Sep 17, 2008

Hello!

Hello!! After the involuntary long pause, I am so glad to be back. I was missing this outlet to all things creative and otherwise.... I hope everyone had a great few months in the meantime!:)

A quick update.... I finished up most of my licensing exams and moved to US. And since I am applying for residency programs this year, I am currently on the interview trail.... So I am currently in Chicago, staying with a gracious couple and done with the first real interview of my life! And tomorrow I am flying off to Indianapolis...

I am looking forward to this city-hopping for the next 2 months and plan to post/upload snaps as I go..... I just want to say... It's great to be back!

May 11, 2008

Pangea Day..

Yesterday, the 10th of May was celebrated worldwide as the Pangea Day. The word Pangea is symbolically used to depict a dream of the world with borders, differences and conflicts. It is a very strong way of looking beyond minor superficial dissimilarities between us at so many things all of us have in common.

The event was broadcasted live across the world. The event showcased several short but powerful films which focused on finding unity in our diversity amongst other things. I liked almost all of them, particularly J'Attendrai Le Suivant (I'll Wait for the Next One), Elevator Music, Walleyball and Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. More films can be seen here. The films are short, fun and very thought-provoking and definitely a delightful respite from the run-of-the-mill movies seen these days.

More importantly they spread a deeper message; that we decide whom do we address as 'them' and whom as 'us'....

Apr 30, 2008

My last swaps (atleast for some time)....

The last two swaps I did were super fun... I swapped with Liz, who lived in Thailand at the time of the swap. She sent me some lovely, colorful stuff from Thailand.... origami paper, little pouch, a butterfly pin, chopsticks, diary and a gorgeous bead necklace. Also included were Thai curry packets (which unfortunately had shrimp paste :( so I couldnt have them) and some dried Bananas which taste kind of like figs.... Thanks a lot, Liz!!

Here's some of the stuff I sent her... little Indian goodies!


Plus, me and Dana, the lovely lady from Canada, decided to go for another swap. So when I went to US I carried with me stuff that I could send to her, hoping that the postage would be cheaper from there. It was not that good an idea though, as the postage turned out to be the same as from here and plus I had no spare time at hand to walk to the post-office, which resulted in me sending her the swap-stuff at the very end of my 2-month stay!
Well, anyways.... the best part was the swap itself, which had some uber-cool stuff inside this vintage tin. Gorgeous herbal teas and hand-made soaps and a lovely Lavender roll-on, all thoughfully put together by Dana... Thanks a lot, girl!! I dont have a snap of the stuff I sent to Dana though, although I can tell you it had a mix of stuff from India and NorthCarolina. I sure hope she liked it:)

Apr 28, 2008

A cool video I stumbled onto....

Movies and such...

I totally realise I shouldnt make promises when I cant keep em.... as in this instance, I am gng to post twice a week. Ha! Maybe I should laugh at my own naivette, but whatever. So.... it isnt like I dont have any thoughts on what to write.... I am quite 'firmly' opinionated on so many things, that I always have something runnning at the back of my mind, but I never get around to actually writing it down. So bear with me :)

Anyway, so I saw some very interesting movies in the last month. I am not a big movie fan as such and I would have to have heard some real good things about it, before I go and see one but Juno was a definite catch. Not that I condone teenage pregnancy or anything, but I looooved Ellen Page's acting. And Bleeker is supercute too. If anyone, she should have gotten the Oscar.... So watch the movie, if you have already, take it with a pinch of salt and you are going to love it! Even Noreen (my 62-year old housemate in US) loved it. But she's super that way.... I ll have to write a separate post on her sometime....

Moving on, the next one on my list is Once. Glen Hansard is such natural (he used to be a Busker after all) and the movie is so genuinely guy-next-door kind of relatable to. Although It is confusing at times, what with the strong Irish/Czech accents of the leads... sometimes un understandable. But worth watching once....

Another movie on my honor-roll, is my Hindi favorite of the season Taare Zameen Par which also has some great songs. It is such an awesome movie, it's a total must-watch for anyone. Also, It a BIG tear-jerker, so be warned!

And last but defnitely the best one of the lot, is my favorite movie in recent times; An Inconvenient truth. It is a movie that changed my life! The movie and (in so many ways) Noreen tipped over the edge to become a full-blown beginner-environmentalist. So much so that I watched the movie, walked over to Dhwanil and told him, 'I now know what I want to do with my life'. Thank you Mr.Gore!! So please watch the movie and it will make me and Alefiyah (my fellow cause-woman) very very happy!

And just for the heck of it, a great song from Juno... Enjoy!

Apr 1, 2008

Doing our bit...

On March 29th, Millions of people across the globe switched off their lights at 8 pm for 1 hour to participate in what is known as 'Earth Hour'. Taking cue from Sydney, which organised the first Earth Hour last year, hundreds of cities and many more individuals joined in to cut down our CO2 emmissions, which reduced by 10% during those 60 minutes.

Embarrassingly, I hadnt heard of the Earth Hour until about 7 pm that very day. I spent the next hour trying to call up or message as many people as I can. I asked them if they could atleast do either of the 2 things; switch off your lights and (a) have a candle-light dinner in the house or (b) go out and meet up with other people and try to raise awareness. Everybody I talked to enthusiastically agreed to join in and do our bit for the environment. Even my parents agreed to take a walk during that time to switch off lights...

I for one, went out with an eclectic bunch of people (Vipulbhai, Viral, Shruti, Katrina and Riddhi) and had a good time...
Also, this summer I am going to try and;
.... not use the air-conditioning in my room, instead try to get used to the heat.
.... not take plastic bags from grocery stores, instead bring the purchase cart near my motorbike and put stuff directly in the storage space or use a cloth bag which I carry around.
.... make sure none of the taps in my house are leaking or need repair.

I believe its high time we stop cribbing and start doing.

Mar 31, 2008

Taare Zameen Par...

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - M. K. Gandhi

On 27th March, We (Shruti, Alefiyah and me) had planned to go to a Street-kids education project run by Anjali Desai, who is an Indian American, an ex-Indicorps fellow and a friend of Shruti's. She has been living in Ahmedabad since the past 5 years working with women in Kutch and later in Manav sadhna. She also has played a big role in making Seva Cafe, a reality.

Unfortunately, Shruti had an unexpected last-minute work and could not come. Plus, Anjali informed me that since their street-kids'-school had been asked to move from where they had been teaching previously, they were trying to make their new makeshift place habitable. So no teaching was going to happen anyway so I asked Alefiyah, who has exams in the near future, to come along at a later date.

Sooo... Armed with just myself, I went on to meet Anjali. This is where I found them...
Street children in India live on the streets, work alongside their parents or live independently and get none or barely any education at all. They struggle for survival and vie for things which we take for granted.

It turned out to be the most humbling experience of my life. Moving sand, sifting through the rubble to useful tiles to lay flat on the ground, making a makeshift stairway, clearing away piles of modern human waste, working alongside the street-kids to help them and to learn from them, doing work that I could get done by someone else for a meagre pay. I worked in the sun, covered with dirt and bruised by the throny brambles. But I felt as if there was no better place I could be at that time...

It was so rewarding to see these kids trying to help build their own school, trying hard to have a future. When later Anjali asked each of them what they had prayed to God for during an earlier prayer, many kids wanted money, some of them asking for as little as Rs.50 (around 1 USD). I could not help get teary when a few of them said that they had asked for 'bhanvanu (education)', one of them wanting to become a doctor! I pray to God that these kids get a better life and better education, so they can indeed become whatever they want...

Later, as I showered the dirt off me, I couldnt help but think;

If only a few hours of working in such dirt and under such harsh heat could exhaust, think about Anjali, who does this every single day helping these kids, expecting nothing in return...

..... And most of all, think about the kids who live like this all of their lives and still maintaining a huge smile on all of their faces;
.....and we, with all our luxuries, think our lives are hard.

Mar 28, 2008

For Namesake...

The Scarlett Keeling murder case has forced into focus the ever-delaying, ever-so-corrupt name-sake Indian Judicial system. The case reminds me of The Accused, although justice like that can hardly be anticipated here.
Scarlett's mother Fiona, who has been fighting relentlessly for justice, has been labelled everything from a derelict to a drug-peddler and an irresponsible mom, by many local and British newspapers alike. The Daily Mail here stops just short of accusing her of her daughter's death. Frankly, I am quite surprised that the woman hasnt given up.
My take on it is..... So what if she was a 15 year-old living alone in Goa, so what if her mother is a globe-trotting hippie who was once jailed for attacking a molester.... It definitely is a punishable offense for a sexually-frustrated man to rape and murder her. Provocation (if at all) is no excuse for rape.

I am not validating not taking precautions wherever you go or abandoning your child in an alien environment. Especially in the Indian subcontinent where most women dont feel safe in their own neighbourhoods, where staring at women is a 'just passtime' and where people are more afraid of calling the police than anyone else. Here court cases normally stretch for 20 years and even highly publicised ones like this can take a decade to reach a verdict, fair or otherwise.

But things go wrong even with precautions and crimes occur even in good neighbourhood. And women suffer just because some people cannot keep their emotions and desires in check.

I wonder when did this happen?

When did a nation of values and respect and a multitude of 'Atithi Devo Bhava'-citing people become a place where incidents of molestation, especially of foreign women is commonplace?

When did we become a country where a common man would think a million times before knocking on the doors of the court for justice?


When did we give up our trust in all-things-government and turned submissive to whatever is happening around us?


When did we enter this state of subtle anarchy?