Friday, September 19, 2014

MAKREE - Innocence Lost Or Child Prodigy??

                             "Unhappy is she whose fame makes her misfortunes famous".

For the last few days I have been reading numerous articles, blogs and news pieces about 23 year old young actress Shweta basu. How the media vultures have deferred their claws at her trial and tribulations. Army of celebrities and women activist came out in favor of the actress misfortunes. Fingers being raised at the callous attitude of paparazzi for meddling her name and obscuring the rich culprits. While reading the online story, I came across common people's perspective in the form of  mockery, rage, empathy and compassion.It has become a game of name blame. Some are predicting her to be the victim of circumstance while others designating her as spoilt money hungry women. Few are even proposing  this exploitative trade to be legalized.

But the actual issue has lost somewhere in this circus of finger pointing. Who is the real offender?? The girl, the businessman, the media or the showbiz industry?

 Shweta Basu- a child artist has started off her career at the tender age of eight.She was merely out of her frocks when the flames of stardom have engulfed her.Who are the people who encouraged her start so young??Teachers , friends or The Parents??  Undoubtedly one of the reason for her ruination was lack of guidance from parents.Introducing your own child to starry world at such age is no less then a crime. Instead of giving them natural childhood of carefree, protected and pampered life, they force them to compete in the rat race. The stagy over ambitious parents irrespective of the consequences oppress their children to struggle in the mean world.

With little understanding and complexity of the occupation, these vulnerable souls suffers extreme stress and psychological onslaught. Fame, fortune and stardom unfortunately came with a certain price. The pressure put on these children is enormous. They suffer greatly during their childhood pursuit of eminence and success. Burden of carrying the stardom tag to adulthood sometime turns out to be overbearing. While few conquers their fight others wind up broken, depressed or sometime suicidal.

Entertainment world has given us many eminent child performers not in India but overseas as well. Nowadays many child actors are populating our television screens. The famous" Avika gaur" has  undoubtedly given a spectacular performance in Balika vadhu and now after few years playing a role of married mother. We have virtually seen her growing on the screen. But I wonder did she tasted the fruits of normal childhood??

Remember "Macaulay Culkin" of "Home alone" fame. One of the best childhood movies of our times. Few days back a heartening report came out of him being arrested for drug abuse. His sad under nourished and haggard pictures were shocking and heart broken. Later revealed his parents were in nasty custody battle fighting for the control of his wealth. If that wont shatter a child. what will??

Another child prodigy "Lindsay Lohan" started off her career as fashion model at the age of 3.The Mean Girls star ever since is a target of tabloids. But not for her achievements. Alcohol , drugs, theft , misbehave , she has been charged with all. Belong to a dysfunctional family, the misfortunes of her upbringing has somehow seeped into her with long lasting repercussions. Will she be able to live an unmarked life??

Before Our child drowns in the heaps of misery, suffers in the hands of our own greed, disguise himself as a stranger, HEAR the sound of his anguish his silent tears before its too late. He is our flesh and blood.Let him choose the life he wants to live.Help him unveil the mystery of existence.Guide him to open his wings and fly to the sky's limit. Our children are the future of the nation and best bet for the brightest days ahead.Deprived children means deprived nation.We can and must alter this!!

                                                    “Come away, O human child!
                                                     To the waters and the wild
                                                    With a faery, hand in hand,
                           For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.” 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Devil In "City Of Angels"--Los Angeles

"I am too lazy to stop being lazy" that's my existing state of mind. No matter how much I motivate myself, my sluggishness always succeeds.The attitude and the mind is where it all starts.Its been over a year since been suffering from writers block but glad it has hardly whacked my reading habits.All credit to fellow bloggers who has bailed me out of my slothful trance and maneuvered me right along trail.

Now as a permanent nomad, am yet again will give you a virtual tour of  my newest odyssey.The heart and soul of America ' City Of Angels" also called The Hollywood- Los Angeles.It is one of the most populous metropolitan area in the world and second largest in United states with the most ethically diverse county.

After being loaded from Mexico, we cruised towards California for discharging.I spin a cartwheel the day Mister has confirmed our next voyage.It took us one week to reach the port of los Angeles on Long beach. As the name indicates, its not a meager beach but a ful fledged city.For three days I was on wretched nerves due to being on anchorage and twiddle for our turn on berth.After like millionth year at crack of dawn we moved,We finally moved.

On our first bend into the port, we encountered our first surprise.Rendezvous with the world's largest inflated duck It's a six story tall floating rubber duck which to our later knowledge came to participate in the Tall ships festival LA

It lead us half a day to moor and secure the tanker and another couple of hours to clear the immigration. As His Nibs was busy playing chief officer, I had to (with a sad face) content myself chaperoned by Cadet Yang.

Hardly enough time to spend and being newbie to the city, we rolled our day in a big shopping arcade.By kiss of God our Pakistani cabbie mentioned some shopping festival."Shop, hop and slumber fest".The galleria was gushing with shoppers looking for best offers on display.Girl being girl, I also shopped to my hearts content From books to bag to blings to beauty aids I religiously followed the "shop till you drop" mime.

Following day was reserved for the famous "Universal Studios".To ward off the early morning traffic, we kick started our tour at 7:00 a:m.With such exceptional roads to cruise on, reached our destination in less then one hour.But alas the taxi fare had almost ripped our pockets by charging $100 quids for the short drive.Anyways being the early birds and in front of the queue, we smoothly crossed the threshold with another $95 burnt hole to our pockets.Initially it was not crammed but with every hour to cuckoo's calling, it became crowded.Well to be true it was worth spending.

Highlights of the place was  the recount tram tour which cruised through the entire studio active backlot giving us glimpses of staged earthquakes, flash flood effects,airplane carnage and the original dungeon of King Kong.Next stop was the water roller coaster ride in Jurrasic park with life size Dinosaur.The 84 foot fall gives adrenaline rush to the core.The Revenge of the Mummy catapults at speeds up to 45 mph in virtual darkness.Transformers (inspired from movie) is a next generation 3-D thrill ride. WaterFront is the most mind blowing explosive actions with fire-fights,jumping jet-ski and in your face plane crash.Despicable me & Simpsons is a heartwarming hilarious rides.Animal Actors shows trained critters which put shame to pet-tricks.The rest mounts were as thrilling and exhilarating as the rest ones.

All the adrenalin quarry came to  end at 114:00 hrs.We still had enough time in hand so took a taxi to Hollywood walk of fame and TCL chinese theatre. After clicking memories with the famous and not so,we headed towards the HOLLYWOOD sign which marked as the American cultural icon.By the time we finished capturing the prominent sign, I was tired down to my feets and call it a day.Adventure filled Day.

We still had another day to explore so venture out towards the Long Beach. Effervescent diamonds sparkling in the sand, vast shores, lapping waves, heaven all around. The vision I witnessed is going to be carved in my memory for a long time.

So now I have already sorted out your itinerary, book tickets and fly to this astounding place and have fun of your lifetime.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventures of New-Orleans

After the Canal De panama escapade, our next fixed voyage was Mississippi -New Orleans –Louisiana. To reach the historic port of call New Orleans, one needs to transit the famous Mississippi road river. It’s a total of 22 hours course which bestow the ultimate experience of enchanting Mississippi heritage. The river provides a true slice of Americana- serene landscapes, green panoramic views, quaint towns, bustling ports and massive ship traffic. Known to be the fourth longest river of the world, it passes through 10 different states of America. Round the year, the illustrious river is bustling with tourist hopped in state of the art Ocean going Cruisers.

Past the two day long stream, we anchored in New Orleans-a major United States port and metropolitan area in the province of Louisiana. “NOLA” as they call evolves around the holy trinity, jazz, food and entertainment. Everybody on the ship was first timers to visit the place. So after browsing through net we rounded few sites to explore through out the day. Our first destination was the famous “French Quarters”-the heart and cultural center of the city. I was totally enthralled by my first overview of the place. High-energy, vibrant surroundings, musical streets, aromatic air and mounts of exuberance. 


Heart and soul of the French quarters is the Bourbon Street. It’s the most happening and wildest thoroughfare of the quarters with sounds of jazz music, country western, colorful decked-up girls and Mardi grass beads. The street gets the peak of its liveliness in the evening and it feels like you are a part of a carnival. We even gotta chance to relish a limousine ride all around the place. Beware the street is prohibited for kids as it jammed up with strip clubs, free flowing spirits and some adult stuff.

From there we rented a three wheeler rickshaw paddled by a girl. She took us to the famous “Jackson square”. The street was meandering with beautiful artwork from the super talented artist. It was one of my favourite place to walk through due to the different displays of artcrafts hanging on fence by artist to sell. The place was brimming with musician’s, street performers, Crazy costumes, fortune tellers and even voodoo specialist. The square is also famous for St Louis Cathedral and the Andrew Jackson monument.

After strolling for few hours and due to my hunger pangs, we took a cab to Magazine Street for our much anticipated Indian cuisine. The buffet was mouth watering and we hogged like beggars. 

Loaded with food we went to Wal-Mart for some retail therapy .But my expectations doomed as most of the merchandise was of inferior quality. Halfheartedly we did some cosmetic shopping, souvenirs for family and friends and a nice handbag for myself.

We still had a couple of hours remaining before heading back towards our cocoon. Being an animal lover, I always loved visiting zoos and Aquariums. Audubon Aquarium of Americas is one family friendly activity in the city. Best display was the underwater tunnel, the Amazon rain forest and an open ocean tank. Life size aquariums, whales, penguins and white alligator, the place is a must visit for animal enthusiasts. 

With heart full of unparalleled memories of one of the most phenomenal place, we reluctantly trudged en-route to our vessel.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mard Ko Bhi Dard Hota Hai................

My mind is reeling with a whirlwind of thoughts. A bit of vacillation a bit of uncertainty, whether to pour out my heart on this insignificant issue. How many people will reverberate with my feelings? 

After the Delhi and Mumbai rape case, numerous debates & speculation had been conducted on the recent crimes against women. Demands for Law amendments, better security, women’s liberation and empowerment have been soaring since then. Undeniably women are known to be the inferior sex. Numerous initiatives and movements are in progress towards Women’s amelioration. But not even once I hear about men’s predicament. Following the heinous incidents, we perceive all men’s to be either rapist, misogynist, masculinist. The same men we call our father, husband, brother or son. Never saw anybody advocating towards male emancipation. Are they not belong to human race?

Remember the old poem "Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice; boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails." Is it not bigotry?

Last year I received a random message form a girl on my FB page asking whether am Anurag’s school mate. ANURAG my seventh standard class mate and who got in touch through social media over fifteen years. Out of inquisitiveness, I talked to her for some time. After few minutes of chatting, she informed me about his untimely demise. Shell shocked, I couldn’t breath for a while. Embracing my wits, I conveyed my condolence and inquest about the mishap. Another shocker bounced. His wife of one month filed a false case against the whole family including his sister’s one year old daughter. Police came to apprehend the whole family at midnight. Around that period Anurag was working in another city. He was shocked and panicked as it was his love marriage. He could not believe that the girl who once claimed to love him so much filed a false against him.He along with two other friends soon started off to Lucknow. On the way his car collided with the truck and all three young boys died on the spot. After a month of his death, another case of domestic violence along with 498a was registered by the girl. It’s been three years now and this ironlady is fighting for her dead brother’s dignity. She is an MRA activist and now helping other martyrs of false cases against biased laws.

If women want to file a complaint, there is a provision of recording it as a criminal complaint under national statistic of crime against women but if male goes with an authentic grievance, they merely have to console with non cognizable offence. Due to these serious loopholes in our laws, it termed as a legal terrorism for men and their families.

There is another famous case of Munish Dalal, who suffered nine years jail imprisonment due to misuse of dowry law by his wife. He along with his family has been acquitted by Noida court after continuous 10 year ordeal. Adding more to their dilemma, the government incorporated the incident in NCERT textbooks that is still taught to children in Class VI. Later the girl’s charge junked due to her confession of an affair and cooking up a false story to wriggle out from nuptial. Will anything bring back his lost ten years?

Remember Capt Saurabh Kalia who fought for his country in kargil war 1999.The brave soldier was badly treated by Pakistan troops. His body was mutilated to unbearable extent. Since then his father an ex-air force personnel is running pillar to post and still struggling to prove his death as crime. We have signed so many petitions against rape’s, marched candle lights for the victims , made black bindi images as out profile pictures against crime towards women. But this old man is fighting alone for justice. 

Have we ever stand-up or demanded justice for a man same way we do for women's rights? Am not claiming that all cases against men are false or counterfeiting women’s quandary.But in some cases we need to consider man as victims and not accused. Next time don’t judge a man till he is “guilty as proven” not “guilty as charged”. Crime and criminals have no gender. Punishment to the criminal has to be equal irrespective of gender. Am neither a feminist nor misogynist but a daughter, wife, sister and a friend of a man who pays a penny to their emotion and feel compassion. 

DO YOU????

This post is not intended to violate or disregard or disrespect any provisions of the laws of our land nor are they intended for casting aspersions on any individual or for defaming or maligning anybody whomsoever.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Road Journey To Paradise……………….

Six months back, when I was about to join my husband on yet another sailing spree, my brother gave me a bouncer of relocating abroad. I knew we were not going to see each other for a long time. That night I slept with a heavy heart. But morning brought sunshine tidings from my sister. She along with her husband planned out a prompt farewell road trip before my brother pursues greener pastures. After a lot of argument, we rounded up on the Switzerland of India “Dalhousie and Khajjiar”in Himachal Pradesh.

Me, my two sisters and brother along with their better half’s and children designed to kick start our journey with the rush of dawn. But our best laid plan got doomed due to heavy rain. Anyways we hit the road at about 6:00 in the morning from Chandigarh.We followed the Hoshiarpur-Pathankot-Dalhousie route which was pretty good. We stopped for in-between breaks for snacks due to the children’s unruly demands of nature call. It was total of 8-hr trip and we were hoping to reach Dalhousie by 4: pm in the evening. But destiny plays its own game. Enroute there was a landslide a few feet ahead of us. We were almost stranded there for two hours and resumed our voyage after army brigade's intervention.

After the two hour hitch we reached Dalhousie without much of hiccups. Although the last 50 miles turned out a bit dreary to navigate. The best part of the whole journey was the magnificent views, scattered lush green meadows with plenty of deodar trees. We bunged on various bewitched places for posing and capturing the unparalleled essence of nature. Crazily, even did an impromptu gig which rewarded us whistles and applauses from fellow nomads.

At last we touched Dalhousie at around 6:30ish in the evening and went straight to our pre-booked guest house. After a hot shower and refreshments, along with over excited kids we decided to explore Dalhousie on the same day. Built on and around five hills, Dalhousie is located on the west of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. It has two main famous chowks, one being Gandhi Chowk, and the other  Subhash Chowk . The whole place was fully congested with tourist. After relishing hot pakoras and badam milk under sprinkles of rain, we call it a day.

The next day was full of leisurely strolls and trekking around the hills. Gorged on some sinful cuisine and visited the indo/Tibetan market. Spend money on useless things and bought a few souvenirs from the local shops. Explored Panchpulla, gurgling waters of Satdhara and beautiful architectures of St Francis church. By evening we were all dead tired and headed back to our cocoons.

Woke up early next day for the much anticipated trip to Khajjair also christened “Gulmarg of Himachal. From Dalhousie it was approximately 22 kms and the road run through Kalatop wildlife sanctuary. The road was bit bumpy but the picturesque landscapes thoroughly made-up for it. I was awe-struck and flabbergasted by my first view of the God send place. Panorama views of natural beauty. This saucer shaped green meadow, chimed by Devadar and long pines have a lake in the middle complete with floating island.

We all yelled at our allocated cottage run by HP tourism which was ideally placed in front of the main sporting grounds. Mesmerized by the clean, pristine surroundings, we headed out soon for exploring the combination of forest, lake and grassland.Hired horses and chased around the whole perimeter of the orbit.  Visited the famous Khajji nag temple, clicked pictures in traditional dress and enjoyed the roasted corn. There was a sarangi vala tuning the local folk songs. Enjoyed a few shakes and tip the man heartily. We ended our day with loud music, funny dancing, mouth watering food and inebriated cocktails.

At Aurora, we started our drive back home. Uneventful for the most part, the four day trip along with crazy road experience came to an end. Although due to my sailing life, I have been to many beautiful countries but this small memorable trip will always share a special place in our hearts.

Last but the most thrilling part of our journey was the travel media - my sister’s brands new Safari “Storme”. Though it’s usually recommended to bring small cars in hilly stations but not even once we regretted our decision. This SUV is a mixture of opulence and rowdiness. It’s an eight seater monster with lots of luggage and legroom. Due to its spacious and ultra comfy character, we are planning to repeat another crazy road trip to Leh  Ladakh during my brothers next India trip.

Post written for “I Am Explorer” contest hosted by Indiblogger in association with Tata Safari.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chronicles of Pirate attack survivor…………………

Date: 09 Sep 2009

Time: 12.00 noon

It was a normal routine day. After hours of grinding, all the crew members along with officers including me were salivating on Indian desi food in duty officer’s mess. Sharing sea tales, banters or news from home was regular practice in around the lunch hour. All of a sudden, the duty officer on bridge called for Captain on the speaker which was unusual as amplifiers are used only for specific announcements. Befuddled, we all got alarmed by hearing his panicky voice. Nobody ever anticipated an attack on the area we were sailing. We had almost transited the high risk area and in the safe waters. With bated breadth, everyone waited for the inevitable. Another announcement came within seconds. Our Ship is under attack!!

Our ship BW LION was attacked some 400 nautical miles north-east of the Seychelles. This was the longest range of pirate attack off the Somalia coast ever.

Bw Lion before the attack

 All hell broke loose.Instantly all ran for their muster points.Two other supernumerary congregate and myself on bridge as it was our muster station on emergencies. Using binoculars, I saw two speeding white skiff boats just 10 miles away from our liner. Due to the enormous size of vessel and being loaded with crude oil, we could only increase the speed to some extent. But the skiffs rapidly came towards us.

I looked out of the bridge window and saw one small boat with five black people just 20 yards away. All of them clearly were carrying the rifles. Kudos to the officers including my husband who went away on deck to turn on the water/fire hoses. Within minutes we heard an almighty bang. One of the men carrying a bazooka aimed right at us. The grenade struck one level below. It was the Captain’s day room.The fire alarm went berserk as the rocket propeller pierced into the walls and the entire quarters engulfed in blazes. Few of the crew members scurried towards fire spot with extinguishers to prevent the flames spread across other areas.We heard continuous plunk of bullets.

Somalian pirates with rocket launchers and AK-47

The bombardment lasted for more than two hours, and several areas of the ship, including the front bridge area, were damaged by Ak-47 and rocket launchers. Two of the pirates even gestured towards us to stop the engines. But that was out of the question. The only measure was to take evasive actions, repelling the attackers not to board the vessel.
Concurrently a distress call and radio mayday was sent to the office and to international maritime security services. Throughout the two hour ordeal, people from UKMTO were in constant touch and guided us with further actions.

Needless to say we all were scared shit, especially the wives. Our security was the top priority for them. One of the officers was with us at all times. The main intention was to drag  the pirates as long till they ran out of fuel to make it to shore. At last after continuous chasing the Master and crew were able to prevent the marauders to board, through a combination of evasive maneuvering,  maintaining full sea speed, effective use of water hoses and anti-boarding measures. Also we got air help from the French naval in nick of time.

Picture captured from air plane during the attack

We were directed to sail towards the nearest shore possible. We burst into a round of applause and happy tears when were told the pirates had been defeated and now are in safer waters. Everybody took a sigh of relief.

Hours after the chaotic moment’s reality smacked. Not a soul ever wanted to imagine the aftermaths of being captured.Salute to Captain and other officers who showed tremendous courage and professionalism throughout the nightmare.

After signing off from the ship, me and my husband was invited to Singapore office and a lavish party was organized in our honor. I still get goose bumps whenever I revisit the incident. But the black memorabilia is a thing of the past  and it had made me more stronger. I do not live in constant fear now and the unpleasant incident certainly does not dissuade me to sail again.
After all……………………………...................................................................................................

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”