Sunday, August 26, 2012

Talk "that" Talk

What does "women's intimate health" refer to? The first thing that comes to the mind is probably menstruation. But that is not the end to it. I believe the phrase refers to the entire female sexual health and the awareness regarding it.

As a kid, I was always curious as to why all kinds of foul words had references to women even though no woman was remotely concerned to the issue. I suppose it was because of the unawareness amongst the entire female sex regarding the amount of insult and disrespect meted out to them. Or maybe, it was because we were ignorant of the fact that we too have a voice which can be raised.

The issue of women's intimate health is a very similar concept. The various myths and embarrassment associated with it, the uncomfortable interactions between the opposite sexes regarding the concept are important reasons for the widespread ignorance.

Your body is your only home and it is the only thing that you exclusively have for yourself and the knowledge of its functioning and processes is of enormous importance. If you are not aware of how your body changes as you undergo puberty or menopause, the way your body behaves throughout you entire reproductive cycle, then who else will? If you do not know what and when things go wrong or if there is at all a problem, is it possible to find a solution to it? This is not a very small issue and doesn't concern just one woman or two; there is a larger picture to this. If you are not comfortable and proud of your own body, is your empowerment ever possible? The whole concept of women's empowerment comes down to just an idea and can never be achieved if women keep thinking that they are not "pure" just because they are menstruating.

The age old myths which are passed from generation to generation is one big reason here. Women are told that they are not to talk or even go in front of the male members of the house, keep to one room, not to go near the place of worship, not to touch pickles and other preserved food, not to eat this, not to have fun during their menstrual cycle. The list of DO NOTs doesn't end just there. The situation gets even worse in the rural areas where women are even confined and kept away from all the other members of the house, locked in animal sheds and close to toilets. The whole thing is not just inhuman but it is also extremely unhygienic. It is highly shocking that only a paltry 7% of the entire female population in our country uses sanitary napkins during their cycles and the remaining bulk i.e. 93% uses other unhygienic things like cloths and sometimes rags, dry leaves, straw, paper and at times just nothing!!  The chances of having various kinds of infections and other reproductive and urogenital tract related diseases are extremely high in such situations.

The awareness and knowledge of the female reproductive system is very less amongst us, especially we Indians. Living is a patriarchal society, the uncomfortable shifting and looks during sanitary napkin advertisements on TV is a common sight in almost all homes. What is important in these situations is that all the family members in the house are properly aware, sympathetic and understanding and the women in the family should know that they are to be proud of their body and not ashamed of it. By that I do not mean that the women should go about announcing about the arrival of their cycles to the world, it is necessary that the myths are busted and it is to be understood that it is an absolutely "normal" procedure and you are not "impure" because it is God itself who has made you like this and the whole procedure of menstruation is an integral part of the entire reproductive and hence, the living cycle. And it is NOT blasphemy if you worship when you are menstruating.

The problem can be handled (if not entirely solved) in certain ways-
1) There should be open discussions regarding the subject including both boys and girls at the school level. If sex education can be made compulsory at school level, reproductive health should also be included in the syllabus. Pre-pubescent girls are to be told how they can handle the changes when they arrive and who to seek help from in case of any emergencies.
2) Hygiene camps (similar to medical camps) should be conducted in the rural regions where men and women should be imparted the knowledge and truths on the subject and how ignorance regarding it can affect the well being of their family and its members.
3) The NSS and other social groups in colleges should encourage students to take active part in discussions and be open-minded about the subject. The youth should be made aware of the big picture and how ignorance regarding the reproductive health can affect them in the future. If you know anything, come share your knowledge. If you do not know anything, come and ask and get your questions correctly answered from experts. The awkwardness between the sexes in the contemporary youth is comparatively less from the previous generations. These gatherings can be very beneficial as young people are more comfortable discussing these issues with their peers than their elders. So if some youths know, the knowledge will be passed on to more.
4) It is to be understood that this is a medical related issue and not a personal one. Like any other disease or disorder, sexual problems are to be cured. It should not be embarrassing to consult your gynecologist if you have any problems. Women should understand that a doctor is foremost a doctor and knows more than you about the problem and the gender of the doctor should not matter here. You should be completely honest and not ashamed of discussing your problems if the gynecologist is a male doctor.

We have kept the topic of sexual health comfortably shoved under our rugs and maintained a hush hush about it till now. It is high time we open up and discuss about it freely with out embarrassment and shame. It is time the wall of awkwardness comes down and we are more comfortable being ourselves.

This post is a part of the weekend blogging contest at in association with

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Know Me?

*Narcissist Alert*

This is a very very long due post. I have been tagged and awarded by some of my very loved and cherished bloggy friends. And I never got to thank them for the same. (Bad bad , girl, you!!). A big thanks to all of you rocking people - Pradeeta, Ste, Me and Crystal for passing on such lovely awards and tagging me.

Pradeeta and Ste have passed on the versatile award to me. Thank you so very much, you two. You have been great friends.
Introducing pro bloggers like these two wouldn't be required, everybody on the blogsphere knows these two!!. They have done guest posts for me,you can check them here and here.

The rules are-
1. Create a new post. (check)
2. Thank the lovely person who nominated you for the award. (check)
3. Pass it on to your fellow bloggers.
4. State 7 random facts about you.

Am too random to state just 7 random things about me. So I'll say some stuff that I can recollect just now-
1) I am an obsessive over thinker. Yes, I know its bad, spoils the fun outta things. But I can't stop. I just can't :(
2) Books used to be my life for a very long time but now, sad as ever am losing interest in them. I still do read but not as much as I would have loved to *sigh*. But then I have started to read more blogs these days, so it sort of compensates the loss in book reading.
3) My favorite color is Royal Blue. 
4) I have this habit of reading the lyrics of a song first and then listening to them ( I mean some song somebody recommended).
5) Once I see a movie and like it, I go digging about its trivia, dialogues, goofs and all sorts of stuff related to it in IMDB.
6) I have an obsession for shoes and they are the first things I notice on anybody I meet for the first time.
7)) My fave pastime - Translating English song lyrics into Hindi in Google Translate. Try it if you haven't, its hysterical. Take a look at this one I tried...Its Linkin Park's Numb.(very bad resolution I know but try clicking on for a better look.)

Questions asked by Ste-

1. What is the meaning of your name? Are you happy with it ? , If not  then would you like to change it and to what?
Ans. Swarnali translates to "the bright of gold" or "the golden color that envelops the horizon during sunset "(according to the Hindu name dictionary). Fancy name!! Nope, it has nothing to do with "swar" or music and I can't sing either. I don't like it...its too longish. I like names which are shorter. I wanted a name starting with "J"...I have an obsession with that letter. But well, am never gonna change the present one.

2. What is life if full of care?
Ans. Too mushy and no fun.

3. So among Tom and Jerry whom do  you support considering the actions of both.?
Ans. Jerry, any day!! He is too cute to be ignored ^_^

4. If stranded alone in an Island with the one you love,  then what will you carry with you? Why?
Ans. Food and water. Would I need anything more that if I have the one I love?? :P

5. If you were on a sinking ship with one who loves you a lot, and another who you love a lot... and 
could save only one, who would you save? why?
Ans. First I would have to see if am in a position to save anybody or not. Then maybe I'll try to save the one I love. Basic instincts, brain will hardly work in that case.

6. What are your goals in life?
Ans. Still clueless.

7. Do you have any regrets in life?
Ans. Nope , none. I don't believe in living life on regrets or what ifs. If I did something wrong in the past, it was because I thought it was right at that moment, so no regrets.

8. One thing which you could change from your past or present?
Ans. Nothing. Everything that happened to me in the past is what has made me who I am at present and I wouldn't want to change it.

9. What do you write?
Ans. I write my heart. (I don't write for that matter, I mostly scribble)

10. What do you think about me?
Ans. I don't know you much personally but yeah, I love reading your posts :)

11. Tell us 3 things about you that we don’t know, 3 things that would take us all completely by surprise?
Ans. For that I guess, I need to know your opinions of me to bust the myths :P

Two lovely bloggers I greatly love and admire, Me and Crystal have tagged me. A big hug to both of you :)
Me had done a guest post for me this June. Check it out here. Now over to the questions they asked me.

Questions by Me-

1) If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Ans. Be Invisible :D That'll be so much fun :P

2)What was your favourite childhood television program? 
Ans. Oswald and Malgudi days :D

3) Have / had any celebrity crushes ?
Ans. Yes!! There are sooo many. Topmost on the list is Hugh Jackman ...I have a thing for guys with that name. (I love Hugh Jackman, Hugh Laurie, Hugh Grant...get the idea??)

4) If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Ans. There are so many places I want to go. I always wanted to go on a world cruise :D

5) Name 1 thing you miss about being a child.
 Ans. Naivety and the right to do all sorts of foolish stuff without being embarrassed about it. I haven’t been really happy about growing up anyway.

6) Name the one comic/book character that you loved the most and why?
Ans.  Garfield :D Reason- My grin kinda looks like his :P

7) What is the one thing that you are dying to try but haven’t had a chance to do so yet ?
Ans. Bungee jumping.

8) Do you have a role model – someone you want to emulate? Whom do you admire the most?
Ans. I have always admired Swami Vivekananda since my childhood and I still do. I wish I could achieve that “peace with yourself” state someday.

9) What do others make of you?
Ans. Umm…I dunno. Now, please do me a favour and write your opinions in the comment section.

10) Have you ever gotten into a fight or punched someone ?
Ans. Hehe….am not much into physical fights…verbal ones are more like me. But yeah, I have punched a few guys back in school. No, I don’t do it anymore. :P

11) For Girls – If you woke up tomorrow to find out you are Brad Pitt, what would be the first thing you’d say upon looking in the mirror???
Ans. Haila….I look mast!! :P

12) Is there anything, that others complain about you..?
Ans.  I’m too emotional, I get hyper excited about almost everything, I talk too much, I’m very sharp tongued, I’m very impatient…. the list is endless, my friends. :P

These are the questions Crystal asked me-

1.) What's something your Mom always said to you that you thought you'd never hear yourself say?
Ans. - Umm...its not something she says in particular but she has this very irritating habit of reminding me of some glorious goof ups I did in the past that I don't wish to do when I reach her age.

2.) What's your favorite childhood story and why?
Ans. - It is the first book I read. Enid Blyton's The Naughtiest Girl , because I have always identified a lot with the protagonist Elizabeth

3.) How would others describe your personality?
Ans. - Now that is a difficult question to answer. One word that I keep hearing from most people I know is "volatile". A friend once went as far as to say that my tee should read "Bio-Hazard : Chemically Unstable" . :P

4.) What kind of music do you like to listen to?
Ans. - All kinds, I don't have a favorite genre when it comes to music, it depends on my state of mind. For most times, I listen to Rock (not the metallic ones, the mellower ones), RnB and Pop.

5.) What is your favorite song of all time?
Ans. - It used to be I wanna grow old with you  by Westside for a long long time but now it keeps changing with every second. Currently hooked to Poets of the Fall. Their "Desire" (from Carnival of Rust) is playing in my mind for the past few weeks.

6.) Do you have a big intellectual capacity and do you think that it alone equates wisdom? Yes or no and why?
Ans. - Big intellectual capacity, umm...that is a little big? Saying that, I like to believe that I learn things pretty fast and retain them for quite some time (but I also suffer from occasional short term memory losses). Does that mean I have a big intellectual capacity? I think wisdom comes from many things - intellect , age and a lot of experience.. So, no, just intellect doesn’t equate wisdom for me.

7.) If you could create a charitable organization, what would you hope to accomplish and to whom would the proceeds benefit the most?
Ans. - I had always wanted to research on Cancer and since I couldn't do it myself , I would donate part of my money (when I start earning) to a cancer research institute.

8.) How do you deal with stress?
Ans. - I get stressed very fast and when I do, I call up a friend and rant and rant till my mouth gets tired (which is rarely the case :P). Well, that does the job :D . Or at other times I just walk back and forth on my terrace and listen to very loud music.

9.) What's your favorite movie?
Ans. - Amelie (French) starring the extremely versatile and talented, Audrey Tautou. It is actually very hard for somebody like me to choose one favorite but yes, that is one film which I have seen a million times and never got bored.

10.) Have you read any good books lately? Which ones?
Ans. - The last book I read and reviewed here, The Terrorist by Juggi Bhasin. It was really good.

11.) If you could tell the world just one thing, what would it be and why?
Ans. - Live and let live. People seem to forget that these days.

Passing on the award to 12 amazing bloggers I have known for a while and some I know for the last couple of weeks.
Me, Crystal, Sayani, Debi, Ayantika, Fab, Uparna, Anupriya, Sayantani, Sohini , Zeebz and Aditi Ray.

Am not framing any new questions, you can just write 11 random things about yourselves :)

Take Care

P.S.- I did a guest post for my dear Pradeeta, you can give it a look here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cheers and Clinks :D

Hello bloggy dosts,

I was amongst the lucky few bloggers from Kolkata to be invited to an afternoon of wine tasting and luncheon, sponsored by Four Seasons wines in collaboration with Oasis Restaurant. The event cum bloggers' meet was held on the 28th of July at Oasis restaurant, Park Street, Kolkata. Seven bloggers including me had gathered for a very informative and enjoyable session of wine tasting and its pairing with food. Here are a few highlights and things I learnt from the event-

The invite for the event (couldn't help sharing it, it's so pretty :D)-

The ladies (and bloggers) who attended the event. (Yeah, am not in the collage, I forgot to add my pic :P)

What do women do when we are together? Yeah, you guessed that right,

We talk and we pose
L -R - Ayantika, Anupriya, Debiparna, Sayantani, Shamita, Sayani, I and Uparna
Okay, enough of our pictures. Now coming to the main event :P

Here is the menu-

The wines and food we tasted-

The Four Varieties of Wines we tasted-

Chenin Blanc-


Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon-


The lovely Shamita Singha,  Miss India Earth 2001 and a wine enthusiast turned wine taster was our host for the afternoon, who taught us the this and that of wines, their tasting and how they can be paired with food.
She explained to us the four Ss of wine tasting- See, Swirl, Smell and Sip i.e. you enjoy the wine with your four senses.

The things that we learnt-
1) Wine is an agro product and not a spirit unlike other alcohols.
2) "White wine with white meat and red wine with red" is not entirely true. The pairing of wine with food is different for each palate. White wines generally go well with lighter food and the reds taste better with spicier food.
3) Grape juice is originally colorless and the red wines get their color from the skin of the red grapes they are extracted from. The juice is kept with the skin for around 24-48 hours to extract the color out of it. This also gives the red wine its characteristic acidity and complex flavor which is from the tannin extracted from the skin.
4) There are three varieties of wine classified on the basis of colors- White, Rosé and Red. The rosé too gets it color from the skin, but it is left with the juice for lesser hours. Hence, the lesser intensity of the reddish tinge.
5) The date on the wine bottle is not the date when it was bottled but the date when the grapes were harvested.
6) Wine should be ideally served at room temperature, the European standard room temperature. So if you are in India, make sure you serve it chilled (for as you know our room temperatures are no where close to the European room temperatures).

All the seven of us had a great time getting to know each other and tasting the wonderful food and the wines. Special Thanks to Shamita Shingha, our host ; Mr. Akshay Gopal and Mr. Peter Mitter from Four Seasons and Mr. Pratap Darayani from Oasis for the extremely enjoyable event.

P.S.- Not all the photographs are mine, some of them are shared from Anupriya and Debiparna. Thanks to the two of you. Click on the images for a larger view.

Till next.