My first children’s book, Scurry’s New Neighbor, releases today! This is a story I wrote almost two years ago for my children and feels like a dream come true to be able to share with the rest of the world!
The story is of two creatures – one furry and another feathered who realize that despite all their differences, they ultimately have the same basic needs. It teaches our young generation through simple illustrations, the concept of neighborly love. In a time where we find it easier to point out our differences rather than our similarities, the story illustrates how important it is for us to believe that this world is not just yours or mine, but ours.
Many of us dream and some of us are lucky to live that dream. Do share this dream with me! Please visit my website (www.tharinipande.com) for more about the book.
Have we made great strides in tackling gender inequality? Probably not. Are women today safer than they were a year ago? I don’t think so. But what has evolved is that more and more women around the world are challenging their communities and stigmas thereby breaking the shackles that have been holding them back. Be it the women taxi drivers in India who’ve made the roads safer for all. Or the group of disabled women in Ghana making bamboo bikes as an answer to climate change and poverty. Or the selfless women in the Syrian refugee settlements who offer free education to the children there. They all had something in common. They believed in themselves. They believed that they could be the change.
Her eyes spoke of a fear
That her lips concealed
But nothing would stop her
Not this time
She pulled on her veil
And marched ahead
In one hand her son
And on another her daughter
A new life they would make
Filled with joy and laughter
There is nothing, I tell my little girl
That you cannot achieve
The road may be hard
And sometimes even lonely
But never settle for less
And always believe in yourself
Never forget, I tell my little boy
That you were once a part of me
Respect above all
Should be your strongest suit
Stand up for yourself
Stand up for your neighbor
Through all odds and struggle
Let’s together pave the way
We have each other
We can be the change
India is a country in denial. We talk against the injustices of apartheid and slavery and then of racism like it is an alien concept. But the irony of it all is that our never-ending conquest for fairer skin, the race for a fairer bride, the demand for fairer heroines are extremely mainstream in ‘brown’ India. India as a country has been dancing around the big ‘R’ word for long enough. If we refuse to acknowledge the existence of a problem, how can we ever expect to find a solution?
The recent attack against a young Tanzanian girl in the city of Bangalore, India has been terribly distressing. Maybe it is because I have spent several years of my life in Africa and have nothing but memories and admiration for their friendliness and hospitality. Or maybe because I have always seen Bangalore as a model city for us in India. Or maybe because I am just human and respect the life of others and will not tolerate the violation of another.
Imagine this. It is a Sunday night and a Sudanese man runs over and kills a 35 year old woman in a fatal road accident in the outskirts of Bangalore, India. The man is arrested and placed in custody. A short while later, another car with a 21year old Tanzanian female student along with some friends who are completely oblivious to what had happened just a little while earlier, drive by the same road. A blood thirsty mob decides to take matters into their own hands. The Tanzanian girl is assaulted, stripped and paraded. Her car set ablaze. The reason? Revenge against the color of her skin. In an attempt to escape the raging mob, she tries to get onto a bus only to be thrown back to the vultures by the bus passengers. What’s most aggravating is that police officers were present at the scene but decided to keep clear and simply watch.
Government officials are doing their best to avoid any mention of this being a racial attack. Fueled by the international outcry that the news has received, the police are in full swing arresting those involved, including the officers on watch that night. No amount of apologies will be enough to make up for what the young victim had to suffer. Sure her external wounds will heal in time, but the humiliation and horror she was made to face will be scars she will always carry.
This is not the first discriminatory attack and will likely not be the last. A frightful thought is that these perpetuators are completely ignorant about what kind of reactions these attacks can ignite and how innocent Indians living in other parts of the world may be affected.
When the word ‘intolerant’ was mentioned over the past few months, the entire nation was up in arms revolting and challenging that thought. Is it not bigotry when we refuse to see people for who they are but rather victimize them based on their race, gender or color? Or when a large list of movies and books are banned even before they are released? Is it not intolerance when the government decides what we can eat and when?
It is not to say that India is the only country drowning itself in the perils of racism. And certainly not every Indian in India is a culprit to this line of thinking. The difference though is that while most other countries have recognized their pitfall and are bringing it to the forefront of their discussions, India still refuses to accept that there is a problem. It is however time to now face up to the elephant in the room.
How far we’ve come since that day
When ‘us’ was just a thought
The rhythms of the wind
Whispering as they fold
Of a story with a beginning and an end untold.
How far we’ve come since that day
When life was just a haze
With every dying daylight
Came an incandescent twilight
Setting the skies ablaze.
How far we’ve come to today
With unclouded visions of the future spun
The voice that speaks when lost for words
The strength that guides when paths are blurred
A wonderful journey that’s only begun.
Her eyes fluttered with nervousness
While stealing a glance from across the room
Unknowing to her, she brushed the scar
That had set her life and emotions ablaze
Like a wound that ached but could not be felt
She faced the truth that was buried inside
She’d do it all over and let her life fall apart
If it meant that he’d be there to gather her again
Family is a strange thing
They receive your warmest embraces and your fiercest rage
A constant sounding board and a perpetual interference
When here, the mind is too busy to acknowledge
When gone, the heart is torn by the distance
Christmas, Christmas, quite joyful and merry
How does your spirit glow?
With brilliant lights, the warmth of love
And handsome nutcrackers all in a row.