Category Archives: Women

Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng, the Thai Beauty Queen Is a Garbage Collector


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Khanittha “Mint” Phasaeng,, the beautiful Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 - invoking the blessings of her mother amidst trash bins (Source: bangkok.coconuts.co)
Khanittha “Mint” Phasaeng,, the beautiful Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 – invoking the blessings of her mother amidst trash bins (Source: bangkok.coconuts.co)

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Many Asians, kneel and prostrate before their elders invoking their blessings. The above down-to-earth photo of Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng, the beauty queen who won the title Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, prostrating and invoking the blessings of her 47-year-old mother Orathai Pormaun, a garbage collector, amidst garbage bins, has won the heart of everyone who saw it on the internet.

According to the Bangkok Post, the 17-year-old Khanittha’s parents had separated when she was young and her mother had remarried. Khanittha lived in a 4-by-5-metre shack with five other family members where her mother also stored garbage for separation before sale.

Because of the crowded conditions at her home,  Khanittha had to move and live with an aunt. Due to poverty, Khanittha was then adopted by a salon owner named ‘Know’, who sent her to school until she completed primary school or Mathayom 3.

Khanittha adores her mother. She has never been ashamed of her background or what her mother does to earn a living.  “What I am today is because of my mother. There is no reason why I should feel inferior because my mother and I earn our livelihood by doing honest work.”

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Khanittha Phasaeng sorting garbage with her mother (Source: women.asiaone.com)
Khanittha Phasaeng sorting garbage with her mother (Source: women.asiaone.com)

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The teenager helps her family by assisting her mother sort recyclables from the trash. She also takes on  menial jobs and sells used clothes to help cover household expenses and her brother’s education.

Because she is tall and good looking, some friends suggested that she should enter the beauty contest “Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015” launched by “Exclusive Star“, the Tabloid magazine, which had just celebrated its 3rd anniversary and entering its fourth year with aims to promote gender equality and same-sex marriage.

The aim of this pageant contest with the slogan “gender equality” was to bring all women together in a beauty showdown, whether identified as female at birth or have transformed to be one over the years. The contest allowed the participation of only Thai women and trans-women between the age of 17-25 years, to show off their beauty and talent for a reward. Applications were available from August 29, 2015, at Imperial World Samrong.

Encouraged by her friends, Khanittha decided to take part in this somewhat cut-throat competition.

The beauty pageant, Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 open to both women and Transgenders was held on Friday, September 25, 2015, at the Imperial World Samrong,

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Khanittha 'Mint' Phasaeng, the beautiful Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 (Source - daliulian.net)
Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng, the beautiful Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 (Source – daliulian.net)
Khanittha 'Mint' Phasaeng, the beautiful Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 - with other participants (Sourc: daliulian.net)
Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng, the beautiful Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 – with other participants (Sourc: daliulian.net)

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When the referee announced Khanittha the winner, she thought it was a dream and wondered how an ordinary girl like herself could have won the title of “Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015.”

Almost immediately after crowning Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng as Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, many universities contacted the organizers offering her scholarships. This prompted the organizers to scrutinize her application form. They discovered that Khanittha had lied about her education. She had submitted that she had completed senior high school or Mathayom 6 (Level 12) whereas she has only completed primary school or Mathayom 3.

On Thursday, October 15, 2015, a news conference was held near Khanittha’s house in Samut Prakan province, to end speculation whether she would lose the crown.

Somchai ‘Daisy’ Leknoi, director of Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, told the press that the contest, held for the first time at the Imperial World Samrong, aimed to provide opportunities to people from all social classes. She said the organizers and the two runners-up held no grudge against her as the event did not limit the gender or education of competitors.  Nobody would take away her prizes, but she should not have lied about her education. Somchai Leknoi said, “However, we think she should apologize for her mistake. We just want all candidates to tell the truth, so they do not face any problems in the future.

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Khanittha Phasaeng, the winner of Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, and organizer Somchai Leknoi (Source -bangkokpost.com)
Khanittha Phasaeng, the winner of Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, and organizer Somchai Leknoi (Source -bangkokpost.com)

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Khanittha apologized to Somchai Leknoi, claiming she had no intention of lying about her education; her uncle had filled the application form for her and she had failed to check it before submitting it. She thanked the committee for not withholding her prizes. She said that she would spend the money on her brother’s education.

Khanittha THB 30,000 in cash as part of her prize.

After the win, Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng has gained advertising, film and television work which she hopes will improve the situation at home, and would continue to help her mother collect garbage for a living.

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Video: “I Will Fight Back”


Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Stop violence against women

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Easy access to the internet in the current decade has allowed women to start online activism and empower themselves. They use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. The internet allows women freedom to voice their opinions and organize campaigns for equality rights.

On May 29, 2013, three women started an online campaign to take down various misogynistic pages on Facebook that spread hatred toward women. In just one week, the campaigners roused hundreds of thousands of supporters who are part of the “great feminist revival.” The social networking giant Facebook caved into pressure. The campaign succeeded where many previous efforts failed. Facebook took action over contents that celebrated rape and domestic violence.

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I Will Fight Back.
I Will Fight Back.

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The following video titled “Woman Empowerment – I will fight back” by Unseen Passage Pictures is an eye opener. It carries the message that if women do not empower themselves, then nobody will.

While many praise the audacity of the young woman there are a few detractors, as expected, with their sarcastic, derogatory remarks. Some even insinuate that the video is a concocted one implying that the woman is an actor with makeup for bruises for the ‘skit’, and lying.

Whatever it is, the video impressed me.

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Here is a transcription of the young woman’s rendering of the incident.

Hi,

I usually don’t talk like this. It’s because my tooth is broken.

Actually, yesterday I went shopping with a friend to Sarojini Market. I love street shopping, but you know how crowded it is.

We were checking out some dresses in a shop. Suddenly, somebody touched me from behind. I felt very  uncomfortable. I screamed out of fear and everybody around got to know what just happened.

It was very embarrassing. But that guy was simply walking away with his friends, laughing at me. I thought somebody would catch hold of them; somebody would take an action against them. But everyone was staring at me only as if I had done something wrong. Some people were even laughing. But then, an uncle stepped forward and showed some courage and he said:

“Dear, they are mannerless people. Nobody can do anything about it. They are incorrigible. You better take care of yourself and try wearing decent clothes.”

No. No. I didn’t wear a bikini to go shopping. I was just wearing a jeans and a sleeveless shirt. But, I am just another helpless woman, isn’t it? So, obviously everybody had to judge me only like they always do.

Whenever I am alone at the bus stop waiting for the bus or when I come late from the office and my colleague drops me, when I am with a guy, when I ask for help, or when I wear western clothes, and also when they feel like judging, they judge.

But, I am just another helpless woman. So, I said: “Uncle, it’s okay. I will handle.”

I called the woman helpline and told them my current location. Then, I ran behind them, grabbed him by his collar and slapped him hard. They hit me back. Then, people around came to help me and beat them up badly. You should have seen their wounded faces. They all are behind the bars now charged with ‘Women Harassment’.

Then, I understood one thing that in our country, it is very important to take your own stand. If we didn’t empower ourselves, then nobody will.

Take your own stand. Only we are responsible for ourselves.

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The International Women’s Day 2015: Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi

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International Women's Day 2015 (Photo: UN Women/Fernando Bocanegra)
International Women’s Day 2015 (Photo: UN Women/Fernando Bocanegra)

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On March 8th every year, the day originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by Member States.

The Beijing Platform for Action

The International Women’s Day 2015 celebrated globally today will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.

On this day, the focus is on upholding women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and pay greater attention to women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part. The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.

To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”

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Fergie’s “L.A. Love (La La)”


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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Fergie Duhamel
Fergie Duhamel

Fergie Duhamel born Stacy Ann Ferguson, an American singer, songwriter, fashion designer, television host, and actress was born on March 27, 1975,  in Whittier, California.

From 1984 to 1989, she starred on the TV show Kids Incorporated and was the longest running cast member. Of the total of nine seasons, she starred in the first six.

Renee Ilene Sandstrom, singer and actress is better known by her stage name, Renee Sands on the Kids Incorporated. She, along with Stefanie Jill Ridel, singer, songwriter, and actress formed the music group New Rhythm Generation or NRG (energy). Heather Holyoak and Stacy Ann Ferguson, who would later become known by her stage name Fergie, joined them.

During the years 1992–2003, they performed as the Wild Orchid. In 2001, Fergie left the group.

In 1992, Fergie teamed up with the hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas as a female vocalist and achieved chart success worldwide.

Fergie’s debut solo album was “The Dutchess,” released in September 2006. It spawned six hits for Fergie: “London Bridge“, “Fergalicious“, “Glamorous“, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Clumsy” and “Finally.”

On August 16, 2013, Fergie married to actor Josh Duhamel for almost five years officially changed her name from Stacy Ann Ferguson to Fergie Duhamel.

On September 30, 2014, Fergie released a new single titled “L.A. Love (La La).” This song evoked mixed reviews from music critics. In Time Magazine, Lauren Stampler wrote:

“It’s a pop song that lists off as many random city names it can in approximately three minutes time. A beloved but often unheralded genre, it’s long overdue for some recognition.”

L.A. Love (La La)” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #97 for the week dated October 25, 2014.

In its second week, the song jumped to #81; third week, #63, where it remained for two more weeks. It then jumped to #41. A week later, it jumped into the top 40 at #36; later it peaked at #27.

On the Pop Songs chart “L.A. Love (La La)” debuted at #39 and also debuted at number 40 on the Rhythmic chart.

As of November 30, 2014, it has peaked at #16 on Rhythmic Songs, #8 on Hot Rap Songs, #24 on Digital Songs and #20 on the Pop Songs radio chart.

Here is a video of “L.A. Love (La La)” with lyrics in English and Spanish featuring American rapper Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson, better known by the stage name YG.

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Fergie’s “L.A. Love (La La)” lyrics

La la la la
La la la la
La la la la
La la la la
Mustard on the beat

Uh, tell ’em where I’m from
Finger on the pump make the sixth straight jump from SoCal
Hollywood to the slums
Chronic smoke get burnt by the California sun
On the west side east coast where you at
Just got to New York like a net on a jet
To London, to Brazil, to Quebec
Like the whole damn world took effect to Ferg
Tell ’em

Laid back, slow down
Better represent when we come to your town
So lay back, slow down
What you represent when we come to your town
Say

Get in with the business
I’ma be there in a minute
I just booked a Paris ticket
Thinking Russia need a visit
I’ma run it to the limit
And be on my way to Venice

L.A. got the people saying la la la la la
Brooklyn saying la la la la la
Hacienda saying la la la la la
Vegas saying la la la la la
Rio saying la la la la la
Tokyo saying la la la la la
Down under saying la la la la la
Miami saying la la la la la
Jamaica

Every city, every state, every country you know
All around the globe
Every city, every state, every country you know
This is how it goes

Uh tell em where I’m at
From the plaques to the uh uh
Everything phat
Got Mustard on a track
My girls all stack
When I roll down the window, let me know where you’re
Atlanta, North South Cac-ill-ac
Texas grill, Cadillacs through Miami then back
To London, Jamaica then France
The whole damn world took effect to Ferg, tell ’em

Laid back, slow down
Better represent when we come to your town
Laid back, slow down
What you represent when we come to your town
Say

Get em with the business
When I come from Kansas City
Hit manila ’til it’s Christmas
Out to India I’ll visit
Puerto Rico it’s exquisite
Then my people back to Venice

L.A got the people sayin’ la la la
Moscow sayin’, la la la
España, la la la
Kingston sayin’ la la la
San Diego sayin’ la la la
Chi-Town sayin’ la la la
Germany sayin’ la la la
La Puente sayin’ la la la
Ibiza

Every city, every state, every country you know
All around the globe
Every city, every state, every country you know
This is how it goes
Every city, every state, every country you know
All around the globe
Every city, every state, every country you know
This is how it goes

L.A got the people sayin’ la la la
Amsterdam, sayin’, la la la
Frisco sayin’, la la la
Switzerland sayin’, la la la
Sao Paulo sayin’, la la la
Joburg sayin’, la la la
Mexico sayin’, la la la
Stockholm sayin’, la la la
Jamaica

You on that Cali shit
Puff it, feel whatever
You like to like it
We legalizing it
Yes you can join us now
We like to love it
We like to love it
We like to love it

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Jeanne Robertson: “Don’t Send a Man to the Grocery Store.”


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Source: floridatheatre.com
Source: floridatheatre.com

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Jeanne Robertson (born September 21, 1943) is a nationally recognized humorist and professional speaker with a thick southern  American drawl. Even at 70, she continues to charm appreciative audiences with her humorous observations about life around her. Over the years, the demand for her family friendly brand of comedy has grown exponentially. She infects everyone with her charming personality, and her deep sense of humor.

By age 13, Jeanne reached 6’2” tall signalling that she would soon soar to great heights. In 1963, named Miss North Carolina at age 19, she credits her reign as the catalyst for her career. She toured the state for a year speaking to civic organizations and garden clubs. After graduating from Auburn University, she was a gym teacher for nine years. She became one of the funniest, busiest, most popular, and successful professional corporate speakers. Now she is considered one of the funniest, busiest, most popular, and successful stand-up comedians.

You can hear Jeanne’s anecdotes daily on XM Radio’s Channel 98, Laugh USA and Sirius Radio’s Blue Collar Comedy channel 103 (XM 97) and Laugh Break channel 105.

From where does she get her inspiration?

She bases her humor on real-life situations. Jeanne once said:

When we look for humor around us, we can find it. I want to weave a story that makes people laugh their head off, but I also want it to be a point to the story. I want people to say, ‘the same thing happened to me’ when they leave the show.

On April 29, 2008, she spoke at the White House for National Volunteer Week to honor the 1,300 volunteers who donate time to work at the White House.

Jeanne Robertson, a rising comedy star at age 71 (Source: httphamptonroads.com)
Jeanne Robertson, a rising comedy star at age 71 (Source: httphamptonroads.com)

Jeanne Robertson is an award winning corporate speaker. Among many honors, she was a Speaker Hall Of Fame inductee; the first woman to win the National Speakers Association’s prestigious Cavett Award; the only woman to receive Toastmasters’ International Golden Gavel Award;, and the NCAA SEC and Auburn University’s 2000 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

She has seven nationally released DVDs, three humorous books: “The Magic of Genie,” “Mayberry Humor across the USA,” and “Don’t Let the Funny Stuff Get Away.” She has hundreds of hours on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio’s Family Comedy, and Blue Collar Comedy channels. Jeanne has more than 20 million views on YouTube. Some of her most popular anecdotes are: “Don’t Go to Vegas Without A Baptist,” “Don’t Bungee Jump Naked,” “Left Brain vs. Intruder,” and “Don’t Send a Man to the Grocery Store.”

When Jeanne was in need of some ingredients to make a cake, her husband volunteered to go to the grocery shop. What did he come home with?

Click on this line to read North Carolina’s favorite daughter of comedy, sharing her recipe for pound cake—and laughter.

Jeanne Robertson is hilarious! Her clean old fashioned humorous depiction of everyday situations never fails to have audiences of all ages rolling with laughter. You will agree with me after viewing this video titled “Don’t Send a Man to the Grocery Store!

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How Much Time Do Men Spend on Household Chores?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Recently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a survey on “gender disparities in various nations” across 30 countries. It revealed that women average 158 minutes a day doing paid work and men spend 259 minutes in their workplaces.

The survey also revealed that an average woman does 168 minutes a day of housework while men spend 74 minutes a day on household chores. The men average 18 minutes for shopping and 16 minutes caring for the family, and women spend 28 minutes and 40 minutes for these tasks.

Average minutes per day men spend on unpaid housework (Source: theatlantic.com)
Average minutes per day men spend on unpaid housework (Source: oecd.org)

Slovenia was part of the former Yugoslavia. In 1991, Slovenia became an independent country. The above chart shows that men in Slovenia do the most unpaid household chores at 114 minutes per day.

Men in Korea and Turkey spend a mere 21 minutes a day on housework, while their women spend 2 hours 18 and 4 hours 21 minutes a day respectively.

In its recent gender inequality index, the United Nations placed India at position 132 out of 148 countries. This certainly shows that equality in sharing household chores does not apply to Indian men. In the above chart, India is at the bottom of the list after the Koreans and the Turks.

Pinky Das, a housewife from Kolkata, buys vegetables for her household. (TOI file photo by Sayantan Ghosh)
Pinky Das, a housewife from Kolkata, buys vegetables for her household. (TOI file photo by Sayantan Ghosh)

An average Indian man devotes just 19 minutes doing household chores while an Indian woman spends 4 hours 58 minutes doing housework.

The position of Indian men in the above chart looks too true. But we should be aware that most of them get meagre income and salaries. Hence, they spend more time at their workplaces. And, when they come home after a gruelling day’s work, they need to rest their tired body and mind.

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Anandibai Joshee: First Indian Woman to Qualify as a Doctor in USA in 1886 – Part 2


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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Photograph of Anandi Gopal Joshee with her signature (Source: columbia.edu)
Photograph of Anandi Gopal Joshee with her signature (Source: columbia.edu)

When the news about Anandi’s plans to study medicine in America spread, orthodox Hindus censured her. Anandi addressed the Hindu community at the Serampore College Hall, in Serampore Town. She explained her decision to go to America and obtain a degree in medicine. She stressed the need for Hindu female doctors in India. She told the assembly the persecution she and her husband had endured. She spoke to them about her goal of opening a medical college for women in India. She also pledged that she would not relinquish her religion and convert to Christianity.

Anandi’s speech at the Serampore College Hall received wide publicity. Financial contributions started coming in from all over India. The Viceroy of India contributed 200 rupees to a fund for her education.

On April 17, 1883, Anandi sailed from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to New York chaperoned by two female acquaintances of the Thorborns.

Mrs. Carpenter received Anandi in New York in June 1883. The Carpenter family treated her as a member of the family throughout her stay in America. Mrs. Carpenter arranged Anandi’s admission to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Here is an extract from Anandi’s letter of application to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania:

“[The] determination which has brought me to your country against the combined opposition of my friends and caste ought to go a long way towards helping me to carry out the purpose for which I came, i.e. is to to render to my poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician. The voice of humanity is with me and I must not fail. My soul is moved to help the many who cannot help themselves.”

Anandi’s courage, conviction and her earnestness to study medicine against all odds impressed Rachel Littler  Bodley, the dean of the college. The college offered Anandi a scholarship of US$ 600 per month for three years. She chose the topic “Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos” for her specialization.

In America, Anandi remained austere and simple. Her lifestyle did not change and she continued to wear the typical 9-yard Maharashtrian saree.

Her declining health worsened because of the cold weather and unfamiliar diet.

After Anandi’s departure, Gopalrao felt dejected and depressed. He quarrelled with his superior frequently. Eventually, he resigned his job as a postal clerk. He then decided to go to America. Since he did not have enough money to pay for a ticket to America, he purchased a ticket up to Rangoon. There he worked for some time as a porter in the docks. After earning enough money he sailed to America.

Anandi was overjoyed when her husband joined her in Philadelphia after about three years. By that time, she had completed her medical course and passed out obtaining a First Class MD degree. During the Convocation held on March 11, 1886, Anandi received a  standing ovation when the president of the College said:

“I am proud to say that today should be recorded in golden letters in the annals of this college. We have the first Indian woman who is honoring this college by acquiring a degree in medicine. Mrs. Anandi Joshi has the honor to be the very first woman doctor of India”.

Anandibai Joshee and the WMCP received congratulatory messages from Queen Victoria, Empress of India.

In 1886, Anandi and Gopalrao decided to return to India. During the latter part of her stay in America, Anandi often fell sick. She suffered from severe cough.

When Anandi and Gopalrao reached Bombay, a grand reception was arranged to honour Anandi. The princely State of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local King Albert Edward Hospital.

Anandi contracted tuberculosis. As the days passed, the disease worsened. Anandi, though a qualified doctor from America, insisted on consulting the then well-known Ayurvedic doctor Dr. Mehendele living in Poona. When she was taken to Poona, Dr. Mehendele refused to see her even though he was told that she was in the throes of death. Adding insult to injury, Mehendele was cruel enough to say:

“This woman went to America. She lived alone with strangers, ate food forbidden to Brahmins by religion and brought shame on Brahmins”.

Anandi returned home dejected.

Members of the elite in Poona came to see Anandi. They praised her for her achievements, but no one came forward with any financial help to the family. Then, she received a letter from Lokamanya Tilak, Editor of “Kesari”:

“I know how in the face of all the difficulties you went to a foreign country and acquired knowledge with such diligence. You are one of the greatest women of our modern era. It came to my knowledge that you need money desperately. I am a
newspaper editor. I do not have a large income. Even then I wish to give you one hundred rupees”. 

After reading Tilak’s letter, Anandi wept. She said:

“This penury, this begging for charity, no, no, I can’t bear it any more. What was I, and what has become of me? I am not a beggar’s daughter. None of my family was ever a beggar. I am a landlord’s daughter. That people should take pity on me and offer me money for my bare existence, how can I live with all this? God is so cruel, why does he not relieve me of all this?”

A few days later, on February 26, 1887, Anandibai died. Her death was mourned throughout India.

The resting place of Anandibai Joshee's ash in Poughkeepsie, New York. (Photo - Legacy Center Archives, Drexel University College of Medicine)
The resting place of Anandibai Joshee’s ash in Poughkeepsie, New York. (Photo – Legacy Center Archives, Drexel University College of Medicine)

Again, breaking with tradition, Gopalrao sent Anandi’s ashes to Mrs. Theodicia Carpenter, who laid the them to rest in her family cemetery at Poughkeepsie, New York.

Anandi Gopal Joshee is still remembered among Indian feminists.

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← Previous –   Anandibai Joshee: Part 1

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Anandibai Joshee: First Indian Woman to Qualify as a Doctor in USA in 1886 – Part 1


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Myself  .

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, founded in 1850, changed its name to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMPC) in 1867. It was the first medical institution in the world established to train women in medicine and offer them the M.D., degree.

The Dean's Reception at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, October 10, 1885. (Photo: Legacy Center Archives, Drexel University College of Medicine)
Dean’s Reception at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, October 10, 1885. (Photo: Legacy Center Archives, Drexel University College of Medicine)

In the above photograph taken on October 10, 1885, are three students of the WMPC. This and many other images now reside in the archives of Drexel University, which absorbed the successor to the WMCP, in 2003.

All three women became the first woman from their respective countries to get a degree in western medicine. They are:

(1) Dr.Anandabai Joshee, Seranysore, India.

(2) Dr. Kei Okami, Tokio, Japan.

(3) Dr. Tabat M. Islambooly, Damascus, Syria.

The saree-clad woman with a determined look is Anandibai Joshee from India.

Anandibai Joshi was the first of two Indian women to receive a degree in Western medicine in 1886. The other was Kadambini Ganguly, a Graduate of Bengal Medical College.

Anandibai is also believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. This is her story.

Anandibai Joshi in 1886. (Photo: Legacy Center Archives, Drexel University College of Medicine)
Anandibai Joshi in 1886. (Photo: Legacy Center Archives, Drexel University College of Medicine)

Anandibai was born as Yamuna on March 31, 1865, in Kalyan, in Thane District, Maharashtra, India. Her father, Ganapatrao Joshee, hailed from the orthodox Brahmin family of the Peshwas. The Joshees ran a joint family and for three generations were staying under the same roof. The family was now impoverished. They had some ancestral land and a dilapidated building.

In those days, the tradition among orthodox Brahmins was to get a girl married before she reached puberty. Otherwise, their society considered it a public disgrace to the family.

When Yamuna turned nine and nearing puberty, her parents became desperate. They did not have enough monetary resources to offer a handsome dowry. They were ready to accept any male who would marry the girl after accepting the meagre dowry which they could afford to give.

A postal clerk in Kalyan, 25-year-old Gopalrao Joshee, resided in Thane. He was a widower. Some considered him an eccentric for his romantic obsession of remarriage of widows. He also sought education of women, which was a taboo among the Hindus in India at that time. Some, even said that his first wife Savitri died, unable to bear his bullying her to read and write Marathi.

When someone suggested Gopalrao’s name as a prospective groom, Yamuna’s family immediately showed interest. The only condition laid by Gopalrao was that her parents should permit him to educate the girl. Yamuna’s family accepted his condition and fixed the marriage.

A few days, after agreeing to marry Yamuna, the romantic Gopalrao changed his mind. His idea of marrying a widow still haunted him. He left home without telling anyone with the intention of getting married to a widow in Poona. But when that woman came to know that he was an ordinary postal clerk, she refused to see him. When the dejected groom returned to Kalyan, the muhurta (auspicious moment) had passed. So, the marriage took place at a later date.

After the marriage, Gopalrao changed his wife’s name Yamuna to Anandi. He took care of his child bride almost like a father. During his leisure hours, Gopalrao started teaching Anandi to read and write Marathi. He instilled in her a desire to learn more.

It was common for Brahmins, in those times, to be proficient in Sanskrit. But Gopalrao influenced by Lokhitawadi’s Shat Patre, considered learning English more important. So, to avoid the interference of her parents in her education, Gopalrao got himself transferred to Alibag, Calcutta, Kolhapur, etc.

In due course of time, Anandi metamorphosed into an intellectual girl with an excellent knowledge of English.

Gopalrao was much impressed with the zeal of the Christian missionaries in the field of women’s education. He understood that education for women was the key to the prosperity of a nation. So, he wanted to set an example by giving a higher education to his own wife.

When Anandi was 14, she gave birth to a boy. But the baby died within 10 days due to non-availability of proper medical care. This proved the turning point in Anandi’s life. Encouraged by her husband, she vowed to become a physician.

While stationed in Kolhapur, Gopalrao met an American Christian lady missionary. Due to her influence he gave serious thought to becoming a Christian. He thought of sending his wife to America for higher education with the help of the Christian missionaries.

So, in 1880, Gopalrao sent a letter to Royal Wilder, an American missionary if he could help his wife to study medicine in America. Wilder replied that he would help in his wife’s education if he and his wife agree to convert to Christianity. The condition proposed by Wilder was not acceptable to him and his wife. However, Wilder was gracious enough to Gopalrao’s appeal in Princeton’s Missionary Review.

Mrs. Theodicia Carpenter, a resident of Roselle, New Jersey, United States, happened to read it while waiting to see her dentist. Impressed by Gopalrao’s desire to help his wife study medicine in America, she wrote to him. Anandi wrote back to Mrs. Carpenter, and a friendship sprouted from their correspondence. Anandi’s earnest desire to study medicine in America prompted her to offer accommodation for Anandi in America if she so desired. A physician couple named Thorborn suggested to Anandi to apply to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.

In Calcutta, Anandi’s health declined. Mrs. Carpenter sent medicines from America.

In 1883, Gopalrao was transferred to Serampore, in Hooghly District, West Bengal. So, Gopalrao decided to send Anandi alone to America to pursue her medical studies, despite her poor health. She was a bit uncertain about travelling alone across the sea, but Gopalrao convinced her to set an example for other women.

Next → Anandibai Joshee: Part 2 

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“How is your father?”


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Be careful when you ask a modern British woman ‘how her father is’. You know not what you’re asking! She might even slap you.

The origin of the phrase is open to interpretation. The Urban Dictionary has seven thoughts about where it could have come from.

The first instance about the phrase “How is your father?” is hilarious.

Writer and historian Michael Kelly, a New Zealander, traces the origin of the expression “How’s your father?” to the Victorian era.

In those days, men with daughters were very protective. The fathers took extraordinary measures to safeguard the virtue of their unmarried daughters.

Unmarried girls were kept within the bosom of their family and chaperoned on excursions. On those occasions when let out-of-bounds for social events, their fathers would often go with them discreetly.

Victorian fashions

Believe it or not, those fathers used to hide underneath the voluminous skirts of their daughters, ready to pounce on any man who transgressed the bounds of propriety.

This was okay for a father with a single daughter. But how about a father with more than one daughter? He couldn’t be everywhere at once! So, a suitor having a discrete vis-à-vis with his girl, to find out her father’s whereabouts would cautiously ask: “Annie, how is your father?

If the girl’s father was now under her skirts, she would glance downwards to mean ‘Not now, Peter!’. She would then reply, “My father is well, thank you.” She might even add “He is alert and vigorous as ever, and maintains his interest in rusty castrating implements.

Her beau would then say, “I have always had the greatest respect for your father, and of course for you. Let us hold hands and think about the Queen for a while.

If the girl’s father was elsewhere, she might reply, “The mad old bastard is now between my sister Elizabeth’s thighs. Let us go into the garden and rut like stoats.

Pair of stoats

Hence, the phrase “How is your father?” became a euphemism for you-know-what.

Tennis Legend Martina Navratilova Proposes Marriage to Julia Lemigova


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Martina Navratilova and her Russian girlfriend Julia Lemigova at the US Open 2013 on September 7, 2013 (Source: PacificCoastNews.com)
Martina Navratilova and her Russian girlfriend Julia Lemigova at the US Open 2013 on September 7, 2013 (Source: PacificCoastNews.com)

The tennis legend Martina Navratilova (57) and the Russian beauty queen Julia Lemigova (42) have been lovers since 2006. Their dating came to an end on Saturday, September 6, 2014, when Navratilova proposed marriage to Lemigova on the big screen of Arthur Ashe Stadium between the US Open men’s semi-finals.

When Navratilova popped the question, a teary Lemigova said, “yes,” and the crowd cheered loudly.

Later, Navratilova said:

“I was very nervous. It came off. She [Lemigova] said yes. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. You’ve seen people propose at sporting events before, in movies, in real life. Here, it was happening to me. It was like I was watching myself do it.”

Navratilova once said that during 1981 US Open finals when the crowd gave her a long ovation as the runner-up when she lost to Tracy Austin, it was the first time she felt accepted as a new American citizen and a gay woman.

This time the legend said:

“What’s been amazing is the outpouring of support from everywhere, including when I was walking through the stadium afterwards with people saying, ‘Congratulations,’ people on the street saying, ‘Congratulations,’ and the Twitter outpouring has been unbelievably supportive.”

Today, in the United States, gay couples can marry in 19 states and in the District of Columbia. Navratilova said she and Lemigova prefer to get married in Florida, where they live. Last month, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, but Florida officials are appealing.

By the way, Julia Lemigova is not the first lover of Martina Navratilova.

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