Friday, 19 July 2013

My Life as a Wanderlust... Atheism, Racism, Gandhi and a Writer's Block...!!

I have been suffering from an overload of ideas... ok I do know the reason for this though... I have been reading and commenting on too many blogs, too many people are giving me ideas and the true Gemini girl that I am all these ideas are inter playing in my little grey cells... I really do not know which ones to concentrate upon and which ones to leave out.

Probably this in itself is a kind of Writer's Block. I know the Wikipedia definition of a Writer's Block and that definition mostly blames anxiety and chaos as the top reasons for having writer's block... but what if the writer has too many ideas clogging her grey cells ?

What then ?

Anxiety or Chaos...?

Take for instance, the other day, I came across a webpage on Atheism, and there was this post, a young boy of sixteen had written... the post noted, how, he was an Atheist and how his mother and sister found this particular trait of his to be an oddity and as such a shameful behavior. That post set me thinking... Of course I did my best to console the child and told him that it's best not to discuss ideas that others find appalling, even if, as a human being, you are entitled to have your own ideas... to get his thoughts on paper, to write them down... that had always helped me, and even today, when I am faced with a terrible, situation which is confounding me, like this one, I find it best to put them in words...

But the post set me thinking... Am I an Atheist ? Does everyone of us have an Atheist in themselves or are we so devoted to our faith that we cannot even grasp the idea of a Godless world ? And then it came to me...

Probably each of us carry an Atheist and a Believer in us, yes the same two contradicting forces find themselves manifested in the same person. Human beings have developed too much, intellectually and socially, to blindly follow any notion that's forced into them. If we were all devoted, blind, believers of our respective faiths, then science would not have made the advancement that it has made since the invention of fire.

And if we were so strictly Atheist, religion would not have been an integral part of our lives, hell, sometimes it even rules us... So the incredible truth is Human beings are both believers and atheists at the same time. We are a clever specie... of course the way we have "evolved" is a testament to the fact, we use faith when it suits us and reason, when it does so.

So think about it, are you strictly an atheist or strictly a believer ?

 In my case I think I am agnostic... I believe in God, but my "god" is made up of all the good deeds and principles, mainly, which I sometimes strive to follow, and sometimes I fail to... Truth, Generosity, Trust, Help, Belief and my parents, these are my GOD... and I do not, never have believed, that there is some big great man or woman sitting up in heaven beyond the skies who's looking after us...

But anyhow, this post was about my Writer's Block, not about Atheism...

The second idea that entered my head and troubled my grey cells was one of Racism... actually while growing up in India, I never bothered about this particular ideology until I came to South Africa... I mean this concept actually blew off my mind, when I came here...

In India, we generally never talk about Race... we talk about Poverty, GDP, Corruption, Education, Rape... (oh my god that IS a big topic), Women's Liberation, and many  more, but never about racial inequalities...

That is a topic, that the western media makes a big hue and cry about... but when I came to South Africa... it was the first time, I was confronted with this notion and how this very vague idea is slowly transforming into a living, breathing reality for me.

My first interaction with this topic came from my domestic. She is a really nice lady, might I say, a black lady... it is important that I point this out, because, the first day when she and I were indulging in our first introductions, she touched my hand and said to me " I have never worked for this people "... her exact words... first, honestly I didn't understand, and then it came to me, actually it thundered onto me, SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE COLOR OF MY SKIN.... wow... it was the first time, in my 30 years of life that someone has actually commented on my SKIN COLOR...in a way that made me really THINK about it... Actually I should have taken offense, but after saying this, she was smiling at me, and I couldn't help but reply, " This color is of Gandhi, you know Gandhi "... and she nodded her head in enthusiasm...  "Oh a great man, great man, he did a lot for us..."

The most odd thing about this entire conversation was, when she pointed me my color, the first person that came to my mind was the one that my countrymen have generally forgotten, and when I did mention Gandhi, she said, he was indeed a great, great man... my domestic, might I say, is an extremely poor South African Lady....and she knew that Gandhi had done great things for her country...something Indian young men and women have comfortably chosen to forget...

Anyhow, so these issue are there in my mind and I do not know which one to concentrate upon, Atheism, Racism, India's relationship to Gandhi and his ideals, (well which most Indians think are dead now)... and therefore I am suffering from a Writer's Block...

Or am I ??

I really need to find out...


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Taking the control in your hands, a necessary read for all types of women...

I have been thinking about whether to upload this post or not for some time, and then I thought maybe someone in my position would probably find it useful.

Ok, first of all, this post isn't at all for kids, so if you, my dear reader, is not above 18 please do not read further, ( of course, if you are below 18 and sexually active, then please ignore the former sentence and do read on). Second of all, this post isn't for those who blindly and devotedly believe in religion, whatever faith that might be, if you are a blind follower and believe in your respective religion or faith keeping aside common sense, this post isn't for you. So now that I have given out my mandatory warnings, let me begin...

I am writing this post primarily for women, for women like me... wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope if you were ever or would be in my position in the foreseeable future, you would find this post helpful.

I am 30 years old, married (very happy too..!!!) and have just completed a year and two months of marital bliss. As like many other couple who take steps to ensure that extension of the family is well planned, we too have taken some such measures and we follow them scrupulously... not that we don't like children, or we don't want to have them... we love kids, and we would love a family of our own... but not now, not unless we are ready for them... so anyway, one fine night our method of contraception didn't work out as it should have and I faced the terrible consequence of being pregnant with a child. The morning after the beautiful night, both me and my husband realized the gravity of the situation and we started discussing, whether or not to take the "morning-after pill"... now let me tell you straight away, I scoured the internet and numerous blogs, for more information on emergency contraceptive pills, and though I found a lot of information, I did not get a single article or post of a woman, who might have taken the pill herself. No real life account of real women who have taken the pill. That is one of my most important reason of writing this post so that, if someone is in my position, they can come across this blog post and learn about a real life incident, because this is what happened to me.

Also, please allow me to state here, in my defense, that I am an average healthy woman (touchwood...!!) and I really do not believe in medication of any kind... I was extremely reluctant to take the pill, educated and learned as we were, there were some lingering doubts. Also, although we are followers of the Hindu faith, our religion does not say anything about this... or probably we are not aware of it... anyhow, we really went over every single internet article we could find on the Emergency Contraceptive Pill and its after effects. When we were somewhat sure, that the pill is not life-threatening, I decided to take it.

I took the Plan B One Step, an Emergency Contraceptive, that can be obtained over the counter in most drug stores in USA, I really don't have much idea, which Emergency Contraceptive Pills are available in other countries, but I am sure, some kind of pill is definitely available.

I was also extremely doubtful of it's working and wasn't even sure that it'll work... but work it did, and I am extremely glad to say that I did take it and also at the right time.

I know a lot of women, conceive when they are not ready, or not mentally prepared. Ladies, it's fine, it's not something wrong not to be prepared for a child. And even if it does happen, you still can control it... I am giving below some sites that I had searched when deciding whether or not to take this particular medicine.

http://ec.princeton.edu/info/ecp.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_contraception

http://www.safersex.co.za/family-planning-Emergency-Contraceptives.htm

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/emergency-contraception-morning-after-pill-4363.asp

These are the sites I visited before I took the "morning-after pill"... it is essentially a very safe medicine. I did not experience any side effects... of course I drank a lot of water for about a week daily after taking the medication and these are not "abortion pills"... If you have the pills, within 72 hours of unprotected physical intimacy, they work absolutely fine. I took them within 48 hours, of course, all the sites I visited said the earlier you take it the better.

So please, if any of you are in my situation and are confused and you don't know what to do and you are not ready to bring a child into this world, think about this pill... it's supposed to be absolutely safe and does not harm you or your reproductive ability. If you have already conceived, then the pill does not hurt the unborn foetus.

There are a huge number of unintended or mistimed pregnancies happening all over the world. According to Wikipedia, about 38 percent of all pregnancies in the world are unintended or mistimed. This also results in a large number of maternal deaths and infant deaths. Also the health of the mother and the child could be gravely affected.

Bringing a child into this world is a huge responsibility, and a lot of educated women like me know this. We all want to give the best of everything to our child, and we should also. Therefore it's even more important to bring a child into this world, when and if you are ready for it. To me, personally, motherhood is the greatest gift nature has endowed on women, and therefore it's a huge and life changing decision for me and I can say, that I am not ready as of yet. All I can say, that if you are not ready to bring a child in this world, take precautions to prevent it. Again, let me stress, that I do not advocate abortion in any case and thus knowing about the options available makes us powerful.

Also, as this issue is quite sensitive, a lot of you may not be comfortable talking about it to your parents or even friends, I know, for one, I would not have been able to talk about this to my parents... I actually haven't. I don't think these measures were available during their time, and even if they were available, probably it was a sin to even put them into practice.

But times have changed now, now we can really take control of our lives, the way we want to, and that's why I wrote this post. I really hope that this post helps someone who's in need, because trust me, having a real life account helps tremendously... I didn't have it, I hope you do...please if you come across this, do share it because it is only information that makes us powerful.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

My Life as a Wanderlust : The Black, The Grey and The White...

It's almost been three months of stay for me and my husband here in South Africa.
 Before taking a trip down here, there are two things which we searched about the most.

First, of course, the places to visit and secondly, Indian Restaurants ( as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we are foodies of the greatest nature).

About the first, we haven't been to any of the famous places that one would normally come across while Goggling "South Africa", but I managed to go to the one place that I was hell bent on and which really shook us, it instilled a feeling in us about the place where we are living and the legacy it carried for all of us.

The place I am talking about is the Apartheid Museum. Anybody who has been to South Africa or plan to visit South Africa, trust me, your journey would remain half complete if you don't visit this place. I am a huge history buff so wherever I go, I make sure that I read some of the nations' history, otherwise not knowing about the country, about it's people, about the legacy, makes me feel incomplete.

We have all heard of the heinous practice of Apartheid which was taken and practiced as a State Policy here in South Africa and the practice ended only in 1991. A lot of my friends of Facebook, didn't know that Apartheid ended only in 1991, this is extremely recent for people of our age... I mean we were all in school at the time... Anyhow when I had first heard of the place, I made sure, that this was a "must see" on my list.

I am giving below the link of the Museum's site, if anyone is interested in finding out more, and really the more you know, the more will you be surprised.

http://www.apartheidmuseum.org/

The first thing that strikes you is that the tickets that are given randomly distinguish people into Whites and Non-Whites... no there is nothing racial about it, me and my husband are both Asian, we got two tickets, one labelled "White" (Blanke in Afrikaans) and "Non-White" ( Nie-Blanke) and then we had to go through separate doors titled the same, into a tunnel kind of exhibition... this act in itself strikes you as extremely discriminating... it did to me, but that's exactly what used to happen down here. Then there is a passageway and an exhibition showing us enlarged posters of the "Identity cards" that people carried. The thing that felt strange to me was, besides name,  and gender, there was the "Ethnic" grouping. Also there was a group called "the chameleons" well, surprising as it may sound, the Apartheid Government termed the Citizens of the country so in 1985. This group of people officially changed their Ethnicity  from either "Indians" to Coloured, Coloureds to Indians, Malays to Coloured and so on...

When we emerge from this horrendous passage, we are re-united with our co-passengers, who had been passing through another similar tunnel... We emerged into an open courtyard where the Johannesburg sun was shinning down... it felt like a breadth of fresh air... the sensation after passing through a tunnel, the exhibits of which keep reminding you of your Ethnicity, to say the least, is not at all pleasant. I just imagined, what might have been the situation for this country's citizens who had to carry those evil cards at all times which shrieked out distinction and you could do nothing about it...

There were many, many similar exhibits stating the history of South Africa. The settlement of the Dutch colonists on the western capes of the country, who first trekked up the Highvelds into the interior to set up cities such as Johannesburg and Pretoria, how the English came later and the beginning of the Apartheid ideology which started as an innocent idea to preserve the culture, tradition and the history of the first "Afrikaan" people and then turned into an heinous practice and later into a hated state policy.

As one passes through the museum, one is time and again reminded of the differences that exist among us, and also reminds us, that it is these differences which unites us rather than divide us... Sure we are different, each and every individual is different, but it is this, that makes us "humans" , if we were all same, we would rather have been machines...

At the end of all the exhibitions, there is a place, a kind of forest with a huge man-made lake, the clear waters of the lake reflect back at you and you realize whatever our race may be, whatever our color, whatever our language may be, and whatever our religion, we still are "human beings" and that's the only thing that's worthy about us.

A visit to this place actually makes you evaluate your humanity. It drills into you that no matter how bad the conditions may be, there can still be hope for better...