The Little Things in Life- February 2011


I think I will make this a monthly post. Towards the end of every month, I will put up a list of the things that mattered to me or the things I loved seeing/doing during that particular month.

So here goes….

1. Desert

2. Sand

3. Cameras

4. Camels

5. Lord Krishna

6. Rain

7. Forts

8. Costumes

9. Colourful Duppattas

10. Notepads

11. Visiting Relatives

12. Foreign Tourists

13. Fossils

14. Hand Santizer

15. Long, intense chit chat sessions with friends

16. J.P. Tea Stall:  D- school!

17. Chai

18. Coconut Fen (!)

19. Trains

20. Caramel

21. Cinammon

22. Writers in Bath Robes

23. Trains

24. Sunshine!

25. Clay

26. Exotic birds

27. Havelis

28. Rajasthani Folk music

 

Advertisements

Sunshine: You make my Day!! :D


I am not exactly what is called a ‘morning person’, but somehow, I have always loved the sun and sunshine. And honestly, on days when I dont get up early enough to enjoy the sun for a long time, it really makes me sad.

The brightness of the sun brightens my spirit and gives me an energy and zest for life and work. Cloudy and rainy days have never appealed to me for that reason. The moment the sun comes out from behind the clouds, it seems the gloom and dullness in life has faded away from life giving me instant happiness and bringing a smile to my face!

Then there are just so many things that I am reminded of when I see sunshine streaming in through my balcony. Having grown up in the tropical climate of India, like every other Indian, I too share a long relationship with the sun.

In the winter mornings, I would see the maids and grandmothers of my colony oiling their babies’ bodies with sesame oil and taking them out for a stroll so they won’t feel cold. I would also then, hear my mother advising the maids not to do that because it will leave their babies tanned and brown. The other ladies too be out taking a stroll with coconut or jasmine oil in their hair, enjoying the warmth of the sun on their cooled heads. The men would be sitting in cane chairs in gardens or balconies reading newspapers or listening to the radio. So, the air was filled with the fragrance of a variety of oils and the blaring of old Hindi Bollywood songs, interrupted by the chatter of the ladies and the chiding of the men, telling the women to come back home or talk softly.

My mother, though she would not go out with the others and chat on the street, she would sit with me in the balcony on a charpoy, and peel oranges and peanuts and keep popping them into her mouth every few seconds. She would also, now and then, stuff some into my mouth. I, thus, would try to sit on the farthest end of the charpoy so as to avoid her feeding me with fruits and nuts, struggling with math problems or Hindi grammar. Eventually, I too came to enjoy eating oranges and peanuts in the sun. I still do.

Towards the afternoon, We could see all kinds of colours around us as the clothes had been washed and hung out to dry on the clotheslines and railings. We would see long red, pink, and yellow duppattas flying in the wind. We could see someone’s colourful printed bed sheets and even children’s underwear hanging along with the rest of the families’ clothes.

The moment right before evening is my favourite. Around 4 o’clock, the sun, as it moves to the west burns as bright as it can and says its final goodbye for the day. That is the moment, when I feel like I am saying goodbye to a friend and stand in my balcony, watching the sun gradually moving behind the buildings and preparing to set, feeling its final heat and love.

There are also numerous things that I love doing and I feel like doing when the sun is out in the day. These urges hit me especially during winter time when I cherish every day of sunshine as it is so hard to come across such a day.

1. Sitting in the garden, tending to flowers and talking to them as I turn the soil.

2. Reliving my childhood and sitting in the balcony with my mother reading a book and peeling oranges.

3. Listening to the radio

4. Going for a stroll

5. Watching the bright colours of things around me as they gleam in the sunlight

6. Clay modelling

7. Photography

8. Going to a fair or Haat

9. Swinging on the children’s swings in the playground

10. Write an article or read a book

11. Picnic

12. So, obviously, lie down on the grass and take short naps

 


 

My friend gave this song to me when we were all bored and tired after attending classes all day…and what life it brought back into me!!

I have heard other Harry Potter based songs before…including the popular band The Harry and The Potter’s songs. But none of them seem to make as much sense as this one does.

The last part of the last Harry Potter will be out in July…I wonder how different life would be after the series are over. There will be less humour, less fantasy to look forward to in life.

Having grown up with Harry and his friends and seen him struggle with the mysteries of his childhood, his parents, growing up and of course, Hogwarts and Voldemort, it was like every page of the book had become a part of my own life. Barring of course the wands and the spells.

Everytime Harry felt that frustration and anger…I felt it too. Every time George and Fred cracked a joke, I saw them in front of me with their wacky expressions (did I mention they are my favourite characters?)

I will miss Harry Potter…but then, on second thoughts…i wonder if that is correct….i mean, He is just a book away right?

Although I have to say I do miss Dumbledore and his words of wisdom.

I Want to Celebrate This Valentine’s Day With Myself


This year, I am single on V-day. But am I sad? No.

Am I pathetic? No.

In fact, this year, I can finally do another scene from my imagined movie Single In The City (mentioned in an earlier post) and celebrate V-day as I want. I have no silly expectations from silly, immature boys. I have no silly fantasies about pink balloons and red roses and cheap gifts from just any random person.

This year I want to celebrate V-day with myself. I want to celebrate my own singledom and my freedom from all sorts of ‘love-ly’ tangles. This time, I want to celebrate me- something I have always longed to do but could never decide how to.

So this is my list of things. Things that I will do to please myself and noone else.

1. Walk around in street markets or malls by myself. Browse the stores for make-up, jewellery and books.

2. Watch a rom com and not weep about my single status but laugh at all those who are still struggling to deal with their crappy relationships.

3. Eat lots of ice-creams and chocolates that I will buy myself, from my own money.

4. Browse the Internet for all the coolest songs by the Rolling Stones, Beatles, and Santana!

5. Finish tasks I have been delaying for a long time, but really want to do asap…like downloading my fav movies, books, and drawing some new graffiti on my bedroom wall.

6.  Write letters to all my long distance friends I haven’t talked to in a while. What better way than this to spread some L.O.V.E?

7. Bake a new sort of cake…something I have never baked before…. like caramel sponge cake, or coconut mocha cake.

8. Learn something new on the TED videos.

9. Hang out with my gal pals and chit chat with them until we have nothing more to say….but how is that possible??

10.  Also hang out with my single guy buddies and show the world that this is not just a day of couple love, but friend love. And a guy and a girl CAN be friends!

11. Dress for myself. Usually that means a wacky combination of colours and accessories.

12. Read read read!!!



Life turns us into villains


We have grown up with our parents and grandparents teaching us to be good human beings: never to lie, to be nice to everyone you meet, to be polite, to be helpful, and what not?

I am one of the many people who have tried hard to be a good and likeable person from the very beginning. I have tried to help people whenever in my own small ways, even when I had to go out of the way to just do something nice to someone. I have tried my best to be nice to everybody I met. Throughout my school life, I never bitched about anyone and thus, gained a lot of respect in return.

But then…BOOM! Life happened!

One by one, I was hurled into the harsh realities of life. I learnt on the rocky path that perhaps I didnt need to help every single person, and could and even had to refuse to help. I learnt that there are some situations where lying was a necessary evil. I learnt that being nice to people doesn’t always get you appreciation or even satisfaction, but finger-pointing and more tensions.

All the great utopian values that my grandparents taught me were pushed into the background as I dealt with different people and situations.

I met people who would simply take my politeness or sweetness for granted and then came a point when they started taking advantage of it. That is  when I learnt, I had to start refusing help to people…I learnt to use the word ‘No’.

I met with situations where I had to speak white lies to certain people (some people call it diplomacy…sometimes even I do) when I wanted to wriggle out of uncomfortable situations. I also had to use it to protect my own dear ones from being hurt or pushed into awkward moments.

I also started backbiting people. Though I do not necessarily call it an essential virtue, but somehow, as you grow up and life turns crappier, there is an urge to vent the negativity and anger, unfortunately by blaming other people or shedding one’s own inferiority complex by bitching.

And then, I also learnt to be rude to people’s faces. I learnt to tell them to keep away from me because I was sick of their lying, and selfish nature, etc etc. Even though I tried to give subtle hints at first, and then stronger indications that I want to keep away from a certain person, I was forced to use harshness to finally get my word  across.

I also started to break hearts. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, I had to abandon long standing friendships, trusts, etc to achieve my selfish goals in life…or even to just….breathe.

I guess, being all that virtuous isnt that easy when life strikes! Probably someday I will learn to hold on to these basic traits even in the worst of scenarios. Maybe I wont.

As of now, I think that turning into the ‘villain’ is the only choice left to you sometimes. Sometimes, it is even correct to do so.

The Kohl Connection


 

A survey by Cosmopolitan India reveals that about 47% of women in India feel that their favorite winter beauty product is Kajal (kohl). Out of lipsticks and tinted moisturizers- things which are almost absolutely necessary in the winter season, kajal- something which has no season and no particular necessity today  beats the essentials and wins the race. But am I surprised by this? Not really.

Kajal has been a part of women’s lives in India for centuries. Since ancient times, women and children have worn the kajal to decorate their eyes, to protect them from dust and even as a coolant and strengthener for the eyes in the tropical climate of the country. Egyptian queens wore Kajal for practically the same purposes. Kajal has also been believed to be a protector from the ‘evil eye’ in some traditions of India, and thus, as soon as an infant is born, a big dot of kajal is put on his cheek or his eyes are lined with it to prevent any mishappening to the newly-born.

Thus, since time immemorial, that black, sticky paste has been a part of perhaps every Indian’s life, be it a man or a woman, a child or a teenager.

But the kind of relationship a woman shares with the kajal is unique. For the woman, there is a trust that she puts in the kajal that it will make her eyes look big and attractive, in turn making the woman seem appealing. To some women, like me, it gives a sense of empowerment…a sign that I have grown up from a child into a woman and now it is time to take care of myself. Even though I do not wear makeup too often, I do wear kajal before I step out of the house for it gives me a sense of completion.

For some women, wearing the kajal is a part of a daily ritual. Every morning, they wake up, take a bath, wear their saris and then line their eyes with kajal. The lipstick is not the most important thing here in India, but kajal is. It symbolises a woman’s inner and outer beauty and confidence.

I think the kajal is also a celebration of the spirit of the woman, her beauty and the fire within her. Perhaps I feel so because after so many centuries of the association between the kajal and the woman, the kajal eventually comes to symbolize the woman.

But this does not mean that the kajal was only worn and appreciated by the females in our society. The kajal has always been seen as a mark of power. Kings and members of the royal court, as well as the common folk have worn the kajal for ages. Dramatists have used kajal to add more drama and colour to their eyes, attire and the stage. Our gods and goddesses have been represented while wearing the kajal. Who can forget the potrayal of Durga in her fericious avatar- Kali by scores of artistes in movies, TV shows, books…? Narada and Krishna, the sadhus and sevaks…all would be seen wearing the kajal at all times.

Wearing the kajal was always, thus, a way of life for us Indians. It has always been a part of our days and customs. Even as the use of kajal by men is now limited, the women and their relationship with kajal continues to grow. Everyday, hundreds of women, young and old, line their eyes carefully with their little pinkie finger or with sticks of kajal and then feel completely dressed (to kill?).

So much so, that the use of kajal has even been copied and spread to other parts of the world. Punk and Rock bands all over the world create new looks by using the kajal in different ways. The eyeliner has become the new and trendy avatar of the kajal and is used by women all over the world.

But there is something about this indigenous paste that even the modern liquid eyeliners can’t beat. Given a choice to put eyeliner on my eyes, or kajal, I will, like many other women I suppose, will go for the kajal and not eyeliner. I am not sure about the others, but I can never trust an eyeliner as much as kajal. The mere look of the eyeliner package screams out ‘Chemicals’! Also, the personal feeling that the look of the kajal gives-the idea that someone has probably worked hard to mix all the ingredients by hand (even though now they are probably all machine-operated) in the right proportions and given the black soot his blessing, just makes me grab a kajal stick instead of the shiny eyeliner wand. Moreover, speaking from a beutician’s point of view, the kajal is a more useful product than an eyeliner. It serves the purpose of decorating both the upper eye and the lower. Smudge it a bit and it becomes an eyeshadow and gives your eyes that sexy, smoky look. So instead of using 4 different products for the eye…i just use 1 and end up looking equally ravishing as I would using the other 4 chemical products.

Perhaps this close connection and long relationship with the kajal has resulted in the preference and love for kajal by many many women in India. No doubt about the fact that this relationship still has a long way to go and will remain in the hearts of hundreds of women for a long time to come.

A Photograph says a lot!


I went to a discussion by Award Winning National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths today. Even though I have loved taking photographs ever since I touched a camera for the first time and I have loved watching other people’s works…something which I never thought of before struck me while Griffiths was showing her photographs to us.

Beautiful as they were, each picture had a story to tell. It seemed like every pixel on the screen was itching to jump out and start telling us the mystery behind the photo. Even though Griffiths would explain what happened before and after every photograph that she took, I felt there was hardly any need to do so.

Every picture exuded an energy. After watching each picture on the slideshow, glimpses of life stories  would come up in my mind. I would think of the many stories that were possible behind every face, every snapshot of a horse, the clouds, the American prairies, that picture of a man with a gun standing with a rabbi.

There were some pictures that aroused me….to do something for the earth, for the people on this planet. There were pictures of women in a line for water; there were picture of poor, but happy children going to school. There were pictures that made me think of the futility of my life on this planet and how there could be so much more that I could be doing to help others. That happened especially when Griffiths started telling us about her organisation ‘Ripple Effect Images’ which uses photographs as a medium to propagate awareness.

A picture thus, can stir emotions, memories, cultures, the motivation to do something worthwhile in life.

Then, there are pictures that make you want to jump from your seat in excitement. When you see a beautiful photograph of the sea and feel like diving into the picture itself…as if that alone will give you the sensation of swimming in the deep blue waters. When you see a picture of the land taken from a height or from a helicopter, you feel like you are flying. That lump in your throat when you see a picture of a crying baby and you feel the urge to move forward to wipe his tears and stop him from crying.

Pictures have a power that even the strongest words don’t. That still image of a man walking alone in a desert can bring so many thoughts to the mind. Is he lonely? Is he going for work? Is he going home? Is he about to meet a lover? Is he on an adventure? So many questions, each unanswered. Yet, complete in itself.

That’s the power of a photograph.

At this point, I am reminded of a song by Nickelback called ‘Photograph’. It tells you more about the magic of a photograph.