Pink Shirt Day (NZ) Talk: The Psychology of Bullying

I have been incredibly fortunate to be invited to speak at two talks/lectures in the last two weeks. One of them was at Unitec Henderson Campus, where I spoke in front of a bunch of incredible 1st year students studying Social Practice and the other at The Problem Gambling Foundation on behalf of The Peace Foundation and The Mental Health Foundation (organizer of Pink Shirt Day in New Zealand), which was in front of people from all walks of life; both these talks were in celebration of Pink Shirt Day 2015. I have been a part of the Pink Shirt Day Event for the past two years now. It feels great to be able to contribute to an initiative that I feel incredibly passionate about. Here is the information that I shared at the event:

The information on these slides was researched by Chikita Kodikal. The photos used for these slides were retrieved from Google Images. The experiences that have been shared in this presentation have been done so purely for educational purposes. If you would like to seek permission to use this slide you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

Chinese Lantern Festival: Lit Lanterns & Dancing Lions

The Lantern Festival is quite an integral part of Chinese Tradition and Culture. It has been celebrated since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-221AD) and is most commonly conducted on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Calendar. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the first full moon night, marking the return of spring. It also symbolizes the reunion of the family.

According to Chinese folk customs, most families tend to engage in various activities on the day such as lighting and flying lanterns, guessing the riddles written on lanterns, snacking on Tangyuan (glutinous rice flour balls soaked in boiled water) and of course, lion and dragon dances.

It is believed that by lighting lanterns, one offers prayers that will allow him/her and their family to have healthy and prosperous future. Usually, women who have the desire to be pregnant walk under lit hanging lanterns praying for a child. In this scenario, the lit lanterns signifies illumination of the future and child birth.

The lion dance is considered a traditional folk dance in China. It dates back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). The ancient Chinese believed the lion to signify strength and bravery; its power had the ability to drive away the forces of evil, thus protecting the people and their livestock. As a result, lion dances are conducted primarily during important events.

Lion dances are different to Dragon dances, more so for technical reasons. The dancers hold the dragon by poles, hence it is easier to spot the dancers doing the dragon dance as opposed to the lion dance.

Now-a-days, Lantern Festivals are held annually in not only China, but also in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Here are some pictures from my time at the Chinese Lantern Festival.

These photographs were taken by Chikita Kodikal. If you would like to seek permission to use these photos you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

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Vogue Empower My Choice: What the criticism actually did to feminism

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Originally posted on This Is My Truth:

The Vogue Empower video titled ‘My Choice’ featuring Deepika Padukone and 99 other women, from different walks of life, has already taken way too much space than it deserved. And yet, I feel the need to defend it. Allow me to explain why.

My first reaction:

The video was released on Saturday and when I first saw someone sharing it, I didn’t even bother to open it, just like I don’t care to open so many other virals the public seem to love. But then as more people started sharing it, particularly my feminist progressive friends, I thought ok lets see what it is all about. So I saw and thought it was just about nice, makes a few bold statements which can be appreciated except that they didn’t really have a large size woman, even when the narrative went, “To be a size zero or a size 15, my choice.”

My second…

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BBC releases India’s Daughter on YouTube!

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I have a few things to say about this…
1) With regards to the absurd things M. L. Sharma and A. P. Singh (the defense lawyers for the rapists) have said in this documentary just goes to show that anyone can become a lawyer in India these days. Even if an FIR was not launched, why didn’t the bar take swift action and take away their licenses? Not everyone in India agrees with their views and opinions, unfortunately there is a sector of society that does uphold such thinking.
2) The day men (like the ones mentioned above) change their mentality and learn to respect women is the day change will ensue within society. Lets face it, true progress will not come if you try to deliberately exclude or eliminate one half of the society.
3) By banning ‪#‎IndiasDaughter documentary in India, the Indian Government cannot prevent the public (national and international) from addressing the elephant(s) in the room. In fact, such a documentary should spark debate amongst the public and parliament as to what long term solutions should be constructed and implemented to further educate the masses and eradicate India’s so called “Rape Culture.” Additionally, for the Indian Government to be constantly banning media content in an attempt to prevent India from being “defamed” is completely contradictory to the democratic values the country’s constitution upholds.

And lastly..

4) Unfortunately, what got to the perpetrators was a poverty of ambition [as shown in the documentary]. The government and the people need to understand that poverty and inequality of opportunity, especially to receive quality education, should be addressed within our communities worldwide because that is the root of all evil. With a decrease in poverty levels and increase in citizens receiving quality education, woman’s security (amongst other things) are bound to improve. The issue being addressed at hand is in fact a global issue and not just India’s issue.

Originally posted on UrbanAsian:

After much speculation, the highly controversial documentary, India’s Daughter, makes its way to the World Wide Web. Banned in India, the documentary focuses on the rape case of Jyoti Singh who was brutally beaten and raped in Delhi in 2012.

The documentary highlights the aftermath of the event as well as a one on one interview with assailant Mukesh Singh. While BBC was in high hopes of releasing the video on television for Women’s Day (March 8th), heavy protests against Mukesh Singh’s lack of remorse and despicable comments lead the the ban of the documentary in India.

Directed by Leslee Udwin, the film has now been made available on YouTube.

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Fiji: Beaches, Markets, Palm Trees and Banana Leaves

This past weekend, my parents planned a surprise vacation to Fiji, South Pacific’s tropical paradise, for my brother and I. From the moment I landed in Fiji, I was absolutely blown away by Fijian hospitality and culture. Visiting Fiji was like visiting a home away from home.

We stayed at the Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton for 4 nights. The villa we stayed at had a beautiful sea facing view. All throughout the day we could see cruise ships and boats sailing past. It was an absolutely heavenly sight to see. The resort was filled with people of all nationalities and ethnicities. What made the stay at Fiji Hilton even better was hearing a loud and cheerful BULA (hello in Fijian) every time I walked passed the staff and visitors and to my surprise this kind of atmosphere was also in the cities. I was really lucky to have met some amazing people whilst in Fiji and till this date we have kept in touch with each other.

My family and I travelled all throughout Denarau, Nadi, Suva and Sigatoka. But the highlight of my trip was the Sigatoka Safari. I had the great privilege to meet with villagers that were based a few hours away from Sigatoka. Being a true city gal, hiking and doing any activity outdoors is completely outside my comfort zone; however, participating in the Sigatoka Safari really helped me challenge my fears in so many ways. While next to the Cannibal Caves, I got to meet with some of the other villagers and their children. They were very gracious to let me into their homes and allowed me to see their plantations and animals. I was really fascinated by the way the children kept themselves busy: riding their horses down to the lake, welcoming tourists, inventing new games and toys. It was absolutely wonderful for me to see people content and grateful for all that they have, even if they had very little.

Towards the end of the Sigatoka Safari the villagers prepared some lunch for us and even showed us some classic Fijian songs and performances. Watching them dance, I couldn’t help but join them.

I learnt so much about Fijian culture and their socio-economic conditions. It was an absolutely eye-opening and remarkable experience. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without my parents.

Here are a few photographs from my stay in Fiji.

These photographs were taken by Chikita Kodikal. If you would like to seek permission to use these photos you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

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2014 Realizations (Candid Chat)

This year has been quite an emotional roller coaster ride. I do have those days where I wish I could go back and make a few adjustments and that is only natural for any human being; however, today just so happens to be one of those days where I cherish every lesson learnt, regardless of what I had to endure in order to learn it.

  1. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill &“Believe you can and you are already halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Without a doubt, this has to be one of the most important lessons I learnt in 2014. I have to admit, I started this year on a very naïve note. I truly believed that 2014 would be my defining year. I thought I would be able to gallantly surmount all the trials and tribulations that were to come. As the months went on by, I realized nothing was happening as I had planned. All my ventures would either start (with a big bang) and then fade into oblivion or not start at all. And it is at times like this that the world and your mind for that matter begin to militate. Self-doubt became my comrade. I made a conscious decision not to talk with anyone about it – not a very good idea. Self doubt is like a pest, the more you groom and nurture it; it will turn its back on you and corrode you from inside out.

Our society doesn’t reward defeat or failure for that matter. Many of us make a conscious effort to avoid the prospect of it. So much so that we loath its very presence in an individual’s life… our life. For this very reason, ever since my high school days, I always feared failure. The more I feared it, the more it infused its way into my life. It was like living my worst nightmare…

  1. Procrastination is the thief of my success.

I began to fear failure so much so that I began to procrastinate my way out of it – again, not a very good idea. Procrastination is a thief, I tell you. It stole my precious time and the benefit of the hard work that I had invested the months prior. I wanted to attain perfection, but didn’t feel like I acquired the capability to do so no matter how hard I worked…

  1. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” – Richard Puz, The Carolinian

My amazing grandfather and I.

In all this mess, I lost someone who meant a great deal to me – my grandfather. Losing a loved one is never easy. Never. After my grandfather’s passing, my family and I made a conscious decision to celebrate his life – every moment of it – so as to make his memories and accomplishments live on. In fact, we were so excited because it was the beginning of a new journey for him – not the end. Although we do not have the ability to physically see and feel the presence of the person whom we have just lost, it does not mean that they no longer exist they have just taken a new form.

My grandfather’s passing was a reminder to me that our time here is indeed limited, and therefore we should utilize each day to the fullest. No matter what the outcome.

  1. “When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation—a change of our hearts and minds. This is human revolution. We all have the power to change. When we realize this truth, we can bring forth that power anywhere, anytime, and in any situation.” – Daisaku Ikeda

I didn’t quite realize the power of positivity till half way this year. Being positive is hard work, especially for someone like me who befriends pessimism quite easily. It took me a while to realize that everything is down to me. As long as I hold a negative attitude within myself, I cannot really expect the alternative to manifest in the environment around me. The moment I took accountability for all that had happened to me in the past, things started to pick pace a little. I had noticed that up until that point, for the most part, I had only interacted with individuals that would degrade me (and I would allow myself to be degraded) or fostered friendships that in the long run turned out to be rather toxic. The moment my attitude changed, I changed. As a result of this change, I had to let go of some bad habits and along with that some friendships; however, this change also opened doors to new and unexpected opportunities and along the way I befriended some amazing individuals who have not just lifted me up the days I succumbed to my self-doubt, but also propelled me further to accomplish much greater things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hold any angst or animosity towards any of those individuals who degraded me, instead I am so grateful to them for having taught me the lessons that they did and I wish them well.

As far as my dreams and ambitions are concerned (the ventures that I spoke of earlier) – let me tell you, where there is a will there is a way.

Now, in hindsight, I honestly feel like 2014 was my defining year; my year of victory. I suppose, all these months I was searching for some type award, a trophy perhaps, that would validate all the blood, sweat and tears that I invested into all the adventures and projects I embarked on. Life is never going to get easier, we just get stronger. Our increasing strength and wisdom is our own reward, our motivation to take on bigger and greater things. I learnt to regard failure as a  stepping stone towards the next greatest thing. As Thomas Edison mentioned upon the creation of the light bulb, “I have not failed,  I have just found a 10,000 ways that won’t work.Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time.”

I really struggled with writing this, primarily because no one likes to disclose their flaws and failures. But if this post could help even a single individual, I have done my job. :)

On that note, Merry Christmas and hope you all have a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

For 2013 Realization (Candid Chat) click here

Quotes of the Day

“It is foolish to be obessed with past failures. And it’s just as foolish to be self-satisfied with one’s small achievements. The present and the future are what are important, not the past. Those who neglect the spirit of continual striving will start to veer off in a ruinous direction.”

– Daisaku Ikeda 

“One thing is certain: That is that the power of belief, the power of thought, will move reality in the direction of what we believe and conceive of it. If you really believe you can do something, you can. That is a fact.”

– Daisaku Ikeda