Friday, January 30, 2009

The shoeflower that blossomed two days too late

I wanted this flower to blossom before parents left for Mumbai. But like the innumerable things I want that evade me, this was not to be. It bloomed today, exactly two days later than it was supposed to.

Supposed to? Anyways... It would have been really nice if it had blossomed two days before, so that I would have proved that I do indeed water my plants and the nurserywala does not manage to cheat me each single time.

Coming to think of it, Shoe flower is such an inapt name for a flower as lovely as this. Anyone knows why is it called so?

Mummy's lovebird birds now have three chicks. When I told someone this, he said I make the birds sound like mammals. The new female lovebird I got is as crazy as she can get. She has her seeds swinging upside down from the jhula. She pecks the male innumerable times when he silently eats his food and works up a frenzy when he chooses to ignore her. She bit me real hard when I was putting her in the cage and thank God for the napkin I use to handle the birds. The earlier pair, whom I miss so often, would lie as quiet as babies just out of shower, and open their mouths at the sight of the dropper to take their vitamin.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A rose by any other name

What if I were born in a suburban Mumbai family of someone called Vilalat Khan? Would my life have been the same if I had grown up as Zaheera? In today's 'MNS' times, I am afraid, if it were so, I might as well have been called to prove my allegiance to the nation I was born in, worse, to the city I grew up in and loved as my own. Far-fetched scenarios. Far-fetched-- but plausible and scary.

The latest bit of bossing from the MNS brigade has led to the change of name of a sweet-shop in Mumbai. From Karachi, it has now morphed to Jai Shri Krishna.

What's in a name?

In a name, is the right to sound as you want to, to reflect what you have chosen to associate with, and with that choice, many thoughts, many ideas are linked. When you are asked to change this, you are asked to give up your right to identity. The owner may have buckled down under pressure, and made a conscious, personal choice. But as a person sitting miles away, this change sounds yet another horror-tale of limited democracy, limited choice and a life that is dictated by fear and politics.

If politicians today have reduced patriotism to such a simplistic notion, if patriotism could be so superficially proven, lord save India.

Here are the two reports on the basis of which this post was developed:

MNS goes after 'Pak' sigh boards

Karachi Sweets to turn Jai Shri Krishna

Is your life now governed by fear of goons who vandalise store and maim people who they declare 'outsiders'? Is fear and prejudice that you want to give your children in legacy? Has the judicial mechanism of this country gone so feeble that people who voice such separatist ideas roam free and have the audacity to make such demands time and again?

Happy Republic Day...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Orphanage death in Baruipur near Kolkata

A government-run orphanage has made it to the headlines after a child died of malnutrition. Four others have a long road to recovery, after being diagnosed of severe malnutrition. A child had already lost eyesight in one eye because of this and the vision in his right eye is unlikely to be restored, fear doctors.

When this news first came, we were shocked and angry. After these two emotions, we didn't quite know what to do.

Imagining the children huddled by in a filthy room, hungry and unkempt, smelling and itching, craving for bit of food that they were denied at a place they had taken shelter. And even after this unforgiveable happening, though the state social welfare minister Biswanath Chowdhury admit "lapses on our part," he didn't find time to visit the home.

As reported here, the welfare home stank of filth, and the kids themselves were in an abominable condition, many with severe skin infections and rashes.

"When I asked for a soap, I was thrashed," said Sharif Jani Wassa.

And there was no food.

"Many of us would go to bed hungry as the food we got was too little. The ones who protested were beaten up by home superintendent Nirapad Poila," said Raju Rajik, another inmate. (Excerpts from this report)

After all this, what will happen? A probe? Of course, that's the easiest thing bureaucrats can promise to do. They will check what went wrong after it has irrevocably gone wrong.

And this may not be the first or the only such death, hints this report in The Telegraph.

After a time, your soul gets tired of the number of deaths that crave for attention each single day in a newspaper. It begs you to leave it free from such alien misery. But such horrible deaths come back to haunt you in nightmares and take you unawares. I imagine a home shrouded in mystery and secluded, inside which children crawl about in hunger and pain, and finally shrivel and die. And with a shudder, I get back to work. Another newborn has been left in a garbage vat, a child has been strangled after medical expenses began to spiral, another death is waiting to be subbed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kaapyo chhe

I don't remember the last time I had a super-duper-fabulous Uttrayan.. So much has been left behind ever since I left Ahmedabad. I miss that city that is so full of colours, it makes you go heady with happiness at times. Uttrayan was always my favourite. Seeing the sky dotted with thousands and thousands of kites, with the sun setting in the backdrop almost takes you close to nirvana. When the sun set on 15th, Vasi Uttrayan, a very selfish gloom would pass over me.

Did you fly kites? Wishing you a happy makar sankranti. As they say in marathi, speak sweet. :)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Laughter doesn't cost a paisa

Arnold is coming up with some really witty stuff these days. You might want to have a good laugh. Have a look.


What font are you?

An interesting quiz.

I turned out to be Helvetica:

'Industry standard. Classis, reliable. So what if a tad boring, I have plenty of friends who think I am the best'

Also, read the piece by Nino's mom. She talks how a font can say a lot about what you have written and mar or make it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Poster Campaign

I made these posters for the 'Another India is Possible Poster Campaign'.

I was thrilled to start doing something, for this sounded a lot like the good old school and college festival days. Only difference, trying my hand at Coral instead of Camlin.

The entries will be accepted till Jan 31.

Here are more details: and call upon netizens and all those interested anywhere to make posters on the theme of 'Another India is Possible'. The idea is to encourage artists and others to think afresh of what a positive vision of a future India could be like- in an imaginative, constructive but provocative way.

The posters could be digitally produced or hand-made but they need to be available in soft copy form to be put up on a specially created website for this purpose. Some of the suggested topics are: (a) Democracy (b) Justice (c) Dignity (d) Human Rights (e) Children (f) Indigenous People (g) Gender (h) Access to Health (i) Safe Environment (j) Social Harmony.

The campaign will culminate on 31st January 2009 and the best 50 posters will be compiled into a 'Visual Election Manifesto' to be presented to all the political parties prior to the next national general elections. A panel of eminent artists and social activists will vet the posters and special prizes will be announced during the campaign for the best poster (s) in different categories.


I got to know about this from Baruk, here.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Quiet Beginning

It was 2003 I guess. I was on an island in the middle of nowhere. I had a mobile, but signal was a rarity. I was blissfully alone- there were not many with whom I was obliged to talk. The sky was studded with a million dazzling stars. It was a sight I have seen but once or twice. That was how I welcomed 2004. And 2005? That's a different story. Some other time. For now, I remember that peaceful start-studded night of Dec 31 '2003. Five years is a milestone. These five years have been soulful. God has been kind. I look forward to many nights of solitude when I have only stars for company.

Wishing you a happy new year...