Girl to Girl

In honour of the International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October 2016, I have had a series of blog posts celebrating my kind. 

Celebrating her. Post #5 of 5

I think it is rather befitting that this year, the International Day of the Girl Child (today), shares its spot with the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Dussehra signifies victory of good over evil. The goddess Durga is said to have triumphed over the demon Mahishasur after ten grueling days. The Sanskrit word stem- “दशहरा ” or Dashahara means removal of 10 sins/bad qualities.

You needn’t be a rocket scientist to figure out its relevance to the International Day of the Girl Child. So rather than point out the obvious, I’m going to make this last post one of celebration.

And of gratitude.

And of inspiration.

Here goes. These references are not fictional and are based entirely on the ten girls I want to send a shout-out to today. You know who you are.

(PS- there are dozens of women that I hold dear to me but couldn’t include here. You know who you are. Please know I love you)

Lessons learnt/memories made, courtesy these power-packed, passion-driven girl children:

  1. “Have a good cry when you need one. It’s not a shame. But then pick yourself up and do what you have to do. Life does and must go on.” The girl with silver hair and a beautiful smile.
  2. “What’s life if it isn’t adventurous? The biggest risk is really taking no risk at all.” Snippets from a good sport who was kind enough to let me smash a bouquet in her face. In case you’re wondering, it was for luck. And oh boy is she getting lucky- experiencing exotic music and exotic countries and all things nice.
  3. From sneaking a vodka-filled hip flask under a bride’s wedding dress in case her nerves failed, to going on the maddest road trips together; this Chica has made me laugh until my muscles begged to stop. Her pearl of wisdom, “Mischief keeps you alive. And oh yes, when in doubt, EAT!”
  4. It doesn’t matter how many times that blessed Basketball hits your head like a gong or that Sari comes undone right in the middle of a difficult dance sequence. You have to plod on. Patience and Perseverance, and soon success is your game.
  5. Life throws lemons, but sometimes it also throws boulders. Even when all appears hopeless, there’s still light at the end of the tunnel. She survived a catastrophe that took away her whole family. Yet she has laughter in her heart, a spring in her step and an ever ready  hand to help.
  6. Sometimes the people you think are crazy turn out to be the kindest ones. I couldn’t stand this wild child when we first met. Today, more than 15 years later we are thick as thieves. Her kind of crazy may not always be my kind, but her kindness overshadows it all.
  7. Skinned knees and bruised bums, we went on many a sport rampage together. She was my hero on the Basketball court and my gangster fix when my broken heart needed some toughening up. This creative genius leads by example.
  8. Continents separate us now. Being the rebels we are, we chose partners outside acceptable social norms and flew away on the wings of our dreams. No matter how long it is since you’ve met a dear friend, it always feels like yesterday. Joined at the heart and the hypothetical hip, nothing trivial like distance or time can separate us.
  9. Sometimes all that you need is a good old, deep, rumbling belly laugh. To your hearts content and your neighbour’s dismay. This cheerful lass has the most contagious laughter I know. In seconds you find yourself a helpless mess of giggling, snorting chuckling fits if she turns on her ha-ha switch.
  10. It could be Yoga on a boat or running for a cause, this bright spirit is never short of projects to improve the world we live in. She’s shown me that no matter how small your effort, you can always make a difference.

Happy Dusshera dear readers and happy Celebrating Her!

PS- In case you forget what Dusshera and the 11th of October stand for, Diwali follows 20 days later. This festival of light celebrates the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair, light over darkness and in essence good over evil. Happy Diwali in anticipation!

Love and light to every girl child. Celebrate her!

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Knock knock.. Ballerina?

In honour of the International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October 2016, I will have a series of blog posts celebrating my kind.

Celebrating her. Post #4 of 5

The closest I came to being a prima ballerina, after much cajoling from my parents and teacher, was in the shiny garb of a grumpy Queen of Sheeba. 

My 4 feet tall, 6 year old royal self pirouetted through the solo and basked in the awe of a cheering audience. It helped that they were mostly parents of us tiny dancing damsels. Thanks to my new-found pout, a feathered gold tutu and the prettiest shoes I’d ever known I was suddenly a Diva.

The two years I spent learning ballet were magical. My friends and I discovered we could bring exotic creatures to life- little Bo-Peep, the Flower Fairy, an Egyptian Fan Dancer and even the famous Swans at the great Wedding.

Our teacher Filu was a star in my eyes- an epitome of beauty, musicality and grace.

Ballet soon took a backseat as I roared to glory on the Basketball court, played the violin until my cat fled screaming and took to climbing my neighbor’s trees and roofs.

More than 2 decades later as I reflect on who I am (definitely not a prima ballerina), I silently thank my ballet phase for all it taught me.
Teacher Filu introduced me to the nuances of elegance and I dare say even passed some on.

Whenever I find myself slumped over, bogged down by life, I often hear her soft voice- “Tummies in, tails in, shoulders down and back. And smile!”

Suddenly I don’t only look better, I feel better. 


A simple posture fix from my childhood finds its place in my adult-dom. I’m grateful for all the happy memories attached.

I now make it a point to look for opportunities where I can make a difference in a child’s life, knowing so many made a difference in mine.

Have you made your mark already?

Teacher Filu sure did hers in style- channeling the inner ballerina in so many little ones. And of course, passing this gem on. Go ahead, try it yourself- “Tummies in, tails in, shoulders down and back. And smile!”

Wait, let me guess. Your inner ballerina just woke up. 😉


It’s her life

In honour of the upcoming International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October 2016, I will have a series of blog posts celebrating my kind.

Celebrating her. Post #3 of 5

Whether she chooses the life of a nimble ballerina or a Harley-riding badass, it’s her right and our duty to let that life come to life. To dream. To love. To achieve. To be.

It’s her choice. Not yours.

STOP FEMALE FOETICIDE!

Viking at heart

In honour of the upcoming International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October 2016, I will have a series of blog posts celebrating my kind.

Celebrating her. Post #2 of 5

I raise my hypothetical hat to all the women that have stayed true to their inner voices, followed their dreams and fought for what they believe in.

When a woman so desires, she has the courage of a lion and the heart of a viking!

Palmira, at age 40 was flung into the role of mother, father, confidant and photographer. She was suddenly the only one to bring home the bacon. 7 young ones (from 6 months to 17 years) were fatherless overnight and she had to step up. She put aside her grieving heart and took to the lens- in the 1960s when a woman was far from welcome in what was then an almost exclusive men’s world. Irrespective of how little she had, there was always enough for a hungry stranger or a cousin in need. More than 40 years later, Palmira finally bade farewell to a teary family and a lifetime of good deeds. She left behind a legacy of love and photography.

Sara (name changed) a senior Syrian anesthesiologist had had enough back home. She took the toughest decision of her life and left behind a husband and two young ones. The refugee route was a sure shot goodbye to security, family and peace. Yet, the end of the road promised a far brighter future. Out set Sara on foot, by boat, by road and 4 months later, she entered Germany. The passion this doctor puts into her work is unbelievable. However, she admits that even in her most peaceful moments her mind is a raging beast, torn between two worlds. Sara must ace the difficult medical exams in German, land a job and only then can she hope to finally reunite the broken pieces of her heart.

Veena (name changed)  went through a horrifying marriage and domestic abuse. A woman of many talents, she studied law, taught in a school and opened her own beauty parlour. Life deserved to be pretty- inside and out. She used her creativity to finance a project for destitute women.  Through Veena, rape and abuse victims get justice, rehabilitation and a new chance at a better life. Today her organization has grown and helped thousands of troubled women. After a second marriage went sour, Veena didn’t lose heart. She found peace in her work.  Collecting shells at the beach and taking long drives in her car always did her wonders. At 71, she is a whirlwind of energy and looks not a day over 50.

Despite all they went through, I am sure these women had the power to simply put their feet up at the end of the day and say, “I am a warrior and I believe in me.”

Their secret? Rumi knew it centuries ago, “Wherever you are and whatever you do, be in love.”

I am honoured to be Veena’s friend, Sara’s german class colleague and Palmira’s granddaughter.

#sheisprecious #internationaldayofthegirlchild

 

RAZIA

In honour of the upcoming International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October 2016, I will have a series of blog posts celebrating my kind.

Celebrating her. Post #1 of 5

Little Razia bares her shiny teeth and her eyes gleam in the harsh sunlit shed she calls home. Chocolate brown skin shimmers as she prances about tossing that head of silky hair to the mercies of the afternoon wind. A picture is being snapped of her sister and Razia rushes in to share the frame and attention of a curious stranger.

Their innocent smiles send daggers into my heart. Of joy and of fear. Joy for the natural liveliness and beauty they radiate and fear for what might wipe away that gullible innocence.

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(Pic credit: Lyanne Fernandes)

For starters I’m grateful they are alive. Plenty of female babies do not see the light of day. Plenty translates into over a million unborn female children being aborted in India every year.

The girl child is often one that is forced upon the downtrodden path. Whether infant or adult, her potential is nipped in the bud way before she can test her wings and fly.

A lady might find herself trapped in the cruel fangs of a male-dominated society. When and if she finally breaks free, she’s scared, scarred or worse; dead.

The National Crime Records Bureau in India puts forth chilling statistics.

Here’s the top 5 atrocities against women in India:

  1. Cruelty by husband/relatives
  2. Molestation
  3. Abduction
  4. Rape
  5. Dowry death

A 2010 study in New Delhi showed that 66% of women experienced and reported sexual harassment between 2-5 times in the past year.

A 2013 statistic reports an average of 92 rape cases a day. That’s 4 every hour.

One crime against women is reported every two minutes.

Crimes in India are grossly underreported. Need I say more?

Maybe these figures strike a personal chord with you or maybe they don’t.  But why wait until we’re burnt to educate ourselves about safety?

No matter how big or small, we each have a role to play in ensuring that the girl child, born or uborn, 7 or 70, – in India and the world over, gets the love and respect that is rightfully hers. She deserves a fair shot at life.

Let’s do our bit to spread awareness, stay vigilant and work for a safe world, where little Razia can dream big, run free and evolve into the person she wants to be.

#sheisprecious #internationaldayofthegirlchild