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MISCELLANY

Miscellany collection of writings.

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2011 February 22 [Tuesday]

beware of spammers asking for your account password

If you've got a mail with the subject line "Account System Update", asking for your "Passvvord" (gee, atleast spell it right :/), because they are shutting down your account, .... Simply delete it.

Notice the headers, its not from Google or Gmail and you would be safer not responding to them. I'm not sure if google has a feedback system where I can submit this so I thought its better to blog and tell the whole world.

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We are shutting down some accounts due to congestion in our database system and your account was chosen to be deleted automatically. To avoid permanent lockup, kindly click reply and fill in the space below for verification purpose:-

Account ID
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Note: This email is only for Gmail users (Users should reply within 48 hours to avoid "Permanently Lockup" Account)

Thank you for using Gmail !

2010 May 17 [Monday]

zen of computerisation

Only we can introduce computers at banks and at the same time increase the paperwork by making the customer fill out one form to open an account, a second form to get a debit ATM card, a third form to get a cheque book and so on..... Sans pushing paper around it would seem the government babu's dont do any work...No can do, one has to look busy atleast!

Only we can create an online reservation system to book rail tickets whose website after 11:30 pm will show the following notice when you try to book tickets:

Booking (I-ticket and E-ticket ) is allowed from 5.00 to 23.30 Hours (Indian Standard Time) on all days including Sundays.
Greenwich Mean Time 23.30 and 18.00 Hours
Cancellation of E-ticket is allowed from 5.00 to 23.30 Hours (Indian Standard Time) on all days including Sundays (before chart preparation of the train).
Greenwich Mean Time 23.30 and 18.00 Hours

24x7? eh, what? do IT the Indian way!

2010 May 8 [Saturday]

chaturanga

Sexual assaults involving ministers mixed with never-ending power-cuts make a heady summer mix. Its not surprising that the frequency of water cuts and power cuts has spiked the moment local Municipal elections voting got over. People have filed PIL's but KPTC/BESCOM cant seem to curb the power theft that occurs right under its nose, which is self-evident when you take a walk around any main street with shops and direct your gaze skyward to see the criss-crossing wires from each electricity pole situated on the roadside--all illegal but under the benign gaze of the officials. The shopkeeper will tell you why you could not get away with it without the connivance of the employees of inefficient BESCOM whose palms they regularly grease, lest its converted into "commercial rates" which is four times higher than the residential rates....and thus residential power theft continues. The powers that be are aware of the irregularities and yet dont care. What would it take to turn things around?

If that is the local state of affairs, the national level is no better. Nope, Sonia Gandhi, a woman at the helm has not changed things for the better. Its not uncommon for women to bear the brunt and pay the price when it comes to law-making policies. India has always had women politicians and yet the scams continue to tumble out of the closet catching the players on a sticky wicket, and we continue to live with corruption, lobbying for power while the money-making games continue, resulting in tacit compromises instead of clean governance. If anything politicians lack the will to root out corruption and a citizen has no choice when it comes to choosing a clean political party to represent them. Today, corruption and crimes are committed by politicians from just about every party and ideological frame of mind --Quid pro quo.

2009 May 25 [Monday]

Aid for SriLanka

Reproducing a mail from another list calling for aid for Srilankan victims :


A call for Aid: Collecting items to distribute among Refugees in Sri Lanka


This is a call from individuals concerned about the state of refugees in SriLanka at the end of this military conflict, the brunt of which, many refugees, dead and alive have faced. Its is expected that around 313,000 IDPs refugees are in various camps in Sri Lanka. It is important to remember that a large number of these refugees are women. Please keep this in mind while making your contribution.

Who are we: we are a group of individuals who have been involved in a range of work related to the conflict in Sri Lanka over the past few years in Sri Lanka and India. For further details on our work please contact us and we will be more than willing to furnish any information you may need in this regard.


Distribution: We have made arrangements with organizations in Colombo to duly distribute any amount of items we may collect. It suffices to say that these organizations have been involved in work around conflict and human rights in Sri Lanka since its very inception. For further details on these organizations please contact us and we will be more than willing to furnish any information you may need in this regard.


What is needed:

Medicines: Any basic medicines such as tablets, band aids, cotton etc although it might be preferable to give money for the acquiring of medicine there locally as it might be easier to transport within the country rather than from outside, although any contributions in a large enough scale of medicines themselves would be very welcome.


Clothes: All kinds of clothes for men, women and children are welcome. Also, bed sheets and towels are also needed. Please refrain from sending any clothes that are not useable. Books, notebooks, pens, crayons, sketch pens, colour pencils: all of these items would be very welcome to distribute among children in the camps.


Money: Money is needed for buying of basic items such as sanitary pads, medicine and food and of course drinking water, which is of enormous scarcity in the camps as of now. All those who wish to contribute money, kindly contact Ponni Arasu at mailponni@gmail.com or Priya Thangarajah at ipriyat@gmail.com for further information.


Collection Points:

Chennai: Corporate Accountability Desk, 42a, First Floor, 5th avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai - 90 Phone : 044 - 24463763 and 9840398852 - Jeny

Mumbai: Women's Centre, 104/b, Sunrise Apts, Above Canara Bank, Vakola, Santa Cruz (East), Mumbai, Maharashtra 400055.  Ph: 9987398629; 022-26680403

Bangalore: Alternative Law forum, 122/4, Infantry Road, Opposite infantry wedding hall, Bangalore -1 Ph:080- 22868757

Delhi:  Nirantar, B-64 (2nd Floor), Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi 110 017 India.

Phone: 91-11-26966334, 91-11-26517726 (telefax),  The drop in time is from 10 - 5 monday to friday and 1st and 3rd saturdays.


Kindly contribute generously and at the earliest so we can begin to provide the bare minimum for the people in Sri Lanka who are now in the midst of one of the largest humanitarian crises in recent history.

2009 January 25 [Sunday]

Kili

I laughed so hard while reading about Barney who likes to boss around dogs and by  the time I finished reading and discussing about the second Barney behaving like a foul-mouthed flipping bird I was in tears.  Parrots are more fun than a lovable dog and way better than a scratching cat. Both Barney's have company in K who has an equally colourful and mischievious personality to match, maybe even a devlish streak at times.

Just watching K taking great pleasure in pestering C (a German Shepherd) to come a play with him right after C has gobbled a heavy lunch was a treat. C would flop down for  siesta but that was when K wanted to play. As I replay the picture of K nudging the dog's nose, who'd quickly cover the exposed sensitive area, and in frustration K would aim for the eye, it always makes me smile. Then C would quietly turn or move away to change the position and this is when things get interesting. Not having made any headway with diplomatic means K would waddle over to the sleeping dog and sharply nip at the dogs tail and immediately flap his wings and start screeching loudly, tricking us mortals into scurrying into the room thinking he was in danger of becoming the dogs lunch. Doh...hardly, all we found was the dog rolled into a ball with his tail tucked under him and face tucked under both his paws for safety, peacefully sleeping and watching K waddle across the room, muttering under his breath (very loudly), his indignation at being rebuffed and ignored by  a mere dog was side-splitting. *grin*.

Hmpf, now that the secret (that parrots are great exhibitionists and usually behave like a 2-3 year old human child) is out, lets see why its so destructive for them to be left alone at home.  Being social they like people, attention and lots and lots of attention or talking, etc...  In terms of mischief they are at the forefront and K came up with some really annoying tricks. His favorite was to imitate the phone ring. No, not just any phone ring, he knew which tune would summon which member of the house. The ISD call and the cell ring would get the master of the house on his toes and an STD the mistress of the house and the kids for locals calls.... he had got that down pat and boy oh boy, was he good or what :-)  Each time he was at our place he would do the same whenever he was left alone in the room. Yup he hates being ignored and will do anything to get our attention.

When in the room, he'd better not be ignored by us humans, else he would be muttering something loudly under his breath interspersed with "kJ, baaabyy" (the emphasis on the vowel was particularly strong) which is supposed to be a reminder (or reprimand?) that we are ignoring the baby (him). He takes great pleasure in pulling a fast one on people around him by imitating the lift doors closing/opening sound and he's been trying to pass his skills on to another companion with not much success.  I'd like to see if he still retains that smart touch since KJ was very sensitive and like Barney reacted differently to different people. He could tell the difference between an Alphonso mango and the rest and used to waddle closer if we enter the room with an "Aapus", which means "gimme some aapus".

Once we had a 2 year old kid visiting us and never having seen a bird this close, the scared KID would cry loudly upon glancing in  K's direction.  Strangely that affected K a lot and whenever KID was around he would go silent and not mutter even under his breath. He could obviously sense the feelings from the crying and stress reactions. Amazing !! After a few days, he'd managed to win KID over who got to the level of being ready to share fruits with K, but he still played safe and kept his mischief to a minimum so as to not overwhelm KID into tears. That was so touching and unexpected from a bird. Nobody had taught him that and he does not have other clan birds for company to learn such skills from the wild either.

Many times my friend, who wanted to record his voice would keep a small portable recorder a few feet away from him but 'NO'. He simply refused to give her the sound samples and IIRC, we had spent the whole weekend trying to figure out how to get those sound bytes out of him. No luck... and trying to teach K to  appreciate the nuances of Carnatic music was another failure. He loved it but maybe it was too much too soon...but the next time I visit DEL or MUM I plan to experiment again. That should be some fun :)

Another interaction I recall is with a neighbours long-tailed parrot as kid of 8 years. He was KK and around 5-6 years old but by gosh he just hated kids. Friday was the most awaited day of the week as I could hop over to the neighbours and say hi to KK, even if he hated the sight of kids and would start screeching very loudly to express his disapproval. But I was besotted with watching him for hours and was not going to give up. So after a whole year (52 weeks + 3 hours each Fri, Sat and Sunday) he grudgingly stopped the noise and drama over my visits. I'm so in love with each birds quirky personalities :P

2008 June 13 [Friday]

Break

I avoid blogging personal stuff but since there are too many lists and too many people to inform, here goes... Today there was a personal tragedy to a close family member and I just returned from the hospital. I will not be available for some days, and of course, volunteer work is on hold until further notice. If you dont hear from me, you know why. Thanks!

2008 June 7 [Saturday]

MicroIndia

oh, uh..oh, trouble brewing in the Indian paradise!

2008 January 19 [Saturday]

Indian languages

Christian, the answer to your question is: India (but ofcourse :-)) has the highest number of languages, 428 (415 +13 extinct), listed in ISO 639-3.

2007 December 24 [Monday]

Gotchi

Thanks to ramkrsna and runa, i got a new gotchi !

2007 December 3 [Monday]

lost in a maze

I spent the best part of an hour or more peering through the bangalore city map at google-maps plotting my route to get to IISc for foss.in tomorrow. From experience, i have a niggling doubt that i wont get there without getting lost in the maze of Bangalore's one-way roads and this is despite asking for directions a million times... I kid you not.... Mainly its the one-way roads here which literally drive me nuts. Coming from a city which has almost no one-way roads and definitely does not have a zillion roads leading to the same destination. TBH, many roads here are really wide (compared to Bombay) so what is the need to make them a one-way, except to perhaps drive up petrol/fuel consumption and thence contribute to global warming.

Another peeve of mine is : Trains - They are fast, economical and literally the lifeline and the best way to travel in Mumbai, but planners of this city do not think so. It does not have a rail network connecting different parts of the city. That really sucks. The MetroRail is under construction but wont see the light of day for another half decade atleast to become operational. Why didnt they do it earlier?

Traversing the one-ways is a challenge and the more directions i ask for, the more confusing the roads seem. I have lost my way umpteen times here which is ofcourse the best thing to happen to an auto driver ... the lucky sod! He could'nt have asked for an easier way to rake in the moolah. Despite giving him the exact landmark on MG Road, he insisted on testing my road knowledge and patience. At each fork i would be asked "straight, left or right turn... do you want to go via street1, street2 or that way... Arghh, gimme a break, I dont know and dont care except for reaching my destination in the shortest way possible.

Now what's with all the main, cross and what have you naming system... Every layout is properly named with a 1st Main street, 2nd Cross road and ... but hey i am not used to systematic, well-ordered layouts. I like directions like this : "Aage road pe seedha jake signal pe left marneka, saamne ek bada building ayega, udhar vapis left turn maro aur doosra galli mein teesra building". Simple na !

2007 November 13 [Tuesday]

kitchen raiders

The other day one cute lil chipmunk raided my kitchen and having run across the kitchen counter, i found him (her?) happily feasting on a bar of Mars that i had cut and left on a plate for future consumption. I seem to have a fascination for the 'lil chips or do they for me? atleast I like to think the latter is true :-).

Out of the 3 pieces he was munching on the second piece when i walked in and spoilt his party. While getting away (wow, are they agile or what) he did try to carry the piece he was eating but it was so heavy that he dropped it 2 feet away and scampered away.

The sight of a wild chipmunk devouring my chocolates could have been a pic-perfect moment but my attention was on the unhygenic aspect of a wild creature belonging to the rodent species frequenting my kitchen. Now I know better than to inadvertently invite squirrels and monkeys home and remember to keep the doors 'n windows shut.

I had kept other food stuff on the counter but the smart one ignored those and hit the chocolates... pretty much as smart as the kid next door who makes sure mom is not around before whispering "akka, chocki" with a sheepish smile, knowing well that i wont ever refuse.

2007 November 9 [Friday]

deepavali shubhakamana

|| deepavali timisaram apasarati ca subham asti || Samvat 2064... May this divali dispel darkness and bring light and prosperity into our lives !

Its been years since i have stopped burning crackers in hopes of reducing the noise and pollution levels but that ain't happening. Besides the environment, children work in those factories using hazardous chemicals, so its another reason to vote with my money.

The thing I am not used to is frequent power-cuts but apparently its second nature in Bangalore. BESCOM decided to do a no power from "8AM-8PM" trial run on Sunday and it was successful so the whole of Deepavali week/end(?) was drowned in spurts of power'less' festivities.....and to think i was living in India's "Silicon Valley"... bah!!

2007 September 30 [Sunday]

a letter

Dear N,

I hope you are safe and ok. Since the last few days after hearing news reports about the situation in your country I am worried about your safety. All my mails are bounced and am unable to connect via phone too, which is not surprising considering the life and constraints you all live under. I could not believe the news reports and remembered the discussions we used to have about using non-violence for human rights effectively. I feel guilty about ....[edited].... and cant even imagine how harsh, difficult and violent life must be there now.......[edited stuff which may reveal identity of person]....... I dont know who is reading this mail so I will not write much. I very much prefer to talk to you. Aware that you don't have Internet access, I am blogging this hoping that you read it and contact me, while trying not to reveal your identity and endanger your life. I wish you all the success but selfishly pray that you are alive and well.

Your,
Worried Friend.

-------------------------

Request: If anyone reading this blog knows how to get in touch with people in Myanmar/Burma, please leave a comment or drop me a mail.

2007 September 16 [Sunday]

Mmmom r0cks

On Tuesday, my mother called to say that the machine would not boot and I suspected some hardware problem which has been a recurring issue for some months now. I was right but without physical access to the box I could not check the wiring so the best I could do was ask her to wipe the disk and reinstall Ubuntu... and .... she did it all alone and I am so proud of her :-)

Ma has always been comfortable with technology and is a lot more spunky in experimenting than me, so Linux has never been an issue or a mental block for her. 

[evil grin] Now if only I could get my Grandma hooked to Ubuntu [/evil grin]!!

2007 September 2 [Sunday]

Moved house

Moving house is an icky experience and the only plus is ridding junk stuff collected over time. I remember reading somewhere that anything one has not used for over a year (or was that six months?) should be thrown out or given away.... bleh, do books unread for a year fall into that category?

All my stuff is still scattered and i spend more time searching for things in boxes which contain god knows what.... Why do weekend's end before beginning ??

After a long time I got to cook stuffed baingan with a masala of daals and roasted with imli paste, with roti, rice and kadi with fried vendakai. Gastronomical nirvana !!

Y'day i bought some plants for a garden i hope to create, yet again. They are still in plastic covers but i plan to buy some pots to re-transplant them.... i wonder where to buy earthworms for vermiculture? The nursery didn't have any for sale and i don't fancy digging up the public gardens for worms...& also need to buy mud (and time?) too...gee, this weekend got over even before it could begin.

2007 June 3 [Sunday]

Miserable weekend

I started writing this on Friday and in-between my h/disk decided to conk off. I never got around to posting this so I'll take a lazy way and just bump down the old entry and continue. In the last 2 years I have replaced almost every hardware that died on me. Perhaps it would have been cheaper to dump the whole thing and get a new set but whoever knew there would be h/w trouble every few months :-/ What a waste of time ... I had to reinstall from scratch by which time i would have finished up with stuff, there was tons of mail, Ubuntu stuff and a zillion other things which had to be done before I left. What an irritating thing to happen on a week-end.

June 01 :

Today morning I got some really good news :-) Congrats P, I cant wait to meet the new guy in your life :-D) Last week, I met another very special girl, ...... but keeping in mind their privacy, I shall not blog about it but atleast I can congratulate them for doing the right thing.
Yesterday I tried to make sabudana vada alone for the first time and to my surprise it came out well and got over almost immediately. Still I believe that men are better at cooking than women.... Atleast the ones I know are fabulous at it, which is surprising because none of these men have been trained in the traditional sense. On an average an Indian woman would have stepped into the kitchen atleast 3 times in a week to cook or atleast help out with a cooking-related task. Men on the other hand are not welcome in what most mother's consider their 'lil kingdom. So for that reason alone I am constantly amazed at the tasty stuff they conjure up in a jiffy. Probably they have more enthusiasm for food and cooking, a task that I consider mundane and totally avoidable.

2007 May 12 [Saturday]

fire it up

I have been off TV for almost a year now and life is peaceful minus all that information overdose. I had wanted to do this since a looong time now but have not completely transformed, so on rare ocassions when I do watch TV, I treat myself to Discovery, NG and Animal Planet. Imagine hearing "kahe kabir suno bhai sadho , bhatak maro mat koi" on MTV .... duh ??... whatever happened to all those semi-clad girls in remixed videos ?!

I decided to catch the full video this week and loved the message they were conveying. Its a new single "Sadho Re", a doha composed by Sant Kabir but rendered by the band Agni Agnee.

A literal translation sounds meaningless unless you peel the layer and look beyond mere words for the deeper message Kabir tries to convey because the doha (poem/song) actually talks of life, spirituality and death.

Deriding our perpetual quest and desire for all things materialistic, fame and fortune, he tells us to take a stark and realistic look at the world and our inner self. Reality is an illusion, does not exist and is impermanent in nature. If anything is permanent it is change itself. The doha ends with Kabir saying "naam anam anant rehat hai, duja tatva na hoi " plus that above line.

There is a lot more and its deeper so go listen to it, see it for yourself and form your own opinions. The video has put this message across very beautifully by juxtaposing contrasts, a little girl lost in the big bad city against stark visuals of a Hindu cremation ceremony.

2007 May 7 [Monday]

meeting old friends

... of the 4-legged/feathered kind is the nicest way to pass a weekend. Back when I was a kid very few people kept pets at home so a weekend visit to the local zoo was de rigueur for me. To date I would have visited the zoo much more than even a temple !

Many folks I know keep pets and its interesting to see each animals unique personality come to life when humans interact with them. I enjoy seeing the animals exhibit child-like emotions when interacting with human beings and reserving their animal-like instincts and behaviour for the animal species. How the hell do they do that ?

Tuego's owners are old friends and its amazing how he can remember someone from around 4 years ago as he was just 3-4 months old when I last met him. Today he has grown-up to be the most docile, over-friendly and over-enthusiastic dog. I know better than to say my good-byes while standing on one leg fastening my shoes :-D

All the time I was missing the antics of K harassing C (the German Sheperd).  K is an attention-seeking, constantly jabbering parrot, who managed to redefine the word "mischief" for me. He was always up to his tricks (emulating us or the phone/cell ring tones) when he stayed over, so I used to enjoy teasing him with bits of different Indian classical raaga's. He used to pay a lot of attention but try as he might, never quite mastered it. Later they gave him away to another friend. Had he stayed on longer I would have trained him but after seeing Appa's strong reaction (prefers to see animals and birds as they are meant to be ... in the wild and free!) when K came home for the first time. I knew he would be upset and not like to see K in a cage and rightly so Appa kept K. company by talking to him for hours amd K just loved it, just lapped up all the attention like a 2-year old child.

Even if I wanted to it was simply not wise to release a bird, who was captured when only few days old, sold and now domesticated with no hunting or foraging skills. He would never survive in the wild. That is the saddest thing humans do - taking away an animal's right to be born, live and die freely. We are the worst species to walk the face of the earth as we don't hesitate to kill them for food or our pleasure. Anyway, today K. is apparently busy teaching and sharing his linguistic skills tricks (in 7 Indian languages plus English) with another feathered friend up North :-) I so look forward to meeting him again someday !!

2007 April 13 [Friday]

summer

... in Chennai is terrible and I am glad to be back home. Heat notwithstanding, we roamed, shopped for silk saris (for a friend), celebrated, gorged on ice-cream and sweets for a change (hmm.. not so good after all which I realized much later ;-)) and even managed to attend the function, which was the reason for going there after all !!

My craze for reading helped me meet an interesting personality and if it were not for my aunt prodding, I would have spent another 2 hours chatting ... sigh ... but there was tons of work (isnt there always :-/) to be done before the function and here I was chatting like there is no tomorrow. In all that talk I forgot to get his autograph and 'bro' took me (again) in the evening so I am glad I went there in the first place. I offered to help with a task he was planning. Lets see how things work out...

In between all the jamboree and running around guests, I snatched a few minutes to see a discussion on the Ubuntu-Women list going a bit astray and the archives a mess. Sometimes conversations get so heated that its easy to miss what the person is actually trying to say. Add to this the impersonal internet and its so easy to lose it all. Managed to sort the archives problem but my aunts reaction (to me sitting online instead of helping out with guests) was enough to keep me away from the machine for a long time. It pays to listen to her as she packed me home with tons of sweets (not that I need them) and the yummiest pickles (which I love but dont need ... go figure) !!

2007 March 19 [Monday]

gudipadva with friends

Happy Gudi Padva / Ugadi to everyone !

It was a nice weekend visiting, talking to friends and eating pavbhaji and falooda's after such a looooong time. I do miss the tasty fast(junk?)-food found only in the streets of Mumbai! I wanna indulge in misal, ragada and more panipuri.... gee, I'd better stop! Having forgotten to get any night clothes I rummaged in D's shelf to find a pristine white pant, thick and old-fashioned with interlocked stitching. Suddenly I realised I was staring at my old dogi (uniform) from 8th grade and thrilled that it fit me after so many years , only to be told that its no surprise given the rate at which I have been losing my health these few months =)

The jacket and belt were long gone but this pant brought back old memories..... of strict discipline, laughs after class, warm-up two-knuckle pushups on a stone floor, stomach crunches , perpetually aching muscles, and who can forget the ultimate torture - the single arm 2-knuckle pushups, which seems unimaginable today 8-) Thanks to my parents (who thought it was better to learn how to protect myself rather than learn dancing) I can take care of myself when harassed on Indian streets. For a long time I never dared to used it publicly until that talk with Anamika (name changed). She was 8-years my senior at school, a black belt, who dropped by at school one day to pull me out of history class to encourage the 2 girls (out of 70 students) to continue training. I remember asking her how she found the courage to break a man's arm as he had misbehaved with her at the bus-stop. It was conflicting with my ideas of non-violence (both religious and gandhian), not to forget the peer pressure (other girls didnt think it was cool or feminine enough to use self-defence).

She explained why ahimsa was fine until you see and learn to draw the line at physical harassment which is so de riguer on streets here. All the women I have ever known have had a similar story and how much they hate it but rarely do anything about it. Some women have initiated novel ways of protesting against such behaviour but then simply talking and ranting about it or telling the whole world that you were harassed is of little solace unless women are given self-defence classes against physical violence from a young age. As Anamika told me so many years ago - "Be proactive and save your life".

2006 July 19 [Wednesday]

a prayer

The silence was deeply moving.

2006 April 15 [Saturday]

shubhkamana

yesterday the new year started with hardware trouble but that was soon forgotten amidst all the fun and great food that went with it || yeah folks, a day late but ... happy baisakhi / navreh / vishu / varsha-parupu / poila baishakh ||

2006 January 6 [Friday]

An AussieChix visiting India

I went to meet Claudine today who has come to India on a 3-week study trip and had a great time chatting with her.  I do hope her Indian trip is not as scary as she has been made to feel.

PS: Yeah, I am guilty of it too but standard safety tips for women is applicable all over the world I guess.