Sunday, June 19, 2011

A New Beginning and a brief review of Chalo Dilli

It seems that one can only maintain a blog when there comes a pause or interim in their life. Reading back through the blog I had written two years ago. I feel that I have come a long way from where I stood at the time I was writing and posting entries in 2009. I spent past two years ravenously and hungrily running and pursuing my dream of one day of acquiring a Phd and becoming a professor teaching college students about literature, life, society, and so on.
After two years of rigorous hard work with extra classes, a pending certification, teaching, and applications to colleges of which only one made through, I have realized that perhaps the struggle is more deeper than I had imagined it to be. For the first time, I had to take an extension for my thesis. Something that made me feel slightly inadequate but realized that it was a result of a lot of things - meshing all of my goals together, focusing on acquiring a Ph.D. program, afraid of what the next four-five years might bring - and the list continues and frankly, the remainder is the 20% that I have learned now which one does not have control over. However, I have realized that no matter what happens, one must continue to plough through the rough, dry, arid pieces of life and put their best effort forth.
One of the key things I have learned in the past two years is that my organization has slowed me down. I used to be tightly organized in my high school and undergrad years. No matter what was happening, I was on time early, my assignments were never delayed or late, and I successfully ended my school years. Therefore, this time I learned two key lessons I hope to use in the future - 1) never lose your organizational skills 2) never bite more than you can chew
However, I have realized that this is how one learns about this sort of thing - we make mistake - we try not to do so again even when we feel that the world is going to crash forth, we continue to not give up in our pursuits.
I finally submitted a thesis introduction I can be proud of! :) But in any case, enough about my self!
I want to review and recommend a film starring Vinay Pathak and Lara Dutta. Its a must watch! The film juxtaposes two opposing philosophies together - Vinay Pathak plays a man who despite all the problems in life continues to smile joyfully and with beaming, shiny eyes exclaiming "Koi badhi baat nahi/ What's the big deal?" Lara Dutta plays a sophisticated, investment banker used to comforts and luxuries of life stuck with Pathak in a journey that gets them from Jaipur, Rajasthan to Delhi, India.
Throughout the film, Pathak and Dutta encounter various faces of problems - from gangsters to the fear of snakes to corrupt police officers, however Pathak remains unaffected dealing patiently with each problem and smiling all the way. Dutta at first resists and cries during the difficulties unable to understand why Pathak is so nonchalant about the entire situation.
After watching this movie twice and really pondering about it, I thought of my own situation and career. I have been so hell-bent on my Phd - I have somehow not thought of anything else - in many ways thinking and behaving like Lara - which I think is a good quality in itself because it makes me dedicated to my goals in life. While open to changes, its these goals that have defined my identity and life. I want to champion and encourage students to read literature written in India. I want to make vernacular texts accessible to the disciples of academics - there is so much to be done and so little time! and quite frankly, I want to do it all.
Ay, but there is the rub! Then we have Pathak's character who in all difficulties laughs at the pain, remains cool and calm, and enjoys life. And this is where I get confused? The message of the movie was clear - there are greater problems in life and there is no use sweating over small stuff. I get that! But how do you balance your responsibilities and duties without worrying for them? Perhaps thats the dilemma everyone faces - how do you balance pleasure and responsibilities? How do you balance fun with work? How do you balance pleasure with pain? Where are the boundaries?
I am not sure if there is any answer to this dilemma or it should be resolved.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dakshina Chitra, Chennai, Tamil Nadu...almost a month after my arrival here!

I think its about time I began to reflect back in the three weeks I have spent here so far. I arrived in Chennai around June 24th, really nervous and anticipating where I was heading. I had never done an internship in and around India and have only spent time vacationing and spending time with my relatives. This time the trip was of a different specie. I spent mere hectic three weeks visiting and touching Delhi, Noida, Gwalior, finally Ahmadabad, and now all seems so far away now that August is approaching. I did not even realize where my vacation went. Now, I am currently working for Mrs. Deborah Thiagrajen, who is the president of Dakshina Chitra as well as the Madras Craft Foundation (my office in Besant Nagar).
In three weeks, I have become somewhat comfortable with my surroundings considering that yesterday I explored three shops: Nilgiri's, Spencer's, and More to acquire material for cooking at the guest house. Now remembering back, I still remember my first night in the guest house. I had never had an entire apartment for myself and for that too, two months. I arrived with things not working, for example, the fridge was dying, the bathroom flush faultering, and so on. I guess, before I talk of my life style here. I should mention my purpose of being in Chennai. I am currently working on three exciting projects. One of them is editing an ex-IIT Professor, S.S. Swaminathan's book on Mahaballipuram, working on an education booklet for children to see the Mahaballipuram, and finally working on collecting information for an art database website. I have now become familiar with the Besant Nagar Beach or better known as Elliot's beach, where I have had fried fish atleast 3 times, tried small and normal crabs, and prawns. I usually work three times a week, while two days of the week I have decided to work from home.
Its been a month since my arrival in Chennai and beyond these projects, I am thinking of creating something to show my understanding of Chennai. Perhaps a photo book in the next month, which captures the life of T N. Sorry, I sound so colloquial! In any case, the first week of mine was spent in Dakshina Chitra. There were sprinkles of Hindi-speaking people found in the center and I made two really nice friends, Sanjeev and Preetam, who helped me settle into the life here and educated me with the ins and outs of Chennai. It was also the time when I realized how much I miss home and how much luxury there is in the States or even London. For example, maintenance has never been issue in the States but here, one has to call the plumber/electrician 4-5 times before the work is really done. However, now that I am reflecting on it, I think thats what makes India interesting and special. Its because as much as its progressing and its gradually becoming a global power, but because of the vastness of population and lack of resources, it will be another 100 years before it reaches the status of America and London. I also went to Mahaballipuram with the other intern, Kiran, who is also as helpful and really fun to be with. I should start posting photographs of Chennai and taking some more.
So far and overall, I have learned and am beginning to question two things. 1) the first is more general and more work-related, I was looking through the basis for Dakshina Chitra and its roots and how much it took to launch this extravagant cultural center 2) the second is that underlying conflict/discord between North and South? There is really no need for it. We are all Indians at the end of the day, sometimes, it really troubles me that cultures have this perception that their country is the best to which I have no issue and being a global citizen, I guess I can only call the world mine without the artificial boundaries, which were created by us human beings to further increase the distance and distinctions between people. For example, Tamil is the official language in Chennai, which I respect. When I was taking this workshop about National Folklore, this was one of the most underlying conflicts here: the language issue and its an issue, I think, we all have. When all the Indians, Chinese, other races come together, we tend to be drawn together and become inconsiderate for those who are not able to understand us.
In my youth, in 5th grade, I still remember Preshtha, my childhood best friend, and I used to travel back and forth on MRT in Singapore giggling and chuckling about the people around us, especially the quirky ones. Believe you me, even sometimes, when I am surrounded by Hindi speaking people even I get tempted to converse in my native tongue...but now that I have been on the other side of the grass, I have realized that one should atleast try to incorporate and try a universal tongue. If its not possible, then atleast include those who are not from the native. Although this issue sometimes leaves a bad taste in mouth, I realize that I am the guest here. I should be respectful to their expectations etc. However, that is not to say that despite the cultural shock, people are not helpful. The watchman's family, which stays within the compound of the guest house I am in. Despite the language barrier, there is enough communication and affection that they have become a part of my daily family life as well as Beth, who lives upstairs and has become an unofficial housemate:).
However, my question to all is that can we ever look beyond the boundaries, which cause us to stereotype people on the other side and see them as human beings, who are as emotional, humane, and like the rest of us. Perhaps, its an utopian thought but I wonder if India will ever feel reunited instead of the Hindus claiming their past, the South Indians their past, and the Muslims their own past, rather all the numerous races claiming separation from one another. In today's date, do not we all co-exist in the same soil, live together, eat together, and rejoice in all holidays and cry when we all suffer!
I apologize for this emotional bit, it becomes frustrating when one realizes the cultural segration and having experienced it almost everywhere from Malaysia to Singapore to States, its really strange to find it in my homeland as well!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bricklane by Monica Ali

So I spent the last week in Missisauga, Canada where not only did I have an amazing family reunion but also was able to acquire a well-located studio apartment at the heart of the central campus! I do not want to jinx it therefore, will not get into much details. Anyhow, I ended up reading Monica Ali's Bricklane while I was at vacation and just watched the movie yesterday. It was in one of the pending novels, which I had brought way back when I think in 2004 when I went through this phase to buy books and books and books and did I mention books during my stay there. I was a young girl, I can be forgiven:P.
Bricklane is a story of a married housewife called Nazneen, who envies the life her sister back home in Dhaka, Hasina, leads while Nazneen's life revolves around her husband, Chanu (In the movie, played by Satish Kaushik), and her two children, Sahana and Bibi until she has a torrid affair with Karim, her supposed boss who overlooks all the work she does at home. Bricklane is a story about a broken dream, a hope and faith in one's homeland. It is also a story of immigration, of assimiliation, of hopes and dreams, and the dynamics of an arranged marriage. In the beginning, one gets the impression that Ali is condoning the concept of the arranged marriage, where Nazneen, an older man, who has never looked at her or even met her but the novel and movie present a surprise to all the viewers making one question their own identity and place within the society. This story questions the definition of home? It is a question I face whenever I think in retrospect to my teenage years. There was a time I called Singapore my home away from home and now living in the states, my address, has become my home where I dedicated my high school years as well as commuted to and from my undergrad university. The saying, though, home is where the heart is holds true and it is what is portrayed in this movie/book. The movie however, cuts the most important premise in the novel, which showcases the comparisons of Nazneen and Hasina. Hasina is alive in the novel writing letters, but Haseena is only showed as a silhouette or a figment of Nazneen's imagination in the movie, which some times becomes disappointing and seems incomplete. Karim is portrayed as young as he is in the novel and his identity as a British muslim is prominent in his dialect as well as way of talking. He is a refreshing change to Nazneen's monotonous life. Nazneen's passions come alive in his arms and his seriousness towards his identity as a British muslim becomes prominent in both the media.
Through the lens of the Nazneen and her family, Ali comments on not only the societal issues, which Bengali muslims face in Bricklane, London (which I visited in Spring 2008) and the plight of Muslims and their treatment post 9/11. There is an interesting relationship, which takes place between Mrs. Islam (from whom Chanu borrows money for a computer). They change a lot in the movie, which sometimes works to the advantage of the visual portrayal of the movie, while sometimes damanges the poignancy of the situation. Nazneen who is demure and inarticulate as well as the dutiful wife in her household. I am tempted to give away the ending but I will keep my lips sealed. Satish Kaushik (director of many social Hindi movies mostly starring Anil Kapoor) is a must-watch. This is the first time I saw him in a serious role versus seeing him the comic roles, which I have seen throughout my childhood. He astonished me by his skils especially of anger, I have never seen a man so angry as him. His portrayal as Chanu is well-thought of and articulates Chanu's struggling character, who has ideas to help his life as well as his family's life better, but despite many attempts, circumstances do not favor him. He is educated man and yet struggles to keep his family. He also is a patriarch and does not give Nazneen an authority or even a space to implement her agency in her family. To him, she is his wife, his daughter's mother, and that is enough for him. He does not have think that she has an identity of her own. He does not allow her to start work until she herself pushes out of her cultural barriers. Overall, an informative story and a must-watch movie!
Today I crave Singaporean noodle soup and hence, I will be making it soon for lunch before flight to India at 3:30. Whenever I have internet access, I will update the blog especially in Chennai till I return here before going to my grad school!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Canada, Backache, and Poems!

I begin my day today with advils and more advils! As much as I hate complaining about my health, I guess I have no choice but to do so. The hours of excercising and its strain finally got to me! Why does age suddenly hit you when you're not looking? I no longer feel that I am the same child I was, and believe it or not, when I was young, I used to wonder: Why am I not old? Now its time to be alone and live my self, and boy do I want to return back to those days! Anywho, I decided to make up for all the time I was inactive this year and continuously excercise forgetting that my body also needs rest! I have decided to become more active in Michigan and balance both work and play, not letting either of the two elements overpower each other! However, for the past two days, I have been tossing and turning by putting all my effort as well as using a heat pack to counter off the ache! I took so much of my youth for granted!
Thinking that I will forever be frozen in the same health, etc...but now I see why there is so much hype over immortality and youth! And age is one thing, that goes up but never comes down! I invite people to think about this time: Would you change youth over immortality? If you had a choice to live longer, would you take that chance? or would you prefer the youth? It seems a silly question, but I think its basic human nature to take for granted all of these things and perhaps, even, now as I write this, I am taking for granted the joys of being a 23-year-old fresh out of college graduate! Perhaps! And I wonder, I have only had backache for two days and I feel so limited, how do people who are forever paralyzed or hurt, how must they suffer? The interplay of youth, age, life, mortality all reminds me of a fable I read way back when about a man who asked for a boon to become immortal, but he forgot to ask for youth, therefore he was to remain with the ailments of old age forever!
I have not seen any new movie, I think the last I saw was CK Company, a good movie, but it was released in December 2008! It was about three men, Tusshar Kapoor (from Golmaal fame and Jeetendra's son), Anupam Kher, and Rajpal Yadav. It was a hilarious look at the Indian Soap Opera Industry and gradually contained a bigger message of how as common men, we can make differences in our society, by becoming robin hoods? It was a good 2-3 hours and I do recommend it as a must-watch! I also watched Deepa Metha's Heaven on Earth (2009) starring Preity Zinta as the abused Sikh wife, brought to Canada, in a marriage where she is ill-treated and physically abused by her husband. A theme similar to that of Provoked starring Aishwarya Rai and Naveen Andrews (both from Gurinder Chadha's famous Bride and Prejudice). I found Provoked more appealing whereas Mehtha's movie blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. Her husband would transform into the Sheshnaag (snake) and she would communicate with him all the while having illusions and hallucinating. Because her movie was so abstract, it did not touch me as emotionally as Provoked did. Speaking of abused women, DO NOT read Shoban Bantwal's DOWRY BRIDE! (EVER) It was a complete waste of time, where the mother-in-law's evil nature was blamed on untouchablity and casteism! A big NO-NO while writing about societal issues. Bantwal's desperation to find an excuse to mother-in-laws who harrass for dowry was so obvious. Beyond this reason, the evil lies in money only. Money, which becomes a poison, and the lack of it becomes the angel of death for the brides, but not casteism. The mother-in-law was the result of a rape of her mother (well-bred) with an untouchable servant? How does caste decide this anyhow? Furthermore, this book was released in 2007! In the 21st century, yet people still believe that the cause of the evilness behind the dowry lurks in casteism! I think one book which I would recommend is Anita Nair's Ladies Coupe! Its a must read!
Today I had a discussion with my sister, Kopal, and she jokingly said that you will be a staunch feminist in the future. No, my goal is NOT to become a staunch feminist. I plan to help not only women, but also children. I help women because in India, while many are better off and treated with equality, a lot of women are abused, harrassed due to dowry etc and it is my goal to help those who are not able to help themselves. And children are vulnerable, the only way to shape their mind is education! I do not intend to be involved in politics etc where it is all show and no work, but to help NGOs and other organizations, which contribute to the cause and believe me as heroic as it sounds, the harder it is! And, I am in no want of recognition and neither is it possible for me to do it by myself! I plan to become a professor first to further become experienced, to gain more knowledge, to inspire more students, and then finally, when I am at the age when I can handle myself and have enough experience, will I venture out to cement my goals! I have also been brought up with the notion that in this life, I need to make something out of my life/career, which is meaningful and has an impact on people!
I guess when one does not have a stream of classes happening, one can ponder on these things (even with a bad back) but it does remind me of 2005, when I would update my Xanga blog during the Tsunami project! However, this time, I don't intend to stray away from my goal! Please do not think I am trying to be bigger than I am, I am only sharing my goals as I treat this as my canvas where I am able to project myself. Like everyone else, I have problems and issues and obstacles.
Next on the update is my trip to Canada, I fly tomorrow and will post photographs from there. It is my uncle's 50th birthday! And the entire family will be reuniting for 5 days of nothing but joy and happiness! Today I end perhaps with a chapter of my book called Love Marriage and a poem I wrote called "That One day" Now please do not laugh at Love Marriage I will post chapter by chapter! It was written in 2003, when I was obsessed with a boy, whose name I will not take! In the four years I had missed him, I had hopes that through this fantasy, perhaps I can relive the moments with him and create new ones. However, as puppy love is, it failed to work out despite hope upon home and today, I have no regrets and wish him the best.
First the poem:
That One Day….
One day you and I will meet,
Reconvene as the youth of our faces,
Will slowly decay, our skin old and
Wrinkled, hair no longer the shade of
Mahogany or brown or black,
Our hands will meet as we will
Share those moments of love
Pure and true

One day we will sit together
Perhaps on a bench in a chilly park
You will offer your coat, I will refuse,
You will offer the warmth of your
Sweater, I will blush.

One day, time will take over our lives,
God will call us and say your duties are over,
Help me in my endeavors.
That One day, I and you will meet
Up in the heavens. One of us waiting
For the other and spreading our hands
With love, as we meet, and
Reconvene forever!
This was written in London while I was observing an old couple on the train to Bath sharing sandwiches and looking outside. Their love inspired me to write this! and now for Love Marriage (I do warn you that after my romance failed, so did the ending of the novel, which was left blank until a few years ago when it was finally completed):
Love Marriage

Chapter 1

“Oh my! I am sorry. I didn’t realize I was walking your way.” Nisha proclaimed as she collected her books after she had bumped into Aman. “Its okay, I really mean it! You don’t have to pick those books up!” he bent down to collect them with her. She looked into his eyes and his features seemed so familiar she could almost blush as she remembered her past love life but she just nodded and smiled. He was looking at her with the similar feeling and remembering how much he had loved his Nisha in youth. They had been together for many years before Nisha ‘s family had moved to Houston, Texas.
Since then his dream had been to join a university there and to get married to her but life was not joyous. Aman had grown since the time Nisha had last seen him. A 23-year-old engineer at Houston University had made it to United States of America within a few years after Nisha left. He had changed his hairstyle and had grown thinner. Nisha, on the other hand, the conservative one became more popular and more loved by people. She still had strong, unbreakable feelings for Aman as she had the first time she had fallen in love with him.
Her marriage was still held back by a few years as she pursued her career as an English teacher. She still believed that no matter what the distance between Aman and her, they would never change their relationship and love each other till the end. People questioned her thoughts and tried to find ways to bring her back to reality. She kept her belief alive. Aman had been one of her priorities and was still but her thoughts were inclined towards her career. She had not given up hope. Aman, on the other hand, had only seen her once before a separation of a couple of years that seemed like centuries.
He worked twice as hard and it became an obsession to arrive and work in Houston. It had not been long before his dream came true except for one – Nisha. He was excited to see her but when he had arrived there, he had gotten butterflies in his stomach and was sweating as he called his sweet heart’s house. He wanted to see her and hold her tight in his arms but she wasn’t there. Each time he dialed the number and disconnected the line, he called himself a chicken. He was going for lunch when he had bumped into this girl who looked familiar yet so far away. Finally a thought popped into his mind – maybe this girl will know Nisha. His cheeks became red at this thought. His mother had told him to feel free when he called her home but his nervousness had been more overpowering. After debating for a while, he asked this girl, “Hello…I am new over here and was wondering if you could help me with something actually someone but first, let me introduce myself. I am Aman.” After pausing for a while, he took a deep breath and continued, “Aman Kapoor and am new to Houston. I was actually looking for a family by the name of Sharma’s.” The pale face of this face grew bright like as if her dreams had come true but she just shrugged on the thought. No reply came from this girl and she looked up again, her hands almost reaching to touch his face but then stopped.
Nisha was shocked as she looked up at him, “Was this and is this the Amar Kapoor I fell in love with in fifth grade?” she thought as she saw his features again. He had grown a small beard and looked like an actor ready to sign autographs. “Yes, I do know the Sharma’s but is it okay if I ask who the breadwinner of the family is?” Aman looked so happy that he could rocket up to the ceiling and wouldn’t feel pain. He was expressionless and tears came to Nisha ‘s eyes. She wanted to hug him and tell her that she loved him a lot. So finally, she thought of revealing to him who she was and how much she had missed him and longed for him. She took him by his hand and took him to her car and told him to wait there. She ran to her office and packed up her accessories and laptop. She ran to her car and saw him awaiting the ride to her family. She wanted to keep it a surprise and was determined to make it a pleasant one. She put on the music she had known Aman had loved since childhood. He looked astonished but had relief his in his eyes. It had been an unexpected rendezvous but she thanked God for making it possible. She drove through the streets and asked more about the Sharma’s and more about her. He blushed as he described Nisha when she was young. She giggled to the fact that he was oblivious to the fact that the girl in the next to him was his Nisha. They reached her house and he was sure that the address looked so familiar that he could have sworn that he had heard it before. She knocked at the door and then a surprise glided past him. It was his aunty and Nisha ‘s mother. “What was she doing here?” Both of them walked into the house and he awed at the d├ęcor of the house. As they walked into the living room, they found a family and a man about their age sitting and consuming tea and cookies. They looked at each other and his heart came crashing down like a flight whose fuel is taken out within minutes of a departure. He had waited so long for Nisha and she wasn’t going to be his. Nisha ‘s mother looked at the girl and said, “Nisha beta, why did you take so long. Ajay has been waiting so long for you to come and who is this?” Nisha looked down, unable to look up and especially not into the eyes of her beloved. She told her mother that this was Aman – the Aman she had been long awaiting for. Her mother was shocked at this news. Her daughter’s dream had come true while she had thought that her daughter ‘s love life had been a fragment of puppy love – an infatuation. To be on the safer side, she had accepted the proposal for her daughter from one of her best friends there. She asked Nisha to take Aman upstairs and wait for Ajay to come up. Her daughter had looked at her and said “Mummy, please! It’s too embarrassing. What am I going to tell Ajay? Maybe I should tell. Please don’t wait; the one I loved since young is here. It is already an unexplainable event that all of a sudden I bumped into Aman without even knowing that it was the one who I loved. I was so happy that finally, all our dreams would come true and we could happily soon after but now another obstacle to cross. Ma, I am getting exhausted out of these tests. Please, I need a break!” Aman and Ajay had begun to spin a conversation when Aman was called to Nisha bringing suspicious frowns on Ajay’s face but he knew he could trust Nisha so he let Aman go out of his sight with his darling.
The walk up to Nisha‘s room had been the longest since Nisha remembered. Slowly, she took Aman into her room and made him sit on her bed and said, “Aman, I am Nisha, Nisha Sharma and I really missed you a lot- more than anything, more than anyone and most of all,” she paused and with a deep breath continued, “I have always loved you, more than anything and more than anyone in this world but before we could construct our dreams into reality, I have come into such a problem that I have no clue to what’s going to happen next.” She realized that she was talking to the walls and she put her hands on her face to avoid the tears from falling. Aman still looked shaken to the fact that it was the same Nisha that he fallen in love with. He walked to the door and locked it. He walked over to Nisha and slowly removed her hands from her face and said softly, “Nishu, don’t cry sweets. You know how much I love you and will always love you. Come on, we have been strong for so many years without being near to each other. Now that we are close and have each other close to us, why all of a sudden you’re breaking down, huh? Tell me, why?” She looked up at him and both of them hugged until the time when they realized that they were both crying so hard that they were afraid to make each other feel helpless without them. Nisha wiped the tears from her eyes and slowly opened the door and saw what she was afraid of – Ajay. Ajay looked at both of them with a sense of betrayal and heartbreak. He wanted to blame them for not making him aware of this tale of “Aman and Nisha”. But all he could do and say was, “Nisha, what took you so long? Mum and Dad are waiting to see their bride.” Then he heard the words he had hoped that he wouldn’t have to hear any moment of his life. She hesitantly replied, “Ajay, I have something to tell you and I really want you to be understanding as much as hard it is for me to tell you. We have to face the facts.” Aman ‘s eyes shined with hope as Nisha said these words. All of this had happened so fast that he had been afraid that he was going to fall down any minute and break his ribs. Nisha took Ajay by his hand and said, “Ajay, you mean a lot to me as a friend and some one real important who gave me strength to wait for Aman but I really can’t marry for you for several reasons. I don’t even know where you had that idea. We have known each other for a few years and bringing your parents without even letting me know that you were. I mean seriously I hate to do this and I don’t know what day it is, that I am getting my life so complicated that.” Ajay looked at Nisha and realized that she was really honest and all he could do was look at her. Aman came up to him and said to both of them, “Nisha and Ajay, lets just take a break and go have a cup of coffee and figure the situation out! I know Nishu, its too much too handle in one day but well, I guess no one has control over the future except for God and I guess, He wants it this way, lets go. Ajay, could you do us a favor and ask your parents to come some other time, please.” Ajay left the room and Nisha again went into the arms of Aman and just hugged him tightly. Aman caressed her hair and said, “Nishu, again. Look at me…everything is going to be alright, I promise.”

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weddings, Life, Health, and Family

So today I begin the day with the thought and well-wishing for one of my best friends, Sukhvir. She recently got engaged to a man, who to all of us is a perfect match for her. She is a sweetheart and deserves the best! I also witnessed the simplicity of a Sikh engagement. It was beautiful, I took my camera, but was too engrossed in the ceremony to taint it with random flickers :). The family she is entering is very jovial, very movie-like, and she deserves the best! I am so happy for her and God blesses her!
Yayyy! New episodes of FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD have arrived on, I love Mondays! Funny days don't affect one when he/she is on vacation! I think maybe I should start reviewing things for fun! I will do it post-epsiodes! and whilst then, I leave with a poem I wrote right after I had had a brush with death a year back right before I left for London! More details to come later...Family Guy time:
Life & Death
Within a split second, life takes a turn,
Almost literally a car skids amongst the slimy ice of the road,
Each minute the soul yearns
Inside trying to find a grasp of the situation,
Trying to, trying to…
Realize the incident’s intensity, viscosity,
Stuck somewhere in the city.

For a split second, the line between
Life and death permeates, the latter
Seeping into the earlier, and like a tsunami
Sending shockwaves within the soul of the body
Each shock wave illuminating the mere mortal coil
Trying to, Trying to…
hold the situation, ration-
alize in the mind that something is wrong.

Within a split second, life takes a turn,
And at the brink of toppling, unimaginable
Events take place in one’s mind, what one
Could have lost, could have gained,
Could have never seen, could have seen but yet would
Could never see again.

A split second, life, sigh,
Takes a split second of one’s life,
And takes everything else with it,
Yet that split second when its coming,
A synonym for death, for the end of life,
Never gives a warning, it just comes,
This split second, yet it is coming,
Somewhere, sometime, where once again,
The line between life and death will permeate,
But for old age and for peace!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My early writings (Junior Year of High School so 11th)

I am still waiting reactions for the movie! :) , it is truly a must-watch! Anyhow, those discussion can wait! As for a new movie, I haven't seen a completely new one I guess to due the strikes in the Hindi Film Industry! I did start reading Monica Ali's Bricklane (I was missing London) and probably will finish it in two-three weeks! Times have been changing so fast! One of my childhood(high school) best friends is getting married and soon! :) My another childhood friend was recently engaged! I will be going to Michigan now on the 25th May! We missed the flight due to oversleeping and no alarm waking us up! But somehow, I guess, it's allright! It happens! I am forgiving to fate :P :D nothing else can be done about it! :) Lets see other than life undergoing a string of milestones, I have finally started doing what I loved to do...which was to write and talk! I used to have an account on Xanga! and would design it with photos!
The funniest memory I have is that when Veer Zaara (2004) had come, I had taken its poster and posted it saying "Look at how delusional love is" :)) but I have a come a full circle! I was blogging before/after graduation in 2005 from High School, I continue to return to the same art in 2009, when I have left UCONN forever! The biggest loss I have had is my friends there and professors! Though, I am looking forward to a future in Michigan! Back then, now that I think about it, I would have never thought I would reach the age to gain my Master's Degree. Back then, it was a goal...something which OLDer people did, not me, I was young and silly and naive! But today, I have come across that stage and I cannot look back! There is a line from an old hindi song, which says "musafir hoon yaaron, na ghar hai na thikaana, bas chalte jaana hai" or "I am a travellerl; I have no home or no settlement, I have to keep on walking" I guess until the day I achieve my doctorate degree, I am a traveller taking a journey (an intellectual as well as social one) to achieve my dreams and goals) hahah Now you see why I named my blog that! haha....I have had no time to look at current events! The best news though is that Manmohan Singh is still the PM of India!
The rest I spent yesterday watching a two-hour special segment on "In The Womb". It focused on Lime Shark, Wasp, Penguins, and Kangaroo! Did you know that shark embroyos feed on the remaining infertilized eggs to nourish themselves while they are developing?" Nature has a solution for everything! or that Wasps use a caterpillar as a surrogate mother for them! and and and the cutest and adorable one, when Kangaroos are fully developed and have just 12 weeks left in their mom's sack, they come and go out of it briefly before they are left indepedent, and the best one! Penguins are nurtured by both parents. Unlike the mothers, it is fathers who walk around with the egg till their wives go and get more food! and in the Antartic, when it is harsh cold weather, they huddle together taking turns for warmth! AMAZING Nature! Now, not to be sarcastic, but but but why don't the most intelligent and knowlegable creation whether by God or destiny use the same instinct to be with the remaining human beings!
Not to say we don't, we do! and and like in the movies, did you know male kangaroos box each other to vie the love for their women! It was adorable! But, what makes us different from them is that while many of these youngs come out indepedent and safe, us human beings are born vulnerable! Speaking of which, the image I get is of The Slumdog Millionaire, the movie which caused commotion throughout, agreed it's reality the suffering etc! But, watch Swades (2004) starring Shah rukh Khan and see the same suffering in a more hopeful light! I know I know there is a huge craze generated by this movie and it does depict reality, then why does Yahoo news! publish how the slum kids who STARRED in the movie are left alone without a house, being taken advantage of, why their complaining that promises they made has been left unfulfilled by the director! And now I leave you with my writing called The Struggle! I don't remember when I wrote it but definitely when I was 18 or so:

The Struggle

Transcended from the sky I arrived,

And now, I am lost.

I am spirit floating amidst life

Ready to land in a mystical forest,

I know, for it is not a compromise,

That I will struggle,

I will be suspended in a hellistic atmosphere,

Where vines will become shackles,

They will keep me from freedom,

But, the harder they grasp, the stronger I will become,

Then, one day, out of the blue,

My strength will be optimized

And with all the pull I have,

I will escape, not like a criminal,

BUT like a bird adorned with liberation

And I will find, my salvation

My nirvana

And YOU will be there…

~Nidhi Shrivastava

Chapter 1

“It’s been years since my son, Alex came into my life. Then, I was just at the tender age of sixteen when I was handed by the nurse this small miracle.” Lisa was talking to her nurse at the Juno’s Old Age Home. Her excitement had arisen since Alex, now forty- eight years old, was coming to take her home.

Lisa had grown in the fifties when the society reluctantly accepted teenage pregnancies while her family itself had disowned her. All her life she had created an image of herself as a perfect daughter, her family had venerated her presence. She was at the epitome of her success in life in her senior year when she had been accepted to go to the college of her dreams – Yale University. It was not a surprise her excitement had overpowered her judgments ever since she received the acceptance letter that allowed her a pass into her dream college.

The day had been blessed as she had been sleeping after slaving away for hours on a project that she had fruitfully prepared with her friends for her sociology class. It was six-thirty in the morning and her mum woke up from her side of the bed dressed in pinkish-silk gown. Her mother was at the prime of her life almost completing half-a-century. She had worked hard all her life to raise her daughter while her husband had been with the army to the war in Japan during the 1940s. It was not a surprise that she was over-protective of her family. Her isolation alone in the states worked towards building her independence as a single mother while she tried to make a stand for herself in an unknown land. It had only been a few months since they had arrived in the New York City upon Luis IIV from Britain. She had escaped the world war but her husband was unable to free himself from duties of the war.

Lisa, herself, had grown to the age of sixteen. She was a bright child who had gotten used to the American culture during her growth as a descendant from Britain. Unlike her mother, who was unable to receive the sweets of education, she blossomed in a world where she was humbly accepted by the society.

Her life had been the most successful. Her parents were proud of her achievements as he was labeled the valedictorian of her class and praised by each and every one of her teachers. Nikita, her best friend, was always supportive of her decisions and like typical teenage girls their interests were – grades, boys, clothes, and mall. They were known to being the best friends that every one wanted to have. Both were honest to each other and always well wished each other on each achievement until one night.

May 10, 1956 – the day that would change Lisa forever. It was also the night of her prom. Her date, Jake, was one of the jocks that she had recently started dating and was well in love to realise his real character behind the hundred-watt smile he carried with him. The day itself was the highlight of the lives of many high school juniors. Lisa was excited, she had done more than enough to deserve a night as such as this, but she was unaware that she would regret this date in the upcoming days of her life. Jake arrived adorned with a tux rented from a nearby suit store. He looked like Humphrey Bogart with his handsome features being in effect with the corsage he had had for her. Lisa, on the other hand, looked like a princess dressed in a silver-grayish gown with small spaghetti straps.

“Wow,” said Jake astounded at the beautiful creature that stood amongst her family, “Lisa, you look like an angel descended from heaven.”

“Do I really?” Lisa smiled teasing her current beau.

“No, seriously,” he remarked, “you look like a fairy without the wings.”

While they were conversing, her dad reminded them to leave. She was amazed at the size of the limo that he had rented for her. It was then she contently sighed and knew in her heart that it was going to be the night of her life.

Lisa twirled around with Jake and danced like she had never danced before. It was only the couple till he left to get a punch for her. She was unaware that he had had a bad reputation in school and had a trusting temperament.

“Here you go, Lees”, said Jake giving her the glass of crimson-red liquid

“Thank you,” said Lisa as she took the glass from his hands giving him a smile sweeter than chocolate.

He took her into his arms and both danced to a slow song losing them selves in this process.

“Oh Jake! This night is so romantic,” she said coyly recalling the way he had asked her to the prom. This was only their fourth date and he had been promising to her.

“Hmm…” hummed Jake slowly trying to move his body to the tune of the band.

“Jake,” stressed Lisa louder this time, “Are you listening?”

“Lisa darling, of course I am,” he said agitatedly

“You’re really acting strange today,” she remarked herself getting curious – pearl-like sweat was dropping down his forehead and this made her further interested in his behavior.

She decided to further their conversation while dancing to the tunes. “So have you decided on the college that you are going to?” Lisa said as she looked at the other couples dancing to the band.

“I am still quite unsure, love”, he replied distracted

The word “love” hit her like a knife – “what was he thinking?” though Lisa to herself. He had held her close all through the dance that she felt like breaking away from the grips after a while.

“Lees, you want to go to the after-prom party?” he proposed

“Jake,” she said reluctantly, “I have to get ready tomorrow to visit Yale.”

“Come on”, he coaxed, “it will be the best time we will have”

“Let me think for a while, Jake”, she said unsure of the excuses to make, “lets sit down. I am getting exhausted. If we dance some more, I will fall here right now.”

He snickered and gave her a look that she could not have forgotten even if she was blind.

“Don’t give me that look, Mr. Robertson”, she teased

“What look?” he said curious at her accusation, “I ain’t giving ya any look, ma’am” he said trying to imitate Andy Griffith from the classic show.

Both of them laughed at his imitation and sat down for a while talking to each other about television programs like I Love Lucy, future plans, and dreams.

The prom eventually did come to an end leaving the school gymnasium a torture to clean for the next day.

Lisa and Jake were one of the last couples to leave the ceremony and stayed later than they had expected.

“Phew,” said Lisa seated in the car smiling as he walked towards the driver’s seat, “I had the best time of the life. Thank you so much, Jake.” She pecked him on the cheek.

Soon the car was heated and she ended up doing something that she would have never even thought of doing so soon!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Graduation, Life, and everything as such

It has been a week since graduation and life still has not set in yet. Perhaps it is the anticipation that I will return back into the whirlwind of an undergraduate where life, despite, having rules and regulations is enriched with just experiences, which makes one more older and mature! Looking back at the four years, I have learned so much both experiences have been sweet or sour. I have learned a lot in these years and come across challenges as well as successes but it all sounds so cliche. Now new opportunities are coming my way, in two weeks, I will be flying to India for two-three months, where majority of time will be dedicated to the internship in Chennai. I know this experience will further mold me into a more learned person, but the sheer mystery of a new city, a new world, new cuisine, new everything is creating fireworks in my mind: how will I survive?What will I do there? To be in a place where people do not even speak the same language as I do. (London was comparatively more easier)! However, this challenge is one I am looking forward to plus I adore India! Despite all the problems it faces, it is my homeland.

So far, this year has been interesting. However, I have never felt more happier and satisfied than in the past few years. I have become confident, vocalized, stronger, and so on thanks to a few people who know who they are, who made me the person I am today. However, I have a lot to learn and perhaps, life will always continue to present me with challenges and perhaps it is as such for everyone like as well. I guess sometimes we forget that everyone is in the same boat as me. Now, I am looking back at these four years and I feel a sense of accomplishment and I feel lost. Perhaps, it will all change when Michigan arrives. Another fear that has been overcoming my days is the sense that I am no longer close to home. Michigan is 12 hours away from here just by driving! Being away from home scares me! It is ironic the more I try to come closer to home, the further I go from it. I am leaving for Michigan tomorrow morning to look for apartments. It truly is a milestone!
This year also took every ounce of sanity I had within me. Though I had 5 classes, I think if I look back, most of it went on spending time with wonderful friends and books, oh believe me, books! books, books, and more books! However, now I am looking forward to fresh reading, writing of poems and perhaps stories, and then finally, one day, I have hopes of publishing a novel! I have some material written from high school, two silly novels entitled "A Love Marriage" 40-page romantic novel probably filled with all the fantasies I had of my then-crush, and another one called "Love At Its Hardest" an attempt to translate a dream I had had way back when, which I think, did not continue because the characters were too strong and began to overpower the story, and thus I stopped writing it. I do intend to resume writing and intend to start publishing within a year.

I think I have a clear idea of what I want out of my life now. I want to gain the doctorate degree in probably Literature, in combination with a Masters in South Asian Studies (India) and Women's Studies and teach at a college level about the Indian culture about women, society, culture, problems, and perhaps inspire students to look into these issues. I do have personal ambitions "a so-called bigger goal" but I feel I will jinx it by publicizing it! I have also changed from whom I was in 2005 versus today! The Nidhi in 2005 probably will not be able to understand that one day she would grow to become confident, indepedent, vocal, and hopeful! She was too lost in her "la-la" land where she believed the world was all beautiful and wonderful. The little glimpse of the "real world" was shown to me in UCONN, when I came across experiences, which were both positive and negative! However, I have no regrets and no anger towards anyone! I am thankful to them, actually, for giving me what they did! Perhaps, I wouldn't have been the same today without them! I learned that your true friends are those who are there for you despite everything you do! I learned that somehow despite so many moves I have been able to gain a fair amount of friends, who are more family less friends! For whom, I would give the world! I also learned that sometimes no matter what you do, you can never please/satisfy the ones who are anti-you (?). I am happy for everyone now and now I follow the policy: Live and Let live. Keeping it short and simple!
Other than that, I have also gained a new interest in shows like Family Guy and American Dad and by pursuing a career in India, I feel that I have been able to balance my identity as an Indian :). I am still patriotic towards India, however, I am thankful for all the experiences I have had and before an Indian, I am a global citizen. I am a citizen of the world and feel that despite everything, all materialistic gains and successes, at the end of the day what matters are the people whom you have around you! And those who have been there for me, THANK YOU! NO matter how much I am grateful to you, I will always be humbled! :)

I will start reviewing novels and movies, both old and new, as they come! I have also begun to resume my excercising and dancing, this year killed all the activeness I had in me (I know I know I have been repeating this phrase but but I cannot help it)! and so far, every day, with the help of one of my best friends, Rajbir, we have been daily working out! I plan to be swimming atleast once a week in Michigan and excercising regularly! :), I DONT WANT TO BE OLDDDDDDD!:(( ! hahahah.....It is ironic when I was young, life just pulled me towards people who were older and made me want to be free of the lifestyle I had...but now, when its time to be old, I want to reverse the days and perhaps take steps I wouldnt have taken back then! I am the most grateful to my parents who have been there for me at each moment! I hope one day I can make the most proud parents! :)

I will also be now maintaing my blogging after being inspired by both Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan because somehow it becomes my dairy! and those who care, will be updated! :)! But I don't expect people to read it! :). I will also review movies I have seen especially of social marks, which has affected me and books, which had cemented my views on life. Sometimes I wonder, I wish, blogging was more interactive. It seems to be always about "me". hahah I have never used so many "I"s as I have done in the mere passages I have written so far! So, those who respond :) and have things to look at and review books and as such, I will be more than happy to do so!

So now, to begin with, I want to share a movie I saw a few weeks ago. It was about the Gujarat Godhra Riots in 2002 and a man's look into the different communities. It is a realistic look and peering into the society, ruined by clashes of communities, which has plagued India for a long long time and I offer those who have watched it an opportunity to discuss the reactions after! If you spare 2 hours of your time to see the evil nature of Human beings. Lets discuss some solutions or something that can be done to prevent the spawning of further hatred! Because it is only humanity, which impacts itself! Can people look beyond race, gender, class, religion and other differences to realize that we are all human beings inside? Can we change ourselves and admit as well as humble ourselves?This movie is a must-watch and is contentious, so I warn you, brace yourself.

This movie is entitled "Final Solution" and is made by Rakesh Sharma, a contreversial film maker and is not been made popular in the United States. However, I do warn you. It will be heart-wrenching! And I just want to share it more than anything! And expose the inhumanity and beastiliness hidden in the common man!
And please do tell me what your reaction was to this movie!