Archive | March, 2012

Another Year, Another April: CSAAM 2012

31 Mar

Last year, in an outpouring of stories, recollections, support and awareness-building, a very successful and necessary movement was established across the Indian blogosphere: Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month 2011 brought survivors, parents, bloggers, readers, professionals and responsible citizens together, in a bid to spread awareness about child sexual abuse–the existence, the denial, the impact and the knowledge about how to prevent it and/or heal those already scarred.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why people–survivors as well as those fortunate enough to have been spared–were so impassioned about protecting the most vulnerable demographic in society–our children. And unless you’ve hibernated in a cave all your life, you will know/know of someone who has been through an experience of forced sexual interaction even before they reached adulthood.


Another year, another reminder that the movement needs to push on, networks need building, children need protection, survivors need to know they are not alone. The www, where we share some pretty intimate details of our lives, couched in the relative anonymity it offers, is a wonderful tool for sending these narratives into the world, for us to support, learn, prevent and heal–and, simply, offer a virtual hand that says “I have/ may not have been there, but I will walk with you.”

So how will you join us? Here are the ways you can:

1. Share a story on the CSAAM blog. It could be yours, it could be a friend’s–it just has to be true and requests for anonymity will be honored.

2. Share tips for survival, prevention and awareness-building. Your two cents could help someone immensely.

3. Pass around a video, a link, an article or an e-book.

4. Offer professional expertise if you are a mental health therapist / educator / psychiatrist / doctor/ lawyer /allied health professional.

5. Spread the word on your blog, if you have one, with the words “CSAAM April 2012” in the title. Put up the logo (you can copy the image above), link back to the CSAAM blog.

6. Tweet!  @CSAawareness is the Twitter handle, #CSAAM is the hashtag.

7. Put up FB notes linking to the Facebook page.

8. Write to and tell the folks working so hard behind the scenes what a great job they’re doing. Nothing like a line of appreciation to make someone’s day.

9. Show support by displaying the Picsquare badge on your site/page/profile. Here is the code:

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10.Participate/ask questions/ just listen in to tweetchats and podcasts by professionals and parents. Details will be shared on the CSAAM blog. I will be taking questions during a tweet chat in my capacity as a former mental health therapist for sexually abused children. Now how many of you knew that about me? Drop by, say hi, let’s talk.

11. Bring up the subject with your friends and family–the topic in general, this effort in particular. You may be surprised by what comes up when you share.


The movement this year will introduce a CSAAM app and sensitization workshops (Dilliwalas, first one’s for you!) that aim to take it offline and reach out to a wider audience.

Thank you for reading this.

Now, are you ready for April 2012?


26 Mar

Every time you moan, then roll off me and lie on your back, catching your breath, trumpets sound, maracas clatter, and bugles play. Drummers beat and flotillas parade, and masked-and-feathered dancers whirl in the noonday sun. Banners wave and confetti sparkles, and colors light up the ether. Laughter erupts, there’s spontaneous clapping, and I hear crowds cheer as they line the streets.

Every time you moan, then roll off me, lie on your back and catch your  breath, the universe bursts forth in jubilation. Tilt your head back, shimmy those hips, and celebrate, World: my baby just might be on her way.

You Don’t Sing Me Love Songs…

21 Mar

….but you do bring me flowers. One of two ain’t bad, no?

Hands up those who can name that song!

Oh, and Navroze Mubarak, lovely people. There’s a spring in my step and you’ll soon know why.

[Credits: OJ and her Olympus E-PL2 DSLR. And the Boy, for providing the subject.]

48 Hours in Eire

17 Mar

This piece was commissioned for the Business Standard in Bombay, but due to a change in editors, fell through the cracks and did not get published. I am posting it nearly two years after it was written, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.


Everything you hear about Ireland is true. It is primarily emerald-colored, with friendly folk, free-flowing Guinness and locals leaping at the chance to fiddle for you. But you won’t see it with a guidebook and set itinerary. A locally-born islander is your only way into the true heart of the land of lochs and bogs and I very conveniently happen to be related to one. My uncle, in all his wisdom, picked an Irish partner, and it is to Aunt Margaret’s aga-warmed and patchwork-quilted family home in Glenfarne village, County Leitrim, the Republic of Ireland, that we headed, 48 precious hours in hand, in the hope of ale and leprechauns.

Flying into Belfast from London’s Stanstead airport was exciting for entirely unexpected reasons. How often can you sing a song about a city while hovering 15,000 miles above it? Wouldn’t you sing Boney M as loudly as stiff upper lip decency permitted?  The three-hour drive to Southern Ireland was quick and painless. With an open border and no checks, you’re likely to notice you’ve switched countries only if your eyes are peeled. First stop, J. McHugh’s pub.

No ordinary watering hole, this. In our case, it’s all in the family. Owned and run by Aunt M’s sister and brother-in-law, generous pints of Guinness were pulled, passed around and refilled until the darned Super-ego clobbered the Id on the head and banned more drinking before lunchtime. In a village where half the homes are occupied by blood relatives, you only have to cross the street to a family fiddling performance. Celtic music came alive in a cozy kitchen containing a blue checkered table cloth and its owner with a matching apron. Much clapping and tapping was interspersed with stories about upcoming dances at the Rainbow Ballroom, a large shed that doubled up as the dancing barn where local lads and lassies meet, marry and contribute to another generation of beer-guzzling fiddlers.

Warmth must be the Irish national policy. Where else do you get offered free membership to a public library within 10 minutes of walking in to check email? Ladies and gentlemen, I have a card from the Leabharlann Chontae Liatroma (Lietrim County Library) to prove it. (And of course, all the Gaelic around the place exists only to charm the pants off you as you walk out feeling like a four-leafed clover just graced your life.) Driving toward Sligo, the nearest big town and home to Yeats’ resting place, a brief stop at the Glencar Falls and Lake provides an opportunity for photography. The deep shades of blue sky and lake, emerald grass and snowy sheep are a postcard you want to capture and mail home.

Sligo, dotted with bars, bars, more bars, Yeats’ building and, interestingly, a Poppadom Restaurant, bustled with a population grateful for the rare sunshine. You’ve brought the Indian sun, I was told. You can keep it, I smiled back. Next stop, Yeats’ grave. Or so I thought. An exciting antiques shop derailed our journey and while my uncle and aunt checked out the clocks and gramophones, I did the same with the owner (who was, praise the Lord, considerably younger than his artifacts). Beauty appreciated, we crunched into a church yard for a meeting with Ireland’s poet laureate in his “country of the heart”. Too bad he wasn’t likely to reciprocate our delight. We rounded a corner and there he was. William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939, instructing us to

“Cast a cold Eye

On Life, on Death.

Horseman, pass by.”

Recounting our first memories of his work, we chose to linger, loath to leave a man whose words had nestled in our 13-year-old hearts, but when forty-eight hours are all you have, ‘what’s next’ is a perfectly valid question.

Bundoran is a seaside town from a 1920s American movie. Craggy cliffs, dashing waves, vanilla ices, amusement park rides and seaweed baths provide a delightful alternative to modern-day foreign beaches with tanned bodies and a pounding nightlife. A stroll on the seaweed-laced beach and a steep climb up to a cliff-top later, we enjoyed the salty north Atlantic breeze that showed all the friendliness of the land with perhaps a little less warmth. In the summer, carousel music and the shouts of children will compete with the roar of the waves, but for now, in mid-May, they reign supreme.

Ireland lives in its lochs and bogs and a brief visit to both followed. Every home in the county is assigned its own plot of land on a peat bog. It is here that families come up the hill to harvest peat that will warm their homes through the year. A naturally occurring fuel, peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation and is readily available and widely used in this part of the country. The harvesting process itself can be back-breaking if one isn’t used to it. Sometimes a shortage of time turns out to be a good thing! Loch MacNean appeared out of a clearing in the woods, a magical blue with picture-perfect ripples. All was calm, all was bright and I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I live in Bombay.

More family visits followed, with exclamations about how perfect the weather had been, though I noticed that didn’t stop cozy fires from roaring in their grates. Much Irish stew and many potatoes later, I hauled myself back on a flight to England. The heart, however, decided to stay. I’ll have to go looking for it sometime very soon.

Meet Mt. Diablo

11 Mar

Last weekend, the Boy and I drove to Mt. Diablo State Park for some photography and rambling. Armed with cameras, hats and enough water to drench Nevada, here’s what I did with my afternoon:

Meet Bushy. The squirrel with an attitude. “I charge, you know,” he said, before deigning to pose.

I love roots. Especially mine. :mrgreen: These aren’t too shabby though.

Clearly, I was barking up the right tree.

This one made me think of ‘The Woman in Black’. And that creeped me out.

So I moved on to brighter subjects. Like this web in the sun.

Before branching out into Creepsville again.

Hello, smiled the solitary ornithologist. And disappeared into the trees.

So I busied myself with more available men. One, to be precise.

And got distracted by the most breathtaking visual of the day.

~The End~

[Credits: OJ and her Olympus E-PL2 DSLR, with a 40-150mm zoom lens, and art filters. Yeah, I’m fancy like that.]

Shayonti’s Confession

3 Mar

Sometimes I make you repeat lines that are a comfort to my aching heart by pretending I didn’t hear them.

What was that again?