Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Haters will hate!

Don't they?

Two amazing things happened in these last 10 days. One, I caught up with a few videos I have been planning to see for a few months. Another, I’ve finally come to hate half of mankind a little more, if that was possible.

Satyamev Jayate, the Aamir Khan hosted talk show on Indian television has been creating a few ripples and then some. It was all over my facebook, twitter and even in conversations I had with friends the same day all the way here in New York. Oddly though, I managed to survive 5 weeks without watching a single of the 5 episodes aired so far. That was till the weekend.

I caught up with two of the episodes yesterday. Expectedly, I was moved to tears, had every single hair on my body stand on its end, wanted to give up everything and devote my life to a social cause, and at some moments felt like I just want to run away, somewhere, not sure where, (is that normal?). I’ve stayed up last night wondering how is it that someone, somewhere, made up of the same flesh and bone and brain as God (or science? Both ok?) put in my body, could have committed crimes so heinous. Grandfather raping his 2-year old granddaughter? Biting off your wife’s face for delivering a baby girl? Surely, these things don’t really happen, do they? Sadly, as I realized years ago, they do.

Another thing I saw is the Kony 2012 video! Yes, yes after all these months. For the uninitiated, please take a look at this and this.
But I’m not going to talk about the issues raised by either of the two. These are dialogues that have a beginning, but no end. What has got me reeling reall, is the disbelief at how many cynical people exist in the world. Sadly these cynics are not in hiding at someplace that I would never know, but right there, lurking in the next facebook post or tweet, perhaps in a casual cafe conversation.  

Before I even saw the first SJ episode, someone remarked to me, “Watch, but don’t take it seriously, it’s not so good also haan. It’s just a stupid publicity thing by Aamir. He’s not getting any good movies, that’s why he’s trying to gather public sympathy.”
Then there was that video by the Ugandan girl who called the Kony 12 video a total fraud. And the several other videos. Forgive me for my ignorance, but am I missing some larger point here?

To me it’s as clear as this – somebody has made an attempt to make a change. Either do something better or stop trying to pull them down!

It appalls me to think how many people out there are criticizing Aamir and Jason of the Kony video (here, please feel free to extend these names as metaphors to anyone who has ever stood up for a cause), as individuals out for a vested interest, trying to get public attention for their own good and nothing else.

Is this behavior exhibitive of a typical crab drag down crab mentality, an ad hominem, or worse? I’d say the worst because not one of these people with an opinion is ever able to substantiate it. Their words are at best a regurgitated hash of what they’ve been fed through a perpetually-slow-news-day media or they’re saying things they don’t mean, only to prove to an equally disbelieving and mostly disinterested audience that they could have an opinion different than the rest.

Of course Aamir had his own interest when he agreed to host the show. Of course Jason Russel hoped to raise money for his organization when he made Kony 12. But how, in the name of God, do their interests not compare as infinitesimal to the larger good that their voices can do and have been doing to the world?

Think about this - if even one child, a single child, raised his/her voice against the abuser after watching Aamir’s show, or one woman put her fears on the backburner for a day and confronted her family, refusing to abort her girl child, or even if even one child was saved from being abducted from Africa (does it even matter that Kony moved from Uganda to Sudan or Congo or anywhere else or that he hasn’t struck for 7 years? He’s still out there goddamit), then any thing that these guys have tried to achieve, has been achieved. Anything they have wanted for themselves is irrelevant. Even a single incident of change has been a real contribution. Maybe that one child won’t seem like such a small number, if it was someone you knew!

To all the haters and non-believers and cynics and critcs out there, I have only this one thing to say – Unless you have a better recipe for change and are willing to stick your neck out for it, stop nitpicking!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The meteor with the needle bill

A hummingbird, not sure what species, doing what it does best
Arenal, Costa Rica 
"And make us happy in the darting bird,
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stand still."

- Robert Frost

There's something about watching hummingbirds live in action. They're tiny, so tiny that they could easily be mistaken for butterflies. They buzz when they fly past you, they flap their wings at what seems like a 100 times per second, they hover in mid-air, they're all at once colorful and shiny and full of life. The first time I saw one was last week in Costa Rica. I have so much to share about the place.  Lots of pictures too. But the first hummingbird I saw, I knew that I'm not leaving that country without getting a good photograph of it. Haha!

In retrospect, it does sound like I made a bigger deal than it should have been but then, all I wanted was one decent picture of this shiny little speck of restless!

In the end, I did manage to get a couple. Also got pointed out the smallest little hummingbird nest, a picture of which I can share with you if you like and a bunch of other hummingbird shots that I'm proud of.

While it's not an earth-shattering, paradigm-changing photograph by any stretch of anyone's imagination, it is in essence my eight day trip defined in one picture.

May you be blessed by the delight of finding a hummingbird hover around your head someday!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring makes 'anything' possible!

Every bee loves a sting..err..spring
Photograph taken in 2009, India
New York had a mild winter. Mild by the definition of those who've lived through snowstorms, -20 degree Celsius, zero visibility and days of being locked in at home, at the airport, at restaurants and other such horrific encounters. By that yard, two days of snow, one in early October and another in late January, could 'hardly even be called winter,' said all my friends and the husband. Even my experience of virtually non existent winter seasons in Bombay not being accounted for, I did brave an all time low of -11 degree C, not holed in at home but out on the streets in what (in retrospect) was obviously not enough warm protection.

So when, in keeping up the climate pattern this year, spring displayed signs of an early arrival, I cheered as loud as a grasshopper would in an untrimmed lawn :D

Spring's making the days longer, the sun brighter, the trees more colorful, people more cheerful. I no longer look out to dark evenings and 4 pm sunsets. I no longer have to spend 60 minutes dressing up in winter layers. And mostly, no longer have to think of gloomy days for an entire year!

It does make you feel a little like anything is possible, really!

I'll soon be complaining about the warm weather and the merciless sun but till then, have a Happy Spring  guys!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When a fall becomes fatal...

I’m not really one for sharing too much about life’s most personal moments on public platforms such as blogs and FB. But there are times when the need to share your message becomes greater than the medium used to share it. And I wish for the message at the end of this post to reach as many people as possible.

I lost my dadi in October last year. To try and express my grief in any words would be a euphemism. Let’s just say that my earliest memories of my life revolve around her and noone else – be it sleeping to her stories or her making aloo poori for me when I didn’t want to eat my veggies. Dadi always said that since she had only two sons, she got a daughter in me and always insisted that she would be the one to do my kanyadaan.

Wedding day: May 14, 2011. Last picture I have with dadi
Unfortunately, a few weeks before my wedding, in May last year, she fell down and suffered an injury to her hip. For days, she didn’t realize how severe it was nor did any of us. She attended the wedding in a wheelchair. I moved to the US in July and hoped that her fracture would heal soon

A few weeks later, she had another fall. This time, it was worse. She needed hip surgery and complete bedrest for a few months. Again we thought she would be back on her feet in some time. Unfortunately she never did. The fear of falling made her not leave her bed for months after her surgery. She started developing bedsores and blood clots. Having been overweight and a diabetic for years, did not help. Doctors started telling us that if she didn’t start walking again, it could be really bad for her.  

Now this is the point I wish for everyone to understand –
How many of us really fathom that a simple fall injury can be fatal to life? That is perhaps the same mistake we made. Despite the warnings, we didn’t think that dadi not moving out of her bed would lead up to what did. We did try everything that we could. Coaxing, requesting, pleading, getting angry, everything to try and make her stand up on her feet. Everyone from mom to relatives to the doctors to me over skype. Nothing worked. Around the same time, grand-dad had taken severely ill. I was told to come down as soon as possible. November 8th, I was supposed to reach India.

October 31st, Dadi passed away. Suddenly. Shockingly. The last I remember is speaking to her on the 29th when she said very little. As we realized later, she was the only one who realized that she didn't have long to live. The cause and the process of her demise is something I struggled to understand and come to terms with, for days after that. I just could not fathom the fact that dadi lost her life simply because she was bed-ridden for 4 months. This is when I started reading up online and gathered some facts. As I later found out, falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly. The figures are APPALLING!

 -  about one third of the elder population over the age of 65 falls each year, at 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually. 
- One of every four seniors over 60 who have a fall, die within one year.
 Hip fractures are the most common serious injury. More than 24 percent of all people suffering a hip fracture die within a year of falling, and another 50 percent never return to their prior level of mobility and independence. 
About one third of the elder population over the age of 65 falls each year, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. At 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually. 
Those who fall are two to three times more likely to fall again.
- 53% of the older adults who are discharged for fall-related hip fractures will experience another fall within six months.

It seems ludicrous to think that the only thing needed to reduce these alarming statistics is to avoid injury by fall and yet, we have failed to do what it takes to be there. Everyone has been following the conventional wisdom that we have held on to for ages. As we grow older, we feel that we should follow the advice of “taking it easy”. However, that is exactly what we should not be doing. The lack of exercise and decreased activity leads to weakness and an increased chance of falling.

I don’t really want to give a sermon, especially when I do nothing to lead a more active lifestyle myself. But for those of you reading this - the point is that guys if you have elders at home – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, anyone. Please, PLEASE do not think of a ‘fall’ as harmless. Any fall. Get them examined. And moreover, get them to remain active. The older they get, the more. Don’t encourage them to put their feet up and relax. You might be doing it for their good but it really is no good for them. Yoga, a short walk, just doing chores around the house. Anything. But make sure they are on their feet, atleast for some time during the day. And make sure you never lose someone to something that with a little more information and awareness could have been prevented.

A few days before the wedding

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The last meal before I...

Mixed Falafel Platter, Taim Falafel,
West Village, Manhattan
Not to get my family worked up but I recently thought about dying. Not the depressing 'when will I die' or how, but something that actually matters! Like what will be the last thing I eat before I pop!

I take stuff like this pretty seriously. So please give me your full attention. I will only repeat what I'm saying on this post a million more times. If you happen to still know me in my last days on Earth, the best thing you will do for me is to bring me back food from Taim Falafel. I will bless you forever (if you don’t, chances are I will come back to haunt you in the shape of a falafel.)

My husband had been talking about this place for a while now. And as with most other things that he likes, he sold this place to me endlessly. I’ve had some pretty awesome Mediterranean food in New York and I didn’t think anything I ate elsewhere would trump that. So obviously, I prepared myself to feign some fake excitement when I actually did visit.*

But boy, did I end up eating my words. And also the best meal I’ve ever eaten under 15 bucks. Maybe even the best meal ever.

Taim is like being hugged on the inside. Comfort food away from home. Something you know you will keep coming back to. It's a small, hole-in-the-wall, nestled in the West Village, and if you're looking for ambiance, you're probably better off staying away (believe me, you're not). But if you want to turn into a believer of all things good that exist on earth, visit Taim.

We got the Mixed Falafel Platter which is basically a sampling for 3 falafel flavors on a bed of Hummus, Israeli and Tabouli Salads and an assortment of sauces. The falafels are earthy, fried to perfection, nutty, moist, greaseless, the pita fresh, warm and soft, the hummus rich and to die for, I'm still struggling to figure out what the sauces were but you probably will be too stuffed to care by the time you’re done.

Each time I eat something life-changing, which is actually not that often, I always think about how it must be my last meal on earth. So a friend recently told me that I would die just from eating all the things I want to eat before I die. But this time I just know – for my last meal on earth – nothing else but Taim would work! What about yours? 

*Dinesh, if you actually do read this blog, that sentence means nothing. 


It's been so long since I posted on the blog. Not for the lack of subject. Only time. Yessir. I have been busy - busy eating, busy writing (err, yeah besides the blog), also often busy doing what I'm best at - nothing. You know 'nothing', the space of time between thinking and doing? Or is it thinking and not-thinking? Does it matter? Probably not. Writing about what I did when I did nothing is sort of contradictory right? Am I asking too many questions now? Probably. I should stop. Really.

I'm going to start a new post to get away from my rant in this one. Okay?