Monday, August 15, 2016

Day 305: Happy Birthday India

Image Source: Google Images

Dear India,

Happy birthday. How wonderful it is to say that you turn 70 today. However, I'm not sure if I should only celebrate your birthday as 70. Yes, it makes you young, younger than many other countries around on this big blue world. But aren't you an old soul? Haven't you lived long enough to have seen the rise and fall of many civilizations, many empires, and culture? Haven't you gone through the seasons and eras with so much grit and calmness that you are now the wisest in this world? You are young to be 70 but you are wise to be the oldest living country in this world. 

The new birthday that you celebrate is like a second birth/chance. This is an entirely new India which is completely 'confused' about its own identity as a place. The seeds sown by the wily British East India has really held its place in this ground. How can it not? Isn't your land so fertile and quick to offer space and life to anyone who seeks refuge? Isn't your land so beautiful and vast that you let cultures blend to form new ones and still retain the old? But the seeds sown by the 'trespassers' hasn't gone in vain. It has gone ahead and grown to form the various 'evils' in our society. A society that is now lost in the vagaries of social norms. A society that is now lost to the facades of distressed souls. A society that is divided in things that cannot be told. I'm sure you want to calm your folks down. Well, I know it is not just the fault of the these trespassers. It is also the fault of your own 'children' in the past who watered and harvested the 'evil' plants. May be, your leaders could have played a different game and stopped it all. Or may be not. 

You want to let people know that we are only lost for we are soddened in problems around. But it is hard to make your folks understand.  Your folks are pushing you to lead a new race, a race where the fastest survive, the pompous stand out, the shrewdest outlive. I know that you truly don't like this race. I know you don't need to win this race. You are certain about what it takes to be a leader. But your great great..... grand children today don't understand that. They are after that philosopher's stone that is nowhere to be found. They are chasing a wild dream that is selfish and rooted to the seeds sown by your trespassers. 

Your children and grand children are young, able, and determined. I'm one of them but just like the many others, I'm living in that land that was wrongly assumed to be India at one time. Yes, the land Columbus mistook to be the land of spice and riches. I am celebrating the joy of 'being Indian' by being away from you. I surely miss you and miss the beautiful place where even chaos is orderly. I miss my beautiful family and the vibrant colors you spread around with your vastness and majesty. But I recognize the true sense of being Indian by being far away from you. I not only recognize your beauty but also the crudeness by living this far. It is similar to how to recognize the coarseness of this land as much as I seem to see its charm. 

It tells me one thing. Every country is struggling. We are in such times now and every country is evolving. It should not be a race to see who leads up to be the first. It should not be a race to see who is wielding the highest power. It should be a united stand on how this world can progress, how its people can thrive, and how each of us help to blend and exchange the good from each other. I know you agree with that as that is what you have been doing for long.  I know you are trying to shake away the evils planted by a few overstayed guests, guests who now look up to us for what we are and what we will become.  Happy birthday to you once again. Wishing you a beautiful journey ahead and may the billion hearts that live there work to discover that India that you long to become. I promise, I will play my part even if I am far away from you. 

An Indian who thinks of herself to be a global citizen. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 304: Who is your friend?

A simple Sunday post. 

Image Source: Google Images

Who is your friend?
Who is your foe?
It is certainly not 
she or he in that row. 
Is it someone from your past?
Or the one you just met?
It is hard to make a guess 
as you don't know it just yet. 
A time will come
and it will lay the pieces in front
helping you pick the friend 
who is true and godsend. 
A true friend will be one
who will know the words
in your silence, 
who will know more from 
just your smile, 
and that one who will persist, 
when the rest exit. 

© Meena Arvind 2016 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Day 303: Being Kind

Image Source: Google Images 
"In a world where you can be anything, be kind." I don't know who is that great soul who penned this quote. Probably a line from someone's work, or may be a status message that got viral on the internet. It doesn't matter as to who wrote this beautiful and very revenant quote, all that matters is how do we follow it in our life.

Every one of us are going through something that is sometimes hard, incomprehensible, and difficult to be shared with people. Some of them try to shout out loud and fight it in the open ground. But most others (including me) keep it concealed and try to find solace on their own. Thus it is difficult to understand what everybody is going through until you decide to take a walk in their shoes. So don't go assuming things about people and forming judgements. And most of all, don't be rude and mock fun of people even if they do perform or act in a way that looks funny for you. For every person you point out and judge and body shame, all you know they might be fighting a disease. If you mock at another for not following a disciplined routine (or what you call as discipline) you never know why they go sleepless at nights. Yes, it might concern you if the person is very near and dear to you but all you can and should do then is see if you can help them in any ways or talk to them to solve their problem. Beyond that mocking fun, ridiculing, putting them down, stereotyping is all totally disgusting. So, before you jump to conclusion and assume things about people you see and mock fun of, or judge, stop yourself. We end up hurting people even when we don't intend to do so. So deliberate mocking can really leave deep scars that can sometimes come back as a boomerang.

I remember an incident that I watched on television a few years ago. One popular reality music show in Asianet telecast their special finale in a big city (I don't remember the place). The event had the performers showcase their best numbers to win the coveted title of 'Idea Star Singer'. The show gained popularity not just because of its participants and format but also due to its energetic and vibrant anchor, Ranjani Haridas. She is a bold, beautiful, and stylish anchor in Kerala and has good number of fans and haters. Haters troll her for her English laced Malayalam and her bold image. People don't know what she has been through during her childhood and how being a bold and stylish anchor helped her make a mark. But the ones who mock and ridicule her don't see that. A famous actor who was there at the event as a chief guest mocked and ridiculed her on the big stage that was reaching out to a million audience. She had to fight her tears and maintain straight face as an anchor and she did do that really well. As a viewer, I did not appreciate the actor's unkind words and felt humiliated at his words. I am sure the universe could understand her hurt and as the saying goes, karma always makes sure it gives back what is due.

After that incident, the actor met with a near fatal accident that has left him paralyzed and now he hasn't had a chance to mock at anyone else (at least with words). It is sad as he is a terrific actor and I hope he recovers and makes a comeback. However, this incident is a reminder to me (and all of us) about how we need to not mock, ridicule, or put someone down just because we don't value them. In the name of being cool and sarcastic, we put down a lot of people without realizing how much it hurts them. We tease the ones who are fat, the ones dark, many who are thin, those who aren't as educated as us, those who can't follow routines like us, those who can't articulate, and those who don't live like you do. Words can never be taken back, so make sure the ones that belong to you don't maul people.
By the way,  if you do that among your friends, or with your favorite people for fun it is different. They probably know you and know what you are saying when you have fun. For others it is different. So, please don't mock fun.  As the quote says, be kind, as everyone you know is fighting a hard battle. So, live and let live. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Day 302: Happy little book

Image Source : Google Images

I dream of writing a children's book, 
and weaving a little magic nook, 
for the little ones to play hide-and-seek, 
and have loads of fun, so to speak. 

There will be strong heroines and heroes, 
Who will stop the monster and his arrows.
There will be tornadoes and hurricanes to fight, 
Which will not stand a chance to the protagonists' might. 

Gardens will bloom with many a million flowers, 
and who knows, they might even find that yellow sunflower. 
They will see a world with rainbow candies
and chocolate streams all looking dandy. 

There will be mystery and many magic stories, 
With butterfly fairies and kings and their glories. 
Every little page will smell fantasy, 
and they will find wings to fly happily. 

Every little child will travel to a station,
that will be a figment of their imagination. 
I hope they love their little magic nook,
that they can only find that in a happy little book. 

© Meena Arvind 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Day 301: Jugaad pe Jugaad !

Indians are known for jugaad. For the uninitiated, jugaad (jugaar) is a colloquially used Punjabi term for a hack. This is a creative ability to make the best use of available resources to solve a problem. Jugaad is studied and appreciated from a management perspective. It works well with the middle and lower-middle class economic strata of the society as one can extract the maximum from the limited resources and create economic value. The reason I brought in this topic of Jugaad is because of the two ads that I recently got to see online- Indian service provider called and Exide Life Insurance. I was trying to update myself on recent campaigns in the ad world back home and so was running my search online.  After watching, I moved to the next one and was surprised to see that the concept was very similar to the previous one. However, the actors were completely different and that is not usually common for the obvious reasons (recall!).

Woah! Whatey a coincidence. I was confused about how can two different companies get a similar concept and put that as a campaign. After a little bit of digging in, I found out that these two ad campaigns apparently was released around the same time (Jan 8 and 11). Wow! If it was O&M's brain behind Sulekha campaign, it was Autumn Worldwide agency behind Exide. Yes, Exide Life insurance is Exide batteries group's first campaign. They were previously ING Vysya Insurance group. That's for the trivia bit. Usually in such cases either of the agency could sue the other or pull out of the campaign. Here, looks like these two agencies did not have any employee move in and out in the recent times during the campaign planning period and hence, neither of them got against each other and they continued airing their  #anti jugaad vs. jugaadlal campaigns. Both these agencies had used the same internet found source as an inspiration for their concept. Well, that is really not 'original' enough and is very 'jugaad', ain't it ?

This leaves us with a good lesson to remember. When you are creating something try to be 'original'. If you go online and seek resources do remember that the same resource is available for many others and sometimes it might not end up being so 'original'.

I am probably a little too late in addressing this but after watching these ads, I couldn't resist sharing them. Do watch and have fun! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Day 300: A forgotten chapter

Image Source: Google Images

I am a forgotten chapter in many a book.
For them, the passage and the pages
now, do not make any sense.
Their story at one time needed me the most,
then it took a turn and tossed me away,
like an erroneous scribble.
At other times, I sense that,
I am like an intentionally left blank page,
serving only one purpose; filling-in.

How I wish,
they can go over that chapter once again,
to figure out the way the story moved along,
lighting up many thoughts with every passage.
How I wish,
they could use those blank sheets,
to sketch, pause, and reflect,
as they hold on that story,
A story, where I once belonged,
not so long ago,
not any more.

May be there will come a time,
when they flip through those pages
once again, as the seasons fade,
and they read the passage only to seek solace.
Alas, if only time could hold on
to that same essence once lost.
if only the passage could bring back memories from the past.
if only the pages could echo the story they once guarded so dear to heart.
Not any more.
Sadly, not any more.
I am now lost in the sands of time,
like that chapter you forgot,
like a word unsaid,
a friendship lost,
forever and ever.

© Meena Arvind 2016.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Day 299: Olympics and Olympians - an inspiration!

Image Source: Google Images

Olympics makes its way every four years and every Olympic leaves us with something more than the event itself. I remember one of the first stories I got to hear of the Olympics was that of Jesse Owens and Luz Long. It was the incident that took place in 1936 Berlin Olympics. The place and the period matters here as this was the time when Hitler's nasty Nazi regime was on in Germany. Hitler's disdain for Jews and non-whites was popular and Jesse Owens was an African American. Despite that Luz Long went ahead and offered him advice to help him qualify for the finals and in the finals even publicly acknowledged and shook hands with Jesse Owens for winning the 100 m. This probably might not sound so odd today but at that time for a German white man to appreciate and be nice to an African American was not expected. That story is one that I can never forget. The spirit of sportsmanship. I even remember how Jesse Owens later said, "You can melt all the medals and cups I have and it won't be plating the 24 carat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment". These lines are something I read when I was very young and I remember that so well whenever I think about Olympics and sports.

This year's Olympics also has some interesting and inspiring stories. One such is from the team Refugee Olympic group 2016. Yay! I am rooting for this team as much as I support the others. One such terrific story is by a young lady from this team. She is Yusra Mardini. When I read about her story I was moved in joy and tears. We have an 18 year old girl who is without a 'country' in every sense and has sought refuge in Germany. A swimmer since her young age, she has been having a great life until she was about 13 years. With the disastrous civil war that rocked the country in 2011 she like the many others put a hold on to her dreams. However, when their home was destroyed in the war she decided to leave the place for good. She and her sister were arranged to be smuggled through Greece along with 18 other immigrants in a boat that could only hold less than 7 people. When the dinghy couldn't handle the weight and stopped working in the Aegen Sea, Yusura, her sister, and three other members jumped out in the cold sea and swam to push the boat safely to Lesbos.  It is unfathomable. This story reminds me how blessed I am to have a country to call mine, a home to call mine, a life that is not this unstable. For an 16-17 year old to go through this hardship fighting the cold waters and helping everyone reach the shore to safety shows her grit and capability. Whether she wins the Olympics or not, she truly has won in life. She has not only saved her own life but the lives of many others (kudos to her sister and other swimmers too).

The other person that inspired me is Zahra Nemati representing Iran. Though a trained Taekwondo player until 18, an accident left her paralyzed below waist. It shattered her spine but didn't deter her confidence. She retrained to compete in archery in a wheel-chair and is eligible now for both paralympics and Olympics. Whatey story !

There are many more such stories and every story is an inspiration. I like to listen to these stories as they help me be better or at least make me take steps to be better every day.