Harish Marnad's Diary

Interesting Opinions and Demystifying One liners!

20 simple actions women can take to travel safely in Delhi (India)

Rape is a peculiar heinous crime. Whenever there is a rape it reminds us that we indeed were evolved from animals and even though we have progressed so much more there are still the some undesirable animal instinct left in us. All these advancements have not helps us in understanding why a perfectly sane man suddenly falls for his uncontrollable desires and becomes an animal?

No one really has any concrete answers why it happens and how it can be stopped quickly. The overwhelming thought is that quick speedy justice with really stringent punishment is the way forward. However, in the most horrific case of Nirbaya the government acted relatively swiftly and those who found guilty were given death penalty. That incident resulted in woman safety getting the due attention it always needed. 

However, since the horrific incident, we started hearing more cases and on all all kinds of them – young kids, old woman and from all parts of the country. This was totally unexpected and probably left a lot of us clueless. We always pondered with the question of "What woman want?" but now the million dollar questions are "Why men do this?" and "How the hell do we stop this?". Read on to know my view.

Stop abusing woman!

Stop abusing woman!

Well, in the long run what is ultimately going to reduce such crimes is by understanding what causes men to do this and address the root cause. However, there are some obvious steps which we can take. For example, We need to the change in mind set of men and society towards woman by stopping objectifying them & reduce the hype around sex. We also need to bring our badly skewed sex ratio back in to balance and reduce gender bias. These points needs to detailed further and there are probably many more steps but it is not the focus of this article. However, it is clear that these steps will be slow process which will take many years if not decades but we need to start acting now. (Modiji, are you listening?)

In the medium term, we need to find ways to root out corruption which is the main reason we have lax systems with loopholes everywhere. An honest government will at least make good efforts in plugging these loop holes (Luckily Delhi is set to have an election soon and one of the political parties (AAP) has promised some very good measures and I believe should be given a chance). 

In the short term, we should not wait for the new or any existing government to magically transform the city overnight. So we should take up more responsibility and educate ourselves on different aspects of public life (Radio taxi requirements) and then try to get all gaps plugged by putting pressure on the government & influential people in every way possible (like this done by Shenaz). But unfortunately life still has to go on and we cannot wait until it is "safe enough" for woman to travel.

So women are left to protect themselves and hence I have come up with a list of 20 different steps/actions/ideas a woman can consider to take up to enhance her travel safety in Delhi (or any other city in India or that of the world). Most of these are common sense suggestions which most of us know but I guess we might not follow them in rigour with integrity because we never think that we will be the unlucky one. So it is good to go over them and see which of them you can adopt. Some of these might sound as overkill but amount of effort needed is negligible when compared to the horror one have to endure when attacked and after. If you choose any of the below items and follow with rigour & intensity for a month or two it will become your second nature. 

The steps are divided into three sections – before you start section which addresses the preparation that you can make before any journey. The next set of steps are those which you can do when you are onboard a cab or a taxi. Last little section talks of what you can do if someone indeed attacks you. So here we go..

Before you start

  • Cut down traveling alone at night - Well, this is an option which needs to be considered before you actually plan to travel. In an ideal world you should be free to go out whenever you want for whatever reason without thinking twice but we are far from an ideal world.
  • Plan your day – Clearly plan your day and know where you will be at what time and how you plan to travel. This will help in reducing or avoiding traveling alone in taxis and autos.
  • Ask a friend for help, why are they for? – Typically incidents such as rape happen in dark at night. So if you do have to travel alone at night, why not find someone who can give you a ride to the destination? Why do we have friends for? Not just to ‘like’ our posts.
  • Find a reliable company to travel with – It is obvious that two is better than one because there is safety in number. This is even more important when you are alone and tired. Having someone along with you to travel would help. If this is a one off situation, be unreasonable and request for the person to accompany you (obviously this should not put the other person in too much danger).
  • Change your destination if needed – If you are at a place from where it is riskier to travel home as compared to staying over at a nearby aunt, uncle or friend's place then explore that option. Sure, this is far from being comfortable but if this is a rare situation and the friend is reliable and trustworthy enough then why not? Don’t think of what they will think of such requests. Any good person will be more than willing to help out.   
  • Pre-book a reliable taxi service – If you do have to travel alone see if you can pre-book a reliable taxi service. By reliable I mean of a service which typically sends you the details of the cab, the driver and so on before you start your journey. If not, note the taxi number, type of the cab and any details that you can see. If any of the information is not available and you still feel OK to travel then ask for driver's details. There is no harm in that but try not to ask in a suspect manner.
  • Know & track your journey – If you are not well-versed with the route you are taking then it makes sense to know your journey well. By this what are the routes you might take, what are the landmarks and how much time it might take to reach your destination. Without this preparation it will be difficult for you to know if you are being taken in the right direction or not. If your smartphone is GPS enabled then use it to track your journey. Good cabs will have it as a part of their service (I am not very sure but I think Meru cabs in Bangalore has a big screen next to the driver which shows the route being taken).
  • Install & test emergency alarm or messaging apps – You never hope you would have to use them but given the situation you never know. Install apps that make a big sound and test them to make sure you can activate it one handed without even having to look at the screen. Here are two examples – 1. Emergency Rescue 2. Send SOS (both not tested by me). There could be many more out there and hence worth searching for more. 
  • Let someone "track" your journey – Let someone know of your taxi travel plan and expected time to complete the journey (indicate the route you are taking if possible). Make it a practice to call them on reaching your destination. If you don’t call them on time, let them call you. In summary, there should be at least one other person who knows where you are all the time. So that if you are not reachable for any reason within a certain period of time then they will do whatever it takes to reach you. Given the importance, let this other person be someone responsible and not someone who will end up saying "Oops, I forgot". Making this a regular practice will surely help a lot.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged all the time – The above arrangement means that you can never afford to have your cell phone on low battery. If you are a smartphone user then this is generally a big problem. So you should always need to ensure that charge in your cell never goes down below 75% or so even it means that you have to keep charging it more often and reduce the battery life. It would also be good to have a cheap emergency phone which is with you all the time and requires less frequent mobile currency and electric charging (similar to Nokia 3310 which we had long time ago). This will help you being reachable all the time. Just to make it a habit, pay a fine of some sort (give a treat to a bagger) when you find your phone(s) switched off when you are out of home so that you never repeat the mistake.
  • Have emergency numbers handy – Have numbers of police and emergency services of your city handy (here is an unverified list of numbers of Delhi) in case you need them. However, typically in situations like these you will rarely have time to call and unfortunately all of these are landline numbers so I guess there is no way you can send text messages to them. So what is better is to have a text saved as draft with key contacts already selected. What is required of you is to just press the "send" button.
  • Have a pepper spray & some shape object – You need to have things which will help you escape. Pepper Spray is the best but you need to be alert and ready to use it at the right moment. It is easier to use the pepper spray than a sharp object as you can do it from a distance and it helps you to escape easily. However, have a sharp object as well to ensure you have left nothing to chance.
  • Get trained in self-defence – Well, having a sharp object is great but knowing how to use it another. So it makes good sense to join some classes to learn different self-defence techniques (one example is here). This is a one time investment which makes you much more confidence about protecting yourself. 

The Journey

  • Try and avoid taking unauthorized cabs – Don’t take cabs which are not authorized. Make sure that you can find the taxi, driver and other details clearly before you make the journey. Decline to take the cab if you don't feel comfortable.
  • Note the driver details – All taxi and auto drivers are not bad but you cannot take any chances. So Check for driver's license and identity details and see if the photo on the license matches the person. Pass the information to one other person (preferably to the one who will track your journey).
  • Take the safer well lit route, always – Regardless of the purpose of your journey, make sure that you always take the safer route even if it is longer & costlier. Even if you are traveling for a medical emergency, it is safer to avoid unsafe shortcuts which might save time but put your safety at risk.
  • Be alert and watchful – It is hard to stay sane when you feel very unsafe. However, you can hardly go out if you let such fears unnerve you. It is critical however to be on your toes by being always on alert and watch every move of the driver. Get a coffee before you board the cab if needed. Do whatever it takes to be alert.
  • Use his phone as a help – One of the reason why men attack strangers is because they think they can escape easily. So if you feel insecure and getting down from the cab is not a better option (too dark or unsafe place) then you can request for cabby's phone to call someone about something urgent saying yours' is switched off or has low battery. Make a call to someone tell something "urgent" and ask them to call back at that number if needed (oh! I forgot to ….. if you need….. call me back at this cabby's number. I currently traveling here and should be at the destination in next … mins). You doing this might make cabby to think a bit more before he consider attacking you as your friend now has a rough idea of your location and also his number.
  • Strike a conversation and try to relate to the person – Not all cab or auto drivers are bad as some are really honest and work hard to earn their living. You suspecting them from the word go will not help you to travel peacefully. If the cabby is not creepy from the word go like watching you constantly in the mirror (in which case you should get off the cab at a safe place), it is not a bad idea to strike a conversation with the cab driver and in the process make them feel appreciated for the work they do. The idea here is not to make friends but for you to enter the good books of the driver and become more than just a beautiful stranger to him. If you are successful then there is less likely to attack you as you have been considerate and appreciative of them. However, even if he still attacks, the details that you get to know about him from the conversation might help in some way later on.

If he still plans to attack? 

  • If all fails and he attacks – If he still attacks then you are left with some of the the above options. Depending on the time you have, you can send emergency SOS message to someone through one of the apps. If he is not too near to you then you can try the pepper spray. If he is too close to you then you need focus on hurting him real bad very quickly and escape real fast. To hurt him really badly you have to aim for his eyes, ears, nose and groin which are most vulnerable parts of him (check out the video playlist below – all of which are very helpful). All along this, make sure you scream at your loudest possible as you never know who might come to your support. Run when you find your chance and never look back. There are a lot more videos online and I recommend you to watch them but nothing can beat an actual self-defence classes.     

I was already outraged by what happened in Delhi but a shoddy "be safe" list put together by IBN made me question why write such a piece anyway? Even Rajdeep's show focused on solutions did not spell out enough things that woman can follow today to protect themselves. So I had to write this up with an aim to cover every possible angle. Having said that I am sure there could be many more things which we can do and if you come across any then please suggest and I will add to the list. Above all please share this to as many as possible.

The AAP Story – Truth Vs Hype

We Indians have a short memory, we really do. Well, we can’t blame ourselves, we have so many things going on in our life that we just have no time to sit, think, understand and remember the “unimportant stuff” like for example the topics of national importance. At best we have that one hour where we watch that 9 PM prime time news over our dinner and get educated about what is happening around us. Beyond that, we don’t really have time. Given that this is how we educate ourselves, i.e. on pre-packaged news, no wonder we never get to understand the real issue. Oh, yes, sorry! We do have time to share that post about AAPs theatrics that everyone is sharing. It is important that everyone knows the truth about them.

Two aspects of AAP is currently very popular – the fact that AAP Quit the government and “ran away from the government” (the infamous ‘Bhagoda’ tag) and the fact that Arvind Kejriwal (AK) is spending time in Jail for what looks like a non-issue and seems like this is one of his Dramas to catch media attention. I wanted to think on these two more closely to understand the merit of these accusations – the Bagoda and the Drama. I am hopeful that you would take time to join me in this assessment.

Arvind Kejriwal with his trademark cap!

Aam Aadmi Party Leader Arvind Kejriwal Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Licence

 

The Bhagoda Tag
One of the key reasons why AAP came into existence was the anti-corruption movement and its commitment to bringing Lokpal Bill into both Delhi and at the centre. In the time leading to Delhi election, AAP made a number of time bound commitments and one of them was to pass the Jan Lokpal bill within a month of coming to power. Post formation of the minority government, it was always known that getting this bill passed might be the most challenging task for AAP but as promised, it went ahead but failed. Given this failure and given its promise pre-election, AAP had to quit the government.

This event probably coincided with AAP’s national ambitions and hence quitting the government based on Lokpal bill looked perfect action to garner bigger pan-India support. After all how many have quit government on such principles? There were none that I could find. The only other example was Kiran Kumar Reddy’s quitting as AP’s CM due to division of the state into two. Almost every other party have tried to retain power even when facing criminal charges or big bang scams (I can remember Yadiyurappa and Lalu Yadav very easily). So AAP thought that quitting the government would be seen as a great sacrifice for a cause close to its existence and within a blink of an eye AAP quit the government.

It is not hard to agree with the rational of quitting. However, looking back, it is easy to say that they clearly rushed into it. If they had at least spent some time speaking to media and try to gauge the mood of the people, it would have helped greatly. When AAP quit the government it was very clear that a great opportunity was lost. So yes, we can easily accuse them of squandering an opportunity. They had done so much and if they had stayed in power for little longer, they could have done so much more.

However, the question is could this be labelled as ‘Running away’ from the government? We use such a term typically when someone stops and escapes from a challenging fight mid-way and choose a less challenging fight. However, what AK and AAP did was the opposite – took on a bigger challenge of going national. In fact it is such a big challenge that no other party had ever gone national at such a scale within 2 years of its inception ever in Indian history.

So given this, if we still want to accuse them of anything then it can only be of being over ambitious. Sure, their risk did not materialise and their effort failed spectacularly. But again you can only accuse them of “expecting too much” but not for “not trying”. However, being over-ambitious is not a big crime. Most of us have been guilty of the same at least a few times in our lives.

If you agree with the above assessment, you might be wondering as why did the “Bagoda” tag has become so popular? Well, quitting was the mistake that other parties were waiting for and they just exploited it to the fullest. Given the resources they had, they marketed it very well through all possible media and the novice common man fell for it. Now it is sounds so ‘true’ and we need no invitation to use the Bagoda tag with AK. However, make no mistake, AAP would have got the “power hungry” tag if they had stayed on power post lokpal bill fiasco.

Media Hungry (The Drama)
India is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. So naturally when someone tries to oppose such practices there will be altercations which catches attention of people and media. AAP is one such party which raises voice against incorrect practices if you look at most issues that they have raised there is some merit in it. The media attention might be one of their agenda as you need attention of the nation on important issues but accusing them of acting only for media attention is taking things too far.
Also please also note that media is not stupid to give time for pure attention seekers. There is intense competition in the media industry to get the best story telecasted. If AAP’s issue has no merit then both AAP and the media covering it will lose out credibility. Also given that AAP is starved on cash and resources, you can bet that AAP cannot buy paid news anyways. So if there is news about AAP’s activity then you be can rest assured that there is some merit to it. However, AAP’s opposition has been successful in spreading the ‘Drama’ tag so well that the common man requires no reminders to use the tag synonymously with every action of AAP.

My Final Say
I would feel that this effort of mine was worth it if you even partially agree with the above. What concerns me is the ability of AAP’s opposition to systematically malign AAP’s credibility. There is already an erosion of support for AAP for various reasons but we need to ensure that we are well educated to guard against false propaganda. How to ensure that? Well, next time there is a “dharna” led by AAP then take time to understand their side of the story (from them) before you judge them.

Based on past history and untraceable financial backing that they have got, I have my doubts about other parties but when it comes to AAP, we could disagree with their methods but not their intentions. Delhi’s elections are not far away and given their intentions and actions when in government, I believe AAP deserves a second chance just like the way Modi got at the centre.

Being Realistic!

 

Here is a really inspiring video (which you might have watched already) where Will Smith powerfully talks about a lot of things. The stand out quote for me from this is this – (starts @ 5 mins and 50 sec)

"Being realistic is the commonly travelled road to mediocrity"  

Belief Vs Evidence

In an ordinary life, belief follows evidence. In an extra-ordinary life, evidence follows belief.

We all have the power to choose the life we want but due to the way we have been brought up, most of us seek evidence before we believe in our own abilities. But if you want to achieve greatness, this method wont work.

Asking for Favours from not-in-touch friends

It is always tough to make that call to your friend when you are in need of a help esp. if you had not managed to find time to "be in-touch" with him/her in your "non-needy" days. When we eventually call for this unavoidable favour it is typical of us not to jump on to asking the favour first. At least I tend to speak a lot about everything else first and then its the right time, I make the request. This for me looked like a rational approach as we dont want to be seen as too self centered.

However there is a flaw in this. When you eventually ask for the favour, whenever it may be – after 10 minutes or 30 minutes of the conversation, the friend might think that everything discussed till now was just to get this favour out of him/her and not out of genuine interest for the person (and some might express their displeasure to this by saying 'ahhh, thats why you called me?'). Well, this is a exactly opposite of what you wanted and there is no coming back from this situation.

However I learned a better approach from my wife today. She needed a favour from her friend and first thing she did when she called was to ask for this favour (well, after confirming that he is free to talk and in a state of mind to ask for the favour). This way, she got this primary reason for the call out of the way. Now, she started asking about those things which both of them usually discuss. Just by reversing the order, all her conversation remained genuine and relevant. With this new approach, she not only managed to get the favour across but also got "in-touch" with the friend as well.

We are in the era of "timeless times" where there is a struggle to keep in touch with all those who we want to. However the fact remains that time and again we need favours from one of those who lost touch with for a brief period (if it has been very long* then it does not make sense to ask for favour). But ideally that should not stop us from making that call and with this new approach, I feel it is lot easier for me. Hopefully for you too.

 

How not to ride a Horse!

My first and only horse ride went alright. However first few minutes on the horse was the worst part where I had no control over when and where the horse is heading.. here is a clip.

 

Consciousness – The Big Theory of Everything and its Application

What is life all about? What is our purpose on this world? It is a great question and gets us thinking. Einstein tried to answer this but failed when Light was found to act both as a wave and particle. That became the hard problem of Science and still is to most scientists.

 
Enter Tom Cambell, A Physicist by background who had the unusual opportunity to go out of body (OBE) and experience the consciousness. Once he got a hang of it, he did it and gathered enough data and evidence to prove an existence of larger consciousness. He went on to explain what Einstein could not and very convincingly. Below is his book, My Big TOE (Theory of Everything) available for free. It is a huge read.
 
For those who dont have that much time, below is a video series where he talks about the theory of everything and the practical application of the same. This series requires you to invest around 15 hours of your time but surely this should be an eye opener and a life changer.
 
 

Being the Best in the World!

Some of us aim to be the best in the world at what we do (while others just hope). Being the best in the world is a great goal to have as it will act as a motivation to get up everyday and do what we do best. However, most often it tend to focus on comparing ourselves to others around us and winning against them and as we get better at it we aim higher. The key measure of this process is winning and that can only be the valid measure which everyone can understand. 

blue-cloth-clip-hanging

For most of us, being the best in the world is a long way away. The best way to reach there is to learn as much as possible as soon as possible. So clearly, it should only be learning, which one should focus at, at least at the beginning. However from day one, we start focusing on winning and not learning because it is easy for us to assume that we are learning (at our best pace?) as long as we are winning.

Well, irrespective of with whom you are competing, this is a wrong assumption to make. Competition involves two people and your winning on a given day could be due to a number of reason – be it your great show on the day, opponents being weaker or they just have an off day. So in the latter two cases it could be that you win the competition dispite being very average. Also, your chances of playing an average game increases with the focus on winning as you take fewer risks, play safer and also pay a bigger price in the process – learn so much less.

If you agree to the above, then the next natural question is "what do we do"? – Well, Aim to be the best of yourself. How different is it in practice? – Well, this approach can only be explained better with a game as an example, and I have tennis as mine. 

Aiming to be the best of yourself changes the focus back to learning. You explore your strengths and weaknesses and see what needs to be done to maximise your potential. However there is a challenge – How do we do this when competing with others? Well, The key is to focus only on the next moment in the game and completely ignore about winning. To maximise learning, you have to ignore winning the match, ignore winning the set, ignore winning the game. Focus completely on the next serve you are going to do, next shot you are going to hit and more importantly focus on what you learnt from it and build on it for your next shot. 

Keeping your focus just on the next shot has several advantages. One, it makes it simple for the mind and hence maximise learnings from each point. Not focusing on the stage of the game, set or match will help you take the right risk for the point, not less or more. This approach is easier said than done as you might loose more matches, score lines might read more badly than the game and how much you learned in the process cannot be reflected in the score lines. However, if you keep your focus on learning, modify your approach as and when needed, take the right risks, you will learn sooner and you will start winning more consistently and handsomely. With time, you will be the best in the world.

Though it could be that being the best in the world is a long way away, what next after that? Well, being the best in the world is a destination but being the best of yourself is a journey, a journey which might go beyond the destination we all are after.

So stop thinking of winning, focus on learning, Ignore the destination and start your journey now, the right way.

What is your “Regret Cost”?

We all are humans and we make mistakes. Recently I was lazy enough to miss one of my domains renewed on time which had 1000 visitors a month and it was taken by someone else even before I thought of acting. I had not looked at the impact the website was making but as soon as I lost it, i discovered the impact it was making and I started to regret my laziness and not acting fast enough. I did not share this with many but I can guess what will be their response. When we do regret, people in our support stucture comes up with various suggestions, most of which have the same theme – "don't regret". 

BUT then it is humanly impossible* not to regret and it is something we have to deal with. One well known way we all know to deal with a mistake is to focus on learning from the mistake and set in stone such that we don't repeat it (well, at least not in near future). However to put an honest effort to "learning from mistakes" we need to get over regret first.

So given that we have to deal with regret, sooner than later, the key point I want to raise is (well an obvious one) this – longer it takes you to come out of regret more it will cost you – emotionally, financially and physically. Being aware of it helps us act faster and come out of regret sooner.

So next time you regret, ask yourself – what is my regret cost? Or simply put, how much is this regret costing me?

* – If you think it is possible to not to regret good for you. However for most it is not. Here is an expert view (ted video) on the same.

What does Clarity bring to the table?

As I was interacting with my brother who is a full time freelance photographer I read him say 'I am clear on what I need to do'. While I only see confusion all around me, this is a refreshing thought. I always regarded the power of clarity very highly but I did further contemplation on it. I concluded that Clarity brings something which makes it invaluable in this age of information overload where there are a millon things waiting to distract you.

Clarity gives you freedom – freedom from clutter, noise and non-sense. 

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