One never knows what may inspire one to get to a laptop and start writing. So when I began, I intended to write on what sruck me first thing as I picked up the newspaper this morning. No, it wasn’t the two front-page advertisements Times of India has been selling to us off-late. Rather, the story on Rashid Ahmed, caught for carrying fake currency and his 8 years sentence in jail. The Times of India was rather vague in the details they provided to this story, so I was obviously shocked in assuming that he was sentenced to jail for not being able to produce the 3 Lakh rupees fine. I was appalled, for if one can spare himself jail time by producing a huge fine- aren’t we buying off justice? What I’m saying is, if there is an option for paying a fine, then one hasn’t committed a crime large enough for the alternative to be jail. I did set my facts straight eventually- though something continued to nibble at the back of my head. That being, the fact that Rashid Ahmed was a Foreign National in an Indian jail. Implying? Well, simply the fact that their immigration body- The Bangladesh High Commission is responsible for assissting them through a case like this one. I’m not saying they didn’t- but if this were (for example) a Canadian National, the case would be dealt-with immediately. We could state that the lapse in management and assistance of the Bangladesh government is not to blame India’s justice system, perhaps. Maybe. Or, it could reflect on the biggest, most basic problem of our justice system: the TIME it takes to provide justice. I’ll state to you the simplest example: Ajmal Kasab. For a high-profile case like his, took approximately 3 years only in convicting him- after which, he was put on a list of people who were yet to receive death sentence (one of them, all the way back since 1991).
People are picked up by the police, innocents in a lot of cases, accused and charged- put into jail, and their case is finally heard in court after years. A lot of times, these are also children. What happens here is, that these children are put into jail with hardcore criminals for years before their hearing- intent of the police being to find someone to charge so the case can be closed. Since the case will be heard in court years later and by then even if the charged is proven innocent, the police doesn’t need to worry about finding the real criminal. In all this, while the criminal roams free, an innocent is serving jail-time for years, with criminals learning nothing but crime. These people when released, are not educated nor have they seen the world. So they do what they know best- crime.
A simple thing as delay in justice continues to breed a further cycle of criminals. As they say, justice delayed is most often than not- justice denied.
‘Why do we stand this bloody climate?’ He asked suddenly, making a gesture towards the rain-distorted window. ‘Look at it! And, if it comes to that.. Look at us. Margo swollen up like a plate of scarlet porridge, Leslie wandering around with fourteen fathoms of cotton wool in each ear, Gerry sounds as though he’s had a cleft palate from birth.. And look at you! You’re looking more decrepit and hag-ridden every day."
My Family and Other Animals, Gerard Durrell
‘Disgusting! The porridge is burnt again!’"
Men for women
Can men help eradicate violence against women? Absolutely. Even with the existence of policies and laws, women continue to remain vulnerable to all kinds of violence. The National Commission for Women Act (1990), Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) and Protection for Women against Sexual Harassment Bill (2007) have all proven futile over the years.
We’re well-aware of the problem: when was the last time someone was punished? When you know you’ll get away, what’s stopping you? Repeatedly, we list a number of solutions. Solutions that are far from achievable. What does one need then? Apart from the obvious: laws that will work and their proper implementation- what? Education. In the recent years, we have come to realize, that in educating the society, can we really change its thinking. In changing the men, can we eradicate the violence. We live in a society that endorses patriarchy so much, that it is often stifling to be a woman. The metropolitans have advanced. But has much else changed? Not very much. The rest of our country still struggles with issues as these on a daily basis. It is a concept so entrenched in our society, that the only possible solution is a stand for women, by men.
What I imply, is that to eradicate violence, it is often necessary for men to stand up for it. Why? To set an example. Women have been fighting for themselves since the beginning of time. What happened? Nothing. Nothing changed, nothing improved. Our country is developing, so is our society, having changed a number of perspectives and outlooks. Today, we can call ourselves aware. Today, we are capable of taking a stand. The two worlds seem so contrary. When the fight is against crimes by men, it becomes imperative for men to take a stand. Agreed, we cannot get by stating that men must take a stand while women sit and wait. But really- is that all that is happening? Women have been fighting. We are not addressing the issue that women must stand up for their rights. Indeed, they must. And they are. In the larger scheme of things- they stand alone. A little help from the opposite sex only shows support, further strengthening their stand.
City of Funny Water Tanks
We enter Amritsar, and its like time stood still in this city. For its just as it might have been 20 years ago. ‘Traffic’ means autos and cycle rickshaws. The latter, mostly. Garbage is still collected in carts, bullock carts on the street are as normal as attendance issues in Delhi University, there are no less than 3 guys on every bike, and every available space on sidewalks and roundabouts are taken up by vendors selling everything under the sun. Water tanks have funny shapes: some in the same of footballs, some with massive birds created on them.
Also, I just happened to notice an auto parked in an underground mall parking. There are thin roads inside the city with shops named Pammi, Happy and Goldy on either side, and old banks with broken windows. Houses have the big huge meters Delhi outgrew ten years ago, with clutters of wires across the streets in the sky. The main means of transport is still auto rickshaws.
What I like about the city though, is how well it still depicts India as it might have been 30 years ago. But while there’s beauty in it from a tourist’s perspective, for someone to return after living in a metropolitan, would be tough. Luckily for the city though, the culture hasn’t advanced at all. The culture has been sustained since ‘then’ and there’s hardly been a change. You’d think its because the city is so far north, so far from a metropolitan, that any drastic change in culture hasn’t yet reached Amritsar.
Anyway, so in utter chaos we’re inching forward and they happened to make an entire speed-breaker in the middle of heavy mid-day traffic, right in front of us.
Dad: “what are they doing under our car?”
Me: “they’re making a speed-breaker”
Dad: “where is the speed to break!?”
On entering the Golden Temple, I’m struck by the number of people present there. Being a friday, I’m not surprised there were thousands of people. Looking beyond them, the lake around the main Golden bit of the temple, is so serene. All around it the white marble adds to the softness.
There’s a huge line to visit the temple, so we’re sandwiched between 500 people, all pushing one another to move. It struck me then, that we all want to visit the temple in the name of paying our duties to God, but we don’t stop to think about how we’re getting there. Its seen as a ‘duty’ and so it must be done. In that line around me, so many people fought with each other to get ahead. Yes, its hot and claustrophobic. And yes, everyone is getting impatient. But right before we enter the temple, we’re fighting and arguing. We don’t even stop to realize that we are here not to show our faces and leave. We’re here to pray. If not that, it isn’t fair to disrespect the prayers of those who do. Its really not that hard to stand civilly and behave with one another. We’re only here for ourselves at the end of the day. To pray. Its doing no one else any good.
On the way back to where our car was parked, was a long rickshaw ride through narrow lanes and colonies. Looking at them, I realized there was no space for the government to be able to widen the roads. There are houses and building one after the other on either side, all through the city. To actually be able to fix infrastructure in such a city would require so much rebuilding. They would have to break much of it down to start all over again.
We drive out of Amritsar- navigation system absolutely useless. On one side of the road are army camps, and I was thrilled to see the moving tanks and the tents. On the other, were mustard farms. I don’t know if my love for these comes from DDLJ, but I’ve always been fascinated by the yellow flowers. I ask dad to slow down so I can lower the window and take pictures.
"You will never grow up," he says. Oh well :D
A Big Fat Punjabi Wedding
Wake up call, 5:30 A.M. We’re headed to Punjab by car, and the road trip is all I’m looking forward to. Of course, apart from the chicken parathas on the way. Any resemblance to Punjab, is ghee and milk to me. As is rule while traveling with dad, his ipod plays on shuffle, and I get to sync my playlist a night before. Some ten thousand songs vs 3.5 thousand and you can imagine my disappointment. We start from home, dad fiddling with the navigation device. 20 mins gone and finally- expressway! “Can you shut your laptop? Then you’re going to feel pukish again” Okay. I take out my ipod and put on the earplugs. What ensues is a conversation on how technology has ruined this generation. We pass Pitampura. Old Danceworx studio, TV tower: such memories! Dad: “TV tower bye bye” Me: “what are you doing?” Dad: “you would say that to the TV tower everytime you came here for your dance classes” And I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, what an embarrassment I must have been” I was under the impression wherever we’re going is on the way to chandigar, so it wouldn’t be all that far. Turns out, its almost twice the distance. The drive was comfortable for most part though, with Guns N Roses and Bob Marley. So we’re now at an army cant- for lack of hotels here. Can’t say I’m excited to be here, mostly because of the weather. I happen to have a major aversion to cold, winter being absolutely painful to me.
Okay. Hot coffee arrives.♥