Fairy Tales of Fearless Girls (and why my daughter is not a princess!)

Came across this wonderful book by Susannah McFarlane, while browsing (online) my local library’s bookshelves. It is a modern take on fairy tales, and I was blown away by it.

What if Rapunzel wasn’t a poor, helpless princess with her beautiful long hair as her only redeeming factor? What did she do all day in that tall tower of hers (Hint: very interesting stuff)? What if prince what’s-his-name wasn’t her savior but her companion? What if Cinderella put up with her evil stepmother for the sake of kindness and she went to the ball just for the experience of it rather than making the prince her mission? The book explores and wonderfully illustrates (figuratively, but also literally- the illustrations in the book are superb!) these ideas and more!

I have always had this contentious relationship with fairy tales – leading ladies with big eyes and beautiful shiny hair and no personality, them being so dependent on the prince marrying them, them forgiving the most horrendous things done to them because that’s what good girls are supposed to do, aaargh! I mean, I love Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm brothers for their rich imagination, but the fact remains that their stories were regressive and borderline offensive. But they were men of an age that didn’t know better. We do, though, or at least are supposed to, so it’s beyond my imagination why we continue those tropes and that silliness. Over decades, the popularity of these princesses (I don’t even know why Disney calls them princesses. Other than Snow White and Elsa, and may be a couple more, they are all simple girls who end up marrying princes – and that’s also the only thing they really do), especially enabled by the blatant consumerism propagated by Disney (ohhh the staggering craze of the all the merchandise! but that’s a topic for another day), has grown by leaps and bounds. So much so that all the girls and their parents are obsessed with them.

Which brings me to the other topic I wanted to talk about! Over almost the last 7 years as a parent, I cannot tell you how many times I have cringed at people asking me how my “princess” was. Of course, let me preface this by saying that I don’t have anything against princesses or people who think/consider/treat/expect their daughters to be princesses – to each their own. But in my case particularly, I find the usage of the term ridiculous. My daughter is not a princess! Aside from the plain and simple fact that we are not royalty, we also have no interest in treating our daughter like one – with all the bells and whistles that come with it, including “fulfilling her every wish”! I am actually a bit horrified to think of the entitlement that comes from always getting whatever you ask for, even when you have enough money to spare. As someone from a very middle class family with no family money and no connections to fall back on, I have grown up with values like independence, not taking things for granted , staying grounded despite small successes, and making the best of whatever one has. And I’d like my daughter to grow up with similar values! Although I won’t lie – I would want her to be slightly less emotionally conservative and much more fearless. Yes, the middle class has its own set of problems: the constant, suffocating fear of taking risks and the tendency to stay “on the safe side”, for example. But spoiling her like a princess won’t remedy that. Instead, we will always let her know that even though we won’t build the staircase for her, we’ll have her back anytime she misses her step on the ladder she builds herself!

Earth Day 2020

Happy Earth Day 2020, people!  And really, when we speak of conserving the earth or the environment, we speak of nothing noble or sacrificial, but of making life better for us and for posterity, so happy “Us Day”, too!

So, on this Earth/Us Day, I thought I should make a list of changes my family and I have made to our lifestyle in the last several years. We keep slipping up every now and then, of course, but we try hard  not to. Also, I do admit that what we are doing is far from enough, so I’ve also included my “next step “self goals in the list.

1) Bamboo toothbrushes

The plastic that gets wasted when we dispose our plastic toothbrushes is insane! So, a long time ago I switched my toothbrushes to bamboo ones (with plastic bristles, sadly).

Next step: Find good toothbrushes with bamboo bristles

2) Compostable trash can liner bags

We meticulously separate our waste into recyclable and landfill, and have been using compostable trash can liners for a couple of years now. My city doesn’t have separate facility for composting garbage bags, but as these are made from corn and plant products, I know that they are less harmful when rotting in a landfill.

Next step: Start composting to make full use of the compostable bags.

3) No balloons at birthday parties

This one was tough! We started this no-balloons trend at my daughter’s 5th birthday and after some (a lot of) resistance, we managed to convince her that balloons are horrible for the environment and we shouldn’t do something horrible on our birthdays. She still gets to play with balloons if someone thrusts them into her hands despite our disapproval, and I also think that I might occasionally allow her to play with them ( because you know, joy of childhood and all that!), but the senseless manner in which they are bought and distributed and discarded has to stop! Also, we have been using the same birthday decorations for almost 6 years now!

Next step: Find a way to tell the hosts of the birthday party that we won’t be taking home single use plastic party favors. (You’d think that this is me telling them, but whom are we kidding? I know no one reads my blog! 😀 )

4) No disposable plates, silverware, or straws

The amount of disposable plates and cutlery we go through during trips and mainly parties has always made me shudder. And while some people think that paper plates will decompose, most paper plates are coated with plastic so they can hold moist foods and hence, they won’t decompose – by design. So following my friend Aabha’s lead, I went to Ikea and bought a huge set of plates, glasses, and bowls. I haven’t used disposable plates or cutlery at home for years now and now and even offer to lend my whole set to friends for their house parties. We also never use plastic straws and carry our reusable (steel and silicone) straws everywhere. Next step: Figure out a way to use real plates and silverware at picnics and trips. The main problem here is the ability to clean them off properly. Need to find something that will.

5) Water filter pitcher and steel water bottles

I personally detest bottled water, for reasons that are obviously environmental, but also practical – carrying crates of water with you is tiring! And don’t even get me started on how weird the water tastes after it spends a day in the hot trunk of your car! undefinedSo we always carry lots of steel water bottles and thermal mugs with us when we go out. They are not that heavy, actually. And when we go on trips and have to stay in hotels, we carry our water filter pitcher with us and fill it with tap water. Very convenient and guilt-free, too!

Next step: I guess we are pretty much set here – we have taken week-long trips and have never faced problems with this approach.

6) Reusable shopping bags

We mostly use only reusable bags for everything. Not just cloth bags and totes, we even use mesh bags for small produce. undefinedThey are another example of how environment-friendliness and convenience go hand-in-hand. Just managing all the plastic bags from stores is a staggering task!

Next step: Figure out a way to reduce packaging material from online shopping.

That’s all I can remember off the top of my mind, but I am sure there’s more I do and even more that I can do. I wanted to tag some friends to let me know what they are doing to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, so I can copy their ideas, too; but then I thought why just restrict that to a few people? I am sure all of you do something or the other of this sort, so do let me know your ideas and practices in comments or in separate posts.

Happy Earth Day, once again! 🙂

Screen-time of the month: January

Honestly, this is nothing but another attempt to keep writing… something! So here’s what I watched during the month of January.

Bala – Hotstar

Had been waiting to watch this movie for a long time, so I pounced on this one! I loved it! Right from the writing to the acting to the direction, everything was excellent. But the concept and the sentiment and the message of the film were even better. Ayushman Khurana was amazing as usual! I only wish that they hadn’t blackened Bhumi Pednekar’s face so much because 1) she is a terrific actress and doesn’t need the extra makeup to bring out the pain and determination of her character and 2) girls of much lighter complexion than her still face similar issues.

Ghost stories – Netflix

This one was kind of a bouncer, basically because there were no ghosts in it except in the last story by Karan Johar. Was there horror? There most certainly was, but then they should have called it horror stories,no? However, all the 4 stories managed to capture my full attention. I liked Dibakar Banerjee’s segment the best. A highly chilling, visually captivating allegory with excellent story telling – even though there were no ghosts in it. Anurag Kashyap’s segment was a little gross for my taste and I also think it could have made a bigger impact with a subtler narrative. Sobhita Dhulipala was excellent though! Zoya Akhtar’s story was the least horrifying, even though it was the most haunting. Very surprisingly, I loved Janhvi Kapoor’s acting in that one. Rounding out the anthology was Karan Johar’s segment which actually had multiple ghosts. Unfortunately, it was the weakest of them all – very frilly and silly!

Jeopardy GOAT – ABC

I have been a fan of quiz shows since I was a child and this all-star special was amazingly supercalifragilisticexpialidocius! And even though I am a James Holzhauer fan, I was floored by Ken Jennings’s knowledge, speed, and above all, humility! He totally deserved to win this one.

Uyare (Malyalam movie) – Netflix

Very nice movie! Parvathy was brilliant in this.

Mr. Robot – Amazon Prime

I could finish only 1 season, because the plot, however intriguing it might be, got very irritating because of the constant unreliable narrative caused by drug-induced hallucinations. I have never been a fan of unreliable narrators, but I get that sometimes the narrator is genuinely confused and needs to go through the motions to arrive at a reasonable conclusion while also reiterating that not everything is as it seems. However, using them to purposely confuse the audience again and again is plain gimmicky!

The first season though was mind-blowing. No pun intended. The whole idea of rescuing the world from the claws of capitalism, only to realize that anarchy breeds its own set of numbing problems was shown beautifully. I always question the motive though – had Mr. Robot not died due to the negligence of Evil Corp, would Elliot still be so anti-capitalism?

Splitsvilla X2 – MTV

LOL this is one of my guilty pleasures – a show on top of my list of shows that are utterly ridiculous but I still cannot stop watching!

Masterchef India – Hotstar

This is still ongoing but so far, it has been a great season!

You – Netflix

Whoa! This one was a shocker! Like, every aspect of it, save the ludicrous immunity from law & order that affects all such shows, was very thrilling! Blew through it in a matter of a few days!

Happy New Year 2020!

Hello, everyone! Here’s wishing a happy, happy new year to all my readers, or what’s left of them anyway! (I know I have no one but myself to blame for that, but let’s put that aside for now. )

This year has whizzed past me at astronomical speeds (both literally – the Earth did complete a revolution around the Sun- and figuratively! I had barely gotten used to writing 2019 while writing the date, and now I have to push 2020?!

Of course, what’s a new year without new (and many old) resolutions? I thought long and hard about my resolutions this year. As neither mega nor micro resolutions have worked with me, I needed to focus on what I really wanted out of my life this year. So I categorized my resolutions/goals/ambitions/wants/needs ( you know I love categorizing!) and listed them down. Hopefully I’ll manage to achieve some of them, if not all! There are still things on the work front that I need to do, but there are many paths and options there and I don’t really know for sure what I want, so I’ll just table it until next year. As of now, my resolutions are as follows:

Health & Fitness resolutions

  • Become fitter by: 1) eating healthier and better and 2) working out more (more than more because more in my case can be very little because I don’t work out AT ALL usually. Go figure! 😛 )
  • Go to the gym regularly and be able to swim 2 Olympic sized pool laps (200 meters freestyle) without stopping
  • Eat out less often and cook more often
  • Dance more
  • Sleep early and wake up early

Reading & Writing resolutions

  • “Read” more audio books to save time
  • Inventory all the books I own and their whereabouts
  • Finish reading all the books in my personal library (from the aforementioned inventory) before hogging public library books
  • Buy more books 😀
  • Read more newspaper and current affairs magazine articles (as opposed to Twitter opinions)
  • Read more Marathi books
  • Read at least 1 Hindi and 1 French novel
  • Write more often and more regularly
  • Start a translation project
  • Consolidate all of my blogs into one blog

Miscellaneous resolutions

  • Scream less at my child (same strictness, lower decibels)
  • Snap less at people but stand my ground and keep expressing my opinions fearlessly (even though most people disagree with them)
  • Become more disciplined
  • Make more lists 😀
  • Have more interesting, meaningful, insightful conversations rather than the regular ghar-pati-bachche-office stuff
  • Limit social media “friends” to only those with whom I have/wish to have regular contact

That is all for now. I’m sure I’ll be breaking many of these resolutions and adding some more to the lists. Let’s see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Bye bye, 2019, OR Hello, 2020?

How was your 2019 and what are your resolutions for the year 2020? Do let me know in comments! Happy new year once again, people! Peace Out!

A new project – to improve the old one!

Hey friends!

I have been thinking about revamping my blog for a long time now. Presentation, look-and-feel, colors, and so on. But I have realized that the most important thing I need to revamp is the content. Being a technical writer and an aspiring writer/editor myself, I think I should refresh my old blog of 9 years – by editing and revising the existing posts first.

This WordPress site has seen many locations: apartments, workplaces, buses and rickshaws, even, as I wrote posts on the fly. Especially during my initial years, I wrote from my heart ( You may read that as did not bother to proofread 😛 ).

So this is me, trying to proofread and edit and hopefully make better, all my blog posts to date. I will post on social media the links of posts I think people may have missed earlier.

Wish me luck! 🙂

 

The Hysteria (and atrocity) of Mob Justice

A few days ago, India was shocked to hear the news of a mob of 200-odd people in UP beating to death a man who was rumored to be consuming beef. While there are many different serious issues involved in this situation, including why the beef ban makes no sense, and how the temple was used for entirely ‘un-temple-like’ matters, this post is about the mob and its mentality, and the reasons behind this mentality, if any.

India is no stranger to the concept of a mob. From the time of our struggle for independence from the British, mob demonstrations, protests, meetings, and rallies have been quite common. In fact, these mob gatherings played a very important role in gaining us our independence – Dandi Yatra and Bharat Chhodo Andolan, for instance. However, these were mostly peaceful gatherings, condoning non-violence as a principle. The violent part of our freedom struggle, albeit very important as well, was commandeered by individuals rather than groups.

Thus, it is really strange to see that the mobs of today are far from peaceful. Just a few months ago, an angry mob lynched a rape suspect after breaking him out of a prison in Dimapur. Companies and companies of police forces could not control the mob. The matter lies under investigation while even the guilt of the murdered suspect is not yet established. However, the cruelty with which this suspect was murdered remains for all to be seen.

It saddens me deeply to see how people have stopped believing in the criminal justice system or law enforcement, in general. The humongous number of cases of rape, assault, and abduction; and the general lethargy in prosecuting them has triggered a long-due avalanche of public outrage in our country. People want justice, and they want it right now! But wait! Is any of it really true?

Yes, there is public outrage. But is it over matters that really concern the public? How was it any of those 200 people’s business to prevent the unfortunate man from eating beef? They had a right of opinion, yes; but who in the world gave them the right to enforce their opinion on someone, let alone physically confront them over it? If they had a problem with him eating beef, the most they should have done is filed a report at a police station, if at all that were possible. (I know, the anti-beef law is ridiculous and denying people their staple food while proudly wearing leather shoes and belts is as hypocritical as it can get,  but that merits a different blog post altogether. ) What gives them the right to kill someone? If the cow is sacred, isn’t a human life so too?

We have established that this killing makes no sense logically. Some people said to me that it is not a logical but a moral and sentimental issue. Educated people said this, no less. Again, the issue of how educated people fall prey to herd mentality or pandering merits another blog post. (And here I thought I had no topics to write about!) But for now, let’s see how this is (not) a moral and sentimental issue.

If we as a nation were that moral and sentimental, we would have stood up to the many issues that we face today. Take rape, for example. The Dimapur mob did kill a rape suspect when the outrage over numerous unsolved rape investigations was at its peak; but how many people from that mob regularly protest against inappropriate behavior in public places – the eves-teasing, the molestation, and overall unlawful intimidation? Oh and let’s not even open the can of worms called inappropriate behavior of domestic nature!

Don’t these so-called torch-bearers of moral conduct turn a blind eye towards countless “immoral” incidents that happen everyday around them, even when they are in groups?

I myself have been verbally abused in a crowded public bus, when a man whom I told not to lean on me launched a full-fledged  filthy-worded sledging attack on me. He even threatened me of dire consequences – while the many men and women around me just watched. Verbal abuse is bad enough, but how many of us even actually interfere in what we can clearly see is a physical or sexual attack? Where does this “moral mob” dissolve then?

When Government officials ask hundreds of people for a bribe, why don’t they unite and use the power of the mob to make the officials see the error in their ways? I remember when I was in Engineering college, public buses routinely refused to let us board until all the seats were filled because we, as students, paid concession fares. Hundreds of students hence traveled standing, but none, including me, had the will to collectively negotiate or reason with the individual buses or with the public transport authorities. This same universal set of students was however more than eager to stage a protest at the university against the rule of introducing uniform attire in colleges. The situations I have mentioned are nothing compared to the heinous crimes that are being committed by mobs, but the underlying problems are the same.

Do mobs only act when it is absolutely illegal to do so? Why is it that a large group of people will shut down an entire market on the day of a strike, but they will not be “moral” or “sentimental” about a poor lonesome fruit vendor who can only have enough money for dinner if he sells enough fruit in the day?

Clearly, a different type of sentiment is at play here.  Is it all politically motivated – someone actually pulls the strings and controls the mob after brainwashing them, while letting them believe that they are all in control? Do we as a society need to vent our frustration about the many problems of the world and take any easy route offered to us? Those easy routes mostly happen to be the wrong ones; but we have put out ourselves so much that we cannot retreat? Don’t at least some of us have a crisis of conscience while watching a fellow human being mercilessly beaten and back-off, or try to get others in our ‘united’ group to back off? Do none of these mob members take a moment to think about the consequences of their actions, both short and long term?

So many questions, I know! I am really baffled by all this ominous stuff. The truth is, I refuse to believe that human beings are inherently evil creatures. A few may lose their way, but as a society, we are bound by conscience to behave rationally, compassionately, and justly. At least I hope so. Wake up, fellow human beings! Social interaction or forming groups is what makes us human beings special. It is time to give a good, long thought to how we, as a group, should make each other better, and not worse. Let’s be a solid community,and not just a mob.

The Birthday Blog Post

This was meant to be an actual birthday post, meaning it was supposed to be posted on my birthday, which was yesterday.  However, as most of my activities are these days, it had to be postponed. Thankfully, I can accredit it to my daughter, and not to my usual procrastination. 😀

20141029_004353Anyway, yesterday’s the day I turned 31, finally severing all my ties with my twenties. (No, I can no longer say that I was in my twenties  just until a few days ago! 😛 )

In other (more real) senses, too, this birthday was of quite some importance to me.

For one, I became a mom about 5 months ago, so it is my first birthday as one. My daughter does not understand it yet but years later she will see herself wishing me in photographs. Yes, I posed her to  hug me and pretended she was wishing me a happy birthday, I admit! 😛 😉

My last birthday was pretty disastrous, what with the morning sickness and stuff. So on this birthday, I was happy to actually eat my birthday cake. 😀 Chocolate, of course!

I have always been a big fan of birthdays; and while I agree that we all grow a little everyday, there’s something that changes on our birthdays every year. As a kid, I used to truly believe that what we wished while cutting our birthday cakes really came true.  As I grew up, I transferred my wish-fulfillment tactics to making resolutions. Needless to say, neither of them came to fruition. Well, at least most of the times. Still, I make resolutions on every birthday: most are just repeats of those made about 10 months ago, all still unfulfilled. And some, I try to incorporate based on my age. This year, as I myself have a child, I have resolved to reduce my childish streaks, at least a little. The child-likeness, albeit, I cannot camouflage. But the flashes of temper, the random indiscipline – they sure have to go out the door.

Apart from that, I have resolved to read more, on the new Kindle Paperwhite that hubby dearest gifted me on my birthday. :):) I used to be an ardent supporter of good old-fashioned paper books; but considering how my daughter devours anything that she can tear or wring, I fear for their safety. Hence, Kindle. At least until she finds a way to destroy that, too. 😛

Well, that’s it so far. Let me publish the post before I get interrupted again. Happy birthday to me! 😀 😀

Mesothelioma Awareness

Recently, I was contacted by  Heather Von St. James, a triumphant survivor of mesothelioma. She wanted me to spread a word about this rare form of cancer. I must admit, I had never heard of mesothelioma before.

Mesothelioma is dangerous, yet avoidable. It mainly occurs due to asbestos exposure. It has been cured in rare cases, like that of Heather. It was quite inspiring to read about her victory over it.

For information about Mesothelioma, please visit http://www.mesothelioma.com/

Also, stay away from asbestos!

A Brand New (Mother of a) Role! :)

DSCF0859

Literally!

Yes, I am happy to announce that exactly a month ago, I assumed one of the most important roles I will ever play in my life. I gave birth to this sweet little girl that you can see in the accompanying photograph, Ananya. Her arrival was nothing short of a mini-tsunami of change in my life, and Mayuresh’s.

From the moment we had a slight doubt that the little present (or future, should I say?) was on its way into our lives, nothing remained same as before.  Lifestyle, pastimes, physical condition, mental state, plans, priorities… you name it and 360 degrees turn it made!

9 months passed with much hullabaloo. Girls, if you are interested in knowing more about those 9 moths, you can read all about them, in detail, in my newest still-under-construction blog The Mommy Diaries. (For those who prefer saving and browsing through the blog later, the URL is http://amrutasmommydiaries.blogspot.com/.) I singled out girls because I am very sure boys will hardly be interested in knowing the nitty-gritties of pregnancy – a phase they will never experience first-hand! 😛 Anyway, the new blog is not yet fine-tuned and ready for public viewing, hence this subtle mention.

But as people had told me earlier, the real adventure was yet to begin. And it now finally has. After experiencing the first few days of overwhelming physical agony and mental ecstasy, my mind now has finally reached a point where there can be emotional upheaval.

And emotions indeed poured like cats and dogs! From what it really means to be a mom, to what I want to be able to teach my daughter… From how I can never be carefree again, to how I can prevent my life from being one-dimensional… So many and Oh so many thoughts have firmed their roots in my mind these days!

The confusion and the musings aside, this new role has also brought in a plethora of new experiences. Ananya is just a month old, and cannot smile purposely – I know; and yet when she coincidentally grins when I’m talking gibberish to her, I feel she is responding already, and we have this special connection. Such a comforting bubble it is! 🙂 Getting worried when she cries and happy when she clings to me, understanding her yells and wails (Oh yeah, it seems they have a different kind for every reason!), treating her like the most delicate thing on the planet, while hoping she will be really strong when she is older… I can ramble on and on about all these new experiences I am having, but then what would I write in later posts, if I do write them, that is!

Wish me luck for bringing up this cute little baby, and also for being able to keep writing this blog in spite of assuming this mother of a role. Well, who knows… it is said that when you are really busy doing something important, you find time to do all the things that you like doing. ‘Cause it is not the lack of time that prevents you from doing what you want to, but it is procrastination! The busier you get, the more efficient you become in handling things that you care about.

We’ll soon know if that is true! 😀

 

Jab Celsius and Fahrenheit met!

fahrenheit_celsiusI had heard about Chicago’s cold winters. I had survived a couple of them. But nothing could have made me imagine the kind of cold that would come in, jab Celsius and Fahrenheit met!

Yes, that’s right. For those of you who did not know (and that includes me, until recently) at -40 degrees Celsius,  the Fahrenheit scale of measurement catches up (or down, whichever way you like it).  I guess the world is so damned frozen by the time the scale hits -40, that Mr. Celsius and Mr. Fahrenheit no longer have the energy to diverge! Hahaha, just kidding! It is all purely mathematical, actually.

This historical event (well, in all of my 30 years of near-cognizance) happened on the 6th of January, a day when by the grace of Murphy, I had an unavoidable appointment outside my house. I have spent months and months sitting at home, and on the one day when I could have been glad for doing that, I had to drag myself out, wearing no less than 7 layers of warm clothing. Needless to say, I looked like a frozen elephant! 😛

To add to the woes, the extreme drop in temperature led to low air pressure in the car tires, forcing husband dearest to queue up at the air filling station and drag the air pipe (or whatever it is called) to all the tires while shivering bitterly.

Thankfully, none of our body parts fell off by the time we got back home. I wonder what the homeless people were doing, though… Poor them! Now the temperatures are slowly but steadily rising, thankfully again.

Here are some pictures of the terrible ‘polar vortex’ed city of Chicago and a few other places. See and enjoy the fact that you weren’t here, then. Those of you who were here, rue the same fact. 🙂

http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-ugc-weather-photos/

Happy New Year 2014!

Hi friends,

Before anything else, let me wish you a very happy new year! May the year bring plenty of health, happiness, success, fun, and laughter in your lives! 🙂Image

I know that a new year is just a statistical tool to help us keep track of time, and the Gregorian calendar (by which the 1st of January becomes the first day of the year) does not even mark the change in a season, but mere mortals (and procrastinating ones at that) like me do like to have landmarks and deadlines in life, to keep us on track. A new year serves that exact purpose. 🙂

So how was the last year for me? Well, bitter-sweet, like most other years. The year started in Orlando (ahh, the lovely, sunny land of Florida) and ended in Chicago (ohh the wretched land of snow). – which actually is poetic justice! 🙂

This time around, the new year celebration was rather subdued, although very comfy and cozy, with just me and my husband sipping sparkling pomegranate juice (yes, seriously) and munching on yummy, home-made Malai Kofta and naan. And thus, we also managed to wake up early in the morning the next day, which has been one of my new year targets and resolutions for many years now.

As for resolutions, this year too, I made the same old ones – lead a healthier lifestyle, read more, write more, obsess less, be less emotional and more practical, and so on. What remains to be seen is how soon and how often I break them! 😀

I am majorly concerned about writing, though. It is after all, my bread and butter. At least it used to be, and after this “break”, it will be so again. Just don’t want to lose my shine (if I had any in the first place; and if I did, then if any of it is left) by the time this break ends. Let us see. Only time will tell! Coincidentally, and on a totally unrelated note, that was the last book I read last year [Only Time Will Tell – John Grisham], and did not like it at all. Why I am writing this here? I don’t know – just want to write something. That’s a good sign, I guess… hehehe.

Anyways, here’s to more good signs, and good omens, and good deeds, and good news; and hopefully see you again soon.

Cheers! 🙂

Racism? How beneath our own race!!!

Here’s a transcript of an interview between a journalist and a typical young, educated, white-collared Indian.

Q: Do you think Indians, especially those of the younger generation, are racist?racism pic
A: No way, man! It is well-known all over the world – We don’t indulge in racism! We are all-embracing…
In fact, the only race we do believe in is the race for betterment, for success – financial, social, traditional, emotional, and cultural! (They don’t call us the Gen-Next for nothing!) Plus, our culture is the greatest of all, re! Look at all those stupid Americans and Australians… harassing not only Indians, but their own country men living there! We are not like them at all. We believe in “Live and Let Live”!

QWhat is racism, according to you?
A: Racism is being biased towards some races and discrimination and stuff.

QSo, you are saying that none of us treat people of other races differently?
A: Yeah, yeah, I know that those roadside boys keep whistling at foreign tourists and trying to pick them up. But they are just appreciating beauty – of what value is beauty if no one appreciates it?
And plus, most of these boys are outsiders – from the neighboring states and all, you know! They don’t stay in their limits sometimes; but they are like that only! We can’t teach them these things, right… yeh cheezein to khandaani hain! They speak their own strange languages, and don’t understand ours. But, however useless they are, they don’t do any real harm at all, so it is okay. And don’t even get me started on those originally from neighboring countries! Unka bhi to kuchh nahi ho sakta!

QSo it is only they who are inclined towards racism?
A: Well I can’t say that directly and be politically incorrect, right? I can tell you for sure that OUR community and state is awesome! We are all modern now! We even write “sub-caste no bar” in our matrimonial ads, for god’s sake!
Also, when my North Indian boss’s daughter wanted to marry a Southie, her family didn’t agree at first. Neither did her boyfriend’s. Different culture, different state, different lifestyle – how to adjust with all that, they both asked? Their point of view was correct in a way. Apne apne samaaj ke sab ladke-ladkiyan mar gaye the kya? But look at both their parents’ generosity and open-mindedness… after she ran away with her boyfriend and got married in court, they graciously welcomed the two of them back. Spent like a crore of rupees on the reception. Totally awesome, right!

Racism pic 2QWhat about our internal problems related to casteism?
A: Oh my God… what world are you living in? I am telling you everything’s changed now… Earlier people used to talk about untouchability and stuff. Now we don’t even get to see it anywhere! Well, may be in remote villages and all, but who lives in those anyways – not even a handful of people, I guess. We in the cities are much more modern now… what’s the harm in interacting with those other caste people, I say? It’s not as though they are going to come and live with us now!


Q
And what about discrimination against the “so-called” upper castes and lower castes, both? 
A: No, no, what upper castes and what lower castes? Everyone is just basically proud of their own caste and want the best for it – doesn’t mean we discriminate right? Sometimes things just happen… It’s India yaar!

QRecently there has been news of certain politicians being violent towards out-of-state vendors and businessmen. Do you approve of such tactics?
A: See, tell me this – India is such a huge country, and a highly developing one at that! Even if we don’t allow people from other states to work in ours, they will surely get jobs in their own. Then why do they want to force the people in our state to seek employment elsewhere by filling up all our jobs? As for violence, it is unfortunate; but again, kya karein, it is inevitable sometimes.

QBut don’t you think India is a free country and we can all live and work wherever we want in India?
A: Yeah, we are a free country; but that’s why we all need to stay happy in our own zones, na! If no one is happy how will our country be united? And we are so liberal now…even the different castes are not constricted about employment and work. Our society allows Brahmins to run a business, Kshatriyas to become professors, Vaishyas to do blue-collared jobs and even Kshudras to enroll in armed forces… all these people are allowed to do things they aren’t supposed to – how much more liberal can we be, man! To maintain a balance, we need to have some boundaries, right. Without those, we will be like those Americans and Hippies and stuff.

Q: Okay, and what do you have to say about name-calling? Like in USA, calling African-American people Negros is considered politically incorrect as well as outright offensive. But here, people often use racially offensive nicknames. You just used the word ‘Southie’ in a previous answer.
AArrey, those Americans create an issue out of everything. We just do the name-calling as a joke, man. Plus, it is the easiest way of referring to them. And don’t victimize them okay, they also have nicknames for our state and community. It’s just tit for tat. Now take the software analogy only… in our own company, we call those who test testers, those who code developers, and so on. Similarly, we have names for those from different states and with small eyes, dark skin, dim wits, tendency to show off, miserly traits, oily hair, gauche accents, country of origin, and so on. What’s racist about that!

QOkay then, any parting thoughts on this whole issue of racism?
A: Well, I just want to say that we are not racists at all. No, no, indulging in racism is far, far beneath our glorious race, dude!

[Also published on TheFrustratedIndian blog]]

Kai Po Che? – The decline of traditional sports and games in India

[This is my first post featured on the TheFrustratedIndian website]

So, what is your favourite game, I asked my neighbourhood children at a party in India. “Angry Birds”, said a 7 years old boy. “I love cricket”, said another 14-years old girl. “To watch, I mean, you know… IPL and stuff… it’s so exciting”, she added. With a lot of exclamation marks in my mind, I decided that they are just children and don’t really think before answering.

But then I thought, even if they were adults, would their answers have been any different? Do we ourselves have had any experience playing sports other than cricket, badminton, and table tennis?

Sure, most of us recently watched and lauded the recently released film Kai Po Che. A few years ago, we also went gaga over the Dheel de de re Bhaiyya song from the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

But how many of us have ever actually said Kai Po Che the way it is supposed to be said, that is, while flying kites? I say with major exceptions of some population of Gujarat, none. For that matter, how many of us have recently uttered the words “Kabaddi kabaddi” or “lagori“?

Well, yes, I am being a little too optimistic in expecting all readers to even have heard about these sports; so let me start by listing some of the most ‘used-to-be-popular’ traditional sports of India.

 

Kabaddi

 Played in India from mythical times and given a national status as early as 1918, Kabaddi has fetched us every possible gold medal at all Asian Games and world championships ever held. Yet, I last remember to have played it only in school, more than a decade ago. And none of the “urban” now-in-school people I know seem to have ever played it. Now, Kabaddi is as athletic and technical a sport as any of the modern ones, sans the need for a big ground or any equipment. What it lacks, I guess, is the glamour.

Kho kho

 This game has been known in India since the beginning of the Mahabharata era. It used to be a rather popular game in schools and during evening play-sessions. Not any longer, it seems. Again, this game is as athletic and tactical as games can get.

Gilli danda

 This game is believed to be the origin of games such as cricket and baseball, although this hasn’t been ever proven, or for the matter, contested. In this game, a player bounces a gilli (a small cylindrical wooden object with pointed edges), of the ground by hitting it once with a danda (a wooden stick), and then hits the air-borne gilli to send it as far as they can.

Lagori/pitthu/lingorcha

 This game of breaking a mound of seven stones with a ball, and rearranging the mound before the opposing team finds the ball, was played by girls and boys alike, all over India. I haven’t seen any kids playing this game of late, though I have seen its version being played as a team building activity in a couple of corporate team building sessions, which is quite heartening.

Kanche/gotya/marbles

 Though this one doesn’t really qualify as a sport, it used to be widely played in India. It is said to improve players’ aim and their ability to concentrate. Also, collecting the marbles won from other players was considered a bonus (or the main attraction? 😛 )

Kite-flying

And finally, Kite-flying! Although this sport is believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, it is much more popular in other countries now. There are a handful of professional kite-flying tournaments in India, too (with lots of foreign participants), but at the local level, there’s hardly any soaring high!

 

If outdoor sports aren’t your favourite, there are several other indoor games too (that are going in to oblivion these days, of course): Spinning top (lattu), Indian Ludo (Pachisi/Dyut/Saripaat), Sagargote/ Gajge, Hide-n-seek (Lukka Chhipi), and so on.

All these games are extremely interesting, and it’s a pity hardly anybody plays them anymore. (Although I am glad that certain traditional sports such as Bull-fighting, Cock-fighting and Hunting have diminished!)

So, what made us turn a blind eye towards these sports/games? I suppose the advent of the originally colonial game of Cricket would be a common answer. But no, it is not just that – internet addiction, increased homework, and above all, unavailability of empty grounds to play are also important factors contributing towards the decline.

But think about this: none of these reasons are unavoidable, we can work around them. Especially as we always complain about how sedentary our lifestyles are; how addicted the younger generation is to the likes of Xbox, iPad, and the internet; and how even the snazziest of the gyms are always full, playing all or some of these games to alert our bodies and our minds can ease a lot of our complaints. And we will be happy for keeping our culture alive. 🙂

 

What do you readers think about this? Are you ready to say the real Kai Po Che sometime soon? Do let us know. 🙂

[All images courtesy: Wikipedia (1,2,3,4,5,6)]

My first snowy accident!

Yeah, so I have never before driven in snow.

Yeah, so I should not be over-smart and offer to drive my husband to places…

Yeah, so I should not try to swerve the car as soon as I see the turn for the destination.

Yeah, so I should not brake hard when there is significant snow accumulation on the road…

Yeah, so I should not panic and start screaming and crying when the car hits the curb and climbs on to the walkway.

Yeah, so I should not be over-smart (again) and insist to walk back home, while the poor husband parks the car safely…

Yeah, so I also shouldn’t start walking quickly in order to escape the heavy snow shower…

Yeah, so…. <thuddd>

Snoooowwww

Yeah, so after all this I should know whether to laugh or to cry, and I don’t because it was all pretty funny and sad! 😐

Women empowerment begins with women’s efforts first! (And we can do it!)

For the past few days, the media has been abuzz with protests from various different groups about the increasing violence against women.  While the vote is split between those who want capital punishment and those who don’t; while people argue about whether or not death meant the end of woes for the brave girl; while the guy-bashing is at its prime; a thought still hounds me…

What are we, as women, doing to fight against this violence and this terror? Is it enough to light candles? Is it enough to discuss furiously among ourselves? Is it enough to teach our male relatives to behave themselves? No, it isn’t, (although the last one is very, very important)! Is it also not our own responsibility to work towards preventing such things? And NO, by this I don’t mean that we should urge women to quit stepping out in the night or wearing what they like. That is not even the last thing I would ever dream of telling women to do. I am talking about how we need to change our mind-set. Because the fact of the matter is, we may scream our lungs out about how men should change their mentality, or how they should be punished if they don’t; but nothing is going to change until we change ourselves! Just like charity begins at home, women empowerment MUST begin with women.  Here are a few pointers that I think will help us to begin with:

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1. Treat other women with respect

Unless and until we start respecting our own clan, nobody else is going to respect us. There goes a saying in Hindi “ek aurat hi doosri aurat ki sabse badi dushman hoti hai:” (A woman herself is another woman’s biggest enemy), and I think it is very true. How many cases have we heard wherein a woman tortures her daughter-in-law, or vice versa? How many times does a woman favour her sons over her daughters? Are there girls who think they can disobey their mothers all they like, but not their fathers?  Oh plenty! We need to stop taking our own clan for granted.

Stop being jealous of women, just because they are women! We are all human beings; we all can co-exist peacefully and happily. We don’t fret as much if a male co-worker out-performs us, but let a female co-worker do so, and we immediately start pointing fingers, if you know what I mean. Why?

Some people, women included, believe that there are only 2 kinds of women – the good ones or the seedhi saadhi bharatiya naaris and the bad ones or the westernized sluts. And I want to tell all such people that they are disillusioned. We are on our way to becoming one global village, and whether eastern or western, whether seedhi-saadhi or tedhi-medhi, all women deserve to be respected. For that matter, even if the woman is a prostitute or a porn actress or whoever else, she does not deserve to be raped. No one does!

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2. Stop joking about crimes against women

I have actually fought with several of my friends about this: I strongly object to rape jokes in movies or in print. According to me, such jokes are not only not-funny, but are also extremely insulting to all women. One cannot make fun of another woman’s agony, and certainly not if it is as damaging as a rape. In fact, any joke that disrespects a woman only plants a seed of overall disrespect towards women. Some of my friends argue that such jokes are only meant for innocent laughs. But I’m sorry, I think there is neither anything innocent about them, nor can their negative impact be ignored!

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3. Learn a self-defence technique or two

We HAVE to learn to defend ourselves when there is any sort of a physical attack.

Apart from several self-defense moves, there is Karate, kickboxing, and several other fun-to-learn sports that can help you defend yourselves. If physical resistance  isn’t your thing, try keeping a pepper spray handy. And in case you don’t have any of these things, try verbal self-defense. Be ready to firmly tell the man to stop or to alert the people around you.  Be prepared to do anything to not resign to what you are being subjected to.

One of the biggest excuses I have heard women give for tolerating crimes against them is “How much can we resist?  Men are by nature physically stronger than us.” Although I know that is technically true, and I don’t advocate violence; this doesn’t mean that we should not put up a fight. I believe that if an attacker has the slightest doubt that the victim will resist, a large part of his resolve will evaporate. In fact even if you are never subjected to any attack (and I sincerely hope you never are), knowing that you will be able to defend yourself in case you are, will give you a lot of self-confidence.

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4. Do not depend on men for day-to-day things

My best friend Maya and I, even when we were young teenagers, always wondered why we make a taboo of certain areas that are “dangerous for women”, and don’t go there alone, for example on the streets of Gurgaon or Noida, after dark.  We always take a male “protector” with us.

Now, it is not that I have never asked my male friends or colleagues to drop me home or elsewhere at night. I have done it several times, and I admit my weakness. But just think about this: if I knew there would be 20 other girls travelling alone at that time on that route, I wouldn’t have been scared to go alone; in fact, I wouldn’t have been alone at all!

Similarly, if 100s of girls can travel on Gurgaon streets with their respective male companions, they can travel there without them too… because face the facts – there are 10 perverts out there, and 100s of us! If we are all united and stand up for each other, there isn’t much we need to be afraid of.

Learn to drive. Carry only as much baggage as you can lift yourselves. Stop unnecessarily boosting male egos – it is one thing to do it because a person cares for you and another thing because that person is a ‘man’!

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5. Do not blame yourself for any crime against you, blame yourself for tolerating such crimes

Always remember that no matter what, a man has no right to touch you without your permission. So do not ever feel that this happened to you because “I used to smile at my company cab driver” or “I went alone to a discotheque” or “I wore shorts in a lonely neighborhood  or  “I fought with an auto-rickshaw driver for change” or anything else.

Rape is not the only crime against women; there are several others of lesser heinousness… crimes that I’m sure all of us have faced, and most of us have tolerated without a word. Eve teasing, pinching and groping at public places, vulgar actions and display of obscenities, name-calling, dowry-torture, etc. etc. Remember, no one has any right to even verbally abuse you, or pass lewd comments on you or harass you any other way. We are not to be blamed for these misdeeds.

If we have anything to be blamed for, it is for taking these crimes in our stride. It is for our overall lack of empathy towards other women who face such crimes. It is for hiding the crimes of male relatives or friends. So please, fight against these crimes without fear.

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6. STOP giving excuses such as practicality or tradition for your support to male chauvinism

Many men, some of them my own friends, justify dowries by saying things like “It’s our tradition”, “ it is a return of investment – of dowries we paid in our sisters’ weddings”, and even audacious things like “ghar aayi laxmi ko kabhi na nahin bolte “(an old Indian saying – never refuse the wealth that approaches you – it’s bad luck). The worst part is many of my female friends think it is fine to give a dowry as long as your family can afford it. I feel nothing but pity towards these friends.

Even today, when I hear a woman saying she is “extra-happy” because she gave birth to a boy, I am scandalized. If I ask her whether she would have had an abortion in case of a girl, she furiously denies; says it’s only because her family will be happy that she wished for a boy. She insists that she or her family are not killers. What she does not realize is that there is hardly any difference. As it is said, it all starts with a thought. If she is willing to wish for a baby boy due to a little societal pressure, goodness knows what she will do if she is subjected to too much of it.

Stop belittling yourself, whether you earn money, or not. When you are in a family, it is your emotional support that counts. And if you still don’t believe me, ask women who earn much more than their husbands about whether they face domination.

Stand up for yourself! You are yourself before being someone’s daughter, wife, or mother. Fulfill your responsibility towards yourself first. Say no to anything that is insulting to you as a woman – gender bias at home, eve teasing, rape, sexual harassment, kanyadaan (yes, it is high time we recognize that we are not anybody’s property to be given away, not even our fathers’!), dowry, female foeticide, overall male domination, and so on… the list is really very long!

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7. Help and empathize with those who face sexual crime

If a woman is raped, it is not her fault. Welcome her back into her own world, respect her and her experiences, and ease her back into her normal life. Yes, the trial for justice will take some time, but don’t do injustice to her by secluding her or even pitying her. She is still as much a woman as you are. Always remember that!

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There is a lot more that I could write on this topic; the above list is not at all comprehensive; but that would make this post too long for its own good. Hence, let me stop here, for now. I am sure that if we start with these little things; we can do our part in changing this world.

I know many people, both men and women alike, are not going to like this post. Nevertheless, I believe that if we want to see change, we are going to have to be bold and change ourselves.

Before ending my post, I would like to remind all women, that men are not our enemies. I am sure there are as many great men out there as there are bad or weak ones. So while being a feminist, do not be a chauvinist. The idea is to fight oppression, not to oppress in return.

Please do let me know what you think about this post – and let me know any other ideas that you have.

Remember:

We are NOT a weak or an inferior sex!

We are not ‘property’!

We never ‘ask for it’!

We cannot wait for others to fight our battle!

We must treat every woman’s battle as our own – because it could happen to us someday!

I so love The Hindu ads! TOI – are you listening?

I have been reading The Times of India ever since I was a child. In fact, back then, it was considered imperative to read the TOI to improve your English. I lived in Goa, and all we had access to was the Mumbai edition of TOI which hit the stands in Goa only in the afternoons, which meant that the newspaper delivery guy delivered the TOI a day late.  Yet, we unfailingly read the day-old newspaper everyday. Later, my parents also began paying the newspaper delivery guy, who lived right next to our house, to deliver the newspaper to us on his way back home.  Our school teachers used to encourage us to go beyond the front page and sports pages of the newspaper, and to explore the editorial page, and understand the different views expressed there.

Now what is the connection between the title of this post and the first paragraph, you ask? Well, you’ll soon find out… But before that, take a look at today’s web TOI:

Web TOI - look at the highlighted parts.

This is the page showing today’s top news!  Start from the left panel – “Twitter’s censor move with eye on China“. Really? “Eye on China”? Is that a legitimate phrase in English, or is it just the translation of the Marathi  “चीन वर डोळा”? The last I had heard, “keeping an eye on someone” meant watching over them lest they do something they aren’t supposed to. Aren’t they instead supposed to write “Twitter’s censor move eyes China“?  Of course the sentence still makes little sense to me, but at least it is English! (Do correct me if I am wrong though.)

Let’s move on to the right – top. Madhuri gives some advise to SRK – and yes the national adviser’s words are almost never printed on the home page, but this – oh how can they miss printing this!

Just dip a little lower (pun intended) and slightly to the left. You will see “Katharina’s raunchy act“! Yeah sure, so what if they get the spelling wrong, so what if they use provocative words – they are giving the readers some hot news! And below that, some more “Other Stories” that basically tell the same tale… They are not a national pioneering newspaper, but a glossy gossip magazine…

You may have noticed that I have pasted the screen shot of only half of the home page – the bottom half had several such pieces of news and pictures that wouldn’t suit my sensibilities and those of this blog.

Anyway, the point is, I once looked up to this newspaper, and now, I can barely look at it without feeling annoyed – what with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and racial glitches (replacing the phrase ” South Indian” with “Southie”? – What is that!) that make me want to appeal to them, that if they can’t afford paying a proof reader, I would love to volunteer to do it for them! And I don’t even want to get started on the kind of hot news (read Bollywood gossip, Page 3 trivia on most pages, and so on) they publish! This is why, when they released an advertisement with soft intonations insulting the newspaper The Hindu (you can find it here ), I was mildly irritated. But The Hindu came up with their response – three even more fiery, in-your-face advertisement clips, which were fascinatingly accurate and bang-on target!

Here are the links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmXPBp7DpQw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Eb-waHx-00&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8_pqFRxk6A&feature=related

Now, I don’t know how effective these ads are, but I do hope they make the TOI people see some sense, and give us back the newspaper we loved so much a few years ago!

New beginnings!

Hello all!

Now, as cliched as the title of this blog may sound, I am definitely going to create something new here, from now on… Confused about the abrupt beginning ( if there is something like that!) ? Well, that is because I was taken aback after finding out that I last blogged on the 20th of July 2010, which is one and a half years ago! Whoaaa!!! And more so, because I just checked my draft posts section, and there are 36 incomplete fellas sitting tight there! For a minute I began to wonder whether I have lost my thing of writing – when I was relieved to find out that a sudden wave of wanting to write swept over me. So, here I am, writing a blog post after a long time, promising myself that I will publish it unlike the last 36 times, and deciding (again) to start writing regularly. A warning: do not take me seriously until I actually start writing regularly.

Anyways, let me come back on track and wish all of you a very happy new year (although I am pretty sure there are hardly any readers left :(( ).  This new year has definitely brought some really new things for me, such as a different country to live in, no job in that country, an opportunity to take a competitive exam to get a higher degree, and so on. I was also going to add – a new attitude- in there, but I guess only time will tell if that has really happened. 🙂

Anyways, I spent my new year’s eve on a quite low-key note this time, unlike last year’s brouhaha, but yet, it was so much better. My husband and I took the much needed rest ( We were recovering from a 30-day shopping and packing frenzy and a long flight from Pune to Chicago), and watched TV with soda and popcorn to give us company. It was quite soothing, and much reminded me of the way we used to bring in the new year during my school days. We anyways did not have the energy for a back-to-back celebration, what with the 30th of December being our 2nd marriage anniversary! 🙂

As for new year’s resolutions, which I unfailingly make and break every year, I made a bunch of them. Some were the same old ones, such as losing weight, eating healthy, writing and reading more, learning to meditate and relax and so on. Others were slightly new, such as studying hard, planning my day well, bringing more discipline in my routine, and changing my outlook towards some things. 🙂

Let us see how I keep all of these, but you will definitely be able to see how I keep one of these – writing regularly.

Okay then people, hope to be writing again soon, and till then, cheers to the new beginnings! 🙂

Inception! Fascinating! (No spoilers)

Have you ever been out wandering around the country, with lush green pastures and a cool blue sky to keep you company? Have you been so engrossed while watching the trees and birds and flowers that you lost your way but still did not panic, as you were simply happy taking in the calmness of your surroundings? After a long long while, has the feeling of being lost registered finally? Have you craved to get back, only to see a thunderstorm approaching you with all its ferocity? Have you hidden in the first hut you laid your eyes on, and breathed a sigh of relief? Have you then realized that the hut has several animal skins and skulls spread around it? And then have you heard strong rapping on the door and been frightened to death? And have you tried to scream, only to realize that…..

Your mom is trying to wake you up in the morning by banging on your bedroom door!!!

Yes, you guessed right. Welcome to the world of dreams, my friends. A world so charming, yet deceptive, so alive, yet unreal, or at least that’s what we are made to believe.

The movie, Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, professes otherwise. It says, rather convincingly, that our dreams represent our sub-conscious, and our sub-conscious does affect our conscious decisions all the time! All the main characters in the movie are, so to speak, ‘dream merchants’, meant most literally. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio, brilliant) and his gang specialize in entering people’s dreams to ‘extract’ information that is otherwise impossible to obtain. They do make good money out of it, but also face the dire consequences of meddling with the human subconscious. Cobb especially, has had to pay a very heavy price, rendering unfit his capabilities of designing the places in dreams.

Yes, so advanced is this occupation of extraction via dreams is that it needs an architect to design imaginary places wherein the dream will take place (you can’t use real places because then, your memories will meddle with your dreams), a chemist to appropriately sedate the one whose dreams are to be explored, a researcher and a few helpers, if any. The film is about Cobb, leading one such team, and trying not to extract but to plant an idea into a target’s mind – in return for his own redemption.

Christopher Nolan definitely does succeed in weaving an intricate yarn of a story, with threads spooling in multiple layers – yes, the extractors, or should I say inceptors, also generate dreams within dreams, so as to buy more time, or change some things in the dreams, and so on. Although it sounds confusing, not for one moment do you get bored, and you are always glued to the seat trying to put two and two together.

The most creditable thing about the movie is that, although it’s about dreams and inception, and stuff that mostly fits into the science fiction category, it does not waver from logic, or create situations just because it is science fiction!

Certain ideas are absolutely brilliant, such as having to carry a totem, or a self-made object while entering a dream, to help you distinguish between dreams and reality. Not only that, the totem has been brilliantly used in the climax sequence as well.

The direction is awesome, and the editing is crisp. The cast have supported the script extremely well. There is really nothing to complain about the movie!

If you are itching for an intelligent, well-made movie that will make you think, go for Inception.

If you are not, go for it nevertheless, it will provide some very good entertainment!

Signal: Green all the way! Go explore your dreams!!!

I felt ashamed of myself today…

Picture this incident – The driver of a PMPML bus that was quite vacant, shut both the doors of the bus at an overcrowded Sanghvi Fata bus stop, so that people couldn’t board it. A boy, 15-16 years old, protested and asked for the door to be opened. The conductor did not listen, and barked that there was another empty bus behind. As we had already guessed, there was none! As this bus tried to make way through the heavy traffic, 4-5 ppl including the boy, again caught up with it, and began yelling that they had been waiting for over an hour there, and they must be let in. The driver and conductor didn’t budge…so the boy stood in front of the bus and blocked its way….Quite some traffic was accumulating behind us, so I thought the boys would be let in..To my horror, the conductor and driver not just kept the doors of the bus shut, but threatened the boy that they would run him over, if he didn’t make way for the bus. This screaming, yelling and abusing went on for a long time…vehicles kept honking behind us and a decision had to be taken by somebody..Finally the boy, frustrated as he was, picked up a large stone fallen on the road..That, made the driver change his mind, and he opened the doors of the bus. Once the boys entered the bus, there another round of abuse. Th boy tried to talk rationally, explaining that had the bus been full, he would never have demanded to board it…but since he was being continually abused, he started abusing back…the whole scene turned very ugly, and ended only when the boy in question alighted the bus at his stop, albeit not without some ugly verbal exchange with the driver.

In the meanwhile, like all other passengers in the bus, I sat silently watching the whole episode, agreeing with the boy from within, yet saying nothing to the driver and conductor, who were clearly in the wrong!!

When the driver didn’t open the doors, I could have protested; when he threatened to run the boy over, I could have protested;..but no, I sat like a statue, just like typical Indian public, who I keep criticising for such attitude of theirs!!

I felt ashamed of myself today……

It’s time to take a stand! We are no longer the “third person”!!

A 14 year-old girl from Patil Estate slum got raped by fellow slum-dwellers last month. She was coming back home from work when the incident happened. After this incident, the slumdwellers have been afraid of sending their daughters to school…

What do you all have to say about this? “Oh yes, we hear about rape cases all the time!!”, or “Tch tch, how unfortunate!” , or “It’s a bad bad world out there!”, and even “Why did the girl venture outside ? Was she going to meet her boyfriend??”? Someone slightly angrier shall also say, “The rapist should be burnt alive, only then will people be afraid to do that!” Somebody apathetic will say, “oh, but what can we do, we are the Third Person, we can never fully comprehend or cure the situation!” In fact, I think even if all of us feel any of the other things mentioned above or not, we all shall invariably blurt the last one, “what can we do??”

Wake up guys, we are not, and never were the third persons! A crime as heinous as rape, is not a crime towards someone else, it is a crime towards the society, towards OUR society. Rape doesn’t just affect the rape victim, but it leaves a deep gash on many many others. Take the example of the Patil Estate rape, the poor girl was traumatised, at the same time, lots of other girls and their parents began to live under the constant fear of RAPE, so much that they even began forbidding their daughters from going to school! Tomorrow, if such a crime happens in your locality, you also will start being extra careful about your daughters/sisters or other female relatives!  And thereby spread the most dangerous thing in this world…fear!

It is this fear that actually makes rape an ‘unavoidable crime’ in our society, about which we claim to be able to do nothing. It is this fear that makes rape an ‘irrecoverable harm’, affecting the soul, mind and character, more than the body of the victim. It is this fear that prevents us from speaking and acting openly against this disgusting display of the so-called ‘power’ of men, and the vulnerability of women against all but one attacks – attack on their so-called vulnerability!!

This is the time to wake up and realize our responsibilities friends!  We need to protest!! Someone’s mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, friend, nanny, servant, teacher, and so on, gets raped, we read about it, express our ‘displeasurean disgust’ and go on with our lives. It’s high time we do more.

I am not saying that we all take law into our hands and trace and ‘punish’ the guilty. No we can’t do that, but we can do much more!! We can spread awareness about this issue, we can be brave and speak up about this issue, we can stop judging the heinousness of a rape attack on the basis of the victim’s ‘character’, we can encourage the women around us to be fearless, we can encourage the men around us to look at women with a sense of equality, we can educate our youngsters about how important respecting women is, we can stop being the viewers, and participate in eradicating violence against women, there are so many many things that we can do…

and we should do!!!!

This is what I have written about! (a reminder to you, and ME)

 

  • Books, my first love!!! (6)
  • Comical tragedies (9)
  • Feeling Good Good Good!! (4)
  • Just a thought! (24)
  • Keeping my eyes open! (37)
  • Man is a social animal! (27)
  • Melodies of life!!! (2)
  • My writing stints(or stunts)!! (6)
  • No matter what, Wit always rules!! (5)
  • Notes to readers (6)
  • On Movies People Make,Here’s my take!(Movie reviews) (22)
  • Random sightings (6)
  • The adventurous side of me! (2)
  • The Idiot Box! (1)
  • Trudging down the memory lane (10)
  • What I hear, n what I read…….. (13)
  • Zor ka jhatka!(‘Current’ Affairs) (27)
  • Book Review: “2 states – The story of my marriage” (No Spoilers)

    Just read the latest one by Chetan Bhagat!

    And by his own standards, its a very nice book! Fairly gripping (I finished it in non-stop 5 hours), humorous, and easy-flowing, this book describes the life and times of a couple divided by a wide North-South chasm.

    On the flipside, the book is written in a very simple manner, sometimes even reminding you of a mere diary entry. However, the heart and the soul is definitely in the right place!

    I will not divulge the story here at all, but would just be content with saying that anyone and everyone, who’s been in love with a person of a different caste, will 100% relate to this book.

    Go read it!

    Verdict: Green

    I’m back!! :-)

    Okay, okay, i’ve been outta circuit for quite some time now, I agree….

    Was just going through the grinds of life shall I say…and am still, but I am tired of making it an issue, and don’t plan to do so, any longer!!!

    Yeah, so what “interesting” stuff was I doing while I wasn’t here? Well, reading, teaching, and watching movies!! Didn’t travel or trek much, thanks to the bad weather and bad health….uh oh…change the topic!!! :-))

    Yeah, so let’s start with reading (i know a book review is long overdue!!).

    After a loong time, I got out my copy of  Khaled Hosseni’s “The Kite Runner”. Read it in two nights flat, and my oh my, wasn’t it incredible!! The author managed to actually recreate the whole Afghanistan scene for the readers. The story, a unique tale of immaturity, faith, loyalty and a journey towards redemption, was so nicely unfolded in this book, that I got completely absorbed in that book, I even cried a couple of times!! And Hassan’s character, I think is one of the most well-writtn and yet unfathomable characters I’ve come across!! My heart goes out to the sheer innocent loyalty and, how should I put it, apnapan that he shows towards Amir, the protagonist. Ammazzing, divine, one of its kind!!

    And since I liked The Kite Runner so much, I also got hold of A Thousand Splendid Suns, by the same author. This book tells the story of two women in Afghanistan, who are so unlike each other, and yet finally find solace in  standing up for each other. Engrossing and with its heart in the right place, all this book lacked, to be mentioned in the league of The Kite Runner was , ofcourse, Hassan!!

    Then I also read Digital Fortress(nice, but very Sidney Sheldonesque), Bourne Ultimatum (good, but not my type really!!), and the Twilight Series!!! About the last one, It needs a sperate blog post to give it full justice!! :-)))

    Currently I am reading The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. This is also an ammmazingly insightful book, and I am already bowled over it. Just fathom these lines on freedom:

    “You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,

    But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.”

    Intriguing aren’t they?? I am already a big fan of this author!! Hopefully, when I am finished with reading the book, I will have much more to blog about it…

    Then, movies, well it’s been mostly watching movies on DVD, because of the multiplex strike and the swine flue scare!! Nevertheless, I managed to catch up on a “critically-acclaimed” Marathi movie Gandh (Smell), which went right above my head and contained grey cells!! Also watched the suppper dupper hit marathi movie (again) Mi ShivajiRaje Bhosle Boltoy, which had some good intutive dialogue, but was average otherwise.

    And last, but not at all the least, have been teaching: not just English Grammar this time, but also some interesting newly-learnt life-skills stuff. This too, deserves a seperate full-length blog post to make full justice to it.

    Ahh, it already feels good having written so much…hopefully will be back soon with more!! Cya people!!

    What the hell!!!!

    After a tiring and yet ful-fillling saturday (Wednesday- good movie!!, teaching at Eklavya Nyasa, a visit to the Ganpatis of Pune, and a 90 minutes walk from PMC to KP!!!!), I was just beginning to chill at the CCD(Devil’s Own..wowww). Suddenly I happened to glance at the Plasma TV screen, and whhaaattt… SERIAL BLASTS ROCK DELHI!!!! That was the breaking news being shown on a news channel. And I was like…..WHAT THE HELL is going on here????

    Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and now our National Capital!!!! What do these terrorists think our cities are – Bomb testing grounds?? What do they think our people are – guinea pigs to their sadist fancies??? I mean, WHAT THE HELL,man!!!!

    Now you must be thinking, why has this girl suddenly got agitated? Bomb-blasts are a common thing now-a-days! (Believe me, a friend actually said that to me!!) I think not…I get more and more angry with every passing attack!! C’mo guys, once can be mourned, twice can be tolerated…but how can you see such things happening to your fellows again and again and again????

    As the news and the gory pics started flashing, I called up my Delhi friends to enquire about their safety.. Half of them didn’t even know that such a thing had occured! They and the rest who did, were fine, thankfully!

    I was all the more enraged on knowing the locations of the bombs…Karol Bagh, Cannaught Place, Central Park, Gretaer Kailash!! Again WHAT THE HELL!!! Aimed at places that are so much frequented by commoners!!! How can you aim to kill hundreds of people, just like that?? I mean, no human can do that!! Worst of the worse, 1 bomb out of the 3 diffused was in a children’s park!! Children’s park?? CHILDREN’S PARK????  We’d seen this happening in trains, buses, temples, bus stops….. But which pathetic sadist would want to plant a bomb in a children’s park???? Isn’t there even an ounce of virtue/ humanity left in these terrorist orgs???

    The irrational long mail sent by IM said that this was to avenge the bad treatment dished out to muslims…Pray how did they ensure that no Muslim got killed or even hurt during these blasts?? Just WHAT THE HELL  do these guys think they are doing??????????