Archive for May, 2014

Chasing your Dream

The other day, I was chatting up with a friend of mine who suddenly came up with the thought that if you’re not chasing a dream, you’re running in circles. When she said this I just smiled casually approving the statement. But later, it made me think. You either keep running after your dreams, until you reach it or continue to move in one place like a carousal life long.

Chasing dreams

People have often asked me about my big dream, and I tell them that my big dream is to write books. I tell them this because that’s what a writer’s dream is and of course because its an easily digestible short response. But there’s a long version to it. The long rendering of my big dream is that I want to live a life that’s worth writing about.

Sometimes, I wish I had a clearer picture of what that life would actually looked like. And it is then that I miss having a crystal ball where I can see it all.

I don’t know the clear picture, may be write many books in my lifetime… the story continues

Chasing your Dream.

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Feeling of Nothingness

nothingness

nothingness

 

Lately, I’ve been finding myself in a state where I look at the world around me and kind of just shrug my shoulders. It’s like I see all of these people and colors and objects around me, but I feel indifferent to their coming and going from my life.

I can also perceive how magnificently everything is moving in that universal energy flow around me, yet I feel mostly disconnected from being a part of that flow. It’s not necessarily good or bad, and I do not judge it as right or wrong because when I do, I tend to experience suffering.

I don’t feel lonely either… Is it a feeling like nothingness?

Wake Up India… Let’s Talk About Rape

As a teenager, I often complained to my mother about the ogles I got on the streets. She told me not to wear short skirts and be careful… “After all, we live in a conservative society,” she warned. But I eventually realized no matter what I wore, how I walked, some men felt they could look at me as if I were an object, as if they could overpower me at any moment and no one would care. Much later, I learnt in my Women Rights course: Ogling in itself is visual rape.

rape remains an act forgotten with silence

Rape remains an act forgotten with silence

RAPE… (Sigh!!!) The word, no longer startles me; I am seeped in sexual violence to such a degree that I now have started to normalize it like many others. Rape terrifies me, frustrates me, but it’s everywhere … the countless experiences of sexual assault, rape, and incest in my country shape much of my narrative as a survivor today.

While the rape reported to media, is much like a sporting event, what’s more unfortunate are the ones that do not get reported (and there are hundreds of them). Like other forms of violence against women – in the form of bride burnings, wife battering, Rape too occurs out of the public eye and remains that way. Fear, shame, guilt and lack of faith in police and in Judiciary force rape to remain an act forgotten with silence… even today!

While there is something profoundly wrong in the values of men in our society — values which bind the parental preference for a male child that lead them to commit these heinous crime, the million dollar question comes up time and again is “How do we punish rapists?”

Those talking about changing the misogynistic attitude in society, let me warn you, it may take another 200 years to change this! And hanging rapists till death. That’s no solution to stop rape! Why do we anyway let these monsters make peace with death?

While a friend of mine suggested castration as the ultimate punishment, she says, “Cut it out to stop such shameful acts and stamp the word ‘RAPIST’ on their forehead, so that each time they see themselves in the mirror, they are reminded of the crime they have committed,” I partially agreed to her. I closed my eyes and sighed a relief… for a moment it felt good…!

But I had the doubt whether our so called democracy will allow them to put up posters with their faces and let the public decide if they are ready to accept such people in society.

My thought was similar though not the same… I strongly believe rapists should go through the same torture and then made to parade naked and publicly beaten up by woman who they dared to touch. Only when the rapists go through the same hell they forced the victim to, when they will be made to feel the same pain, agony and trauma, it will be an eye for the eye. After all, it’s an equal world and that’s how it should be perceived, isn’t it? Well, and then if they are publicly stoned to death – guess none of us have a problem (sorry for this one crime reformers and human rights activists!!!).

And what about the bigger problem? Are we ready to help the victims cope with the trauma and agony after rape? The answer is probably ‘not yet’… the interrogation, the medical exam, the humiliating details, and the intense media glare – aren’t these as violating as the rape? And then label her as “different” is to doubly victimize her. In any civilized society, the burden of “shame” associated with rape lie only with the perpetrators, not the victim, for our information.

Wake up mighty Indians! It’s time for some shame… Indeed! it is time for us to feel the searing shame our society has until now only imposed on its female victims. It’s time to sit up and talk about Rape… and its actions!

And women, a word or two for Us too! Till the time activists and pundits strive to bring in social change and legal reform, learn some martial arts so that you can protect yourselves in the event of an attack. Woman, you are not an object for male consumption, a commodity in the sex bazaar. It’s time to speak up, to act and stand up for your rights!

When Draupadi Speaks…

As one of the most significant characters in the Mahabharata, Draupadi has always fascinated me.Each time I read about her, I tried to decipher Mahabharata – and the events that follow – from her perspective. I also look for a more powerful and unique version of this character every time when reading about this fascinating woman. Read on: When Draupadi Speaks….

 

Tagore and Western Melodies

While I do not claim to be a Tagore specialist like most Bengalis (no offense on this as the overwhelming impression of Tagore in the hearts of Bengalis is immense) – I’d grown up with Tagore tales, music and poetry and found there’s something about Tagore which cannot and should not be ignored by anyone with a love for culture.

While his contribution to the world of Bengali literature is tremendous, be it in poetry, novels, short stories or music, one area that always inspired me is Tagore’s love for Western melodies and how he transformed them in his own way.

Where the mind is without fear and    the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been    broken up into fragments by    narrow domestic walls

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls

Tagore had described his own Bengali family as the product of “a confluence of three cultures, Hindu, Mohammedan and British”. Likewise, it is not surprising that Tagore was influenced by melodies from across the world and different religion from time to time. Western melodies, Irish and Scottish tunes to be more specific, have been presented innumerable times with different permutations and combinations of their original versions.

The western fascination in composition stemmed from the fact that Tagore went to England at the impressionable age of seventeen, and heard the tunes of Irish melodies and Scottish reels. While he went to become a barrister there (which did not happen as a matter of fact) the young man used his time in the foreign country to gain insights into its culture and music.

He returned full of high spirits and began composing songs for the evening entertainments that were a regular feature of his ancestral home; and many of these songs were inspired by his musical experiences abroad. His musical plays, “Valmiki Pratibha” and “Kal Mrigaya” feature quite a few of these songs, conveying emotions such as laughter or merriment, which was unknown in the Indian musical repertoire at that time.

Although Tagore did choose Bengali primarily as his medium of expression, he is indeed part of the global phenomenon, being the first legend from the east to have won the Nobel Prize. He is often called “Vishwa-Kavi”, which means the poet of the world – as his legendary writings crossed its boundary the Bengali culture to India and all over the world.

While I would not want to get into the theory on Tagore’s western influence etc – which I believe are sufficiently available online and offline, I would like to highlight a few of Tagore songs – from the many tunes he had composed- which are based on the western melodies and are very close to my heart.

Ami chini go chini

kotobaro bhebechhinu

Purano shei diner katha

Tomar Holo shuru

Alo Amar Alo

It’s All in the Cards!

We have often heard people say “I need to play my cards right…” when they wanted to make the most of certain opportunities present in their life.

There are several other expressions that we commonly use in our everyday conversations that come from the ordinary deck of playing cards. Have you ever heard someone say that they don’t want to “get lost in the shuffle” or ask the question, “what’s the deal anyway?” Its all about Cards!

Life is like a deck of cards

Life is like a deck of cards

Life is like a deck of cards, you don’t know what’s next, but as you pick them up and include them in your hand you play them as best you can. Sometimes the card picked up seems of little value for the game you are playing. Sometimes it’s a nuisance, other times it’s a game changer for good or bad.

Our life experiences are like cards, we pick them up as we play the game of life, sometimes unsure of how we will play them or what use they will be. These cards could be difficult experiences that will take time for us to realize how we can use them to perhaps pay it forward.

As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said: “Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.”

Doraemon’s Magic pocket

I wish I had a magic pocket from where I can pull out any amazing gadget and make life faster, effective and more meaningful. Just like Doraemon, the blue robotic cat from the future land and Japan’s best-loved cartoon character, who boasts of his four-dimensional magic pocket. These thoughts came up while watching Doraemon on the television with my little boy Kush. For him, this star of the manga is religion. Going by my age, I am expected to behave in a certain manner, say somewhat like a “grown up” mom and tell him “Too much TV is not good for your eyes Kush!!!”  But I also find it tough to resist Doraemon’s magic pocket full of cool gadgets. And we end up watching it together.

Doraemon’s Magic pocket.