Thursday, August 15, 2019

National Integration

It’s been 31 years since this national integration video first showed up on Doordarshan. And it’s never been needed more. Happy Independence Day, India.

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

Oh, and meanwhile, we’ve done a fabulous job of keeping our promises to ourselves - or at least to some of us.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens
 JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
 LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
 EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
 FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We Cannot Let Them Close Our Mouths.

Here's something worth coming out of hibernation for. If you're banging your head against the growing culture of intolerance and offence in India, please participate in #flashreads

What is #flashreads? #flashreads is a simple way of registering your protest against the rising intolerance that has spread across India in the last few decades. At any time on February 14th—we suggest 3 pm, but pick a time of your convenience—go out with a friend or a group of friends and do a quick reading. Mail me for selected readings, or feel free to pick your favourite passage on free speech, or from the works of any writer who has faced sedition charges, a book ban or other forms of censorship. 

Do you have to protest in this way? No, feel free to create your own way of protesting.

THE IDEA: To celebrate free speech and to protest book bans, censorship in the arts and curbs on free expression

WHY FEBRUARY 14TH? For two reasons. In 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie for writing the Satanic Verses. In GB Shaw’’s words: “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”

February 14th or Valentine’s Day has also become a flashpoint in India, a day when protests against “Western culture” by the Shiv Sena have become an annual feature. In Chandigarh, 51 Sena activists were arrested by the police after V-day protests turned violent in 2011.
Our hope is to take back the day, and observe it as a day dedicated to the free flow of ideas, speech and expression.

Places where you might do public readings: subway and Metro stations, public parks, coffee shops, open areas in malls. If you’re talking about Flashreads on Twitter, please use the #flashreads hashtag.

If you have a blog, a tumblr or a website, an easy way to join in is to post Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear” on your site for a day, or choose any excerpt (posted below). 

Location: Lodi Gardens, Bridge Over The Duck Pond, Amrita Shergill Marg entrance; or pick your own location, anywhere in your city.

For more information or to see options for passages to read,  please visit 

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Amigos Para Siempre

In recent weeks, a particular playlist of favourite music that I've had on loop has brought back a flood of memories, vivid in my mind but softened by nostalgia. Like an out of body experience, the opening bars of particular songs transport me to a different time and place, and remind me of long-forgotten moments and the people (you know who you are) with whom I shared them.

So, people, since there's no earthly way to disassociate you from the music in my head, here's to you, and thanks for all the fish.

Comfortably Numb. Pre-ISC. Debdan, Dodo and I, who have been spending a lot of time "studying" together, are sitting at RadioVoice (in my memory, we're almost always at RadioVoice), across the road from home, waiting for notes to be photocopied. Doom is imminent, and we know it. Whatever happens next, we're hurtling towards some unfamiliar precipice, and life as we know it is over. Debdan perches on the edge of the table, and in an abandon-hope-all-ye kind of tone, sings Comfortably Numb at us (no, not to, at), while Dodo and I laugh uncomfortably.  

Goin' Wild For You Baby. Skiving off college and hanging out at Park Circus, surfing a tidal wave of tea, cigarettes, hilarity and empathy, in the grip of a love affair that has crept up on me sneakily, while I wasn't looking. Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez interspersed with a rare pep talk from Bubu. I've been looking for the Bonnie Raitt version of this song ever since. 

Kiss that Frog. Escaping from college to Tiru's to listen to music, drink tea and smoke on the sly on a balcony shaded by an enormous tree. Exploring his music collection while he pronounces my taste "quite good for a girl," a misogynistic slur that I forgive when I discover a wealth of music I don't have, including Peter Gabriel Live at Modena. It takes me a while to persuade him to loan it to me though. 

Oh, Happy Day. Sunday morning, Park Circus, chai from Aashiq's stall, From Every Stage blasting from the windows. Such fond memories. 

Wish You Were Here. Harmonising with Vittesh through the years, but most weirdly, in that little "literatura y artes" pub in Cusco, where we really were the best singers around! 

Rhinestone Cowboy. Nigel as troubadour, bringing his guitar and voice. Singalongs. And eventually, singalongs at Sonai's kiddie camps, with a whole bunch of kids singing "Sundeep Jain's scooter has a puncture in the tyre." You can't make stuff like this up!

Theme For A Dream. Lawrence Hall during break, Tina, Sherene, Kavi. Singing our way through school. And then, continuing to sing this our way at all kinds of inappropriate places, in front of all kinds of inappropriate audiences, especially to the total mystification of guests at Sherene's wedding. 

The Bear Necessities. Walking down Calcutta roads, arm in arm with Mona, singing and dancing, alternating on the Baloo and Mowgli parts, while our companions pretended not to know us. Happiness!

You've Got A Friend in Me: Toy Story at Nandan, with Sonai. The first of many treks to watch animated films followed by sandwiches at Atrium, or pizza at Rooftop. :) 

The Phantom Of The Opera: Padma and I, in my 7th block home in Bangalore. Phantom on around the clock, while we attempted to hit those high notes, and much abuse and reluctant awe directed at Sarah Brightman each time we failed. Long nights of Russian coffee, conversation and calm. And the occasional Yahoo grin.

Fragile: Dodo introducing me to Sting, oh so many years ago! India A vs. India B, and "what's a differential equation?" on the eve of our ISC Maths exam. Ambling around the military camp, and the horns of Dodo's perpetual dilemma - should he take the Garia mini, or try his luck with the Gariahat-Howrah?

I'm off to listen to more favourites, and revel in some more nostalgia. But as a bonus for reading through this entirely personal post, here's Comfortably Numb to get you started on your own musical associations. Enjoy!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Riding The Wave

In an earlier post, I'd written about hoping for new things - change, excitement, and all that jazz. And looking back over the past year and a half, I can't quite believe the extent of change that I have, almost without thinking about it, orchestrated.

I quit my job - my stable, well-paying job - in the midst of growing recession! I left the US, and a life that I was beginning to loathe. I took a 4-month holiday, then moved to London, just about a year ago. And it's been an interesting year.

I've gone from having savings to having significantly less, but I've realised one of my travel-dreams - Machu Picchu. I came to London intending to work with the non-profit sector. I haven't done that, but I'm doing other things that are new, exciting, and super-interesting. I used to think it was insanity to work with family, but on evidence so far, I was wrong - and I'm relieved to admit it!
For 4 years in the US, I thought of going back to learning Spanish, and never quite managed it - and now, finally, I'm doing it.

It all feels like baby steps in the right direction.

I'm gradually getting used to this city, and while I still miss the madness of Bombay, and the semi-controlled chaos of my life in the US, I like the demarcated areas of peace and madness here.

None of this is about the long-term. I've stopped thinking in terms of the long-term, at least for the moment, and made my peace with it. But it's been a period of experimentation and discovery, and it's been fun! Multiple and diverse goals still plague me, but it's all good - let's see how many of these I can achieve in the next year. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanks for all the fish...

In keeping with the season, here's a list of things I'm thankful for - both big and small, meaningful and mundane.

1. Agatha Christies in a lamplit glow on chill, thunderous evenings.

2. Mangsho - cooked the Bong way, super-jhal, with lots of alu.

3. Places to go, places to see!

4. Peppermint tea

5. The sheer random luck of being alive, here, today.

6. S and S, my rocks, the people I turn to for comfort and succour, or just to talk, for never failing to yank me out of the blues. And for making me laugh, whether intentionally or un.

7. PG Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Tolkien, A.A. Milne, Jack London, Michael Crichton, Ruskin Bond, Roald Dahl, Saki - not necessarily in that order.

8. Coffee. You are my lifeline.

9. The Internet. Viva!

10. My family, for supporting my wildest decisions, encouraging me to take the road less travelled, being there when I need them. They're still learning how not to ask the wrong question at the wrong time, but they'll get there!

11. Dogs. And, in particular, Baloo, the joyous, the curious, the ever young-at-heart.

12. Bookshops, music stores, coffeeshops, pubs.

13. Rationality.

14. Possibilities. :)