Remembering and Reflecting on the Remembrance Day

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Not just World War 1st or 2nd, the history of humanity is full with so many horrific wars. The basic thing we people didn’t learn yet is how to respect others in the way we want to ourselves. That was the root cause of every war ever started in the world. On this Remembrance Day, let’s remember those who lost their precious lives for us and also pledge to treat everyone with respect, especially those who look different than ourselves. Celebrating differences is the way to win future wars. ❤️

~ Gurdeep

Let’s Practice Humanism Over Skin-Colour Based Nationalism or Supremacy

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By: Gurdeep Pandher

In recent times, there has been lots of news on social media platforms, such as Facebook, regarding banning certain groups of people who practice a form of nationalism, supremacy, or because of their skin colours or backgrounds. Without disclosing the name of any specific group, I will keep my focus on the roots of this type of discrimination, and the other side of the coin.

First, let’s bring this topic into perspective. One’s skin colour is a mere reflection of how far from the Sun and equator you or your elders originated from. It can also be an optical illusion, and genes may have played a role, too. But, by and large, one’s skin colour is simply an individual colour in a big flower pot which is the world. And, in this flow pot, all these individual colours come together to make the world look beautiful.

So why should one colour be more important than the another? Are we not blinded by the so-called religious or any kind of nationalists? Why are we keeping our hearts and minds so narrow? These are the types of questions we need to ask ourselves.

Alongside questioning our beliefs and behaviours, we also have a better option – let’s practice humanism. If we can love all kinds of dogs or pets, regardless of whether they are black, white, brown or multi-coloured, then why can we not adopt the same mindset towards other human beings? We could alternatively easily follow a human-nationalism approach if we only started to make more room for love in our hearts.

Why do we, somewhere deep in our hearts, have the seeds capable of prospering hate? Why do we think that one type of skin colour is better than others? People who live their lives under these kinds of believes need to grow up. The core of all religions preach that everyone should love one another. So why then do their subsequent followers start to divert from the original message of their religion? Has the founder of any religion ever told to hate others? I would say, “no”. But then who started this trend of teaching people to hate one another? Some religions believe that loving your fellow human beings is just like loving your god; So why would you stop loving your god (if you believe in one)?

Negativity can be the source of hate towards humanity. As such, let’s start doing things that bring more positivity to our world and minds instead. Why should we hate? Why do we feel the need to hate? Why do we create enemies? We are all just people on our unique journey on this Earth. Why can we not enjoy our journeys together, and all have a happy ending?

Another source of hate can be the “fear of the unknown”. If you possess the belief that people from a specific group are dangerous, then the first thing you need to do is start talking to those very people. Step outside of your comfort zone and start to make some friendships. The more you learn about those people, the more you will come to realize that they not dangerous. In fact, you may even reach a point in which you fall in love with them. Therefore, let’s make an effort to create smiles. Maybe you need a hug, or perhaps you had your feeling hurt. The first step is; we need to trace back to the source of our hurt. The more you open your world, the more you will start to realize that there is actually a lot of love available for you in the world.

If you believe in any kind of nationalism, then sit back and think twice. If you yourself are being a source of hate in this world, then you yourself may one day become the victim of someone else’s hate. Alternatively, releasing love into this world will bring more love to you. Love and hate both have huge ripple-effects, so why not chose the former?

Building Bridges over Barriers – We All Are Humans First

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We live in a polarized society. And this polarization is composed of multi-facets of divisions. Extreme political affiliations, racism, hating religions of others, gender-divide, judgements based on sexual-orientations, ultranationalism or jingoistic, xenophobic tendencies, disliking clothing of others, being prejudiced towards body shapes, we have built so many barriers.

We literally tend to forget that there is no difference between the person I absolutely do not like and I.

And if someone hates me, he/she doesn’t hate me, actually he/she hates his/her fellow human being.

We both are humans.

Let’s befriend with people across the walls and borders and build bridges over barriers!

Everybody needs sky to watch the stars and the land to rest!

~ Gurdeep Pandher

Photo: Gurdeep Pandher and Krisandra Reid

Captured by: Rachel Mullin Photography

Viral Video with Whitehorse Mayor – The World Comes Together When Love Goes Viral

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I do not believe my faith is better than yours and vice-versa.
~ Gurdeep Pandher

For me, a turban is a symbol of change. Let me make one point clear – I am not trying to make the whole world wear turbans or asking the entire world to embrace the Sikh faith. I do not believe my faith is better than yours and vice-versa. All faiths are great, equal and this means that yours is great and beautiful, too!

What I am doing is working towards acceptance and inclusiveness. I am working towards creating love and harmony within our communities. I am working towards tolerance. For example, when you see another person who has a different sense of style than you do, I believe that you should accept that person with an open heart and mind.

The turban is a medium with which I can share my belief in equality with the world.

If someone looks different than you do, please let your heart smile with the beautiful thought, “How cool and lovely is it that this person is different from me! We are all on our own path and everyone should be able to express self and beliefs through clothing and accessories, whether they have religious significance or not.”

This is the type of attitude which will lead to a healthier, safer and more wonderful world, for each one of us.

I have personally been penalized for choosing to wear the Turban as a symbol of my commitment to my faith. I’m well-educated and I have a range of skills to share with employers and co-workers.

Despite this, I’ve lost a lot of great opportunities because of my choice to wear the Turban. For example, one day in Whistler, my supervisor asked me to shave off my beard, even though wearing a beard had no impact on my ability to do my job effectively.

I refused, simply because I’m comfortable with how I look. I like myself! After I refused, he offered me alternatives to working at his company. He pushed me to quit. I didn’t, but work life became harder. More and more rules were imposed on me for no good reason. In time, I did have to leave. This is one example of several.

If you like the way that you present yourself to the world, why not accept and appreciate other people’s choices?

Skin colours, races, regions, religions, genders, age, disability, economic statuses, type of bodies, style of clothing, sexual orientations, borders, marital statuses, quantity of possession of materials, etc. – it is meaningless to separate people based on any, a few or all of these criteria.

I do believe that we may show pride and love for our respective cultures while crossing the walls and learning about each other’s cultures. While our cultures give us roots, other cultures keep us connected. We are all citizens of the universe.

Nothing should separate us as people. We are all human beings with equal value. Despite being different, we are all the product of one source. The different looks and styles just make the world more colourful and more beautiful, just like several colours of flowers look beautiful in one pot. The earth is our pot and we are flowers in different colors and shapes.

Imagine how boring the world would be without all these assorted hues and forms!

We are ONE human race. Period.

As fear is the primary root cause of hate in the world, and most fear is founded in lack of knowledge and understanding, learning about different cultures is the secret of becoming familiar. It’s the key to becoming more comfortable with other ways of life. This familiarity reduces fears and allows us get closer to other people. By learning constantly, with positive attitudes, and opening our minds and hearts, we may connect with others in a deep and meaningful way.

It is beneficial to learn things about the unknown and then remove any fears via   heightened understanding. I am sure that once you are familiar with another person who practices customs which are unknown to you, you will gain the capacity to walk forward together, holding hands.

After 9/11, Sikhs across the world, especially in the US, were subjected to racism due to their turbans. Many were killed too. Just because they were wearing turbans which had some resemblance to the headdresses worn by Bin Laden, these innocent and peaceful Sikhs became targets.

It makes me sad that people assumed the worst and never tried to learn about Sikhs. Sikhism is a different faith, from a different country, with totally a different history. Clearly, unfamiliarity and/or lack of education bred hate! Otherwise, so many precious lives would have been spared. Education was all that was needed.

The aftermath of 9/11 gave me even more reason to embrace the Turban as a powerful symbol of peace. It’s about using the Turban to spark more awareness and education.

I had the same experience in Whitehorse, Yukon, when someone called me Saddam Hussein. This bizarre encounter was hurtful to say the least and it inspired me to wear my turban even more often, with a mind to spreading awareness. Those people didn’t try to learn that Saddam Hussein was from Iraq, rather than my home country, India.

Saddam Hussein was Muslim and I’m a Sikh. We came from different continents -Saddam Hussein represented the Arabic world and I represent Asia. However, the mere presence of a turban on my head made it seem to the person who insulted me that I was representing Saddam and Osama. I would also like to make clear that, for me, Arabic or Muslim world is equally adorable, in the same way the other world is, and my point is not to create an animus towards Arabic or Muslim world. My main point is just to let people know that there is a huge difference between Arabic/Muslim world and my Sikh/Punjabi world from Punjab, India.

If this person had more familiarity with my culture and my faith, this offensive and misguided incident could have been avoided. The person who made the comment did not know that Sikhism was started about 600 years ago, in Punjab, India, by Guru Nanak and that equality, kindness and humanism are core elements of this faith.

Being compared to Saddam Hussein confirmed my opinion that more work needs to be done to make the world aware of my minority faith, which has so often been a subject of misidentification. This, and some other incidents, motivated me to spread awareness about my turban and I am glad that the turban has become a great symbol not only of awareness about the peaceful Sikh faith, but also about so many other things, such as love, harmony and equality.

Despite our different backgrounds and different looks, we can do things together, we can work together, we can play music together, we can dance together and we can form relationships together. All religions were created as guides to better and higher paths, so that we may become good people. However, all people from all religions sometimes forgot the purest essences of our chosen faiths. They were created in the spirit of love and peace and our personal interpretations may occasionally interfere with our interpretations of our faiths.

The sun gives the same light to everyone. Does it discriminate on basis of anything? Sunlight doesn’t need a visa to cross borders. The same applies to moonlight, water, air, and earth.

We can learn so much from nature. I must say that nature should be our supreme guiding god. The sun gives us all the same light with the same purpose. It is we as people who receive it differently. We cannot blame the sun if we do not want to choose the path of universal family.

At the end of the day, doesn’t matter, what the style of clothing is, everybody is just a fellow human being with the same feeling inside the heart.
~ Gurdeep Pandher

We need more love in the world to counteract hate. I do not think there is another tool which can defeat hate but love itself.

Just accept people the way that you accept yourself!

Life is a journey. Let’s understand the purpose of it all, which is universality and love, and then enjoy the experience of our great journey within the world, before we all depart for the spiritual realm.

This experience of love through learning is why we are here…we are not here to hate!

A smile is the best gift that you may offer to the world around you! So, why not open up your world by learning different cultures and embracing different things? Share your culture and faith to create understanding and to breed joy. However, avoid forcing it on other people. Love your culture and faith without forgetting love for other cultures and faiths! Also, be open to learning and receiving via other cultures and faiths! Let all the colours around you make the world look like a priceless masterpiece by a legendary artist. It’s all about your attitude.

At the end of the day, doesn’t matter, what the style of clothing is, everybody is just a fellow human being with the same feeling inside the heart.

I am happy that with my video, which features Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis learning the art of wearing the turban and trying some bhangra dance steps, has gone viral. Thanks to this video, I reached 20 million people (12 million on BBC News, 1.2 million from my Facebook page Facebook/GurdeepPandher and the rest from other networks across the world)!

It has been fulfilling to spread this message of love and acceptance. I am thankful to the world media, including BBC News, BBC World Service, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Service), The Globe and Mail, Global News, The Huffington Post (Canada), CTV News, USA Today, SBS Australia, Mic, Toronto Star, Canadian Press, RT (formerly Russia Today), Quartz Media, Religion News Service, Reuters News Agency and many other publishing/broadcasting services.

These media sources have my gratitude, for publishing my work, supporting and spreading my message and giving me a voice which assists me in sharing my vision for humanity with the world.

World media organizations…I am truly thankful to you for reaching out to me! I am also truly thankful to many other organizations, such as Canadian embassies and human-rights organizations, for helping me to spread this valuable message of diversity.

I am ending my article with my poem:

Let me preserve all my sanity
Let my race be humanity

Millions of stars, but one universe
I’m a your part, still being diverse

Not body or dress, look into my eyes
In tiny mirrors, same laughs same cries

Hug me and let me hug you back
The source of fears, we can trace

One source, one journey, and one end
Flowers in a pot, let them blend

Sincerely,

Gurdeep Pandher
http://www.Gurdeep.ca

 

 

 

 

Should You Disclose Your Struggles to Your Friends?

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Undoubtedly, life is not known for being excessively kind all of the time. There will be occasions where the situation is less than ideal, and the ensuing struggle is difficult to bear alone. However, the debate then becomes whether or not one should discuss these challenges with friends and family. On one hand, the conversation may be constructive and helpful in recovering from the current darkness, but, unfortunately, the sharing process may lead to rejection and discomfort for all parties involved. Therefore, it is necessary to use one’s judgment in deciding through consideration of a few general factors such as type of relationship, past experiences, and what the end result may be.

The instinct may be to share with whomever one knows for the longest period of time, but this may not be the best route. The ideal confidant is familiar, but can also keep their distance and be objective with regards to giving advice. Of course, a mere acquaintance is a poor choice and may lead to uncomfortable circumstances, but a best friend may be quick to defend and shift away responsibility, which can turn the meaningful discussion into a pity party. Additionally, each friend probably has a ‘designated’ role in one’s life (the wing-person, the partier, etc.). Decide what type of role would best fit the need, and reach out to that person.

Stereotyping, though, will only be accurate to a limited degree. The best indicator of future success is past experience. If one friend has a track record of being a good listener, then they would be an obviously advantageous choice. However, if another person is loose-lipped and threatens any hope of being discrete, look elsewhere. The objective is to create a safe environment, so insecurities can be temporarily swept under the rug and vulnerabilities can show.

Finally, it is essential to consider the end result of the conversation. Hopefully, the disclosure will accomplish something, even if it is only relief from being able to share a burden. No dramatic outcome such as a complete and total resolution needs to come from it, but progress towards recovery should be achieved in some form, which may not be immediately obvious. In other words, the most important aspect to consider is a sense of well-being. However, this will come at the price of complete and utter honesty, which is incredibly difficult to achieve. Therefore, it is ultimately best to confide in someone removed from the situation in order to decrease anxiety.

All in all, confiding in a friend about struggling with some aspect of life is a meaningful and helpful process for alleviating the pain of emotions, but only with the right person. Remember, the ultimate goal is to have an outlet to which to voice frustrations and a figure who offers advice in a positive form.

Are You Having An Emotional Affair?

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By Gurdeep Pandher

Everyone knows what a regular love affair is. As trust is the basis of any healthy relationship, a betrayal of any magnitude usually ends in heartbreak or some unnoticed deep pains. In this day and age, when connectivity is literally a click away, ‘affair’ is almost a click away too, or a possibility that is always present. However, physical affection is not the only type; an emotional affair can be equally challenging for a relationship. Although it lacks the salacious quality, but attachment can be powerful and “super-emotional”, involving the confiding of feelings and the exchange of intimate conversations rather than physical affection, it is still difficult and needs to be understood appropriately.

The first step is to identify the signs of an emotional affair. This is usually the most difficult part due to the subtle nature of the unsuspected relationship, but it typically involves confiding in another person while emotionally withdrawing from your spouse or actual partner. Keep in mind that this does not include inside jokes or secrets that are applicable only to the other person; this refers to events as basic as having a mishap at work or a funny moment during the day that would somehow be better kept from your significant other. As this develops, it is common to believe the other person is more understanding, and to feel closer to them. You start feeling that your spouse or actual partner is less friendly or charming. You start withdrawing from your real partner or spouse in an endless quest to be closer to your emotional lover. In this whole process, your mind and heart also go through varying degrees of conflicts and confusions as the smoke of unclear thoughts grows.

After asserting the presence of an emotional affair, it is then necessary to determine the underlying causes of this phenomenon. Most likely, the other person validates you in a way your real partner does not, such as through compliments, witty anecdotes, flirtations, and even sensual messages. Although it may not seem problematic at first, the symptoms manifesting as in a regular close friendship, the rate of acceleration in intimacy and the resulting gratification may take you to totally a different path. To end an emotional affair, consider what exactly makes the other person more attractive than your significant other. This could a bubble or this could be real, you just do not know. This could be as simple as a more compatible sense of humor, or as complex as a possible escape from abuse.

Once the cause is ascertained, it is your decision as to whether or not to end the relationship with your significant other. Continuing with both people is hurtful and unfair to all parties involved. If breaking up is warranted, do so kindly. Please keep in mind that your “soon-to-be” ex-partner once upon a time was the best person to you in the world, he/she filled your life with a lot of joys, so please do not hurt his/her feelings. Please be compassionate, considerate, and wise in whatever path you choose. Otherwise, firmly contact the person with whom you are having the affair and state that you can no longer continue your relationship without guilt. Following that, admit your experience to your partner, and plan to become more emotionally intimate with them either on your own, or with the help of a counselor. At this stage, a healthy conversation with a close friend can be a great option too. Otherwise, independent counselors can be great resources to create peace in lives of the both affairs and yours.

Ultimately, ethical considerations should be the first and foremost priority. It is truly up to you to be honest with yourself, and anyone with whom you are having a relationship, in this situation. An emotional affair may seem like a daunting obstacle to overcome, but it is important to face mistakes and accept consequences. No matter what the end result is, you should be proud for having the courage to even attempt to remedy the circumstances.

No more heartbeats, it’s beep-beep-beep

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Wide Spread Nature

In a world where technology is as commonplace as shoes, each person being able to own anything and everything imaginable from televisions thin as paper to phones with better cameras than some of the devices actually built for photography only a few years ago. Never before have people been so closely linked together, someone being able to sit in an empty room and talk to ten people simultaneously in ten different conversations. The term ‘friend’ is used to describe a tiny square picture on a glowing screen with their full name typed out as if the name of a friend was something one would easily forget.

Strangely enough, the more traction virtual connection gains, the harder it becomes to connect personally, face-to-face as people have done since the beginning of time. Dating has been reduced to a series of swipes, conversations littered with emoticons and almost incomprehensible abbreviations wrapped in blue and green bubbles, each emitting a ‘beep’ when someone replies. Although this is certainly convenient, to a certain extent, it can quickly overtake society, reducing someone to a sequence of letters, easily deleted and forgotten. With communication literally at their fingertips, people lose the ability to talk meaningfully with one another, preferring the safety of the screen.

Additionally, the technology easily becomes filler, inhibiting the desire for human interaction. Whereas before, if a silence settled down to blanket a dinner party, guests would be inspired to become creative and attempt to start conversations. It is all too easy now to simply pull out a phone and get lost in the worlds of people who might make better companions. Not only do virtual connections stop the development for meaningful conversations, they prevent the existence of new real-world connections by sucking the time and energy from their victims.

Furthermore, with information on everyone free-flowing on the internet, employers and admissions directors at universities do not have any qualms about scanning their applicants’ social media pages, trying to find a reason to reject them. While this certainly has its benefits, it also promotes automatic judgment and stereotyping, labeling someone as incapable or unintelligent because of a few mistakes made on the web, a permanent entity that hoards its treasures. This way, opportunities are automatically closed for some people, simply because employers know too much about them even before seeing their face in real life, making rash criticisms without ever meeting the visage on the screen.

Overall, while the internet certainly makes communicating and connecting with friends far away a breeze, it can inhibit the ability to build real relationships away from the screen. By giving away too much information, providing an easy gateway to entertainment, and making it more efficient than ever to have a conversation with someone, technology is slowly sapping away the colors in the world, resulting in a digital landscape with frozen profile pictures instead of emotional human beings, and the abbreviation of ‘LOL’ instead of truly laughing out loud. Unnoticed by most, it is a killer, stealing not lives, but souls.

One Loyal Friend Is Worth Ten Billion

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Friends at my birthday

In good times and bad, one can always count on their friends to be by their side as personal cheerleaders, supporters, and listeners. Friends make and share memories together, complementing each other and being able to make the best of every situation, turning frowns upside down and transforming average days into brilliant ones filled with laughter. However, a true friend will also be there when times get rough, ready to pop in with cartons of ice cream, movies galore, and an open mind. They will not back away from whatever the harsh reality holds. Instead, they will step in and provide comfort, stability, and support.

First and foremost, the very best of friends, and usually the most well-liked people, learn to listen to the concerns and complaints of others without judgment. For most, there is nothing more cleansing and soothing than being able to freely rant to a friend about anything and everything on the worst days without fear of interruption. The trust that bonds two people together is a strong foundation for respect and comfort, two of the most important ingredients for building an enduring relationship that can weather any storm. After all, with a friend, even the most daunting tasks seem less intimidating and sadness will naturally flow into laughter.

When people are close to one another, they naturally pick up on each other’s moods and know instinctively if something is wrong. While an acquaintance might shrug and give an awkward smile before leaving, a friend will order pizza and try their best to empathize with the person dealing with the problem. Being able to find a connection and having someone understand what they are going through is a great comfort for people, and far more meaningful than the generic, “I’m sorry.” After all, while sympathy is an empty gesture, empathy, or the act of walking in another person’s shoes metaphorically, will build and strengthen bonds.

When all fails, a good friend knows how to give personal, constructive advice and encouragement. Instead of saying the ‘right things’, they are not afraid to be a bit harsh in order to provoke action rather than apathy. Obviously, the objective is not to be cruel; it is usually for the best, and out of the goodness of their hearts. After all, sometimes, walls need to be torn down before they can be built up again, stronger and taller this time. Compliments are like the snow; they will cool the burn for a few moments, but will quickly melt. Good friends know that sometimes, fire needs to be fought with fire (but not with gasoline).

In the end, although friends may be the ones who can bring life into any boring event and are the key building blocks for living a happy and healthy life, they are able to understand and support even the most difficult decisions in the hardest of times. No one is more honest, loving, and accepting than a true friend who knows when to listen and when to speak other than family, of course. Mediocre relationships are a dime a dozen, but a golden friendship is priceless.

Lastly, the title of my post says, “One loyal friend is worth ten billion”. Let me explain it further – one loyal friend is precious who cannot be priced.

Why More People Are Choosing To Stay Single

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Spectacular White Pearls

Humans, like most other mammals, prefer to stay within packs for safety and survival and also to feel loved, nurtured, and cared, hence why people tend to live side by side in apartments or neighborhoods. To go along with that is the intrinsic urge to find a mate, which is built into the instincts of all other animals in order to perpetuate the species. However, as society advances, human nature is shifting from wanting a partner and having children to desiring a close circle of friends and having the time to focus on one’s personal life. This diversion away from the natural order is brought on by many varied circumstances.

As with many other issues, the first and foremost factor of change is the evolution of social norms. Well-educated folks who work-hard to advance their careers either do not have time for commitments which relationships demand or they find it complicated to accommodate the requirements of relationships in their challenging and busy lifestyle. Living together only works if both parties equally put their time, mindset, energy, and excitement to keep the show of the relationship live, however most of today’s always-on-screen generation is not willing to compromise with real-life realities or challenges. Also, growing awareness about legal disputes among a large number of partners or scary lawsuit stories about divorces in the media might also be another strong factor which is encouraging modernsters to keep the doors of their hearts closed. So, being a single bachelor is in most of everyone, especially young men or women’s dreams, promising adventure and freedom in lieu of constricting romantic ideals.

On a similar note, too high expectations and non-fulfilment of those expectations also bars some to enter into living together way of life. Many people choose to stay single simply because reality cannot compare to the glorious, loving relationships they see in the media, with smiling faces and fancy dates. Needless to say, meeting such unrealistic expectations is stressful and expensive for both parties, sucking away whatever chemistry there might have been. Additionally, social media sites make causal relationships extremely easy, with almost no work required on the part of the people.

Girl riding a bicycle in park near the lake. Lightleak effect an

In today’s do-it-all and have-it-all culture, there is no time left for seemingly pointless extracurricular activities such as dating. Especially among tech-savvy young urbanites with a high level of education, forming long-term relationships is less important than work. On the other hand, serious relationships are far less preferable than ‘hooking up’, which provide a certain level of immediate gratification. Their attitudes ensure they do not waste a single second on anything that does not work to their competitive advantage, or anything that delays pleasure, making dating obsolete.

Although it was already touched upon previously, it goes without saying dates and the eventual marriage are costly. From outfits to dinner to everything else in between, having a relationship certainly costs a lot for something that may not even last longer than a month. Although spending time with someone you love such as a friend or a family member is definitely worth any price, meeting up with a blind date at the fanciest restaurant in town would make even the wealthiest person cringe.

Overall, the settling down early trend is certainly winding down, with more and more people preferring to spend life on their own surrounded by friends and family rather than take on a partner. Although whether or not one stays single is definitely a personal choice, the attitude society takes on in western culture is gearing towards appreciation for the untamed, untaken and away from living as one half of a couple.

Chilling Stories In My Interview With The Director of India’s Daughter

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Chilling Stories In My Interview With The Director of India’s Daughter

Recently, I interviewed Leslee Udwin, who is the producer and director of India’s Daughter. Leslee spoke from the heart about various reasons which inspired  her to go to India and make this documentary film. As she puts it, in her own words, “I was moved to make this documentary, India’s Daughter, because I was absolutely bowed over with respect, with admiration and with gratitude to the Indian men and woman who went out on the streets to protest, in response to this particular horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh, and it wasn’t the rape that took me there. It was the protest. It was knowing that there was incredible optimism and hope for change and people were demanding change and it seemed to me, sitting across the other side of the world, that these people are actually out there protesting for my rights as a woman, for autonomy and respect for women.”

She said it took her two years to make this video, from the very first inspiration to the final finished product. Protests and ongoing anger against rapes took her to India to film, “I took the decision to make it probably around Christmas of 2012, about a week to 10 days into the protests, when I saw these protesters not just going out and protesting but actually continuing through, day after day, and then I saw the protest tip into riots. I mean it felt like civil war could ensue. The passion was so great and the numbers were so unprecedented.”

On the question of how easy it was for her to get consent from Tihar jail prison officials in New Delhi, so that she could interview gang-rape convicts, Leslee told me that it was easy for her to get the consent of jail officials, with regard to interviewing rapists. She remarked, “I wrote a very impassioned letter to the director general. The director general happened to be a woman. That probably helped because I think that she understood from my letter that this was indeed in the public interest. It was an important thing to do. It was a documentary film that was seeking change, and she understood the imperative, the need to interview the rapists, and she agreed and it is almost as simple as that.” She said she was absolutely appalled and shocked that there was no remorse by the rapists about their brutal actions when she was interviewing them.

In response to my question about her views regarding the defence lawyers for the case, including attorney ML Sharma, who was featured in her documentary, Leslee said, “Many people who have seen the documentary say that they are more shocked by what the lawyers said than by what the rapist said. To a large extent, a lot of hysteria (in terms of negative response to this film) has been about, how dare you give a platform to a rapist to say such hateful things about woman…but if you actually look at what the rapist says about women, it is pretty much the same as what politicians have stood up in parliament and said about women”.

Leslee relates to the pain of Jyoti’s parents with great compassion. “It is also incredibly humbling, because I sat there, as a mother, thinking if this had happened to my daughter I can’t believe that I would have this sort of forbearance, the sort of dignity that they have. I think I would be so angry. To make sense of it, they see that she is actually healing the world through her sacrifice and that gives some meaning to this utterly meaningless and atrocious, hate-filled act that snatched their daughter away from them”.

On the issue of the documentary being banned by the Government of India, she said, “The fact that they banned it, it is such a misguided terrible mistake. I am very confident that the court will later turn the ban and I hope that will be an end to it, because the ban has no reasonable or legal grounds to it. The ban was a knee jerk reaction by people who had not seen the documentary…that is crucial distress”.

Leslee said her documentary has a potential to change the world and the mindset of people, “The fact is that I know the film has the power to change people’s attitudes, to challenge their attitudes, to make them see things from the point of view of another…and I think everyone who sees this documentary sees things from the point of view of Jyoti’s parents. They understand that loss, that pain, that life is given such a big value by the documentary, whereas in the society it is not given much of a value, because she is a girl”.

Here is the YouTube link to my interview with Leslee Udwin:-