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Thoughts while watching “India’s Daughter”

On Dec. 16, 2012 a girl was gang-raped by five men, brutally beaten, had her entrails pulled out of her body, and left to die on the side of a road. Leslee Udwin, a British actress and filmmaker (East is East; West is West), directed and produced a documentary based on the incident. The documentary, India’s Daughter, is aired as part of BBC’s Storyville series.

The following are my…outbursts as I watched the documentary. I doubt I display any hint of objectivity.

I strongly encourage readers to watch the video documentary. Note that the documentary has been banned in India.

1. I’m glad there’s a documentary about this. Finally. I’m also glad Jyoti Singh’s parents are not hushing up the matter.

2. Who gets on an empty bus? Why are you getting on a private bus that you have no affiliation with? Why didn’t you get an auto? It’s Delhi! There are autos everywhere!

3. I’m glad I didn’t grow up in India. I don’t know how my sister has managed to live in Delhi for the last three years. I enjoy my time when I do visit India. But I’m lucky to have the money to travel via a hired cab and be able to talk on the phone the entire time so that the driver knows I’m not really alone. But it is also unfortunate that I have to do that.

4. I wonder what Mukesh Singh thought about being interviewed by i. a woman and ii. a white woman.

5. To Mukesh Singh: beta, agar ladki bar or disco jaa rahi hai, to tujhe kya fark padta hai? Tujhe kisne judge banaya? (Son, if a girl is going to a bar or disco, what difference does it make to you? Who made you a judge?)

6. To Mukesh Singh: 20% girls are good? Now you’re an statistical expert? Degree dikha (show me your degree.).

7. What is “softness performance,” M.L Sharma? Also, thank you for calling females flowers, but clearly, you haven’t heard of tough as thorns females. May I remind you of Indira Gandhi, Rani Laxmi Bai, heck even Sonia Gandhi?

8. To M.L Sharma: A flower in a gutter is still a flower. It’s the gutter that is dirty, not the flower. And no one worships a flower in the temple. You’re worshipping the statue of a god. And don’t tell me you’ve never stepped on flowers in temples.

9. Pawan Gupta, who paid for your Nike shoes?

10. Wow, these jails look old. When was the last time these buildings were renovated?

11. Kya hoga (what will happen)? Akshay Thakur, you should have thought of that before you raped and killed a woman.

12. IF HER PARENTS ARE OKAY WITH HER HAVING MALE FRIENDS, WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO DECIDE IT IS WRONG FOR THE WOMAN TO BE OUT WITH A MALE? HE WAS NOT AN UNKNOWN PERSON, M.L SHARMA. HE WAS HER FRIEND. And please, never let a girl out of the house after 8:30 in the evening? Have your daughters never come home late from tuitions?

13. M.L Sharma, is that how you treat diamonds or gems, by raping them and throwing them out of a bus?

14. Seriously, why are men never questioned? Why can men go out after 8:30 at night and not women?

15. Wow, it’s really hard for me to keep a level head. It’s a good thing I wasn’t in Leslee Udwin’s place. I would have punched these people.

16. YOU CAN’T STOP A DOG FROM TAKING THE DIAMOND FROM THE STREET?! DO YOU LET ANY STRAY DOG NEAR YOUR HOUSE OR DO YOU CHASE IT AWAY?

17. Men and women can’t be friends in the Indian society? Since when? Oh right, since narrow-minded individuals like you decided it was convenient for your actions.

18. “We have the best culture. In our culture there is no place for a woman.” (M.L Sharma) Okay. Excuse us women as we leave you to take care of yourselves. Tell us then what kind of culture you have.

19. To the parents of Mukesh and Ram Singh: haan haan, aapke bete to koi galat kaam kar hi nahi sakte (yeah, yeah your sons can never do anything wrong). Blame someone else. That’s what your sons have learnt: to blame others. You’re blaming the other four men for the incident. Your sons are blaming the girl for getting raped and killed.

20. TO TEACH THEM A LESSON? What kind of a “lesson” should you be taught for what you did?

21. Only in India will a chanting turn into singing.

22. As safe as any capital of any developed country? Pramod Kushwa, that’s a naive point of view. Unfortunately, India is not developed (much as we would like to think otherwise). You had it right when you “accidentally” called it a developing country. By all global standards, India is a developing country. By those same standards, the Middle East is also a developing region. And never in all the 15 years of living in Oman or the 4 years in U.A.E. did I ever feel unsafe. I’ve been out on the streets of Muscat (Oman) at 1 a.m. and my mother’s only concern was whether or not I had any plans of coming home that night. If my parents don’t get the “I’m home” text from my sister (who lives in Delhi) by 9 p.m., they start panicking. Tell me how that’s a mark of a safe city.

23. Watching the footage of the December 2012 protest, I’m reminded of the protest scene in the movie Rang De Basanti. I guess the cops really don’t like their authority questioned. And god forbid you protest in front of India Gate.

The following video (from the movie, not the documentary) is not an exact reflection of how the police reacted to the protests in Delhi. But the idea is the same: cops overreacting to peaceful protests. In the movie they react with a lathe charge and in real life with tear gas shells.

24. Listening to Leila Seth makes it sounds as if the government would not have done much about Jyoti Singh’s case if it hadn’t been for the public outrage. I have a strong feeling she is right.

25. The last time India saw such large scale protests was during the fight for India’s independence.

26. I wish I could say that Sheila Dixit is wrong when she said that girls are seen as less important than boys.

27. AP Singh said, “A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery, rape are pending against approximately 250 members of parliament – sitting members of parliament. But their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried based on day-to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to society against rape, against robbery, against murder, then you should start from your own neck.” I can’t disagree with him.

28. “Rich country of tolerance.” Is that why we have tolerated this mindset for long, Amod Kanth?

29. “The death penalty will make things more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her.” What I find most troubling about Mukesh Singh’s statement is that he said “when they rape.” Not if, when.

30. Leila Seth, education is your solution? I agree. But before you go about saying that education is a solution, maybe you should take a look at the qualifications of people teaching us, or the lack thereof.

31. Indian politicians are concerned that this documentary provides a negative image of India. What makes them think that India doesn’t already have a negative image? All my American friends are convinced that if they visit me in India something god-awful will happen to them.

The case as it stands now:

Screen shot from the documentary India's Daughter

Screen shot taken from the documentary “India’s Daughter”

Full list of people mentioned above:

1. Mukesh Singh – one of the six convicted of rape, unnatural sex and murder

2. M.L Sharma – defense lawyer for the rapists

3. Pawan Gupta – one of the six convicted of rape, unnatural sex and murder

4. Akshay Thakur – one of the six convicted of rape, unnatural sex and murder

5. Pramod Kusha – additional deputy commissioner Delhi police

6. Leila Seth – former chief justice; member of Rape Review Committee

7. Sheila Dixit – chief minister of Delhi (1998 – 2013)

8. AP Singh – defense lawyer for the rapists

9. Amod Kanth – head of Prayas, an NGO for rape victims and juveniles

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Taste of India

The “Snowpocalypse” of Columbia left me unprepared when it came to food. I had tortilla sheets and some salsa to go with it but I was hungry, as were my friends. We decided to venture outside and see which food joints in town were brave enough to remain open.

Our first choice was Subway. Ah, Subway. With its perfect foot longs and fresh vegetables and, according to my friends, delicious meat. Perfect in every way, except being open on nights with heavy snowfall and light foot-traffic.

Disappointed we stood in front of Subway’s door, contemplating our next move. Being Indian, ergo knowing how Indians think, I suggested the three of us head towards India’s House. This snowfall would not deter an Indian, especially a Punjabi, from their business. After all, Mumbai was back on its feet a day after the 2005 floods. What’s a foot a snow before that?

So my friends and I trudged through the white terrain (thank god we’re not in Westeros!) and got to India’s house. It was only after we walked through did I realise how much I was missing Indian food.

Food was ordered, served and eaten.

One reason why I really love the food at India’s House is because it is authentic, down to the last corner of the naan. I have been quite a few Indian restaurants in different countries and I can honestly say India’s House is one of the best for Indian food outside India. I promise this is not a biased opinion.

The cooks at India’s house do not alter the food based on your taste buds. The only question they ask after they take your order is how spicy do you want your food. The only variable in the food is the amount of spice.

Take it from an Indian who loves her food and does not joke when it comes to authenticity. India’s House is the only place to go for a real taste of India. Even if they do not have chaats.

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