Dec 26, 2012

Photo Journal: The week leading to Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone, even though I am posting this on the 26th.

Here I am, all jumbled up in a quilt that came as a Christmas gift from someone I've never met or known before. My little piece of Christmas miracle! I love the little surprises that God tends to throw my way! Yet, I'm tired and physically exhausted from all the activities that I, as a Mizo Christian, am privileged enough to partake during the Christmas season. My throat is sore from all the singing and for the first time in my life, I am sore from dancing in church! Heh!! (Ka hlimsan kum chuan 'exer' ka la tha kher mai!)

But here's another photo post on my week leading to Christmas.

Yep! We got lucky! Zama got discharged (on request) after 9 days at the hospital. This was Day 8. Finally a fever-free day after a week. And the first thing he had to do was scrub his face. Call it whatever you want, I still call it vanity!

Our makeshift Nativity skit at our Sunday School Christmas party during the story-telling hour. The kids came up with their own lines and we had to 'make' baby Jesus from a sweater, wrap it in a t-shirt and draw his face! Heh! The gifts from the three wise men were throw-pillows too! Makeshift skit indeed!

I should stop embarrassing these two! But clearly, it seems Buata and I are the only ones who could stay awake even out of cordiality. Heh! This time they fell into slumber right in the middle of a 'thingpui senhang' conversation after lunch with an elderly couple. Manners, my dears!!

Nonetheless! Love you both. Much!!

My little bakers and their creation of chocolate chip cupcakes! Tastes better than anything I've ever baked. I'm so proud of them distributing their cupcakes to everyone that evening! I should take lessons from them and remember to appreciate all that they have done that evening.

 What's 'zaikhawm' without coffee in papercups??

Nope, we ain't singing! That's my good friend Ricky and I, leading the Delhi Mizo Christmas Eve Programme at Mizoram House. After lots of songs, prayers and a myriad of special items, we ended the programme with a Midnight mass.

Need I say more, this next picture sums up the meaning of the season's greetings!

And I thought I would have more pictures on Christmas day. But I was on my 'nuthlawi attire' with puan and flats dancing my way to satisfaction on the zaikhawm dancefloor. What can I say?? It's my hlimsang year! Haih Jish!

And while uploading this, I thought I'd make do with hostel mess for dinner while everyone back home is at the Christmas feast. But I just got a phonecall with a dinner invitation from a family nearby. I told you so, God and his little surprises! I try to never take anything for granted anymore.

Merry Christmas again!

Dec 18, 2012


I have often raised voice against sexual violence on women and children, more so recently. If you are a regular at this blog, you would know the kind of emotional turmoil I have been going through the past few months, again because of this same issue. But the current news on the Delhi gang rape left me totally speechless. 

Yesterday, I was at my usual evening classes with S. I came straight for the class from the hospital where I spend Sunday night and I haven't had a peek at the newspaper. While S was working on a comprehension passage, I took a twitter break where I came across feeds on the gang rape. What was more chilling about the news was the details. The incident happened just on my 'neighborhood' on a bus route I often took.  And the victim had a male friend with her when they were attacked. I could not help but be slapped on the face with the reality and the close vicinity of the incident. It could have been me!! So many times have I tread that same route with but mostly without male friends. 

I'm not proud to say it, but what can I do, I live in India's Rape Capital. I travel alone most of the time and I am also in research where sometimes I have to stay out late or return to campus late. I often talked about the difficulty of living in a city like Delhi with this 'alien' face. I always make sure I am appropriately dressed; I don't venture out in certain places at certain hours; I only keep close company of  people I know well; I do not party, I do not drink and I always make sure I do not mix with 'certain' people at certain hours. If I have to travel alone after dark, I always pick the busiest street and I go out of my way to stay away from big burly autowallahs and pick the puniest ones no matter how much they charge me.  All the while I know with all my heart that such precautions are not going to work for long, if rapists run rampant in the city I live in; Delhi Police looks for reasons to blame the victims and law and order turns its head the other way.

Do I feel safe in Delhi? No. Have I ever felt safe in Delhi? Never. I always tense up when I travel alone in  a lonely stretch of road even during daytime. And this evening, I panicked, screamed and ran when a huge van with dark windows slowed down next to me. The driver looked puzzled. It turns out he was asking for directions. Though it was a good hour before sunset, can you really blame me for being jumpy when such news haunts the city? But when I looked at the statistics, I was nauseated. According to the National Crime Records Bureau figures, which document only cases registered with the police, the national capital had 453 cases of rape in 2011. Mumbai, the city with the next highest incidence, had only half this number.

And all that talk about dress code, Bullshhhhh!! During my first semester in Delhi, I was 'grabbed' at the supposedly 'safe' environment of the the Library an hour after lunch. And I was clad in a full salwar suit, complete with the dupatta. When the campus security reached me, I was already a jumble of nerves and tears. Luckily they nabbed the culprit without asking me weird questions. I vaguely remembered filing an FIR before he was dragged away. I went a couple of times to Patiala House for hearing. I wasn't about to let it go easily. It doesn't matter to me if that person barely grazed my shoulders or tore my salwar, if he can do it in a campus library in daylight, he will do worse in a dark alley at midnight. And that was also my argument to the judge. I hope his stint at Tihar Jail intimidated him to some extent. 

So many times have I taken part in protests against rape and sexual violence against women in the city I lived for the past six years. Had I known, I would have taken part in the protest organised by the JNUSU today. The NDTV crew came, interviewing students on a dhaba in the campus while I went out for evening tea. I was glad to hear that the issue was debated in the Parliament today and that Jaya Bachchan had a breakdown asking the government if it had apologized to the victim's family and the country. Good question Mrs. Bachchan. Respect! 

But what can mere mortals like us do on such grounds. I'm an extremist and God forgive me if the next sentence denotes scant respect for human life. I say send the rapists straight to the gallows (I would love to say 'guillotines'!). My roommate strongly disagrees. She says castration is a better option. Let the rapists live out their life, forced to reflect on their deed every single day of their shameful existence. A few months ago I applauded when the MHIP ( the largest women's organisation in our Christian state) issued a statement saying that child rapists should be forcefully made impotent by castration. Many of my male friends disagreed saying that the MHIP should think again and are too extreme. I say, what is more extreme than rape?? You  murder a woman's soul without taking her life.

I am just too disgusted and angry that so many times have I deleted certain paragraphs from this post because I can't level with my emotions yet. I would love to end this post in a positive note. But forgive me I just can't. Rather I'd end this post with an excerpt from this brilliant article.

...being a rape victim in India is so much fun. First, you’re humiliated by the cops, then your personal life is put on trial by the media. After a couple of years being ground down by the judicial process, you get your moment in court where you’re expected to recount every detail – and I mean, every detail – in open court. All this only to find that in the great majority of cases, it’s all been for naught because the original investigation was shoddy and flawed. Your assailants go scot-free while you are tarnished for life as “damaged goods” in our enlightened society.

Good going, Delhi!! A city who boasts of its political, intellectual and feudal elites! It's a shame you will be known as 'India's Rape Capital' and rightly so!

Praying for the victim (who continues fighting for her life as I write), her injured friend and her family!!

Dec 14, 2012

Photo Journal: Meanwhile....

I went off radar (for a couple of weeks this time), and was whisked away from the blogosphere by no Prince Charming but by  research and a couple of other responsibilities.


I spent an evening with the sisters watching an rerun of '27 dresses', eating beef roast and lots and lots of green tea.

The Ravi Zacharias International Ministry (RZIM) held an event in the capital with Ravi Zacharias himself speaking a Christmas message on 'When it's not jingle all the way.' After pulling strings last minute and somehow managing entry passes for the guys and I, we were snugly seated inside Siri Fort. And the showdown happened... Imagine my disappointment when the guys dozed off. I took their pictures carefully. I know, I humiliate people in my blog. A lot. But these two deserved every bit of it!! **Frowny brows**

So I was making omelettes for my cousins when...

It's the first time in my life that I came across so many double yolks in one plate. Calories aplenty, dear cousins!!!

Two of my favorite things this season. An old cap that my Grandma gave me many Christmases ago and this huge huge mug that my dancing partner, Autea gave me for this Christmas...

Lazy weekends are spent like this. A steaming cup of Orange Spicer and a book that I'm currently studying - Richard Foster's 'Celebration of Discipline'. The book gave me a whole new insight on fasting, prayer and meditation while the Orange Spicer gave me a whole new insight on the word 'relaxing'!

And this is my Senior Class on Sunday School giving their annual exams. I have 11 names in the register while 9 appeared for exams. One was out of station while the other one suffered from what I call "Rawlthar Ngeng Syndrome" (U Zuali, engmah ka zir lova, thiamlo deuhin ka inexam ngailo!!). I will miss this batch a lot. Two of them are 'graduating' Sunday School this year. This coming Sunday is their 'Graduation party' in Sunday School and from next year they will be joining the service for the adults or 'Inhnuai' as we call them in Sunday School.

And he looks to the light...

 Yep!! That's my good good friend Zama who's admitted in the hospital for chronic typhoid, acute renal failure and liver complications. And whenever I stay the night with him, we have our own 'Kiki'. I already have so many stories to gun him down with once he gets better.

Get well soon, Mr. Facebook/Twitter Addict!!! And please stay away from social networking at least while you're sick. People don't even believe you're this sick! Heh! :P

What happened in your 'meanwhile'...??

Not Another Christmas Post...

It all started one blue night in late November. My roommate was out for the night and I was alone; in a Christmas mood and hunting new Christmas songs to download. (Yes, I'm a pirate. Notoriously so!). But I ended up being disappointed. Well, almost every album I downloaded has songs like 'All I want for Christmas' (though I'm partial towards the the Michael Buble version), Frosty The snowman, Santa Claus, Winter wonderland, White Christmas and Blue Christmas (and whatnot colored Christmases) blah blah blah! 

Then a friend of mine (a very good singer) told me to try his favorite Christmas song - 'Tennessee Christmas' where the lyrics go something like 

Another tender Tennessee Christmas, the only Christmas for me 
Where the love circles around us like the gifts around our tree
Well I know there's more snow up in Colorado than my roof will ever see
But a tender Tennessee Christmas is the only Christmas for me
(Yes. I googled the lyrics)

I went from being disappointed to confused. My first problem is that I've never been to Tennessee (or any other place mentioned in the song), and I can't fall in love with a song where the lyrics are so foreign and removed from my psyche. C'mon, I've never even seen snow yet, to even decide if I would at all love a 'winter wonderland'. (Though I strongly doubt it, my knees already sing every Delhi winter morning.)

Then my ultimate frustration blew last Monday when the auto that I rode on stopped on a red light. A street vendor came up to me carrying a Santa Claus mask and while coaxing me to buy it, said "Madamji, le lo! Aapke Prabhu hein!" (Take it. It's your god!)

I'm against Santa Claus. I always have been. I don't blame myself especially after my incident at a certain red light in South Delhi. I grew up in a household where my parents also take care of cousins three times the number of our siblings. Christmas time is always a headache for the earning members of the family. And there was no place (or the finance) to fool us kids with the 'Krismas Putar' story. I consider myself lucky now. Compared to some of my friends who grew up otherwise, Santa Claus never had a place in my heart. (Goodness Gracious, I sound like a Scrooge!) Maybe it's because I felt that Mr. Claus stole all the attention from the King born for the world, especially in the hearts of children.

A week ago while googling for the Christmas songs, I told my roommate, a Buddhist, how disappointing it is for me when  all these songs talk more about the weather and the decorations and Santa Claus rather than Christ and the gospel. That very same evening, while having dinner at a friend's place, a much older friend, a church leader expressed the very same sentiments that I had the whole week long. He quickly added "I must be getting old. I'm so narrow minded". I laughed because he is one of the most broad-minded church leaders I've ever come across.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not exactly Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes but I've been very particular about the core of Christmas. Yes, Christ Himself. And I feel that all these chart-toppers are a little bit too far off. If I look for a Christmas song, I want something which soothes not only my auditory senses but even my spiritual senses (Am I making sense at all?).

A week ago, I went for an Advance Christmas Celebration with some friends. The service was good, the programme entertaining and the food delicious. But after, a few of us decided we'll join a group of old ladies singing together in one of their homes. We ended up singing and praying the whole night. 

The next morning, on our way back to campus, I realized I hunted for the Christmas songs that I wanted in the wrong place. The Christmas spirit that I so longed for was not in the chart-topping music or in the decorations and tinsel town.

The Christmas spirit I longed for has always been in the heart of worship.

So here's to wishing you 'heartfuls' of the true Christmas Spirit every single day!

(And I stay away from a picture of a Christmas wreath or of colors red and green. :) )