Monday, December 27, 2010

While you were sleeping.....

While you were sleeping…

I had a hell of a night………

I opened the locked up pages of my life…..

Unknown desires……..unknown ambitions……

I sang those songs which I cannot sing anymore…..

I had a little dance with myself…setting myself loose……

I got lost in the mist…….and played the game of 'finding myself'….

I fancied my wildest dreams……..

I ran away so far away……………….

So far where the night seemed like a day…where strangers were friends…..

Where there was no fear, no maze…..

While you were sleeping…

I had a hell of a night………..

But as the night came to an end……

I came back , in your warm arms…….

To greet you when you wake up…….to kiss you a bright morning…

To begin a day as if the night was false……

But to tell you the truth………I had a hell of a night yesterday…...

- Amruta

(Image Credit : Facebook Iktara community)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Traffic and two curious eyes

I was travelling from Pune to Mumbai by bus and as usual was caught in the midst of maddening traffic. The slow pace at which the bus was moving was making me anxious and I was already cooking up excuses that I would give at the meeting for being late.I glanced outside the window helplessly,looking at the two wheelers finding their way out from the mess, people crossing road, some jumping out of taxis and choosing to walk to their destination. Pressure in my mind was building up and I cursed myself for not choosing the earlier bus, cursed the traffic and everything around me.

In some time, my anger took form of boredom.I flipped through the magazine I had, sipped water, tried to move away my mind from the situation by listening to music.But my monkey mind wouldn't let me do anything.

It was at that time that I glanced out of the window and saw another bus next to mine. Two curious eyes of caught my attention. It was a small boy sitting on his mother's lap. She was busy talking to someone besides her and the boy was looking out of the window with his big eyes. I wondered if he knows that he is stuck in a traffic jam, his mommy would be late for something or if he has no control over whatever he is stuck at. The inquisitiveness in his eyes touched something in my heart. I thought have I really lost the ability to 'stand and stare' to be curious about the world around me? When you are stuck in a situation which you have no control over, what should you do? Should you let your temper soar high and worry about the consequences or should you take a deep breathe and concentrate on the present moment? Wouldn't it be nice if I control my restlessness and simply glance out of the window at something interesting , something unusual which I would never if I am not stuck in a traffic jam? Like today , out of the million people on the street I observed two curious eyes...

That day I was an hour late for my appointment and funny thing was the person whom I was meeting was late also due to heavy traffic.I am curious to know if she observed something interesting that day....

- Amruta

Friday, October 29, 2010


म्हणजे 'parallel'....शाळेत असताना गणिताच्या पुस्तकात समांतर रेषांचा धडा होता.

गणित हा तसा माझा नावडता विषय - दहावीचा गणिताचा पेपर दिल्यावर आयुष्यात गणिताकडे पाठ फिरवायची नाही असा मी पण केला होता..पण हा धडा मात्र एकदम लक्षात राहिला..

गणिताच्या बाईंनी फळ्यावर दोन रेषा काढल्या आणि म्हणाल्या 'ह्या आहेत समांतर रेषा, ज्या कधीच एक मेकांना छेदत नाहीत'. Two lines in a plane that do not intersect or meet are called parallel lines.
इतर वेळेस तासाला झोप काढणारी मी एकदम जागी झाले आणि डोक्यात काहीतरी वेगळेच विचार चालू झाले. या रेषा छेदत नाहीत? एकमेकांना कधीच भेटत नाहीत? समोरच्या फळ्यावर माझी नजर खिळलेली होती आणि वाटला, काय होईल जर मी ह्या दोन तोकड्या रेषा वाढवत नेल्या? फाल्याबाहेरून भिंतीवर? भितीवरून सरकत सरकत खिडकीबाहेर....बाहेरच्या झाडावरून पलीकडे दूर डोंगर दिसतोय तिथपर्यंत?तरीही त्या नाही का भेटणार? तास संपल्यावर मला लक्षात आला कि कितीही काही केला तरी हा नियम आहे कि त्या नाही भेटणार एकमेकांना....

आयुष्यातल्या काही नाती पण अशीच समांतर रेशांसारखी होत जातात...काही नात्यांना आपण समांतर होण्या साठी सोडून देतो ...तर काही नाती गुंफायची इच्छा असूनही समांतर होतात......सुरवातीला एकाच बिंदू पासून सुरु झालेली नाती नकळत विरुद्ध दिशांना वळतात...
वेळीच जर काही केल नाही तर ती कधी समांतर झाली हे सुद्धा काळात नाही..असं कुठल्याही नात्यात होऊ शकतं, हो कि नाही?

Room For Regrets

Do I have any regrets in life so far? I asked myself. I couldn't lie...YES my heart shouted out loud. But I know this is not the case with everyone.I have seen numerous chat shows where the host asks the guests if they have any regrets about life, most of the guests confidently respond negatively. Autobiographies of leaders, professionals and achievers reinstate the face that having regrets in life is a sign of weakness, it's a sign of undetermined mind or it is simply not respecting the course your life has taken. I look at such people with awe and curiosity in my eyes. I wonder "are these people really honest, or are they lying?". I don't know- they seem confident that every action , every decision they took in their life was correct even though they failed or faced problems. They show it to the world that they have realized that everything that happened or they did has some 'higher purpose' and 'meaning' attached to it.Even all of their wrongdoings taught them something and hence there is no room for regrets.
But doesn't it sound unreal?
Why is that having regrets is regarded as a sign of weakness so much so that when you honestly admit your regrets it is considered naive and politically incorrect?
Let me admit today , that I DO have regrets : plenty of them !
I love my regrets...I love them totally!
Every single regret of mine, every single afterthought has taught me more about myself. I now know what is my thought process, how do I make decisions and what are my pre-conceived notions. Every time I open the chapter of regrets in my life I can reflect back on my mistakes.Realizing my regrets has helped me to make a mental note of things that I should be careful about in present and future.
No matter what we say to the world, there are certain things that haunt us when we reflect back on our good and bad times...
There is definitely a special room for regrets in our lives- but its tucked away in the far end of our heart, it's path visible only to ourselves.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pray The Devil Back To Hell : A True Story of Remarkable Women

Imagine this : A west African coastal country ravaged by an anarchic past, history of slave trade, bloody ethnic conflict, two civil wars spanning over 14 years resulting in more than 85% of the population suffering from unemployment and misery, children trapped in human trafficking and used as child soldiers and shockingly 50 % of women being raped by rebels. There was no ray of hope for people of ‘Liberia’ until a group of women decided to come together and fight for peace.

The story of women of Liberia unfolds through the documentary film ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ film made by USA based women filmmakers Gini Reticker and Abigail E. Disney. I watched it recently and was mesmerized by this!! The film opens with a brief narrative about the gory history of Liberia and its past full of conflict. Liberia was once described as Malaguetta Coast or Pepper Coast due to the cultivation of high range pepper crop found in rural Liberia, instrumental in bringing the country in spice trade during the 18th century. Liberia earned its name from the word ‘liberty’ as it was founded by slaves freed from United States of America. Though these slaves belonged to mixed ethnic background and were from different parts of Africa, they were sent to Liberia for repatriation. Soon after the slaves, who were called as ‘Americo-Liberians’ settled in Liberia; ethnic tensions grew between them and the existing ethnic tribes of the land. In 1980, the USA backed President William R. Tolbert was overthrown in the military coup led by Charles Taylor and it began the period of instability in Liberia. What followed was not only horrific in terms of loss of people and resources, but also in terms of spirit of the country. For next fourteen years from 1989 to 2003, the country faced bloodshed, political chaos and destruction of livelihood of people. People living in rural areas fled to the capital city of Monrovia and became refugees in their own homeland. It was women who suffered the most in these conflicts. Incidents such as kidnapping, rape become the most common and children who were born after Taylor’s coup grew up in an atmosphere of war. In spite of constant pressure from the international community; Taylor refused to end the strife and sit for peace talks.

During this period of disillusionment; hope appeared in the form of Lehman Gbowee, an ordinary woman of Liberia. The documentary unfolds through the compelling narrative of Lehman who, one day saw a spark of change within her, and later on she became the leader of the Women in Peace building Network (WIPNET) who pushed the devil back to hell in Liberia. According to Lehman, she had always considered herself as a victim of war. She says that she ‘went around with this big chip on my shoulder that I was a victim of war’ for years until she started working with women and children who were disabled during the conflict. She saw that under the horrible conditions the women she worked with still had the hope of a better future. Lehman asked one woman "Why are you people so optimistic about life?" And then the woman said, "Because we believe, as mothers, we are the ones who will change everything." That night Lehman had a dream which she describes as a ‘crazy dream that someone was actually telling me to get the women of the church together to pray for peace.’ The next day, she spoke to the women at her Lutheran church and started the ‘Christian Women’s Initiative’. Women from different Churches joined them and their discussions gave birth to the movement that changed the fate of the nation. Soon after something happened which was never imaginable in ethnically divided Liberia: both Christian and Muslim women came together to work for peace. The group of Muslim women was led by Asatu Bah Kenneth , a woman police officer who got inspired by Lehman’s ideas.
Slowly, the women made their presence felt by staging protest rallies in fish market and roadside from where the car fleet of President Taylor used to pass by every day. These women were only armed with ‘White T-Shirts’ with message of peace written on them. They posted a large banner that read, “The Women of Liberia want peace now.”

They noticed that though their movement grew in strength and popularity; President Taylor ignored their appeals. Desperate for being heard, the women also went on a ‘sex strike’ banning their husbands from having sex until they supported their wives in the peace struggle. After many sit-ins at the market place, the President decided to meet the women in a public hearing. While Taylor was seated at the dais with no expressions on his face, the lady member of his senate urged Lehman to speak… Lehman made a compelling appeal which came straight out of each woman’s heart. She said “We ask the honourable Pro Tem of the Senate, being a woman and being in line with our cause, to kindly present this statement to His Excellency Dr. Charles Taylor with this message: that the women of Liberia, including the IDPs, we are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand, to secure the future of our children because we believe as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, "Mama, what was your role during the crisis?" Kindly convey this to the President of Liberia. Thank you.”

In spring of 2003, the civil war intensified and so did the pressure on Taylor from international community who had noticed the growing strength and courage of women of Liberia. Finally, he agreed to meet the warlords and rebels in neighbouring country Ghana. The women formed a delegation and took off to Ghana to see that their peace process started by them was not stalled in the middle by the politicians. Thereon the documentary gives a live coverage of the events that took place in the negotiation meeting in Ghana. The warlords and rebels who were never legitimately recognized suddenly saw all the material comforts provided to them at the meeting as luxury and turned the peace talks into a mere farce. Realizing that the peace negotiations were not making any progress, Lehman and her ladies decided to seize the peace hall and block its exit. They declared to the politicians that they will not leave until the politicians reach to a conclusion and settle for peace. The documentary provides the minute to minute account of how the women kept the pressure on the politicians and compelled them to negotiate.

Finally, the women got what they wanted. Peace was restored in Liberia and elections were held to choose the leader of the country. Then something unimaginable happened. For the first time in the history of Africa, a woman was elected as the head of the State. Ellen Johansson Sirleaf, a Harvard educated economist became the President of Liberia.

Abigail Disney, the director of the documentary quotes Mahatma Gandhi while commenting on how the women’s movement progressed: first they ignore you, then they make fun of you, then they try to hurt you, and then they deal with you.
Watching this documentary is a disturbing experience. It makes you realize that how we as human beings have done so much unrecoverable damage to our fellow beings through brutal wars and conflicts. But seeing the victory of the women also shows us the other side of life. The remarkable story of women who did not settle for anything less than peace and never gave up, inspires you fight your own fears and keep walking. The words spoken by Lehman while she received an international award linger in your mind:

“If you're hungry, keep walking. If you are thirsty, keep walking. If you want a taste of freedom, keep walking. For us, women of Liberia, this award is a call that we will keep walking until peace, justice and the rights of women is not a dream, but is a thing of the present.”

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jai Ho !

'Jai Ho'

If you know the meaning of 'Jai ho' must know which movie I am talking about....

Yes, the much hyped, over-publicized 'Slumdog Millionnair' it is.

When it was released in India, the regular movie going crowd was divided into three camps...

Camp no. 1 : Slumdog is amazing....very inspiring and brilliantly made movie. etc.

Camp no. 2: It's a pathetic movie...The visuals are mind numbing and there is nothing to be seen in this one

Camp no. 3: Its an average masala movie , shot from a western point of view...nothing special about it, except few moments that really shine in the movie.......

Well, I belong to camp no. 3 for obvious reasons......

If you look at the movie from the global perspective, it can be an interesting movie for western crowd who know Mumbai as a city that has the biggest slum in Asia, a city with 'dabbawallas', a city of bollywood and Taj Mahal Hotel....not to forget the 'Dhobighat'!!!

For them, the sheer exposure to so much of poverty as showcased in the movie and such an unimagined plot of a chai wala making it big is really new.......

Where as for Us, we have already seen hundreads of movies with estranged childhood lovers and poor guy (hero) making it big by chasing his dreams.........Not to forget the mesmerizing tale of a small town boy who makes it big in the world of cricket in a Nagesh Kunknoor movie , Iqbal.

At this age of globalition where global and local markets are dependent on each other movies cannot remain merely a pursuit of art. Today , Bollywood has emerged as one of the biggest industries of India , with annually more than 600 movie releases to its credit. Its not just about art now, its about money……and serious money…..!

Today movies with big budgets are made not just for the Indian crowd but also to cater to wide range of audiences like the NRI’s and other Asian countries. Bollywood stars are global stars. On this backdrop, hollywood production companies like Warner Brothers, Sony motion pictures are putting in serious money into bollywood industry.
So many Oscars to a movie based on India, cant just be a plain coincidence!

Remember how big cosmetic brands became popular in India after Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai became Miss universe and Miss World??? How ‘Beauty’ became the spotlight in India???

That is exactly what is happening after this ‘slumdog’ wave…….
I recently came across tourist companies in Mumbai who are promising to provide a ‘Walking tour of Asia’s largest slum – Dharavi’… foreign tourists
They offer the following :
· Tour of a unique shanty town dharavi
· conducted in a private, chauffeur driven, luxury car
· Walk Through the Narrow By-lanes and Peek Into the Lives of the Slum Swellers of Mumbai

And all this in 3 hours for just 4000 Rs.!!!

I am not trying to call it good or bad…….but the question still dwells in my mind how anything and everything is commercialized…..?? Isn’t it ‘Poverty Tourism’?

Likewise after 26/11, café Leopold has become another tourist hotspot…….

But more on that in some other post…….

Till then,

Jai ho!!!

A Road Not Taken

Beyond the locked doors of my backyard

Lies a road not taken..

I hardly open the dust laden lock....

to reminisce about a life that could have been...

the dreams of the 'could have been' life knock now and then..

trying to break-in in my secure , complacent life..

I ignore the knocks, the invitees , the hypothetical thoughts..

the faces of the strangers I never met.....

the journeys i never went on....

the mysteries i never solved..

the risks I never took...

the love I never felt.....

the rain I never got drenched.......

the unknown roads that could have led to unknown lands..

and unknown possibilities..

I don't open the lock but just peep through a small hole...

to catch glimpses of a life that could have been.

and to imagine a walk on the road not taken.

When Sunshine Visits My Room

I am not so much of a morning person.......I do get up early and head out for exercise, but if I could have it my way, I would get up late in the afternoon------begin my day by 5........have coffee by dawn........and roam around the whole night under moonlight.........
but I do love sunshine......and the way it plays with everything that it touches.......
It comes through my window every morning and visits my books.......