Saturday, 19 April 2008

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright.....

I was recently watching a video, shot by my brother-in law, when he was visiting the "Kanha National Park "in India. It was of a magnificent tiger who just walked past their open jeep in all its glory.
This suddenly brought back the memories of my school days, when I had snagged a book from my fathers collection called as "Man-eaters of Kumaon" by Jim Corbett. The book was about Corbett's experiences with man eating tigers in the Kumaon region of India and how he saved the lives of many people by killing the tigers. Jim Corbett is still famous for being a naturalist and conservationist and a National park has been named in his honor.

The book fueled in me the desire to see a tiger at close range.Though I had seen quite a few at the circus and zoo , watching it at close range was a different experience all together. There is nothing comparable to seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat.

Many of us are still oblivious of the fact as to how closely our existence depends on that of wild animals. Even though we consider ourselves to be at the top of the food chain and grossly misuse our power, the fact remains that, our species can be wiped out due to gross negligence and misguided beliefs of humans being the "be all and end all" of this world. As an "Apex Predator" the tiger is at the top of the natural food chain and holds the key in preserving the water,air and forests. By eating 60-80 animals a year , a Tiger keeps check on the population of herbivores , who otherwise would denude the forest with excessive grazing and turn it into barren lands.

The fate of the tiger and in turn our own fate is in our hands. But sadly in 1970's we came dangerously close to losing this magnificent species "Panthera Tigris". Deforestation, poaching and human expansion brought all the species of tigers to the brink of extinction. There were 8 sub species out of which the Javan , Caspian and Balinese are already extinct.
Studies of tiger population estimate, that 100 years ago approx 100,000 tigers roamed all across India , South East Asia ,Central Asia and Eastern China . Now only 5000 - 7000 remain in the wild in small pockets of Habitat across the globe.

In 1973, India launched "Project Tiger" which is a wildlife conservation programme which aims at tiger conservation in specially constituted
tiger reserves representative of various bio-geographical regions throughout India. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population in their natural environment. The first tiger census in 1972 put the tiger population at 1827. The recent report "Status of Tigers , Co-Predators ,Prey in India" by National Tiger Conservation Society and Wildlife Institute of India puts the the tiger figures at 1411.

The largest ever animal census in world history— outlines the many threats the tiger now faces.The report states “The tiger has lost much ground due to direct poaching, loss of quality habitat and loss of its prey,” it notes. “In the past 50 years, humans have changed these ecosystems largely to meet growing demand for food, fresh water,timber,fibre and fuel, more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history".

The rampat poaching for every part of the tigers body also adds to it . Sariska National Park is a National Embarrasment where, in 2004, poachers emptied the park of its tigers. A tiger skeleton can fetch as much as Rs. 300,000 on the black market.Poorly equipped and poorly paid forest staff can be no match to poachers.

There are a number of agencies and groups all across the globe supporting for the conservation of tiger. Inspite of all these efforts the population has depleted.Poor Management, corruption, lack of funding and out dated scientific methods have led to the slow degradation of the "Project tiger".

Its time to join hands and raise our voice with conservationist like "Valmik Thapar" who are fighting tirelessly to save the Indian tiger from extinction.
If stronger steps are not taken,our future generations will know of the TIGER only through videos,poems and photographs.

"Tiger Tiger Burning Bright,
In the forest of the night..." -- William Blake.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Race....helps you race for the "Stop button"

After looking at the promos of the movie I was eagerly waiting for it to get released so I can see the pirated version on the internet (Well fellas dont go all "how can u do it ?" I am desperate...and there are no Hindi cinemas nearby to go to )

The star cast looked impressive and songs were also promising. Added to that was I love Saif ali so it was a chance worth taking.The print was quite ok. The movie started and the entrance of saif was so typical of Hindi movies as if dumb viewers like us, cant guess it anymore...

The movie revolves around 6 main characters saif , bipasha , akshaye khanna , katrina kaif , anil kapoor and sameera reddy...
This is not a review so I wont divulge into the storyline..
The first thought after watching the movie was... What was the director thinking...?

The movie has so many twists and turns , it becomes difficult to follow the storyline. I feel Saif was totally wasted in the movie .Bipasha just looked hot and sexy (as usual) ,Akshaye Khanna (Would prefer listening to nails being scraped on the Board than him) Katrina kaif is slowly dropping her accent but looked pretty...dumb..
The topping on this was Anil Kapoor,eeeeewwww (he still thinks he in his Tezaab days) and wyack.....Sameera Reddy....(I am speechless..wordless actually....) the line...What was she thinking actually fits here more...

Anil kappor is shown to be eating fruits in the entire movie...maybe it did wonders for his health but...what about the movie..?
Sameera reddy should be banned from acting and deported to a planet far away...even money cant be so much of a motivation...

The storyline is so lame...bachpan se hum race karte the and because of my inferiority complex I was never successful in life so now Abbas Mastan make a movie....called Race..

Well the entertainment value is zero...and the feeling after the movie is over, is of a relief and also that you just wasted 3 hours of your life...

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Empty Nest.

It is my Sunday ritual to call up my parents back home in India. I can clearly hear the joy in their voice and know how eagerly they are waiting for my call. Its been nearly a decade since my parents have been staying alone, since all three of us (my 2 sisters and me) have been married and moved away from our hometown. In the beginning it was for studies and then better job prospects that we had to leave our Family home.

There is a whole new breed of such parents in today's India. They are living on their own and their children have either settled abroad or are working in another city. After the advent of globalisation as new and better opportunities both in terms of education and work came forth , the already nuclear family broke into even smaller parts , with the parents left alone and the children moving out.

Most of the times it is the parents who encourage the children to take benefit of the opportunities at hand. At that time usually, parents are still working and have a busy life. Its easier for them to cope with the absence of children.

After retirement they have plenty of leisure time but where are the children and grandchildren with whom they had dreamt of spending their old age. Even though parents are extremely proud of the achievements of children but deep inside a throb of pain lingers . They miss the company of their loved ones. The only thing left with them are old memories . They try their best to fill the void by sticking to routine and developing new hobbies. Basically the empty nest syndrome starts afflicting most of them.

The much awaited scheduled phone call is mostly for assuring themselves that their children are safe and happy. Parents do not want to burden them with any troubles as the children are far away and will worry about them.

Also going and staying with their children forever is a choice which most parents are not in favor of. Uprooting from a city in which they have their own circle of friends , their home and familiar surroundings and staying in a city/country where they are constantly dependent on their children is discomforting. Also the children are caught up in their own lives.

Much has been said and written about how parents feel but the children also feel helpless that they are not able to do anything about it.The demands and responsibilities have to be taken care of. And once they start their own families the pressure still increases. They are very much aware of how their parents are faring. The desire to be the support for parents in their old age is quite high. To share their successes and failures with parents and not inform them over the telephone is what they too desire.

Of course there is a different variety of parents as well as children who abandon their loved ones for their own comfort. The evils of this category is too long to be included here.

Ultimately it boils down to the fact that parents have given up a lot of their time and energy in raising us. They have showered us with love and caring. They have kept their needs aside for our wants. It now becomes our responsibility to take care of them as much as possible. To be a emotional and financial support to them. Even though its not physically possible to be with them, being in regular contact is also a great support.

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings. ~Hodding Carter, Jr.

Even though "the nest is empty" our roots are still strong with our parents.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Vanishing Girls....

In my everyday chat converstions with my friend "Shipra" we came to a topic of dicussion on the movie "Matrubhoomi". I saw the movie last year and it still sends shivers down my spine whenever I remember the story.

The movie revolves around a time when female foeticide has skewed the male female ratio so much that the heroine of the movie "Kalki" is married off to 5 brothers. The whole setting is of some village in Bihar. The movies leaves you with visions of barbaric men and scenes of violence. The theme of the movie "skewed gender ratio if we keep on killing the girl child" was good. The way it is put across by the director leaves you with a bad taste.

The fate of the girl child today in India is as dismal as it was 2 decades back. Inspite of laws banning sex detemination of an unborn child, the killing of female foetuses is still common in some parts of India. The country which worships godesses like "Laxmi" and "Durga" who are females, now has to bribe its citizens by launching monetary schemes to save the girl child.

The situation has come to this stage that the Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhary launched a ‘Conditional cash Transfer for Girl Child with Insurance Cover (CCT)'. This scheme will give the family with a girl child, money at certain intervals and for specific purposes like vaccination, education etc. till the girl turns 18.

This scheme was launched with a mindset that it will encourage parents to educate the girl and look at her as an asset rather than a liabilty.

Economic, cultural and religious dynamics play a major role in giving preference to a "Son" over "Daughter". Gender discrimination and son idolization is a very common practice, be it educated or uneducated people. The girl child is considered as a burden to be passed on to another family. Having a son is considered good fortune. The son is considered an asset as he will continue the familys lineage and also be a support to the parents in their old age.

In todays world a daughter stands shoulder to shoulder with the son. She can take all the responsibilty as a son can. It angers me when I hear educated people giving preference to a son over a daughter. What does a Son have that a Daughter doesn't???

Is it not the responsibilty of educated people like "us" to set an example for others to follow. If we ourselves continue this discrimination.. is there any hope left for the girl child??

The entire world is looking at India as one of the fastest progressing country in the world. Are we actually progressing in the real sense?

When your "right to live" itself is threatened, because you are born a Girl, slogans like "India Poised" and "India Shining" all seem hollow and futile.

“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women”.
- Jawaharlal Nehru-

Friday, 11 April 2008

Live-in it testing the waters before the plunge

The custom of Live-in relationship is very old in India, wherein zamindars and Nawabs not only had many wives but quite a few live in-women. In those times it was not considered immoral to have a live-in relationship.

Post Independance, monogamous marriages became the in-thing. India still remains a conservative society where the institution of marriage is considered sacred. Plus chastity on the part of a woman is highly rated. The woman with a history of pre marital relations with a man will have less chances of getting married in the future.

A decade back when I was studying in Pune....the concept of live-in relationships had just started emerging. Many of my classmates were in one and few of those relationships eventually culminated into marriage.

There are conflicting views on this subject. Just today I was having a chat with "Shipra" a friend of mine who had no qualms about being in one. Her only condition was that both the partners should be unmarried and should be equally devoted to each other.

I beg to differ, I feel that a live in relationship takes away the zest and spice. In a marriage, its all about discovering new things about your life partner and even adjusting to it. Its a life long commitment.

In a live in relationship, I feel people are scared of commitments and so they need a testing period. The margin for error and tolerance levels are very low. They are already in doubt whether this relationship will work or not. These relationships are fragile. Most people enter into a Live -in relationship to test for compatibilty or convenience. Studies have shown that people who Live-together before they marry have a higher tendency to get divorced.

A marriage gives so much of security to both partners. Both work towards making the relationship successful. There is stability and also financial security.

No strings attached is something which does not work for me. Test driving a relationship without the binding of commitment seems so pointless.

I feel that even though not all marriages end in happily- ever- after, the choice of going for a commitment like marriage in itself is a step towards lasting Happiness.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

"Sex Education in India" ,Still a Taboo.....?

Are we the same Country that gave "Kamasutra" to the world?
Hard to believe but its an alarming fact.

We are the same country that dishes out titillating Movies and Pop songs which scream of Sex,but are too shy to talk about it to our younger generation.Our media is flooded with images which definitely give rise to curious questions.Are we not being hypocrites.
What signal are we sending to the younger generation?

In spite of the rise in the number of abortions in adolescents.And reports about pre- marital sex happening ,we still turn a blind eye towards it.All under the guise of the so called "Indian Culture".

We have to keep in mind that ignorance and sex is a potent combination.By avoiding to talk about it we are in fact leaving them no option but to discover it by way of experimentation.
It still such a taboo to talk about the subject that many a time parents are shocked to know that their own kid, whom they thought is still too young has already started that experimentation.

Todays generation of kids are born into a world where AIDS is a harsh reality. By providing an environment in which they can be educated on Sex, AIDS and HIV will help us in the future to curb this epidemic.

The prime responsibilty lies with parents or guardians.The talk about "Birds and Bees" albeit difficult is quite necessary.By answering even their most private of questions, we will be able to reduce the frustrations and questions about their own Sexuality.

Its time we throw the veil of morality and bring the truth out in the open.By arming our younger generation with knowledge and information that they seek,we will be doing our own bit in fighting the monsters of HIV, AIDS and population explosion.

Monday, 7 April 2008

The Indian Angel or a Devil in Disguise?

I have had my share of Indian Bosses when I was working back home in India.

They come in various shapes and sizes....and Mentalities.

Since I was always moving from one city to another,owing to my husbands job.I had the opportunity of working for varied organisations with dramatically different work cultures.

I have had bosses with whom I have shared a very good Rapport and then what can we say about those who haunt your nightmares and you wish you'd rather make his "Voodoo doll" and stick pins in it than bear working with him.

Well this post is not about badmouthing bosses.Since we spend most of our waking hours working...its an attempt to understand this species "The Indian Boss".

Some of them could give Hitler a Run for his money...with their rules and and wacko way of working.Quite a few of them do try to be really fair and some set such good examples that you just cannot forget them for their decency,fairness and leadership.

When I was working for a reputed Insurance company in India I had a boss who was plain mean.He was so insecure of his own position that he laid stringent rules which he himslf did not adhere to.Most of them were to apply his policy of Divide and Rule.
Since Indian work culture gives "Boss" lot of power ,the employees are left at his mercy.Most of the Bosses are moving towards achieving the companys's missions.But their own insufficiencies do mar the way of progress. Employees who are in the boss's Favourites Category have a upper hand on those mortals who dont like patronising.The "Favourites" have better chances of getting promoted ,even if, they have not worked throughout the year.Also politics is rampant ,as the leader himself encourages it.

The other category though rare still ,does exist.These people will lead you through tough times motivate you and be fair to everyone.The organisations progress is on the top of their mind.There are no hidden agendas and the typical politics.I have come across such people and they have left a distinct mark in my memory.They have added a different facet to my personality.

Since the influx of lot of Multinational companies, the culture of companies is changing. The typical image of the boss is slowly getting a "makeover".Bosses are here to stay.
They are the essential kegs in the wheel of Industry.
Even though we love to hate them they are a distinct part of our corporate culture.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

You've Got Mail...

This is one of the most delighful Romantic comedies I have ever seen....I fell in love with both the characters "Kathleen Kelley" played by Meg Ryan and "Joe Fox" played by Tom Hanks.

The movie revolves around these two characters, who communicate well via email and fall in love without knowing each others real identity.In actual life they are Business rivals and Joe Fox puts Kathleen out of Business.
"Shopgirl" and "NY152" are the Avatars under which they are emailing each other.

The theme is so simple yet so sweet.The dialogues which are in the form of emails are Fabulous and so interesting.

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino".

The dreams and emotions have been potrayed so well.Kathleen's pain and uncertainity after losing her Book shop and how she deals with you new hope.

I absolutely loved her lines

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but valuable. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.

Eventually when Tom Hanks finds out that "shopgirl" is Kathleen Kelley he does not try to woo her in the typical fashion but makes efforts to be her friend without her finding out his real Identity.He lets her be under the impression that he does not know "NY152".

"If I hadn't been FoxBooks and you hadn't been the Shop Around the Corner... and you and I had, just you know, met... Yeah. I would have asked for your phone number and I wouldn't have been able to wait 24 hours before calling and asking, "How about coffee, drinks, dinner, a movie, for as long as we both shall live?"

Finally when "Shopgirl" and "NY152" meet....well I will leave it at that...Go ahead and see the sure you will love it as much as I did.

Without resorting to any kind of Hi-tech imagery or spending huge amounts on costumes the movie is charming an sticks with you till the end.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

In my Friend ,I find my second self.

Can we really say that in today's world?

In today's rush rush life its becoming harder and harder to hold down to relationships , rest
aside FRIENDS!!

In the thirst for moving upwards in our careers and and the race to be "successful" ,"liked by all" and the desire to have more....we have forgotten when life was simpler and friends were friends.

Its so much easier to make friends and be a friend to somebody when you are younger and life is still uncomplicated.Friendships are the anchor and the life saving rafts in times of need.Hanging out together is the essence of it and so is just being what you were.There is no need for having any ulterior motive to being a friend.

As we grow older and life thrusts more and more responsibities on us....the pureness of it all disappears.Then it all becomes a game of what you can gain from being a friend to someone.Expectations are high and pretenses even higher.Then it becomes tougher to identify true friends from this herd of so called "friends".

Its not that there are no lasting friendships....but any realtionship including friendship involves investment of time, emotions and caring.It takes a lot of effort to maintain true friends and time is luxury ,most of us can't afford.In this whole process, many a times ,good friends are lost or forgotten and we are left with superficial relations.

All of us should take a step back from this high speed race called "life" ,and remember, how it was when we were not bogged down by so many demands and desires.Its now ,when we should reflect on our Future and how it will be without a circle of people who accept you for what you are.Stand by you, when you are lonely and disappointd.In short simply be...a FRIEND.

Friday, 4 April 2008

U me Aur Hum

A particular song from the movie "You Me Aur Hum" really inspired me to write this post...

अपने रंग गवाए बिन मेरे रंग में घुल जाओ
अपनी धुप बुझाये बिन मेरी छाऊ में जाओ
चलो यूं करे
तुम , तुम भी रहो ,मै, मैं भी रहूँ
हम हम भी रहे ,तीनो मिलके साथ चलें साथी जनम जनम के

You me Aur Hum.

This song aptly describes my relationship with my Hubby and soulmate Aniruddha...

I have heard people say there is one person made just for you in this lifetime and I am sure I ve found him..
We are so very different and yet go so well together....

I feel the sucess of any relationship lies in the fact that without changing your personality you are able to blend with somebody and so can the other person.
Just like the song I have always been able to be what I am and have tried to let him be too.

Though we have had major differences in opinions about a lot of issues....the fact always remained that we are individuals and will have seperate points of view...respecting each others individualistic personality has brought us so much closer....and has also added a new dimension to the way I think....
Aniruddha is wonderful person to be with.His patience and practicality has been an anchor for me through tumultous times.His whacked sense of Humor makes a lot of tense moments light...

His stubborness sometimes does make me want to scream...but I have accepted it as a facade for him to be what he is...

I am sure he too will have a lot to say on my skewed personality.

The fact remains that we have been together for nearly 10 years now and are still on the path of discovering new things about each other everyday..

I am glad I have found a life partner who is supportive of my beliefs and loves my idiosyncracies.

Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle .This is what truly epitomises Ani and me.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

View from My Window

Its been a Journey of Self Discovery since I moved to UK from India.
After the hurried and Busy life back home where my schedule was overflowing with to-do's and pending jobs.Moving here was a blessing in disguise..
Back home...meeting friends was a hurried meal in a noisy Restaurant...with thoughts already on the chores for the next day.Spending quality time with my husband Aniruddha..was a was always on our way to work that we could have time to ourselves...
Pursuing hobbies and having actual conversations was a thing of the past.Also the only time you could be with your own thoughts was when you were not well and were allowed a sick leave from work.I am sure people in India will understand what I am talking about...

Life on the Lancaster University campus has been wonderful...after recovering from the initial shock of "What do I do now that I have so much of time?" I realized that life is just passing me by when I am busy doing something else...

I got in touch with a lot of my old friends with whom I had lost touch..I am travelling a lot and found out that I actually enjoy it a lot...
Being on the campus I got a chance to interact with people from so many different Nationalities...made some great friends...and also discovered Blogging...

I have time to sit and enjoy the breathtaking view from my Kitchen window...observe the seasons changing ,the colour of the sky...and the wonderful Sunsets....

The time spent here has been an eyeopener and a reminder to put life in perspective.As somebody rightly said

“There is no better time than right now to be happy.Happiness is a journey, not a destination.So work like you don't need money.Love like you've never been hurt, and, Dance like no one's watching...”

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

They Call it Summer

Whew!! Finally Summer is here.....

I moved recently to UK from was like coming from a boiling pot to a freezer...
I landed here in September when you could still call a day a day and night a it was not too tough to settle down...Weatherwise too it was mild then and quite a bit like India in the beginning of winters..
As winter approached and trees turned bare...the days started becoming shorter and the cold fierce...
To top it all the University campus is away from the city on a hillock...with breathtaking views of meadows and rolling grasslands...
Being so used to seeing the sun rise and set at certain first it was weird to see the sun rising at 9 am and setting at 3pm.
Even though I prefer cold to any other weather it was bone numbing...and the famous british rain...which can pour down at any given time...
After surviving the first british winter I am definitely looking forward to the summer....

The hint of summer is already here....the days are now longer...and we still have sunlight at dinnertime..with the sun setting at 8.30pm.
There is a splash of colour in the gardens and pathways are lined with Yellow and White Daffodils...
I had always read about the Brits being famous for discussing weather everytime they met...
I guess the unpredicatble climate makes them do it....
So being here how could I miss an opportunity to talk about it too....

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Coffee and Conversations

Last week I made a new friend called Harriet and we met up for Coffee at Pizzetta..a cafe in the University...

I had expected for the chat to be brief...since what could a Swede and Indian talk about...
Harriet is a very interesting person........Outspoken, direct and full of fun.

We met at 3 pm and were still chatting after 3.5 hours...given a chance we would have gone on....

All my pre conceived notions about our cultural differences vanished...
Inspite of being brought up in such different became evident that these differences is what makes people so interesting....

Our converstion moved freely from topics wide and varied....from Tolkiens "Lord of the Rings" to Free which Harriet plans to do her Ph D to families and husbands...

It felt so great cause we connected so well... religious and cultural differences were forgotten in this journey towards friendship..

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