Tag Archives: india

Re-imagination


15th August

1947 - India became independent from Britain and was divided into the countries of India and Pakistan. 

1961- 2 days after sealing off free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities begin building a wall–the Berlin Wall–to permanently close off access that lasts for 28 years. 

1969- Woodstock Music & Art Fair, considered one of the most organic music festival to date opens on a Dairy Farm.

2016- One the eve of its 70th Independence day, a girl from the North Eastern state of India, is the fourth best gymnast in the world, missing the bronze by a mere .15 points.

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Creation of a nation, beginning of a Cold War, an event that will never ever be replicated and a woman who creates history, all on this day that year.

The question of identity and the default setting on this rule enters my mind on this 70th Independence Day.

This blog post will be read by Indians living in countries far from home, and also by those who belong to many other countries. The world is our oyster today, giving us access to fellow humans defined by different tags or countries. Each tag comes with its own merits and a few disadvantages.

You can take a quiz online: which country are you meant to live in?

Would that be a real choice in the future?

If this was speculative fiction, then this is what I would imagine the future as:

The world would be divided not by countries that you belonged to by birth, but maybe by regions defined by a vision. One region defined by culture that was a celebration of music, dance, the arts; one by industry, where great inventions, machines and futuristic gadgets were created and innovated, one by spirituality, where the search of self and awareness would be the central theme; one region for experiencing nothingness, spending time lazing around, understanding slowness and may one for violence, where aggression and brutality was strife and many more.

Each individual would be allowed only 5 years in every region, and would need to move to another region to contribute, nurture and grow.

But human nature cannot be changed all together, and thus within each region, would be grooming centers that would get you ready to transit into another region, touts who would promise a spot in the prized regions and few rebels who would refuse to leave their regions after the stipulated period.

Would their be a quiz or a Hunger Games like competition that would allocate regions to its citizens?

Does it sound too utopian an idea to work?

Maybe this is just an experiment in re-imagination.

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As I sit here on my desk, using the luxury of a free nation to dream up this Utopia, I think of the nation-less, living in refugee camps, with no nation to call their own, with no land, no roots and no sense of belonging. The 10 individuals who participated in the Olympics under the refugee team come to mind, as do the millions displaced from their place of birth, who are now looking for an identity, often shunned and looking for hope in a bleak future ahead.

Dedicated to the 2 countries, India and Pakistan who came into existence on this day in 1947 when a line was drawn across and the familiar became inaccessible, is this week’s poem.

Transliteration

Kuch Din Pehle
By Gulzar

Kuch din pehle….
Pakistan mein Baba* rehte the,
Lahore bara apna lagta tha.
Akhri baar awaaz suni thi Baba ki,
‘Garmi hai, Is Baarish ho jaye to theek ho jayega
Saans dame main ghutne lagti hai!’
Saans hi thodh di baba ne
Koi nahi ab sheher mein apna
Lahore ab sirf padosi hai!!

Translation

Some Days Ago
By Pavan Varma

Some time ago,
Baba* used to live in Pakistan;
Lahore seemed to be part of myself.
The last time I heard his voice, He said:
“Its hot, one rain and all will be well,
Its so suffocating to breathe with this asthma!”
But Baba, you gave up the breath!
Now no one is my own in the city
Lahore, is now just a neighbor.

*Baba: The celebrated Urdu Poet Ahmed Nadim Qasimi.

 

Touched by the soul


The sounds, the smells, the humdrum, the air, each city built on layers of history, presents to you a bouquet of these treats.

Living in the Indian subcontinent means that you have access to so many regions, cities, towns and villages which in another lifetime were kingdoms in themselves.

The smell of Mumbai, heavy and humid, greets you as you step on the tarmac; the chillness that seeps into your bones, smell of hot chai and omlette comes greeting you as you enter the hills of Ooty just as I can never forget the feeling of freshness accompanied by a light drizzle as the train enters the station that heralds the feeling of finally being  home, the city of Bangalore.

Street-Food-Chandani-Chowk

Each city lays itself bare, giving you the chance to seep into it, feel its soul and give yourself up to its chaos and humdrum.

On the other land in the quiet little villages that lie in the embrace of the Himalayas, this chaos gives way to new kind of emotion. Whether its the villages of Himachal or the town at the North Eastern border of India, with the most beautiful Monastery; each hilly destination is like that cool balm that slows you down and envelopes you in its warmth, cradling you to sleep.

This mellow and slow moving pace can be infuriating to some while soothing to others. The noise of the city can be a welcome distraction, allowing you to escape the voices in your head while for others cause angst and fury.

This week 2 stories came across my screen, one about tricksters and fraud that greet you at tourist locations and the other was the story of Shalev Paller, an Israeli soldier who wrote an article about healing and acceptance. The story of why so many Israeli soldiers make a pilgrim of sorts to our country after their tryst in the army.

His post lead me to thinking about the soul of a place, of cities made of crossroads, monuments, culture, history, languages, their pace and most importantly its people.

If we are ready to touch its soul, to be embraced and to relinquish our presumptions, and bare selves to it, it does hold the power to heal, doesn’t it?

This week’s poem by Gulzar talks about how the mountains refuse to leave him even after he has returned to the plains, back home he can still feel the air and the mist lifting him off his feet.

India, with all its glitches and shortcomings, like this poem refuses to leave you all too quick.

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Transliteration

Paharo se bichadke lautata hu to

By Gulzar

Paharo se bichadke lautata hu to
Kaee din tak uttarta rehta hu unse
Khala main latka rehta hu
Kahi pao nahi padte

Bahut se aasmaan bahon mein bhar jate hai
Woh neeche nahi aate

Hawaaein phool jaati hai, pakad ke pasliyan meri
Kabhi raatein utha leti hai bagloan se
Kabhi din thel dete hai hawa mein…..
Kayee din tak mere paaon nahi lagte zameen se!

Translation

What I return from the mountains

By Pavan Verma

When I have to part from the mountains,
It takes me many days to descend
I remain hung in space
My feet are unable to touch the ground,

A lot of sky nestles in my arms
The winds puff up, holding me by my ribs
Sometimes the nights lift me from the side
Sometimes the days push me into the breeze
For many days my feet do not touch the ground.

If you would like to read his article, you can find the complete version here:

http://www.timesofisrael.com/lifting-away-the-weight-of-3-years-why-we-israelis-go-to-india-after-the-army/.

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