Now Women Distract Male Students in University Libraries

Posted in Education, Social, Women with tags , , on November 12, 2014 by swatiaiyer

Looks like a board out of the hoary past of pre-independence days?  Well, not quite.  With just a minor change.  Now it is “Women (and dogs?) not allowed”.  Where?  The Maulana Azad library of the Aligarh Muslim University.

No women or dogs allowed in library:  Aligarh Muslim Univ ban on girl students is a shame

Only, I don’t think dogs would be disallowed inside the library, at least not by any official diktat.  Dogs are after all ‘man’s’ best friend.  But women???  Oh no, no, they are different.  They distract men, lead them into temptation and sin.  Remember the original sin?  It was Eve’s fault after all!

We learn from the mistakes of our elders and betters.  So the AMU has no intention of allowing a repeat of the original sin – at least not in the sacred precincts of their libraries.  So all scheming Jezebels are kept out, so the men can study in peace and aspire towards more lofty goals for their lives.  The library is no place to allow women and distract hard working male students.

Long live education in India!  We are surely a “developing” country – we have even sent a satellite to the Mars which landed in the very first attempt.  Thanks to all our great scientists – all males of course!

Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai Phule, Dhondo Keshav Karve, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and others, my blood boils when I think of what you did for women’s education in this country.  Please forgive them, for they know not what they do.  I wonder how many people in today’s generation outside of Maharashtra have heard of you.  All I can tell them is to ask Wikipedia.

So we can now look forward to a return of the “good old days” that existed before “Indian culture and tradition” was wiped out by the decadent ideas and laws introduced by the British.


Love In A Confused Era – An Anthology

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2014 by swatiaiyer

Arriving soon!

This is an anthology which is going to be published very shortly. Many new authors are making their debut through this publication. Watch this space for more.

Cover page

Where do you meet God – Part II

Posted in Nature, Photographs, Travel with tags , , , , , on September 21, 2014 by swatiaiyer

Next day we visited Athirapally water falls.  The journey of around 48 kms which is normally doable in about an hour took us about 2 hours – we kept stopping on the way to take pictures.  It was by far one of the most beautiful drives I have been on so far.  The typical winding, narrow roads through rural Kerala were very good to drive on and more than anything else spotlessly clean.  There was just a short stretch of the road which was in bad shape.  To put it shortly, zimmmmbly enchanting! 😀

I was rather shocked and disappointed by my experience at this restaurant.

Breakfast enroute

We left the hotel at around 8.30 am and stopped at a wayside coffee house for breakfast.  It was a shocker.  There were no idlis or dosas.  Puri and vegetable were available – I guess the vegetable had beetroot in it since it looked pink! About 80% or more of the items on the menu were non-vegetarian.  The coffee was excellent.  I can’t really say much for the coffee in Kerala.  Ever since I left home, I had been drinking some awful brew called coffee – reminded me of “the coffee in the army they say is superfine, it looks like ditch water and tastes like turpentine”!  So this coffee came as a real treat – some real coffee for a true, dyed in the wool coffee addict.

First glimpse of a river

First glimpse of a river



From there we drove on and soon turned off the main road.  The road went through some palm estates.  Suddenly we chanced upon a river running by just behind the trees and vegetation.  Stopped by to take a pic.  All of Kerala strikes me as one huge picture post card.

Drifting clouds seen through a canopy of trees.

Cows going for a walk

Cows going for a walk

There was this lovely vision of the prettiest cows I have seen in a long time coming along the road.  It would take a crazy coot in India to go ga-ga at the sight of cows.  But these cows just completed the picture amidst all the greenery and looked so healthy and clean.  I got off from the car and started running backwards to get a good click. The cows did not seem to be in a mood to be too obliging.  They kept walking as I kept running backwards.  Finally!  Did get a good click.

Oil palm estate

Fruits from the palm from which the oil is extracted


The road wound through oil palm estates.  Got to see palm fruits collected to be sent for oil extraction.  Was good to have a driver who was friendly and well informed.

Mountains in the distance

Stopped at many places along the way for such clicks.


Athirapally Trip

Around every bend onc came across such sights.

Athirapally Trip

The first view of the Athirapally water falls from a distance.

Lunch Time

Lunch Time

There were plenty of monkeys waiting to grab food from visitors.  Here was one grabbing a bite on the sly.:-D

Athirapally Trip

Entrance to the short trail to the waterfall.

Any doubts

Loved the boards put up by the Forest Department in many places.



Not to miss the monkey tail dangling down like a pointer.

Good warning

Athirapally Trip

Here is a little one exploring life on its own.

Athirapally Trip

Another one in a contemplative mood.

And yet others too busy to notice the world around.

Athirapally Trip

Approaching the river leading to the falls.

Enjoying the cool waterAthirappally Trip

The river comes flowing towards the fall.  Entry to the river is prohibited, though one can cool off one’s feet in the little bit of it that flows between the rocks.  The waterfall from the top looks so majestic!The river flows away from the falls

The water falls down and flows away into the horizon.

Athirapally TripAthirapally Trip

The waterfall from below.  It’s absolutely out of this world!

All things come to an end.  With a heavy heart we depart from there.  But there is more to come.

We drive further from Athirapally on the highway towards Charpa waterfalls.

Athirapally Trip

Shortly after leaving Athirapally, we come across a mountain stream which is chanelled through a small bit of rubber pipe at the end.  The water is crystal clear, amazingly cool as well as tasty.  It feels blissful to pour some of it on my head – the trek down to the river and the waterfalls has left me absolutely hot and sweaty.

Another beautiful sight!

Athirapally Trip

Charpa waterfalls.

From there we drive further on towards Sholayar reserve forest in the hope of seeing some elephants on the way.  We do see a lot of droppings (but no elephants in sight) as well as a few pheasants, but they are just too quick and I miss capturing them. 😦

After a while we turn back and drive back.  On the way we see one more real life picture post card.

Athirapally Trip

We stop at Athirapally looking for a place to get some vegetarian food.  As luck would have it, we do find one restaurant where we get piping hot, fresh, thin phulkas and some very good chana!  Finally it is really time to say good bye!  Hope to visit you again Athriapally!

Athirapally Trip

Awww….. give me a break.  You are such a bore!  Will you let me have a nice afternoon siesta now!  Go away!

Athirapally Trip

This one though gives me a sad look as it says good bye!

Driving back through the plantations, we notice a nutmeg tree and get one fresh one to eat along the way!

Athirapally trip

This has been a glorious day.  Paradise, thy name is Kerala!  It is 4.30 pm.  We are slap bang in the middle of “civilization” in Cochin.  The anti-climax to a perfect day.

Kerala is a wonderful example of how progress and development has been coupled with environmental protection.  It has not lost its old world charm.  In many ways it seems like the Kerala of old which I used to visit as a child.  I am so happy to see that there are still some spots which are relatively untouched by the tourism bug.

Where do you meet God? – Part I

Posted in Photographs with tags , , , , , on September 21, 2014 by swatiaiyer

Answer:  In God’s own country!  Ouch!  Don’t throw rotten eggs at me for that one!

Seriously!  Do you want to get away from the din of city life and see something different?  Experience greenery all around and near absolute cleanliness?  Please go to Kerala.

To me, Kerala has always meant “home” as in my dad’s family home.  Every visit to Kerala with parents automatically meant going home, spending a few weeks there and visiting all the temples in the vicinity.  So my perception of Kerala was extremely limited.

Recently I had an opportunity to visit Kerala with family.  It was an extremely different experience.  While most of the family decided to visit Guruvayoor temple, I declined.  It was too soon for me after the passing on of my mother – my only surviving parent.  I could not deal with going there and missing them.  So the husband and I decided to visit some other place while the rest of the family visited Guruvayoor.

We camped at Cochin at a hotel close to the airport.  Cochin is just an hour or so by air from Bangalore.  It was a mildly cloudy day and we boarded a flight leaving Bangalore at around 1.30 pm.  From the airport, we went straight to a place called “Kalady” – the birthplace of Adi Sankara – born in the early 8th century  – who was one of the most revered Hindu philosophers and theologians who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.

Kalady is just a 5 km drive from the airport.  Here are some pictures.

1.  Janma Bhoomi Kshetram:  This is said to be the place where Sankara was born. A simple structure housing the samadhi of Aryamba (the mother of Sankara). The stone stupa is said to be from Sankara’s times and helped identify his birth place. Inside this structure are the sanctums of Lord Ganesha and Shri Sharadambal. We visited this place twice during the visit and the second time witnessed a thread ceremony being performed. It was so beautiful to see the sanctity of the passage of rite without any of the distractions of a big do.

2.  Rigveda Pathshala:  A pathshala is a school.  This is a place where the Vedas are taught.

3.  Sad there was no entry.  Would have loved to go in and see the place.

PM Modi on Rape Cases: Correct Sons, Don’t Question Daughters

Posted in Feminism, Social, Women with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2014 by swatiaiyer

Certainly sounds good.  Brings to mind a conversation I had with a friend yesterday.  She has a daughter who studies in a premier professional institute in Bangalore.  The girl lives in a hostel and is doing her post-graduation.  Just as we were sitting and chatting, she received a call from the daughter asking her to call the warden of the hostel immediately and inform her that the girl was coming home for the weekend.

I was shocked.  The girl is 22 – the average age of the hostelites doing post-graduation in the institute.  Legally speaking, she is an adult.  She is well above the age of consent.  It is not as if the hostel would take any tangible responsibility if something “wrong” were to happen to her during day time or within the confines of the hostel.  Nothing they do could change anything in any case.  So how can they curtail her freedom of movement to the extent of her going home to her mother (just a few kms from the hostel btw) over the weekend and insist she be back in the hostel by 9 pm?  

Anyone could call up and inform the warden that her daughter was coming home.  How are they going to check out the veracity each and every time?  It is not as if those girls who are determined to have a “good time” don’t despite all these restrictions.

Shame that we don’t treat our daughters as anything more than a piece of flesh to be kept “protected” from the big bad wolves while we allow those wolves to roam free anytime of day or night.

Mr. Modi, can you do anything to forbid hostels from imprisoning our daughters?

“I Apologize”. Is That Enough?

Posted in Feminism, Social, Women on August 12, 2014 by swatiaiyer

Very frankly, I am not even sure about what to think about this video which I came across today. Don’t know how this will help reduce the incidence of rape in the country. People who rape are not so sensitive as to get enlightened by a video of this kind.

It surely highlights a problem to people who are not so aware of what goes on in this country. Beyond that I don’t know what else it will achieve. Going by the comments, both positive as well as negative, I get an increasing feeling that just “apologizing” does not accomplish anything. Will these people gang up together next time they see a woman being targeted in any way on the streets, at work, in the home ….. ? Will they beat up the perpetrators in public without “fearing” for their own lives?

Will they stand up against the kind of social injustice meted out to 99% women including their own wives and daughters at home and in society in the name of “culture, traditions, the glorious Indian self-sacrificing women and patriarchy”? If they will, I would say this video has been worth the while; if not, it is just one more video which doles out patronizing words of sympathy to women.

Lose Elections? Point Fingers!

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2014 by swatiaiyer

One more election is behind us.  The results are out.  Good, bad, ugly, indifferent – the voice of the people has prevailed.  That is what the spirit of democracy is all about.  The point here is not to talk about the results or the merits or demerits thereof.  The question here is the attitudes which dictate the results.

Our erstwhile UPA has received a drubbing of a lifetime.  Who is responsible?

Rahul, PM, govt, silence, tickets, campaigning … Congress blames them all

reads the news on page 2 of today’s Indian Express.  So the blame game has begun.  Do we see a read “Congress = Gandhi family and Gandhi family = Congress” in this statement?  Who or what constitutes the Congress party?  There is no denying the fact that these are the people who have dictated everything and the party workers have as usual fallen into a feudalistic pattern of saying “Jee Huzoor”.  “Soniaji and Rahul Baba” have been shamelessly kowtowed to.  Sadly and shamefully enough, our erstwhile PM – an economic guru in his own right, who could have done miracles for our country if he had chosen to stick to his expertise without agreeing to being a puppet – did the same.  A man of his stature was reduced to (and chose to be reduced to) a mere caricature with no voice of his own.  Put it down to a phase of losing one’s capacity of discrimination or good judgment.  Happens to all.  So who is to blame?  Rahul, the PM, the govt (read Sonia) alone?  When will the Congress ever learn to get over this mentality of being serfs to the feudal lords?  Or will they ever?  Do they not see the fingers pointing at themselves while they point at the above persons?  (Or is that why they make sure that most fingers point at someone else)?

Pleasantly and surprisingly enough, Rahul and Sonia have shown the grace (at least publicly) of accepting responsibility for the drubbing.

“Congress party has done pretty badly. There is a lot for us to think about. As vice-president I hold myself responsible for what has happened,” Rahul told reporters.

Sonia too accepted blame.

“This mandate is clearly against us, our party. We accept politely this decision of voters and respect it. But at the same time, we also hope the next government will not make any compromise with the unity of Indian society and the interests of the nation,” she said. ……

Are they going to do anything to change their style of functioning?  Are they going to adopt a more mature, responsible and democratic way of running their party as well as style of governing?  Only time can tell.  But if history has to be believed …...

 a shell-shocked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi took personal responsibility for the drubbing.

What is so shocking?  Did they not feel the mood of the people?  Probably not.  They were so blinded by power that they either did not see or chose not to see what was happening or believed that the people would be stupid enough to bring them back to power no matter what because “the people did not have a choice”.  They did not believe it possible that the people would opt for some other party, no matter which one.  The wake up call came too late – after the AAP won the Delhi elections.  That was the first sign that people were looking for better options.

Here is evidence of that arrogance – from the mouth of our esteemed PM coming as recently as Jan 2014.

Corruption issues which have come to light during UPA-2.

Most of these charges relate to the period of UPA-1. Coal block allocation as well as 2G spectrum allocation were both in the era of the UPA-1. We went to the electorate on the basis of our performance in that period,and the people of India gave us the mandate to govern for another five years. So,whether these issues which have been raised from time to time by the media,sometimes by the CAG,sometimes by court,one must never forget that they belong to a period which was not the period of the UPA-2,but the period relating to the previous five years,and the people of India entrusted us with new responsibilities. So the people of India do not seem to have paid heed to all these charges of corruption which are levied against me or my party.

The AAP – a party for whom I had great hopes.  A party who threw away the advantage they had.  The people had had enough of the corruption (no matter what our erstwhile PM thought) and brought them to power.  What did they do?  Resigned within weeks of being brought into power.

Surprisingly enough, our public which has been so patient with the two main national parties and their shenanigans (despite the fact that they have had decades to pull up their socks) did not show the same patience with a fledgling party which has not had even a fraction of the time the other two had, to learn their lessons.  Has a gross injustice been done?

no sooner had the first results started trickling in, there seemed more trouble for AAP internally with Ilyas Azmi, its political affairs committee member, blaming Arvind Kejriwal’s “autocratic style of functioning” for the rout …….

What they refuse to acknowledge, however, is how the party spread itself too thin contesting 443 seats with a Rs 37 crore kitty against the better judgement of Kejriwal and how it may have paid the price of diluting its original Assembly poll plank of corruption to start talking about communalism as an equal if not greater menace.

Mamata Banerjee is one more example of blindness that is hitting our political leaders.

Mamata, however, refused to make any reference to BJP’s rise but hinted at money power. “If you have money you can render an election one-sided, from the national to the regional,” she said. “This election had many lessons to give. The biggest question out of this outcome is if we will have value-based politics or valueless politics.” She said TMC will play a constructive role as an opposition party.

No one can deny the role that money plays in politics or elections.  But to assume that that is the MAIN or SOLE criterion that dictates victory at the hustings is being obtuse to say the least.  Is this a case of selective blindness or outright refusal to see the truth?  Here is a politician who is intolerant of contrary views, a politician who brooks no criticism, walks out of interviews when anyone who questions her policies after branding them as “Maoists”.

I have a simple question.  How long are politicians going to continue bribing people, think they can buy their loyalties, be blind to their own short-comings and go on the assumption that the electorate is stupid and bank on short public memory?  Is it not high time for them to wake up?


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