Posted in Personal

SAY NO TO SILENCE… REACT

Five years back I was hit on the head by a drunk man at the signal on the Gandhi Road in Velachery, Chennai, barely 100m away from my destination, Velachery gate, IIT Madras campus.

I was on phone, and was describing how a young man was acting particularly strange, trying to poke and disturb the bus driver of a bus that had a short halt at the signal. Soon, I saw him approach me, I moved and made way way for him. It was just too sudden, I was hit on my head. My friend, at the other end of the phone could hear the sound, and then it was only the sound of traffic. He could not hear my voice.

It took me full 5 minutes, and so many calls from my friend to slowly come to my senses. The time was 6:35pm, February 2011. Sun was still there, few street lights were also glowing. One of the most crowded signals here, filled with young and old, men and women, bustling with activity.

I could not sit up. The impact of the hit was pretty severe. I was expecting someone to help me get up, I wanted some water, I wanted to cry. I felt SHAME. Shame for not reacting. Shame because no one helped me. I was ashamed to be left all alone. Even, before I could make sense of anything else, SHAME engulfed me.

Soon, I could hear voices around me, few women stared at me, few men looked all confused, 3 young men (around 18-20 years) came closer and said, “Macha, no one cares that she’s been hit. Anyways, she’s on the floor and ready for more. Let’s do whatever we want, no one would care again.”

I just froze, I don’t know for how long. Suddenly an old man, a shopkeeper who had been witnessing all of these told me, “Just go away somewhere and be safe. This place isn’t good. All are under the influence of alcohol. The guy who hit you was taken away by his friend. He won’t harm you further, but others can. I have to leave, don’t get me involved in this.”

I don’t know where I got the energy from. Next I remember, I am running towards IIT gate. I got inside. Sight of the security guards made me feel safe, but I chose not to tell them. I did not want to answer why I was outside campus alone after 6pm. No, we are not forbidden to do that. I regularly used to go to a cafe outside campus, and mostly alone, and would not return before 7pm usually.

My phone was still ringing, my head was hurting bad. I talked to my friend. Told him what happened. He was already on his way. He told me to call other friends too. I called another guy who stayed outside campus. He brought in one more friend who knew Tamil.

My head hurt bad, but there was no visible injury. I was asked to take an X-ray, since the hit made me unconscious.

We went to the Velachery police station and gave a complaint. Initially, they refused to believe me. They judged me because I went with 3 male friends and no female friend to report this. They told that the spot had a TASMAC shop and that it could have been some drunk guy for sure. They made me go with them to identify the attacker. We insisted that all of us would go together. We got to know that IIT campus which has so many other schools and colleges nearby, and is located within the Institutional Area, filled with more than 100 institutes, had  at least 6 TASMAC shops around it. After few days of persistence, lack of any leads, ignorance from police and discouragement from all those who were close to me, I gave up on the case.

Five years have passed, the injury healed, the story’s been shared so many times, but still the SHAME remains, because every time people say “somebody could have helped you then”; but no one has ever said, “had I been a witness, I’d have done ………………”

STOP BEING SILENT… IT DOES NOT HELP… SPEAK UP and REACT

Posted in The Lazy Cook

Whole Wheat Mix Veg and Egg Pizza

I am starting with my latest cooking experiment; a Pizza.

I was never a pizza lover, but the new thin-crust variations had made me start to like the pizzas. With the latest addition in my kitchen, an OTG, I had to try out a pizza. Being lazy and inexperienced, I spent more time researching than cooking. So, most of my knowledge is what others have shared in different blogs and videos. This is a simple version for the same.

Ingredients

  1. 1.5 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1 tbsp salt
  3. 1 tsp heaped baking powder
  4. 0.5 tsp baking soda
  5. 2 tsp olive oil
  6. hot water (bubbling up started) – not sure of the quantity; kept adding on 1 tbsp each till I got a medium hard dough (approximately 1/3 cup)
  7. Olive oil – for greasing
  8. 2 tbsp cornflour – for dusting
  9. For Filling – Broccoli florets, Pumpkin, Baby Corn, Tomato, Spinach torn, Onion, dried Thyme, shredded Garlic, Pepper powder, Tomato Ketchup, Chilli Sauce, Soya Sauce, fresh Green Peas, Mushrooms sliced, 1 egg, grated Cheese, salt

Add items 1 to 4 and thoroughly whisk. Add olive oil, thoroughly whisk again. Keep adding water, mix completely using a fork. Once mixed, use fingers to prepare the dough. Stretch and compress it around 5 times, make it into a ball. Keep it covered in a vessel and put it in the freezer for at least 15-20 min. After that put it in the fridge for 10-15 min. This can be kept in the fridge for another 6-8 hours, without it losing its consistency. Just make sure to put it in an air-tight container.

As soon as it is taken out, put it on a large steel/aluminium tray greased with some oil, or onto the kitchen counter greased. I directly put it on my granite kitchen counter. Now using a rolling pin, flatten out the dough as thin as possible. I should have greased the surface with 2-3 drops of oil; will do it next time to prevent the flattened dough from sticking. Removing it this time was difficult.

wheat pizza

 

Once it is bigger than your skillet or cake spring-form tin, stop flattening it. Also depending on the thinness desired.
I made mine around 10 inch big. I had the base of the spring-form tin (9 inch) lined with 2-3 drops of olive oil and dusted with some cornflour. Onto this, I put my flattened wheat pizza base on it, and made sure that there was a small edge across the entire perimeter. This also provided as a boundary for the veggies.

Use 2-3 drops of olive oil on the pizza base to prevent the filling from sticking onto it. Add the filling. Refer to the items that I had used in the list above. It exclusively includes veggies and spice that I love. Be creative and treat your taste-buds.

Put this in a pre-heated (250 degree Celsius for 20 min) oven for 15 minutes. Take out after 2 minutes. Remove pizza onto a large plate, cut into slices and serve hot.

Makes 1 pizza, 9 inch, thin crust, with 6 slices, just sufficient for 2 people

Posted in SBI YFI Fellowship

How to Prepare for the SBI Youth For India Fellowship Interview

This post is intended to help all those who have been shortlisted for the SBI YFI personal interview.  All past fellows get so many calls each year, that it just totally felt necessary to sum up all of these.

1. How is the interview? (I don’t know what all do the aspirants mean when they ask this, but adding in all of that I have told till now)

It is a personal interview, with the candidate facing a panel of 4-5 members consisting of SBI YFI team member(s), NGO staff(s), member(s) of the advisory board. They mostly want to know what you have done till now and what you aspire to, in future. Be as honest as you can, because unlike other jobs, the monetary compensation is not too high to stake your life for, whereas as the entire program demands consistent commitment. No points for faking. No gain in being in the program, if this one year is a free vacation or a resume pointer. Try to read as many blogs of past fellows as possible, check out their Facebook walls, crowdfunding processes etc. Try to understand the partner NGOs, specially if you are keen about a particular field of work or geography. Understand each of us is different, and experiences vary.  Being true will also help you the experts (panel members) select you or not, and place you with the most suitable partner NGO during the fellowship

2. Does my past education or work experience count?
Yes, if it is relevant, and if your commitment in the past was amazing and if you still have the same fire within. Otherwise also, no problem. Again, the commitment to stay put, adaptability with the partner NGO, with the local people, health/home sickness all are important. You need to be serious about the program, and motivated enough to try to put in your best. Fellows range from freshmen to people with more than 5 years of work ex, across diverse backgrounds and from different places.

3. How do I select my project?
Be at the project site with an open mind, because you may find new ideas and opportunities. Also, interact with everyone well. You may either find something totally new, or be able to use past work or directly support a NGO;s project, or a mix of all these. You also have ample time to figure it out once you are there.

4. How rural can it get?
As much rural as you can think of. No, I was joking. It depends on your past experience with rural areas and your current expectations.

But, be prepared to learn at least the basic words in the local language, learn to be comfortable with a bit of heat, cold or rain, be cool with not having the urban level of hygiene in bathrooms or toilets and be prepared to live without luxuries.
Apart from that, clear pools, fresh veggies/milk/meat, getting to see our packed foods in the raw-est form, is definitely worth it.

5. How do I prepare?
Chuck your insecurities, ego, sense of superiority, lack of confidence, fear; anything and everything that prevents you from interacting openly with the SBI YFI team, your co-fellows, NGO staff or the community members. Go with an open mind, take all opportunities as they come your way and give your best in everything.

6. How does this compare with a regular job?
DIFFERENT – in terms of pay, holidays, workdays, everyday colleagues, personal learning, experiences, self-reliance etc.

SAME – in terms of insecurities, chaos, friends etc

7. What are the prospects of past fellows, post-fellowship?
Almost none of them are now scared to pursue their passions. In terms of pay, job security, work load etc, it is highly subjective, depending on personal needs and situations. No need to compare. You are worth what you work for.

8. Will you repeat the fellowship, given a chance?
Yes I will, and almost all of the fellows whom I know would do so; and this time better.