It bruised her forehead that soon started to bleed profusely. My mother, with teary eyes and rage clear in her voice, recounted all those deadly incidents which her 16-year- old self had seen. Over and over again. (Her grand mother was hit by a stone that someone threw on the bus they were travelling in.)
20th December 1989 is ghastly night that they call a nightmare.The unfortunate date forced her family to leave their home. Her family decided to leave the valley of Kashmir, forever, after receiving some serious threats from the terrorist group. Her uncle was an officer in the intelligence bureau who was at a greater risk of being killed, anywhere and at anytime. That day, people witnessed the murders of renowned residents and staying any longer could have costed the lives of all the families. Mum described how the terrorists would publicly call out names of the targeted Kashmiri Pandits, and would kill them on the spot. Howls of “Paksitan zindabaad” were quite common. Pools of blood and dead bodies were found lying on the streets every other day. Due to these gruesome happenings, her uncle returned home suddenly from office, one day. Wiping off the sweat from his forehead, which was rare in the freezing cold December of the valley, he only muttered, "Pack your bags. We need to rush as soon as possible, they have made our family the next target…”
“But where and how shall we go?”- asked my mum’s dad.
“Arranged a bus. Where shall we go, will be discussed later, we have to reach Jammu city anyhow and then decide further.” This was the only way mum’s grandfather could think of.
Within an hour, a seemingly perfect morning turned into the worst nightmare. They all got into the bus and with whatever they could carry. Family had small children, old members, but the law and order situation kept getting worse and death threats from the terrorists forced them to take this step. Within few hours they reached Kazigund where their bus encountered with the terrorists. They started firing gun shots, pelted stones, broke all the glasses of the bus. Cries, prayers, anger, fear, death — everything seemed to have come to an end. The bus driver didn’t stop despite getting injured in the open fire. He raced the bus into the pitch dark night until it reached a nearby CRPF camp, which provided them with medical aid and security.
A morning of mourning, an unknown city with no place to go, they decided to rent rooms until they could find some permanent solution. Family consisting of about 20 members was then forced to live within few rooms. Those who once lived with all the luxuries, one of the most affluent families of the town, now had no money, no proper place to live. It was later heard that those Hindus who didn’t leave Kashmir were tortured in the worst possible ways. The women and kids had their clothes snatched away, and were burnt by cigarettes, their teeth pulled out, tortured by electric shocks and what not.
There was an acute shortage of money. Everyone suddenly became jobless, which resulted in lesser food and poverty. But what my mum proudly commented was that ”Strong will and dedication is the key to meet success“ and that’s what her family did. In fact, that’s what every Kashmiri migrated Hindu has done. It took 15 years to re-establish the lives to get back on track. All started working in Jammu and living there . No one ever went back to Kashmir. From riches to rags and back to riches, there were many obstacles but maybe the zeal to fight back helped. Maybe that’s what hurts the most, despite so many years, the longing to go back where you lived, played,grew, where your family lived still remains anew in every heart of true Kashmiri.
MasterChef, author or ambassador, Pankaj Bhadouria has nailed it all!
From Winning the MasterChef Season 1 to becoming a Celebrity Chef, an author and the Brand Ambassador of many renowned brands, Pankaj Bhadouria has come a long way. Hers is a journey marked by many illustrious milestones.
A great story in writing, from a high school teacher to the well-known Chef, Pankaj Bhadouria has sailed through each difficulty with perfection.
A truly inspirational personality, she has hosted the TV shows Chef Pankaj Ka Zayka, Kifayati Kitchen, 3 Course with Pankaj, Rasoi se — Pankaj Bhadouria ke Saath, Sales Ka Baazigar. She was the first MasterChef Winner worldwide to have an official MasterChef Cookbook in her name and has written two more cookery books, namely Barbie- I am a Chef, and Chicken from my Kitchen.
Wordhazard brings you the tête-à-tête with the Chef. Read on!
WH: How will you describe Pankaj Bhadouria? Is she different from the one on the screen?
Pankaj Bhadouria: (smiles while thinking for second) I really don’t change myself, be it on-screen or off-screen.
The only difference is that, off the screen, let’s say, I am teaching a class of about 20 to 30 people, and the camera is taking it 20 to 30 million people.
WH: How were you as a kid? Did the cooking talent come to you naturally or did you learn it by years of practice?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Well, I was a tomboy till late in my life. I loved food, both eating & cooking it. Both of my parents were excellent cooks. The best thing that strengthened my bond with food was family time.
Giving most of the credit to family, Pankaj Bhadouria says, “The kitchen was the common room for us where me, dad mom and my younger brother, all four of us used meet, where my mother cooked and my father helped and we used to watch and enjoy cooking.”
WH: You chose English as the subject of your graduation and authored many books. Which book/s made a great impact on you and you would like the young generation to read?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Yes, of late I read the book ‘The Alchemist’.
I was a voracious reader anything that came into my hand. Newspapers, travel magazines, food magazines, Mills and Boon, Barbara Cartland, you name it! I loved reading History too.
But ‘The Alchemist’ really made a great change. One of the best, concise and deep novelty, it will really help you if you understand it.
WH: Apart from MasterChef, did any metamorphic experience influence you in a monumental way?
Pankaj Bhadouria: When I was 13, my father passed away. We had to do everything on our own, had no support system so it kind of hard for us and made us very self-sufficient. I don’t get worked up easily.
God has given me a lot of patience and it was the one drastic period that molded my personality.
WH: You have a great sense of dressing as you have over cooking. What is your take on that?
Pankaj Bhadouria: I dress to please myself. Up to this point, I didn’t change myself even after the Masterchef.
WH: Your husband and you make a very cute couple, and for sure you give serious couple goals! What is that makes you both different?
Pankaj Bhadouria: (proudly & lovingly ) He is the one who has built the brand, you must understand this. Pankaj Bhadouria is just this person who won the Master chef, but he is the one who has actually built everything– the restaurant ,the Academy. It is his brain behind it. He has been a big support, rock of the family. He is not behind me, he is right next to me. He is the reason why I’m able to roam around the world very easily without any thoughts.
WH: How did MasterChef happen to you? Right from its highs down to the lows, what led you to the greatest winning?
Pankaj Bhadouria: There was this advertisement, a commercial running on the television. My kids said “Mom you are an excellent cook” and inspired me to go for it. I made the call got selected!
And this was the first of its kind. I said “why not” I went there, sailed through the auditions, journeyed from Mumbai to the last win.
WH: You always keep Lucknow inside you and in your dishes always reflect a Lakhnavi touch. What does Lucknow mean to you?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Lucknow is all about its refinement and my food reflects how the city is. So somewhere down the lane, you learn a lot about food that it isn’t necessarily needed as loud and robust that’s what I love about Lakhnavi food. When I went for my audition, I carried a French dish “Chicken Roulade” and the stuffing inside was the Galawati Kebab. So you know, Lucknow somewhere lived there.
WH: You are an inspirational figure to millions of women. How do you suggest them to find that push to become what they want to?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Please understand this, the urge comes from within. Nobody can push you to do anything, it only comes from within. For me, quitting my job was a personal decision and, fortunately my entire family supported me. If somebody wants to do something, then they must do it themselves. It is you who decide why you want to do that, for personal satisfaction, for supporting your family.
WH: How do you think women must be empowered?
Pankaj Bhadouria: Woman is a very powerful force in driving the society. Social norms and rules are very deeply grained, but then nobody is asking anyone to play by the rules. If you are good in whatever you do, if you are managing your home efficiently, you are a good manager.
If you are doing things on your own, you are an empowered woman. You want to step out and work, that is entirely your choice. If you have support, so much the better. If you don’t have that support then you have to generate that support for yourself.
If you want to do something and your family is not supporting you, then you should ask yourself that “what it is that I want to do?” Also, you must have a shared responsibility with your spouse.
There is nobody who could push you to do anything, nobody who can force you to do anything. It is you can always make a way out. It’s just that simple.
A Session -For ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education
“The Mind is not a Vessel to be Filled,but a fire to be kindled.”
Such a torch, borne by Torch Bearers for Education, the organisers of the Session “For Ensuring Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education” was held on 27th June,2018 at the SCERT Hall, Nishatganj, Lucknow. 17 CSO s came under the banner of Behtar Shiksha Haq Abhiyaan to bring the importance of child education and female empowerment in the fore.
Representatives from various Gramya Sansthaans, SMC s and other societies working at the rural level attended the event and enriched it with their experiences. The discussion was about the need for the SMCs to gain empowerment and made more responsibility.
Mr. Anand Bolimera, Director of PHIA Foundation, stressed upon the fact that it is important for all the stakeholders to come together. The torchbearers lead and show the way and make it a network of various organizations working hand in hand towards betterment of Education in the impoverished and marginalized sections of the society. In his words,”Poverty is not the lack of income ,it is the lack of opportunities and power.”
Mr. Anand made people aware of the plight of the Musahar Tribe being the lowest on the literacy ladder.
He ascertained his belief that power in the partnership will build a platform that will be a bridge to fill the gap between the various shareholders.
Currently they are working in UP,MP,Bihar, Jharkhand and other states of the Hindi belt.
Mr. Prashant gave his inputs upon the issues of livelihood,social seclusion, serious issues of discrimination and the urgent need of promoting inclusion and equity,and how education actually lifts one from poverty.
Mr.Ritwik Patra,the representative from UNICEF,showed how Internet a source of unbiased,non discrimination quality education source available to all, accessible by all,and is changing lives.Other than that, the Jan Pahal Radio program run by them is doing wonders in various fields.
Dr.Sarvendra Singh, Director of Basic Education,made aware every one of the key accomplishments like increasing the SMC capacity, giving them proper infrastructure and grievance redressal,the Nayi Shuruaat Sehaj Shiksha Pariyojna and Har Bachha School Mein.
The great gender divide in the usage of Internet, being 28% women using it, was mitigated by the Google and Tata Trust initiative, The Internet Saathi. Already 5477 Internet Saathis are working with 32.86 Lakhs individuals.
Thousands of women are breaking the stereotypes and many examples demonstrate success stories about breaking social barriers and getting economically empowered.
Mrs. Renuka Tandon from FICCI FLO , stressed on the fact of attaching education with various talents and giving them a little something about various life skills,right from the childhood as it is the main time of learning various motor skills, thus honing their perspective about various careers to choose.
The second session began with a very intriguing panel discussion where various persons from the industry presented their views about how they are the bringing changes. Bringing technology in education, putting QR code on books and thus associating more information about the subject to achieve more clarity, introducing various ingenious and creative methods into the teaching pedagogy, etc were hot shots.
Hence, it was an agreement by various agencies working together with their respective expertise to bring about the holistic development of children.
We hope to see the change soon.
Witness the Pride Month and the pride of LGBT this June!!
“I think being gay is a blessing and it’s something I’m thankful for every single day.” –
June is the Gay Pride Month, the month that reflects the pride of every single person belonging to the LGBT community. A fight that has continued for centuries now, the LGBT community still awaits a brighter day. India is constantly heading towards modernization but one thing that still lacks is the power of acceptance in the society.
People even today have hardly accepted the LGBT community as their own. For many, it is still something unnatural and shameful; something that doesn’t deserve to live and love freely. Irony strikes when the society questions them, blames them and they face humiliation at the hands of their own parents and relatives. Indeed, we are a land of cultures but unfortunately we aren’t a society that is happily accepting. We can afford to witness rape cases and murders but we can’t afford to let the LGBT community live and love as they want. As the citizens of India, even they have the right to privacy and equality. Nobody has any authority to question their lifestyle or the choices they make in life. From their families to the society, from fighting for being considered equal to deserving
professional independence, this community has come a long way in this journey.
In an exclusive conversation with Mr. Darvesh Singh Yadvendra who manages CageD_UncageD, Tales by Queers, we got the answers to many questions. He told us how crossing all the barriers, the LGBT community has begun to raise their voice for equality. The legal aspect of our country about the LGBT community has a lot more to it than we know.
The same-sex relationship was criminalized by British under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in 1861. The Section 377 clearly states : “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” with the added explanation that : “Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section.”
In 2009, the Delhi High Court criminalized the homosexual intercourse finding it unconstitutional. That went as a relief for many but in 2013, the Supreme Court of India reconsidered this decision. The Supreme Court of India again criminalized the homosexual intercourse in 2013. It felt as a setback to the community and faced much humiliation.
After various petitions filed by many esteemed organizations and people, the Supreme Court reconsidered their decision in 2016. It said that right to personal privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India. The court also ruled that a person’s sexual orientation is a privacy issue. This gave a ray of hope to the LGBT community, expecting that this might be an asset to decriminalize Section 377.
In 2018, the Supreme Court is considering Section 377 and drafting a Uniform Civil Code. If it’s accepted, same-sex marriage would be legalized in India.
Apart from the legal aspect, we also realized how the society has not seen the LGBT community as their own. People unfortunately tend to find it a curse that may destroy their culture and traditions. The irony is, even if they are independent, their sexuality is a major concern for the society. Not because they will applause them for their hard work but to question about how can they live freely. Probably God never thought that his creation that has equal talents will become a questionable identity for the society. Unfortunately, before the society it is the family that
break down the person.
Boys when realize this, instead of support, they receive tremendous emotional pressure. They listen taunts like ‘you are born to make us feel ashamed’ or ‘you are not a complete man’ or ‘you need to marry a woman and lead a normal life’. People fail to realize that a human being is first identified by their heart and not by their sexual orientation.
Similarly, the LGBT women face trouble when they refuse to marry or have kids. They again face emotional blackmail not only at homes but also at theirs workplaces. A woman is always conditioned to marry, this mentality leads to uncontrollable pressure.
Just imagine how it feels when you are forced to marry someone you simply can’t feel home with! Just imagine how it feels when you enter a crowded place and all eyes look up to you as a curse. Just imagine how it feels when you won’t be allowed to marry someone you love.
Well, that’s something we need to ask our hearts. Every person has the right to marry, have kids but with the person they willingly want to do it. No power or law can intervene in their personal lives and especially their sexual orientation. It is nowhere applicable to use somebody’s sexuality as a sword to defeat their strength and force them to feel weak about themselves. In the past few years, the LGBT community has gained support over the social media. Many pride marches and parades are held and the youth has begun to hold discussions about it. A change is on the way and it will surely come, bringing justice to anyone who has his personal life subjected to the chains of feudal mentality.
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