Monday, June 22, 2015

God's Own Creation: Sedona

When I first visited Sedona, I had no clue about it's mysticism. A small down tucked in the corner of the Arizona desert, is one of the most visited tourist spots of Arizona. 

Google Image

The scenic beauty....
Is soul stirring. The first sight of the huge array of giant structures looming from above, studded harshly with cacti, look foreboding on first sight. But as you drive past them, you will be surprised to see the gleaming white tipped  snow cones in the midst of the desert, as if defying Mother Nature by its very existence. Ice on the fiery dessert. How can the culture surviving there not be haunting?



Mystical Culture ..

Through out the town you will see small shops selling metaphysical objects. For an Indian from India, it was one of the OMG moments. Jaadoo Tona as we call it and Earth Religion is what they believe in. Anyways, this post is not about the believe but about the serenity of the culture. Crystals and voodoo dolls sit proudly on all the shelves of the shops. Aura healers are busy cleansing souls or making you talk to your dead ones. I was so tempted to try that out but I think I would get a tight slap from my mom if I did disturb her at her heavenly abode, so I let it be. Though it was damn tempting. How authentic they are, is not for me to say. But yes, the taboo subject of India is openly practiced here and I was so very fascinated by it. 

Natural beauty..

If heaven is on earth..
Its here, its here.. its here...

Ok that was my poor poetry spurting out when I saw the morning sunrise. Huge red-orange mountains bathing in the glow of the first morning flush, is something no camera can capture. Only your inward eye can. No wonder, it has some great art museums there. And the best part was I could take my little Pom, Fluffy inside the museum. When I asked the curator why did she not stop me from this .. she smiled and said, "If we cannot stop humans from entering, how can we stop animals. All god's creation!" 
I had heard these one liners before but for the first time saw someone actually practicing it. Such is the power of Sedona. Every believer there believes in Respecting Nature. 

Digging Deeper 
The curious me could not stop only with drinking in the beauty of Sedona. I needed to know what attracted these dwellers to live a life amidst magic and believe. Its not one person but lanes after lanes of metaphysical objects. So some tentative questions and then as I became bolder, some blunt ones, revealed that these settlers were often the ones who had left home at some point of time, to search for inner peace. 

Why Sedona?
They believe that there are vortexes in this mountainous region from where a certain positive energy originates. I did meet a few skeptics who said bluntly they came here to sell the knick-knacks and found the beauty of  the place too tempting to leave. But few others, swear on their lives, that they have seen and felt an energy in Sedona, which has changed their lives. 

Needless to say, I have no found anything in my two visits. But yes, something is different in that place. Something compelling that wants you to go and visit there again and again. It can be because of  the mysticism or it can be just the natural beauty of the place. Who am I to decide... I felt very small against this creation of God. 




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Monday, June 8, 2015

Forbidden Love Part 1


Urvashi had never felt so alive even while living amongst the celestial beings. While all the gods lusted after her, no one took the time to find out what was in her heart. She had just one tiny wish – to live the life of a mortal on Earth. But she had always been warmed not to associate with the humans. Lord Indra had specifically warned her not to fall in love with any man, for that would mean her giving up all her celestial rights.

One day, while she was roaming with her friends, she saw a beautiful garden, full of different variety of roses. The myriad of colors attracted her and she felt she just had to touch those inviting blooms. So, she descended, with her friends and was intoxicated by the beauty of the landscaped garden.

Lost amongst the fragrance that caressed her senses, she soon forgot all about time and as the sun was setting, the looming shadows reminded her of the dangers that she might face if she stayed any longer. As she turned to go, a mighty Asura came in front of her. He was a huge, monstrous creature. His matted hair dirty and brown, made him look taller than he really was. But it was his red, piercing eyes that made Urvashi scream out in fear.

The Asura roared in laughter and tried to grab her but a young, handsome lad jumped in front of Urvashi, shielding her from the evil Asura. A fiery battle commenced and soon the Asura was slayed. But just before the battle had ended, the Asura's sword had gnashed the young man's forearm.

Urvashi rushed towards him and tore a piece of her veil and tied it around the wound. All the while, the young man remained stoic in his position, averting his face from her. This intrigued the beautiful maiden. All the Gods and Asura lusted after her. Who was this man who didn't show a flicker of interest in her?

"Am I so unattractive that you won't even look at me?" she could not help asking. The young man kept quiet.

Urvashi let her eyes feast on the handsome youth standing before her. She had never seen such a proud stance in a human before. A strange wave of shyness came over her. He turned and stared at her, a slight frown marring his handsome face, "don't you know how dangerous it it to roam in this garden in the evening?"

Stunned by his rudeness, Urvashi felt flustered. "I lost track of time." 

"Well, you were lucky that I was here," he said arrogantly and walked away. 

She ran after him."Wait! Who are you?"

And in her excitement, she did something which the gods had forbidden her to do. She fell in love with a human.

When the youth saw the love in her eyes, his heart melted. He too was trying not to feel attracted towards her for he knew there would be repurcussions to fall in love with a celetial being. But fall in love he did. 

She saw a similar dazed looks on the young man's and knew that he had also felt the same bolt of lightning that shook her to the very core.

They looked at each other, unable to take off their eyes from each other. A sudden realisation that finally the two soul mates have met.

She walked up to him and slowly traced a finger along his taut jaw lines. Every muscle in his body hardened against the onslaught of desire that washed over him.

"Can I have your name now, my Lord?" whispered Urvashi.

"I am called Pururavas," said the young man. "And you don't look any ordinary being to me."

"I am Urvashi, the celestial Apsara in the court of Indra."

Thus, started the love story between Urvashi and Pururavas - there journey was full of love, adventure, heartbreaks and ultimately......

To Be Continued .....




Friday, June 5, 2015

Why did you become a Housewife?

Got the image from The Best Movies on NRI
Had to use this image. She literally represented all the NRI Housewives. Perfectly dressed, smiling and cooking in the kitchen.  #BlissfulLies


Centuries have passed and yet we have not been able to define the word 'housewife' aptly. Is a woman married to the house? Who is a Housewife? And if we have a Housewife, where is the Househusband? Yes many are slowly doing away with this word. It's being replaced by the word HOMEMAKER. (Rhymes with LABORER :) )

My friend Sridevi Datta wrote a post on Feminism which got me thinking about  me and my friends here in the USA. Some are working in the Banking sector while some are lawyers and doctors. So, I decided to study them and their husbands and understand this "gender equality" in households. 

Case #1. Anita and Madhav
School Teacher and Engineer. 
Anita gets up in he morning and makes breakfast while Madhav gets the kids ready for school. Madhav returns home at around 2:00 PM  and takes care of the kids while Anita returns at 5:00 PM. Anita makes dinner while Madhav either continues working or watches TV. Kids do their homework and they have dinner by 7:00 Pm and retire in front of the Television  to wind up for the day. 
Perfect scenario?

Case #2 Priya and Sumit 
Accountant and Engineer 
Priya works from home. She takes care of the house and the kids. By kids I mean Sumiit also. Sumit is a workaholic or so he claims. To me, I see him working in front of the laptop in the first half of the day and after 7:00 PM cheering for the Arizona Cardinals. Priya is preparing the for the next day. 
Does this make Priya feel used ?

Case #3 Diya and Ashmit 
Banking and Engineer 
Both get up together in the morning. Prepare the kids for school and make the breakfast. Go to office and Diya returns home by 2:00 PM for the kids. Prepares the food while waiting for her husband and when he returns have an early supper and go out for walks. They return to watch TV and help the kids with the homework and retire early. 
Equality?

Case#4 Sehar and Sashang 
Homemaker and Engineer
Sehar does all the work since she is the designated homemaker in the house. But on the weekends Sashang takes over. Sehar is free to do what she wants and not enter the Kitchen. Sashang's order.
Is Sashang a perfect hubby?

All the above scenarios look perfect to some extend don't they? But there are days when the routine is not followed. 
What happens when one of them is sick?
When one of them is not is the 'mood' to follow the routine?
When one of them is busy in their office? Especially the women. 
The sense of balance between a husband and wife is sometimes beyond any 'ism'. It's an understanding. The problem starts when the 'isms' come into it. Whether Feminism or Chauvinism. ( hear another word cropping up called Maleism and would have linked that article if he had not used the world Screw Feminism :D)  

That is the moment the clashes start. We humans are very possessive about our 'private time' and 'private space'. But in our Indian scenario this space is often overlooked. What is hers is mine too is a phase every husband wants to follow. So I asked Priya, does she not get irritated that Sumit is always sitting on his bums- literally. She smiled sweetly and told me that as long as he is not interfering in her private space she is fine. I was surprised. To me, there does not seem much of a private space. But then I came to find out that Priya loves what she is doing. 

On the other hand Sehar did not. She hates the housework. But is duty bound to do her bit. That got me thinking. Do we like what we do? How many of us like being a housewife? Please keep in mind being a housewife in the USA is different from what we see in India. Washing utensils, cleaning the house and the swimming pool and gardening. Of course. lets not forget the Toilets. (This is apart from cooking and taking care of the kids.)

And yet another thought creeps up- 
I don't like a man returning from office, along with his wife and telling her to cook. But I also don't like a woman sitting at home lamenting about her being a housewife. It is a choice you made. Stick to it, baby! Or get out and find a job. If you are compelled to be a housewife - think once. Did you say yes to this lifestyle when you were in throes of love and passion? Every decision has to be taken using common sense - not hormones phulease !

The trouble starts when Indian husbands come to the USA with the Indian mentality. I am a man and I cannot do all these works. And the woman comes to the USA with the mentality of Pati parmeshwar. 

Ah there is another aspect. Money.The newcomers to the USA need time to mentally start counting in Dollars. Till they don't understand that they earn in dollars and need to spend in dollars- life is tough.




Tuesday, May 12, 2015

24 League Under The -err--- Pool?

Sigh! Could have been me :(
Google Image 


If anyone dares to laugh at me, you will be sued. And with that banderole firmly placed in my heart, I decided to learn how to swim.

Not a big deal I know but then, you all don't know me. I have a vivid imagination. *Snicker. Well, my imagination stems from Jaws I.II. and III. Ah yes- also Moby Dick. Capish?

It does not matter how deep the water is. The gurgling, bubbling sounds triggers all sorts of motion pictures in my mind. Believe me, none of them, is good for my heart.

And to that my swimming instructor was a Dutch lady. My tryst with a language is yet another tale to tell. But for now, let me tell you, I can speak fluently in Dutch, especially with those who have no understanding of the language.Capish?

So with my very limited knowledge of the language and absolutely no knowledge regarding the mysteries lurking under the water, I plunged in.

Wrong move. 

I felt the frenzy world under the water closing upon me. Claiming me. Restricting me.

Suffocating.

I thrashed. I grabbed a piece of a golden rope floating in front of me and felt the heavy weight of doom taking me down.

A very thrashing, threatening and vocal doom.

My swimming instructor's tresses the clutched in my hands and she was a no happy Rapunzel.

Strong arms grabbed me from behind and even in my worst nightmare, I knew I was the damsel in distress who was just about to meet another Prince Charming. Sigh! What more could the lady who was just on the verge of  buying  her first 'Menopause for Dummies' really want?

Bliss!

"Mevrouw! Je bent stom?" The angry, gruff voices sounded above me.

Uh?

Strong, masculine palms had started pumping heavily on my chest. This makes me wonder – has anyone ever asked the victim receiving CPR how they actually feel? Sorry PJ. But since I am dying, I am allowed one  PJ. 

"Mevrouw? Can you hear me?"

A tune started gathering momentum in my head. Let me share that with you. 




I fluttered my eyelids. Kajol would have been green with envy if she had seen me there. Anyways, to carry the story further, I gripped his hands. Warm. Strong. Fluttered my eyelids again and shyly opened my eyes to meet a set of thick lashed, grey with tinges of silver, very beautiful feminine eyes. 

The song changed. 



Another dream came crashing down. Clutching the remnants of my dignity, I got up and then decided to - err.. faint. Don't judge me. I  literally had no choice. My instructor was glaring at me from across the pool, her one palm massaging the scalp. Every kid, who had come to learn swimming in that pool along with their parents were openly giggling. Now you tell me what would be better? Walking past them or using the health insurance and calling the ambulance. 

Keeping my eyes tightly shut I let the paramedics escort me out of the swimming area. *smirking. 

3 Years Later...

"Hi, My name is Ina. Do you have a slot for adult swim lesson?" 

Capish? 

Disclaimer : All your best wishes under this post will act as my float. And also keep my instructor in your prayers. Fingers crossed. She will have strong. long hair.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Women In Leadership : Crossing The Threshold

image:google
We, the woman of India, talk a lot about women empowerment. Fighting for our rights, feminism, protest against rape and above all equality. But there is another facet which we have to look into. What will happen if all the above are taken away?

WE are intelligent, educated and equally ambitious as men. The women I have chosen were once upon a time a village belle and a housewife till.....

#EveryWomanIsALeader in their own right. This has to be accepted by one and all. We don't want the seat in a public bus - we want the executive chair too. Don't give us provision- just give us our rights.  When rights and dignity are taken away, a simple housewife can protest too. 

My article is not dedicated to any woman in power, for they have many voices behind them. My article is a dedication to that woman who had to rise above her simple existence. She too would get up early in the morning when the sun has just peeped out from behind its cloudy veil. The melodious voice of M. S. Subbulakshmi, echoing in her household, has her humming as she prepares the coffee. Her daily routine starts with pleasing others. The coffee, which she made for the whole family, she has no time to relish while leafing through the morning news. She is the Lakshmi, the Sarasvati of the house. The quiet one – who touches every soul living in that house and one day, when God loves her more she goes away, silently.

There is mourning and then there is moaning – and then she is replaced and the saga continues. This is the lifestyle of most of the middle-class women in India. I know, for my mother was one such woman. Respected in life, missed and replaced in death.

 But what happens when a woman deviates from the path and refuses to accept her daily, quiet existence? Will she become another Bandit Queen? Or will she be called another Kiranjit Ahluwalia? Will she be thrown as an outcast because she dared to raise her voice? Or will she be called a goddess who had challenged her perpetrators? I salute the women who have stood against the society and have shown an equal viciousness in answering the atrocities meted out to them.

My words are not at all a propaganda, that when life becomes tough, pick up the gun and shoot the concerned person. But every woman has a tolerance point in her life and when she can’t take it any more –she wants to fight back. She wants her word to be heard. Thank you www.shethepeople.tv for giving us that voice.


Bandit Queen of India
Google Image
For those who don’t know about our Bandit Queen, look up here. I am not judging a person’s actions. Right or wrong, I cannot judge for I was not there. But it makes you think, what made her do it, how did she feel when she pulled the trigger for the first time to shoot one of her rapist. And then- to do it again and again and again. She is a dacoit – a murderer for she has killed many times. But no one uttered a word when they raped  her - again and again and again. This story happened in the 80’s and in the year 2012, the same thing happened with Nirbhaya. How many bandit Queens does the society need today to stop the horrific act of rape? When are we going to progress?

Trailer of the movie The Bandit Queen. Please watch this video at your own discretion. It has foul language and sexual content. 





Kiranjit Ahluwalia
Kiranjit's story can be found here.

An Indian woman living a quiet life in the UK.  An NRI. The famous NRI joke applies to her too – "when in India, they even carry the Biselleri water to the loo." So what made this highly privileged woman pick up a can of kerosene, douse her husband with it; and strike the matchbox?

Again an extreme case of crossing the tolerance point. In the movie Provoke, we catch a glimpse of her life, portrayed by the beautiful Aishwarya Rai Bacchan. But, could anyone feel the pain of this simple, Punjabi girl from Chakkalal? What must have she felt when every night she was the victim of marital abuse? 

Why must a woman be pushed to that extreme? Shouldn't her voice be heard before she loses her every sense of right and wrong? Why must death with a cause for acceleration of any law? After a tragedy strikes, the whole society wakes up to do a ‘peace march’ in front of the Parliament. Isn't it high time that when a woman complaints – it is looked into.

Under no circumstances can one say that this happens only in India. It is an international problem. It is a problem faced by every women, irrespective of their country, colour or status. We have already lost too many Jia Khans, Persis Khambattas and Jyoti Singhs.

Trailer of the Movie Provoked, which was based one Kiranjit's life.



Do not let women turn into Bandit Queens and Kiranjit Ahluwalia. Enough is Enough.





Do you think #EveryWomanIsALeader, if so then do take part in this inspiering competion Women In Leadership at www.shethepeople.tv. How will women shape the future? Check out all the rules here. Share your ideas on how to empower, engage and elevate woman and you might win an all-paid trip to an exciting destination. Do join this movement. 

Click on the image to go to their website.
Check Shethepeople.tv @

Friday, April 24, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter N : Nemesis: The Avenging Goddess

Nemesis depicted holding a scale of justice: 2 nd or 3rd CE
The story of Nemesis bears an uncanny resemblance to the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. While Saraswati accepted her fate, Nemesis wanted retribution. Another feature that I found very similar between the two is the presence of the Swan. Why this bird is present in both the stories is something I'm yet to understand.

With the last thunder, shooting across the sky, Zeus loomed over the curled up figure of a trembling woman and looked at her triumphantly. "It was worth the wait."

Her trembling stopped and every muscle of her body tensed up as she turned to face her perpetrator, clutching the silken linnen close to her naked heart. "You will pay for what you done to me," she spitted  out.

The mighty Zeus roared in laughter and throwing a mocking salute at her, he shimmered away.

The young girl, Nemesis cried her heart out – feeling betrayed by the man whom she should have trusted the most. From that day on, Nemesis knew only one pain and that was the pain of betrayal. She roamed the world as the goddess of retribution, punishing those who  seemed to have everything or whom she suspected had more than what they deserved. In her fury, she punished a few innocent souls too. One of them being Echo. Seeing Nemesis in such a state her mother, the goddess of Night, Nyx, paid her a visit.

"You have got to get a grip on your pain," said Nyx quietly. "I understand what you are going through and I'm not, under any circumstances, belittling your pain. But punishing the innocent is not going to reduce your torment."

"But he is my....," a sob chocked Nemesis from speaking further. Nyx quickly came forward and hugged her. 

"Shush baby shush! It's over. It's in the past."

Her words instead of pacifying the angry goddess made her move furious as she whirled around to face a mother, "is it over, mother? Is it? How will I explain to the world about the child that is going to come to this world soon?"

Nyx studied for some time and then smiled, "don't you understand. This was meant to be. Whatever has happened to you is because you have to bear this child. Your daughter will change the fate of human history for centuries to come."

Nemesis turned to face her mother, surprised.

"Yes dear. My granddaughter is going to born to bring down hundreds of men with her beauty. Even our mighty Zeus cannot achieve such a feat."

After many days a smile brightened Nemesis's face. Her eyes glittered in anticipation as the hands trained slowly till her navel. "And what shall we call the little one?" She asked in wonderment.

Nyx cupped her daughter's face gently between her palms and said, "Helen."




Note : 
In Greek and Roman mythology, nemesis was the goddess of retribution. She usually appears the Myths and the personification of Justice. She was pursued relentlessly by Zeus and she changed many forms trying to escape him. Ultimately, he transformed himself into a swan and seduces her.




#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter N




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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter M : Maenads- The Intoxicated Maidens

Dance of the Maenards. A Fresco by Pippi de' Giamuzzi, Italy
The flowers bloomed yellow, purple and every hue of pink and green like a fresco designed by mother nature herself. Tiny bluebirds and red Robins chirped amongst the beautiful maidens fluttering around the stretches of wildflowers. Sensual, free and bold the Maenads danced around, forgetting who they were and dancing with an abandonment that only the mistresses of Dionysus were capable of.

In the centre, sat the wine God Dionysus seemingly enthralled at the merrymaking that went around him. He was happy for he did not know any other way of life. He loved casting his spells on these wretched women who left their fathers, husbands, sons just to follow him – just to be happy. Intoxicated not only with the wine but also with a feeling of liberation these women who called themselves M followaenads would do anything that Dionysus commanded. And as was with all the gods, Dionysus took full advantage of it.

Today, in the garden of Thebes, many of the Theben women had joined his band of followers and this merriment was kept in their honour. Dionysus slyly watched the beautiful Agave watching him lustily from far. He had always wanted her but she had chosen another. Well…

"How dare you!" Shouted a young man walking towards him. "How dare you turned my haven into one of your pleasure houses?"

Dionysus laughed contemptuously, "do I need your permission now to go anywhere I want?"

The young man, the King of Thebes- Pentheus was the cousin of Dionysus and there was no love lost between the two.

"I don't want your sinful presence in my land."

"And how do you plan to throw me out?" Dionysus asked cheekily, enjoying the young lad's discomfort. 

"I want her back." Pentheus voice was steady. 

"Such bravado," said Dionysus. "But why? Your father is dead and I never interfered till he was alive. But now that he has...."

"Are you insane? You cannot turn her into one of your Maenads! These beautiful maidens who can shred a beast to pieces at your call." Pentheus was begging now. "She needs a proper life. You can't turn her into a somnambulist, who roams along with you, without knowing where their destination is."

Dionysus was surprised that anyone could question his way of life. His thoughts had reached his Maenads by now and they were swarming towards him, still dancing and laughing led by the beautiful Agave. 

Pentheus looked at Agave and pleaded with her, "let's go home. This life is not for you."

Agave laughed, her beautiful eyes blazing like fire. "What is there not to love about this kind of life? All my sorrow is gone and there is only happiness around me."

"But this is a mirage!" shouted Pentheus. "Soon Dionysus will be tired of you and he'll destroy you as he has done to so many in the past."

"Enough!" Dionysus's voice boomed out and with his anger all the flowers withered around him. A stench of burning flesh replaced the soft floral scent and amidst that stood a quivering Pentheus. 

The beautiful maidens started gathering around him but now their beauty was cloaked with their savage intend. And in no time they shred Pentheus to pieces imagining him to be a beast.

Soon it was all over and as the carcass remain of Pentheus lay on the ground Agave kneeled before him and gently placed a kiss on his forehead and whispered, "Now you too will be happy, Son."


Note : In ancient Greece, Maenads were female worshippers of Dionysus, god of wine, whose behaviour was often regarded as an acceptable by conventional society. Maenads also played a role in myth, notably the murder of King Pentheus.




#ATOZCHALLENGE: Letter m



A PROUD MEMBER OF THE TEAM HOLTON'S HERO