Thursday, July 09, 2015

All things are made new!

We welcomed our babies into the fold on June 16th 2015. They share their birthday with the day of Magna Carta and this does open a new chapter in our lives. 





They shall be called Castiel San-Saj (Cas) and Seraphim San - Saj(Raf).
Castiel means Shield of God or God is my cover. It's been a while since I wanted to give a child this name. 
Seraphims are angels that are closest to the throne of God. (Isaiah 6) Sanju chose this name. 

We had decided long back that these would be the names of our children, irrespective of their gender identities.

Incidentally, Isaiah 6 was the Bible reading in all CSI churches in the Diocese the weekend they were born. Isaiah 6 is the only chapter in the Bible with a reference to Seraphims. What a cool coincidence!

Their surname is derived from our first names - Sanju , Sajithra. It was sort of a coin toss on what combination works well. We don't do role playing in our family life and this nomenclature felt natural. They are boys, making it all the more important to teach them that a person's birth identity doesn't limit or determine their options in life. And that starts with their most basic identity, their names.

When we saw our babies for the first time, we instantly knew what to call them. Seraphim cannot lay still unless he is swaddled. Well, not even then - He turns  a complete circle like an arm on an imaginary clock. Castiel is grounded and has very few complaints in life. 


This is Castiel







Cas is a happy, contented baby. He cries only if he gets hungry, gassy, or has got a wet diaper. The best part is he gives back a grateful smile after his problem is fixed. Mostly, he spends his time observing and is content just looking around if he wakes up. He doesn't need anyone as a sleep prop either. His pics look exactly like my baby pics.

This is Seraphim 



Fevicol baby! His left profile looks like Sanju and his right profile is like my dad. It's funny that this is even possible. He soaks in attention and is hyper active. We always find him in a different sleeping position.  He tolerates pain well. He is very particular about  what he wants. He spat out the pacifier and gave a disgusted look when Sanju pushed his finger inside his mouth for fun. 

Having babies at home mimics the initial days of falling in love. It's intense and consuming. Like all relationships, the success of this relationship  depends on how we manage this well to become better versions of ourselves. It's hard to stop obsessing and making the children the center of our life. However, a needy, obsessed  party sets up the stage for unhealthy dependencies and resentments later on. I don't want them to grow up into entitled kids either just because their family revolves around their whims. 

It's a privilege to be in a position to craft these little people. I hope they get their moral compass around the golden rule of treating others the way they would like to be treated. My dream is for them to grow up into mighty individuals who are comfortable with the way they are-Talents are no reasons for pride and shortcomings are no reasons for guilt.  Here's hoping that they work hard to become the best that they can be and have fun while they are at it. 

Welcome to the world, babies! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What happened after the Monkeys and Ice water spray experiment?

Most of us have heard of the Monkey, Banana, and Water spray experiment.

Is there a chance of a better ending? How can companies transform employee behavior when caught in this vicious cycle?
1) Change the standards

A major lesson from history is that no heroes are responsible for their success. Not entirely. The factor that governs what it means to be successful is the prevailing standards. The culture just follows suit. I wrote this poem a few months back.
The play of chance, the hand of times
Distracts our eyes from what it hides
Hunter in an Industrial Age
Writer facing the Dinosaur's rage
Flip the centuries, the Heroes fall
Yet the world is snared by illusion's trawl

All we know is the scale of standards
Pity what’s different, judge what threatens
Fear the outlaws or discredit with slanders
Worship the Heroes, scorn the strays
And continue till time tilts the scales
You can go here if you would like to read the entire poem. The crux is, the company is still in charge of introducing the variables into the experiment.
What happens if you introduce a new ladder and dangle a bunch of bananas on a rope? This will confuse the monkeys. When a monkey gets the courage to reach up, offer this monkey a new Reward too as a Bonus. Introduce multiple ropes with bananas so that there are enough Bananas for the monkeys to reach.
Lesson: Fine tune the standards of Rewards and enable people to set their own goals

2) Change the setting

The Organization is still in control of the environment
Grab 2 monkeys and place these monkeys in a different setting. Have a new trainer monkey to reinforce good behavior. Protect the trainer monkey and punish with ice water spray if the monkeys try to disrupt. Keep doing this for a week. After the monkeys learn this new behavior, put them back in their old setting. This time, place a barrier between the 3 monkeys that remained in the old setting and the 2 monkeys that learned new behavior. Repeat the experiment for a week.
Lesson: Train people and leverage them to influence others

3) Change the consequences

The pack of monkeys continues this behavior because they don’t see a negative consequence for their behavior. Bring a new monkey and introduce the ice water spray whenever they try to pull down the new one from climbing up the ladder. Continue the experiment till the monkeys learn about consequences. Go back to experiment 1 and change the standards. . When the standards change, culture follows.
Lesson: Evaluate people with the right goals and help them understand the concept of consequences to justify their potential.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why do I support gay marriages as a practicing Christian?



I thought of posting why I support gay marriages and better still why I feel the need to talk about it. My husband subscribes to the Christian church’s ideology and I understand where he is coming from.  We agree to disagree on this topic. I have  respect for individuals who are honest to their faith. Faith is my reason too.  I talk exactly for the reason you are silent.

It’s a bit of a lonely road because I am not an atheist or an agnostic. I believe in the sanctity of life and exclusivity in a sexual relationship.  My reasoning is based on the golden rule and how I perceive Jesus Christ.  I wrote about this in a previous post here

It doesn't concern me that standing for gender equality or homosexual marriages would pigeonhole me among Christians. I am not ashamed of my stand. My theology is not based on 'fear for the soul' or 'hell' that talking for a fellow human being needs to be done with caution. 

When slavery was abolished, many Christians were against it because they didn’t consider the revolt Christian. Some even argued that equality was against the nature of humans. I am glad most Christians agree today that the golden rule just doesn’t give any provision for slavery. Did Jesus talk about slavery in general? No. Did he even preach to the gentiles? No. But he did give the golden rule on which Christian ideologies should hinge on. He spoke against divorce but never against homosexuals. Preachers won't step down from the pulpits on those grounds but are eager to condemn homosexuals to hell. 

I see an evolution in terms of understanding of God when I read the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament.  I don’t believe that God gave the commandment to take in multiple wives, divorce at will, annihilate enemies or take in virgin plunders. The human understanding of God evolved.  Jesus Christ explicitly mentioned why Moses permitted divorces. He broke superstitious rules that were once meant to be holy. That’s why it’s dangerous to quote verses that are the opinions of people with limited revelations.

If I stand for commitment, I should encourage commitment. If someone is born with a different sexual orientation and desires commitment, I don’t have any logical reason against it. Why should we drive homosexuals out of churches, refuse legal commitments and then point fingers at an immoral life style. It’s up to a church to decide whether or not they want to conduct a homosexual marriage. But lobbying against legal equality is unreasonable. Should someone be punished for the way they are born just so that we could feel righteous?  

I talk about this openly whenever I get a chance because however inconsequential it is, that is one more voice added from the Christian crowd.  If this encourages one homosexual person who is depressed because of the witch hunting by some Christians, it's good enough for me. I am glad there were people who were not afraid to voice out against slavery, racism at a point such inequality was considered a safe Christian ideology. If they had inferred that any social cause is inconsequential since Jesus Christ did not actively support an anti slavery movement,  this world would not have progressed.  If Paul had confined himself because Jesus Christ did not preach to the gentiles, I would not have found a friend in Jesus.

“Matt 7: 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”


This verse is not about being safe on the conservative side. It transcends race, religion, social standing, intellect, sexual orientation or any other identity out there. There is no other law against love.

37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Prajwala co founded by Sunitha Krishnan, a gang rape survivor - Rescued 3000+ and houses 600 sex trafficked victims



We all know about the brutal rape that happened in Delhi. Six men raped a 23 year old in a moving bus, beat her up, inserted an iron rod in her vagina, tortured her and left her naked on the streets. Her male friend was also savagely beaten up. She lost 3 litres of blood, had to undergo an intestine transplant since her's were severely damaged but despite medical intervention succumbed to her injuries and died. This has shaken up the conscience of the general public.

What happened to her was heinous. She held a mirror to the nation. Her justice is not in how those rapists would be punished. It's about how such crimes against women could be subverted. Please listen to this TED talk by Dr. Sunitha Krishnan 




For those who want to do something about sexual crimes against women - you could donate to Prajwala - co founded by Sunitha Krishnan who was raped by 8 men when she was 15 and has been fighting relentlessly against human trafficking for the past 16 years despite getting beaten up by goons more than 15 times. She has rescued 3000+ victims and her rehabilitation centre homes 600 sex trafficked victims.

It would make a huge difference if we pledge to donate a small amount every month or make a one time donation to support the work of people like Sunitha Krishnan who have put their lives on the line for this cause. 1000 INR per month or 100 INR pe rmonth won't make a dent in our household income but it could help save lives. 



Accolades:

  • Prajwala is a member of various national and state level committees to combat trafficking. For its efforts in the sector the organization has been recognized by various national and international bodies like Government of India, World of Children, UNFPA and Ashoka Innovators.

  • Anamika - The Nameless a film produced by Prajwala won two international awards in De Cine De Granada and Action Cut International Film Festival. 

  • Of Freedom and Fear a film produced in collaboration with Andhra Pradesh AIDS Control Society was screened in the New York Film Festival, Mini DV International Festival.

  • Dr Sunitha Krishnan the founder general secretary and the chief functionary of Prajwala has been recognised for her efforts in the anti trafficking sector by the following national and international bodies

  • Prajwala won the prestigious AGFUND International award in April, 2008 for its pioneering work to Combat Trafficking of Women and Children through Community Partnership. Prajwala was adjudged the best project in the world for its outstanding efforts.

  • Dr Sunitha Krishnan the chief functionary and co-founder of Prajwala won the ‘Real Heroes Award’ constituted by Reliance Industries Limited and  CNN-IBN Network in April, 2008.  This award is meant to recognize the unsung heroes of independent India.

  • Dr.Sunitha Krishnan, Chief Functionary of the organization was felicitated by Intelligence Business Network, Malaysia in March 2009. This felicitation has had a great positive impact as an entry point was created to sensitize women corporate leaders to be sensitive on the issue of trafficking.   

  • Prajwala received the National Award for Child Welfare from the Govt. of India in February, 09 for the exceptional services it renders to prevent child trafficking and its outstanding efforts to rescue and rehabilitate child victims of sex trafficking.

  • Dr.Sunitha Krishnan has been featured as a Real Hero in the Trafficking in Persons Report, released by the US Department of State in June, 2009.  This is an acknowledgment of activists fighting to end modern day slavery – Nine persons from across the world were chosen as 2009 TIP Heroes.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

Melting Standards



Nets aimed at shooting stars
Heart lusting its glitter and spark
Naïve for Greatness, Glory and Fame
Minions march to make a name

Barbaric hunters with a pile of skulls
Artists flaunting mastered skills
Emperors, Cardinals from different times
Modern entrepreneurs hoarding gains

The world looks up in need of a purpose
Craving a promise of dreams in surplus
Like the moon drunk on light it borrows
Aspires to be the sun every night and morrows

To read more


Monday, November 26, 2012

Christianity and the Homosexuality issue

     This is something that has been in my mind lately. More so because of how the fundamentalist and evangelical churches point at Homosexuals as the culprits for any disaster - natural or otherwise. If there is a hurricane, prominent preachers don't waste any time in accusing them as the cause of God's wrath. There is much outcry against Homosexual marriages. As a practising Christian, this disturbs me a lot. If we have to go by the Jesus Christ portrayed in the Bible, I am sure that if he were to walk as a human in this century, he wouldn't refuse a party invitation from them.

 All creation is beautiful. If someone is created that way, perhaps there is a reason to it as Christ rightly said in Matt 19
 "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake"
It's funny how people quote Leviticus to condemn homosexuals ignoring other chapters and verses from the same book. Leviticus has rules that prohibit shaving the side burns as well. The Laws were given because of the hard heartedness of the people. But at any given point of biblical time, those laws were redemptive than the culture around them. Jesus Christ broke some of the laws and yet said that he was fulfilling them. He could see the spirit behind the law. Sometimes following the very law means breaking it. Context is the key.

The old covenant was based on law, the new covenant is based on grace . All 613 laws of Moses were replaced by a simple commandment from Jesus ( Galatians 5:14 - For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.") If we are prejudiced against people who are different from us out of fear of the church and the preachers, how can we say that we honour the new covenant. 

Christ stopped people from stoning a woman charged with Adultery. He didn't keep the Sabbath when that meant helping people. And when He taught about the judgement - Love was the only reference. 


Matt 25 31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,I was homeless and you gave me a room,I was shivering and you gave me clothes,I was sick and you stopped to visit,I was in prison and you came to me.’37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.


It is a medical fact that some are born with that disposition. How can we expect them to follow the rules meant for men and women. Shouldn't they be able to enjoy Love and companionship. ( 1 Cor 7: 9 It's better to marry than to burn with lust.)

We don't get to judge anyone unless we are 100% sure that we would have done a better job than that person even if we were born with their disposition, faced the circumstances that they faced, met the kind of people they met in life etc. Because while judging, we are setting up the standards with which we will be judged later. 


Matt 77 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

That's why the kind of people Christ admonished were Hypocrites and Religious teachers. He dined with the 'sinners' because he didn't merely see the choices, he saw the inner person that made those choices despite their disadvantages. 

Christ did not pile up rules for people to follow. He gave the ultimate golden rule to take care of every aspect of life. His formula was simple - Love God, treat others the way you would like to be treated, be tolerant about personal insults but don't be a wimp - use anger and fight against hypocrisy/injustice. He never started his day thinking about how he would be perceived by others. If that's the case, he wouldn't have been caught speaking with the Samaritan woman, dining with 'sinners' or rescuing a woman from getting stoned for adultery. He took the whip when needed - but that was not to admonish someone's transgression from the norms. It was to thrash religious Hypocrisy. 

If we call him our Father, we should not forget that he is the Father to everyone -irrespective of religion, race, gender, social standing, intellect, sexual disposition... And he Loves everyone the same. 

Thursday, March 08, 2012

FGM

I was 16 when I read the story of Waris Dirie in Readers Digest. <You can read the story of Waris here > I almost threw up after reading about Female Genital Mutilation. It affected me so much that I started talking about it. This catapulted the aversion that I always had for any sort of inequality. I started talking about the atrocities against women caused by the patriarchal mind set. Not exactly an appropriate topic in a conservative society where life revolved around a church in the village. The prejudices that I saw around me looked trivial in comparison. But I couldn't accept the soft patriarchy of the protestant church as a compromise where women are considered equals in the society, encouraged to work, even ordained as priests in the church but would have to submit to the headship of a man at home. I was never a rude child but I could not fit myself into a role dictated by culture. I was weary of multiple masks. I wanted to be the same person whether I was at church, home, village, school or the nearby town. Once a teacher told me 'There is so much fire in you. But don't get burned' after reading my poems. I am not considered a rebel any more because things that mattered so much to people in my home town look trivial now - even to them . That phase did help me to move out of my comfort zone, explore a world outside and make my own choices.

I wrote this poem about FGM last Novemeber as a tribute to that intense emotion I felt many years back while reading the story of Waris.....


Blood coils around the desert plant
Like a serpent ready for its prey
Dripping through the green leaves
It glistens with a shameless sheen
And hums a tale in whispers 
The moments streaked in its ruddy grain




To know about FGM: Wikipedia
To read more