Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beginning of an End

They were sitting on the cliff watching the sea green surf left behind by the waves as they crashed onto the rocks. The silence between them was the comfort of a decade long friendship. She looked at the sea green surf and thought what a lovely color it will be for a dress and smiled. He looked at the waves breaking on the rock and fought to push back the rage that was building up inside him.

Friendships are strange, they begin in strange places, with the strangest people, making strange demands. Some age like wine to be priceless, while some turn sour and end for strange reasons at strange times. They could never pinpoint, when and how they had become friends. They had passed each other on the hallway of their college for years as strangers, occasionally stopping to smile or to exchange a few words. The acquaintance had turned into a friendship over emails when they were miles apart.

They proved the quote “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” completely wrong. She lived her life with a dare, abandoning all caution, while he watched every step he took constantly evaluating the consequences. The contrast in their personalities had helped them to draw strength from one other and they had become unexpected mentors to each other.

“There are always better things, better choices and better options, but we have to stop and settle for what we have in hand”, he said angrily at her reckless abandonment of care and wondered how he could stop her.

“I don't think so”, she said watching the shimmering ocean.

“He is not a bad guy and he really cares about you.”

“I know, but I am not the right girl for him and will never be”, she said

“It is not your decision to make. If he is happy with you, what is the problem?”

“He is happy now but will not be for ever. I can never be the girl he wants nor do I want to”,  the calmness inside her as she spoke was reassuring.

“Are you not worried about him?”

“No. He will get over it, eventually”. She knew she had to stay detached and protect herself first.

She had always looked happy in her relationship and he knew the problems in her relationship wasn't really significant, not like the terrible fights he had with Joanne . Joanne's bouts of jealousy were intense and he was tired of walking on eggshells around her. It made him angry to think how he struggled constantly not to trigger any episodes of jealousy in Joanne by being careful to not even strike a casual conversation with any women. Going out to parties had become such a stressful event that he avoided them and kept his social outings to a safe group of people whom Joanne was comfortable with.

The spray of water from the ocean cleared the dulling thoughts and a warmth spread over him as he looked at his friend sitting next to him waiting anxiously for the Sunset. He admired her strength and knew very few people who could live life with such zest. He felt the pangs of guilt in his heart. He knew he had consciously taken a step back from her friendship, avoided calling her from home and last year when she had fallen sick, he was not there for her. Joanne had screamed at first and then wallowed like a child throwing an emotional tantrum when he mentioned that he wanted to make a trip to visit her in the hospital. To calm things down he had finally agreed to drop the plan. Even today he had made an excuse about working late at home to avoid any flareups.

He wondered if he was being unfair and judging his friend while he really had not been in touch with her like he used to be for the last two years. He was not sure if he really understood the gravity of her relationship issues to think that she was throwing it all away over some minor inconveniences. A vague thought ran across his mind that maybe he was actually angry at the fact that she had the courage to walk away while he felt he was chained and had no choice. He wondered if and ever he will be able to walk away from Joanne and if he had the strength to start all over again.

“Don't you feel scared to start again? Guilty for walking away?” he asked her.
“No!”, she replied as she thought isn't self preservation the most basic instinct in everyone and wondered why he always got caught up in the guilt trip.

"What if he changes? You know he does love you."
"That is a big IF and the chances are he won't" she replied and looked at him. His anger was visible in his eyes and she wondered he was really angry at her or himself.

She looked at him and tried to find the traces of the friend she knew from before and found very little of that in him. He looked so defeated in life and was getting bitter and cynical in life. Joanne's sweet nature, the charming smile and her act of fragility had never fooled her. She had seen for the first hand how controlling and manipulative she could be. It was a shame her friend had never really seen those traits with clarity or may be it was easier NOT to see it. Either ways it was for him to decide to change things are to let them stay as they were.

"We have no control on who walks into our life but we always have a say on who stays." she said.

“You may never meet someone as good as him”, he said with a heavy heart.
“May be, may be not or he could be right here, right now”, she smiled and pointed at the old man struggling on the wind surfing board, trying to stay afloat with the enthusiasm of a five year old.
He always admired her eternal optimism, yet scowled at her.

She had felt the uncomfortable distance that was growing in their friendship over the last two years. At first she thought that the new relationships in their lives had left them with no time to keep in touch. But she was not really able to shake away the feeling that it was not the frequency but the warmth in their conversation that had vanished. It was convenient to blame the losing friendship on Joanne but she knew better that the only person she should hold responsible was him and not Joanne. She knew the friendship would never be the same between them and had been struggling to keep it afloat but at this moment as she saw the changing color of the sky, she realized her relationship with him had changed to an acquaintance and wondered if it was better to let go of  it now than wait for it to turn sour.

“Beginning of an End”, she said smiling at him.

As the sun went down, the clouds in the sky turned into orange and formed shapes as far as one's imagination could go and the ocean calmed down to give the center stage to the sunset as they watched the sun sink into the ocean. She looked forward for the warmth of golden rays of the sunrise that would bring new beginnings, new friendships where nothing seemed impossible.While he was afraid of the cold night, not sure if he could sleep through it, walk away from the present to an unknown future and the warmth of the dawn seemed like a far away dream.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Addiction free? think again...

 
Road to addiction starts as a mild flirtation with the idea of getting high, on a dare, by curiosity and sometimes out of sheer boredom. While some can kick the habit and turn around, others easily slip into a pattern of dependency where they are constantly craving for a puff or a shot and get to a stage where they cannot function normally without getting high on a regular basis. Dependency turns into addiction when they are in a constant hunt for a fix and will do anything to get one.

A large percent of the population is addicted to substances like oxycotin, vicodin, heroin, morphine, ecstasy, cold medications, tobacco, marijuana, hashish, crystal meth, alcohol, leeching, huffing and many more things with sex addiction topping the popularity charts these days. Our social and moral compass today is calibrated to acknowledge such substance abuse as a non-acceptable social behavior. But we still seem to have a great amount of personal tolerance and social acceptance for another kind of addiction that is not dependent on an external substance but on an internal substance and exhibited in our behavior, an addiction called "STRESS".

If we reflect on one day in our life, it is not hard to see how it is filled with stressors in the form of conflicts, challenges and threats. We spend most of our time stewing in traffic jams, financial challenges, screaming children, unreasonable boss or co-workers, deadlines at work, growing debts and the list is forever growing. We stress about everything and anything, insignificant ones to life changing decisions. We worry that our life may be empty, if we have nothing to worry about. Even a vacation is stressful with all the planning, flight travel, lost baggage and a mad rush to see everything, everywhere we go. We are in a rat race at home, at work and socially, chasing one thing after another looking for more responsibilities, more challenges, more financial growth, more, more and more. But we forget, that "more" we want in life, more stress we have to cope with.

Stress is not always bad but sometime it is good for us, depending on how we perceive it. If we perceive the event as a challenge, it creates a sense of euphoria or eustress, whereas if we perceive the event as a threat that we cannot cope with, we develop fear and anxiety.  In either case, a flight-or-fight response in generated in our body and it reacts by releasing chemicals like epinephrine or adrenaline into the bloodstream, which boosts the oxygen and glucose supply to our brain and muscles. This results in an experience of "sudden high", a feeling of being fully alive. The funny thing is, this feeling of "natural high" has the same effect as some of the drugs like heroine but it lasts for a shorter period of time since our body delivers it in small doses.

Considering the frequencies and levels of stress we experience in a day, can you imagine how many fixes of adrenaline we get in a day? We are so adapted to the fast pace of life that a normal, uneventful day is tucked way as a boring day in our lives and it leaves us with an unsatisfied palate. We need a problem to solve, a crisis to manage and the need "To be needed", so we can feel high, happy and alive. Doesn't 't it make you wonder:

Have we become stress junkies, borderline adrenaline junkies?

Well, "A junkie" may be a too harsh a word considering we are not Nascar drivers or jumping of the plane, sky diving every other day. But I can bet, many of us are guilty of flirting with this addiction at a very subconscious level. This flirtation has become a dependency if our tolerance for stress has gone up, if we feel the need to be in the center of a crisis every day and no longer satisfied and happy with a simple day. Those who go to the extent of creating a crisis if there isn't one just to make things interesting have definitely crossed the lines of dependency to become an addict. We don't realize how much of stress we are willing to put up in a day and actually miss the pressure and stress and get bored if things are peaceful around us.

Some stress is self-created by setting over-ambitious expectations or being over-critical on oneself, some we are subjected to by our friends and family members and some like second hand smoking we end up being an audience to stressful events as we move along the day and encounter ego-maniacs, rude, inconsiderate and unpleasant people. We turn a blind eye to the wear and tear our body and mind are subjected to these repeated stressors. With stress, our immune system gets suppressed, we fall sick more frequently, suffer from headaches, ulcers, heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, our work falls behind, our relationships get strained, we get irritable and the cycle continues feeding itself and before we realize we are on a downward spiral.

Most of us refuse to take responsibility to manage our own stress levels and instead make excuses that it is not in our control. Don't you think we should at least try to stay in control and break the cycle by not creating drama in our life, by not procrastinating and getting things on time, by being more disciplined, by planning things ahead of time and by not stressing out on minor things, by not reacting to other people's anger or stress, by learning to say NO.

Significant amount of stress can be eliminated even with a minimal effort to keep our own act together. But it is not enough, as they say  "Just because you got the monkey off your back, it doesn't mean the circus has left the town".

It is equally important to not to be an "Enabler". The damage of being "An enabler" is grossly under-estimated by many of us and we don't realize the damage we do to ourselves by getting sucked into others drama and absorbing all the unneeded stress. As important it is to help others, it is equally important to see if there is a pattern to their crisis, if they are actually taking actions to solve their problems and move on or if they are just using you as an emotional tampon.

It is sad but the truth is there are stress junkies around us who are constantly in crisis either self-created or claim that crisis finds them. Either they are chronically sick, always in conflict with others, always late and driving you crazy, always complaining, always unhappy, melodramatic about something or the other that their life seems to be falling apart on a regular basis. They can be your spouse, your brother, your parents, your boss or your friends. By being an enabler you are not helping them or yourself.

We may not be able to completely eliminate stress but awareness is the first step to any solution. I think it is important to be aware of the kind and the level of stress we experience on a regular basis and take a moment to reflect and decide if what we are chasing is really worth it. It is important to set aside the todo list and toast our successes, to enjoy a lazy Sunday morning, a cup of coffee in a busy day, to indulge in guilty pleasures that puts a smile on our faces and to do something that feeds our soul and brings calm and serenity into our lives and homes.

Have a SIMPLE day!  




Friday, March 26, 2010

Reverie

  
If you've never stared off in the distance, then your life is a shame.  
~Adam Duritz, 

Reverie, Daydreaming, the whole idea may seem very silly, something we brush away and something we never really think about, talk about but we do it all the time. We may even feel guilty sometimes of indulging in a daydream. We may feel embarrassed if caught in the act of daydreaming. Daydreamers are labeled as "slackers" by people. Most of us think it is a total waste of time and the minute we wake from a daydream, we rush into getting something productive done, to ease our guilty conscious.

But still, we spend around one-third of our waking hours daydreaming. It may be difficult to comprehend that we spend so much time daydreaming but seriously, think of all the time and all the places we daydream in. We daydream in the shower, while brushing our teeth, while driving, while working out, before we sleep, after we wake up, while cooking, during a conversation, while watching TV, while reading a email, in a meeting, while walking, while listening to music, seriously I cannot think of place or a time we don't daydream.

We daydream every time our mind is idle, to kill boredom, the second we are forced to process some uninteresting information, our mind escapes into a random series of thoughts and projects a series of pictures in our mind. It is like we are watching our own personal short movie, with us in the lead role, where everything is exactly where we want it to be, our own little perfect world, where we can be whoever we want to be, with no inhibitions and no moral police telling us what to do.

If you think of it, unlike nightmares, daydreaming always takes us to a happy place, a safe place.We see a projection of our own alter ego in our mind, we play out our fantasies, reminiscence our past, our life situations are better and it always leaves us in a better mood. Life is good in our daydreams, we are in complete control of the plot and the end. Isn't that fascinating? So,

why do we think daydreaming is a waste of time?

If we make a conscious effort and reflect on our daydreams, it will be an accurate reflection of our current ambitions, our conflicts, our goals, our forbidden fantasies, our wishes and our worries. More than that, for each story we weave in our mind, it gives us ideas, it gives us solutions, it also gives us a glimpse of the ending we wish for, truly wish for.

So instead of thinking it has a waste of time, may be we fulfill our ambitions and reach our goals by becoming that person we daydream of. May be we can find a way to bring our fantasies from our reverie into the real world and truly find that happiness we dream of. May be we can use our daydreams to find the courage to resolve our conflicts by daydreaming of different ways of resolving it. May be we can daydream to stimulate our creativity, to use it as a visualization tool.

Many artist claims their most creative work was a result of a daydream. Many psychologist think daydreaming as an effective decision making tool. When presented with a conflicting decision or a difficult decision, try  daydreaming about all the different possible solutions. Let your mind wander and it will show you where you really want to go and your emotions will reflect how you feel about that.

Of course, as traditional wisdom says, anything in moderation is good. Guilty or not-guilty we are all daydreaming, so why not make the most of it and find out where our free spirit wants to go and see if we want to take the journey on that path.





Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Slumdog Effect


Hollywood is the ultimate destination for artists working in the film industry. Mumbai film industry even borrowed the name Hollywood and called itself Bollywood. Every artist in Bollywood dreams of getting their fair share of the Hollywood limelight someday but only a few of them have managed to break the barriers and enter Hollywood mainstream successfully. In-spite of being one of the world's largest film industry and churning hundreds of movies every year, all attempts to score an Oscar by Bollywood has been in vain. 

But one movie, Slumdog millionaire changed everything. The perception, the opportunity, the success and the recognition not only for the actors, the technicians, the director and the producers of the movie but also changed the way the world viewed Indian cinema and more importantly it put Bollywood in the driving seat. Slumdog Millionaire turned out to be a ground breaking movie giving Bollywood a chance to showcase its art to the international audience and brought the Indian cinema and talent to the world stage and turned the spotlight on Bollywood.

The movie is a classic story of good over evil with the underdog winning the money and the girl in the end.  The world's reaction to the movie was overwhelmingly positive, receiving glorified reviews  and with multiple Oscar wins the movie quickly climbed up on the global box office and everyone wanted to be on the “I have seen it” list.

With Slumdog Millionaire, the world woke up to the vibrant art of Indian cinema and finally acknowledged the existence of the billion dollar Bollywood industry. Hollywood could no longer ignore the market, the potential and the ringing sound of the Indian box office. For you see, money never makes requests but demands attention.

The change in tide is definitely a well deserved welcome with the Hollywood investors knocking on the doors of Bollywood. More and more Bollywood movies are being based out of New York or London and seeing international stars like Snoop Dogg or Sylvester Stallone in Bollywood movies is no longer a shocker.  The shift in tide is easily visible with Anil Ambani bidding to buy MGM with a plan to merge it with Reliance Entertainment. Reliance entertainment is already a big stakeholder in Dreamworks and they have also entered in contract with many super-stars like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts for their productions.

A.R Rehman officially entered the Hollywood by composing the background score for "Couples retreat" and we can be rest assured that he will rule this world soon. Anil Kapoor has been well received by Hollywood and  is now a series regular on the hit television series "24". Just like Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India, soon Hollywood may be outsourced and find its new home in Mumbai.

The dark horse is turning out to be Frieda Pinto, who silently seems to have made the most of it all after her debut in Slumdog. She hired a Hollywood agent the first chance she got, appeared on all major talk shows and managed to hold her own ground and blended in effortlessly with her charming smile. Even after a year, the frizz hasn't died and she is still the paparazzi's favorite girl and much to everyone's surprise she has
become a fashion icon with her amazing sense of fashion and her ability to wear exotic colors and still look chic. It was a delight to see her in People's magazine's top 10 best dressed women for "Best Use of Color". She created waves in the London fashion week and got more attention and press coverage than the fashion veterans like Gwyneth Paltrow. She has bagged a role in the next Woody Allen movie. I recently saw her on the L'Oréal's ad and was immensely impressed with her ease and comfort in front of the camera and by the fact that she did not stand out as an ethnic girl but just looked like a model, natural, beautiful and captivating.

Bollywood superstars from Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen to Lara Dutta have tried all possible gimmicks to make a breakthrough in the Hollywood industry but in vain. It is a sweet revenge of karma to see Frieda Pinto, a new comer, with no godfather, a simple TV anchor turned model turned actress to hit the ground running and break more barriers then all these actresses combined. Frieda Pinto may still be riding the wave of Slumdog millionaire and still has to prove herself as an actress but I am rooting for the underdog and seriously wishing for her to succeed. It will be a huge disappointment if she turns out to be a one pony act but seeing how she has managed her publicity and transitioned with such poise to become a Hollywood celebrity, she may be able to pull it off.

Slumdog even made it into the Urban dictionary - "Slumdog Millionaire Moment: When a person knows a completely random fact/answer, and their knowledge of this has something to do with events in their past."

A 360 degree view of the Slumdog effect looks perfect except for one important sore spot. The movie was about the slum kids and their chance in the world to strike gold but the irony is, except for the child stars in the movie everyone else seems to have hit a home run. A recent article in Times of India mentioned that the child stars, Rubina and Azharuddin of Slumdog are still living in the Bhandra slums of Mumbai. Rubina does not even have a roof on top of her house. The silver lining for them is the Jai Ho trust fund created by the director Danny Boyle and the producer Christian Colson.

The Jai Ho trust fund has been setup to provide for the educational costs and a monthly stipend to provide for
the living costs for the child stars Rubina, Azharuddin and their siblings. But with a clause they need to have at least 70% attendance rate to get their monthly stipend and they are already falling short of that. If they manage to graduate with a degree they will get a lump sum from the trust fund but the amount is at the discretion of the trustees. But right now,  the quality of their life is still the same and now that they have seen the shine and glitter of the Oscar's red carpet it must be harder for them to reconcile with their fate.

The celebrities who hugged them on the red carpet and the people who gave them a grand homecoming welcome after the Oscars are all long gone. They are left with the shiny clothes they wore for the Oscars, memories of the Disneyland and their 15 minute fame on the red carpet. For these kids the movie was just a short trip to the fantasy land and once it was over they had to return to the realities of their life. Sometimes ignorance is bliss but when you know there is a better world out there it is harder to swallow the reality pill. Over the years as the fame and effect of the Slumdog will diminish, these kids may also be forgotten.

But the hope is, they still have a chance to get a decent education, to become financial independent and an opportunity to shape their own future. A hope that maybe, the TRUE Slumdog Millionaire story is yet to be revealed in years to come.....







Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reflections

With the arrival of new year, there is so much focus on making a change and a mad rush for new year resolutions, at least to make one resolution with a known acceptance of we may or may not keep it. Everyone is in a hurry to close the past year and to leap into the new year. Surprisingly there is not much focus on the year that is ending.

Personally I find "The End" to be more dramatic then new beginnings. The range of emotions with new beginnings are limited to hope and anticipation, whereas "The End" is a complete roller coaster. You will never know what you will find out about yourself or others when things come to an end. With an end, you will get a more accurate understanding of what you are made of, your strength, your weakness, your integrity, your ethics and numerous other facets of our own personality and also of everyone else around you.

When I started this blog in Jan 2009, everyone asked me if it was a new year resolution but the truth is, it was a reflection of the the previous year and the blog title “Reflections” felt apt. Now looking back after an year, the title still seems to fit. This blog is a reflection of moments, of life, of people, of places, of thoughts, of emotions, some experienced by me and some shared with me.

I think our days, our personality, our relationships and in totality our life is shaped by our emotions. Our present is defined by the emotions we stay with, our denials are the emotions we run from, our fear are the emotions we hide from, our vulnerabilities are the emotions we refuse to share, our dreams are the emotions we aspire to experience, our conflicts are the emotions we cannot accept or comprehend.

This blog is a reflection of these emotions and an attempt to take a gander into these emotions to find an alternate perspective, a perspective that is independent of the social police, a perspective that questions the traditional moral guidance, a perspective of the unspoken words, a perspective of redefining the question to reflect our current social structure.

I never thought blogging was my cup of tea and after an year I am still surprised at the immense satisfaction, content and joy I have found in sharing my thoughts. In 2009, I finally found the creative side of a Virgo in me, which I have been desperately searching for. Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I am very grateful for the kind words of encouragement you have sent my way through emails, in person and for leaving comments. Thank you for that. Your encouragement is very motivating and always gives me more energy to keep it going.

The picture above is a painting from my friend Payal, who picked up the brushes after 20 years and started painting again. Thank you for sharing it with me.

If you feel like, leave a comment and share your reflection of the year 2009.

Happy new year to all of you. May the new year bring all the happiness, joy and success you wish for and much more than that.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Pink redefined


(To my mom, who showed me how to be strong and
taught me to stand by my beliefs,
especially when they are inconvenient)


Pink for me was a representation of extreme femininity, a picture of a fragile woman, a self-indulger in clothes, makeup and accessories, whose only imaginable biggest crisis being a “Bad hair day”. Pink was the color of divas that are completely oblivious to the real world outside. Rare are those moments, when your long held notions are shaken and changed forever. I experienced one such moment, as I was flipping through a magazine, and came across “Gulabi Gang”. Their story was compelling, inspiring and put a proud smile on my face.

I read more about them and here is their story, with my own thoughts and conclusions, with facts gathered across the net.

A new revolution began 2 years ago, in a small village of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh, ignited by Sampat Devi Pal. She decided to stop wishing and start working to stop the discrimination and violence; she and the women around her were subjected to. She recruited women in her village to fight collectively against the violence of domestic abuse, child marriage and the wide spread corruption in her community.

They realized their full potential and the power they owned as a group, in their fight against the corrupt officials of the Electricity department in Banda district. They all camped in front of the electricity board dressed in their identical fluorescent pink sarees with pink lati's (sticks) in their hands, sloganeering against the corrupt officials who had turned off electricity in their homes for more than two weeks and had the audacity to send bills demanding payment for the electricity they never received. These women were determined, refused to move and threatened to beat up the officials if they did not turn on the electricity to their homes. After several days of struggle, they won and saw their homes lit again.

This upsurge soon turned into a revolution in Uttar Pradesh and paved way for “Gulabi Gang”. They are the volunteer guardians who protect the weak with their collective strength. Gulabi is the color of the bright pink saree these women dress in, in their fight against the male oppression, the cruelty and the physical and mental abuse, the women are subjected to in the remote villages around Bundelkhand. A woman wears the fluorescent pink saree to recruit herself to the gang and the other members of the gang extend their support and fight for her as one unit. The Gulabi gang women confront the abusive husbands, not-so-gently with words first and fiercely with their lati's later to stop the wife beatings. They have successfully stopped numerous child marriages and have even exposed corrupt government officials who have been turning a blind eye against all the violence.

Men fear the Gulabi gang and try their best not be a target of their attention or attack. After
the rise of Gulabi gang the rate of domestic violence has significantly reduced in these remote villages of Uttar Pradesh. Apart from the external influence, these women have a seen a change in themselves. Some women have found the courage to shun the parda (veil); some have found the courage to confront the ministers, while earlier they used to fear talking to the male members of their family. Many of them are educating their daughters with a dream to provide a better life and choices for them. Most of them know how to use the lati for self-defense and are not afraid to use them if they have to.

Once the media got wind of the existence of Gulabi gang, they have been
splashing their story across all the major networks. They were even featured in the BBC news network. Promises of financial funding to build shelter homes, politicians seeking the endorsement of Gulabi gang and requests for TV interviews have been pouring to the door steps of Sampat Devi Pal. She is cautious about accepting help and says there is always a kick back these organization and individuals expect from them in return. She is trying to hold on to the core concept under which this organization was formed and questions aptly, “Where were this people when we were suffering alone for all these years?


On one side there is the media who are trying to milk the heroic stories of these women and on the other side there are the government officials, the police and other power hungry men who are trying to suppress their growing power and popularity. The police department is getting the pressure from the media and public, as to why they have been refusing to register the cases against domestic violence and why they haven't acted to stop the child marriages. These officials are trying to create a ripple of negative publicity as how Gulabi gang are breaking the law by taking the matters in their own hands and accuse them of violence against men. They dismiss the Gulabi gang members as criminals and threaten to officially charge them with unlawful assembly, attacking a government official and rioting.

Gulabi gang members fight for survival, for dignity, for safety and security has been glamorized
by the media and politically played for every ones gain. It may not be a long time, before we see a delicate Bollywood heroine playing the role of “Sampat Devi” in a movie based on the true story and struggles of Gulabi gang members.

Not sure how this revolution will churn out and how the Gulabi gang will go down in history. Maybe Sampat Devi pal will be seen on billboards standing for an election. Maybe it will become one of those organizations that will completely lose sight of their cause and becomes yet another group pushing some other political agenda or maybe will remain true to its cause and continue to fight and be a guarding angel to the women who cannot fight alone.

But as of now these simple but strong women in their rustic beauty have turned into super-heroic women, inspiring thousands of others and given them hope to fight for their own rights. Personally for me, they redefined "Pink" from being a color of fragile and fashion savvy women to symbolize women of strength, courage and power, who fight for their rights with a belief that:

“Nothing changes, unless YOU become the change”.





Sunday, August 30, 2009

Green with Envy


(To all those people who can say NO,

to a French vanilla ice-cream with roasted almonds and coconut,
topped with caramel)



Neighbors Envy! Owner's Pride!

One can never forget the Onida TV green devil, with horns and long nails, slithering its spiky tail across the television screen, taunting us with a vicious smile.

The ad had a negative connotation to it, but every person who has seen it, identifies with it. Our inner evil twin with their forbidden thoughts, quietly smiled and enjoyed the 30sec ad, poking at our secret, the cardinal sin “envy”, we work very hard to hide deep inside us.

In this modern world, where our minds are constantly subjected to messages convincing us to buy the best, from early morning coffee to the best laxative in the world; where our life is constantly evaluated by checkpoints at every stage, with success and failures compared to our peers, how can we avoid envy? When we all want the same things, when we are all running the same race with our branded shoes and 75SPF sunblock creams, trying to stay ahead of the game, isn't comparison a natural phenomenon and isn't envy a natural outcome?

Every one's life seems to be on a preset roadmap, to graduate from best rated colleges, to work in fortune 500 companies, to marry based on a formula guaranteed for success, to have kids since it is the next natural step, to buy a house to invest our hard earned money, and work even harder to pay the mortgages, ending in a well known “rat race”, running around in circles, where we are chasing what we don't have and the people around us chasing what we have. How can we avoid “Envy”?

We think we are winning the race if we are ahead or in par with our friends and stricken by fear when our life takes a side step from the well marked course, either by choice or by a misfortune. Even though we seem to be living an independent life, we find ourselves on a short leash and trying not to stray from the preset course of our life. We are completely unaware of how much of our life is driven by envy.

Envy, you see it every day, everywhere, around you and if you dare to admit, inside you as well. Can we really break free from it? Or do we really need to break free from it?

Has “Envy” an ancient world mortal sin become the modern world motivator?

“Our wants” are influenced by what our friends have. “Our treasure” is what our friends lack. “Our desires” are ignited by the pleasures enjoyed by our friends. “Our fears” are heightened by our friend's misfortunes. “Our competitive nature” is fired when we see others in front of us. “Our content” is to the brim when we know others are behind us.

Envy may be our insecurity turned inside out. Like everything else, if we don't let it consume
us, it can be one of the most organic form of motivation.

Not all of us are genius, not all of us have a great sense of security, not all of us are aware of what exactly we want from life or where we want to go but we learn from others, mimic others and in the journey we may discover ourselves. What we learn from others depends entirely in our strength to attach to things which bring positive energy into our life and detach from those that will consume our happiness and peace of mind.

Envy, the green-eyed monster of the ancient world has metamorphosed into a green temptress who is constantly haunting us and enticing us with the wicked luxuries of the modern world.

Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need”, seems to be so out dated. There will always be a next temptation to resist, a next evil to trade for a lesser one and a next materialistic thing we cannot afford and turn green with envy.