May 27, 2010

Travel Photos

These photographs have been selected from BlogAdda's contest-Travel Photos. Having mainly seen India through my camera lenses, these 5 photographs symbolize my travels for me. My Pringoo image is titled 'Journey'.

This was taken at Asia Plateau, Panchgani. We went to Asia's widest plateau as a college trip and I was not disappointed. There was so much scope for photography. Be it silhouettes of a horse or a photograph like this one with stalks against the hard Sun. Truly an enriching experience walking up there. Just me and my camera.

Calcutta. Travel includes looking at your own surrounding and understanding what makes it what it is. Culture. History. Everything gets encompassed in travel. So here's Victoria Memorial, a very important mark of Calcutta's past. Brilliant architecture. Was tough to capture it with this reflection with the trees on the sides and no people in the frame. But I managed it :)

The sands of Goa. It reminds me of topographical maps that I had learnt to interpret in class 10 because it looks like rivers with a dendritic pattern. Go look up your textbooks if you must! Goa: a must-see destination in India.

The windmills of time. I honestly do not know even which state I was(Maharashtra or Karnataka) but this was taken from the bus I was on from Pune to Bangalore. It captured the essence of travelling for me because it allowed me to see something through the camera's lenses that I could not have stopped to see. I wish I could have made the scene and made the bus stop and run to the other side of the road, climbed this hill and touched the windmill. But I suppose the 'zoom' option allowed something close enough... :)

Another one where I do not know which state I was in since it was taken from a moving train from Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, to Bangalore, Karnataka. It shows the boats which symbolize a different way of life from mine, a different means of transportation, a different livelihood from people in the society I am sadly a part of. I envy the ones on those boats. They can truly feel alive in the serene surroundings that they are amidst...

May 26, 2010

Eleanor's letter

I hope this reaches you in good health. The times have become worse and I have been away from John for a long and painful ninety three days now. The war seems to be getting more violent by the day, from the sound of the radio broadcasts. Everyday, I go to the market place in hope of selling the marigolds that I grow in the garden, and as I pass the mayor's office, I press my ears to his door to pick up pieces of information about my dear John. There is never enough to figure out how he is. But I feel that he is alive. I just know it. I yearn to feel his hand in mine, to feel his lips on mine, to feel any touch from him that would assure me that I am still his. I want to feel that belonging once more.

It is awfully scary to be living in times like this when I have little Elsa in my stomach. Yes. I am pregnant and am expecting in another six months. I'm almost sure it is a girl because I can feel less kicking on days that I wear the pink bonnet and step out. I wish I could tell John that we have finally conceived a child! Though, I wish her dead sometimes! It sounds wrong but the burden will be too much to bear alone. If he does not return, I will not be able to look after her alone or tend to even her basic needs of food and water. Do not spite me for having said that. My aching back and head ought to be blamed and you know that I do not truly mean it.

There is a man, however, who has expressed an interest in me. It seems to be deeply rooted for the last five years, since the night he saw me dancing with John in the village meet where we all danced the night away.  The possibility of a looming war was not even present then. Those were the days...Jackson is the name and he is a composer. Yes, he composes music and writes lyrics to his songs as well. He wrote one for me and played it for me when I went to the bar last Friday. It was sickening to think of even considering such a man over my brave John! The guilt made me leave immediately and throw up in the alley near the bar. What a wretched feeling it was! I cannot even start to explain it.

I hope that Mother is doing fine and that her ailments have been taken care of with the medicines. Do give her my love, little one. I miss Father every now and then. The memories of him are not as vivid anymore but the last time I saw him is still as clear as crystal in my mind and it does not leave me. I really wish it would, for the sight of it showing itself over and over again only disturbs this mind and causes me to swoon occasionally. Little Elsa shall be affected by this and I cannot even control it. What a horrible mother I will be! 

News of new deaths of our soldiers reaches us everyday but our letters do not reach them. They are on a secret mission where no details of their whereabouts are known to even the close family members. He has his troops beside him, at least. I have none. I have no one to turn to nor to look after me. For meals, I beg or suffice with a small bun a day that has made it seem like I am a starved old woman and the fact that I am only twenty eight is concealed by this. I do not know how to look after this baby inside me. I need help. Do stop by the village if you can. It would be great to see a face who is not frowning at the bulge of my stomach. I wish John had married me before leaving for the war. The idea of a pregnant wife would draw some sympathy in the least! I am lonely and afraid. Do visit.

-Your sister,

May 25, 2010

Prostitution: A Closer Look

Inter-generational prostitution is very common in de-notified tribes like the Nutts and the Bedia communities of Bihar and Rajasthan respectively. The state of affairs in these communities is pitiable. The fathers and brothers are professionally pimps for the daughters and wives of the family and their livelihood comes by trying to get clients for them. The worst part is that they see nothing wrong with this way of living because this is their idea of normalcy since this is how the families have been thriving for many generations now. Unemployment was probably why these communities started off the way they are but even this can be resolved with moderated government intervention, awareness campaigns, alternate employment schemes being implemented, and the like.

However, outside these communities, prostitution is usually taken as sexual exploitation because of gender, caste, class inequalities that are prevalent in society. It is normally an attempt to escape poverty but only ends up scarring the woman for life, emotionally and physically. However, it is of some consolation to know that most of these women do want a better future for their children and encourage help from NGOs who could educate their children. There are even night creches for the children of prostitutes to stay in the nights while their mothers are out earning their daily bread. This acts as a protected environment so that they cannot be picked up and forced to sell their bodies for money, while also helping them interact with other children who suffer from similar living conditions.

There is a Bill which is pending in the Lok Sabha to penalize the buyers of prostituted sex and to punish traffickers. NGOs like Apne Aap, which I am currently working with, are trying to get this Bill passed as soon as possible. There is also a proposed clause in the Bill which seeks relief, resettlement and rehabilitation measures for prostituted women and this is also being pushed for. But despite this, a very important disturbing reality remains: The supply will stop only when the demand will. When will the desires to sleep with a little girl who is unaware of the innocent life she could have led had she been born to another mother, leave the mind of the pervert? When will the idea of buying sex stop fascinating the clientèle? When will the day come in the lives of these women when they can be assured that their girl child is safe from this trade and can opt for education instead? Why is it that the lives of the children can be lit by education but instead, gets overshadowed by the sex trade that their mothers are forced to 'work' in?

May 24, 2010

Wanna Whack!

This post was written as a contest entry for 'Whack!! this Wednesday' on . It was an interestingly weird contest asking for 5 incidents in your life which make you really want to whack something or someone. Here's my entry:

Being a complete foodie, the first thought that comes to my food when I see this contest is just that! When you’ve had a long day at your internship, and you and your friends plan to go to the club for a swim and dinner, you want your favorite item, Masala chips right after the swim! Is it that much to ask for? But when you order one plate, the waiter says that they’ve run out of chips for the day and that the stock will not be replenished on that day. You know you do not deserve this and also that they are not at fault. But just for being the conveyor of such bad news, you want to really whack him! You do not want to consider the alternative dishes to order and are forced to have a roll instead. Should a hungry hardworking person be subjected to such torture?

Another thought runs through my mind and I remember the day when my laptop was not responding too fast to my commands. I agree that a part of this would be my fault because I tend to download too many music videos and films onto my laptop. But Hey! Technology’s supposed to be advancing at an alarming rate, right? So going by that, I figure that it is just slow and would not give up on me! However, I sit and work on a stupid college assignment all morning and manage to save it on and off. But, as I wrote my conclusion of it after a lot of thought, the laptop got hung. My data could not be saved. Then, the damn thing had to be reformatted and hence, even my saved data could not be retrieved. I wanted to whack the laptop that had let me down. Or myself. But I preferred the idea of whacking the former!

Boys. Hmmm...There are a few good ones, no doubt, but on the whole, they can really hurt. If you let them. After being best friends for 8 months, you finally ‘realize what you two share’ and get together. But that happens to be before you leave for your own colleges in different cities. And the long distance relationship is what you work on but he doesn’t. He won’t reply to messages, will ignore calls and leave for a holiday to London without telling you that he is leaving the country! He finally leaves an ‘I-don’t-think-this-is-working-out’ message on your Facebook Inbox to end it. That’s just the pits! You really really want to whack his face and make sure that he no longer remains cute to be dated by anyone!

Liars. Fake people. Pretenders. Bitches.They annoy me beyond any limit I could set for tolerance. There was a boy my school who used to care too much about what the world thought of him. I pity the boy because he lost his friends along with his individuality. He’d tell tall tales to the girls, get cigarettes to lure the boys to be his friends, wear branded clothes all the time, show off his riches. What did he have to gain or lose from this? Everything! He tried to befriend me once because I was close to the girl he had a crush on. I showed no interest. He started spreading rumors about me and a classmate of mine. Everyone knew what the truth was though. I confronted him on this and he apologized profusely trying to blame someone else who was not even remotely aware of the situation. He was cringing with fear at what I would do and the rumors I would spread. But I did not bother. All I wanted to do was give him one good whack across his face! I wish I had had no self control then. Damn!

The last incident is not pertaining to any one particular film in the theatre but many of them. That annoying person whose phone rings during the most intense scene of the film and he/she actually picks it up despite the grunts from everyone around him and talks in the loudest possible voice to show the world that someone remembered him. Whack him! Whack her! They should be thrown huge buckets of sticky cheese popcorn on! A waste of the popcorn, but still!
My associated Pringoo image is (Image not being added).

May 11, 2010

Apne Aap

My first day of the internship with the organisation,Apne Aap,an anti sex-trafficking NGO in Kolkata, was quite an insightful one. I had to go to a slum area near the red light area and conduct a survey there. Since this survey will be carried out over the first two weeks, I covered only 15 households today. But this was enough to make an impression on me. Seeing the deplorable condition that the people were living in was so stirring- 10 people to a room the size of the girls toilet in a college like mine (Symbiosis, Pune)! The entire family spending only 200 rupees a day,which for some people, is just enough for them for a day, if not less! This income disparity really ought to be bridged.

I hope that in the next 6 weeks, I can actually help these people understand the importance of money and fending for oneself in today's world and make them want to be educated so as to earn an honest living instead of depending on an ill mother who works as domestic help in a rich man's house. In doing so, I also hope to understand how the people in the red light area and its adjacent areas live and offer their children an alternate future than getting into the sex trade.I am learning to be content with whatever life gives us, for we are really fortunate to even have what we do and we tend to forget this in our daily lives nowadays.

I can't wait to get to the latter part of my internship too, where I get to teach English to the children of the sex workers and the slum areas. I hope to contribute to making their future slightly brighter and this internship gives me the feeling that I can make a small change in their lives. Fingers crossed.

Another post written during the internship can be found here.
Jaago Re and

May 4, 2010

Revelations Within

One more day and it would all come back
And my world will be forever changed,
But my notes and memories, I must pack,
And return to the world where happiness is feigned.

A twisted truth was revealed to me today-
An unanswerable desire to stop seeking further.
Could not fathom why I must not stay,
But to stay on would have led to my soul's slow murder.

What I sought on my way here, I have found.
Over analysis tampered the search for it.
But my peace of mind and joy is unbound
I discovered slowly, bit by bit.

With a free and joyful heart, this place I can now leave,
Having refreshed all my memories, with no more burden to heave.

Beauty within

Beauty lies within the world around me.
Within the shadow of the drooping branch that falls on this paper,
Within the wings of the butterfly, ever so still,
Within the expanse of the hills that surround me,
Within the pollen on the gulmohur lying on the soil,
Within the eyes of the victim, too ashamed to look in the mirror,
Within the heart of the angry sibling, left unattended to when his brother was born.

Search within yourself for that beauty,
And allow it to guide you.

May 3, 2010

Conversations with Nature

The silent time in the day called Astha (based on the hill called Asthachal where it is held)
A daily twenty minute long conversation with Nature.
Words unspoke but showed by her elements-
On a day when she was in a good mood, she'd shower me with the rains,
On an energetic one, let the wind spoil my hair.
On rare occasions, a forest fire would be allowed by her,
Permitting her destruction to help the needy villager
In promise of a new life bestowed to her name.
The last one she showed was her rawest form,
Earth, with the wet soil, the uncut rocks, and the surrounding hills.

God's plan

What we seek and what we find
Are all a part of God's big plan.
A plan that can never be truly successful
For the shape of the plan is molded by Him.

Unexplainable beauty

There was once a night when the skies were red
Red with the forest fires on the hills
The Moon was spared, maintaining her milky white
As the blackness in the sky grew deeper still.

Monkey Business

The monkey's shriek of that magnitude brought back a drowned feeling
The feeling of wonder and fascination with nature
In an undisturbed surrounding, I sat and stared
At the sharp teeth, the muscles twitching,
At the anger at the dogs below the tree, impatient.
Its every move made the branches fall on its hopeful perpetrators,
Annoying them further still.

I walked away from the scene with the shrieks fading into the distance.

After all, we humans know who the smarter one is.
And who would prove victorious in the battle.

Our last goodbye

A phrase from your poem draws me to write another
Another one amidst the many in your memory.
Our laughs and cries echo under this tree,
As the crickets share their memories with me.
Unable to speak without a voice,
A voice that would once resonate with yours.
My inner voice calls out to you
A plea to be who you used to be...
A boy who would understand and appreciate
A sensible one unperturbed by temptations.
Let me tempt you to hold my hands once more,
Under this special tree on our special bench,
Reliving the memories together
And then return to our own mundane lives.
But one thing would have changed.
Our last goodbye would have been completed.
Rendering us both free.

The eyes have it

For a college assignment, we had to choose 5/50 photographs given to us and weave a story/concept around it. This concept had to come through in a 100 word write up. Mine was as follows:

The five selected photographs are particularly chosen to focus on the eyes and vision or seeing.  There is also a connection between all the five photographs, being that they are all looking to the left of the camera, showing a common vision of man. The first photograph shows a father and son with the same vision. Next is a man seeing with the help of lenses of a camera, which amplifies the visual experience. Next is an alien with no eyes showing hollowness without vision. Next is the painter/creator’s eye. The last one focuses on the shape of the eyes.