The Book Tag

Considering that part of my blog name, here in WordPress, has something to do with books, I don’t really end up writing too much about books, do I? (Alright! Alright! I know! I know! I don’t end up writing much at all…period!)

Anyway, what better way to rectify this lapse than a book tag?!

There’s a tag that’s all the rage on FB right now where I’m supposed to list ten books that left an impression on me and then tag ten people in return.

My friends Monika Manchanda, Bali Sanghvi, Tripta Roy and Devdan Chaudhuri tagged me. Taking a cue from Monika, I have turned this into a blogpost 😄 What a clever idea, Monsie!

So, here goes, in random order:

1) The Harry Potter series: J.K. Rowling
2) The Mahabharata: Ved Vyas (various versions including ACK & Rajagopalachari)
3) The God of Small Things: Arundhati Roy
4) Those Days: Sunil Gangopadhyay (“Sei Shomoy”, translated by Aruna Chakraborty)
5) Chowringhee: Shankar (translated by Arunava Sinha)
6) Le Petit Prince: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
7) Chicken Soup for the Soul (specifically the first one I ever read)
8) A Streetcar Named Desire: Tennessee Williams
9) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Edward Albee
10) poetry by Tagore, T. S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Sharanya Manivannan and Sumana Roy

I know I’ve got some plays and poets in the list, but then, this list wouldn’t be complete or true to the person I am, right? Some others that I was loathe to leave out:
*Pride and Prejudice
*To Kill a Mockingbird
*Acts of Faith
*The Kite Runner

I’ll do the tagging on FB, but those if you who stop by, do share some of your favourites with me 😃

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“All About Robin”

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT9Eeg6aeszx7wlhO0Zwr5RV2scUc4EfO7yw3BaV-XeAVv2AON1LA

That’s what the fucking show should have been called.

Or, “How I Met Your Mother Even Though I Was, Still-Am-But-In-Denial, And Forever-Shall-Be In Love With YOUR Aunt Robin.”

Yes. I am…errr, was, WAS, soooooo was, a die-hard “How I Met Your Mother” fan and I was waiting with bated breath, such bated breath that my lungs hurt, for last night’s finale. And my lungs are still hurting, because there is this giant-sized sense of betrayal and rage that is lodged in the middle of my chest.

How could you?

For nine years we have watched you, rooted for you, hurrahed you, waiting for this grand romance, this sense of magic that would sweep over our lives and make us believe in all things beautiful, and this is what you do? You kill the ‘Mother’ who we’ve all fallen in love with, and get him to chase after Robin again? Robin?

How could you?

You give us this warm, adorable woman who WE ALL fall in love with, including Ted’s gang of friends and you just kill her? And you actually thought that giving her a stupid photo montage was an appropriate way to say goodbye to her? For nine years you make us wait for her and then you just kick us in the teeth and claw our hearts out.

Truth be told, we’re not stupid. This obsession with Robin was in-your-face throughout the series. At first it was endearing, then it got irritating, then maddening and finally, when Ted decided to move to Chicago because he just couldn’t be near a married-Robin, it just got oh-come-on-for-fuck’s-sake-enough-already!

We’re not stupid. What with Season 9 starting with a lovelorn Ted looking at Robin all mooney-eyed whenever she’d enter the room, it struck us that this man had an obsessive thing about this woman. It struck us that throughout these past nine years, all Ted has basically done is talk non-stop about Robin. It struck us that isn’t that kind of ewwww for the kids? It struck us that even Ted’s ex-girlfriends were wary of this woman from Victoria to Stella to Blah-blah, or Carol apparently.

But then, you introduce us to this quirky, adorable, amazing woman who you know is sooooo right for Ted. She’s right for us. She belongs. She was worth the nine years. She was worth waiting for. She was The One.

Except, you obviously didn’t think so. It’s Robin’s been The One all along. And that hurts. That hurt’s REAL bad.

We’re not stupid. Especially those of us who live in India and who grew up to a movie called “Kuch Kuch Hota Hain” where the hero marries his college sweetheart, who dies leaving behind letters to their daughter telling her to find father’s best friend, whose always been in love with him, and to hook them up. It may sound cheesy and schmaltzy but heck, I LOVE that movie! Yes, that’s ‘LOVE’ in capital letters.

You shouldn’t have done it. You shouldn’t have let us down so badly. People like me, who always vote for the nice one. You just proved, once again, it’s the gorgeous, stick-insects and not the sweet rays of sunshine who win. Ms. Spice over Ms. Sugar. The Hot Girl over the Girl Next Door.

Because you see, I am a Girl Next Door. You gave girls (errrm, yes, I know…poetic license to prove a point) like me, someone to root for. You made us fall in love with her. She was someone we could see ourselves being BFF’s with, giggling with, watching old musicals with, getting drunk on tequila shots with and going to book reading sessions with. Not Robin. Never Robin. We’re all Patrices to your Robin.

And so, to make The Mother so incidental, so insignificant in your grand scheme of things…yeah, it hurts achingly. Because, it’s not about The Mother. It never was. It was always about Robin.

We’re not stupid. We know that shit happens. And your series finale was shit.

But then again, despite knowing and feeling uncomfortable by the amount of coverage that Robin got on the series,  about the cringe-worthy scene on the beach where Ted lets her go and she flies away (WTF??) we still waited on the edge of our seats for that grand moment under the Yellow Umbrella at Farhampton station. And instead you bludgeon our emotional intelligence and deafen us with discordant notes from the Blue Horn.

Guess I’m stupid after all.

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April: CSAAM 2014

Dear Friends,

It is that time of the year again. To poke the dragon. That time of the year when we, a team of people, gear up and talk about that topic which is taboo but which should not be; that topic which is only whispered about, hastily, fearfully, but about which we should be making a loud, deafening din; that topic which many people believe to be an urban legend but is a frightening reality on a depressingly large scale . ‘That topic’ is Child Sexual Abuse.

April 2014 is around the corner, and we are ready to spread the word in our fourth year of CSAAM. Once again, just as we have been doing for the last three years, we talk across social media, via Facebook, twitter and blogs about the menace that is CSA . All through the month of April.

This menace must stop spreading. Children must be made to feel safe. Parents need to know how to talk to their children. Survivors must know that they are not alone. We cannot do all this alone and we count on your support and participation.

Partnering us in our efforts this year will be organisations working in this field like Arpan, Tulir, Human Rights Watch as well as online initiatives like Blogadda and Womens Web. You will see personal testimonials, expert advice, twitter chats, information sources, resources, workshops, an iPhone app and lots and lots of blog posts across the blogosphere.

We understand confronting this issue is quite uncomfortable. But we also know silence is not a solution. We need to talk our minds out. We need to act. We need to support.

If you would like to post on your blogs, do send us a tentative date, so that we can schedule your post. If you would like to participate in a twitterthon, do let us know. Even forwarding this email to anyone you think might be interested in participating and contributing would be very helpful.

If you would like to add to the discussion or know somebody else who would, please note that we welcome entries:

mailed to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com OR

posted as FB notes and linked to Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Page OR

posted on your own blog with the badge and linked to the main blog OR

posted on your own blog with the badge and linked to the main blog OR linked or posted on Twitter tagged twitter.com/CSAAwareness OR

linked or posted on Twitter tagged twitter.com/CSAAwareness OR

Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will of course be honoured.

You can also support us by simply adding our logo of the initiative to your blog’s sidebar. Grab the code below to do so http://csaawarenessmonth.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/batch-code-txt-2013.docx

Please remember to send a mail with all necessary links or just your input to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com so that we can track your contribution and make sure that it is not inadvertently lost or missed out.

Some guidelines

Please precede the title of your post with CSAAM April 2014. Then add a hyphen and your title.

Please insert the badge html in your post. If you carry it on your sidebar for the entire month of April too part from just within your post, we would be honoured.

If you refer to sources for information kindly italicise that part of your post which is taken from the source and provide the link to the original source in a bracket.

And finally please avoid graphic descriptions of the abuse. Stay as factual as possible if you’re doing first person accounts.

We need all your help to make this month a success, and are counting on your support.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

CSAAM Team

http://csaawarenessmonth.com/

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Two Kinds of Film Awads

I love the Oscars. Always have. Always will.

Actually, I shouldn’t say always. I used to love the Miss Universe competitions when I was a little girl and the Miss India ones while a teenager. I mean come on, mine was the generation that saw Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai put India on the global beauty map.

Now of course I loathe those competitions. And it has nothing to do with sour grapes and everything to do with the feelings of inadequacy they breed.

Anyway, here and right now, I just love the Oscars. I always set an alarm to get up at the crack of dawn and watch, but last night I forgot, so by the time I started watching, I’d already missed about an hour-and-a-half or so.

And I have to say. I was disappointed. I kept waiting to fall off my seat laughing at witticisms, sarcasms, in house jokes and great scripting and Ellenesque delivery; I kept waiting to brush away tears at well-rehearsed-in-front-of-the-mirror-then-brilliantly-emoted-and-executed-on-stage acceptance speeches; I kept waiting to have my fist-pumping moments in the comfort pf my pj’s and the privacy of my living room. None of that really happened… I switched on the TV to see a very confused Ellen fumbling over pizzas. I’ll catch the repeat to see if I missed anything because from where I was sitting, I didn’t find it too funny. And the subsequent collection hat to pay for the pizza? Over-kill.

And then there was Whoopie! The lady’s still got it! And them red shoes too!

Did NOT enjoy PINK’s version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ Don’t know why they didn’t just ask Liza Minelli to do it.

Loved the acceptance speech by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Had me going yeah, wow and awww all in good proportions.

What blew my socks off was the Swarovski crystal stage settings. Those crystal curtains, especially during Idina Menzel’s extremely lack-luster performance of ‘Let It Go’ were jaw-droppingly exquisite. Of course, I couldn’t help but think that it had some megalomaniac Delhi businessman thinking, “Ooh! Ooh! I want that for my daughter’s wedding!”

So, that was about it as far as the 2014 installment of the Oscars goes. What will people take back with them? I don’t know…pizza and crystals?

********************************

So. I’m back. After watching the whole thing.

So I’ve revised a few of my opinions, but not all.

PINK, still a ‘No’ in my books, despite the hullabaloo all over the Net. But I also understand why they probably didn’t ask Liza. She looked too Botoxed to be able to be able to hum a note out properly. Idina Menzel still disappointing after a second chance. Karen O’s ‘The Moon Song’ from ‘Her’ was beautiful and haunting. U2 was, well, U2, But the performance of the night was Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ from ‘Despicable Me:2’…it was joyous, brilliant and sooooo, sooooooooo bloody great!

Ellen’s opening speech was funny. Not uproariously so. Not laugh-until-you-cry so. Not even side-splittingly, pee-in-my-pants so. It was a bit haa-haa-hee-hee and here-a-chuckle-there-a-chuckle so. I think the awards-night-opening-act of the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler combo at the Golden Globes has really become a tough act to follow.

The Supporting Actor & Actress gave better speeches than the Best Actor & Actress, although Cate Blanchett’s was wonderfulish too, but the supporting guys, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o, yeah, they rocked. Yes, Leto had my eyes a-shimmering with tears unshed when he paid tribute to him mom and big bro. And yes, Leto is my new crush. Mmmhmmm…

A few gems:

Lupita Nyong’o: No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.

Cate Blanchett:  …(for) those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the centre are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money.

and my personal favourite, the one which will become a mantra:

Robert deNiro: The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing; isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.

Ba-dum-dum-tish!!

********************************************************************
It must be some kind of karmic prophesy that right after I finish watching the Oscars I get a message from a friend, Mithila Hegde, studying direction at the SRFTI. They just celebrated the National Students Film Awards. In fact, I went on Friday to see her short film in which I had a short role. Very, very well made. I was very proud of her, but horrified to see myself! God, I felt like adding a “Smoking Kills” type disclaimer on the screen, “Actress Not So Horrifically Hideous.”

The nice surprise was that I also got to see the short film my younger son acted in and I had tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face! Lovely story, lovely film! By a young man from Korea, Junghyun Kim.

So, back to karmic prophesysing and fortelling futures… Remember these two names, folks, because they are the stars of tomorrow. Milthila won an award for Best Documentary and Kim won for Best Short Fiction Film.

Who knows, a couple of years down the line, when I’m sitting in the privacy of my living room in the comfort of my pj’s, I’ll be fist-pumping and getting all dewey-eyed and sentimental when they announce a familiar name at the Oscars…

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Saraswati Pujo 2014

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Where,
amidst
dust,
scraps
and fish-market style
haggling
and bargaining,
our gods
are sold on street corners;

where babies
are taken from their
mother’s laps,
kicking,
screaming,
bawling
and wailing,
to sob with
other toddlers
while being
taught
to
play;

where children
are moulded
into parrots
and taught to draw rainbows
from textbooks;

where college seats
go to the highest bidder

and

where medical degrees
and fancy diplomas
have a price;

oh Maa,
what wisdom shall I ask
of Thee?

Sigh…
nevertheless…

Saraswati Devi,
Vidyang dehi namostute.

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February 5, 2014 · 6:25 am

CSAAM 2013

Those of you who have been part of the blog world for a while now, know that April is the month where a group of dedicated bloggers have been crusading against a common yet hush-hush malaise that afflicts our society — Child Sexual Abuse.

Forgive me. I think I trivialise it by calling it a societal malaise. In plain truth, it is a crime. A crushingly common one at that.

This group of amazing bloggers have been trying to raise awareness against Child Sexual Abuse for the past three years now and they have been doing a kick-ass job of it. Head over to the blog right now and you will be amazed. It’s all there, from survivor stories to counsellors’ advice to how-to-talk-to-your-children posts and much, much more.

Educate yourself. Educate your children. Remember, education is protection.

Anyone who has suffered sexual abuse as a child…it scars you.

Ask me. I know…

MY BODY REMEMBERS

My body is a receptacle of my memories.
My body is a storehouse of memories.
My body,
remembers.

My body remembers
the taste of pink bubblegum ice-cream.
My body remembers
the softness of kittens
and bubbles
popping on her nose.
My body remembers
the touch of snowflakes,
my body remembers
getting wet in the rain.
My body remembers
the warmth of quilts
on snowy, winter evenings.
My body remembers
the embrace of the pool waters
on a hot summer’s day.
My body remembers
the smell of bakeries
and pizzerias.
My body remembers
the smell of incense
and gods smiling benignly.
My body remembers
the first poem it ever wrote.

My body remembers
unwanted hands on my then flat chest
and equally flat butt;
being groped,
almost massage-like,
again and again –
like a piece of meat
under a butcher’s hands.
My body remembers
unwanted kisses
from unexpected
and unnatural  quarters –
from a dirty
old
man.
My body remembers
the smell of Pond’s talcum powder
and the sound of his laugh
and look in his eyes
and the feel of his
thick,
heavy,
calloused hands.

My body remembers
her shame.
Her tears.
Her guilt.
Her unworthiness.

My body remembers.

There are days
when I wake up,
wishing for amputations,
wishing for a lobotomy.

Cut me open!
Cut me apart!
Slice away at what makes me
cringe,
cry
and howl.

It’s what I want.
Maybe then,
I will finally
be
whole.

****************************************************************

(I can’t stress this enough…if you haven’t seen the blog, visit it now. Here is the link once more, in case you missed it in my post: http://csaawarenessmonth.com/)

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Fearless

Jyoti Singh Pandey’s horrific rape and brutalization on December 16th, 2012; her subsequent battle for survival and finally her death on December 28th, 2012 have been seared into our memory forever. This young girl’s harrowing and ultimately fatal attack at the hands of those five blood-thirsty, penis-powered, miserable scraps of humankind, has given rise to an entire movement.

Her attack and suffering spurred many candle-light marches and vigils, nation-wide debates, discussions and protests. It brought together women’s rights groups, academics, feminists, students, men and women to come together and formulate a draft that went to the Justice Verma committee. The Justice Verma committe then presented their report to the government.

Another aftermath of Jyoti’s rape and death was the rise of an ‘artistic movement’. And I use the term broadly. A parallel movement along with all the vigils, marches and petitions. A sister movement to “Take Back the Night” initiatives all across India and “One Billion Rising” schedules.

I would like to mention a few here.

Many essays, poems, monologues have been written in the wake of December 16th. Writer, teacher, poet and friend, Sumana Roy wrote a brilliant piece in The Open Magazine about this prolific outpouring of grief, appropriately titled, “Words from this Anger.”

An incredible performance piece that I had heard of and then seen on YouTube is theatre legend, MayaKrishna Rao’s “Walk.”

And then there’s the Fearless campaign. A brilliant initiative by the supremely talented, beautiful, gentle and wise artist, Shilo Shiv Suleiman. Instead of channeling our anger, she urged us to channel our inner strength, latent power and urged us to be FEARLESS. She invited artists, painters, graphic designers to make posters inspired by and including the word ‘Fearless.’ She was hoping for 150. She’s now close to 200 and counting! Yes. The response was, to put it mildly, incredible. The works of art that are still poring in are awe-inspiring. Some make your jaw drop, some move you to tears, some make you want to spread your wings and fly! Many will make you want to smile; many will make you want to dance; many will make you want to stare at them for hours — all of them will move you. The posters are now travelling all over India and have gone international as well. The exhibit in Singapore’s Madder Moon gallery closes today, in fact. You can see for yourself, the gorgeous artwork here as well as here.

Now, I can’t paint or draw, much to my very great disappointment. I have all these posters dancing in my head, vividly, but I can’t translate them onto paper. And that makes me sad. However, the sheer beauty and power of the Fearless initiative, along with the Take Back the Night programs, did inspire me to write something.

Today being Woman’s Day, I thought it fitting to share my poem with you. More power to you all. Nurture your Inner Goddess. Love yourself. I promise you, you’re worth it.

FEARLESS

Permission, please
to dance.
Permission to speak up;
to be heard.
Permission to marry who I want,
or not marry at all.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to write,
to paint,
to create.
Permission to study.
Permission to ride the bus
without having your dick press into my back.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to take the bigger piece of fish.
Permission to run with the boys.
Permission to sing.
Permission to be a doctor,
an engineer,
a bartender,
a model.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to be loved as much as my brother.
Permission to live.
Permission to not choke on your bile,
give in to your lust,
be used as your pawn.
Permission to wear what I like.
Permission to pierce my tongue.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to wear a burkha
and not have you call me oppressed.
Permission to show off my cleavage
and not have you call me a slut.
Permission to oil my hair
and wear it in two plaits
and not have you call me a behenji.
Permission, please,
to look the way I want
and not be called
too fat,
too skinny,
too hot,
too ugly.

Permission to get married
and not have you call me bechaari.
Permission to get married and not have kids
and not have you call me heartless.
Permission to leave my kids at home and go to work
and not have you call me ambitious
like it was a dirty word.

Permission, please to dance.
With.
Boys.
Permission to walk the streets at night
and not be called a whore.

Permission to love;
one boy
or many along the way;
or maybe a girl
or two.
Permission to not love at all.
Permission to love only myself.

Permission to dance.
With boys.
On the dance floor.
Or alone.
On the dance floor.
And to not have you touch me
Permission to sing.
Loud.
Or off-key.
Or both.
Or softly,
To myself;
sitting alone
in my city,
with my tunes for company.

 

Permission to live.
Permission to breathe.
Permission to be fun.
Permission to be fearless.
Permission to be free.

Permission to walk the streets at night.

I shouldn’t have to ask.
And I never will again.
Because I’m taking it all back.

I’m going to be fearless,
I’m going to be free.

So take that
and get used to it,
because above all that,
I’m going to be me
and
I don’t need
your
permission.

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