids to not be too noisy. “
Vicky: “Make me a cup of tea.” ( shouts from the room).
Sonia: “Okay. Just 5 minutes. I am about to finish the work. Just relax.”
In 15 minutes, she makes the cup of tea and takes for Vicky in the bedroom.
Vicky: “Is this your 5 minutes?
Sonia: “I was just finishing the school lesson. I have been up since 7:30 AM. But did not have a minute to spare.”
Vicky: “You want to prove that you that your work is more imprtant than me? Just because I dont have a job? “
Sonia keeps quiet and goes back to the kitchen as she now has to cook for the lunch, during her 1 hour school lunch break.
Vicky( shouts from inside): “What is this? How much sugar have you put in the tea? “
Sonia: “Oh, maybe I put it twice. Sorry, I was just absent minded.”
Vicky: “You are a useless woman. Its like a cold sherbet. I needed a good cup of hot tea for my headache.
Sonia: “You drank a lot late in the night. This is a hangover from that?”
Vicky gets enraged, and slaps Sonia: “How dare you taunt me? You will now question my drinking? Bitch !”

In the evening Sonia tells her husband that she has to go out for groceries.
He shouts again, “So you now want to stroll outside and bring home infection for me and kids?”
Sonia: “So who will get the groceries? Will you go?
Vicky slaps her and shouts: “Shut up you bitch ! You want me to go out and die?”
Now Vicky’s triggers leading to abuses and slappings have become more frequent. Sonia does not know how to change this? She cannot even go to her mother’s home for a respite, and nor can she speak to her or anyone of her friends because of Vicky being around all the time during lockdown.

Sonia has a question for you all: Am I at fault for all of Vicky’s triggers? Do I have to live like this all my life or is there anything that can change my life ?

This is a story not from one country, one community or one faith group. This is the story from all across the globe.

A self explanatory picture of DV during COVID-19 by Nirjhar Som.

Gender based violence aka Domestic violence or violence against women has been a pandemic ever since the human life began. In each crisis or natural disaster it has been a best evidence that there occurs a spike in GBV. So has it happened in #COVID19 crisis.
From Japan to China to Phillipines to India to pakistan to Turkey to France to UK to US to Canada there are reports of increase domestic violence during lockdown.
Public authorities insist people to ‘Stay home, stay safe’.
However home is not safe for many victims of abuse and they are in more vulnerable and exposed to violence during social distancing and lockdown.

Please do leave your answers to the above question in the comments below.
The intent of these stories is to initiate conversation on domestic violence and create a better awareness on this global pandemic.

Thank you !!!


The novel coronavirus is a respiratory virus first reported in December, 2019. The illness has since spread around the globe, and the World Health Organization has characterized it as a pandemic. The disease caused by the virus is called COVID-19. Since there is no treatment and vaccine available yet, the best way to prevent COVID19 infection are:

1. Proper hand-washing. The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and before and after caring for a sick friend or a family member.
2. Practice social distancing: Keep a 6 ft distance between each other.
3. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.
4. Stay home when the govt implements lockdown and do not organize parties or gathering at home.
5. If you are returning from abroad, self quarantine for 14 days. It is a difficult time for all of us. We will get through this safely together if we follow the precautions.

Thank you !

Ammi’s Pandaan


I have many pleasant memories of this pandaan from my childhood.
Papa used to eat pan and this pandaan was a functional part of our house.
However it had a different look then. It had a silver qalai(coat) on all the pieces of this beauty, as it sat on the outermost edge of the kitchen slab. Fresh crispy pans that Ammi bought regularly from her trips to Jama Masjid area, wrapped in wet cloth were placed on the top tray. A sarauta (beetlenut cutter), missing here also shared the space on the tray along with pans.
The containers under the tray all had their specific contents:
The two mini handias with the flat spoons were for Choona (white) and katha (brown) pastes. The tiny spoons were applicators for their contents on the pan. I even remember how Ammi bought dry solid katha and then cooked it with water to melt it, which finally was transferred in the little handiya.
The two big canisters housed- chhaliya(betelnut)- one as full rounded nuts and the other cut into small pieces by the sarauta. The third canister contained saunf(anise). The thin canister in the middle contained tobacco leaves.
Each time papa wanted a pan, either ammi or sometimes Papa himself followed the process of ‘making a pan’ applying the contents in the following order- choona, katha, chaliya and tambaku- and finally the whole pan was folded into a conical form called gilori.
Interestingly the only person who ate pan was papa. Ammi made them several times in a day, but I never saw her eating herself. We kids also never seemed interested in trying one.
When I was in high school, papa decided to give up tobacco. He just left it cold turkey. Pandaan still remained functional. But some years down the road he realized pan was unhealthy and he must cut down if not stop it altogether. So the pandaan was wrapped up and he chose to get a single pan in a day from the panwala.
This pandaan from 1930s that came to our household in Ammi’s jahez(dowry) in 1964 was carefully packed in a plastic bag and kept on the topmost shelf in the kitchen.
With tarnished and dull look, the pandaan rested on the shelf for about 25 years. Out of sight is out of mind and we all forgot about its existence.
About 15 years, as my siblings renovated the kitchen, this pandaan again came down on the kitchen slab. I happened to visit them during that period, and the sight of an ugly big ‘thing’ brought back the memories of its heydays.
Seeing my interest in it, I was chosen to be the next owner of this treasure by my siblings and Ammi saying, “You treasure such things.”

I brought it with me and it became a part of our desi decor in Makkah. As we moved from there it was dumped in a carton for almost a decade. Periodically I looked around for a trusted person who would repair it, refurbish it and can bring out it’s original copper instead of the silver enamel.

Today, on the last day of 2019, the person who agreed to follow my instructions, and did this job chose to come himself with the finished form and proudly present it to us, tell us how precious this piece is, and most importantly to inform us how much personal efforts he has put in to bring this pandaan to a new life.
The sight of this sparkling gem not just made my day, but also made me feel accomplished in life. 😀
I hope the next decade also brings such wonderful outcomes and happiness for us and for you all.
Happy 2020 folks !


Born, raised and educated in India, I learned how live secular values and co-exist with people of all faiths, race and cultures not just in India, but abroad. My political scientist parents told us that as we will grow up, whatever religious prejudices that exist will be gone.
Alas that was not meant to be !
Previous two decades( which began with anti-muslim riots in 1992 post Babri Masjid fall), we have seen all my parents’ prophesies and confidence in Indian secularism regress from confidence, to doubt, to fear and to a shattered dream today.
Citizenship Ammendment Act is a testimony that the gagging of Indian secularism is deliberate by design, not by default.
However, the incredible Indian student uprising against CAA, that began with 3 girls in Jamia Millia, and has now spread like wild fire across the globe is not a surprise to me. This is the only way you can respond when you feel your secular existence being strangled by fascists. I know Indians of all faiths who breathe secularism and will fight back till their last breath.

This is my India I was born, raised and educated in….so proud of my cousins, friends and all compatriots who are fighting oppression from the frontlines against CAA & NRA.


For the naive, who may need to educate themselves of the serious discriminatory intent that has been deliberately inserted in the Act and why are decent Indians outraging against it, can browse through these brilliant infographics for a quick understanding:

The poster below touched me the most. Perhaps this is a great lesson for people of all faiths, on how too shoo off the bigotry and divisive hatred of their own religious rightwingers.

I am a Hindu, not an a**h*le

The emotions are high and the willpower is unshakable.
Hear these powerful couplets by Rahat Indori which eloquently convey the indomitable resolve and anger of every secular Indian.

Agar khilaaf hain hone do jaan thodi hai,
Ye sab dhuwan hai koi aasman thodi hai,

(If they are against us, let them be, its not our life,
Its all a smokescreen, they are not open skies).

Lagegi aag to aayenge ghar kayi zaddd mein,
Yaha pe sirf hamara makaan thodi hai,

(If the fire errupts many houses will be engulfed,
There is not just our house in the vicinity here)

Main janta hoon ki dushman bhi kam nahi lekin,
Hamaari tarah hatheli pe jaan thodi hai,

(I know the enemies are no less adament,
But are they living on the edge like us? )

Hamaare munh se jo nikle wahi sadaqat hai,
Hamare munh mein tumhaari zubaan thodi hai,

{What comes out of our mouth is the truth,
Our mouths dont have your tongues(that lie)}

Jo aaj sahib-e-masnad hai kal nahi honge,
Kiraaye daar hain zaati makaan thodi hai,

(Those who are in power today, will not be tommorrow,
They are mere tenents here, they are not landlords)
.

Sabhi ka khoon hai shamil yahan ki mitti mein,
Kisi ke baap ka HINDOSTAN thori hai !!!

(Every Indian’s blood and sweat is mixed in this soil,
No one (community/faith) is the sole proprieter of Hindostan).

For Manila with Love


“Hello Ma’am your seat is 47E. Not good. Can I give you an aisle or a window seat at a better location?”
Me: “Oh that would be so kind of you for going extra mile even though I had booked online and this is the seat I could book last minute.”
Him: “Maam here is 17A. Window and front seat with extra leg space.”
Me: “You guys are amazing. I loved every day of my stay here.”

As I check out at immigration after a 45 day stay in Manila, this favour without even asking for one makes me overwhelmed with gratitude and would love to pay tribute to Phillipines and its lovely, hospitable people aloud on social media.

Right from the moment my husband and I landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport at Manila till exit today, and from immigration officers to taxi drivers to house nannies to senior executives in MNCs to doctors to nurses to porters to managers to ordinary street vendors to jeepney drivers to tricycle drivers to kids playing on streets Phillipinos are an epitome of politeness, etiquettes and culture. Please, thank you, sorry, are spoken with as fluency as our desis hurl gaalis.

It’s not that their lives are easy or comfortable but they have the exemplary patience to stay calm and sane, without honking horns or getting jittery in hours of traffic jams.
Most Philipinos are extremely sincere, hardworking and professional in their work.
Another huge quality in mostly all Philipinos I met is humility. They are also wonderful at enjoying their life the most with whatever is available to them.

Talking to a CEO of a company in a party she asked me how i found Manila.
I replied, “It is very similar to Delhi in terms of rich poor divide, high density population and horrid traffic, but Manila and Philipinos are way ahead in cleanliness. I did not see any litter even in poor localities.”
The lady smiled with pride and replied, “Yes that is true. We feel shame in littering. But let me tell you it was not like this 35 years ago. Manila was dirty. I remember in my youth there was a huge campaign against littering all over from city govt to schools. It took us almost 20 years to get here.”

Another interesting fact I learned about Philipines is that it was a matriarchal society before it was colonized by Spain and patriarchy was imposed. However, it is still known as a country of strong women. Two of past Presidents have been women. Even though still under colonial patriarchal influence to a great extent, one third of businesses are owned and run by women.

Below are some of the scenes from the old district of Quiapo in Manila which houses the largest and oldest Quiapo Church and the largest mosque Golden Mosque and a huge vegetable market in between.

I am extremely thankful to my daughter Fatima Fasih and her husband Abdullah because of whom we could visit Manila and learn so much more about these wonderful people.
I know Phillipines is not a common choice for tourism, but if one gets a chance please do visit to see their level of exceptional humility, politeness and hospitality.
I know I am going to come again to explore less metropolitan areas especially Mindanao and other islands in coming years.
Thank you Metro Manila for a wonderful experience !


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