Friday, February 25, 2011

A Feeling called Serendipity

          The dictionary describes serendipity as an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. What it does not do, however is describe the feeling behind it, the excitement when you’ve made a serendipitical[new word. I made] discovery and the joy it gives to you .How long after its over, you can look back to that golden moment where it seemed like time was standing still just for you, because that’s part of the magic of serendipity, it does not rush. The moment arrives gradually and takes its time leaving you to go to someone else who needs that bit of magic.
          Incidentally how the quill came into being in the blog name and symbol is also a story involving serendipity but I’ll dedicate an entire post to just that another time.
          The idea of doing a blog post about serendipity came to me the other day when I stumbled upon a blog called Green ink that had an interesting book-related quote on the upper right hand corner that got me thinking.[FYI :Book People=Awesome. Always].So then I read a couple of her posts getting completely mesmerized in them.. Then I stopped an started reading from the very first post and stalked the blog for a few days until I was done reading them all :D
          What captivated me was the easy writing style that was clear yet dreamy…the fact that it was so well written and there were so many things written about. I’ve found a blog doppelganger who gets why I love showers anytime of the day and loves hummus as much as I do among so many other things.

          You know how in books or movies, characters find the most amazing places out of the blue? For the die hard “How I met your mother” fans, how Marshall comes across the best burger in NYC shortly after moving to the city? I had a similarly themed experience one afternoon when I was touring Berlin. My friend Sharkanada and I were wandering through the streets, taking more photos than we’d ever want to look through later when we spotted it, the chocolate shop from heaven. Calling it just a shop however would be an understatement and an insult. Hundreds of varieties and forms of chocolates. Huge chocolate monuments-of the Titanic, the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin bear, the Reichstag building sculpted out of the most mouthwatering chocolate[or schockolade as Germans call it] ever!
The first floor held another surprise-one in the form of a chocolate restaurant where we indulged in the best hot chocolate in Berlin and in large portions of chocolate desserts.
Though I returned there twice after that, those visits didn’t have the special feeling the first one did, when we found it inadvertently and spent a perfect afternoon.
          Moments of serendipity, I think are a lot like love, you don’t go looking for them, it is when you stop looking that you find them in the most unexpected places.
-By Nirmitee

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why Reality TV Should Take A Suck.

Crass? Check. Loud? Check. Ostentatious? Check. Entertaining? Hmmm.

There is a reality check needed by those who are lapping up the above defined Reality TV shows. I fail to understand what draws the audience towards utterly ridiculous programs that seem to have infiltrated every channel on TV these days. It seems to me it is filled by people who seriously need to GET A LIFE. The other day I happened to see an advertisement on ‘Imagine’ channel titled “Shaadi 3 Crore Ki.” Say whaaat? I couldn’t believe that marriage, which is a sacred ceremony in Hindu (and most other cultures), was going to be paraded as a form of entertainment for TV viewers. Whatever happened to the holy vows between a man and wife, witnessed and blessed by close family and friends? No. What we had here was an industry being made of the concept of marriage, to be viewed by millions on national television. And the sad part is not that the sanctity of marriage is being questioned but that it is going to earn all the TRPs it’s aiming at because people like us will watch and endorse it.

Channels like MTV and Channel [V] have been airing Roadies, Splitsvilla etc for eons now. The quality of these shows is so poor - the people participating in them are only interested in getting their two minutes worth of fame, and the language and content of the show is appalling, to say the least. No harm in mindless entertainment and watching weird histrionics of the contestants but to me, there seems to be so many better ways to spend your time! My problem with these shows is that they depict a way of life that is so glossed up and far removed from reality, which can prove to be dangerous for vulnerable minds. The so called “urban” youth is uncouth, if these shows are anything to go by and it is shameful that our generation is reduced to such idiotic representation.

The game shows that offer large amounts of money for performing tasks or answering questions (India’s Minute to Win It comes to mind) are a good idea but it would be such a better idea to get those people on show that actually need the money. It is all well for someone from upper-middle class to go on these shows and earn a substantial amount of money, half of which they claim will go to so-called “charity”. Upon asking a friend what she would do if she won some money on one of these TV shows, she said she would buy herself a Sony Vaio laptop or maybe an iPhone 4. That would be small gain in comparison to those people for whom earning even Rs 50,000 – 1,00,000 would indeed be a means of bringing about change in their lives.

A friend of my mother’s has a Russian woman staying with her who has been learning about the Indian scriptures and history and knows so much more about our country than she (my mother’s friend) has known, despite living here! Most of us are victims to this blissful unawareness. The fact that there are several historical (mainly) archives that lie uncared for says a lot of (unflattering) things about how Indians regard their past. With the revolutions occurring in Egypt and Libya (Pakistan following?), there are other (smaller) revolutions we, as TV viewers, can undertake. Let us stop watching bad TV programs and dulling our imaginations. It lulls us into a false sense of security, which as we know (Julius Caesar, Macbeth!), is the downfall of man. Roald Dahl captures the woes of the Idiot Box succintly in his poem, “On Television” –


Enough said.
"If I wanted to watch reality, I wouldn't need a TV."

                                                                                                                                           - Apoorva Sahay 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We Talk #1 - Nirmitee And Chahita

Nirmitee: I'm confused :-S
See everyone says stop looking for love,stop asking for love and then
love will find you
But the secret
* says that you have to ask for the things you really
want....which one of them is true?

[*The Secret is a book we're reading, by Rhonda Byrne, the central idea of which is that our thoughts attract things in our lives.]

Chahita: I have no answer to that...this whole idea of Love is so complicated
I guess you shouldn't exactly look for love but you should never give up on hope

Nirmitee: But what should you be thinking? So far I've only come up with-im not
looking but please let me find love :P

Chahita: You know what....

Nirmitee: Tell me?

Chahita: There are so many contradictory statements made by all these famous people
One person says live life like there's no tomorrow
While another one says plan for the future otherwise everything will
go haywire :P
You just have to choose a side, really

Nirmitee: So basically every advice u get is worthless coz there's some other
successful person who's done the opposite?you just have to choose
what's right for you...

Chahita: Yes exactly!
It all depends on you in the end
Every single thing happening in your life is because of you...

Nirmitee: It makes life all the more confusing....yet more fun because there's
no absolutely correct way

Chahita: So true...

Nirmitee: You can ham up as much stuff as u want to..

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love Actually :)

The month of February is upon us, and it is befitting I talk about love. No generalizations, no definitions. Only, the changing meanings of love to me. So I was reading an interesting article on the origin of Valentine’s Day and discovered that it was a day linked to denial, cruelty and death and not love at all. I thought to myself, “Wtf!” but read on. Saint Valentine (love doctor in Hitch anyone?) was martyred on 14th February, 269 A.D because he helped to marry off couples in secret, even after the cruel Roman Emperor Claudius II had forbidden all marriages and engagements in Rome. He left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, (in love or friendship I don’t know) signed, “From your Valentine.” It was the forerunner for later Valentines, with 14th February being declared the Day of Love. And thus begins the stories of the heartache and the heartbreak.

“My thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us - I can live only wholly with you or not at all….”

When I was twelve, my art teacher asked us all to make a Valentine card for our mothers. She was met with aghast silence. The word boyfriend or girlfriend still set us off in a frenzy of giggles, having a meaning we were yet to be acquainted with. Our teacher told us that love existed between all bonds, not only between a girl and boy. Our mothers, who love us unconditionally, truly deserved the biggest Valentine’s Day card! And it dispelled my notion that it was a day to celebrate only romantic love. It felt most heartwarming when one of my best friends sent me a Valentine’s card, years later. (That the card got lost in mail is another sad story L.) Often, in friendship, we forget to remind our friends (and ourselves) how much we cherish them. (This year I’ve snagged a Facebook Valentine, a Twitter Valentine and a Skype Valentine!;) ) If you’re reading this, my friends (and you better be!), there is so much love in my heart for you. Erk, and before this gets too sappy, I’m moving on. :P

“….I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits….”

I bet I’m not the only girl here who has spent a considerably inappropriate amount of time taking Love Tests, calculating love on the Love Meter online, reading (badly written) romance and chick lit novels and analyzed what every word, look, gesture, yawn, scratch (and the like) of our crush means. Well, maybe not the scratching. :P I for one, have given unhealthy weight to romantic comedies, willing myself to believe that fairytale love does exist and that one kiss (oh, the one that makes you swoon, you ignoramus!) will set anything right. Ignoramus me, much? I would like to believe not, but that’s the conclusion I have drawn from my experience.  I’m not a cynic when it comes to love, nor am I bitter about love. What a way that would be to kill the romance! But I do believe it is important to keep things real. If things are too gooey, you’re gonna end up in a sticky situation. I read a refreshing take on love by a TV actor who was going to be married a second time. He said that in the long run the teenage dream love (ah, Katy Perry, you live a short-lived dream) goes out of the window and it is replaced by something more solid: commitment and respect. I liked that, the no-frills honesty yet I long for something different.

“….No one else can ever possess my heart - never - never - Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves….”

I have gleaned, from the endless conversations I have had with two of my closest friends, that each of us has a vastly different perspective on love.  We were like a first class level lever (…and I cannot believe I am using physics to explain this!). Friend A was the Load in the sense that she had her head on her shoulders even when it came to matters of the heart. Friend B, on the other hand, was the Effort, always making the ‘effort’ (bad pun :P) to keep the spark from dissipating, believing in everlasting, fairytale love. And I (the Fulcrum in my scenario) hovered somewhere in the middle, afraid to tilt on either side too much. I have learned much from both (you know who you are J), but yet I struggle to know what I really want, what this love really means to me. When you think you have it pinned down, this curiously elusive thing, it throws you off and you set search, yet again. Maybe that’s the beauty of love, discovering and re-discovering; losing and finding again. Happy Valentine’s Day!

“….Oh continue to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved. 
ever thine, 
ever mine,
ever ours."

Let's Smoooooch!

To keep up with the spirit of things, here’s a few links that might be interesting. J

An ark for the future

Whenever people give advice on writing, be it in books, movies or real life, one thing always said is “write what you know”. One woman according to what I read adhered to it to the extent of making her husband gag, blindfold and tie her up just so she could write about a kidnapped person’s thoughts and experiences more realistically.
Looking at it differently, if everyone just stuck to writing about what they know, boundaries would never be pushed, the science fiction and fantasy genres would lie empty other than the pieces written by magical beings themselves (they exist. DO NOT try to convince me otherwise). Part of what I think a writer’s job is, is to think and imagine the what’s and how’s the rest of us cannot.
Maybe the secret is writer and reader journeying together into realms unknown. Maybe that’s what authors do when they don’t have many actual experiences in that field….the writer learning of and living in the world he has created and reader being patient with his thoughts and believing the writers words. So lets the two of us try that and go on a voyage looking for what might happen if the Noah’s ark situation occurs once again in the future, say in 2012 since so many doomsday theories surround it.
It is October 2012 and due to global warming, the threat of polar icecaps melting is imminent. The world is witnessing fights in every single communication forum-louder and more forceful than ever before among presidents, celebrities, businessmen, neighbors each trying to justify why they need a place on the ark group of spaceships more than the others.
One hears of a fan buying his favorite actor a seat on it (with 5 star luxury available of course!) and being promptly berated by his family for wasting money that could have bought every one of them places at that price. The omnipresent subject of discrimination[racial or otherwise] makes its way into this controversy as well, making way for more people coming onto the ark. There has to be a couple of people not just from every ethnicity, country and religion, but also especially in the case of India someone from every state and caste on it.
The question of taking 2 of every animal species does not rise, what with so many people clamoring to get a seat. Instead genes of every species will be taken along and once optimum living conditions are obtained they’ll all be cloned. This makes the animal activists indignant and they plan to remain behind to share the fate of their fellow earthlings-in the nude.
Come November and most of the small islands are submerged and have completely disappeared. The larger ones like Sri Lanka and Madagascar partially so with their inhabitants fleeing to landlocked countries.
As December 21 approaches….things get more chaotic and the future murkier making it harder for me to predict what happens next. Maybe since it is doomsday and nothing will work according to plan, right after taking off, the spaceships will malfunction and hence all signs of life on earth will disappear. Or maybe…...there will be enough ark spaceships for every one of the 7 billion people on the planet. And even if that does not happen, we’ll start a completely new colony in space like the Jetsons [loved that show!].
Take that world politics! You can’t have wars when you don’t have countries anymore.
But for what really will happen…..we’ll just have to wait and watch won’t we?

By Nirmitee Mehta

{Disclaimer-The writer of this piece has not seen the movie 2012 and does not plan to either. Hence any probable references to the plot of the movie can by accounted for by the simple explanation that the makers had gone into the future and stolen ideas from her brain.}

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One Serendipit(r)ee Hill

Sometimes, things we start doing with no intention of allowing to become an integral part of our lives, end up becoming more important to us than we would’ve imagined at that time. In this article, I write about one such TV series I started watching out of boredom, only to be surprised with what I’d inadvertently discovered.

The show One Tree Hill, conceptualized over two step-brothers, Nathan Scott and Lucas Scott, who come from two different worlds altogether seemed pretty interesting. Nathan hails from the wealthiest family in town, while Lucas, a loner, is the only child of his single working mother. Nathan rules the Tree Hill High School basketball court, while Luke rules the Tree Hill riverside basketball court. As both their worlds clashed, bringing about refreshing and disparate developments along the way, I got sucked into their lives… Mesmerized and yearning to learn more about them.

The reason why OTH is so close to my heart, why I consider it to be so special is inexplicable. OTH's characters, stories, music, spirit... Speak to me. I feel the love between Nathan and Haley as they always stand by each other through good times and bad, I feel the cheerfulness and childishness of Brooke when she wins little competitions like Best Choreographer of her cheerleading squad or when she surpasses all the boundaries to land up at the back of someone's car entirely naked to 'achieve' him, I feel the pain and wrath of Peyton as she deals with her step-mother's death and the sudden revelation of her biological mother dying with cancer just as she encounters her, I feel the despair and confusion of Lucas as he is forced to choose between someone he strongly wanted all his life and someone who wants him strongly with all her life... I feel it all.

OTH is not just about entertaining the viewers with its characters’ experiences; it’s about teaching us through their failures, as well as successes. It’s not about sermonizing or preaching; it’s about learning about life as it comes. With Nathan struggling with the pressure he’s succumbed into by his father, or Lucas attempting to get out of his comfortable space to face his arrogant step-brother, or Haley taking the chance of increasing proximities with an evil person just to protect her best friend…. OTH is not just about high-school drama. OTH is about Life.

What brings out the spirit of the stories more than the impeccable direction is its music. Its music remains fresh, forever. Even after listening to an OTH song five years after having heard it on the show, not only does its rhythm ring in my ears, but it also brings along nostalgia of the story it’s connected to…

I’m still rather skeptical of how to put my feelings across the way I want to. I’m pretty sure OTH may not seem the same if seen through someone else’s eyes. But if you look at it through my eyes, you’ll see so much more than just some TV series that airs on The CWTV every Monday… You’ll see vitality… You’ll see passion… You’ll see sentience.

I sign off with one of my favorite OTH quotes:
If you look close enough to the world around you, you might see someone like you. Someone trying to find their way. Someone trying to find their self. Sometimes it seems like you’re the only one in the world whose struggling, whose frustrated, unsatisfied, barely getting by. But that feeling’s a lie. And if you just hold on, just find the courage to face it all for another day, someone or something will find you and make it all okay. Because we all need a little help sometimes. We need someone to remind us that it won’t always be this way. That someone is out there. And that someone will find you.

So, to all the TV junkies out there, do you have a TV show you're as passionate about? :)

By Chahita Lalchandani

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why I Love People:)

I love people.
The more people I meet, the more I want to.
Our world is full of people. Different people. We read, we learn but we see just the darkness, it’s what shines through you know? I mean I’ll go to an orphanage and I’ll come back with a story about how it is really corrupt, how the clothes and toys you donate go to waste since they are just used on days when someone comes to see those children and the money goes to the pockets of the authorities but do we remember we go there once, just once, to meet those children but all we do is criticise? Does anyone realise that these children could just as easily have been on the streets, begging for money, at least now, they have some semblance of a home, of an education? Actually maybe we all know this, maybe we feel that though we are too busy living our lives, those who have decided to live it for someone else should do so without cheating,I mean how could they look into a child’s eyes and not give him/her enough money for decent food, decent education and a better future?I guess they do it the same way that, I can go once and promise to go again and never go back.We need to realise that we often contradict our own intentions. Knowing this i can still love people,even if they arent all perfect. Just sometimes we should see behind the worst, see to the minds of the people who steal. It’s a fascinating to try and see where they come from, their story. I’m sure they have one, I’m sure we all do. Whether it’s about an orphanage or a blog. So look behind the darkness a little, or look into it, but look. You may be surprised. I will not go so far as to say the world is beautiful but it’s definitely interesting.

There is so much I want to be, and do in this life, it is people i meet who inspire me. The ones that show me who I want to be. Who I can be. I can’t have every experience in this world. But if I speak to enough people maybe through them I can live a little more than I have, I can understand a little more than I already have and Maybe I can expect a little more than I already do form life, from myself. Just for that even the worst experiences I have with people are worth having.

Everybody has a weird preconceived notion of what is right and what is wrong and frankly that’s the one thing that gets to me. How can you decide what is right for me? Sometimes even I can’t decide what is right for me, but that’s life, trial and error, so live and let live. Be an observer without forcing your opinion on people, and you can learn so much more than you can ever imagine.

So like I said I love people, and the more people I meet the stronger the feeling gets simply because they are all so different and their opinions are so different. I know I am so different with everyone of them, at the risk of sounding a hypocrite, but honestly I think everyone’s personality just reacts differently to everybody else’s. The only way I can see of getting to know every aspect of myself is by getting to know new people.
So get out of your shell, let people know you a little more, so that they can tell you a little themselves, and open a new world for you.
By Radha Agarwal

Falling for words

             My love and discovery of new words comes from my love of books. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always been falling in love with certain words-being unexplainably drawn to them and trying to bring them up in every conversation as long as I was obsessed with them. Often these favourite words have started meaning more to me than their intrinsic meaning and I use them with a smile on my face as the memories, emotions and little incidents related to them come rushing back to me.

             One of the first words that I got obsessed with was 'tacky'. My friend, let's call her Antimony, and I used it every minute of the day. Due to overuse its meaning for us changed from being cheap or tawdry to describing anything that displeased us in the least. Eventually we outgrew it and moved on to another word crush.

About a year ago, if you remember facebook witnessed a massive wave of colour based statuses by women according to the lingerie they had on that particular day in a (misguided) attempt to raise awareness for breast cancer. Seeing the array of over descriptive colours put up, a cynical friend put up her own colours ranging from custard blue to sunshine purple. It was the last of these that got my heart beating faster, my eyelashes flutter and me smile without reason as I had fallen in love with this pretty phrase that made me happy. There was something just so optimistic, magical and sparkly about it, something about its soul that seemed to quintessentially mirror mine and so it captured my heart. 

             My first encounter with the word disillusion was in the 9th grade while studying the Indian independence movement where the national leaders were said to have been disillusioned by the promises the British made. I was mildly fascinated by it but was not yet aware as to how much the word would later affect me. Fast forwarding to 2 years later where I had a crush on a guy, let's call him Alpha. Ironically around the same time we were doing a song called "Désenchantée'' (the French word for disillusion) in class. I was head over heels for him until one day at a party I saw him smoke. Now, to each his own but I abhor the habit and don't take it well if a person close to me indulges in it.
After that, the nothingness of complete disillusion set in. It broke my heart, not dramatically with a million tears but sadly and with the new understanding that a lot of times, people let you down not intentionally but just by showing you a facet of their personality you didn't know of and don't like.
             Sometimes it does happen. Words, even beautiful ones cause pain. Meanwhile, I continue reading, constantly finding new words and falling in love with them.

By Nirmitee Mehta

Accidental Friendship

Sruthy John. My 2 am friend you couldn’t be, what with us discovering our friendship only when you were 5000 miles and 4 time zones away. In school, you were the one kid I truly admired, albeit secretly. Oozing with confidence (having a 5’6” frame did give you an advantage over the other puny 6th graders!), that maverick spirit of yours was like no other I’d seen. Heck, you were twelve and already seemed to know enough about history, literature, classic movies and vintage cars than people twice your age! You introduced me to Juanes and the Sadie Hawkins dance and Susan Coolidge. Like Katy, I saw in you the same unbridled spirit, waiting to escape, over the hills and yonder. I used to marvel at the ease with which you questioned facts, challenged conventional ways of thinking and brought new dimensions to the class discussion. We had a book club of sorts, you and me, its sole members. Reading and sharing stories of fictional characters was how we connected at that time; I astill cherish the “grown-up” conversations we used to have about Ruskin Bond and Roald Dahl’s literary style and prowess. Other than that we kept to ourselves, never suspecting that just a few years down the line we would still be sharing stories, only this time, of a different kind.

The end of the prologue came with the announcement of your moving to Australia. Australia! The continent that had captivated my senses ever since we’d studied it extensively in Geography two years before. It was the land with the strikingly beautiful Great Barrier Reef, the (seemingly) cute Koala bears and the fantastic tales of gold-diggers and convicts and you, oh Sruthy, were going to live there! My envy knew no bounds. The last day of school, you handed out (the now embarrassing) “autograph” book and I wrote you a small note wishing you love and luck, and almost as an afterthought, included my email ID. “It’s a pity you didn’t come home; we have a street lined with coconut trees, leading up to the house, which you would have liked.” you told me. And then you were gone, beyond the hills, to make new adventures. You became a fictional character for me in an exotic land; your emails- the chapters of a book I couldn’t put down. We wrote of big events in our lives, of friends, parties and summer camps and those ordinary, no big-deal moments that are so special too. Exchanging thoughts and dreams, hopes and fears, on life and love, we sealed the bond of a friendship that may have not happened at all, but just, thankfully, did.

It was in Ammichi and Appachin- your grandparent’s- home in Quilon, Kerala that acquainted me with the motherly side of you. You took me by hand and showed me around the quaint house, in which not only you but also your father had had many a happy memories. There was something in the lingering smell of the old wood that permeated every nook and the fragrance of the jasmine and orchids that Ammichi grew in the garden, which evoked memories that I couldn’t quite place; a familiar aroma here, a wistful touch there. I was about to fall asleep till you incidentally began speaking of albinos after the lights were out. And then I needed a glass of water and begged you accompany me to the kitchen. Never had I seen you so shocked! Sixteen years old I was and still afraid of the dark, of what I'd find, or wouldn't, if I rummaged through its shadows. After politely asking me to grow up, you pretended to be asleep. But after my persistent whining, took me firmly by the hand and led me to the kitchen, talking to me about the latest George Clooney movie and chocolate doughnuts till I forgot my fear. Below that sturdy exterior, was a heart full of kindness and I smiled, knowing that you were definitely a keeper. Over my first typical Malayali breakfast of putta and palam (steamed coconut rice cakes with mashed bananas), Appachin regaled us with stories of his days as a sailor, on adventures of a lifetime, out in the open sea. So this is where you’d acquired your free spirited and unafraid nature! And from you I imbibed a strong sense of independent thinking, a passion to delve into causes I believed in and the courage to see them through. You stimulated me by pushing boundaries of our conversations to new levels till I struggled to keep up and began questioning my own comfortable beliefs, finally learning to be undaunted in the face of the uncertain.

“What’s this?” you ask me, as I request the rickshaw driver to take the road that leads us away from our destination. “A good way to start the day”, I answer vaguely. You are surprised but I keep mum till we’re almost there. “Hey, this street looks familiar”, you say and I laugh. We’d reached an end to one phase of our lives and were now embarking on another. Like Appachin’s journey into the boundless sea, we too were at the threshold of new beginnings and unknown destinations. Yet I knew our story would remain incomplete till I’d walked with you down the road lined with coconut trees, leading up to your home. Smilingly, I took your hand and we began walking.

Forever beautiful - Sruthy (Kerela, 2009)
                                                                                                                                    - Apoorva Sahay