india

Gifts: Songs

So I was listening to songs on my phone, on shuffle. And suddenly this beautiful song starts playing, I had never heard it before. On checking, I found it was Bon Jovi’s “Make a Memory”. I don’t remember downloading it, so maybe it auto-downloaded from some whatsapp chat. But it was a beautiful surprise.

Then I thought about it. What happened to the mix tapes we used to make. A friend and me were reminiscing just a few days back about all the cassettes our parents used to bring home. My excitement used to know no bounds when I held the cassette of a latest movie in my hand. There were these stickers that came along with them to stick on the cassette which marked the sides A and B. How after watching the movie, we knew all the lyrics by heart and yet sometimes there were leaflets in the jacket with all the lyrics and the sequence of the songs. And there were times when you got addicted to one particular song and kept rewinding the cassette with your hand to listen to it repeatedly! And how many cassettes we wasted by recording our voices over it and then got chided by our parents.

My mother had bought a stereo with her savings. It was a magical instrument for me back when I was a child. We had a collection of more than 100 cassettes which included all the songs from latest movies and even the pop albums which were famous back then. My uncle used to make a list of his favourite songs, and sometimes added some of mine as a favour to get mix tapes made. Those were beautiful days.

Even many years later, after we had internet, but I didn’t really know how to use it well. I was addicted to radio. Every saturday night I waited to listen to Ryan Seacrest’s show and every sunday to the Bollywood Top 30. I even wrote down the names of the english songs which I liked to download them at some later point.

The effort that we made then, to listen to a particular song, really made us appreciate the value of it. Now that it’s freely and easily available to all, we miss out on good music because we totally forget about it after listening to it once.

-S.

Dussehra

When I was a little girl, every Dussehra I used to visit my Grandparents’ house. The festive season was celebrated in all its glory in the village. There was a local Ram-Leela held by the children of the village. My Grandmother used to give me 10 rupees to spend in the fair and I used to be so happy about going there with my uncle. I used to think about how I will spend my 10 rupees the whole day and then when I finally reached the fair I could never make up my mind. I usually ended up buying something stupid every time. I remember watching the Ram-Leela with what you would call pure amazement – the songs and the costumes, the lighting and of course the Raavan-Vadh in the end.

This year on Dussehra, I was on my way to Kasol and when I heard the sound of festivities, I was instantly reminded of this memory and yes, I made a note to write about this later. Right now, while I watch the movie “Inside Out”, I look at the way they portray the working of brain and memories and it all seems plausible. My own Joy, bringing up a memory from deep down the Memory Lanes. While my Sadness brings back the Nostalgia of those carefree childhood days. I wish I could go back and yet stay here. Life is full of such dilemmas ain’t it?

Kasol Revisited

Day 1 – 21st October

I make my journey from JNU to North Campus, to meet the people who are going with me. Our bus leaves at night from Majnu ka Teela. It is a little awkward since I have met most of these people for the first time. At night everyone packs and we leave after a delicious dinner of homemade khichdi. We wait for the bus, it keeps getting delayed but it finally arrives. And the journey towards Parvati Valley begins.

Day 2 – 22nd October

Almost half the day had passed until we reached our destination but the journey was beautiful, with mist floating down the valleys when the sun began to appear. There were tall trees and I knew we had reached when there was an evident chill in the air. Our hungry souls directly made way towards Cafe Bhoj. We ate to our heart’s delight and then looked for a hotel. After getting some rest, we decided to have a bonfire and we started walking towards the campsite with torches in our hands to ward off the eeriness that the mountains possess by default. We reached the riverside where we sat on a round table and talked and laughed and drank and smoked. Then we walked closer to the river, so close that our voices were drowned by the sound of the flowing water. It was cold, very cold and the fire didn’t do much in warding it off. It was finally time to sleep.

Day 3 – 23rd October

I woke up before everyone else, except S. The first thing to do was take a bath and dry your hair in the mountain sunshine. We had delicious lunch consisting of schnitzels, falafels, lafas, oreo shakes, ginger-lemon-honey tea, etcetera. We then made our way towards a place called Chalal but were never able to reach it. Instead we found a place beyond the bridge, among the rocks where hot steam rose like mist from mountains and I wasn’t afraid of feeling cold again. The moon was high in the sky, all around us there were mountains – snow capped. And even when nothing was visible, the snow was shining bright, reflecting the moonlight. The rushing pristine water of the river, threw up water droplets which shone like diamonds when they caught moonlight or light from a torch held by a passerby on the bridge. My words can never do justice to what I saw that night.

(The night was spent deciding who wanted to stay for one more day. 4 of us decided to stay back and then 3 hours were spent cancelling and booking tickets)

Day 4 – 24th October

Yet again, S was the first one to wake up and we once again made our way towards Chalal after everyone left post a hearty lunch. This time it wasn’t our lucky day. The police caught us but let us go without much hassle. We went to Jim Morrison cafe and the sandwiches there were to die for. The trek was totally worth it. I was too happy to register much. Happy because it was Kasol, for another day. Once you go there, you never want to leave.

Day 5 – 25th October

We went to Magic View Restaurant, didn’t really have the patience to look at the view because I was too tired from all the climbing. Who wants to work on a vacation anyway. This vacation was so much different from the last time when I was all sober and the weather was not so good. This time the water had completely changed its color and you could almost see the water-bed. It was a “good trip”. Can’t wait for the next one. Will put up the pictures soon.

Day 6 – 26th October

Back to Delhi. It was like some other world. Definitely not a good one after the serenity of the Valley. Well, all good things come to an end.

Home is where the Heart is

So I am all done with my documentary on the M-ward of Mumbai. More about that later. For many days I have been planning to write on all the places I have lived in.  After reading Varun Grover‘s article, I was finally really inspired to do the same. So here’s a short personal account of all the places where I have had a temporary home in! 🙂

VARANASI

I was born in the city of Temples and Ghats. I was too little to remember anything but I have since visited it twice and it’s a beautiful city if you want to laze around and just sit at the ghats and read a book. The city in itself is a madhouse, too much traffic and too many people. But that is the beauty of old cities. There is a mix of culture and modernity that you just cannot find anywhere else. I have somehow always been kind of proud that I was born there because of it’s rich cultural heritage. Now, when I pass through the areas where we lived earlier, my parents point out those places to me, the place where I was born, the place where they came to have lunch every weekend, the temple they visited on their birthdays and so on.

KANPUR

So my next stop was Kanpur where I spent 7 years and changed 3 schools and 2 homes, as far as I remember. I made a lot of friends, my memories of which are really vague now. I am obviously not in touch with any of them anymore, but I do remember that I was close with a lot of them! Now a relative of mine lives in the same locality and it beings back so many memories. I was a single child back at that time and the games I played at that time alone, the swing in my porch and the bees that stung me, the neighbours I had and the cricket matches my uncle took me to, the mix tapes we made and the terrace without the railing, the diwali with my cousins, the hiding in the cupboards, the fun I had in dusting the corridors and then riding my bicycle (with stoppers) there, the rickshaw that came to pick me up every morning and the dreaded swimming classes, the hatred for school and love for cable TV, the visits to relatives’ houses and meeting and forgetting people, the sweets that Grandpa bought everytime he visited and the dosa place he took me to, near my house. Omg, I miss Kanpur. Now when I go back, I hate it, because of the crowd and the pollution and zero traffic sense. But now that I sit and reminiscence about it, those were beautiful days. The days of carefree childhood.

LALITPUR

Lalitpur is a quaint little town near Jhansi, and it is also close to maternal home, while Kanpur was close to my paternal home. My sister was also born there. I lived there for 2 years. My memories of that place are mostly of my neighbours, with whom I spent most of my time. We used to play all evening until it got dark. It was also the time when everyone had those video game consoles and I had one too and it was also the time when I watched Nickelodeon for the first time and went gaga over it, the first time when I made a best friend, Divya, only to lose her in a year, the first time I stayed with another family, all by myself, because my mother was in the hospital during her pregnancy. There was a guest house next to my home, which belonged to a relative. The garden was open to use for all and that is where I learnt to ride a bike.

BANGALORE

This was a major shift. We had shifted from a town to a metro city. The energy was crazy and so was life. I was juggling between classes and computer classes, book clubs and extra co-curricular activities and ace-ing everything except academics. There was a library right behind my house which  I unfortunately found out too late, there was a Punjabi Restaraunt near our house which made the most amazing shahi paneer ever. My father took us to new places every weekend and we travelled like crazy – to Tirupathi, Nilgiri, Ooty, Munnar, etc. I went to this amazing book club where they gave us cold drink and cake at the end of every session. I found some of my friends from those days on FaceBook.  Those two years were undoubtedly the best years of my life. I often wish that we had never shifted, but apparently my parents didn’t like living so far away from their own families so we had to come back to North India. Now, I think to myself, that maybe I did the right thing by shifting because I feel that Bangalore had given me what I needed in terms of developing my personality, but had I stayed, I couldn’t have fought for what I loved and figured out what to do in life without anything being imposed on me. It is difficult to explain, but being in Lucknow gave me much more freedom to choose whatever I wanted to do next in life.

LUCKNOW

Lucknow was a new low after Bangalore but I gradually got used to it. I have spent the maximum part of my life there and that is where home is even now. 8 years in Lucknow, and I was a grown person too, I remember almost everything but mostly I remember hating my school. In the last four years that I stayed there, I made some really good friends and that is the only redeeming fact about that school. All in all the city is a great place to live in. It gives me respite from the rush of the big cities I go back from every holiday.

DELHI

I had entered college and was living in the Hostel, a much different home than any I had lived in before. It was a big, bad city and I was a little girl. With time it grew on me and I began falling in love with the freedom I had got for the first time in my life. This thirst for freedom just became bigger and that is how I moved on to the next city.

MUMBAI

My present home, one year in a flat and this year in a Hostel. Mumbai has given me the freedom I could have only dreamt of, friends that I know I will cherish for life and memories and experiences that have made me who I am now. It’s only when you live here, that you will know why it is called the City of Dreams. Every other person is a walking and talking book, whose pages and stories will amaze you. Here I am to be another book in the library, hoping to be the one most issued and to be an inspiration for other writers. 🙂

Wishing upon a Star

I found a picture,
Between the tattered pages,
Of an old notebook.
It was a picture of you,
With your teeth shining,
Like the pearls sewn in your dress.
The colour of the sky,
And freshly plucked flowers,
Adorned the laces on your sleeve.
A prettier picture I had not seen.
I look back at those days,
When I asked mother;
“Why did you have to have
another daughter?”
How could I have been so ignorant,
I had always wished for someone magical,
To come into my life,
To fill in the vacant afternoons,
To be a partner-in-crime,
To be all mine.
What would have I ever done without you?
You are the greatest gift ever.
I never wished for anything again.

Community Radio: Against Misogyny

For an assignment we had to script edit and present shows that could be aired over Community Radio. We (Aditi S., Shreya K. and me) took up the topic of misogyny in India and framed a fictional story which revolved around a journalist named Minky who travels around different cities in India and confronts the various faces of misogyny and patriarchy. We called it Radio SASS. Meanwhile do listen to the advertisements we made and interspersed in the show. These ads are basically a sarcastic take on issues like honour killing, female infanticide, patriarchy, etc. by introducing fictional products which can cure a woman and make her the ‘ideal’ woman.

“Bombay-70” and Indian Eminems

I watched the most amazing documentary today, even though a very short one. We had a presentation today in which we had to present our proposal for the next documentary that we will be working upon and we came across these amazing Mumbai rappers from the area popularly called Bombay-70 during research for the same. I was blown away by the amount of talent that these people have. Their music is now being produced by SONY Music so trust me, they should be taken seriously. Their raps are based on their lives, the lives that they have lived in these slums. It is so adorable how as a kid he fell into bad company and once even went to jail but then one day he realised that he could do better and he started writing. They grew up in slums and had almost no access to resources and yet were dedicated enough to do something for the society through their art. When he got hold of an I-Pad, given to him by his father, he started shooting and putting up videos and then there was no looking back for him.

Here is the short documentary about the rapper Naezy followed by some raps by him.

P.S. (Spoilers Ahead): After watching the movie, I was just lost for words. The part where her mother tells about his son writing rap and how people confused it with rape was just hilarious. Now, since we are working on a movie around carrom clubs, which are an integral part of Mumbai, we look forward to doing something like this for our movie as well. The use of the language is just spectacular. The part where he talks about the change in language from English to whatever the common lingo was so thoughtful. I am in love with Naezy, I am sure you will love him too. 🙂

On Travelling Solo

To me, travelling is one of the best stress busters and also on of my greatest hobbies. I feel like this is the time when I can indulge in activities like these because later it will be too late. I realised that this should be something that I should follow forever because no time is a bad time to travel. The biggest drawback for any girl in India is the fact that it is really hard to travel alone. It is also not a very judicious idea because it will definitely take a toll on your pocket. I have always wanted to go out on solo walks during rainy nights when I was at home. There was no way I would be allowed outside after 11 in the night. When I shifted to Mumbai, I was amazed by the freedom that girls could enjoy. I often walked back home at 2, sometimes even 4 from college to home.

There was an article I read on Thought Catalog about how you could be with someone and yet be alone. That is the kind of travelling that I dream of. To have someone there for when you need them, to make memories and to yet be alone, to get lost in the mountains, in the sound of nature, in the fresh air and the delicious food. On one of my trips I found a friend like that. On our way back from a trek, our group got left behind and we decided to wait for them sitting on a cliff, overlooking the mountains – The Dhauladhar Range. That moment was sort of like the moment of enlightenment for me. I don’t think I can ever forget the exact details of that moment ever in my life. We weren’t talking. It was like the other person didn’t even exist even though they did. It was also the moment I fell in love, with several things at once, mostly in love with life!

I wrote something after coming back:

And it has come to an end, the amazing 10 days in Delhi. McLeodganj, Bhagsunag and Trikund. A time like none other. Thanks to the company.

For the first time in my life I found serenity in solitude even when I wasn’t alone and peace in silence with someone who knew what I wanted to say without saying anything. Those were the days I would want to live over and over again despite the few bitter moments. The good ones definitely overpower them. These memories will push me forward in life. Towards better things and better judgements. It’s the little things in life that keep you going. Those expressions of love and care, the reiterated concerns for your well being.

The moment I was talking about:

Those three stray wisps of clouds among the hills. Mixing and melting and moulding into one single entity. The serenity of it all, the stolen moments of peace. The mutual understanding. What else could one wish for. The sound of water rushing downhill, a cigarette in your hand and the dizziness in your brain, being supported by people you love the most. Staring into the sunset with your head upon their shoulder, the playful atmosphere, the light-headedness, the million shades of the sky during dusk. Another wisp of the clouds lodged in the snow capped mountains. A cup of tea, a pen and a notebook, with the steps towards heaven right in front of me. There’s nothing else I could ever wish for.

Lighthouses/Bucket List Part 5

I finally got the chance to visit a Lighthouse people!! The ticket was only worth 10 rupees, can you believe it?

So on the last day of my trip to Udupi, we decided to visit the Kaup Beach. The beach is really beautiful with the blue Arabian Sea roaring in front of you. Also, this shore was really deep compared to all other beaches, you step 10 steps into the water and you are completely submerged, the waves were also much higher and wilder.

SOOO BLUE. :P

SOOO BLUE. 😛

To be frank, this kind of blue is a rare sight so I was really pleased. But, let’s not digress from the Lighthouse! Let me give you a step by step description. So we walked some 50 steps to reach the main door of the lighthouse. At first it was closed but thankfully opened half an hour later.

THE LIGHTHOUSE

THE LIGHTHOUSE

Then there were an additional 100+ steps to reach the top. There were a set of spacious spiral steps and another set of very steep and congested steps. I was really scared while clicking this picture because I was literally standing on the edge, holding out the camera in front of me and people were passing behind me in the tiny space.

THE STEPS.

THE STEPS.

This crazy bunch of guys you see walking down, were shit scared and took forever to step down, I utilised the time to click pictures while the others blamed them and not me for slowing down the crowd. Then there were also these beautiful windows which gave a view of the outside and when you’re tired because of the climbing, it also provided you with a breath of fresh air. 😛

A WINDOW IN THE LIGHTHOUSE

A WINDOW IN THE LIGHTHOUSE

When I finally reached the top, huffing and sweating and panting (almost sounded like the wolf from Three Little Pigs there), this view welcomed me!

IMG_20150908_100530

It was totally worth the climb. I took pictures of all 4 directions, and of the top and bottom as well. There was a family chilling on a patch of stones right below where I was standing.

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Family.

Finally after clicking about 50 pictures I came down, it was almost the time for sunset. I was just really happy that I saw something new. Oh and I also had one whole fried fish, alone! It was yummy! Thankyou Kaup (Kapu) Beach! ❤

LIGHTHOUSE AT SUNSET

LIGHTHOUSE AT SUNSET

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Lyrics Part 1

I have always been intrigued by songs in other languages. When one of my friends translated a Malayalam song (Kerala, India) into Hindi, I realised how much is lost in translation. The film makers had not even made the effort to translate it in the true sense when they dubbed into Hindi. They just used whatever would conveniently fit the new tune. Even though what I am going to write further is unrelated, this was something that inspired me to begin a new series: to translate Hindi songs into English and to see what I can make of them. It’s more of an exercise for myself.

(P.S.: the Malayalam song that my friend translated was “Dil hai chhota sa”, I don’t remember the Malayalam version now, but it sure was one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard)

The song that I chose for part 1 was “Monta Re” from Lootera. Even though the song is a mix of Hindi and Bengali, it’s mostly Hindi. So here it goes…

Kaagaz ke do pankh le kar, udda chala jaaye re…

Jahan nahi jaana tha ye wahin chala haay re…

Umar ka ye taana baana…

Samajh na paaye re…

Zubaan pe jo moh maaya…

Namak lagaaye re…

Ke dekhe na bhaale na jaane na daayre…

Disha Hara kyamun boka… Monta re…

Translation:

It flew away with two wings made of paper…

It went away where it wasn’t supposed to go…

Neither does it understand the norms of age…

Nor does it get attracted to the worldly pleasures…

which leave a lingering taste on its tongue…

It is directionless, it doesn’t look, it doesn’t understand… My crazy, silly, mad, Heart

I just realised everything got lost in translation. It can never live up to its true essence. Nevertheless listen to the song because the music is beautiful! I guess this series will have to end here itself. 😛