Post 31: Taking stock

Almost everyone makes a list at the year end – Every tv channel , magazine, newpapers make lists of one kind or the other – even me; and otherwise list-hater. My husband is often surprised that we get our grocery shopping done in our once-a-week grocery run without a shopping list.

Every year- end I look at all the picture from the year to remind myself of the happenings of the year. Not just what I can remember from the top of my head but small things that have been recorded photographically but I have otherwise forgotten. I look at last year’s calendars for major events and even new clothes I bought. I like doing this kind of memory recap at the end of every year especially since I got married.

In 2012, I had another record of sorts to look through, my blog archives. This is not my first attempt at blogging. I started a blog in 2008 but It was abandoned after a few post and despite my attempts at reviving it, I gave up. This blog however has been different because I was able to find an online community of like minded people, inspiring writers and artists who have kept my interest in blogging alive. I also realized that I had a lot more things I wanted to say and I had the time to sort out my thoughts and write them. My aim at starting the blog was to not only to journal my life’s experiences but also to grow and learn. As a stay at home mom , blogging provided me an opportunity to connect to people from with in the comfort of my own home and in between feedings and diaper changes.

In this year I published 125 posts, almost 5400 views and 90+ followers. I have to say I never thought my blog would ever be read by anyone beyond my immediate families. So Thank you to all of you who stuck around. I have also started to follow many blogs and I have learnt so much from those artists, travellers, thinkers, adventurers, writers, and cooking aficionados than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for broadening my horizons and letting me be a part of things I haven’t done, places I haven’t seen or food I haven’t yet cooked/eaten. Your words have been a doorway to newer experiences.

This post also coincides with the completion of my project- Sententia 31 which I started specifically to keep my self on track, Improve the quality of my posts and to keep my self encouraged. So here is a snapshot of how I fared.

photo-28

 

I hope the coming year would bring you refreshment, reenergize you and renew your hopes and goals.

Phir Milenge!!

post 30: Turning theTitanic around

A few days ago I wrote this poem (to read click here) to articulate my thoughts on the Delhi gang rape and the Newtown tragedy. This morning the news came that the victim in the Delhi gang rape case has passed away. It saddened me deeply.

Thousands of young people are protesting in New delhi and around different states in India. The attitudes and moral degeneration of people and politics that are being questioned are all too pervasive. When asked many of the girls among the protestors said the reason for their demand for justice is that it could have be any of them in place of the victim. It’s sad but it is true. This could have been any one of us. The reason this incident has resonated with so many is because so many of us have been through similar situations. This tragic incident has brought to fore a lot of sad memories as a young girl in Delhi for me.

I grew up in a lower middle class family in New Delhi with two sisters and a brother. The attitude in many families (mine included) was to have atleast one son. You would either go on having kids till you succeed or abort the girl child after a foetal gender test untill the government intervened and banned the gender determination in the womb. That not withstanding female feoticide and killing the girl child is rampant in India till date.

I attended a private co-educational school and high school run by a strict headmaster whose skewed sense of morality would put your character and integrity under the scanner  if you were found talking to or even befriending boys. I know of girls who have participated in character assassination of other girls.

In college, I used to take the public transport and eve teasing was a very common phenomenon. No one was spared- your age, your looks and even what you wore did not matter. The policemen who think girls provoke eve-teasers by what they wear could not be more wrong. The eve-teasers hide behind a crowd and sometimes it was safer to be silent because the rowdies were only looking for a chance to make a public spectacle. If you did not live in the posh neighbourhoods (which I did not), eve teasing in public transport was even more severe. Though I am not proud of the times I have had to slap a guy or throw my sandals at him for eve teasing , I am feeling ashamed at the times I chose to remain silent.

However, the saddest memory was triggered by the statement from the perpetrators that “they wanted to teach the girl a lesson”……. Teach someone a lesson- I have heard that from a bully ….. That attitude of knowing better and enforcing that by exerting power is the seed which when planted into the wrong minds leads to such crimes being inflicted not against the girls only but also towards the poor and the weak. How far can someone go to teach somebody a lesson? The bully thinks he is teaching the bullied one a lesson and making him pay for being weak, poor, different or deviant from norm. Who gives them that authority to teach that lesson? Is it not self-proclaimed authority? One person or one group thinks that they represent the correct thinking or people’s common sentiment and then go about creating havoc on our streets. Political parties who beat up young couples in the name of  preserving our “sanskriti/ culture” do the same. A husband who beats up his wife to teach her a lesson for not bringing enough dowry or a brother who kills his sister for marrying outside his religion does the same thing. The attitudes behind such crimes have been explained very well in this article on kafila.org and I would recommend that you read through this lengthy but well written post.

Even if you are absolutely correct in your thinking there is a right and a wrong way of doing things. As people we have given the power to the government to make laws, enforce those laws and bring the offenders to justice. The “Angry Young Man” of Bollywood movies who fights the criminals and fights against the system looks good on the silver screen but in real life there are systems in place and consequences to bear and therefore we have to fight the system from with in with clarity and patience.

If my Facebook news feed is any indication the dissatisfaction is growing. Some have called to boycott the Republic Day Celebration. Another one reminded that its a nation where the female is not safe inside the womb or outside. My friend SH said may be it’s too late to turn around the Titanic. I hope not.

I hope as a people we have recognized the attitudes that are behind these crimes, identified the loopholes in our laws and the reforms in law enforcement that need to happen well in time for a safe course correction.

Phir Milenge!!

Post 27: Christmas Guest Post

Quote

Middle East and India based Frank Raj is the founding editor and publisher of ‘The International Indian’, the oldest magazine of Gulf-Indian society and history since 1992. He is listed in Arabian Business magazine’s 100 most influential Indians in the Gulf and is co-author of the upcoming publication ‘Universal Book of the Scriptures.’  His book ‘Desh aur Diaspora’ was published in 2012 and is available online here. You can read more of his work here. He blogs at www.no2christianity.com.

Today I have the privilege of sharing with you this poem written by him.

IN BETHLEHEM’S BIRTH
By Frank Raj
It is the evening of my days, it shows quite clearly on my face
In my immortal youth this was definitely not the case
I gave little thought to finishing the end of the race
How sweet are the hopes and pleasures of our youth
Yet so futile, for a life not undergirded by liberating truth
Divine, vital nourishment to anticipate our eternal youth
I wish I had understood early how quickly life concludes
Strength depletes, the skin wrinkles and time deludes
Teasing me with memories of promising days and youthful moods
I have my regrets but the loss of my youth does not figure very high
For that was the phase when my life was mostly big and small lies
Pride and ambition got out of control, as if time was something I could buy
I wish I had learned to be more alert about my enemies within
The most dangerous of all, camouflaged and so stylishly hidden
Invincible, unless Bethlehem’s birth brings new life in
Many beloved friends and family have gone ahead of me
I grieve for those who are taken unaware, who do not see in Galilee
God’s purpose and loving concern, as they choose to live carelessly
I know the evening of our lives is no time for a face forlorn
But a chance to innovate and discover newness in every dawn
To engage with life’s greatest adventure, and learn to be reborn
Phir Milenge!!
Phir Milenge!!

Post 22: Zentastic!!

I have been trying to improve my drawing skills for some times and like all good things practise makes perfect. I recently found out about the trend called “zentangle”. It has been around for quite sometime now but I found it recently thanks to the blog-o-verse.

JJB zentangle 1

many say drawing Zentangles is akin to meditation, you focus so much on each stroke that it filters your thoughts and focuses your energy……. I must say that drawing these intricate patterns does require a lot of focus and ofcourse improves your drawing skills. It was a fantastic way to practise drawing patterns for me(hence Zentastic!!!)

JJB 2

One of the Drawing and Communication professors in my Architecture school used to say that our line work was a lot like our handwriting (revealed a lot about us ) and also reflective of our state of mid . The picture above proves the point , you can tell that this square was done at two different times and you would know which part was done with a calmer frame of mind !! Right now I am just drawing in my notebook but I can’t wait to get my hands on a zentangle book of patterns to explore and learn more !!

There are a lot of videos online and the zentangle website and blog have useful resources if you might feel like trying them on your own.

Phir Milenge!

Post 21: I was blissful when I was ignorant!

I was watching an old hollywood movie on TV when I realized it looked very familiar. One old hindi movie was a copy of the one I was watching ( yeah I looked up in wikipedia- the hollywood movie predated the other by approx. ten years !! 😦 ). No, not just the broad storyline…..the scenes, the characters and even the dialogues were copied!! I was disheartened because the hindi movie in question was among my favourites. The only original bits in that movie as compared to the hollywood original were few extra family members of the main actors and the song and dance routines.

You only have to do a quick google search to find out which hindi or let’s say Indian movies have been “inspired” by the hollywood (or world) movies and for a movie lover like me it is so disheartening.

While growing up my movie intake was mostly limited to  hindi films barring a few malayalam and bengali movies that I watched with my parents. Movies defined an era for me. Movies like Mother India and Hum hindustani defined the challenges and aspirations of my young nation. Chupke-chupke and Golmaal made me laugh again and again, , Madhumati and Mughal-e Azam spoke of everlasting love and Hum Apke Hain Kaun and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge made me sing and dance. Parallel and commercial movies defined the national mood of the 60’s and 70’s for me. I delightfully lapped up all the movies our local cable operator had to offer – be it B/w movies from the 40’s to movies of disco era. The songs and dance routines often provided not only a good pastime activity (antakshari – for those of you know it  and charades!) it was also a relief in a tense situation and a way to escape out of tricky situations.

Any ways my knowledge of hollywood movies was limited before I moved to this part of the world. And then we subscribed to (new and old) hollywood movie channels ………and now I don’t think it was a good idea at all ! I have not only realized that some of the well loved movies were ‘inspired’ by their hollywood counterparts (some in part and some frame by frame), but memories of some of my favourite songs have been muddied. It is said ‘ignorance is bliss’ and blissful it was!

I might anger few of you out there by what I am going to say next . I am not totally opposed to feeling inspired by a story  but I strongly feel you have to make it your own – you might call it ‘value-addition’ . I feel there are stories and emotions that are universal in nature, but there are people, methods and situations that are unique to a region. One good example  that comes to mind was the hindi movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello …. it was a movie called Omkara. Though the storyline is the same, the characters are rooted in rural india. They were not just caricatures  but were made very real and identifiable.

In our super-legalised culture, where any misstep is an opportunity for somebody to sue somebody else for money, we are forgetting the universality of human experience to some extent. The Holy Book says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Copyright infringement laws have scared so many of us into inaction. So many times, I feel like writing on a particular subject , but give up on it after a quick google search. Much has been written before and expressing a similar thought to someone may lead to accusation of plagiarism. Here is an interesting quote I came across:

I wake up from dreams and go, ‘Wow, put this down on paper.’ The whole thing is strange. You hear the words, everything is right there in front of your face. And you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry, I just didn’t write this. It’s there already.’ That’s why I hate to take credit for the songs I’ve written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it’s been done and I’m just a courier bringing it into the world. I really believe that. I love what I do. I’m happy at what I do. It’s escapism.
“Michael Jackson – Life in the magical kingdom” – Rolling Stone (February 17, 1983)

Coming from a Musical superstar, those are weighted words. The Song writer said in the book of Psalms:

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”

I realize that even after my due-diligence & crediting my (known) sources, there is a chance that someone somewhere else is either thinking or has already thought of something like this . Like fingerprints and DNA  that are unique despite millions of other similarities I share with others, through my life experiences some creative endeavours  could be called mine.

Finally, even though those scenes and movies were not 100% original, my experience of them- the tears that welled up in my eyes or the laughs I shared with friends were really genuine.

Phir Milenge!!