Festive

What Christmas means to me

Firstly, as it’s Christmas Day, I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas!

So what does Christmas mean to me; to be honest it’s just an average day for me and it doesn’t mean anything.

Christmas is not a Muslim holiday; however I admit I enjoy the festive period leading up to Christmas day, such as the Christmas lights being put up at the Cathedral Square, the Christmas movies on television and if by chance it snows (which happens every blue moon), I’ll enjoy playing snowball fights with my brothers and sisters.

The Christmas Lights at Cathedral Square, Peterborough

I know it’s a short entry but as I was not up to much today – thought I’ll write a little something for you guys!

Merry Christmas again and I hope you all enjoy yourselves. 🙂

Najmah

Cultures, Feature

Widows

On and off I tend to tune into various Indian shows, though a lot of the time I can expect to see the usual melodrama and over the top acting. A story which has no logic and the females actresses are continuously crying every episode.

But this idea of writing about widows came to me after I saw my younger sister watching a daily Indian drama called Na Bole Tum…Na Maine Kuch Kaha – which is translated into “Neither you spoke…nor did I say anything” in English. The show is based in the city of Indore (India). It is a love story about Mrs Megha Vyas – a single widowed mother (Akanksha Singh) with two kids, and how her life changes when she meets Mohan Bhatnagar – a bachelor (Kunal Karan Kapoor), in his early twenties who is a crime reporter in a leading newspaper.

So initially two points got me interested:

The guy was playing the character of a journalist, and

The woman being portrayed as strong even though she is a widow – this is rarely shown on Indian television.

After some research I discovered that India has been found to be the worst G20 country to be a woman, according to a new survey, polling 370 gender specialists by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The G20 (group of 20 countries) includes 19 country members and the European Union, it is the premier forum for international cooperation on the most important aspects of the international economic and financial agenda. Canada came in first with Britain coming in third in the top 19 economies of the world.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of the world’s leading provider of news and information and is committed to empowering people in need around the world. From all the different issues, I’ll be focusing more on widows.

The issue of widowhood is a sensitive one which I have not heard or seen being discussed much in the media. Living in the UK, generally the Asian society here is more open-minded than their counterparts in India meaning widows are able to live their lives more freely.

Widowhood is defined as the state or period of being a widow or widower. Losing a spouse is difficult for any individual whether you are the husband or wife, however mainly women are mostly effected. Losing her husband is devastating enough but compounded with cruelty and injustice; it is a life not worth living for some.

According to Hindu customs, widows have three options: to marry their husband’s younger brother;  throw themselves on their dead husband’s funeral pyre; or lead a life of self-denial. Generally in India, the women are respected up until their husbands are alive, but when the husbands die they lose their social status and importance in their families. Some widows are then dictated what they can or cannot do. They are subjected to degrading ‘cleansing’ rituals; ejected from her home; her wealth taken by the deceased husband’s relatives; banned from wearing jewellery or coloured clothing; and left without any means of supporting herself or her children. Furthermore they are unable to work or remarry.

Widows in Vrindavan

Numerous homeless widows (both young and old) only hope is go to the city Vrindavan, India when they are abandoned or shunned by their society and families. Vrindavan is known as the place where all widows go to die. It is believed that death will bring them salvation. They live in ashrams (monasteries), awaiting their turn to die. Many young widows face a threat to their safety, due to sexual abuse and human trafficking. In the case of the show, Mrs Megha Vyas is shown to be working to help her family make ends meet and in this she is supported by her in-laws. This is something new as not many widows receive this sort of love and support from their family members.

Remarriage is still a no-no situation for widows in some places in India, this is another topic being tackled in the drama, Na Bole Tum…Na Maine Kuch Kaha (Neither you spoke…nor did I say anything). The current high point is where the female protagonist Megha has decided to get married again due to her in-laws wishes. Forgetting the fact that she in love with the male protagonist Mohan, the society she lives in will not accept a widow to marry a bachelor. Under the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act 1856, widows are legally permitted to remarry but not all agree with it. In many villages, some are not even given the option of remarriage.

In a study done on remarriages in 1991, stating that generally men had a higher probability of remarriage, according to a Demography journal (1991) published by JSTOR. Whilst females were found to have a lower probability of ever remarrying at all ages, and the probability of remarriage declined more substantially with increasing age. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that enables discovery, access, and preservation of scholarly content.

Today India is a country which is gaining influence at the global level due to its economic strength, however seeing the plight of widows will come as a eye-opener for many. The show Na Bole Tum…Na Maine Kuch Kaha (Neither you spoke…nor did I say anything) has become a hit amongst young and mature audiences and I would like to commend the makers of this show as they are bringing awareness to a issue which is still not considered a major problem in India.

Uncategorized

On a Miserable Monday

Hey hey!

It’s been quite some time since my last blog entry. I’m disappointed I haven’t been able to post regularly on this blog. Reason being my internet has been up and down lately due to some unknown factor, so I have my best detectives working on it! Yep, you heard right…Sherlock and Watson are now working for me.

Awaiting the results for any exam is torture but waiting for the shorthand exam result is much worse. I’m hoping they will be up on e-vision in a few weeks. Fingers crossed! I pass, though I feel I messed up the exam big time. Shorthand has always been tough for me and the exam has made me realise that I am not fast as I thought I was and this has effected my confidence in some way. The book which helped me through was Teeline for Journalists by Dawn Johnston although I have read great reviews on the book NCTJ Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists by Marie Cartwright. So will let everyone know how I did and hopefully won’t need to resit the dreaded exam in July!

I am currently working on a couple of ideas for my next pieces, alongside I’m also searching for a work placement for over summer. I have had some experience in working at a magazine before, which is why I’m still holding out for newspapers. It’s such a pity that The Evening Telegraph in Peterborough turned from a daily to a weekly newspaper, would’ve loved to have done some work experience there.

Anyways my new motto which I am following right now is: I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done.

Najmah

Profile, Uncategorized

Interview with ‘Head Honcho’ Heidi Semple

‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ – Heidi Semple

Heidi Semple’s job demands that she spent a lot of her time on the phone or on her laptop typing away.

The 45-year-old Market Deeping resident is the Managing Director of Scene Marketing Ltd and founder of Scene Publications. She launched the Scene magazines in 2007 with just one Deeping-based magazine. Today she has added five successful titles to the Scene portfolio.

Heidi has accomplished quite a lot in a short amount of time. So for her, running a magazine is not difficult.

Her first job was working as a Pharmacist Assistant. She does not have a degree just the usual O-Levels.

Once she began her career in publishing, she became hooked,

“It just got into my blood really, because once you understand it; it is such a fast pace,” said Heidi. “Every day is different, you never know what you are going to be working on. It is being proactive, imaginative and I quite enjoy that.”

At Emap, she started at the bottom as a telesales person and came through the ranks. Over the years, she relished the changes. Heidi spoke about how frustrating it became working for a big company.

“It took ages for a decision to be made. We had a meeting about a meeting, back-to-back all day,” she said.

However with Emap being taken over by Bauer Media, she began looking at other options and working for herself sounded like a better idea.

She initially got the idea whilst working with a colleague who also embarked on doing something similar elsewhere.

“It was meeting and talking to people that I realised there was a huge need for community information,” she said. “Nobody knew what was going on in their community and I was able to deliver that kind of news with the Scene.”

So that is how the Scene magazine was born.

“Now I work harder than I did before that it doesn’t feel like work.”

Kimberley Evans, fellow colleague and Advertising Executive at Scene Publications agrees, “Heidi knows her stuff, she is very proactive and a very likeable person.”

With multi-media journalism coming in, Heidi said it hasn’t had much impact on the magazines they do.
“We have multi-media, we can view our magazines online, they are interactive and we have to go more and more down that route,” She said.

Her training from Emap comes into good use at Scene when dealing, managing people and deadlines.

Heidi said, “Emap were very good with their training and I took every opportunity I got. So in that sense I know how to deal with people and hopefully know how to get the best out of them.”

Heidi has a wide range of skills but would like to add more to her repertoire. She wants to experiment with having a magazine that would be placed on a newsstand and which is a paid for publication.

“I have worked on national magazines but only one element of it. So as much as I had editorial, marketing and even subscription experience to a degree, actual paid-for distribution I don’t have experience of,” she said.

Any advice?

“You got to be so imaginative and you have to be more creative as it is more accessible now.”

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