INDIA

While the scorching, mischievous sun and dusty, hot winds try to take off your coat of worldliness, blaring horns and sounds announce that it never really matters where you go, you are made of India. Your support system reconnects and stands up for you like a pillar, and with a heavy heart, you bow and acknowledge that you have missed all that strength, love and care. It feels so good to return to your motherland.

You realize, India feels so real with its sounds, vibrations and panorama of life. You feel those years away from here has been a dream, this is reality. You just pick up from where you left, sandwiched in long gapless queues, moving along within a disorderly crowd and haggling for auto-rickshaw fare. Staff, watchman, shopkeepers, acquaintances share slices of their lives, joys and woes with you, as if you have always been there. Family and friends leave aside mighty inconveniences of commuting and toss aside their busy schedules to just be with you for a warm hug and even for tiniest of chats. They make India so special. They make India so lively. They make India, home!

Family makes you reconnect with your childhood, friends rekindle the feeling of wondrousness, and they together make a cosy cushion for you to lean on. After all these years, you seem to have forgotten about the comforts of leaning. You have been upright and always standing, facing things on your own… and it feels weird to lean on. And you do it awkwardly in the comfortable space created for you….for a limited time.

Also random act of kindness from unknown people leave you touched and emotional. Sometimes they make your mission of finding your destination, their job. And intuitively understands and relate to your needs. So there might be a person in the metro, who would offer his seat, and a lady who would lead you to the shop you have been looking for, a shopkeeper might ask you to sit in his shop to catch your breath or an ola cab driver, would share rare political insight.

Your kid might wonder- Have you known the person you were talking to mumma? You would reply – You don’t need to know a person to talk to here. Conversation doesn’t start or end here, it just flows!

Your kid, who has heard nothing but polite conversations, might even ask you – Why is he yelling mumma? And you would say – He is talking, not yelling. That is how it is!

You feel, India has not changed much. The Josh seems to be high as ever. The infrastructure is the same, except for technology that is making lives easier. You had expected a dramatic change but outwardly little seems to have changed.

As you pause for a moment in the midst of a road divider, and cars pass by you on both sides, making it very risky for you, you get the realization that India has never been about aesthetic beauty, enchanting landscapes, orderliness and structured existence. It is free, chaotic, jolting, nerve wrecking, and completely unpredictable. No plan works here, ever. India has its own plan to get your job done. This is how the country was, and still is. What is amazing about being here is experiencing palpable, throbbing life and humanity in its entirety.

When you return from India, you feel the world has gone still. No sounds, no conversations, no conflicts! There is a strange heaviness that doesn’t go away despite your structured, smooth existence in the new land. You go about doing your job, once again mulling over your decisions, divided and torn. You fold away clothes, do laundry, cook, all the time, ignoring the heaviness. Life is predictable and comfortable.

And then, you find an old Hindi newspaper on one side of your half open suitcase. It had wrapped something of importance, perhaps a few bangles. But it is useless now. You need to throw it. It is trash. But you can’t. You touch it lovingly, fold it gently and keep it under the mattress. You can’t let go of that… even the tiniest bit of India.

(Image via Google)

Indian Beauties in Soap Ads

Soap advertisements (especially Lux) have showcased Indian beauties of all times in the most glamorous light. Here are a few of my favorite ones, who is your favourite Soap Beauty?

Ebullient Madhubala!

Elegant Waheeda Rehman

Stunning Suraiya

Charming Asha Parekh

Gorgeous Hema Malini

Sensuous Helen

Striking Saira Banu

Cute Tanuja

Mysterious Rekha

Beautiful Sridevi

Radiant Aishwarya

Charismatic Katrina

And of course, Desi Girl Priyanka Chopra!

(Images courtesy Google)

Flashes of India in America

This Summer, coincidentally perhaps, I’m enjoying flashes of India in America! Last week, I marveled at this amazing poster at one of the leading home decor shops of America. There were exotic products from my country – bright, lively, vibrant – reminding me of street bazaars of New Delhi.

And today, Indian culture, heritage and food was celebrated at Downtown Minneapolis in an event called IndiaFest. It really felt like being in India there, with tantalizing aroma of Indian cuisine, classical dances and crafts. I even saw things I didn’t know about India.

(Story being conveyed through paintings- ancient form of storytelling)

At the fest, it was India everywhere. I felt proud that even the next-gen Indians participated and perfected classical dance moves.

It was fun strolling and reliving India in America. We met up with some friends, bought mouthwatering street food and had a wonderful day at IndiaFest.

If I see another flash of India, will let you know. To know about the festival, read here.

Stay well, friends!

(Some images courtesy Google)

The Chair and The Pose

I had seen a similar old photo of my now 100-year-old grandmother back in India. Apart from seeing my grandma as a young teenager what had baffled me was positioning of the chair. “Why is the chair turned the other way,” I had asked her. She laughed and said it was the style at the time, back in 1910s. 

The picture was shot for arranged marriage purpose and there was another photo of her younger sister with the same chair and in the same pose. Later, I saw plenty of such photos in an old trunk at my house. I noted another thing – no one smiled in old photos. 

Recently, I came across another such photo and I thought of doing a little research on the chair as props in old photos. This is what I unearthed.

1) The use of the chair was a means to facilitate, relax and prevent the sitter from moving.

2)  It was used at the very beginning of photography  when long exposures were necessary for a successful result. 

3) Perhaps the long exposure and staying still was the reason why people would get tired of smiling. So people rarely smiled from old photos.

4) Posing with a chair was widely used and imitated. It got ingrained in psyche of the people of the time and everyone preferred it because of convenience as well as dramatic effect.

To learn more read this great blog – here. And do share if you know more. As of now, my curiosity got satiated regarding the weird positioning of chairs during portrait photography back in the good old days. Here are some more old pictures of royalty, with of course, the chair!



Images courtesy Google

The Raped Girl Who Refused Heaven!

A girl who was brutally raped and murdered, went to heaven. Near the entry she checked herself in the golden mirror. All signs of cruelity that had been done to her body was gone. Now, she had a glorious, translucent form. The four guards of Heaven greeted her at the gates. But suddenly, she stopped and stepped aside.

Every soul was always eager to enter heaven and meet God. Since eternity, nobody had ever done that. So, the four agitated guards asked her, “Why are you refusing heaven? My dear, come back to the queue and enter the great gates.”

The girl smiled and recounted, “You know I was gang raped by a group of filthy men, who were jeering and spitting on me…”

“Yes, we know that…,” the guards cut her short in chorus. “Please don’t tell us the details. We know you have suffered immensely but once you enter the gates, all pain and sadness will vanish. Your troubled soul will find peace. All thoughts will leave you and you will bask in eternal glory.”

The girl still hesitated. The wind played with her hair as she she looked around with delight but still showed no inclination to enter.

“Dear, what is going on your mind? Do you feel any sort of guilt? Do you think you can’t face God after what happened to your modesty?,” the guards asked in chorus.

The girl laughed for a long, long time while perplexed guards looked at each other. 

“It is not that! The reason why I don’t want to see God is not because I am ashamed. I have done no wrong. Wrong has been done to my body.” she answered.

“Then?,” the guards asked.

“It is because God will be shamefaced on seeing me. I know, He will never be able to meet my eyes. I want to spare Him the shame as I love Him too much,” the girl wandered away after saying this leaving a trail of shimmering light behind her. The guards stood unmoved, red faced.

God heard her, clutched his heart and cried…

( Written after viewing a terrible image of a dead, rape victim in West Bengal, India. She moved me beyond words. A tribute to such victims.)



Images courtesy Google

A Visa Wife’s Thoughts!

I am a visa wife. This means I am on a dependent visa while my husband is on H1B work visa in the US. My Visa is in H4 category, which is regressive to say the least. Now, while the techies are reeling due to uncertainities over H1B Visa Bill, which might become an act under President Donald Trump’s administration, I secretly rejoice.

It is also being rumoured that work permits of H4 visa holders, which was a part of 2015 Department of Homeland Security initiative by former President Barack Obama, might change. This means visa wives would not be allowed to earn any kind of income and may be restricted to cooking, cleaning and volunteering. In short, a completely dependent entity – emotionally, socialy and economicaly. 

I truly believe that US is a great country to live but if the work permit for H4, is cancelled, it would be a curse for Indian women, who accompany their husbands at the cost of their own ambitions. My stay in the US has been smooth and filled with happiness so far. And I had plans to be economically independent when my kids grew up a bit but under the present scenario, I find hope in returning to India. 

It wouldn’t have mattered if being a dependent was optional, but when one is forced into shadows, it’s unfair. 

If things change, I dream of going back and being surrounded by family and friends. Then, there will be the lovely Indian Maid – Kaam wali bai, whom I have missed almost every day!

Technology is here to stay and techies are like minions. They will find a big boss sometime soon even if there are job cuts due to the overhaul. They will not perish.

Truly speaking, it might be better for husbands if they stay in the US because work conditions are nicer here. Even kids are better off in the US. But for silently cooking and cleaning visa wives, who are away from society and independence, going  back to India would always be great.

Images courtesy Google