Saturday, 30 May 2015

A poignant thought

Oh! You little brave one
You came out of nowhere and blossomed on my window
I look at you and I find the beauty of a perfect foliage
You get me thinking
Did you get all that you needed to grow well?
Was there any soil?
Was there enough sunlight?
Well of course you got enough water and air
But that's not enough for a plant to grow
I see my gardener taking care of the plants inside my house
And none grow as well as you do
And then I ponder
We cry and we crib
That we don't have that and this
I coulda, woulda, shoulda
If only I had enough money I’d do this
If only I had the right support I’d get that
If only I had the proper education I’d achieve everything I wanted
And then I look back at you
The drive to excel, the zeal to achieve is all in our hands
We lazy beings are simply blaming things around us for our failures
If you can grow out of nowhere and survive
Why can't we?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Day Made Special

It was one of those boring days where we had no clue how to make most of the coming weekend. Moreover, since I was in my final semester each day seemed like a weekend. Roaming in the hostel, lazing around in the bed in loose clothes, once in a while working on the project was the commonplace. Just about in time, my roommate got a call from a friend proposing a trek. The one word that can actually make me jump off my bed is ‘trekking’. I am not the most athletic person you’d have met, and I have a quirky phobia for running, but somehow I just love the idea of putting on my sports shoes and conquering the peak of a mountain.

Fort remains: The Final Top
Well of course, it wasn't a mountain per se. It was one of those many hills around Vellore, which I saw from the windows of my hostel room and wished to set foot on someday. And yes, now was the time. I took out my dusty, neglected Reeboks from the closet, cleaned them, picked up the right clothes and was all set for the next day. I still remember, I couldn't really sleep that night. I was unable to contain my excitement. I had been on treks twice before, but they weren't really adventurous, so I thought probably this could be it, just as it’s said third time’s the charm.

So we got up pretty early the next day, had a light breakfast, and left for the place where we were supposed to meet the rest of the guys. There were six of us. Before reaching the starting point of the trek, we had to walk through the meandering roads of a village. The local people around looked at us like we were some terrorists trying to infest their humble abode and while some seemed hospitable but the multitude of such welcoming people seemed less (you can’t really blame them). Anyway we finally reached the point where we had to set foot on the hill. 

Stairway to heaven
 The place looked quiet and serene. As we started climbing, we realized there were all kinds of people within us. One of my friends was pretty nimble, looked delicate but seemed sturdy and was moving quickly up there. Then there was my other friend who looked delicate and acted delicate and took baby steps. And then, I was a complete different species, a deer at one instance and tortoise at the other. Some were over the top enthusiastic. And rest of them were quite routine, walking up the hill the way it should be.The rugged terrain, slippery gravel, shortness of breath, noises of creepy reptiles and insects, nothing could really tarnish the drive to reach up there, our destination. And all that echoed my mind was “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll”. 
The city seen as one from the peak

Finally when we reached the ‘peak’, I could feel Dil Chahta Hai scenes flashing before my eyes, with the background music as its title song, played by a friend on his posh phone. The whole city could be viewed as one, something never witnessed before. The motley collection of gaudily painted buildings seemed like Lego houses, lightly visible through the layers of mists and fog. The final top had some remains of fort like figures. It seemed like a place where one could seek salvation, by simply sitting there and pondering over life and indulging in some hard core introspection. Amidst the jibber-jabber and our nonsensical photo shoots, I did steal some moments of solitude. 

A moment of Solitude
Everything around looked at peace something unlikely to my mental condition then. I needed to know, what had made me so irritable and intolerant and why my mind and actions weren't in sync. Unfortunately, I couldn't seek answer to those priceless questions. However, this close encounter with nature, surrounded by amazing company, great music and funny photo sessions rejuvenated me. After exploring that area for over an hour, it was time to bid adieu to the epic top.

Not anticipating the toughness of climbing down, we realized the journey down the hill was much more tiring and difficult, as compared to the one that led us up. Sliding through the steep patches, bruising our bodies, jumping and climbing brought the dormant kid within us back in action. Following the trail, our self-determined landmarks like the ‘Bodhi’ tree and the White Shiv ling were our hopes toward being on the right path. Finally reaching back to where it all started it did feel like it was worth it. After our five hours’ endeavour, we had to suffice our hunger, so we went to a small dhaba which served extremely satiable vegetarian food. We had butter Rotis, Daal Makhani, Palak Paneer and probably the most delicious Kheer I have ever had in my life. When we were back in the hostel we realized that all of us were suffering from acute body ache. But at the end of the day when you know you had a good day, the feeling overshadows every other pain. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

One Fine Evening

The Madras Square - A review

My friend Tanya and I are trying to make our time in Chennai memorable. So we are on a hunt for some great places to hang out each weekend. We came across a café called The Madras Square on Zomato. The pictures looked beautiful. And I’d been looking for picturesque locations to devour with my DSLR.
I’d have to say the, the place we visited today is probably one of the best places I’ve seen in Chennai. Situated in the interiors of ECR, on the streets of Neelankarai, The Madras Square is a perfect gateway if you are looking for a satiable European Cuisine and a photogenic rustic architecture. It’s the perfect place to quench your thirst for photography. The café is completely built of red brick stones on the outside with a hut structure that makes it all the more endearing and earthy. It is a place to relax amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
 I got the opportunity to only see the outdoors of the café. The grassy lawn has wooden chairs and table along with appropriately placed big cauldrons, pots, lamps with incarnations, and a unique bathtub resembling the Great Bath of the Harappa civilization, and some colourful puppets hanging by the trees.
The other half comprises of an art gallery and furniture store. It has Chettinad pillars, with a couple of Gautam Budha and Ganesha stone idols, along with big door that resembles the Thanjavur architecture. What I found as the main attraction was the huge and tasteful wind chime which simply cannot go unnoticed.
The scenery turns beautiful by the hour as the sky becomes darker. The use of yellow bulbs over the silhouettes of wooden lamp shades enhances the serenity of the environment.
We ordered chicken lasagna, potato croquettes, prawns and cappuccino. The taste was good; however, the quantity seemed a little scarce for the price.

It’s a cozy, feel good place, quiet, takes you back in a different era and yet very modern, a perfect place for breakfasts and cloudy days. 


The Changing Times

To the pathetic times that have been creeping in since time immemorial in the land of not one but multiple races called India. Irony, as to what the so called orthodox people claim the youth of this nation to be falling prey of: western culture is rather a land of people who are utterly confused about their tradition, caught in the cobweb of hollow customs without meaningful explanations. 

Dating back to the oldest times, we have heard this over and again, India is the place where Kama sutra was first written, women were respected, and sex was not such an eyebrow raising issue. So what has changed now, why rapes, atrocities, indiscrimination against the idol figure called women, have crept in? Some may claim the advent of the British colonial rule. As the British officers back in the time ‘introduced ‘raping the Indian girls, prostitution et cetera. Some texts bear testimony to the fact or myth (whatever one may prefer to refer it as) that India wasn't always so orthodox, in the olden times Indian women were allowed to indulge in polyandry, had the freedom to wear what now-a-days people might irresponsibly refer to as exposing; contrary to what the women in Europe were forced to clad in body hugging, suffocating corsets.

So we can go on arguing this futile argument about the actual tradition of our country, and it’s not about being like the West, it’s about getting back to our own roots, what India used to be some millennium before. We need to get over this sophism and we need to face the fact, every culture goes through a series of weathering, changes are ushered in, some good, some bad. There’s really no point playing the blame game. The million dollar question is why we don’t we feel safe in our own country? Why the way a girl dresses up has become such a contentious issue? Why going out late at night especially for a girl is a matter of concern? The list of questions doesn't end here I can pose many more questions pertaining to the problems of being a girl. Is being the possessor of the X-chromosome such a crime? See I tried restricting my self and there shot another question mark.

By all accounts we will reach at one misused, abused, banal answer: the girl needs to be married and her virginity must remain intact before that. It is an appalling fact that most of the people if asked will converge to this filthy, unreasonable explanation. It leaves me aghast when I see a woman displaying indiscriminate behavior toward another woman, which is pretty much a scene in many houses in India. For instance, the mother or the grandmother or the aunts supporting the boy for any of his faults over the girl, or the mother-in-law’s ruthless behavior towards her daughter in law, and so on and so forth. And moving on to the rape scene, it’s no more about safeguarding ourselves from the strangers, rather, many of the rapes happen by members within the family itself, with the burgeoning news of fathers and brothers being involved in sexual assaults. And yet another question is who all do we need to safeguard ourselves from. The answer doesn't lie with the government or the police or the law and order, it lies within us.

What we need to have is a change in mentality. Even in the times of growth and development people are caught in this delusional idea that only a son can raise a family, only  sons can carry forward the generation. The boy of the family must be fed well, given a better education over the daughter. But most importantly the boys must be taught to respect (if not worship) a girl. The families posing to be extravagantly religious, idol worshiping female goddesses should first teach their sons to be respectful to the girls. It’s all in the up bringing and how the society perceives women. Girls are not to be taken for granted, they are not weak, they are the source of life on earth, and a woman needs to empathize with other woman. They are not to be used as a commodity.

The recent mass insurrection against the gang rape of the brave-heart is what the nation requires. But as we know the public memory is weak, I hope that this voice against injustice doesn’t disappear in the banality. Although I pray that there is never any precedence that may give rise to another call for justice. We can teach our brothers, sons, husbands to act human in the real sense and know the importance of respecting the fellow girls, along with a complete assurance from the government and the law to take care of us. This issue requires a holistic approach at every level. And the least we can expect is the unwarranted comments from the uneducated politicians regarding preventing rapes. Because rape is not a disease that the victim suffers from, it’s a malaise of the mind of the rapist.

And so it’s not about following any particular culture. India is facing what I may prefer to call a phase of adolescence. We are standing at the confluence of the different generations trying to prove their ideals right. We need to go with the flow, accept what’s good, discard what’s not, because this isn't a land that belongs to one culture, race or ideal, it belongs to all those numerous civilizations that have intermingled to give it, its characteristic name, the land of diversity. Hence one cannot blame the way of living of a person for the rampant crimes, thereby completely nullifying the fault of the criminals and in turn vindicating the victims; this in context to the claim that wearing short clothes puts girls in trouble, or eating “Chowmein” causes men to rape or when Didi (Mamta Banerjee) said and I quote “Rapes happen because girls and boys talk frankly”. It is outrageously irresponsible on part of the politicians to bring in stupid rules to curb the so called drift towards the west and it is lame on part of us, the youth to try to become something we are not. This sounds easy to say and difficult to implement, but all we need is a slight change in the mind set, and things might not seem so convoluted then. Just give it a thought.