The 'I' in Indian


Have you ever been in a situation where you felt  that if only you had acted, sooner, or faster, or with more passion… a wrong could have been averted?? Have you fretted, and worried about it later, vowed to do something the next time…

The Tiger, our national animal, the most beautiful, regal and spirited cat in the whole wide world…. is moving towards extinction…

..there are just 1411 of these grand creatures left…

…it is a VERY small number… and it is growing smaller by the day…

From around 40,000 at the turn of the last century, there are just 1411 tigers left in India… and if we don’t act now, we could lose this splendid animal forever.

You can read more about this  here, here and here

I came upoon this link while surfing today…Aircel has partnered wiht WWF -Fund to help save the tiger. So I joined the roar.  Maybe you should too.

Today is Ethnic Day in office. Yup, the same… where you dress up according to the region you belong to :D… like Unity in Diversity and all that.  Honestly, I wish these HR guys would come up with something new. Something that is truly in the spirit of patriotism, something that brings out the “feel” of 26th Jan.  Every year it is the same workplace decorating and the tri-colors and the dressing up ethnically and every year we do it …de rigeur

It got me thinking though…What does a Republic Day or an Independence day mean to me? Frankly.. it has always just been another holiday. We don’t do anything to “celebrate” it as such, right…some of us turn up to be the part of a congregation that is hoisting the Indian Flag. Some lucky few go and catch the parade, and see the Rashtrapati Bhawan all lit up… or if you live close enough to the parade ground.. catch the white, green and saffron balloons flying up into the clouds.  Our folks would at least tune into Doordarshan and watch the parade, with Sonal Man Singh and the other commentators telling us about our Army, Navy and Air force.. or the state tableaux and the meanings… we don’t even do that.

And then there are times when I think… what is there worth celebrating anyways?  The netas, the politics, the red tape, our own lack of manners ( especially by those phoren returned types), our bad roads, our cows (!!), our backward technology, our laws and policies, our agricultural economy and lack of jobs for the urban youth? So many of us are desperate to relocate, to leave “this country” and the associate troubles and find a home in a foreign land. I wonder how many of us feel anything close to patriotism.

And then I listen to this song… and it moves me to tears.

What is it about the scenes in this clip? It is only people travelling in a 2nd class dabba in a train, fields and fields of crop, a small lake in a small village, family, shared “tripling” scooter rides, a boat ride on the Ganga, travelling by a rickety rackety bus, to places where there are no roads, no electricity… if you see the pattern.. there are a lot of things in this list which are  the same things that we crib about.

… but somehow, these images move us… because they are familiar, they are OUR OWN. 

How many of us have lived abroad and missed these scenes? Or felt alienated in the midst of a strange culture, of people and places that were “different”. I know that I have. Infact there was a time in the past, that I would dream of lovely.. (note the use of the word 🙂 ) crowds that would greet me when I landed at Mumbai Airport.  I would remember the saas-bahu serials, the smell of the wet earth in the monsoons, how we celebrate festivals,  our middle class values and superstitions. I was really homesick.. and at that point.. home was India 🙂 not xyz state, or xyz city or abc address.

Sometimes I feel that as a country  we don’t appreciate what we have, and like it is with all other things, we only realise what we had, when we miss its presence…our small villages, our farmlands, our traditions, our values, our warmth as a people, our politics ( yes, I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.. and strive to find the funnies in it too), our picture postcard perfect landscapes.. the mountains, the deserts, the backwaters, the lush greenery, the rivers). This year.. I’ll take a step back from my life, and try and look at the bigger picture… and I will be thankful!

And….

 I will definitely not crib. 🙂 🙂

Happy Republic Day to you guys!

There are so many times that we want to do things for the world, our country, the future generation but find our hands tied.

There are so many times we read / hear moving stories about people and come back feeling unsettled, and guilty. We all want to make a difference, and after reading about this on IHM’s blog,  I felt that this was something we could do.

One of India’s most trusted and credible NGOs, GiveIndia is taking part in a competition on Facebook to win a US$1 million grant. The winner will be the NGO that gets the highest number of votes from Facebook users. The prize of $1 million will help put or keep 40,000 children across India in school for one year!

Imagine the IndiBlogger community coming together to spread the word and help the underprivileged children of India. The impact would be tremendous and together, IndiBloggers and GiveIndia would be able to gather the votes we need to win.

Voting in the competition is for one week only, from Friday, January 15 – Friday, January 22, 2010. Can we make a difference in the next 3 days?

The link for voting, where you can also see more details of the competition is

http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/338730

There’s been lots of talk about how social media can bring change and make an impact on the world we live in. Well, here is one tangible way for us to take a small action that could have a HUGE outcome.

In case you have more questions about this, please write to giveindiachase@gmail.com and a GiveIndia team member would be happy to reply.

 I have voted. Its a small step… maybe armchair activism..Maybe nothing will come out of it… but in the smallest probability that something good might… I would know that I made a tiny difference…I know that this is the least that I could have done.

The voting closes on the 23rd of Jan… Give India a chance, peepal…!

We celebrated Lohri/Pongal/Makar Sankranti yesterday.  I think this is the first time I have really put in any effort to make any preparation for any festival.  Till now, it’s always been either of the moms who would be the event manager and we have only showed up as celebrities on the red carpet 🙂 

So this time we went the whole nine yards. We bought all the stuff for the pooja.. and for the bonfire, surfing for “Sunder mundri oye” on the net and the next day for kolam designs.  And cooked all that special festival food. 

Some pics from the day

The Kolam design at the doorstep

 

Decoration near the hob

 It was just the two of us, and so after the hectic first half of the day… we settled down to watch Hum Aapke Hain Kaun ( for the nth time ) to get that “family family” feeling 🙂 Ya.. I know we could’ve called friends over, but somethings you want to reserve for family, right… even if it means connecting with them through phonecalls and photos that can be shared with them online.

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and festivities are synonymous to me.  I love all the bonhomie, all the relatives gathering, all those customs and traditions, making a big deal of everything, teasing, laughter, guppein and all that. I know it isn’t a la-di-dah movie and yes it is stereotypical in the way it portrays people. Women, you know, smiling homemakers.. the men… gentlemen going to work, the quintessensial dadaji,  the understanding moms-in-law, the sensible, worldly wise moms, the ever smiling, almost friendly servants.. and the feminist in me scoffed at the portrayal. It’s an idealistic fantasy movie. But to be honest with you, career woman, jet-setter in me still loves to watch it…and though I love it..it leaves me unsettled EVERYTIME.

Everytime I watch it, I get this sneaky suspicion that maybe women, who don’t have conflicts about their role in the family, are probably happier than us women, who are constantly arguing, with themselves,  and with the world about perceptions, achievements, roles.. the works. The families do get better looked after, the relationships are stronger, the women are not tired all the time, and there is atleast one person who is not stressed out.  Also I can’t help but envy joint families at least the way I see them in a very idealistic HAHK scenario.

Somewhere deep in my heart, it also makes me wonder about the legacy that I would I be passing on to our kids. Would they really associate a Diwali with preparing lists of patakas, and an evening of Pooja and stories.. or a Pongal with the heavenly aroma of jaggery and kolam on the doorstep. Would they understand what a mausi, mama, bhua, cousins etc mean? Would they have the comfort of knowing that they are in a circle of a lot of loving adults who care for them and love them and dote on them with all their heart?

Somehow felt that “Life”.. as in “Life” that is festivals, and family and banter, and phone calls and gossip and people coming over, and tolerance, is getting lost in the whirlwind of deadlines and 8X8 schedules.  It didn’t feel like it was worth the things we were sacrificing.

I also realized that this is how it is with the entire generation. And that maybe life as we know it, is changing. Our parents knew a different life as children than the one they lived as adults, which was the life we lived as kids, and sorely miss in our adult lives. The problem is that I don’t know what to hold on to, from the life I had lived, that I would like to my kids to enjoy someday. And I worry that I will lose out on something really valuable, if I don’t figure it out soon enough.

Do you ever get that sort of feeling?

Edited to add:

One more resolution for this year.. to go all out to celebrate all things worth celebrating… with as many friends/relatives as possible, and to celebrate all festivals with all the customs and traditions around it. 🙂

October, November and December have to be the best months of the year. There is festivity in the air, homes, streets, malls are lit up with brilliant twinkling lights. Everyone seems happier, walking with laughter on their lips and a spring in their steps. Just lovely!

And somehow, festivities and winters have a special charm… the smell of popcorn, the warmth of the yellow lights, when there is a nip in the air. The hugs seem warmer, the smiles brighter and it feels like everyone is celebrating life.

And then Navratri, and Dussehra and Diwali and Christmas and New Year and our birthdays and anniversaries, so much to look forward too!

There is something about all of this and Delhi, probably because I have such memories of Winters and Festivities here. I remember my brother and I checking out the progress on the neighbourhood Ravana for Dussehra in our neighbourhood park, and the number of crackers being fixed in it comparing it with other Ravana figures around our area. We would spend our Dussehra break making lists of the crackers to buy for Diwali and squabbling over whether we’d buy more chakris or more bombs.

I remember listening to Christmas carols on Doordarshan, and all of us neighbourhood kids decorating some random tree as a ‘Christmas Tree’, singing ‘ Rudolf the red nose reindeer’.. and ‘Silent Night, holy night’ till late evening when the combined army of all our parents came in to drag us back home.

And then on New Year’s eve, cuddling into warm blankets, far away from the chilly Delhi December nights, with our parents and watching all the New Year entertainment on TV and going to sleep in wonder and amazement of how one year had changed to another, just like that, without any notice 🙂

Ah… memories, glowing bright, and spreading cheer.

Wish you all a very very happy, bright, and prosperous Diwali and New Year, everyone, all of my new friends… It’s been a pleasure to write to you, and to read your posts. Thanks for keeping in touch and spreading the warmth and friendship around.