Voice of the Valley


I am Srinagar
A misspelled word
Not once, time n again
Used abused and misused
Like never before.
They came, they saw and they conquered me
On their own wishes
And own style.
Not even once
I could say what I wanted to.
My voice was curtailed
With bullets or landmines and now the palet guns,
I don’t know who is a militant or army or who has what, AK 47 or 56
I took them all
In my chest.
Every bullet fired since decades
I have only seen blood, hatred.
I am little tired now
Not for the bullets but for the battles, I am fighting within me.

 

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Early morning fishing at Dal lake.

 

I am just stand-still
Amidst the simplicity
The beauty of nature
The curvy roads and wooden glass houses
The Jhelum and Dal,
I am Srinagar, I am alive.
Ask me, what I want
Ask me, the solution of your problems.
Ask me, what you do not know.
Ask me, before you take a stand about me.
I am a silent monk
Preaching peace, but nobody cares
I am Srinagar and i m struggling
Between life and death
Between love n hatred
Between stones n bullets
Between misfortune and mistakes
Yes, I am alive, like you all.

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I am not a symbol of Indo-Pak tension.
I am the valley of affection.
The nature at its perfection,
I am just like your favorite music
You listen to it once
Again, once again, then again
I am the messenger of peace
With much love to spread across the hearts,
I am the silent strings of a broken guitar
Been failing to be tuned in.
My wishes are in shambles.
I m scared of losing myself
In the crowd of political jargons
Amidst the laws that hold me tight
Even tighter.
I am unable to breathe.
Losing my confidence
To fight back to all adversities
And judgemental eyes
Quite unsure about the future
Rather I must say next day,
I am Srinagar, alive
Just alive without the Life
I am Srinagar, alive
Just alive, with a mere hope
Peace prevails everywhere.
Peace prevails everywhere.

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Happily…

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A Date With Dutee


The weather was cloudy but I wasn’t waiting for the rains. I was inside the huge open air corridor of Hyderabad’s Pulela Gopichand Badminton Academy, excited to meet the fastest woman of India, sprint queen Dutee Chand. The rains poured and my heart thundered in my ears as I saw her entering the academy compound. My ‘date’ with Dutee was about to begin…

As I saw her approaching towards me, I also noticed the shopping bags in her hand. Last minute shopping before Rio, I presumed. The academy was teeming with badminton trainees, all of whom had an air of sophistication around them. But Dutee dressed in black colour track pants, a blue T-shirt and a red coloured sleeper, somehow stood out for her simplicity. She looked at me and smiled, and her smile reached her eyes too.

13872989_1239242566088568_1459280868547896011_nI realised I was feeling hungry but seeing her made me forget about food as I suddenly developed this appetite for a candid interview of sorts. But thankfully for me, Dutee had not taken her lunch either. Just as we shook hands and were about to make our lunch plan, a phone call came. And, so she handed me over the keys of her scooter as she took the call. I got the cue and we headed for some good food since the lunch time at the academy canteen was over long time back.

Although she was over phone, she could easily guide me to the destination. Exactly a ride of 1300 metres on the Hyderabad Mumbai Highway, she asked me to stop by a South Indian restaurant. Till then, she was on the phone and she appeared to be upset. From what I could understand from the conversation, she was talking to some corporate guy who probably was bargaining with her for an advertisement. Dutee denied bluntly, not for the small amount they were offering but for his bargaining attempts. For a player who has made her state and the country proud, more than money, respect mattered and I could understand her decision.

To me, Dutee personifies excellence. Although her eligibility to participate as a female athlete in the Commonwealth Games was questioned, she fought back and how! I asked her about her anger and outrage. She was calm and replied with a smile, “I had little scope to mourn and so I had to fight back and I got the victory of a lifetime. Now, none can question me about it.”  She smiled at me again and this time it reflected her confidence.

By the time she completed the story, we had ordered some fried rice and ginger chicken with some starters. The waiters at the restaurant were hospitable to her. Later, she informed me that the one who serving us was from Kendrapara and that she was regular at the joint since both the food and service were good.

I moved ahead with my questions. The next thing I wanted to know was how she was dealing with the expectations of people right now! Being the fastest woman of India and making it to Olympics 100 metre race after PT Usha is a big responsibility. The hopes of 120 crore Indians are now pinned on her. And then came the pertinent question – What are the chances of winning a medal at Rio? She took a pause and replied with an example. “It’s very difficult to predict or assure about winning a medal. Earlier I have failed to better my own records despite best preparations. Victory will depend on my physical condition that day, my mental stability, the weather and also the condition of my opponents. Basically, if everything falls into place on that day, you become a winner. So, I don’t want to talk about winning a medal right now and pressurise myself. I am practicing hard and I want to give my best on that day. It does not matter if I win a gold, silver or bronze. For me, what matters most is that I will run for the country and for the Tri-colour.” I had goose-bumps seeing the patriotic spirit and passion in her eyes.

I drifted from the topic and asked her about her family. She appeared content as she mentioned how her sister athlete Saraswati Chand had a huge impact in her life. As she stated sharing more about her family, she became a little nostalgic.

I got her back to the present world with a question that was relevant for all sprinters from Odisha. Is the state government doing enough to promote them considering the fact that we have so many talents, be it Rachita Mistri, Anuradha Biswal, Amiya Mallick, Dutee Chand, Srabani Nanda or Budhia Singh? She rightly pointed out, “Infrastructure for sprinters is not good in the state.” However, she also praised the government for helping her out many a time.

By the time, we were done with our lunch, it was pouring outside and so we sat for some more time in her favourite South Indian joint. I utilised the time to discover other interesting facets to her. Since she was so popular, I wanted to know about her social media presence. She was quick to answer with a laugh, “Do I really need it? But I am happy people are talking about me on social media due to my achievements. I do not believe in self-propaganda.” However, she does have two Facebook profiles, one official Facebook page, a dedicated Twitter handle and little presence over Instagram.

We chatted some more, till the rains stopped and then it was time for her afternoon massage. By the time we came out of the restaurant, the rain soaked streets had started getting crowded. We clicked a selfie and shook hands. I gifted a packet of Salepur rasogulla to her and wished her for Rio. She bid goodbye, turned back and started walking. I kept looking at her till she merged with the crowd. I looked atop and saw a beautiful rainbow in the sky.

And, that’s how ended my beautiful date with Dutee Chand.

 

Happily…

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(The article is originally published in My City Links )

Issue-6 Final Web11

One Night inside JNU


I was getting late for my morning flight so I had to leave the gathering and meeting early.  After a 15 Minute walk loaded with heavy thoughts to pen down this article, I reached the Gate No 1 of JNU. It was almost 3am at the night. To my surprise almost a huge herd of media persons with camera and boom were standing and trying to get some sneak peak of incidents happening inside JNU. Few of them were facing the camera to give a P2C (Piece to Camera). To my surprise among the few, I could recognise Rahul Kanwal of TV Today group was standing holding the boom and mike. At this odd hour, though it was unusual I could understand the importance of the situation and the dedication of the journalist.

I spent around 3-4 hours inside the campus and tried to get the feel of the JNU heat. Since the controversy has started. There has been a fight within us. Some of us support the ‘Anti Nationals’ being termed by a few so called ‘Nationalists’. Well, that’s a million dollar question who is a real Nationalist. To find an answer to this I took pain of watching more than 20 YouTube videos related to issue and also read more than 50 such most shared articles covering both the perceptions.

Some people we call rightist and some leftist. But there are a large number of people who are free thinkers. They decision is evidence based, logic based and mostly biased with first-hand information. They keep one foot on rightist philosophy and the other feet on leftist ideology to take a stand based on their own judgement. On the same note, being liberal and logical I took another step to go JNU and get in more details about it. The atmosphere there must guide me, was the idea which I am sure I can convey properly to all.

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Image Courtesy : Indian Express

A fact has evolved now, the judicial authority in India being the court has now being partially transferred to people like Arnab Goswami and channels like Zee News. If the whole country is divided in the name of National and Anti-national, then this is not because we had anti national slogans enchanted by few students. Rather because the media trail led by Arnab Goswami and Zee News provoked the whole country to do so.

While walking along the deserted roads of JNU along few of my friends from JNU, I could hear the slogans from Ad block and we headed towards that. It was around 11.30pm at night. I was trying to overheard different conversations of students discussing in different groups amidst pro JNU slogans by JUNSU. I was trying to get the real sense of democracy and the gaps. Was it antinational and violation of democratic rights or fight against the hypocrisy?

What does our democracy teach us !! To question or to blame?

I do not buy the slogans of picturing Afjal as Martyr but questioning the trial of Afjal won’t make anyone anti-national.  But who is there to take decision of sedition charges or booking someone as Anti-national; Arnab Goswami who in a way spreading hatred by his rudeness and biased media trial or Zee News, who produced the doctored video to get maximum TRP. Media as I have learned it from the best Media Institute of India, is ethical and it’s a service. Serving with facts and information is something media should be doing rather put forth the decision creating mass hatred which leads to Patiala House court incident.

Shehla Rashid started with addressing the legal complications that the JNU movement has been facing and this time her stand was much logical than before which I could see getting praised by the crowd. Mind it, this crowd is not the crowd pulled by any political party, rather gathered suo-motto in solidarity where, i could over heard, the ABVP crowd in the campus was having some DJ night in any one of the boys hostel.

My eyes were then on Umar Khalid, who said in his speech last night, ‘I am Umar Khalid and I am not a Terrorist”. Though an extreme leftist, he has also put very valid question on the media trial and without any court trial how can one be termed as Anti National. I am not at all defending him rather my views are towards the safe keeper of democracy. I was more interested to listen to Rama Naga, the GS of JNUSU originally hailed from Koraput, Odisha who is also accused of being an Anti-National. As he stated he is the only member in his family to go beyond matriculation. His anger and outrage got translated to his words and he started addressing ‘Sathiyon’ to the gathered crowd. With confidence, not very loud voice, he started and addressed the biggest question which many were asking since last few days. He made it clear, that they had not escaped. They were very much presence in the campus rather, they were avoiding legal complications.

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Image Courtesy: Indian Express

Again Naga addressed with the basic idea of why the fight!!!! It is not about supporting Afjal or being Anti-National. It is being the fight against injustice. He was worried and he was concerned about his parents and family being targeted by media and others which, he has appealed not to do so.

Many people may not like me or dislike me after my this post, which may sound like pro-communist. But let me be very frank I believe in free thinking and liberal politics rather than biased decision making and fooling the whole country with miss-information which may harm the communal harmony in the country. The latest video by India Today exposing the Lawers who had beaten Kanheya and other journalists is just so pathetic in the name of patriotism.

I am amazed again to see the irresponsibility of Indian Home minister issuing false information believing on a fake social media updates. The stand of HRD Minister of putting flags all across Indian central universities and the most popular Mr Modi is silent on the issue. Where is the country heading and how the government is responding to the whole fiasco, along with unfair arrest of Kanheya Kumar has united the student mass. The #StandwithJNU tag is now trending and leading to unite more student groups all across India against the system and government.

There are questions unsolved, the release of kanheya, and trial of other accused students and so on. There is a challenge to be tolerant and face this issue. The social media fights have gone to a different level and the leaders are in making. The future of India seems bright. The leader of India is in Making. Inside the Tihar Jail.

While writing this piece inside the flight, I could see the silver lining in the sky and could feel ‘Achhedin aa gaye’.

The Irony Of A Festival That Celebrates Menstruation


I belong to a rather poor state and the State government often demands funds from the Centre to alleviate this dire issue of poverty. When I say poor, there is a lot that can be added to this definition of poverty. A state which is infamous for witchcraft and the violence on women leading to murders has a long way to go before it sees a change in the mind sets of people. This state is still witnessing pregnant mothers migrating from native villages to work in the brick kilns of neighbouring states, giving birth to babies inside dingy settlements in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. This state is still struggling with an open defecation problem which is a rampant habit among men and women, but the irony is that women can only go to defecate either before sunrise or after sunset to ward off and avoid onlookers.

Amidst many such issues which put women in the back seat, there is yet another concern which is still a taboo and not much effort has been made in that direction and not many social media campaigns have been initiated to make people understand that women’s menstrual cycles are commonplace occurrence just like any other act of daily life. Being a man, I may not be able to justify the issue to others to a life-changing extent but, yes I can definitely set an example by talking about it in the open.

If I look back on my graduation days, I can still remember that menstruation was a funny topic used to crack dirty jokes against those girls who were both our batch-mates and friends.  I came to learn more about it only when I first had a girlfriend and there was this guilty feeling I underwent when I came to know about the pain and suffering she went through every month. Now however, I have been seeing a lot of awareness about this on the internet and in other forms of social media but the state is yet to become fully aware of this problem. Hence, it is now time to educate statesmen about some very important facts of life which they may or may not be aware of.

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Courtesy : Menstrupedia.com

While I was listening to Mr. Anshu Gupta, the Magasaysay awardee, speak on this issue, he mentioned the poor and unhygienic sanitary practices of women and girls in many rural parts of the state. I could relate quiet well to it since I have seen that in most of the villages, shopkeepers do not even store sanitary pads and this is an indicator of the seriousness of the issue. However, in urban settings and cities even, menstruation is ridden with myths and many don’t like to talk about it In public; shopkeepers in fact use a piece of newspaper to wrap them up in.

Funnily enough, the same state celebrates a four-day long festival across the region and most importantly in rural areas, in celebration of womanhood. This festival is primarily meant for young girls and symbolizes those cultural practices which applaud the fertility of mother earth. Symbolically, the young girls celebrate the festival as a matter of joy and enjoy these four days with great enthusiasm. During the first three days of the festival and on the last day, it is traditionally a time to get cleaned up which is symbolically done by women washing their grinding stones with turmeric paste and adorning it with flowers and sindoor.

During the festival, girls wear new clothes every day and they do not do any other work apart from sitting, relaxing, roaming around and playing on tree swings since they are banned to walk about barefoot. They apply make – up and walk around in groups, visit friends and eat locally made cakes. There are several other customs and traditions and flexibility that these young girls enjoy without knowing as much as the crux the festival is premised upon. Some historians and cultural enthusiasts are absolutely clueless about the origin of this festival. However, many have admitted that the seriousness of the festival lies in the fact that people do not actually know why it is being celebrated in the first place.

‘Raja Mahotsava’ or ‘Raja Paraba’ is an annual festival that is dedicated to the celebration of womanhood, fertility and more importantly, menstruation. The word ‘Raja’ comes from ‘Rajaswala’, which actually means menstruating women. It is believed that during this time, mother earth menstruates and hence she must be given respite from work. It is even believed that the rain god/s pours heavily during this time in order to lessen the pain that mother earth undergoes. Unfortunately, this festival is being celebrated among ignorant young girls and hardly any of them even know the basics about it. It is high time they did. When people and mostly young men and women are vocal enough in many Indian cities to talk about menstrual taboos and practices, there is a further requirement for everybody to talk more about it in public spaces. Fathers should make their daughters comfortable enough to discuss these issues with and this should be included in educational curriculum across the country to make both girls and boys aware of things which are natural processes and certainly not taboos.

In most parts of the state, when people annually celebrate womanhood, it is much more welcoming and important indeed to let people know the reasons and importance behind celebrating this festival. Given the many problems when it comes to gender issues in my state, it is now time for everyone to open up about the fact that just like mother earth, every single woman menstruates as well and there is absolutely nothing to hide or be ashamed of!

This Article was first published in Menstrupedia.com

Happily…

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An Open letter to Times of India


Dear Times of India,

With due respect you for being the most reliable newspaper that a common man thinks of in India, i would like to write this open letter to you on a very personal note. Hope you won’t mind; because this is also my POINT OF VIEW 😀 .

I will start from my school and college days when I was a huge fan of Times of India. But not for the obvious reason as i was an Odia Medium school student and had no relation with a English News paper like Times of India whose cross words were also like mountain for me. But in my school, among all lower middle class students, the one who used to have a glossy and colourful paper back cover in the text books and note copies was the most respected one and obviously the center of attraction.

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An Image of Times Life

The glossy piece of paper was of Times Life and we had the most fascination to go through it. Reason was quite obvious and when now we mostly hate Mondays those were the days when we used to wait for Monday’s. All our anxieties were to see what had come in Times Life. The Photos (Mouth Watering for us then), the conversations, the stories (sexist) were simply fun for us even if we hardly understand any of the sentences.

I remember i had known about WIFE SWAPPING from TOI only when i had joined college and had thought that it must be very interesting. We used to cut some photos and keep those inside our books to be our favourite pass time. This may not have relevance to the discussion, but i just wanted to share this fact, you too have fan and admirer for all your stories and photographer no matter they understand it or not.

So i guess your twitter was for those section of readers, unfortunately i have overcome that and now can read and write basic English and luckily have worked in a English daily as well.

A recent story and photo in Times Life.

A recent story and photo in Times Life.

Please do not judge me from the above paragraph as i am a good boy now and i do not see all those, however i have saved your twitted post. I don’t feel regret sharing it here. There is nothing called good or bad and never in India if you see; as we are all a real bunch of hippocrates. Again at least not in this present time where every other Indian citizen is logical and can prove things the way i am doing now. 😛.

It was TOI that many says; who first used this term NIRBHAYA and this went viral. With all due respect for TOI for its stand during NIRBHAYA incident, i am asking you R not You the biggest hippocrate by publishing the new story “Dear Deepika, our point of view…” Just think logically, is not it something sheer example of arrogance and being immature and illogical. What you want to prove by saying…

“Yes, the headline could have been better. But the world of online is very different from that of newspapers. It is chaotic and cluttered — and sensational headlines are far from uncommon.

If you admit that, rather playing blame game and stone pelting with Deepika and the rest of India who has out raged against you you can sort the things out very logically.

You also know that tweet was a mistake and you won’t lose your business or credibility if you accept that and stop the discussion then and there. Let me tell you, though i was not a regular reader of times of India, before i joined Media education, but had seen many of my batch-mates, for whom it was TOI, the real meaning of journalism and many are also working with you and yes, your own employees are making fun of yours. Now tell you loose or won a big battle by publishing a reply to Deepika. Also by Taking it as a lead story in Bombay times by posting all such photos of Deepika which seems an attempt to assassin her image and character.

Analysis of a survey on newspaper reading habits among the Media Students of one of the leading J-School in India.

Analysis of a survey on newspaper reading habits among the Media Students of one of the leading J-School. 

Just see the above analysis of a Leading J-School where students prefer reading TOI than anything else. At least have mercy and do not misguide them. They are the future of Indian media. Againg Just to prove yourself right and Deepika wrong, R not you loosing your credibility. When it comes to moral policing, how will you justify this paragraph…

“Deepika, just for the record, we do not zoom into a woman’s vagina or show her nipples. As a newspaper, we take every care to ensure that we pixelate them if they show up in a picture, but your cleavage is as sexy as Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘8-pack’ abs. Given the nature of the online media worldwide, there could well have been a story headlined, “OMG…Shah Rukh’s 8-pack sexy abs!!!”

The sheer arrogance has made a mockery of TOI before the whole nation. Now i would like to request you to have some conscience and be sensible. You can appoint creative champs to handle your twitter, and there are many unemployed or under employed.

I can give you the example of this recent tweet about the Chinese Presidents charming wife which could have been much much and much better, than the portrayal of “Beijing’s secret weapon” as she is a National Guest and deserves respect from all fellow citizen.

The recent Tweet by TOI on Chinese President's Wife.

The recent Tweet by TOI on Chinese President’s Wife.

I am not sure if TOI authorities can able to read this or not. But yes, i hope some day TOI will understand, posting it in Twitter though was not a big crime, but the way of handling it afterwards was definitely a mistake.

NB: Please ignore all grammatical error, i am still poor in English 😦

Yours faithfully
Ananta Prasad,
The then 10th Class Student and an all time admirer of TOI

 

Happily…

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