05 April 2014

Adi Goes For Nature Walk.

 Aditya flung the Nintendo across the room , wailed and waited for his mother's reaction.
NOoooooooooo !
The cry sliced the walls, spilled on to the verandah, rolled down the lawn and bounced right up to the trembling wooden gate. The menagerie of dogs at the gate cocked their ears worriedly and whined.
What a masterpiece it was ! Already Mom's urgent footsteps and anxious face told him he was on the right track.
He most certainly did not want to be dragged to a nature walk on the very Sunday morning when the Grand two hour show of Terminators season 2 was to be aired ! Not to forget that he had stayed up late last night to watch Delhi team win the IPL league match. Only silly birds and moms got up at 7 am- on a holiday .
Adi knew that Moms were often unreasonable about waking up and walking or both. But he knew how to handle that. A little distraction ,some shock techniques and you could easily make them drop their crazy proposals. 
However, today ,the problem was not her : it was her visiting younger brother who was a footloose photographer and had landed up in Delhi after 10 years of roaming obscure places on the globe .This strange,bald, bearded, smiling mamajee of his- came in ,picked up the nintendo , and happily chucked it in the dustbin, disregarding the horrified look on Adi's face .
Aditya you are a smart young boy : Nintendos deserve to be destroyed : lets get going son : I've got an orange backpack for you and a lovely notebook too , to scribble your thoughts.
Aditya felt panicky . Dad ,his permanent ally in TV watching and staying in bed till late was also out of town : who would help him out of this jam ?
Mamajee can we do a deal ?If I do not go today, you can take me out for nature walk for double the time tomorrow ?I haveto-haveto watch Terminators today .
To his delight, mamajee nodded readily :poor man had no idea that Dad will be in tomorrow and then nothing could come between them and the teevee .
Whatever you say young man :BUT FIRST:you haveto-haveto give me a 200 words on Season Two Terminator :
WHAT ?? Now ? Adi HATED writing even more than he hated reading .I don't - I cant do write ups :
Then you have to come son :that is my side of the deal !
And that was how a very sullen Adi got dragged to the Yamuna Biodiversity Park and did Nature Walk : whatever that meant:
Poor him : walking along the dirty mud path with straw fields on one side and a thin streak of river on the other. Buffaloes sitting in filth and mud.He refused to look at anything .Till suddenly something darted across the path .He jumped and shrieked :Ewwww : mamjee there is some strange animal here .A mongoose : mamajee smiled .Maybe he is chasing a snake ! You better look around sharp and keep close. Tell me if you see anything .
Aditya was wondering what was there to be seen in this place when overhead a swarm of expanding -contracting ; chittering- quivering birds glided and settled down on a bare branched tree.
He was transfixed : what noise they made ! They sang and squeaked and their calls grew frenzied. An angry crow flew in and scolded them and they went quiet for a moment. The image of Mrs Battu - the junior school principal flashed across Adi's mind and he smiled.  
A moment latter their song resumed at the same mad -glad ,breakneck- boisterous pace.
Mama jee  they are having a party !  Is it Jazz or Rave ?
Mamajee laughed : these guys  are Rosy Pastors - on their way back to Europe. They come to feast and fatten up in India before they breed .They relish the fat green semal pods , figs and mulberries just like you love potato chips and kurkure .And as they feast, they love to sing and scold.A shikra glided in - on one of the branches and the whole swarm lifted in synchronized flight as one being; settling now on the red berried tree : the Ficus - as mamajee informed him.
         Mamajee handed him the binoculars and Adi *Actually* saw a black and white pastor plucking a goolar berry ,holding it in his beak and gobbling it ! His  friend ;came and pecked at him angrily for having eaten it (just like Aurav his BFF ! snatching his Lays ! :))
This is soo Perfect! Adi  thought. This is Discovery channel live !
As he warmed up, mamajee took him right up to the sandy banks to wade into moss green waters and let the weeds touch his ankles . 
He forgot about the time of his TV show or when it ended .He was so enthralled by the yellow throated sunbirds building their raggedy nests while dancing and singing .And the shrieking lapwings who were taking  a walk among the reeds with their scrawny offspring in tow.
They laughed at the innumerable and unremarkable yellow beaked babbling satbhai busy washing themselves in the dust.They were not glitzy but  they had enough attitude and belligerence to hold your attention !
And there were hordes of shellducks and combducks on water .Blue Jays and kingfishers ! And everyone was busy feeding, flying, squawking and squabbling.
Seeing them eating , he felt very hungry and hot.And there was not even an icecream wallah here. Mamajee hailed a boatman and they took a  thrilling fifteen minute ride to the fields across the river where melons and cucumbers could be had right off the branches (or creepers) .He had never seen a melon field before ! And had never tasted such refreshing sweetness before!
As he asked the farm hand to slice up more for him , the old man smiled indulgently and said :puttar ,*geeliyan ret te meeethe khet *
"Son, wet sands mean sweet fields". Adi  nodded sagely and repeated the words to himself.
The old farm-hand Nawabdin sat them on a charpoy  and asked Adi if he would like to have tea or lassi. Adi felt very grown up and asked for tea : and he got it : sweet and strong .They chatted :the old man talked of the river of his youth which was three times wide and did not smell of pesticides.And how all the sands were full of nesting birds and there were no Housing Societies or landfills. How in his opinion the mangoes had lost their sweetness even as they grew big sizewise. He introduced them to his two buffaloes : Bhainsi and Budhia and his cantankerous hens who rushed at them, full of offended clucks.This is because they have laid eggs - Nawab whispered to Adi. Softly , he guided them towards the barn - where the secret stash of hen eggs was visible concealed in straw tokris .
Adi was thrilled to bits. Nawab gifted Adi two eggs and a shock of sleek russet- red feathers from the country hens.
They bought a lot of melons cucumbers and fresh vegetables to make mom smile.Adi  was about to stuff his orange backpack with the veggies when he saw a barebacked boy his age staring.I also go to school , he said proudly : third class .Adi smiled .The boy shyly gave him some lovely pearly shells collected from the river. Adi gave him his bayblade that he always carried in his pocket and his new scribble pad .
They said goodbyes and got on the boat for their journey back. 
This post is for  the Indiblogger Nature's Friends Contest.

02 February 2014

Memoir Writing Workshop by Cheryl Strayed .

courtsey : Literature Studio 
 I had come across Cheryl on the web especially on Rumpus as the most Radical of all Agony Aunts:  but never known the full force of her writing .
I believe in the Theory Of Attraction .
That people who come in your life in a way that resonates or Events that touch you do so for a reason.That they are feeding a thirst or a hunger ; filling a void inside you; showing a light to your darkness.
Why did I call  Sangeeta Khanna that evening ?Why my ears perked at the words writing workshop and how I managed to squeeze my way in at the last minute in the already full session ? I needed someone to light my way and there she was :
 Before I did this workshop , had only a vague idea about how a Memoir was different from an Autobiography .Its not just that Autobiographies are written by famous people and memoirs by ordinary folks.
A memoir is  a slice of life story made meaningful when you see it through the prism of time and experience .Its not just a chronology of events and dates and public minutiae of a life, but a narrative of emotional consequences of events  and spiritual and mental growth that happened as a result .Thus the Personal becomes the story of the Universal as coping with darkness and pain, surmounting odds and getting over irreparable loss is the struggle of every human being. Of course to focus the lens on your own failings and the painful route to growth requires rare courage and commitment to honesty. So writing Memoirs is as foolhardy and as liberating as riding a motorbike to the highest peaks .
Cheryl wrote her memoir "Wild"- the story of a 100 day hike along the Pacific Coast Trail after her mom who was her anchor ,died of Cancer.In her grief she felt unable to cope , let her marriage dissolve ,saw her step father become  a stranger and her siblings get scattered.And in this Great Alone she thought that she might as well go in the wilderness to find herself. Its not just an account of a journey but an account of a Transformation.
And now this fearless pioneer woman was right in front of me at the American Centre to talk about stuff that she loved !Cheryl was not some intellectual Giant sitting with the shiny Writer Hat on her head .She was as real as the ever compassionate , close confidante Sugar in her best loved Agony Aunt avatar.
She posed some difficult and searching questions before us : and asked her to delve into our consciousness to write the answers on the sheets before us .
We could share what we had written if we wanted to .And when we did she would exclaim or  laugh or feel with us .That was the unique beauty and love that she infused in the session.
The whole two hour plus session : the way she elicited responses by nudging and persuading us to inhabit our pasts was a unique experience .And also emotionally draining.
The biggest Take Home message was  : take everything that life has given you : when you embrace it and make it your own it turns into a Beautiful Thing ,a thing that nurtures you .
Literature Studio and American Centre deserve a Big Round of Applause for making this happen and we are thirsty for more. 

06 December 2013

In Defence Of Farooq Abdullah .

Finally in Mr Farooq Abdullah we have a spokesperson for all the Misandry that the Indian Men are subject to . But in face of feminist fire even he was forced to take cover. This is Not Right. Time and again the Mainstream Media portrays Men as misguided morons,speaking with their foot in the mouth,potential Rapists and assaulters.We must Speak Up Against this.
 Day after day the feminist brigade spews unmitigated verbal violence, hatred and sheer vituperative anger at every innocent male pursuit ( from ball scratching to lip smacking, to boob gazing, to urinating in public). 
And now every raving outburst of a female brain will be taken as truth by the Law ?This is Awful .Worst . Horrible .Where is Democracy ? Where are Men's Rights? Who will speak up for the persistently persecuted, petrified Indian Man ?
As if it was not enough that Men were being smooth talked into wearing pink attires on football field and cricket grounds; hoodwinked into changing diapers and cooking dinner , now our most basic needs are being snatched away ?
Where are we to go if we can not scratch balls, sing hindi songs like *gandi baat* while gazing peacefully at boobs around us ? How can we dare to open our mouths in Feminine presence if Bollywoods Catch Lines are taken away from us ?
We have to stand up and fight against this Misandry.
The Right To Perpetrate was ours but that rug has been snuck from below our feet and we are now being perpetrated upon by evil Matriarchal forces .Will the next generation of men grow up without knowing what it is to throw pickup lines at random girls in the bus or what it is to harass / trouble/do lafda with a woman in a gay and carefree , filmi hero ishtyle without any negative  consequences ? The Sheer Horror Of It !!
The Female Prejudice, the double standard ( they like it all, but they say they don't)  thats pervading the society like some sickness must be stopped at all costs. We must fight on .We must huddle together and constitute Rapist Support Forums and Eve teasers guide to staying safe from Rabid Feminists.
We are being systematically deprived of all power influence and even our Voices. We will not stay Silent .
STAND UP MEN.SPEAK UP. The Nation is All Ears.

23 November 2013

Reporting Lift Rape is Good ; Preventing it even better.

A fifty year old well placed , well spoken man, drunk on media clout and political muscle , thinks nothing of forcing himself  on a woman old enough to be his daughter, his junior colleague; who is not only his daughter's friend but also his friend's daughter !
He makes creative excuses,then denies then says it was banter and contorts into his kacche ka nada so much that the whole world watches in repulsed,ridicule and amazement.His staunch supporters Vinod Mehta ,Khushwant Singh and Javed Akhtar rise up for him but only get reviled for their questionable efforts .
There is no reaction but Outrage to this one.But apart from raving  and ranting and wondering why no FIR was filed and so on ,I was wondering what if the girl had given a knee to Groin the very first time when she was cornered in the lift and pawed at by Mr Tejpal ? Or a Palm to Nose ? What if she was full of Anger from Hell rather than fear ?
Because the world thrives on tamasha and in India, politics gets into everything,none of which helps in redressing an assault to the dignity of a woman.Hence all the more  important to prevent it .And white collar wolves whose groins get out of control with aid of drinks or when defying gravity (lifts) will get the message with ringing clarity with a swiftly applied knee-to-groin.
 The problems of Intimidations Attacks Molestations stem from a power gap and a Strength gap.Doers do these things as they have the confidence to get away .Because they have got away in the past. The Institutions always try to brush stuff under the carpet and unless the protest is ringing and clear ( which in this case is) the matter rests.
And demanding decisive action rather than apology if  an assault does happen really seals the deal in your favour .

Lure of Low Carb and other tadkas ; when will they not work ?

A sizzling, fragrant Tadka happens when whole spices hit hot oil. Put the same mix in cold oil and there is zero response.
That oil is your metabolism. The spices are your strategies: lifting, running, meditating, eating well, sleeping well, fasting . 
When the metabolism is geared just right , throw in exercise and good eating it will sizzle like Sheila's jawaani. There will be strength, weight loss and rude good health. It will neither burn you out nor sink in without  a trace.
If you are stuck at a plateau, if you have no desire to work out or if a workout feels like a punishment , if you do not sleep well  the answer lies in getting that oil at the right temperature .Not in looking for more spices.
And getting the oil at right temperature involves lot of gentle movement, less sitting, regular hours of sleep and waking, sunshine exposure and whole balanced, Real foods, at regular intervals even if the quantity seems shocking to you.
I watch with dreadful fascination when instead of thinking of ways to get the oil temperature right , women seek new and more tortured ways to find the perfect spice.We had gone to the trade fair the other day and there were amazing supplements for attaining a lean and disease free physique. Propolis, pollen ,organic honey, royal jelly ,glucosamine etc etc.But would all these help if movement ,sleep,sunshine and Real Foods are neglected ?
Beyond the few listed above , there aren't any foundational spices !
And anything else will work only and to the extent when these work !
But Metabolism is not as attractive or in the face as a lean body so it is seldom pursued  with the same zeal . Nobody says : I am so proud that the last whole week I slept a deep refreshing 9 hours straight and had a hearty breakfast before going for a long amble in the sunshine.I feel ready to lift a 100 kgs now. I did not lose any weight ,yes , but I feel like I am reborn . 
What we do is pursue the outer heedless of the long term cost to the inner. How ? 
  • By eating less and less calories. This,when you are at a relatively normal weight, will make the oil go colder and colder .
  • By eating little or no carbs.This is another way of eating less calories.Dont . Do . It .For.Long. This also suppresses conversion of T4 into T3.This is Bad News. Especially if you are a woman .You likely are already on a hormonal roller-coaster.Making crash landings will not be pleasant.
  • More especially if you are in/approaching premenopause - times of inbuilt thyroid stress.
  • I know low Carb worked for X, Y and Z or even you at some point of the journey.
  • Mostly this was when you/they were folks with lots of weight to lose, with poor eating habit and poor insulin sensitivity.A period of carb restriction works wonders at that stage by helping them to achieve balance and repair their eating habits.
  • But the same thing may not give a roaring success for  relatively healthy older women who want to get leaner while increasing their strength and capability and feel good inside out.
Believe me the slow road is more recuperative and takes you towards your goal while keeping it simple and fun.The most important thing about Nutrition is knowing about all the crap in the food supply and keeping it to a minimum.Caring about food quality obsessively.Eating and savouring food without minding about quantities.And to do that ; working up an appetite with consistent and pleasurable activity.

Tortuous Path to Straight Punch .

 Before I took up Krav Maga ,  I never thought that a straight punch could be so complicated and technique intensive.
I am always doing something or the other wrong.Specifically :
  1. I lock my shoulders.
  2. I do not reach out at the target but step closer .This is =MAJOR SIN. You are NEVER EVER to step closer to the opponent but reach out with you arms .
  3. I punch only with my shoulders and keep forgetting to throw the whole body weight behind the punch. Which robs the punch of all punch.
  4. I land the punch wrong . On my finger nubs at times which is SHAMEFUL even for a newbie (which I am not).But mostly I land them on WRONG KNUCKLES .Instead of first three (Bigger) I land on the last three (smaller) which is a stupid injury causing mistake.
  5. My wrist goes down.
  6. I take my elbows behind the shoulders.
  7. I forget to keep the guard up.
  8. My Footwork is wrong .
  9. My Punch falls below shoulder height.
  10. I do not pullback fast enough.
PHEW: I wonder if at all I can ever get all this right .So here is a list of pre-punch drill I must memorize and chant .
A Haiku or Mantra if you will :
Elbows in front of shoulders ; Guard Up
Keeping feet behind a metaphorical line
Reach out : Feel the Inner Arm Stretch.
Follow the damn knuckles .
Force will come when all else is in line.
And I will pray .

09 November 2013

Yes Health IS about Size : But Health is also not about Size.

I do not seem to have very much to say these days : I have grown mellower and less opinionated over time . But the issue of seeing exercise/food as a *shrinking*  enterprise is something that I still feel vocal about .
I keep telling  women that while it is not wrong to have an Aesthetic goal, it is often possible to choose a wrong goal when Aesthetics are the chief motivation . An ideal shape , as projected by models/actresses who dominate our visual and mental space is not attainable by many women who have a different Body Frame/ Body type. Not unless they choose to trash their metabolisms and insult their physiologies.So we must choose our goals with a lot of respect and compassion towards ourselves.
When I tell them not to try extreme diets and endless exercising to get fashionably thin, I frequently find this question thrown back at me : Why Workout then ? Why Eat Clean then ? Why are you trying to confuse people ? What are you trying to say ? Are you trying to defend being fat ? Are you saying this because you are not the perfect size ?
At the outset let me say : YES ! I am a Big woman .And I am also rather fit in the sense that I can out cardio and out lift many young bucks of either gender in the Krav Maga class I frequent.So I will of course defend my size .More so, for I know that shrinking always makes me weaker rather than stronger .And that the strongest women in martial arts are not the Ectos but the Mesos and Endos.
Note that I am NOT saying  that *all thin girls are on the brink of bodily disaster *, or even that *all non-thin women are paragons of fitness and good health*. I grant that there maybe women like Lakshmi Menon or Padma Lakshmi who are  members of that smallish Ectomorphic frame who have far lower than average BMIs  and can eat pretty much anything, maybe do some cardio or Zumba occasionally and still look like swimsuit models. And there may be a lot of complacent aunties around you who may take pride in their elephantine proportions while tucking in Oreos and pastries.This kind I call unhealth at any size.
However, there is the fact that while somehow we have come to identify tiny waists , tiny busts and slim. thigh gapped legs and slim boyish hips as indicators of physical superiority,this ideal is a Wrong Goal for a majority of Adult women. Also for a majority of overweight women who got into fitness to get fitter/thinner.Please keep in mind that many women who are fashionably thin may have traded heavily to get taht way.They may have deprived their systems of important nutrients to get so slender. They may have taken harmful drugs or undergone surgery to create a façade that nature never intended. Or they may have been extensively Airbrushed. 
So while Thin maybe healthy for the naturally thin : It may also be decidedly unhealthy for many who aspire to thinness . 
Being healthy means eating right and exercising regularly. If you’re a size 14 who does her cardio/weights 4 days a week and steers clear of junk food, you may be way healthier than a size 0 who never has to lift a finger to maintain her figure.
  1.  As someone who exercises and eats well you will be able to bounce back faster from injury or illness
  2. Will experience fewer problems as you age.
  3. May sail through major life events /changes smoothly (Menopause, Retirement ,Empty nest).
  4.  May live longer. 
Even if you are exactly the size and shape you want to be, don’t think for a minute that you should stop working out or getting your daily protein fruit and veggie fix. Your body needs movement , fresh air, sunshine and good food no matter what .
Yes , Health IS about size and being in shape : If you are too big or too small, you are putting yourself at risk.
But health is also NOT about size. Thin and healthy are not synonyms, and the most important thing you can do for your body is to care for it properly. Just because you’ve gained 5 kgs doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly become unhealthy – and it CERTAINLY doesn’t mean that you’re bad, that you’ve failed, or that people love you any less. And just because you’ve lost 5 kgs doesn’t mean you’re done.
I know it is far easier to say this than to believe this  and I am myself not immune from a groan of dismay when I see the weighing scale creeping towards right . But I am equally mystified by its arbitrary movements to the left when I have been actually carbing up or missing workouts.I guess, an honest ,self-care based Lifestyle is the Biggest favour we can do to ourselves, whatever be our size or shape.
Yes I agree size and shape debates are soo very silly. And we need to get above them .
Then there comes someone who breaks my heart with tales of being bullied in school because they were plump.Or that they got into fitness to get glamorous.Or someone who is starving to get thin. 
So there maybe some Right Thinking on this tired topic, still left to do; I believe. Trust me, if you keep Self Care and Regular Movement as a permanent Agenda Item ,you will place less trust in the scale and more trust in your Body.And will be actually be able to say Boo to anyone who tries to belittle your size or shape .

10 September 2013

Memoirs on De-stressing Belonging and Tribing.

In my growing up years ,in the seventies, nobody pursued fitness or followed Diets.Diet was a fancy word I learnt while furtively skimming through women's magazines borrowed from newly married neighbourhood ladies.I am sure that not one of them followed any of those .
I remember distinctly, that while the solitary TV programme on Dhirendra Brahamachari and his Yoga was watched, no one really felt compelled to try any of that.The only exercise ladies did involved wearing white PT shoes and engaging in long Gossip sessions while leisurely sailing around the neighbourhood. The men played tennis or badminton .Mostly doubles, unless they were very young and energetic.These long leisurely matches that lasted the long summer evenings or lazy wintry afternoons were more for passing time : drinking nimbu pani  and doing bromance rather than exercising or fitness. 
When I was in class X th I read an American book on joys of jogging or some such .And I would get up every morning while it was still dark and jog the campus. This made all the aunts and uncles quite aghast.Because this was only somethings rangroots ( as fresh recruits to the lower police services, were called) ; had to do . Likewise my Jane Fondaesque bouncing contortions caused a lot of amusement  and ribbing .
Yet by and large, the uncles and aunties in my growing up landscape were not plump and were more or less in good health.They had no clue about diet or fitness regimes but had one key ingredient in plenty. The knew by heart the gentle Art of De-stressing  and bonding with the community. And they had better lifestyles by necessity .
Our fathers  often went to office on cycles ,even after scooters had come on scene. Because petrol was expensive and the shaan ki sawaari on scooter was mostly a weekly affair ,when the whole family clambered on and went to someone's house or the market. Everybody did stuff ( from watching movies ,going for walks or picnics or even visiting a sick colleague) in annoyingly large walking groups .This was in part necessitated by limited number of personal transport and in part by absence of any competing individualistic pursuits like TV ,computer or cell phones .People ,neighbours et al were close enough to rib and rag anyone who was putting on weight. A remonstration to the plumper one, to do two more rounds or else be cut off from the chola-bhatura or mango-milk party invitation list was extended as a routine courtesy.And yes , even if you did get the chola- bhatura invite : everything was home-made; not catered ( hence laborious ).Every invite required a counter invite of  chokha-litti or idly -dosa or jhunka -bhakar invite . So you never really got a carte blanche to hog without putting in some hard work .Winters meant at least one round of *Making Gajar ka halwa on the wood fire* with 5 kgs of Raw Milk .Bansi the milk man would favour us with the best quality creamy buffalo milk ( w/o water :) ) in return of a portion. The gajar had to be uprooted by hand ,washed ,scrubbed,grated , neighbours would also donate extra gajar and it would be a grand memorable day of fun and feasting and lots of exercise too inadvertently.there was a lot of hand work always as Divya shares here.
That playfulness,sense of belonging and spirit of fun is something that should is missing in our dalliances with healthy stuff these days.
Where I train in Krav Maga , the brutal 3 minute rounds of all out hits become do-able only because a lot of good-natured ribbing and jousting and egging is going on all the time .We need people to mirror our loves,to speak our tongue, to point a gentle finger and to give pat on the back ,even when we are doing what we really believe in and what we love.It is a pack thing .We absorb and feed on the energy we get from the pack !
Everything is doable and everywhere is reachable with  a shared smile !  Fitness fun and friends work great together !

18 August 2013

Making Thandai : the Indian Protein Shake .

If you exercise intensely you must eat well .
Doodh -Badaam have been traditionally renowned as the ideal Khuraak for wrestlers , who consume upto one kilo of badaam in a day.
While none of us live to exercise that intensely ,we can benefit from incorporating this refreshing and lip-smacking drink in our daily regime.it is great breakfast or snack for kids too.

Basic Badaam Thandai :

Step 1: Assemble Ingredients  (for two glasses):
  • Badaam - 50 gulbandi badaam, peeled after overnight soaking ( which have a high fat content compared to American giri)
  • Peppercorns : four- five
  • Green Cradamom : three-four 

Step 2 :Dump in the dry grinder , whiz with small amounts of water till fine buttery paste forms.

Step 3 : Add this nut and spice paste to two glasses of full fat milk in the blender and whiz again. Sugar/stevia to taste.
I often make the thandai paste for two days at a time and store in refrigerator.It is a lip smacking power-up drink : post workout or as breakfast in a glass.It can be added to your regular protein smoothie too and makes it even more yummy.

31 July 2013

Are you Romancing Lower Back Pain ?

I have not met anyone in their 30's or 40's who has not had at least a brief flirtation with LBP. Most have full blown ,on -again,off-again affairs infact. 
Lower Back Pain (LBP) is like a High Maintenance mistress. The attractions it promises : of endless sitting ,surfing , moving without engaging or not moving at all are seductive.The toll of falling for her is never fully paid . Yet, we keep going back to her doorstep .For we do not unlearn our habits. Not easily .So let us find out how this Disastrous Relationship develops:
 Take a close look at the Long-suffering ,self sacrificing Back , LBP's  unglamorous sibling. The Back thinks that her silent love will make us stand up and take notice . She does all the work ,even that which is not hers and lets us take the credit . Common boasts like "Had  marathon meetings lasting six hours.Two days in a row ! Could not even get up for loo. But I will not miss the weekend Tennis date with you."  are thrown around.We send a frenzy of messages on our cells hunching over the touchscreens while we do the one hour commute.
 We know that we can manage as long as Back allows ; and the Back allows an unfortunate lot for a long time ! The motto of the back - is Main hoon Na (MHN).Mostly because she is always there,in line of fire-   
  • Glutes in a permanent Rigor Mortis of flexion from deathless hours of sitting ? Never mind you go and play tennis .Main hoon na !
  • Upper Back slouched and unable to do a single push-up ? You go and lug grocery,laundry and a couple of kids.Main hoon na !
  • Paunch sagging,TVS(transverse abdominus) straining outwards instead of hugging the spine ? Koi baat nahin .Carry on buddy : Main hoon na !
  • Hips flattened to oblivion,Pelvis tilted and unable to stay straight and support the spine ? Do the Bench press and Bicep style Body building : I will manage ! mujh pe chod do.MHN !
  • Hammies hiding,quads quivering , knees rusty ? Carry on with the Zumba and Hip -hop .You Rock ! The Back always manages- Main hoon Na !
So no wonder we learn to milk our Back to the last drop  and treat her like a doormat . The MHN Back continues to carry on bravely on her suicidal path ,till the hurt of  not being loved back starts showing.Not that it makes us notice anything.Because , after all ,we are strong and amazonic Cowgirls or studly Cowboys .We take pride in the physical feats we do *despite* our *Bad* Backs. Soon we twinge into spasms and we find ourselves pushed into the waiting and eager arms of LBP. LBP starts calling the shots and we are in her thrall! Over time, we start holding our Backs in a resentful contempt : the temperamental bipolar character , around whom one must walk on eggshells.Maybe rest, maybe medication,maybe Yoga,maybe Pilates : a hundred prescriptions are thrown around to get the Back Back .And because we do not know what else to do, we continue sleeping with LBP.
We do not know how we ended with LBP . But actually we should .Because  a lifetime of taking the Back for-granted is by default a lifetime of courting and making passes at LBP.The question now is are there any chances of redeeming yourself  ( and the  audibly suffering Back) by undoing all the wrongs .Or will you take the  fait accompli road and settle down for good with LBP ?
In case you really want out , what Amends can you make ?
I have written on the specific exercises ; on core strengthening and glute activation  .But I think irrational fear of strength training and Resistance to positive Change is the biggest obstacle.So now I will say only this :
Restoring a Relationship needs loving and enlightened effort .A few grand gestures like a abhayangam massage or chropracter session are great . But consistent love triumphs.Saying stuff like : I only do Yoga or planks and Strength Training is a no-no, does not help in restoring complete confidence in your troubled relationship with the Back.
When something is broken ,you have to look at both immediate and long term rehab.
Yoga /pilates /or any exercise that helps you stretch and stabilize the affected part help immediately. But if you never venture beyond them ,you  are holding back from progress.Progress means getting every damned muscle around and adjacent to the vertebrae wake up from their sedentary slumber and chip in full throttle.
Compare two towers (spinal columns) held together : one with vertically stretched rubber bands and another with high tensile polymer . Both of them are entirely stable right now ,because they have been put through plank drills . But  when force is applied or sudden movement happens ,which will be easier to topple ? The one with tensile Strength .
Strength training is about transforming rubber bands into tensile polymers . 
  • Unless strength happens in the glutes, TVA ,upper back ,the hundreds of small stabilizer muscles running along the vertebra ,
  • unless your Core - that juncture of pelvis,diaphragm,spine ,glutes ;  functions as a Unit -while bending ,lifting ,lunging,climbing, twisting ;
until then you and your back will never really trust each other.
And this Trust happens , not by reading more articles on how to do planks and Bird- Dogs and reminding yourself of engaging the TVA or glutes or keeping the spine neutral.Your mind can not control the muscles verbally !This happens by burning these advisories into your Muscle Memory by repeatedly doing free weight functional exercises which engage the Core against gradual resistance.
What if you start lifting and hurt yourself further ? This is a natural query.And the answer to that is Functional Strength .Start with Bodyweight only ,functional movements like the Push up ( which is nothing but a Plank that goes up and down) , try perfecting a one leg get up from a chair or a seat ( there are muscles in the bum!) , attempt a pull up .Push heavy stuff or pull it for distance .Do bodyweight squats! These movements have zero hurt potential .When you achieve a respectable status here ,you are ready for free weights. 
Its not an either/or or this-versus-that thingie really.Its about progressing from *managing* to  *being functional*  to becoming optimal. 

27 July 2013

Kadva sach :

 A whole lot of folks like to be health conscious these days .But actually some only want thin-ness ,some absence of disease ,some presence of mobility,some eating well . Very few see it as the art of maximizing our chances in whatever battle life sends us .
Stranded in flood ravaged hills of Uttarakhand , who do you think were the ones who successfully rappelled on ropes across engorged rivers ? Carrying kids and belongings ?
We live in a culture of such put -on sweetness that saying the truth becomes almost rude some times.This happens in the workplace ,in our interactions with relatives and friends and many times even in our conversations with ourselves. Just as excess added sugar is bad for our health it is bad for the health of our soul.We need tact and sweetness in our dealings with others : true .We need kindness to ourselves : truer.
But when the sweetness becomes an end in itself it is dangerous. Learning when kindness to self is masquerading as longer term unkindness to your body and soul is important . Whether it is by excess exercise , no exercise at all ( but I do walk about house/workplace  ), by giving in to other's demands of what should be done/not done , or by not eating enough or eating whatever junk because you ran the treadmill. Not that people do not have  a right to delude themselves !
I will be the first one to say that we have :
  • the right to eat whatever we want.
  • the  right to live a sedentary lifestyle.
  • the right to deprive ourselves of sleep.
  • the right to be stressed out all the time.
  • the  right to feed an addiction.
  • the  right to think negatively.
  • the right to chase meaningless numbers in quest of fitness.
  • the right to be lazy.
  • above all the right to make the wrong decisions.
However all Rights come with Responsibility.And the responsibility of your health /un-Health is also shaped by Rights you choose to exercise ( pun intended).So decide which rights you want to claim for yourself ! Some great gems I hear :
“You’re so lucky to have  a home  gym. And to know lifting .I just can not drive to the gym every morning." I did not know or have till age 35 .
“Oh, I can’t eat clean — I just don’t have time to cook.” : I mostly hate cooking but know it is non -negotiable skill for a fit family lifestyle.
“If only the kids/work/relatives would give me ten minutes to myself, I’d be doing home workouts too".Time has to be snatched : I keep snatching : win some ,lose some.
" I am waiting for ( kids exams, husband's trip , mother's illness ,my injury) to get over : then I will start ( exercising /eating well)  : Every little bit of self-care counts during tough times or the negatives will overwhelm you.
“You’re so lucky the kids are in school now! Once mine are in school, I’m definitely going to start working out.” : I did that even when they were not in school .
Its important to recognize that we can sabotage our  own happiness and success by accepting the path of least resistance. It’s so much easier to just come up with some sort of justification to explain away our poor choices rather than actually face them. A bit like lifting : Adding some resistance  always makes you stronger.
Which gives us this good rule : " Examine minutely Your every “reason” to see if it comes in scanner for being yet another complacent decision to just go face down and let life, in all it’s crappiness, roll over you without a fight."
Life will continue to suck ,crappy stuff will keep on happening and there will never be enough time.Things are not going to change .Except for moments. But when you start  changing your glasses ,new visions are likely to emerge.
And remember : Movement is privilege : enjoy it to prolong the pleasure. Eating for health rather than just to survive is a bigger privilege : mind what you put in the trap . That's all to health and fitness .

21 July 2013

Uska Gussa mere Gusse se behtar kyon ?

Me and daughter are watching the umpteenth rerun of Jaane tu ya Jaane Na  on the teevee . We love the easy camaraderie.The unaffected  non-sexualized love of friends who are not yet  lovers.We tap our feet to Pappu's beats . And when the headstrong Meow gets engaged to a MCP, we lose interest as the best part of the movie is over.But as we set table for dinner , we get some more movie. As always we cringe when the villainous, insecure suitor Sushant hits Meow (aka Aditi) for acknowledging that she loves her classmate Jai.
 Meow cowers and whimpers as the MCP drives off ,leaving her humiliated ,stinging and all alone in the parking lot .She does not tell anyone. Her solution is to go off to America for further studies.Meow , a biting, scratching, aggressive girl in her better days, has no inkling she can retaliate or resist. Why ? Because in movies, being a Damsel in Distress works. In this case, it summons up the hidden violent streak in her professedly non -violent True Love -Jai .The sheer wrongness of someone hitting his girl turns him from an ahimsa loving ,obedient guy to an avenger. He gives a deadly punch in the nose to the much bigger and taken by surprise Sushant , and walks out unruffled.
But in Real Life ? Damsels in Distress  do not find ready- to- step- in saviours for their body and soul.They only get more distressed .And learning to throw a punch or at-least knowing how to block one thrown at you, might help more than waiting for the knight.
So the message is : that in times of stress and violence  women victims are not in control of their situations and need to be rescued/avenged by the male Hero .In man somemhow ,the same situation makes them realize the strength they never knew they had. They use their Anger as a Resource. Which steam-powers the willingness to fight .Whereas women turn their Anger into tears. Is our self- esteem so friable? Is our Anger so wussy ?
These images of poor, endangered, bechari women recur in almost every movie and they do have a powerful effect on all our minds. Why didn't Meow dodge or duck when the slap was coming her way ?
Why don't victim of Acid Attacks know that a quick squat and duck or going face down and rolling can save them ?
Because, while we depict the horror of the attacks and intimidations of various types,there are almost non-existent media images of a woman successfully getting out of these situations on her own Agency.Maybe as , these do not involve white knights,drama or tears of gratitude .
 But whatever ,Jaane Tu .. is  an adorable mushy movie which always leaves me warm and fuzzy. Because the character of the Nice Boy-Man who has empathy,sensitivity and who hates punches are so hard to find in movies. A little bit of a woman in a man is very endearing .. as long as he knows his punches.
As for women , pulling punches will not prohibit you from wearing perfumes ,makeup and pink chiffon sarees. The contrast  will  make you feel powerful and confident beyond a mere hair colour or compact can ever do.Spending time being nothing but your Raw Applied Physical self is a healing and healthy experience that every women should have the privilege to experience.

12 July 2013

Tonguelessness .

Today I don't want to talk of Rape.
I want to talk of the stupendous Metabolic circuit that I did in the morning.The Gorgeous chocolate cake that my eleven year old baked for me ; and how lovely it was to sit and eat together on a cosy bed as the afternoon rained gently on. I want to complain of mid-morning showers that arrive whenever I leave washing hanging out .
I want to do an exaggeratedly eloquent sarcasm about the sexist Jackass who implied Bartoli did not deserve to win Wimbeldon for 
she was no looker.
But slick tongues ,wagging tongues , tied tongues ,slurping tongues and bleeding tongues  are doing a hypnotic dance in my mind. Zubaan , is something an Indian woman always has to keep *sambhaal ke * alongwith her izzat .And Zubaan kheech lena is  a very common threat to any outspoken one.
When the metaphor becomes literal as in case of the  girl who got her tongue slashed to prevent her from testifying in Court about her gangrape , the horror reverberates. How does it feel to not have a tongue in one's mouth ? How do you eat ? Your words - do they strangle your larynx, unformed and mutilated,  before they dare to take a voice?
I was wondering, we who are routinely silent about so many things,though not for a lack of tongue , can we ever understand this horrifying Tonguelessness ? In Gender seminars ,so often ,accademics put forth polemics on how women do not want to stand up ,speak out.How they are the ones who seek abortion of their unborn girls .How equal rights are an urban educated thing.But do they know that Tongues are luxury that only those with Power and Position enjoy ? And even then they choose to stay mute .Whereas in the badlands ,Zubaan pe taala rakhna ,is just another survival mechanism .
If  *Silence has the rusty taste of shame *; the exemplified silencing as in this case : has the taste of regurgitated Bile .That can be tasted by women ( and right thinking men ) across the nation . The biggest Democracy, in the biggest of Indian states is but a mute witness . Cat got Mr Yadav's tongue ?We are pros at having seminars for Gender Issues : but have nothing in place for protection of victims .
Incidentally. I  recall the Big Fat Debates on ineffectiveness of Chemical Castration as a solution to Rape .
Biggest arguments against this were :
  •  we are not  a medieval nation ( but we are : isn't this proof enough?)
  •  what if a poor man is falsely implicated ? ( at least the judicial system admits that it is flawed !)
  •  And most memorably :  the drug will give them Diabetes ! (Ha)
Same day the news is about Malala's big day in UN.
Somewhere a girl gets her tongue slashed for daring to report rape.Elsewhere a girl who got her shot in the head for daring to go to school ,rises and reaches all the way to UN. And another one who had her nose slashed off creates a new life for herself .
Women's spunk : like Raktabeej, it multiplies with all the ugly bloodshed .And lights a fire in my heart despite the tears shed .
Let a million Tongues Speak Up. 

06 July 2013

Me and the Mommy in the Ads.

Mommies in Ads are always glamorous with perfect shiny, bouncy haircuts or elegant coiffures. They smile when their kids come home slathered in mud and slime.They encourage kids to spray ink and colours on each other so that they can indulge in their hobby of removing *ziddi daag -dhabbas*.They just love to cook up instant goodies for their hungry- from- the- playground kids .Somehow their homes stay pristine and colour coordinated despite platoons of muddy, trouncing kids; while mine looks like the battlefield of Panipat after Babur and Lodi called it a day.
All that these creatures from different dimension need, to bring out their competitive streak, is a toilet cleaner ,a dish washer or a kitchen sink cleaner or a new pressure keeper or even a packet of refined oil.Then they can show everyone : chutkiyon mein ; who is the bestest and who has what it takes to be a super woman- cum- mom- cum- DIL- cum- wife-cum- hostess in two minutes.Their hearts never sink like me , at the sight of a sink piled with dirty dishes.
Not surprisingly, these moms love to cook  and they love to cook fast , while keeping makeup in place .Hence they and convenience foods are made for each other.While us lesser mortals obsess over novel ways to introduce bhindi  and baingan in the daily thali and spend hours sourcing grass fed eggs or free range chicken, these Moms swear by the easy to tear pack.They don't miss  a step when whole gangs of neighbourhood kids descend unannounced.They always keep a larder full of Fryums and McCains ,Maggie and Packaged Pasta : the Ideal macronutrients with *Real * vegetables for growing kids.After all ,what better way than Maggie to teach kids about veggies?
Looking at them, I get a serious perception problem. Simple things like fat and thin ; gora and kala become riddles.If this is fat then what would be thin ; if this is a wrinkle, then what do they call what I have ?  Despite being waif like ,the  TV moms worry about the muchness of their own weight.And despite the obvious pudginess of their TV offspring, they worry  about the meagreness of their weights and height.So while they themselves eat fat free Masala Oats (boiled cardboard tastes better with Masala ?) ; Kellog's Special K and drink easy slim Tea ; they keep spiking their kids milk with Bournvita, Complan,Horlicks and Boost .And lots of Nutribiks to go along .TV moms are fount of knowledge on not just Calcium ,Flouride ,vitamin D ,SPF but also on a lot of acti-nutrients - vagerah vagerah that even scientists haven't heard of. 
Occasionally a  TV mom can be really smashing as when she decides to hill sprint with son to teach him to win always .Or when she applauds her Daughters Gymnastics.But she mostly prefers to be pretty in home rather than being active and outdoors.
TV moms can look stern sometimes, but are very indulgent .They always let their kids have candy ,lollypops ,bubblegums ,cream biscuits with garish layers of faux candied cream,and artificial puddings : infact all and any stuff that is a cocktail of chemicals ,colours ,flavours and sweetners because Taste hai to Life hai .Why they even quibble with them, so as to snitch  the kids share.Obviously they get amnesiac about their Masala Oats/ Kellogs Spl K avatar for a while !
But despite such light-hearted lapses they are VERY PARTICULAR about Hygiene and Health of the Offspring. Doctors and Dentists loom large in their lives like Omnipotent Beings giving advisories and warnings in that Omnipotent Voice. No wonder they love soaps ,powders and Sanitizers.
Never ever they miss an appointment with the white coated ,square jawed Dentist or the Paedatrician to understand how bacteria ( the evil critters) cause cavities.Or how not using a plastic Diaper can give the tender Baby bum a nasty rash. Or how splashing in Rain will cause cough and cold !Mom and kid walk away happily in to the sunset with the suarksha kavach of the Right Product in their hands. While the Doctor/Dentist looks on fondly (because he got another sucker of a lifelong customer) ?
Like my kids ,I am an enthusiastic watcher of the TV mom.While they cheer for her, I remain a sullen ,somewhat defiant and frustrated  admirer of her many talents.I know I can never be like her : but if she was not there I would feel an inexplicable emptiness. She is the Mr Hyde to my Jekyll.Without her, what would I rail against ?

25 June 2013

Twenty things that Krav Maga has taught me .

Ok so I hate commuting and I hate going to gyms and fitness clubs .I am mostly a lone eagle charting my own path in matters of fitness . Home Gym works for me , as do sprints in the park and long walks.So it is a revelation for me to join a *class* and actually like it too.In fact like it so much as to get up at five am on weekends without fail and commute thirty kms to be there week after week.
So Krav Maga has taught me many things:
  1. Fighting physically is Good for a woman's soul.
  2. After you have whacked and gotten whacked by ten people with sweat flowing in your eyes,everybody is a buddy.
  3. Only buddies can relate to your abnormal craving for bruises, sore muscles and having a sweat fest before breakfast.
  4. Shoe laces are strategic devices when gasping for breath.
  5. All problems like power cuts ,extreme humidity , wet surfaces , uneven surfaces are *Adverse Conditions* .The more you train in them the more the fun !
  6. A good Punch adds the Hip to the Shoulder.
  7. A good Groin Kick adds Hip to the Knee.
  8. A good Elbow adds Hip to the Elbow.
  9. To get Hip in everything swivel and hop and Footwork.
  10. You can always do some more Footwork .
  11. While punching never lock shoulders.With loose shoulders punches come fast and furious.
  12. When knees are High ,Kicks swing well ,
  13. Conditioning is a euphemism for being able to ignore minor stuff like oxygen deficit ,stinging blows , and wanting to die rather than get up.
  14. Everything boils down to Conditioning. 
  15. Unbottling Physical Aggression leaves you calm and Zen like for the rest of the day.You Smile more : even in sleep.
  16. We play a lot of Touching games .Which are not what you think they are .They are about not getting touched by anyone when surrounded by ten people.By sheer agility and quick reflexes.
  17. Size of you has no relation to the Size of Fight in you.
  18. Knuckle push ups are easy way to kickassery .
  19. Getting humbled by everyone else , keeps you pushing on . Bahut mehnat abhi baaki hai.
  20. Fight only when you know that if you don't fight , you will be grievously hurt at multiple levels. Training makes you wise about de-escalating aggression .It is not about winning fights but surviving.

Physical Feminism -Part II : From Shakti to Abla.

Abla jeevan hai teri yahi kahani ..Aanchal mein hai doodh ,aankhon mein hai paani..
                                                                                           -Maithili Sharan Gupt 
This weekend was unbearably muggy.However the camaraderie of my Krav Maga group,tip-toed in and roused me from the AC infused slumber and made me take the long road to Dwarka for the early morning sessions.It is a standing joke among us Krav-Maga people that we are so addicted to getting whacked and bruised ,that nothing can really keep us away from our dose of pitai.
What makes me come week after week to the class is not some neurotic sense of paranoia or a grandiose feeling of invincibility that learning some techniques or fancy footwork may generate.FYI it does not .It only makes you aware that violence is deadly and is best avoided. But for situations where you are cornered and can not make an escape otherwise ,it is best to explode, hit fiercely to disable, and run.As we discussed in Part I .
However what makes me return is the sheer sense of fun in pitting all you fitness skills : strength, stamina and agility against the others in class and trying to excel . Will I raze future rapists to ground and heroically strangle and gouge any intruder who dares to cross my path? Am I female Ninja,Jhansi ki Rani and ma Kali rolled in one blood-curdling package ? Frankly I am so busy recovering from bruises being , that such questions do not haunt me the way they do those viewing things from outside.Will revelling in the violent arts stymie the soft and vulnerable aspects of my psyche ? Well, if you mean to ask me whether I still go eek at sight of a chipkali, yes ! I do.I am still vulnerable. I shriek,I hurt when someone shouts at me,I expect and feel good about it too ,when my husband sees me off and comes to receive me at the station,calls to ensure I have reached safely.
 When I was a kid, painting,dancing and singing had no future in the do waqt ki roti sense.Now a days ,just going to school ,without knowing singing,dancing ,painting is like putting tar over your future.Being Indians, we always weigh and hedge our chances in the long run. When we undertake anything which will not make us doctor ,engineer ,MBA, IAS officer or MS Dhoni ,we want to know exactly what is in it for us ? This is good business for Kota's millionaires, who laugh all the way to their benami bank accounts while doctors and engineers go around jobless.So as Rancho said, lesson number one is : do what you love .It will be useful to you in ways that no textbooks can predict .Kal kisne dekha hai ? Kal ho na ho .
But enough of flippancy. We feminists tend to feel sorry for  anyone who does not go around feeling depressed and enraged about the *way things are*.We need solid philosophical backing,verbal brilliance and enlightened thinking to justify our responses. Time to do something about it ? Nah ? 

The fierce mother is a recurring image in every culture .The power to create ( womb) is accompanied by power to destruct.  Much before Savitri/Sati/Sita and her modern day Nirupa Roy incarnations were branded into our consciousness and internalized at sub-conscious levels we had matangis,Yakshinis,Dakinis and Krodha Kalis. Much before the Patriarchal Entitlements ran amok , ages before that : the  fierceness principle or Shakti was a part of Vajrayana and early Saivism . Shakti : not self-sacrificing power of love but fierce, taking control power of the enraged woman was seen as an essential part of the feminine. They were *Bad Girls* who rid the world of asurs, rakshas, ghouls and such.Then they went back to pleasurable pursuits like drinking ,smoking and wild dancing.No taking shit for them.Mainstream Patriarchal Religion naturally felt threatened by these Shakt cults.So they first ridiculed them, then accused them of immorality and when they stubbornly persisted,  co-opted them in watered down forms.
If we let go of the linear constructs of the feminine in mainstream texts and  visit these forgotten shrines and statues, one gets a jolt. I have gone to  Chausath Yogini Temples in Bhubaneshwar,Jabalpur and Mitawali. The Yoginis  statues are portaryed as fierce, independent women with force , fury and destructive powers.They are in all stages of womanhood old and shrivelled , to beautiful , erotic, menstruating, hunting ,dancing and so on.
The entrance to these circular ,open to the sky temples is always a narrow and low opening - yoni dwar.You have to crouch like a child to enter them. The temples are symbolic of the Womb and the Shakti or the Divine Feminine resides in the Womb. The feminine creates the Universe ,and is the Agent of all Change and lives in Swatantraya (Independence) while being interdependent with the Universe (hence the open to sky architecture ). There is  a strange sense of calmness and peace ( unlike regular shrines) here.It is as if the mandala is still harnessing the spiritual energies into physical and completing the circle.
I do not know how Shakti was razed and chipped over centuries and reduced to abla ( defenceless ,the  one without strength).It is only when one sex becomes defenceless that other can turn Protector ?That would be an interesting line of historical research.
I do not know how much words can convey the exhilaration and sweet self-possession that one feels when one knows, and gives oneself permission to stymie an attack dead in the tracks. I myself did not know that I had any power of fury .Till I learnt and experienced.So I will invite all of you who are in Delhi or who happen to be in Delhi sometime to sound me so that I can take them along on a Krav -Maga session and you can see how diminutive, petite looking Girls can unleash the Force within.

20 June 2013

Physical Feminism -Part I : The Crucial Art of turning Fear into Fury.

Taking - in and of itself - is empowerment for women . -  Gloria Steinem.
In this post I will address two major arguments against women hitting back at aggressors.
  • Fighting Back is futile/puerile/not the solution.
  • Fighting back is dangerous as on the average women are physically weaker.
Women are so vocal about so many social issues today.We feel disgusted and despairing on issues ranging from Abhijit Mukherjee ,Asaram Bapu  Nigella's bashing ,Rape,foeticide,sex-selection,the MNC's which put us in the Beauty Trap , to curfews,dress codes,dancing ,drinking lack of Equal Rights. 
Our protest is real, visible ,loud and clear.Sarcasm,rhetoric,vehemence,calm logic - we have all tools  in our Arsenal against rotten Patriarchy. I revel in all these.I enjoy the debates, the digs ,the Pink Chaddis ,Bells ,Seetis : all. I support them .
I want Police Reform,Legal Reform,mental reform,End Of Rape Culture .I DO.
But all the time we are asking ,these days DEMANDING : that we be allowed to live on our own terms the way Constitution promised us . We ,the most ardent Equal Rights Advocates , educate ourselves like men, earn our keep ,make our decisions and speak up in our professional and personal lives. Yeah : we do not take shit. 
But the problem is, the moment we step out of our cosy-perfumed-with-impeccable-logic cocoons :we smell the shit ,we see it .And short of covering our noses and shutting our eyes, there is Nothing we can Do- to- Stop- it .We come back and spew our anger .So far so good.But what if that shit was getting splattered on you ? On those precious to you ?Or by those *entitled* to you as in Nigella's case ?
You could wait and expect,Demand and Protest that the designated Shit Treatment facilities do their job promptly.No doubt this is very important.We need good systems in place. In a Democracy, citizens need to make their voice heard.Bureaucracies need to be shaken up. Candle Light Marches too are needed.So are art exhibitions and Flash Mobs.They give a sense of solidarity and community when the abused person is at her lowest and loneliest. I am for all these.
I also agree that learning Self -Defence can not be *The Solution* to violence, abuse,acid attacks,the ridiculous moral dictums  that women  are subject to. Or that it can be universally applied in every situation.That would be an insult and victim blaming of one more kind.
But I feel it is pretty important tool.Because, it is about Taking .Taking, nay, wresting Control .In its most palpable forms. Physically.It may not necessarily involve getting physical.It is about de-escalating potentially violent situations using smart ways to prevent yourself from bodily emotional and mental trauma. You do learn the moves but psychological training and resultant calmness instead of panic is the MOST IMPORTANT part.
Having a basic acquaintance with Krav Maga is akin to getting formal education.You know having a degree does not guarantee a job or success.But it does open your mind and increase your chances of survival in a competitive world . 
The way having money in the bank gives you an option, knowing combat skills gives you time to escape. It lets that insidious mind of ours give us the permission to act.So that we do not freeze, recoil,quiver and panic.
 The apparent problem with the Physical Feminism advocacy is the sorely felt absence of Dhai Kilo ka Haath in most of us, barring Serena Williams.We women ,who often make fun of men's obsession with bigger and better feel that our size dooms us in a physical situation.But it is not until you take a training in a Street Fighting course, that you realize that victimization as well as sidestepping it, is basically a mind game.The way one small fierce cat can stop ten dogs by her snarl and hiss.Raw Strength plays a small role. How you multiply the smallest force you have is an art EVERYONE can learn.
Remember how we can never tire of Seeta- Geeta / Chalbaaz  movies ? I love them, because all that works in favour of the spirited sister who fights back ,is her deadly Attitude and Street-smartness .Technique and skill follow the mind.
 Training the reflexes,situational awareness and reading is an essential part of training. Counterattack is resorted to , when a person is left with no options. First two steps are, defusing, blocking and making a quick exit .People who learn self defense are not violent bundles of unbridled agression.They keep pet cats and let the dog sleep on the sofa and rescue squirrels.They are also not not Duh's like Aditi in YJHD challenging random thugs for a duel.
They are people who want to be safe in their minds first and who want to turn their fear into an ally in any encounter with the dark side of life.And they do not do this because they are morbid and hypervigilant but because connecting with the anger and physicalizing it is an awesome thing to deal with our cooped up stressed out lives.What you eventually do in a dangerous situation is a result of what you do daily.Revving up the body while keeping a cool head.


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