Around Us, But Unnoticed

We leave our families to make our future; they leave theirs to make our lives.

Preoccupied with college and hostel life, students usually miss to recognize a major hand that helps them settle in this green campus. From cleaning their rooms and classes, to cooking and serving them, everything here is maintained by the 400 non-teaching staff who have selflessly dedicated their time for us. We left our parents and hometown behind for our own good, but they are away from their families for us, to make us comfortable.

Such is the story of Balak Ram. He is one of the scores of workers that landed onto the campus, from Lucknow, U.P. Three years ago, financial duress got the 50-year-old here on the hills to feed the students, leaving his wife and four kids behind. The irony of his life is he sees thousands of faces everyday and keeps himself busy serving them, only to earn to feed his family back at home. He reveals that he hasn’t been home in the whole of these 3 years. But he is optimistic about seeing his family during Diwali this year.

Balak Ram may not have seen his children in some time but he has found his kids and happiness here.  On asking him  what he loves the most about his job, he shyly responded, “Everything’s fine, but there is quite nothing as lovely watching you young kids growing up in front of my eyes.”

There is another much-known face at the mess who collects the used plates and greets you with a  smile. He is Chattu Kumar from Motihari, Bihar who instantly makes one realize that no job on this earth is low. He gracefully does his job, without cribbing about anything.

He was the owner and proprietor of a small business in fisheries. While he toiled to support himself and his family consisting of two brothers, he choseto not get married for the sake of work. Still, he has no complaints from life. Chattu ji claims to have travelled all over the country, Rajasthan, Assam, Shimla, Punjab, even in proximity to the Pakistan border, in search of work and here he is on the hills, cleaning mess in the mess, but still happy.

On questioning, if he missed out on anything in life, one would assume his answer would be a companion. But instead, he said “I wanted to study. I have watched all the serials based on Holy Scriptures and epics. I know them by heart. But I just wanted to read them. That’s all.” He sacrificed his studies for his brothers, and then a life partner for work, and his work is taking care of us. There is pride when he says,” All ex-students know me. They come and see me whenever they’re here.” Even if we may have the education he’s missed, Chattu ji has the marvelous wisdom that we may never have despite an education.

As we step out of the mess, we see the ATM counter, but miss the one stationed outside. Sanjay Jadhav, the ATM security guard is a picture of trustworthiness. The depths of his efficiency can be proved as he never takes any days off. His working hours start from Monday onwards and are stretched to Sunday.

Jadhav ji has been working for the Symbiosis University since 2010, but as security personnel only since the past couple of years. His left arm has been affected by Polio since childhood and that made him miss out on jobs earlier. But he is grateful to the college. They have provided him with a comfortable job and he has the rare good fortune of living together with his family that he recognizes a lot of his fellow employees don’t have. His wife, Savita is one among the housekeeping team on campus. Life is serene and he cannot seem to think of anything more to ask for. The sense of calm functionality that he emanates, we need to learn this art from him.

Bajirao, the 55-year old admin helper has been working in SIMC since past 9 years. What keeps him coming to the hills is the climate and college. It is adorable see him communicate in English and give lessons to everyone. One of his lessons is, “No knowledge without college; and no college without knowledge”.

Though they are collectively called the non-teaching staff, yet they teach us a lot many things. From being humble to hardworking, they have selflessly devoted their time for us. They are no less than parents who feed us when we are hungry and clean our messy rooms. Yet they are left unnoticed. We just acknowledge them as bhaiya and didi, unknowingly erasing their identities. So let’s just thank them whenever we cross them, and indulge in little conversations to know more about their lives.

(Inputs by- Poulomi Chatterjee, Vidhyalakshmi Balasubramaniam)

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The 233 m Fall

Imagine seeing the world from a height of 233 m and you jump off but it is not a suicide. Being an adventure obsessed, Macau is the most beautiful place for me. Seeing through the eyes of an adventurous person, the tower to jump off and the Venetian resort to relax gives you the time of your life. These places are surely a blend of luxury with adventure.

The long tower in Macau is a treat to your eye. The Shopping arena on the ground floor is pretty nice but the excitement to go up on the tower makes you ignore everything. The super fast lift which transfers you from ground floor to the sixty-first floor in just 10 seconds astonishes you. The wide view from the 61st floor of the tower is so beautiful with building spread all over till infinity it seems. Every point of the observatory will give you a different view of either sea or buildings. Also, the very famous Venetian Hotel was visible clearly from the tower.

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I saw a hoarding with various activities written on them. Bungee jumping, sky fall, sky- walk were the most exciting one as per the views of the visitors. I read about all the activities and decided to go for Bungee jumping. I saw a hoarding with Bungee jumping, sky fall, sky walk mentioned. Macau Tower holds the title of highest bungee jumping in the world. But the twist I the tale came when I checked the price for the same-1080 Hong Kong Dollars. That was approximately Thirty-Five Thousand Indian Rupees. I wanted to take this adventure, but then I could not insist my parents for spending this huge amount on just a jump. My father sensed my eagerness and got me a ticket to jump. I started hopping all around in the place which was supposedly a silent observatory top muse over the view of the city.  Indeed the view was too beautiful to stop staring. Instead of walls, the observatory had glass walls so that the visitors can look around. As I went near the wall, you could sense the fear of falling and move a step backward. The busy highways running down on the ground seemed like thick lines. The cars speeding on the roads exactly looked like toy cars and the people walking were even smaller than baby ants.

My name was announced for the Pre – jump preparation. The thought of the thrill gave me chills. The professional trainer gave me the jumping suit to wear and instructed me by performing a drill. Then I was made to sign a conditional death certificate in order to take the responsibility of any mishap if occurs. Later I was taken to the Suicide Point. I could feel the adrenaline rush in my body. The professionals tied me with harness and safety ropes. I could feel the cool wind giving me goose bumps. Chance by chance I could see adventurers either jumping or being thrown off the tower and their loud shout echoed in the area. The television cameras telecasted the jump and expressions of the jumper.

It was then my turn. My heart throbbed at a very high rate. They tied a single rope on the apparatus on my feet. I was made to stand on the edge of the plank from where I had to jump. With the count of three I had to jump off or else they will kick me off. So I gathered the courage and “aaaaaaaaaaaaa……….

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I was in the air and the gravity was pulling me towards itself. The whole of my life was played in a flash of time. I could see traffic on the roads and feared of death. But the view around of the buildings and the sea make you cherish the time you are in the air. For me, beauty lies in the life which is out of your comfort zone. The life which makes you recall the slow paced moments of your life in a flash of second; which give you chills down your spine. I can say I practically say I played with the clouds; swam in the waves of wind; flew in the sky. Well reminds me of the song, “Aaj main upar, asamaan neeche, aaj main aage zamana hai peechee”. Okay, sorry for diverting! Let us fly back to Macau.

The Venetian Macau Resort was yet another brilliant piece in Macau. This luxury building is the seventh largest building in the world area-wise. The huge hotel incorporates the biggest Casino of the world is seen with money flowing all around. Gambling is very much loved by the Chinese people and Casino for them is their second home. Hundreds of Casino tables lay down in the whole of the ground floor. Then from restaurants and cafes to gaming and swimming arena spread over two floors. Let us come to the favourite zone of all- shopping. From LV to Gucci, Prada, Furla, Omega, Dior and what not! Venetian’s three floors were nothing less than a ‘Shoparadise’. Then from seventh to thirty-first floor, three thousand suites became a sojourn for the tourists. Gondola ride which goes inside the hotel is a famous Venetian feature. Regular shows in auditoriums add to the entertainment and make the resort a city in itself.

The ruins of St. Paul Church take you back in the ancient time. We saw brides dressed in wedding gowns getting their pre-wedding photo shoot. Also, the light and bubble show, the diamond show with laser lights and music adds on to the beauty and luxury essence of the place. Finally, I had to part away with the beautiful Macau.

Lone But not lonely

The locked land of Lavasa hidden behind its colorful walls, conceal a number of stories of corruption. The private planned property became a medium of false promises when the politicians tried to fill their pockets. This place lost its colours. Amidst the widespread lake, the red, yellow, orange buildings and greenery, the best thing that you’ll find here is peace. Weaved with the threads of the hidden stories and seclusion, the serenity of the place gives you ‘Me time’.

Photo credits: Poorvi Agarwal

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Stolen Innocence

The story of a young girl locked up behind the doors of a brothel.Read to know if the key to unlock the door was found.

Amidst the darkness of the night, the massive house that stands like a giant on the dead end of the road is all lit up. Seems like a celebration going on in the house. People flooding in and women decked up with makeup and glitter. The huge house is the shelter for many. Giving them a place to live, food to eat and a profession to work. The house dwellers are used to the culture of the place.

But Reena, the fourteen years old feels uneasy in this crowded house. Tears stream down her face as she thinks about the horrific day. Memories still flash in her mind of her hair being pulled, of being dragged through the dirt streets after a failed escape. Even though she cried, screamed for someone to help her, people just stood by watching, without even a look of sympathy. But this was a usual sight for the people of the brothel who are now accustomed to the cries and pain of the women who were forced into the big house.

The practice of deal and bidding started as the place dazzled in lights and with women wearing colorful sarees and red lip color. Hari and Manoj indulged in a quick chat with Ramesh. A few gestures exchanged with a little sum of money and they climbed the step to enter the zone of pleasure.

Reena saw someone entering the dark room through a corner. Their footsteps echoed in the room. One of the men lit up his lighter and the candles through it. The youngest dweller of the brothel was hiding her in another corner of the room. “We have paid extra for you, you cannot run away from us”, Manoj said with a wickedness on his face. They held her tight and threw her on the bed and the light faded to hide the brutal act in it. Reena’s heart pumped fast as the men left the room after a few hours and disappeared in the darkness of night. She couldn’t help but think over about what the men just did.

The next morning wasn’t the same. The house was crowded but the faces were different. The doors of the room were knocked like before, but the knock was different. The women were called, but this time it was a call of freedom. Police caught hold of the brothel owners and the people involved in human trafficking. The women narrated their untold stories with their eyes soaked in tears recalling the painful memories they had.

Reema sat in a corner rewinding last night, which wasn’t different from the other nights. She could not forget the men who entered her room. They came not for pleasure, but for a purpose secretly carrying a pen. Her cries, pain, tears and story were all captured in the little pen they had. Her story captured to be shown to the world and to free them from the chains of prostitution and slavery. They were the angels disguised in black. The camera disguised in a pen.

SIMChapter -1

SIMC undoubtedly gave us a roller coaster ride in just one year, a lifetime of experiences. From being freshers to bringing and guiding in freshers, from assignments to exams, from days when you have no time to breathe to the 22 hour sleep days. Sometimes giggled, other times upset, this one year of college we can never forget.

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When the last days of the 1st year arrived,

We got to remember and revive,

The one year of gaining knowledge

From this prestigious college.

SIMC gave us a bagful of happy days

The campus is majestic but seems to be a maze,

Classes here are fun, filled with activities,

They mold, check and improvise our abilities.

You’ll find some or either no textbooks

The students here have the craziest of looks,

Always you’ll see a camera on their shoulder

With the clicks of joy, we all grew older.

Classes had humans cause of the sword of attendance,

Benches is always houseful with couples in romance.

We came to the college with lots of excitement,

But everything faded with the burden of assignment!

Here you’ll find spirit of team and leadership,

Students find family in their friendship,

Climbed the mountain but have to cross the sea,

One year is done, but one more to go in SIMC.

MAI MOCHI

We just go to a cobbler and forward our feet towards him, to polish or mend it, but have we ever talked to him. Let’s hear a cobbler’s untold story.

Hun mai ek sadharan sa mochi…1

Meri kahani na kisi ne puchi…2

Sabke jutte mai chamkata…3

Polish mei har din mai rang jata…4

Fir bhi hai zindagi berang…5

Mila mujhe jutte chappal ka sang…6

Jodta hu logo ki chappal tooti…7

Fir bhi meri kismat hai mujhse roothi. 8

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Children away and avoid, Mothers left void: Empty Nest Syndrome

“Do you miss me? Why don’t you talk to me? Are you coming home this weekend? Why don’t you pick up my call? Are you safe? Have you eaten something? Why was your phone switched off? You’ve been avoiding me since long. I hope you have not forgotten your mother?”

There comes a time when the little feet you taught to walk step out to fly and you are left with just a teary eye. The heaviness of the moment can only be understood by the parents who see their child leaving their home. All they are left behind is emptiness and an empty nest.

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Illustration by: Andy Chase Cundiff; Source: Amarillo magazine

Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS) is a psychological condition that affects parents when their children grow up and leave home. Doctors and Psychologists don’t consider this as a medical ailment but raise their concern towards the sufferers. The condition makes some parents void of feelings, and others annoyed. Anxiety and depression take the place of their kid that keeps growing in the house and in their minds.

Many parents unknowingly suffer from ENS, but the case becomes worse for those whose kids don’t talk to them or shun them. More than the voidance, it’s the avoidance that sends the parents into the depression zone. It becomes difficult for them to accept the ignorance after separation and they feel they are being avoided by their offspring.

Bringing up children is such a physical business especially for women. From pregnancy to giving birth, breastfeeding to changing diapers, from ABCing the toddler to the time they fly away from their parents, the attachment with offsprings is too high. This increases in the case of single mother wherein the mother forget her individuality for her child.

Questioned about the last day with her daughter, Kirti Sharma, an empty nester from Delhi recalls the day when a call letter brought to her a bagful of emotions. Controlling the tear valve of her eyes with a big fake smile, Kirti hugged her daughter Shreya. Soon a question darted her emotions, “Are you not happy with my achievement Mumma?” By this time, the feeling of upcoming-loneliness burdened her eyelids and the pressure broke the valve. She gave a sobbing reply, “What will I do after you are gone?” She had never been away from her daughter, and the very thought brought a series of flashback.

Kirti has more than movie-length memories of her and Shreya. The unending conversations, the cookery sessions, being gossip girls together and much more, their togetherness had no end. The mother and daughter duo shared not just one bond but many. Being a single mother, Kirti wore a father’s moustache too for her daughter. Therefore both of them were entirely dependent on each other for guidance and as friends. After Shreya was gone, Kirti became lonely and depressed. She had no one to talk to, no shoulder to lean on, no one to cook for, and no one to share love with.

“It has been two years since Shreya left home and me, to go to Leeds. She got a new place to explore with new friends. Amidst the new environment, responsibility, classes, assignments, work, parties and more, she forgot me”, Kirti said watery eyed. She heavy-heartedly recalls her daughter’s once said words, “I feel ashamed when you call me zillion time Mumma. I am not a kid anymore. Stop calling me!” The mother confessed that even after being bawled by her daughter, she calls her once every day but most of the time, her call is left unanswered.

Kirti spends most of her time waiting for a reply to come. In order to pass her time, she keeps on turning pages of the photo album and adding more pictures to it or keeps on arranging Shreya’s wardrobe. Her usual topic of conversation with people is Shreya and this has driven her more into the syndrome.

Contradictory to Kirti’s situation is the single mother of two daughters from Bengaluru. Shikha Singh has moved on in her life after sending her daughters away for the job. Initially affected by Empty Nest Syndrome, the mother felt dejected in life. But later understanding the importance of time and the significance of the situation, she devoted the time to fulfill her long-lost dreams. She joined theatre classes which she left after her husband passed away and the responsibility of two daughters came on her shoulders. She has understood that her daughters are busy in their lives and career, and so she is focusing on hers.

Meenakshi Chawla, a housewife from Agra and a mother of four children never thought she and her husband will ever have to face ENS. But after their elder daughters were married and gone and the two younger sons shifted to Delhi and Pune, they were left helpless. They get to talk to their children once in three-four days but the couple supports each other. Also, the children send cards of gifts to their parents once a while, Skype with them and try to celebrate festivals together. These small gestures help the old couple to decorate their Empty Nest.

Prerna Agarwal, a psychologist from Delhi points out the period of mourning that follows when children pack up and go out on their own for the first time is the most crucial one. She suggests, “The parents should prepare themselves to cope up with the future days of lonesomeness before the children are gone. They should go around and talk to people in office or neighborhood. Keeping oneself busy can also help the empty nesters to be out of the situation. Children should also help their life-givers to be out of the melancholic state by being in regular contact.”

She concluded saying that in today’s scenario, parents don’t expect their children to take care of them during old age. Parents just want a warm reply and a feeling of concern. Both parents and children should understand each other, give space to each other but talk. Though technology cannot convey the real feeling but somewhere it helps and fills in the emptiness that is left in the empty nests and minds of the parents.

Sheroes-The Stouthearted Souls

SCARRED PHYSICALLY BUT THEIR HEART IS NO LESS THAN A HERO.

The first man a little girl falls in love with, is her Dad. But Neetu could not. She was just 3, happy in her own world unknown of the happenings around. She played with her sisters, cared for them being the eldest of the three. But one unfortunate day, her father scarred the beauty of a father-daughter relationship. He threw acid on her for he wanted a son.

Neetu, her mother Seema, and her infant sister became the victims of the man of their family. The little baby succumbed to the burns by the acid while Neetu and Seema have been fighting for justice since then. The horrendous act has defaced them forever but even after 24 years of suffering, justice seems to be nowhere. Neetu’s father was free after a few attests and bails. A cafe in Agra is now the only support to these women.

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Neetu was attacked by her father when she was three. (Image credits: Poorvi Agarwal)

Sheroes Hangout, a cafe in Agra rehabilitates the acid attack victims and brings them together to fight against this heinous crime. This cafe is an initiative by the “Stop Acid Attack” campaign in association with NGO Chhanv. The women working at Sheroes are survivors themselves. They are doing much more than just serving up a cup of coffee — they are sharing their personal stories of courage and bravery. They say, “We are not victims—we are Survivors, we are fighters.”

“Pay as you like”, this new concept of no priced menu in the cafe asks the visitors to invest their time instead of money. The delicacies prepared in the cafe reflect the life these women have lived so far. Tossed in fire, but still, they are beautiful, sprinkled with flavours of courage and optimism.

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The graffiti in the cafe depict their bravery.  (picture credit: Poorvi Agarwal)

These attacks have marred not only the survivor but also India’s image. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, more than 1,000 acid attack crimes are committed around the country each year but most of them go unreported because of the fear of being attacked again. Nearly 349 attacks were reported in 2014 alone.

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Ritu was attacked as she refused a sexual advance. (Image credits: Poorvi Agarwal)

The much-noted reason for this crime is an unrequited love as faced by Ritu. When she ignored the proposal of her cousin brother, he planned to burn her face. A 55-year old man attacked Anshu after she complained her family of his sexual advances towards her. Other cases have been due to dowry or in want of a male child. Attackers have thrown acid over petty issues of arguments and jealousy.

These attacks don’t just physically damage the survivor, but are a murder of mind and condemn them to a lifetime of suffering. They face social isolation and have seen people frightened by their appearance. They face employment crisis and in some cases their families disown them. The expensive surgeries they undergo through cost around Rs. 2-4 lakhs, which add on to the misery of theses women in pain.

Earlier acid attacks were counted as violence against women, but the protests and the campaign with the insertion of Section 326A in the Indian Penal Code recognised them as a distinct crime. Lakshmi became the voice of the acid attack survivors across the world by launching the ‘Stop Acid Attack’ campaign. Instead of shutting herself in the agony of scars, she came out to fight for the ban of acid. Her life grew after this campaign and she is now a mother of a two-year-old daughter.

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Ritu, Rupa, Neeta, Madhu and Geeta- The Sheroes

The irony is that acid can easily be purchased at Rs. 25 a bottle. The government has regulated the sale of concentrated acid but the implementation and checking of the rules are a distant reality. Also, the culprits move freely after getting bail while the survivors wait for trials with their faces covered. Though many other cases are pending, the government recently showed a ray of hope after giving death sentence to the culprit of Late Preeti Rathi, the acid attack victim who lost the battle of life in 2013.

Sheroes Hangout brought them out of their covered faces and spaces in the open to fight against the wrong and pursue their dreams. These survivors break the stereotypical meaning of beauty proving that confidence is the new face of beauty. Also, they are the icons of inner beauty and the never-say-die attitude of a woman’s spirit. While other girls fret and fume over a pimple in front of the mirror every morning, these extraordinary women dare to wear their scars and face the world every day.

Scars snaked their face, but their soul cries out for justice. Acid disfigured their skin but not their heart. They are brave. They are beautiful. They are SHEROES.

Life Ki App

Social Media has been a daily dose in today’s life. We humans have forgot to meet and greet people in the real world, but virtually we have been activated and active on our phones and apps.

Life has totally become a Social media app. Like Facebook, people will like your problems and comment on them but no one can solve them, because they are busy updating theirs. Like Twitter, people tweet about something that has happened in their life and just like gossip, its re-tweeted by others. And somewhere Snapchat has brought a mask onto our faces and filtered our real self.  

Kabhi buying clothes, kabhi shoes and even chaddis,

All time Whatsapp per texting with our buddies.

Har do minute mei check karte hai Facebook Wall,

Kabhi lagate hai London vale Bhaiya ko Skype call.

Snapchat ke filters ka hota hai alag swag,

Aur Instagram uploads per daalte hai bhaut saare #tags.

Twitter Ke tweets and Twitter ke trends,

Nothing can beat my number of Facebook friends.

LinkedIn par banate hai sab professional contacts

Aur Google baba ke paas hai duniya ke sab facts.

Youtube par videos ko karte rehte hai play

Snapchat story aur FB checking mei nhi hota koi delay

Sab kaam ke liye phone par karte hai tip-tap

Kaash jeene ke liye bhi mil jaye koi LIFE KI APP!

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