• 02 Jul
    Prasha saggu

    Success Story of a transgender to the world of dance

    narthaki natraj

    Classification is important as it makes the complex life much simpler. We classify things everyday and even put the stimuli from environment into groups. From the time we are born, we are subjected to be classified according to our sex which helps the society assign the gender roles and decide the way an individual is to be brought up.

    If it is a girl, she is to be dressed in pink and made to play with dolls while boys are to be dressed in blue and it is presumed that they will play with cars and action figures. But what happens when someone does not fit into the criteria that the society has formulated. Those who do not fit into either of the criteria are declared abnormal and are discriminated against from the time they step into this world.

    What it feels like being “different”, when your biological sex does not match your sexual identity. It is like living your whole life as a beautiful and attractive lady but one sudden day, you wake up as a man with strong built, muscles, body hair and facial hair. You can no longer dress up in the exquisite manner the way you used to, can no longer be who you are. This is what it is to be “not normal” or what we call as transgender. It is like being trapped inside yourself.

    We all are born with a sense of self identity and a sexual characteristic of either male or female. But these both may not always match and most transgender realize this incongruence as early as at the age of 4. This incongruence is attributed to the hormonal imbalances in the developing fetus which results in a brain which develops outside of the norm of the physical sex. The person thus develops a sexual orientation opposite to that of the physical sex. And what after that? No, these individuals are not just struggling within themselves but face hostility and harassment but the world too.

    At home, they feel dejected and at schools these kids get bullied and are mocked at for their gender and sexuality. This continues as they grow up and struggle to get a job where again they are discriminated against. But there have been certain people who have managed to break the prejudice and stereotypes people have towards transgender. They have managed to come out of the shackles of the slumber and made it to their dreams. Narthaki Nataraj is an example of a woman (not naturally born as one) who made it to her dreams despite all the hindrances and inhibitions on her way.
    Narthaki Nataraj, India’s first transgender Bharatanatyam dancer made it to the apex of her dance form in spite of exclusion and derision faced by her.
    It was at the age of 10 that Nataraj realized that he was born in the wrong body and driven by social insecurity he left his home at the age of 12. Nataraj had interest in dance which made him fall in love with it since an early age. He would perform at his school functions and wipe off his makeup but always got caught by his parents. After leaving his home, he and his friend did menial jobs to earn a living and Nataraj kept searching for a guru who would accept him and help him with his dream. He finally found Thanjavur Kittappa Pillai in 1984. As he pleaded his heart out, hoping to be accepted Kittappa rechristened him Narthaki Nataraj.

    narthaki natraj

    Classical dance at that time was still female dominated and was far from reform but bharatanatayam in the 20th century went through some reformulations and male performers were finally starting to be accepted. Narthaki then studied bharatanatayam from the guru- kittappa. When presented before the dance community, she was laughed at but ultimately accepted and she grew as a phenomenal dancer. She went on to establish her own dance schools in Chennai and Madurai. In 2007, she was honored by the government of Tamil Nadu with the Kalaimamani award. And in 2011 she was honored with the Sangeet Natak Akademi award by the president of India, a first for any transgender.

    Responses 1

    • Radhika Goel
      Radhika Goel   Jul 31, 2017 05:49 PM

      Hii, this is such a beautiful story. We all need to question what is 'normal' for any gender. People often talk about stereotypes associated with males and females and the importance of breaking them. We need to analyse and realise the source of these stereotypes and why they exist at all. We create triple the number of barriers for a person who already find it difficult to understand their place. What is sad is that they need to find a place for themselves in society and it's not already created for them. Who they are is as normal as it can be.

  • 10 Jun
    eWellness Expert

    Diary of a sexually abused girl

    girls help

    Dear Diary,

    It’s been so long since I wrote to you. Years, maybe. I do remember the time I stopped writing. It was actually the time I stopped doing pretty much everything. I was raped, you see. I stopped doing anything the minute I was groped and pulled aside. The only thing I wished I had stopped doing was breathe, which I didn’t. It felt so unfortunate to have lived after.

    It was my friend’s birthday. We had all had decided to meet at her place and then go out to party. The party was in CP. We all were so dolled up. I was wearing a dress. Life was so good back then. Laughing the way we used to seems almost impossible now. The party ended around 9:25 pm.

    I didn’t drink at all, because like everyone else, I didn’t have an extra car to pick me up from home. I used to travel by metro. So my friends dropped me at the nearest metro station of Barakhamba Road. I was in a hurry because I was already very late. When I reached the platform, the train was going away so I ran and entered the general coach.

    It was really crowded but I didn’t have the time to run towards the women coach. Over that, there was something wrong with the metro and it was stopping for more than ten minutes at every station. I remember thinking about how everything in the world makes us even more late when we already are. I also remember smiling at the view outside. I liked travelling late at night.

    The city lights looked so beautiful from above. Because it was getting late and the metro was also moving slowly, I decided to get down at Laxmi Nagar metro station and take a bus towards Anand Vihar, the nearest bus stand to my house. I waited for five minutes and then the bus arrived. I got in. I scanned the bus to see four men and a woman inside. I was actually comforted when I saw the woman.

    I actually wished, at that moment, that she would get down after me. But she got down just two minutes after I got in. It wasn’t my lucky day. It was the first time I thought about how crowded buses are actually better than deserted ones. I sat in the front. It was only my third time ever in this bus.

    I was just hoping to get home as soon as possible. Next, I noticed the bus wasn’t on it’s normal route. The driver had taken one wrong turn. Being the shy girl that I am, I stayed quiet assuming it must be a short cut. Just five minutes later, I realised it wasn’t. The bus was approaching a deserted petrol pump. That’s when I decided to ask the bus driver about it.

    I got up and started walking towards the driver when I felt someone’s hands grab me from behind, one hand on my mouth and the other on my stomach. I can’t describe what I felt at that time. It was something I had feared more than death, like all other girls. Except, it was my time.

    I tried to fight back. I did. Only everything I did couldn’t make a difference. Those men were like huge monsters and I was too little to hurt them. I couldn’t even hurt one, even a little bit. It’s one of the things I regret about that night. I wanted to hurt them so much. They took their turns and got done with me. Then they left me at that place. They threw my bag outside, after they did me. I was too hurt to move. I didn’t feel like doing anything. But I fought that feeling, gathered myself and opened my bag. I took my phone and called home. I couldn’t speak but I knew they could hear me crying. I didn’t even know where I was to tell them. I don’t know how they found out, but they did and came to get me.

    Today’s entry isn’t only about what happened, how it happened, or why. I try to not give it that much power over me now. This entry is also about my come back, my breakthrough, or some would say, my recovery.

    A few weeks after the incident, my family started pestering me to go see a psychologist. I couldn’t see why it would help and said no a hundred times. I was convinced later. The therapist was nice and just wanted to help but I didn’t feel like talking to her in the first few sessions. I only spoke for like four times in those three hours and that was enough for her, for some weird reason. Once, I asked her if the pain would ever end, and she said yes. It hasn’t ended yet. But, it has reduced. Earlier, it felt as if I had this huge boulder on my heart that made it feel so heavy. It’s a pebble now. It’s always there. I can always feel it. I’m just glad it’s smaller now.

    In one of my sessions with her, I remember, I really got it all out. I spoke about how it would never leave my mind. I told her about how much guilt I used to feel, how I wished I had not gotten into that bus, maybe if I had worn something else; it wouldn’t have happened. She told me I would not have been raped had the rapist chosen to respect me, to not commit a crime or to be a decent human being. I did have the right to wear what I wore, to get on that bus. They did not have the right to rape me.

    After grief came anger and after that, came a combination of both. My journey was long and is still going on. I don’t know when it will end, or if it will ever end, for that matter. I’m just glad I’ve started being alive again. I’ve started doing things again, including writing to you. I’m glad I was able to make this possible, what seemed so impossible a few years back, to smile again.

    Responses 2

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 01, 2017 10:26 PM

      This account is horrifying but rapists can never ever understand their plight. They only know how to gratify their sexual desires and overpower women and this has increased also because of the fact that women are trying towards getting their rights and respect and they cannot bear that because of their male ego. This mindest needs to be changed. Boys at a young age should be made to be respectful and empathetic towards others. This will take lot of generations to happen, unfortunately.

    • Heena Sheth
      Heena Sheth   Jul 18, 2017 01:10 AM

      I believe that our society still has a long way to go when it comes to respecting women and the choices that they make. It does seem like a difficult process when you have to alter the minds of hundreds and thousands of people who have the potential of becoming a rapist in them. It saddens me further when I recall about the history lessons where we learnt that women in the Early Vedic period enjoyed equal rights as men did, are now limited to only a little section of our society. One can only hope that one day, as women we will be in a place "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high".

  • 07 Jun
    Sayantani Dey

    A relationship beyond everything

    family support

    I was in her womb, she never saw me, but love was always there between us.

    When I was born, the only place where I felt safe, in her arms.

    When I was an infant, I was always happy and healthy when I was with them ( Mom & Dad)

    First time I started walking, dad was there who was holding my hands.

    First day at school, I didn't cry, they cried for sure. Tears of joy ofcourse.

    At the time of adolescence, on the day of my first menstual cycle, she was there to support me and tell me that it was as normal as having flue.

    My 1st big exam, boards, when I was studying whole night, they also remained sleepless.

    Every time I loose hope of getting success, they never give up.

    At this stage of life, when I am fully concentrated on my carrier, they are my backbone.

    A relationship beyond everything, a trust never breaks, a love which is unconditional..

    Family support is essential. Always.


    Responses 2

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 01, 2017 10:38 PM

      The idea of bonding between the parents and the children has been beautifully expressed. Parents are the one who take loads of pain to take care of our needs and ensure that we are not deprived of anything but unfortunately many youngsters feel that their parents are restrictive at times and also because of the wrong methods of upbringing as they grow up they put them in old age homes. I also feel lucky enough to have my parents taking care for me like this :)

    • Heena Sheth
      Heena Sheth   Jul 21, 2017 12:01 AM

      I completely agree with you. You have beautifully penned down how essential the love and support of parents is for a child. I recall from a few years ago, when I too was preparing for my boards, I used to study at night. My mother used to check on me at regular intervals, wake me up if I was sleeping and even gave me a cup of warm milk or coffee while I was preparing for my 10th grade examinations. Oh how blessed am I to receive parents like mine! They have always encouraged me and motivated to bring out the best in me.

  • 04 May
    Yakata Sharma

    Say it loud-I love me!



    A few days back I was watching Sonakshi Sinha’s “Noor” – which got hyped not because of the daughter of legendary “Khamosh” actor but debutante Kannan Gill. The character Noor is a mere reflection of almost every other girl’s not-so-happening life and a complete mess with trivial issues (weight, zero romance, non -satisfying job). She dejectedly uttered “I hate my life” many times in the movie without fail. And suddenly she found love (which didn’t last for long, however) and was found saying “I love my life” with a newly found zeal towards life….

    It left me with a thought to ponder upon --- why is “Love for life” dependent on other people’s entry/exit in/from our life?? Why doesn’t “love for self” come naturally to us?? Or if it does, why don’t we cater to it throughout our life??

    Such a mind wriggling complex human behavior can be understood in terms of our need for affiliation and approval. Need for affiliation denotes an individual’s need of “belongingness” and a sense of “involvement” within a society; Need for approval implies an individual’s tendency to seek and be motivated by the social approval of others.

    Time changes and so do other things but a constant pressure of “fitting –in” or “Us versus them” in the society persists? Where did this come from? Who is to be blamed?

    Well, nobody takes the responsibility to break the vicious cycle. Rather, everybody prefers to be a part of this “need for affiliation & approval” race.  And the worst side-effect is, we all have become shallow with age. We no longer trust ourselves; our abilities, confidence, or introspect, instead we choose to wait for others to instill “love for self”.  We no longer remain masters of our lives rather we become mere puppets in the chain of life.

    “Reema: See my relative gifted me a pouch. It doesn’t look that great. I think I shall keep it and wait for a perfect occasion to pass it on to somebody else as a gift.

    Seema: Are you mad? This pouch looks really pretty. You can keep it for normal outings.

    The pouch was never exchanged. In fact, all of a sudden Reema started liking the pouch. ….”  

    The conversation of these two girls made clear the mechanism behind the need for approval and affiliation.

    Need for affiliation and approval are lethal threats to an individual’s peace of mind. These are addictive and just like any other addiction, if not well supplied, disturb physical and psychological make-up of the affected ones. One’s Need for approval makes him/her an easy target to be conned or manipulated.

    Since these needs get badly integrated in our mind and body, a major concern now is how to get rid of them. The first and foremost step towards it is to start loving “yourself.”  Remind yourself every time you start feeling low that you are a beautiful entity as a whole, who doesn’t require an approval from others.

    Never let others define you or your choices in life. Make sure you do what you like to do, speak your mind without fear. Just Say/Do it!

    Don’t wait for any external source (Parents, Family, friends or anybody) to motivate you. Remember: It all starts from within. You are no less than anyone!

    Try to figure out your source of happiness on your own. Read, dance, write, swim, run, workout, watch movies, TV series, engage in gardening, pursue your hobby, earn money, become an environmentalist, travel places (the list is endless)… explore what makes you happy. Once you identify that source and savor the associated happiness you can easily conquer “I hate my life” phase like a “warrior” without waiting for anybody’s approval.

    Always remember it’s best to be a King/Queen rather than being a pawn in the chess of Life.

    Responses 3

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 04, 2017 08:32 PM

      Nicely put. It is unfortunate to see that how much we have become puppets to what others say about us. I think it is because we know that people will just us for whatever they do so they become extra-cautious about things. When one understands oneself nothing else matters.

    • Radhika Goel
      Radhika Goel   Jul 17, 2017 12:35 PM

      One often assumes that with globalisation and the exploding internet there is a forward movement on social issues associated with rights, sensitivity towards those in need, and even awareness. However, this is not a purely forward movement, it moves in both directions. With the creation of the global village, people who were affected by the views of their neighbors and family are also affected by the views of those in different continents. Even though this maybe positive in certain circumstances, it takes away people's ability to be themselves. 

      My friend once said that she would never be doing any of those things she plans to do this summer if she did not see others aiming towards similar things. Even though it's just one summer, if she did something she actually wanted to do, she could actually apply herself and do something spectacular. This is a very small decision but we let others influence such small decisions without giving it a second thought.

  • 25 Apr
    Yakata Sharma

    Bold is beautiful!

    bold is beautiful

    Rajat—Babe! You didn’t put Kajal in your eyes today?

    Neha—Kajal?? Really! Why all of a sudden a conversation on kajal?

    Rajat—Ah! I am just telling you. Kajal will make your eyes look really beautiful…and he winked.

    Neha (giggled) – yeah yeah! I shall put it right now JUST FOR YOU.

    AND this was just a beginning!

    Months later, Rajat started commenting on Neha’s physique. Neha, just like any other Indian girl was wheatish (Indian Standard of Skin color Scheme) in color and had a voluptuous body. She was not fascinated by the new “size zero” trend prevalent in the society but Rajat was! He never let go of any chance to demoralize Neha in terms of her body figure. Neha didn’t pay heed to such comments and took it all jovially.

    8 months later Rajat called off his relationship with Neha. He humiliated her, commenting on her skin color and physical appearance... Neha was shattered by the words he used before ending the conversation.

    To overcome this rejection Neha soon joined a gym and invested majority of her leisure time working on self. She became so obsessed with “weight loss” trend that she started looking like a lanky figure rather than a feminine.  She stopped eating proper food and started “crash diet” to lose weight quickly. Additionally, she became a lot more cranky and preferred to stay aloof. She avoided social gatherings and was left with only a few friends in school. She stopped her evening games and blindly followed “diet” and “weight loss” programs.   

    “Weight loss” regime gave quick results and boys approached Neha once again. The lost self–esteem redeemed itself but only for some time, however. The boys who approached her were fascinated by her “new avatar” but couldn’t resist their love for “fair skin”. Neha realized that weight control was in her hands but she is helpless about her skin color. She couldn’t change her skin color. And this thing started bothering her once again. She tried every beauty product, within her reach, just in case might turn her fairer in color.

    Neha was merely 16 years old when she got her first reality check about the societal trend of Body Shaming and Skin Beauty.

    Beauty… Is it all about fair skin and slimmer physique only??

    History too defined beauty in a very simple way. Beauty lies in one’s head and heart, one has to believe it. Beauty should be flaunted. But for that love for self is mandatory. Love the dusky smooth skin; love the fragile and petite figure; every part of the body...One has to make the world believe who you are, not believe what the world believes of you… (Lanka’s Princess, Kavita Kane).

    Years later Neha got a marriage proposal and faced another criticism on her skin color. She did not let go of such golden opportunity. She herself called off the proposal and made the boy realize that it was his loss and not hers. 

    Presently, Neha has given up on society trends (Body Shaming) and is back to her basic body type. She is no more part of “size zero” mania. She loves herself more and is not ready to compromise in life on account of her looks. She motivates young girls to love their respective body type and not feel disheartened if someone judges them on such physical attributes.

    More importantly, she organizes “Family orientation” programs so that Parents, as well as a child from his/her early developmental stages, should understand the repercussions of body shaming.

     Social media too has come up with a lot of commercials with the tagline “bold is beautiful.” It is important that individually girls should analyze their worth on the basis of their hard work, confidence, and assertiveness rather than relying upon the parameters of physical attributes. If they witness such episodes they should “voice it out” instead of becoming a victim of the situation. 

    It’s time to Be Bold, Be Beautiful!


    Responses 3

    • Pallavi Madan
      Pallavi Madan   Oct 10, 2017 09:13 PM

      It's sad to witness a society that refers to a certain color as beautiful and the other one as not. No wonder people have started to self-criticize themselves so much that it is affecting their well-being. The constant need to change our physical features are, no doubt, an outcome of a society reinforcing certain beauty standards. Natural appearances are no longer appreciated and no matter how much someone denies it, but living in such a society does have an effect on our perceptions about beauty. I wonder if we could love our looks as much as we love those beauty products that take us closer to the distorted 'beauty ideals'.

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 01, 2017 10:53 PM

      The society is so much concerned about external beauty. It is so pathetic that a female who is darker in complexion is looked down upon by others. As if they are made to live for the other people to be commented upon. It is because of this notion of external beauty, people are not able to find a person who is genial in nature. And yes, there should be initiative to make them realise that beauty is not just about looks, it is also about how you present yourself.