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".