Neha Mendiratta Khullar

    
  • A ‘Female Human‘, to begin with. (Not too much of a surprise there, huh?).
  • I dream, all the time.
  • Love living, in fact, at times it’s all about closing the eyes & breathing.
  • Never bored.
  • Carry music in my veins.
  • Pretty creative.
  • Amateur photographer. (Sprinkling a little modesty here).
  • Mother, wife and a daughter too.
  • Ex service industry professional with over 8 long years of exquisite stories to share.
  • First time blogger.
  • Like nature, yes, like! Saying that, my life would go black & white if there is no green around me. Love plants. Gardening comes naturally to me, it’s in my DNA. Thanks, Dad!
  • Detest numbers/calculation. Let’s just say I’m not a ‘Finance’ person, at all. It gives me an ache.
  • Dev Anand and Shah Rukh Khan fan but it’s impossible for me to not to adore Jack NicholsonOwen Wilson & Gerard Butler. The list doesn’t end here, just takes a break. I’m a movie buff! A sitcom buff too!
  • Hang on, I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t mention any Female Human in the above list, right? Here, I get goosebumps when I read or watch anything about Mother TeresaOprah WinfreyMeryl Streep etc. Again endless.
  • Why am I here? I’ll let my blog do the talking. And promise, I’ll try to be as realistically honest as I can.
  • Why ‘Female Humans‘? Here’s the answer. At least it says we ARE humans, so that was the point of convergence. It’s all about us here.
  • Don’t ask me what inspires me, I might just say something incongruous.
  • There’s definitely more to come. I’ll talk through not only texts but music, movies, videos & pictures too. Um, or when I want to surprise all of us, will do some poetry as well.
  • Lastly. It’s a new beginning, it’s the first step, a new chapter and a new challenge. It’s incontestable that I’ll make mistakes, I’ll fall, I’ll get scratched but not at any condition will I stop trying. Here for good!
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Let’s get in touch!

We can get it in touch via,

Email: reachnehaatwork@gmail.com

GTalk: Neha MK

Facebook: facebook.com/reachnehaatwork

Twitter: Neha_MK

Skype: Neha Mendiratta Khullar

Meebo: FemaleHuman

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My Friend, Celine! A Women’s Day Special!

It was in 2003 that we first met. Two young girls had just turned twenty, (technically) in their first job, in this awesome five-star property in New Delhi. We didn’t join the same day though. I welcomed Celine in the department with a very subtle handshake & my usual & not-so-believable nod. We started working in same shifts, she would ask me questions & I helped her & vice-versa. Being new at the job, being new as employees, we hardly had any interaction on a personal level. We would talk about processes, our department, the other departments, our future, short-term or long-term goals, the places we came from, more so, because we both belonged to the same category of human race, the dreamers. I still have her dreamy face, looking at the ceiling but beyond, fresh in my head. But in a second she would definitely have something new to ask or discuss & then back to a deeper thought. The day would end & we would depart or if we worked late, we would probably share the same cab back home. Sharing the cab, sitting in exhausted, we would converse through Hindi music which helped us recover from a long & tiring day. A sentence or two would just be enough for a conversation. Yeah, the dreamers!

I somehow struggle to recollect when did we say good-bye to each other or did we say it at all? Did I resign first then she followed or was it her who took the exit first? Nope, I don’t remember that at all. I never had her mobile or any contact details with me & of course, Facebook had not yet arrived. But when it did arrive, I took my own sweet time to join in as I was bit by the anti-social-networking bug. Really? Is that what you call socializing? and many more ugly thoughts & judgments crossed my mind. Well, laugh all you want!

So I forgot about her, totally. She never crossed my mind & then eventually I joined Facebook, we bumped into each other. I was married, I was a mum by then & she was in a relationship.  We were cordial, very warm & extremely happy for each other for the spaces we belonged. But the moment we started interacting, I realized that woman hasn’t changed at all, nothing had changed, the chirp, the tickle, the pickle, the elegance, the pride, the confidence, the dignity, the responsibility & the dreams in fact were 10 times greater. And I, wanted to know her more.

I started my blog last year with Females as my inspiration. It was in April that I thought of calling her once & having a little chit-chat about life & where both of us stand now, more so, to write about her. To my surprise, the girl was getting married the next month and was juggling everything around her. I did call & told her to take it easy, also that I won’t be able to make it to the wedding as my sister herself was on her way to be a bride soon. The idea was put to rest for a while. I’ll be honest, I thought may be it was not such a great idea after all, may be it was not meant to be. I’ll apologize.

But the way Celine is, just a week before the wedding she was helping, protesting and standing up for Loitam Richard‘s murder case. A guy she didn’t know personally but since he was from the same community as hers, she felt the need to do whatever she could in her capacity. Why? Why would she do that? So I started the chase again.

We spoke, a couple of times but never had the amount of peace around to get to some serious chatting. Well, we managed. I had told her that it won’t take more than 10 minutes & to my surprise, we spoke for about 2 hours. And now I need to apologize to her for putting this post on hold. I got busy with a number of things & one of which is my shift in career.

Celine is from the warrior tribe called Naga tribe and was born & raised in North East, Manipur, the side of the country which is often ignored when it comes to development & recognition but Celine has a great bond with that land. She grew in a well to do family, her father was the Chairman of the Autonomous District Council & had a lot of political influence. Her mother, who she was extremely close to died of cancer. Celine, while talking about her, gave me personal details about the kind of human being she was. She mentioned she wasn’t educated but had an intelligent mind & an excellent IQ. She had a very strong will, mind & body. She understood the unspoken, she was eager to learn new things, she was determined to do whatever she could to make sure all her children got education despite of her being born in the 50’s where a girl child going to school was unknown and almost a taboo. She allowed her daughters to wear western cloths like shorts and sleeveless at home but would request them to cover up when going out because of the conservative society they live in. The most striking thing which Celine remembers is the time when her mother said on her dying bed, “When I die, no matter what, God forbid but if in future you and your sisters are unable to complete your education because of financial reasons, go back to our village, sell the grains from the granary, you will earn, save the money & finish your education, no matter what”. In my opinion, that shows character.

She took me back to September 11, 2001 when asked about the most unforgettable moment spent with her mother. Celine was sitting next to her while she laid fighting for cancer at their home. She narrated every bit to her, all the pictures, the news lines, the panic, the shouting, the exits, the attack, everything. The emotional bond & the affection between the two of them grew stronger looking at the horrendous images on TV on 9/11.

Celine was undoubtedly very close to her mother & to me perhaps she was the special one too. She looked after the ailing mother in her last days. A woman who could not move a muscle, could obviously not even eat food with her own hands, turned to her special daughter for everything. Celine became her pillar & she would lean on her whenever there was a need, even a small one. The daughter was struggling, for someone who was amazingly mature but had never seen this side of life so closely, it started to break her but not even once did she complain. The mother on the other hand started sensing her burden. One night, while Celine was deep asleep, she heard a noise, she saw her mother struggle to get up to use the loo. She shouted, got angry & asked why she couldn’t wake her up. The mother then mentioned, it’s enough, that’s enough, I can’t give you more pain, you are through & so am I, please make one last promise that no matter what, you will look after your younger sister & finish your education.  Leaving a huge impact on Celine, she died.

I knew she was close to her as she more than often has left prayers for her on Facebook just when she was about to sleep or may be the first thing in the morning. I noticed.

Many chapters were kept undisclosed in her life but one would often get a glimpse of her hidden emotions on Facebook statuses. Those updates always triggered me, it made me a social-networking-stalker in a sense. ‘LOL’.

Celine talks passionately about Manipur. Being ignored by the government & rest of the country, the youth however, is taking strong steps in order to preserve & serve the state in the best possible way. It’s the youth which believes in moving on, which believes in creating possibilities in and around the state, the youth which breaks the norms & the barriers to come & lead from the front. The state being divided in to various tribes & sub-tribes have youth clubs all over, presidents & secretaries. They come together, join hands to raise funds, to do social work even if that means cleaning the drainage for monsoons on their off days. Celine, who left the place some years back is a part of a Naga community in Karnataka. She shares a great bond with that land & dreams of  North-East region taken seriously by not only the government but the people across the country. Most of the students step out & come to cities like Delhi or Mumbai to do better in life, but unfortunately, they are often mistreated, eve-teased & are looked down upon. One of the prominent reasons is perhaps their appearance, but she asks, a South Indian doesn’t match a North Indian too, then why brand just the North Eastern? Only because they follow peace, they lack aggression & simply put, they have better things to focus on.

The home she grew up in had 5 children. I didn’t know that until I checked with her. She talks happily about everyone, they seem to be doing just fine in their lives. She proudly mentioned about her younger sister who is a research scholar at a well-known university, it reminds her of the promise she made to her mother years ago. Now, she talks of her eldest brother & the voice shook, she started taking time, more pauses & fillers were hampering our smooth conversation & I could understand as he is no more. He was an addict & died young. The entire family tried their best to give him all the support  They somehow minimized the conversation during his last days due to a meaningless fight. She had gone back home. & while coming back from her home to work in the city, moments before she entered her car, the brother enters & hands over the diary  & says, “you can do it!” & she chokes. A couple of days later, he was in heaven.

She is one of those people who believes in her religion & stands by it. She’s spiritual too

Celine, the voice that giggles at silly things, the character that can send shivers to many bodies, the charm that can melt many hearts, the smile that never leaves you has had a huge impact on me on many levels. Some of the things I relate to with her would below which forced me write about her & make this post a sort of dedication to the kind of females I admire on every level are:

  1. Facebook addiction.
  2. Patience level.
  3. Give respect & get respect.
  4. Get crap & give crap.
  5. Love surprises.
  6. We do social service in our own little ways but hardly share it publicly.
  7. Love for family & the values.
  8. Spirituality.
  9. Make weird & funny faces.
  10. Down to earth behavior vs. kick-ass attitude.

And then, there are plenty.

The small & simple things in life hold matchless importance in her life. If you ask her what she would like from life in the next five years, she’d say: A Kkd & more time with husband. By the way, did I say her husband is a serving officer in the Indian Army & they spend most of the time craving for each other’s company (Awww!), yes, she is that kind of girl. Saying that she’s also one of those girls who never got herself checked for Cervical Cancer, just like most of us, including myself. She would rather listen to some Sufi music & experiment with food, eh? Being a Visual Merchandiser, her work demands travel & that has taken a toll on her body and isn’t that something we all need to focus at, once in a while may be? Me too.

Also, while we are extremely emotionally stirred with what happened in Delhi recently, it reminded me of a thing that I asked her over the phone. The question was, “What’s your message to the rapists?”. She had her reply ready, instantly she said, “Think, just think, this is not something you want to do, think!” And I guess that’s what she has, it’s a gift, to see beyond things. It’s special that way. How many of us would actually, in the given situation, have that kind of mind state? It takes great deal of zeal & zest to come out & talk your heart out.

The story of this girl doesn’t end here, there are in fact way too many things that I can share about her but may be at some other point, in years to come. Where she comes from, how the circumstances were & are, I guess Celine has come a long way. She has aims but more than everything, she has what it takes to be successful in every walk of life. She’s just a good balance which needs very less help, a very good balance.

Sharing some of her posts from FB:

My Dad gave me a warm farewell yesterday…Many had tears in their eyes….After days of rain and storm,the sky cleared and the wind stopped just before the ceremony,the food was perfect and so many well wishers came from far and near to bless me…..Signs of my late mother and Late brother John’s blessing were everywhere…..feel so blessed to have such wonderful people around me…thank u Jesus!!…

Loooong time ago when i first came to the big city,I was always complimented as being ‘HONEST’ and I use to think ‘am i?’ because i didn’t know what dishonesty means and hence the difference between honesty and dishonesty…..but 10yrs down the line,today I realize I was a BLAADY PHOOL! Hehehehe! Good Morning people!

People have all kinds of pre-conceived notions about me being a Naga,a North Eastern but they can never understand the pride I take in myself for being one and Iam so very proud about the fact that the FIRST theft in my village happened ONLY a month back,we still don’t use locks in our homes,the doors are to keep animals away……..HAH!!!!! RAPE is a far cry and you people think we are lesser human beings? Shame one you!!

My Last New Year resolution was to plan and lose weight in 2012..I did a thorough planning,which took time but finally I think I’m ready to launch my plan in 2013…hehehe! 😛

I will just leave this with one thought: That I am proud of her. I am someone who will always have tremendous amount of respect for her. She’s that one person you need or want when life throws tantrums at you & all you want to do is, kick life back!

PS: She’s like a Moroccan Spice flavor candle & she has gone nuts after reading this line!

PPS: Link to her Social Group, Khiuke!

PPPS: I wrote this blog in a very friendly manner, the way I would tell her stories to a friend may be. Again, that’s what she has, a gift of putting things & people at ease. So, thank you, my friend, Celine!

Have a brilliant Women’s day, like the rest of the 364!

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Voice: My Only Choice!

Gloomy as it was, dark as it was,
I felt the pain, the way it never was,
***
My mirror tinted itself in shame,
How do I cope with this burning flame,
***
Nothing new yet everything’s changed,
The air I breath is not the same,
***
There seems to be dilemma, there seems to be confusion,
Helpless as I stand, no more disillusioned,
***
The smoke in the eyes, the ache in the gut,
My heart bleeds, so deep is the cut,
***
The canon roared, it was nothing but a lousy snore,
The gas followed but never scored,
The faces we expected, were behind the doors,
We were thousands, we were lakhs,
Wait for the moment, we are becoming your painful crores,
***
My skirt, my sari – my shorts, my salwar,
My neckline, my shawl – my dress, my burqa,
They make me Durga, they make me whore,
My drawer takes a call as my democracy still isn’t sure,
***
Restlessness I saw in the candle flames,
Had the courage to make ashes of the shameless fame,
Dented as we only stare, as on board game,
Demand a new paint, to frame the lame,
***
The streets, oh dear, saw it all,
They tell me, my sister, they are still appalled,
They sent the message to their core,
They demand a furor, they can bear no more,
***
You screeched, you yelled, you asked, you cried, you revolted,
You laid, you crawled, you fought, you went, you came, you smiled,
You talked, you influenced, you turned, you turned,  but you never returned!
***
My hands join, I am on my knees,
My prayers are endless, such chilling moments are these,
Be safe in heaven, now you have the keys,
Oh my dear sister, may you rest in peace,
May you rest in peace!
*****
 Neha MK
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The Tinted Frame by NMK

It gives me immense pleasure, joy & excitement in announcing my new photo-blog to all of you. Photography has always been my favorite subject. I’m taking a major step in transforming my father’s hobby in to a profession of my own. I’m more than grateful to him for assimilating this art in me for he believes in every picture he clicked and followed this very quote,

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange.

Here’s the link to ‘The Tinted Frame by NMK’ for all of you. Please subscribe, show me your love like you always have. I would love to hear back from you.

You can also stay glued via Facebook too.

Sending heaps of love to each one of you. xx

PS: I have no clue why I used Italics this time. Anyway, catch the links & subscribe.

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Happy Independence Day!

A very Happy Independence Day to all the Indians around the world!

It’s not going to be one of those patriotic & protracted posts. I don’t see myself as proficient enough to write about the country & where we are heading blah blah!

There’s only one thing I would like to share, one video, the Indian National Anthem! This one in specific is profoundly special. In Mumbai, every theater you visit, it’s mandatory to play the National Anthem & without a doubt this one left a significant impression on me. It has given me goose bumps a thousand times, so go ahead feel it yourself! And No, you don’t need to know Hindi for this. It’s all feelings with music which know no language.

Jai Hind!

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A Visit To Kamathipura On International Sex Workers’ Day.

My first encounter like most of the Indian kids, to dating, love, romance, marriage, kids, travel, was through Indian cinema. I accompanied my parents to the theaters and movie halls every single time and was exposed to Indian or Bollywood movies at a very very young age. I remember we had this black & white television in a shutter box, our first, which I loved. As I’ve mentioned how badly I love watching movies and the testimony to that is, when I took my first steps, in our living room, I moved towards the TV set but not towards my father, who was the first to witness me walk.  Then, we never missed a chance to sit as a family with snacks on every weekly movie being shown on Doordarshan, the national broadcasting channel and the only one which existed at that time. And every Wednesday at 1800h, I would get glued to the TV set to watch some amazing old Hindi songs. I would be on DND mode during that half hour. Wednesday nights for this little girl were full of mixed dreams & emotions. The romance, the technicality of making movies, the lifestyle of the actors, the media, the publicity, the fame, the controversies followed by a series of serious questions – “How does Doordarshan manages to telecast a movie exactly at 1800h every Sunday?” and then the bigger one, “How do actors manage to change their attires in a snap?”, my small imagination wondered.

As I grew up, the black & white got replaced by a colored one. We then got a VCR and my father would just not stop collecting movies, songs tapes, concerts tapes etc. The house used to turn in to a mini theater. Our neighbors & the relatives close by would join us frequently. We would watch wedding recordings with a gathering of about 20-25 people, and everyone would end up laughing hysterically at all the stupid things they did. Weird dance steps by my mother’s aunts and uncles were the highlight of every screening.

Along all those silly questions, dreams, gatherings, there came a time when I started to understand that there’s after all more to society than what I see on the celluloid. It’s just not the happy picture always, it’s not the happy ending always, life is not always about struggling & sticking together as a family during hard times, life has more ugly twists than just taking a revenge from an underworld don for making your mother’s life miserable twenty years ago. Life is not about giving sympathy to a handicapped sibling and inspire her to become one of the biggest scientists. Life is more than just sacrificing your love for your friend. Life is definitely more than being in Switzerland’s snow-capped mountains or in a tulip garden in Holland and singing in a chiffon sari. It’s also not just about being a martyr and fighting for your country. My imagination scaled up. Yes, there was more to life.

The ugly truth came out. The unreal-to-a-child-world started unveiling. The darker side started to show its reflection. I was baffled, I was confused, I was effected to see this whole new side of Indian cinema. It was absolutely discomforting to see something which was not only disgusting but was also demeaning. I started to doubt the intentions of all the film makers. For this little girl, it was upsetting to see her favorite actors go to unreal places and do unreal things. Her favorite musicians and singers were producing music for the same movie. A questions struck the mind again, “Why aren’t they making movies on a positive, neat, non-vulgar, non-violent subject?”. The disgusted me said to myself, “My movie watching days are over”.

Well, the most disheartening experience as a child or a teenager was to see a new dimension to all the relationships. There were new ones and abnormal ones. My memory doesn’t serve me right, as I fail to recollect the first movie on the subject I’m talking about this time, Prostitution. The thought would make me sick all the time. Is it for real? Is it really a profession? How can it be a profession? Why would a girl or a woman go to such an extent just to earn money? I had nothing but disrespect for all of them. The heart was full of hatred. Why can’t they choose an alternate way to make money? How can they sell themselves? Is it characteristically or humanly possible? How can they get naked in front of strange, weird, full of lust people? And having sex with them was beyond my visualization & understanding. It was outrageous, obnoxious & the emotions were uncontrollable & unparalleled. “Throw me any situation, I’ll fight it out. I have it in me, I’m no less, but not under any condition, will I surrender myself ” she said while praying one night – the little girl had something in her, I tell you!

As I grew older and started to explore my own self, made new friends, started to open up, a lot changed. New perceptions, new definitions, new meanings and finally some sensible answers to every doubt & every unanswered question. I remember how helpless & scared I felt when I saw one of them standing on a bus stop one late night in Delhi. My car stopped and then my heart followed. It was horrifying. I slid further down in the back seat just to make sure I wasn’t visible. That face remains fresh in my memory. The smoky eyes, huge red lips, flashy outfit – it was an Indian salwar-suit,  jeweled from top to bottom, high heels, unmatched confidence, superb energy and vibes cutting through my window glass. If I was ten years younger, I would have pissed in my pants. That night, I didn’t sleep.

I’m a grown up now, a wife, a mother and have the capability to understand and explain what prostitution is all about. I’m no more a sleuth for the subject.

Since I’m mostly writing about women along with my personal life experiences, thoughts and anything I feel like expressing, I got to know about the International Sex Workers’ Day, again, just like the National Cleavage Day, something unheard of. I had to and had to look up and write about it. My imaginary flying musical notes changed to exclamation signs and started doing rounds around my head. Ideas started pouring in. What’s that one thing I could do to always remember this newly invented day in my calendar? Contemplating in my head, toying with this eerie idea & sitting next to my husband, I popped up the question, “Will you take me to Kamathipura tomorrow?”. We had a five-minute chat & the very next day, on 02nd June, we were there (I love him). It is Mumbai’s oldest red-light area. Please check this out for more intriguing details and history.

Lord Ganesha painted on a cab. What a way to start this journey! Most of the cabbies prefer an Indian God at the rear of their vehicle. It’s considered as a blessing.

That little girl inside me told me to visit this area. I won’t say that I wasn’t skeptical, I was. I simply didn’t know what to expect, what exactly was I looking for, will I be able to see something unseen, will I be able to feel the vibe, will I be able to click pictures, what if I get questioned, what if I get misunderstood, what if someone attacks and takes away my camera, what if I offend someone? The kind of person I am, if I get a feeling, a very strong feeling, I just blindly go with the flow, and I did.

One of my favorite clicks by far. Love this picture. This is on our way.

When my husband asked what exactly I was planning on doing, my answer to him was, nothing! We didn’t speak with each other until we came out of that area. There were thoughts squeezing in to my brain, my heart kept thumping, I felt short of breath while we drove. My hands went cold. I just kept looking out without a blink. I observed & consumed.

Kamathipura is located right between where we are & that building.

It was around 1800h and a couple of people I had spoken with suggested us to visit around 2000h(which we deliberately declined) as that’s when the whole market starts to heat up. The real picture comes out only when the place is lit up, when you can hear the music, when you feel embarrassed if someone comes out of the window & whistles or winks at you. And I said, ‘window’? You will see why.

A coal & a wood shop.

When I clicked this, my thoughts: The people look normal. The life looks normal. Was I insane to come here? Nothing looks abnormal or dysfunctional.  This is Mumbai, an everyday Mumbai. Or may be I should have come a little later, this trip looks like a waste. This doesn’t make any sense. I don’t make any sense. The idea was so ill-considered that it wasn’t even laughable.

A tea & snack corner. Don’t miss the dental care clinic by the side. I like, I like!

All I could observe was that the number of personal cars were lesser than any other markets of Mumbai. I’m sure the reason is obvious. People driving in & out with families avoid the route & the reason was evident.

A Medical store, are you kidding me?! (Only because I never expected one).

Now, I have to admit the two fleeting thoughts which hit my mind instantly when I saw this medical store: A. I was really happy, relieved & at peace by its presence. It just gives you hope, that’s it. That is the word. Of course, I didn’t expect a condom vending machine here and yet, I smiled. B. Well, more than a thought, it was my conceptualization which worked an extra second, I wondered if they have one first aid box and a fire fighter in every house or room or ‘window’. Yes, I did think that way, don’t ask me why?

The corner structures like this one are in huge numbers in the heritage areas of Mumbai. I can see the inspiration could be the Fuller Building in Manhattan, NYC. I simply couldn’t get that structure out of my head. Or the source of the inspiration could be somewhere else.

I recognize the struggle within me while I was trying to understand this whole picture & idea of prostitution, the pickle is to make your kids understand the same thing in a sane manner. They eventually will know & learn the pros & cons of the society we live in, & situations which are out of our control at times. But, exactly how does one start the conversation on the right note? I can talk about kidnapping, black magic, robbing, intercourse, rapes, STDs etc. but when it comes to prostitution, holy crap! My mind fails to give me a wise answer. I hope I get to that soon. Not something to look forward to though.

A normal base with an abnormal head.

My heart capsized the moment I saw these ‘windows’. Ssshhhh! – I immediately instructed my thoughts piling over my head. Why are these windows open at this hour, it isn’t dark enough, I asked myself? The more sensible part of the brain answered, “Really, that’s what you’re thinking? MAY BE IT’S FOR SOME FRESH AIR, YOU DUMB ASS!”. Keeping the laughter aside, one part of me was extra greedy to get a sneak peek. On the other hand, the second part said the opposite, it told me to roll over my window glass. I stayed calm as I had decided to not to click the worker’s picture without her consent, personally for me, it’s unethical, so we took our next turn.

The lanes looked unending, deep & dark.

It amazed me how poverty and other reality tours are getting popular in India. Be it the Dharavi slums, Kamathipura or the slums in Kolkata, foreigners are willingly paying for a few hours drive in the name of ‘knowing India better’ or showcasing the ‘real India’ to the world. There are specific guides who of course have been either living in the same areas or been in and around them. There are fixed car rentals and drivers who know exactly what the customer is expecting and has already prepared the answers for the questionnaire. OK, even if they are making money or may be doing a service in uplifting the economy, I highly doubt their sophisticated and polished intentions. This isn’t Disney Land, where people get intoxicated with the abundance of joy around and tend to forget their woes. Disney Land ain’t called the happiest place in the world for no reason!

A bit low-level, underlying Mumbai here.

This is the way I feel. One, I will never, on an international vacation spend a single rupee to visit a red-light area of the US or the Netherlands, unless, I’m an artist. I have seen foreigners vacationing in India with family & kids taking a stroll here. Two, forget about foreigners, when us, being Indians are mocking around everywhere about the whole situation and people, how do we expect someone from another region to pay a tiny bit of respect for our conditions? This is beyond demeaning. This is no entertainment & far from the Kardashian television. Also, knowing how efficient the government system is, are there any records to show that the money is veritably helping the people, no, we haven’t witnessed any visible changes in or around this whole process. It is simply appalling.

There is no place to stand or walk during the night time, here, at this place.

Kolkata recently witnessed a protest by sex workers against USA for the denial of visa for the International AIDS Conference held in Washington. Eventually, they held a parallel conference in Kolkata. The city witnessed thousands gathered on the streets with red umbrellas from almost 42 countries. What agitated me was, why not revolt or protest for something more reasonable, may be mandatory education for all in the community? If all of you get together, and there is a chance that you have an idea that you’ll be heard, then why not do MUCH MORE?

The only wide opened road.

Not just Indians, there are numerous girls who come in every year from foreign lands & get settled here choosing Prostitution as their primary profession. You may not find them in the red light areas but they are available through agents, they visit hotels and private parties or could be living in a posh society unlike the ones here. It’s the same rule I say, the rich becomes richer & the poor becomes poorer. It’s keep getting complex and very journalistic and that’s where I draw my line.

The Twilight Saga! This perhaps is another shot very close to my heart, another favorite. It carries a stock of warmth. The journey started with ‘windows’ & we see plenty of them here.

I name this picture, The Twilight Saga, which to many sex workers translates as the beginning of the first dark night, or an unending sorrowful episode, or a wild party, or an unbearable abuse, or losing strength, or mourning, or a piece of jewelry, or just another fun night, or an unanswered prayer, or a fight with HIV, or a kid’s school uniform/school fee, or savings for a planned escape, or the rent for her parent’s house, or helping a friend, or medical services for a sibling, or A TRAP!

I love the blue in the picture but not the synonyms.

Saw a lady collecting all the washed clothes. Someone mentioned, they are clearing off the view.

Mr. Peek-a-boo!

The man peeping out of the window smiled at me as if he was some celebrity & I was some interviewer. Trust me, if he was standing on the road, I would’ve definitely interviewed him. He seemed knowledgeable, comfortable & confident too. Rest of the story – I don’t know.

One of the rooms with the lights on as the Sun sets.

I saw the lights on & surprisingly, it didn’t have any impact on me. I was neutral no motion, no emotion, no sense, no feelings, just blank & bland. There is no reason to get excited & it isn’t necessary to jump out of the car just because you finally see an opportunity to capture the unseen in your mind. I started getting restless & panicky a while later and I told my husband to take me back. It was not the right time for a confrontation or may be an eye contact and that’s all I was trying to avoid. It can be hard for some and I was one of them.

The last window!

The journey ended here. My last click of that evening. Something so strong comes out of this picture, sadly enough, not what makes me chirpy. All it gives me is discontent, it doesn’t give me hope, it’s unsanitary, it’s rotten, it’s corroding, it’s brutal, it’s got a thousand horrifying untold stories – a plethora, it’s agonizing, it’s like a bad dream which will loom over me, it’s alarmingly wounded after all, a window of millions shattered dreams and to me, it’s dead. It doesn’t breathe, it doesn’t!

If I could, I would just make all the sex workers hear one of my all time favorite songs. It’s a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, Ekla chalo re! (Translation here). Please don’t underestimate the power you have as a Female Human, make self-belief your harness & you can climb the biggest mountain of any sort, even suffering! Go, WALK ALONE.

Lastly. I wrote exactly what popped up in my head. The politically correct drama doesn’t suit me well, personally or professionally, I’ve tried and it’s so brruullgghhtthhhrrrsszzz. I’ve said this earlier too when I started the blog that I’ll try to be as realistically honest as I can and you know what, I’m glad I’m sticking to that. This post was not meant to judge people or have some sort of opinion on anyone related to a certain community, these are my feelings, a way to get that small girl inside me out in the open and at peace. I’m sure all of us have had similar situations where we had nowhere to go and no one to ask (so wish Google was born in the 80s). Well, I’m feeling lighter after writing this, mission accomplished, that’s one chapter closed, shall get to another one now.

PS: Different websites suggested different dates for the International Sex Workers’ Day. Choose yours, I did mine.

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I Breathe, I Freeze, An Unrecognized Piece!

The day I count the hours, I sense fear,

The needles, I proclaim, suffer stereotype syndrome, it’s clear,

Many occasions and many eves,

They teased me repeatedly and slammed my beliefs,

I breathe, I freeze, I become some unrecognized piece.

**

Uncertainty nothing unusual,

I disregarded- the canary had mentioned, now I recollect,

This may backfire, I’m beginning to suspect,

I collect the trash, here, I dropped the keys,

I breathe, I freeze, I become some unrecognized piece.

**

Expedite the process, my heart is thumping,

The pills, no not the pills I wish, help in slumping,

I dread further, as for eclipse, I’m not out of reach,

Escaping this hour will allow the breach,

I breathe, I freeze, I become some unrecognized piece.

**

I have clinched my past, over and over,

How to showcase my present, I question my floorcover,

My surroundings are spitefully silent,

The walls give out the half-screech,

I breathe, I freeze, I become some unrecognized piece.

**

Arrest me for good, I bend, I pray,

Make me a monument, or should I say,

Harmony, if I may insist, sit next before you preach,

Combat vanity, maneuver the remaining peace,

I breathe, I freeze, I become some unrecognized piece.

**

I wish I may, I wish I might, become an unattainable piece, just tonight.

**

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Speechless On The Second Award – The Versatile Blogger!

Two awards in two months, given by two fellow bloggers. ‘Two’-da!

I have to say that the timings for such a great news couldn’t be better. I’ve been in a bumpy ride lately, dealing with some tough personal stuff with a lot of positivity and courage, and this seems to be the perfect token of appreciation. These are signs to reassure me that someone up there is really happy with me which is why I’ve managed to come out as neat as a new pin even after a visit to cesspool. My heartfelt thanks to Cyranette and Peter for giving me another reason to bloom.

I’ve been given The Versatile Blogger Award and I have a feeling I can’t describe.

I further pass on this love to these amazing people who are an inspiration to many including myself.

Now, 7 things about myself?

  1. I want to visit Morocco.
  2. I once saw some goons annoying a minor and I called the cops knowing I was alone and far from family & friends.
  3. I never bunked school.
  4. I take 2-3 months to finish reading a book.
  5. Would love to learn a dance form with my daughter. (I say Indian classical)
  6. Scared of Lizards but can face a Lion.
  7. Have to experience Skydiving and Scuba Diving.

I’m thankful to all my readers and fellow bloggers, each one of you has made a lot of  difference in my life in one way or other. Sending lots of love back to all of you.

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The email which became a blog. Re-blogging on International Mother’s day. Love to all!

Female Humans

I would like to wish all the mothers around the world, a very happy Mother’s day.

Here’s what I have to say about the two most beautiful Female Humans/Mothers I’ve ever known. I’d say undoubtedly, I AM LUCKY!

The one who carried me inside her for nine months, gave birth & when she held me in her arms for the first time, she looked into my eyes, kissed me and said, ”You are the most precious gift I have ever received, thanks for blessing me as a mother, I owe you my life”. She eventually became my best friend, a friend I could be honest to. I still move to her for comfort.
Her positive approach is infectious. Her calmness is endearing. Her toughness can make any man cry.  Her determination & will power are not somethings one would take for granted. She talks to the almighty for me and it always works…

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26! Not Less, Not More.

I’ve missed you too. Why have I been away? My reasons, activities and learning, from A to Z.

A: A lot has happened.

B: Bad, better, best and brilliant things have knocked at the door. I’ve cherished them all. We all learn each day, explore new dimensions every now and then. To me, there is no end to knowledge and learning. Personally, professionally, emotionally, physically and psychologically too, there’s so much to occupy and absorb. Every second is a chance to experience the inexperienced and initiate the adjourned. Never let the chance go, sorrow too, in my belief, sends a huge sensation to the body, let it attack if it has to, just hold yourself together and you will see how the body in turn reflects the negativity out of your system. That’s my method of dealing with madness. It eventually makes me stronger and bolder.

C: Chasing or checking on life and living, both, are not my cups of tea.

D: Decided, declared and doffed without dreading.

E: Ever heard ear-splitting music sitting on an easy-chair? No, I won’t call you an eccentric, but I definitely am.

F: Functioning fantastically with so much fun around.

G: Good things come in small packages and great things, when you have genuineness of body, heart, mind and soul.

H: Heard hypocritical hymn. Yeah, don’t hush me up!

I: Ignited ideas! An extremely crucial section is on its way on the blog. I’m busy making notes and a lot of other stuff, that’s one reason I couldn’t write anything for the last couple weeks. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but then I always respect commitment, personal or professional, mine or someone else’s. Some more patience. YOU, will definitely be a part of it, cross my heart. Wish me luck.

J: Jack in the box! Yep, few surprises. Keep reading.

K: Kerala trip (my second) got postponed. We were to go with the family this time, may be in the next vacation.

L: Love, laziness, lake-shore, lilies, lap, lasagna, lava cake, la la la la la la la!

M: Magazine on my table, Vogue. Reason is Gauri Khan on the cover. There is so much I want to write about her, sit with her, just talk to her. This may sound exorbitantly inane, but I relate to her on many levels. Give me about 15 years to prove this. She is special. Love her.

N: Neha not naive! Enough said.

O: Ocean waves oscillating, Indian ocean‘s pictures coming soon!

P: Popeye popped up on YouTube, thanks to the daughter, she has the ability to hijack my laptop. One of my old time favorites. I was called Olive by one of my dear friends some years back. Me, nowhere close to Olive, but I undoubtedly have a mimicker inside me. Ao Popeye!

Q: Questions, both important and unimportant, answered!

R: Racing to be a regular. I’ve been busy and occupied lately. I miss this space as much as everyone else who eagerly awaits my blog. One of my dearest friends from UAE, she threatened me in a way for not writing in at a set pace. Boost to me and love to her.

S: Sister got engaged. Yes, yes, yes, is why I’ve been distracted. I’ve stopped walking, I hop now, a lot, which might transform into high and long jumps soon, as the wedding is in two months, it’s awfully sooner than expected. I would like a generous portion of oxygen, please!

T: Tuning to the tantrums of time. Ticktock, ticktock, don’t mock, don’t mock! I have started freelancing. It’s my first assignment, no, I’m not a writer, but it’s more of a corporate + service industry + good money kind of deal. The first few weeks were tough but I’m turning better.

U: U-turn at times is the toughest skill to acquire as a driver. I guess in life too. Once you’ve taken a step and your heart told you that’s the right thing to do, then at least for me, there’s no u-turn. There are certain ultra-mundane things I believe in. The best part is, people who really get me, have never asked for an explanation, so!

VViagra, really? Yes, I get tons of spam emails trying to sell me some. Do you get such funny, erotica stuff in your mail box? What was your reaction the first time? And now?  Let’s discuss it one day, mail me. I do have a security system, just so you know.

W: ‘WP 5K’, does it ring a bell? Yep, the 5K marathon I was excited to run on the 29th April, well, I had to travel to Delhi to attend the unexpected engagement ceremony of my sister, so I gave it a miss. I’ve decided that I’ll still do it on one of coming Sundays. The adrenaline rush refuses to settle down, something good is about to follow, let’s do it.

X: X-mas picture! Found a couple of old Christmas pictures of my nephew (now 10) in my old album bag at my mum’s. His smile brought a spark in my eyes and pressed F5 to refresh my memories. I wrote a little note at the back of the picture, wrapped it and gave it to my aunt for him. I’m sure he’ll call back.

Y: ‘Y r u nt tkg ma kal?’ Something stops me to reply to such text messages. I’ve always maintained a distance from such abbreviations (so-called). They annoy my core. Spend 2 more seconds and write something which is pleasant to eyes if not mind. This one scores high on my pet peeve list and I have a long one. You?

Z: Zzzz..zzzz…zzzz. Nighty-night! Time to make up for all the sleepless nights lately.

I have a feeling that you shared at least one thing from this list with me. Some incident, some learning, something,  is it? Let me know.

Love to all of you! I’ll be back sooner this time.

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Thank You For The Sunshine Award! Love Is Pouring From Around The World.

I can’t thank you enough. It’s your love, kindness and patience  which made it possible. I’m on cloud nine. It’s the best thing to happen to me in a long time.

My first award. Thank you, Tin Man!

You’ll see this picture now on the right side of my blog. A permanent fixture!

I’m expected to give out some more details about myself as a tiny ‘celebrity’. So, here are the ten questions that I need to answer. Have fun reading!

The purity, the calmness, the peacefulness, that's what defines color White. (PS: Color Green is second in my favorite list) Image Courtesy: ucables.com

  • Your Favorite Animal: Elephant.

It's a bit strange to like Elephants, right? Something tells me that there is an unknown and unrealized story behind this. I hope I find it out soon. And I promise to share. Image Courtesy: http://www.10topten.com

  • Your Favorite Number: 9.

There is such a powerful connection with this number, that I can't even begin to think of an explanation. May be I'll write a book on this. Image Courtesy: psysoul.deviantart.com

  • Your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Mojito.

From Virgin Pina Colada & Virgin Mary to Virgin Mojito. I remember having three the very first time and I had to be told to stop, would have had one more for sure. Image Courtesy: chiknpastry.com

  • Your Preferred Site, Facebook or Twitter – FacebookTwitter – TwitterFacebook – FacebookTwitter – ?

These are two different worlds, two different platforms, different functionality. Each has positive and negative. One lets me connect to the known and the other lets me explore the unknown. Love both, hate both, can't choose. Image Courtesy: fuelthefuture.adweek.com

  • Your Passion: Anything artistic, but clearly photography on top now.

As I always say, ''My Pictures, My Story''. This is what I use to illustrate what I feel. Me and my NikonD5100. Too precious! Image Courtesy: engadget.com

  • Getting or Giving what do you like: Giving presents.

I've always enjoyed giving presents to my loved ones. I love giving surprises too. Image Courtesy: onthejob.45things.com

  • Your Favorite Pattern: Circle.

No end, no beginning / Circle of Life / Karma: What goes around comes around. Simple, isn't it? Image courtesy: spainpoland.blogspot.in

  • Your Favorite Day of the Week: Sunday.

The day I was born, Sunday. Also because of the 'Sun' present in the name. Image Courtesy: universalscraps.com

White Lilies. So amazing, as if they are offering everything they have. I never forget to hug them whenever I meet them. So now you know which flowers to send me, right? Image Courtesy: flowers-magzine.com

Now, as per the responsibilities given to the winner, I have the honor of nominating people. I’m so thrilled to do this. So, here they are.

  1. Marilyn McCottrell, who is an inspiration to many Female Humans.
  2. Jessie, who’s never without his Shutter Bug.
  3. Nikolay Kotev, who has a plethora of European History stories.
  4. Russel Chapman, whose mojo lies in his abstract photography.
  5. Eric Wang, who taught the term Brain Constipation to many.
  6. Bente Haarstad, to whom childhood memory means, skiing.
  7. Cyranette, who can’t stop writing and sends a new word out everyday.
  8. Leah Yetter, showcasing a gorgeous cow-girl life through her lens.
  9. Mark Berkery, whose favorite quote is, ”To bee or not to bee”.

Much congratulations to all of you. Sending lots of love across borders.

Each one of them is doing a stupendous job in their fields and I’m learning so much from them, everyday. Visit their blogs to believe it.

Once again, many many thanks!

I love you all.

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