Is there any such thing as a ‘life partner’?

Much of our parents’ generation have remained together for decades, yet I know many who are my age and already separated or divorced. Is that because they have chosen personal preference over social pressures? Or is the notion of ‘life partner’ a romanticised work of fiction and not the harsh reality? I’m putting relationships under the spotlight.

I know for a fact a lot of our grandparents and parents (regardless of their background) remained together ‘until death did them part’ because of the social and cultural pressures of marriage being a binding contract. In many communities today, it remains the case that if you’re separated or divorced, you’re ‘damaged’ goods – so to speak. You’re no longer the ideal marriage material.

I think a lot of this is based on religious beliefs and also to maintain some sort of social order. For generations people have been convinced that they must remain faithful to ‘the one’, and any challenges they experience along the way will only make them stronger.

But who does this benefit? The couple who are together on paper but not by spirit? Or their families who see them live a depressed life? Or their children who bear the burden of a loveless marriage.

Okay so that’s the extreme – but believe you me, it’s real.

It amazes me that before marriage; its commonplace for people to date, for months or even years at a time. They may declare their love for this person and start picturing a future with them. Then something happens or the love just dwindles and they part ways.

Then all of a sudden when they marry somebody, the pressure is mounted that they must do whatever it takes to keep the marriage afloat.

Personally, I find it a scary concept to commit the rest of my life to one person. And I think it’s quite normal to be so cynical because I haven’t come across ‘the one’ who I could consider a life partner. And if anyone reaches anywhere close, then what’s to say they won’t change over the years, or that I won’t?

That’s the crucial point – time, experiences, circumstances change us all as people. I am completely different to Raj ten years ago. I have done things I never thought I would or would condemn back then.

So if I can’t vouch for myself then how can I commit myself till death do us part?

I have seen loving couples who I admire because they seem so resilient as long as they have each other – yet certain situations have tested their relationships to almost breaking point. Some haven’t worked out but many of them have stuck it out, worked through it and maybe it’s made them stronger…only they could say.

There’s many things that would frustrate me in a marriage – snoring is high up on the list (!) – but the one thing that I don’t think I could work out is infidelity. Trust is like a mirror – once shattered, no matter how hard you try to piece it together; the cracks will show forever. It’s a harsh truth but if a person can stray once; the only reasoning I can digest for it to occur is that they’re not content with what they have. Well there’s the door, goodbye!

And then there’s the practicalities of life – children, jobs, finances, running a home – these are all areas that can test a relationship. When so much is going on, is there space for love? Does love even count in a lifelong relationship? Or are you just so used to each other, you’ve built so much together that you just can’t imagine life without them…or maybe that is love…?

My cousin recently said something to me that has stuck and made me completely re-think my quest for a life partner: “There’s no such thing as the perfect partner. It’s their imperfections that are perfect for you.”

So are we unnecessarily adding pressure on ourselves by seeking perfection? Is this blinding us from other qualities in a person that don’t particularly tally up to our wish list but they’re qualities nonetheless?

Admittedly, my heart melts when I see an old couple walking hand in hand, or arm in arm. I wonder what they’ve been through. What has life thrown their way to test their faith and commitment in one another? And all of a sudden my faith in life partners is restored.

Thanks to a lifetime of Hindi cinema, I do have a romantic side deep (deep, deep) down! So contrary to my mini rant so far, I do believe I will end up with someone worthy of a lifetime commitment. I’m not expecting a predictably paced merry-go-round – the wilder the rollercoaster ride with highs, lows and twists, the better!

Are social networks the new playground?

New technologies have transformed the way we communicate. Fundamentally, communication has become increasingly indirect. Text messages, emails and contact through social networking sites have offered a shield of protection so people feel at ease to say more (be it indirect) than ever before. How has this impacted social etiquette?

Over the past few years Facebook and Twitter have become a bigger part of my life than I care to admit. One of the reasons for this is the accessibility – with phone apps you can’t help but quickly check a notification alert or scroll through timelines to see what others have been up to.

On the upside, I’ve been in touch with people I would not otherwise be able to contact – such as school friends, distant relatives or ex-colleagues. So when I consider my ‘friends list’ I do wonder whether I could even call them a ‘friend’ or just an acquaintance. But that’s just semantics.

On the other hand I’ve noticed some common traits as a result of social networks – the likes of Facebook are used to snoop around on others: are they married? Are they dating? Is that a photo of her plastered? – all of this information is then analysed, interpreted with a pinch of masala (salt alone it too bland!) and transpires through the gossip grapevine.

Then you get others who are really annoyed with someone or something but don’t have the balls to say it to their perpetrator so will add a cryptic, angry and indirect status update. This is usually something quite generic that everyone can relate to so no doubt gets lots of ‘likes’.

What is really hilarious is when these statuses get responses from people who feel as though they’ve been personally attacked – feeling guilty? Or maybe they’re just so insecure they’re convinced the world revolves around them so always feel targeted.

Quite often comments will be exchanged, cryptic wording continues, sometimes someone will be harsh and aggressive with their tone and the whole thing will blow out of proportion.

Bear in mind while all of this goes on, nobody will pick up the phone to another person or confront them directly to straighten things out. It seems both sides feel protected in a public space but forget their dirty laundry is on show for the entire world wide web to see.

I’ve been there, done that – thankfully learnt from it! But even now if I update my status with something on my mind, the insecurities of others will creep through as they feel compelled to respond to my status when it had nothing to do with them.

Or they’ll make the pitiful effort to update their own status as a direct response to mine – that’s hysterical. I love the fact that I can impact others on such a personal level without the intention let alone the effort.

But worst case scenario – you’ll find you have been hastily unfriended from that someone you have allegedly bullied in the playground of social networking. That’s like the final blow, the punch that knocks you out of the online spat.

How does it really affect you? Are you annoyed – ‘how dare they insult me by unfriending me’? Or do you laugh at how childish this person can be and count your blessings you’re no longer linked to them?

One thing that can’t be denied is that the written word can easily be misinterpreted. The written word has no emotion attached to it so the recipient could read it as they please. Even something like “okay” could be considered as harsh or sarcastic or cold. I find this is the cause of many friendship delinquencies.

So should adults – many of whom are married, maybe even parents, working professionals – use social networks as a shield to attack whoever they like with snarls, sarcasm, accusations or hate? And on the other side – should they take everything said by others so personally? Surely that’s testament to their insecurities.

And essentially – if you believe you are at liberty to share your views on others’ matters (when it hasn’t been asked) then you should have the balls to hear their opinion on your views. If you don’t like it, stop dishing out unwanted views!

Social networks have brought about new norms in society. Whether we realise it or not, we’re all evolving in a world governed by technology. But that doesn’t mean we lose responsibility of our actions. Maybe we all need to realise we’re no longer in the school playground. This is the big bad world.

Grow up and get over it.

From Paris, with love

Eiffel Tower

How would I define Paris? A city that has something for everyone – rich history, captivating sightseeing, incredible culture, delectable food from around the world, shopping (not necessarily to suit all budgets!) and extremely welcoming locals.

I must admit I had some concerns of the racial tension in France following recent reports of niqaab bans and condemnation of turbans. I, like many others, assumed the French lacked racial tolerance – but I was wrong.

I’ve only been to Paris so this account is based on a single experience in one French city, and can’t necessarily be generalised to the entire country. I was surprised to see how ethnically diverse Paris is. In fact, it reminded me of London, with many other parallels such as the underground metro, the river and avant-garde/alternative eateries.

Arabs make up a significant minority in the city and I saw many dressed in their traditional attire but no niqaabs. There were many first generation South Asians – mostly Punjabi speaking – and South Indian but not a single turban to be seen.

France has strict policies against religious symbols: the cross for Christians, turban for Sikhs or niqaab for Muslim women. This stems from the country’s volatile past with the French Revolution. So I suppose it’s a way of repressing attitudes that could be deemed as extreme. It made me wonder how somebody like my brother would be accepted in the country as he wears a turban…

But politics aside – Paris is a beautiful city. Although we concentrated on the tourist areas, we wondered into traditional Parisian streets lined with quaint patisseries, bistros, butchers and grocers. It’s amazing how many locals can be seen buying a fresh French breadstick on a Sunday morning. The food variety is tantalising – the patisseries tease your taste buds with the huge array of fruit tarts, croissants and macaroons (I never knew there could be so many different flavours!)

Must see places

  1. Eiffel Tower

It goes without saying – you have to see Paris’ most famous monument; the Eiffel Tower. If you can, aim to get there on the hour in the evening when it illuminates for literally a couple of minutes. There is something mesmerising about it. It had me in awe!

  1. Sacré Coeur20140224_105446

It’s a shame that not all the tourist buses go past the Basilique du Sacré Coeur, or Sacred Heart Church. It sits at the highest point of the city and be prepared to climb uphill and dozens of steps (although a cable car is available) but it’s all worth it for the panoramic view of the city and impressive architecture and art inside the church. It’s easy to reach by metro (Anvers – Line 2) and you walk up a hill that is lined with souvenir shops that are much cheaper than the other inner city shops.

  1. Arc de TriompheArc de Triomphe

Another great sight to see both daytime and at night, this archway is the centre of 12 busy streets in the city, including Champs Elysée. It’s a very busy roundabout – do not attempt to cross it. Instead, there is an underground passage that you could use to see it close-up.

  1. Champs Elysée

Champs Elysee

Quite possibly the most famous street in the city; it is lined with restaurants, shops, car showrooms and mini shopping arcades. It’s nearly always busy, even in the evening when most of the other shops in the city are closed. You might find it interesting to see the number of luxury cars getting towed away here too! At one point we saw six being towed simultaneously!

  1. Opéra

The Opéra building is quite a sight. It’s a very busy, gaudy design with majestic colours, statues and pillars. It has an over-the-top French Renaissance style to it. Surrounding it are lush department stores and other designer boutiques. It’s definitely worth a wonder around.

  1. Musée du LouvresMusee du Louvres

Catch a glimpse of the most famous painting in the world; the Mona Lisa and pay homage to The Da Vinci Code! This is the largest museum in the world so be prepared with comfortable shoes and a bottle of water. There are a couple of coffee shops but not as many as such a large building could do with. By the way – many museums, including this one, offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month, and it’s closed on Tuesdays. Admission is €13.

  1. Musée d’Orsay

Its best to check which collection is on show here when you plan on visiting. The museum is not so far from the Notre Dame and you can walk along the River Seine to get to it. Again, its free entry on the first Sunday of the month, and €11 otherwise.

  1. Notre Dame de Paris20140223_145752

This cathedral is much bigger than I thought it would be. The architecture is very impressive and was intended to illustrate stories to the illiterate poor. Notre Dame is surrounded by bistros, has a padlock bridge just beside it (although there are many of these bridges along the Seine) and there are many souvenir shops around here too.

  1. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

On a bright day, enjoy a stroll or picnic in this park, which is in the 19th arrondissement. It has a waterfall, rocky areas and attractive landscaping.

  1. Disneyland

Although it’s not my kind of place to visit, if you have children or spare time during your trip, you could get a train to Disneyland, which is about 1 ½ hours from the city. Better still, the stop just before it has a designer outlet called La Vallée Village!

Language

Virtually everyone can speak English in Paris but if you stray to the less tourist areas, locals may not be so fluent. However I managed to get by with the few phrases I could remember from school!

Travel

Taxis are ridiculously expensive in Paris. From the airport to the city you could be looking at €60-70! On the train, its €9 but this isn’t easy if you’re travelling with a lot of luggage. Alternatively there’s a shuttle bus from the airport to the city, which is probably more convenient and you could see the suburbs as you travel, at around €18. Check whether your hotel offers airport transfers, which are usually cheaper if you book in advance. At least that way you have the security of booking with a legitimate company.

In the city, you’re better off walking, which isn’t so bad if you’re fairly central because all the top attractions are within walking distance (if you’re wearing comfortable shoes and know how to read a map!) or use the metro. It’s the cheapest form of transport at €1.70 one way no matter where you’re travelling. Buses are €2 one way or you could buy tickets in bulk (12 for the price of 10) and use these on the metro or bus.

My advice when booking accommodation would be to find a place that is close to a metro station.

Airport

Be aware of the size of Charles De Gaulle Airport – its huge! There are metros to transfer you within terminals…so travel light (hand luggage) if you can and wear comfortable shoes. Especially if you plan on getting the train to/from the airport because it takes such a long time just getting to the station within the airport. Also, getting from the airport to the city is similar (in terms of distances and time) as getting from Heathrow into Central London so consider the extra travel time.

Dining and shopping

Rue MontorgueilParis isn’t for tourists on a budget. In fact it’s the most expensive city in Europe and second most expensive in the world. But having said that, if you shop or dine at tourist hotspots, like Champs Elysées, then expect to pay much more than where the locals would eat; around €10 for a small coffee!

If you venture to the quaint streets, not only will you get a better variety of food, but at a better price too. Just don’t expect anything ‘cheap’. An average main dish in Paris is €12. To dine with the locals and try local, fresh cuisine, I would recommend Rue Montorgueil, which is easy to reach by metro (Sentier – Line 3) and walking distance from Rue Rivoli, which is great for shopping!

Night life

I was surprised to find Paris doesn’t really have the night life you would expect a capital to have. Don’t expect streets lined with bars or clubs. Instead, most restaurants have a bar within them so they’re almost like chic pubs. The Bastille area has quite a few bars or Rue de la Roquette. Oberkampf is quite famous for these late night restaurants/bars but it’s a long street with varied places that are alternative in nature so you may have to walk a little to find one that tickles your fancy.

But most of all, make the most out of one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world!

Bon voyage!

Celebrating Women

It seems nowadays there is a day dedicated to everything. The other day it was ‘Book Day’ so kids went to school dressed as a book character. I must admit I was a little jealous such a day didn’t exist when I was in school! But today is International Women’s Day: a day dedicated to women. But what does this mean?

Today women stand in influential positions as prime ministers, council leaders, judges, CEOs, not to mention doctors, professors, scientists, journalists and astronauts – to name just some of many professions. And alongside these careers, many women are wives and mothers.

Parenting itself is a full-time job, and to then juggle a full-time job and the challenges it brings with it is testing on any person. When I look at my sister, who lives in Dubai so doesn’t have the family support network others take for granted, commutes everyday to work as a lawyer (a 3-hour roundtrip), studies part-time to further her career prospects, manages her home; her husband and two daughters, and still manages to maintain a social life – I not only have the utmost respect for her but I question whether I would ever have the energy to do anywhere near as much! Moreover, she worked until the end of her pregnancy and returned to work within a couple of months after a caesarean. If this isn’t the definition of a wonder woman then I don’t know what is!

She has obviously taken after my mum, who worked up to 15-hours a day in the family business and went for days without seeing my brother or sister, who would be asleep by the time she returned home. She came from a life of luxury to a home where she became domesticated, succumbing to demands and expectations – sacrifices I doubt my generation would ever make, and I hope we never have to!

Women’s Day is dedicated to ‘strong’ women. But what is meant by a strong woman? In my experience of the South Asian community, a strong woman often has negative connotations. She is labelled too outspoken, stubborn, shameless, a know-it-all and often compared to ‘acting like a man’. I have been labelled all of the above! And why? Because I have an opinion and the confidence to voice it? Or I won’t be a submissive and will question or condemn what I feel is unjust?

So many women, regardless of their background, are born into a world of expectations simply because they’re a woman. They should know certain domestic duties so they could be a homemaker or mother, they should dress a certain way or risk being considered of loose nature, they should speak and behave a certain way or risk being considered un-ladylike, they should be married by a certain age otherwise they’ll pass their sell by date…and so on. The list is endless. And who imposes these expectations? Society, culture, faith, media? If you look closer, more often than not, its women imposing these patriarchal sentiments on other women.

If women are restricting other women with the shackles of expectations, what hope is there for change?

Obviously not all women are like this, but then not all men impose patriarchy either. But patriarchal sentiment is trickling down to generations where girls and boys are brought up to think each gender has certain roles and duties.

My parents often say I should’ve been born a boy because of my overt, confident nature. But what is wrong with a woman knowing what she wants in life and not tolerating second best? What is wrong with a woman making a valid argument without being considered mouthy or stubborn? Why can’t these traits be seen in the same light for both men and women?

There are so many factors reinforcing these archaic views. Take toys for example; dolls come accessorised with houses so girls learn from a young age that they are intended to be homemakers. They have baby dolls that wet themselves so a girl is taught to mother a child when she is barely out of a nappy herself! Yet boys’ toys consist of action figures with a focus on heroic figures armed with guns and weapons. So are they being taught they have to be the protector?

The media doesn’t help in reinforcing women to be inferior to men. If they excel in their career, their mothering is questioned. But why isn’t the same done for a successful man? Women are sexualised to add to their appeal; female singers are told to be a ‘complete package’ so as well as being talented they need to be attractive. Music videos seem to be competing on who could have the most daring choreography and next-to-nothing clothing – how do they differ to pornos???

Adele is one of few female artistes who have remained humble to their character. She is one of the most successful singers of recent time without having to succumb to the ideal figure tabloid papers reinforce us to believe every woman should be (regardless of how many male celebs have a beer belly!) and her music videos have a simplicity to demonstrate her singing talent, and that’s all. Isn’t that how it should be?

Historically, Indian film actresses would retire after they got hitched because they were expected to raise a family or it was considered dishonourable to be acting opposite other male artistes when she was married. It’s refreshing to see actresses of modern Hindi cinema making a comeback after marriage, while having children, and standing their own in female-centric films. Notably, Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Juhi Chawla in Gulaab Gang, which aptly released this weekend. The largest film industry in the world is finally realising films don’t need women for a romantic element in a film or to fulfil the dance sequences, but in fact women can lead films without a male counterpart.

Despite being in the 21st Century, we have failed to reach equality for women across the globe. Women have reached the moon yet are still ridiculed for their driving skills. Women have juggled more roles than a man could ever dream of, yet they’re told the kitchen is their rightful place. Women have tolerated more injustice than colonised nations, and still stand resilient. In youth they must obey their parents, in adulthood they must obey their husband and later in life they must meet their children’s demands. So when does a woman live her life her way?

I hope a time will come when we no longer need to dedicate a day to women. Instead, women will be appreciated, respected and acknowledged in every interaction, every moment, every day.

I dedicate this blog to the strongest, resilient and most influential women I know: my mum and sister. I would be nothing without you both.

Happy Women’s Day!

Why aren’t we like our parents?

This month I turned 29 – yes, I’m shouting it loud and proud because for me age is only a number. There are 30-year-olds who act like they’re 60 and 60-year-olds who live every moment to the max. But one birthday ‘greeting’ from a friend made me wonder. It read “enjoy the last year of your 20s” – and it suddenly struck me – I’m going to be 30 soon. When my parents were the same age they’d achieved so much in life. Where did I fall short?

By the age of 29; my parents had immigrated to the UK (in my dad’s case this was the third country he had settled in), they had married, bought a home, established a family business and had two children…wow! And they hadn’t relied on their parents to secure a foundation. In fact, my dad had immigrated to the UK, alone, aged 16. He studied and juggled two jobs to save enough for the rest of the family to move to the UK. I remember listening in awe to his stories about how he co-habited and his kitchen was literally a Bunsen burner. After studying and working all hours God sent, he didn’t really have time for a social life.

This could not be more different to my life today. For me, ‘work’ is not a means to save money for any dependents but to enjoy life. I do my job because I have a passion for journalism, not because I need a job. Thank God I have no kids to deal with just yet (!) so travelling, socialising, hosting, shopping, dining, pampering, entertainment – this is what my money is predominately invested in. Of course I save but nowhere near as much as I could if I restricted myself from these luxuries.

And that’s the key – these are luxuries. They are added benefits of life that I can survive without but have enriched my life with experiences, memories, people and places that would not have been possible if I had lived the life my parents did.

I am able to live the life I have today because of the sacrifices they made. I don’t need to worry about saving for a house (although I should seriously start considering it as an investment!) and although I’ve been working since aged 17, it wasn’t a necessity – I didn’t have to finance the food on my plate or roof over my head. So my earnings have been free to fund my lifestyle, my choices, my experiences – which I would never change for the world.

I know that sounds very selfish. I’ve just realised how many times I’ve used ‘my’ in the last sentence. Is my generation selfish? Are we obsessed with our lives and dreams and don’t even think about enriching the lives of those around us? Having said that; I contribute at home but don’t see it as a duty and it’s definitely not expected for me to pay for anything at home. Maybe it’s my parents’ influence that has shaped this voluntary action, and I know many people my age who live at home and make a significant contribution to the household – but it’s nothing in comparison to what our parents did at our age.

And boy do we contrast to our parents’ generation who migrated to the UK with a few pounds in their pocket and an ambitious heart. They made their dreams come true. They became homeowners and many established businesses educated their children and gave us amazing childhoods – can my peers aspire to do the same on their own accord?

I know I’m not your average British Asian 29-year-old. There are many out there who thought practically and invested everything into savings/property, and so on. Others have been more reckless and have lived an adventurous life without a penny to their name. But regardless of how hardworking you are, or how much you earn or how well you save; being a homeowner alone, let alone a business owner, is only but a dream for many people my age. Some have beaten the odds and established themselves – kudos to them! But would that be possible without your parents? Our parents managed to do everything on their own merit. Not all of us could say the same. The housing market, interest rates and inflation are not in our favour either.

This train of thought may not make sense but I hope its thought-provoking and makes you appreciate the hard work, sacrifices and tenacity that our parents displayed at our age, thanks to which we have had comparatively smooth sailing into adulthood.

Thanks mum and dad. I may never achieve as much as you both have but you have given me the motivation to aspire to your successes.

Is India unsafe for women?

I’ve been to India seven times. My first visit was when I was ten years old in 1996, and most recently I went in 2012. I have travelled across north India – Punjab, Shimla, Delhi, Gurgaon – to the west – Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Khandala. I have family in many of these places too. Never have I, anyone I have travelled with, or my female relatives out there been a victim of sexual harassment, let alone the extremity of rape.

I’ve been to India several times with just my mum and sisters, and I can confidently say I’ve felt safe every time. Granted, this may reflect more on my experience of travelling abroad without elders since being a teenager, thus I have become accustomed to travelling with confidence. Moreover, in India there’s the familiar feeling of home because of the culture and languages.

However, there is no negating the fact that many men over there are perverse. They will stare shamelessly and in busy areas may even deliberately attempt to brush past you – presumably to get a feel! They will also often make random kissing noises as you walk past, or they’ll start humming a song indirectly at you.

Is this sexual ‘harassment’?

Probably by the legal or technical definition – yes. But this is no different to what I have experienced in my home country – the UK – for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s in a bar, the pub, in a shopping centre, passing a building site, or even in the workplace.  I’m not blowing my own trumpet (!) I’m far from the most beautiful girl in the room but I know a lot of women can relate to what I’m referring to. Such treatment is commonplace in British culture – whether it’s by work colleagues or even management, or drunkards and random strangers. A lot of the time we seem to just pass it off as office banter, flirting or a compliment that someone is interested in us. But doesn’t this come under the definition of sexual harassment?

If anything I have felt vulnerable when travelling in the Middle East. I’ve been to the UAE seven times. Dubai overall is similar to London in that it’s metropolitan with diverse communities, so you’re likely to get a mixture of experiences of men. However, Al Ain, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are not as developed and you definitely feel vulnerable travelling alone or with a group of women.

I’ve also been to Oman, Turkey and Morocco – and felt vulnerable in these countries too. Men are bold enough to come up to you and try to touch you, shower you with sleazy compliments and undressing eyes. You almost feel as though you need a shower afterwards! Of course this is not all men in these countries, but definitely the majority I came across.

I wonder what the rate of sexual harassment is in these countries. I refuse to believe it is less than in India. But then of course it’s difficult to believe statistics, because they’re based on reported crime, which is grossly under-reported.

Compared to India, which is the second most populated country in the world – so numbers of crime are likely to be higher than countries with much smaller populations – and with the high profile cases of rapes in the last couple of years, reporting has significantly increased, which is fantastic news. More women are plucking the courage to come forward in a patriarchal society and demand justice. And with political and lobbying pressure, the authorities are compelled to take swift action. It’s not the same everywhere in India but the winds of change have started blowing over the country.

It will be a lengthy process because it involves changing attitudes entrenched in people for generations, especially in rural areas. And by this I’m not only talking about changing attitudes of perpetrators but also those of victims so they acknowledge that they are not to blame and they should not be vilified when the crime is committed against them. A lot of this is to do with education, which is empowering women and making them realise they can bring about change.

Having that said, if educating people was enough to curb sexual harassment and rape, then this would be a non-existent crime in literate societies. Yet we know this is far from the truth – in fact how many ‘professionals’ have you heard of in your social circle or even on the news, who have forced themselves on a woman? Education didn’t seem to stop their repulsive behaviour.

Additionally, child grooming and paedophilia is a highly reported evil in modern societies – be it the Saville Inquiry, which has allegedly uncovered ‘rings’ of celebrities exploiting their positions. This could just be the tip of the iceberg and who knows how many generations it has been going on for. It all comes back to reporting – if the crime isn’t reported, the perpetrator is free to abuse others.

Therefore, sexual harassment occurs in all walks of life, regardless of your class, affluence, academic status, colour or background. It’s the attitudes of sick men (and even some women!) who try to exert their insecurities by overpowering a helpless victim. Its unjustified no matter who you are. And it’s disgusting!

My intention with this blog isn’t to justify crimes against women in India. The country has a lot to answer for and a hell of a lot of self-searching and reflection to do. My blog is simply to give a perspective as a foreign woman who has been there several times, and compared these experiences with treatment at home and in other countries.

It’s refreshing that so many Indians – men and women – are campaigning for change. But I strongly believe the whole world needs to unite to stop sexual harassment of any kind, against anyone – man, woman or child.

Right now, there seem to be too many blurred lines on what is or isn’t acceptable…