Category Archives: Social Values and Norms

Ms. Rose Chasm: The Cross Who Double Crossed Us

the cross that double crossed us

Continuing her crusade in India’s defence, Shwetha Kalyanasundaram, brings to you more evidence of why she thinks this entire Ms. Chasm story is a campaign to malign India. A must read. 

A chance comment posted under my article on CNN iReport titled “My India: The Mistaken Story – An Indian Woman’s Perspective” (first published on Mission Sharing Knowledge) caught my attention.

Quoting the person under the pseudonym ‘moonboat’ – “Michela Cross posted a number of videos on YouTube during her trip, including one that gives quite a different account of the Ganesha festival incident she related. In the video, she gushes on about how she loved all the attention and photos being taken of her. In the current circumstances, where her story is being taken as gospel and this story has gone viral, I find the videos are appalling. She also shows herself to be ignorant and disrespectful of Indian culture.”

And this had a bunch of us looking at the videos posted by Ms. Cross on her channel in YouTube. Boy! Weren’t they interesting! And we realized that some of her statements were in total contradiction to her article “India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear”.

Here’s how…

Her video published on September 29, 2012, where she talks about her experiences at the Ganesha festival

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPu2GmF4Y44

Quoting Ms. Cross from the video

  • “We were grabbed by a bunch of GIRLS who started dancing with us, flashing paint on our faces, which was COOL”
  • “Taking loads of photos of us, I felt like a CELEBRITY. If you wanna feel like a celebrity, be a WHITE person and GO TO INDIA”
  • “We danced for 12 more hours to Bollywood music and we were given lots of food. It was super cool. I felt like I was in a movie”
  • “Fun facts – The Ganesha festival which ended today is…ummm…Ganesha is the God who is prayed to for the start of journeys and travels. I consider it GOOD LUCK”

Wow Ms.Cross! This is so contradictory to what you had put up in your story about the Ganesha festival!!!

Quoting from her article “I was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets.” However, your video titled “Whipping Boy” published on October 2, 2012 has you saying that your roommate and her friend embarked on an adventure and smiled at the people on the streets!

Didn’t you just break the rules?!? And you say you weren’t prepared for all the stares/glares that sliced away bits of you piece by piece! You brought it on upon yourself – you purposefully drew the locals’ attention on you! And you blame us?!? Preposterous is the word (that would just be an understatement actually!).

There are 6 videos that have been put up by Ms. Cross on YouTube with reference to her India trip – especially her three months of stay in Pune. Surprisingly, none of her videos show signs of struggle or trauma. And you are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) now?!? I’m no psychiatrist Ms. Cross – but all I can say is you are suffering from a serious bout of “Attention Deficit Disorder”.

Ms. Cross, now I’m really starting to wonder if your whole article “India:  The Story You Never Wanted to Hear” was a sham to tarnish the image of my beautiful country. You’ve taken the entire nation for a highly emotional ride. Your article drew in a lot of support from my fellow compatriots and this pretence of an article is like a slap on their faces. Deplorable act I must say!!

P.S: @Moonboat – whoever you are, thanks a lot for bringing this to our notice. We owe this article to you!

Indian Middle Class Life And Stories

india, indian middle class family driving on scooter in bangalore

By Pinaki Pratihar

Every day when I wake-up and get prepared for my office, I pack my lunch made by my maid and miss my mom. How she helped me get dressed for school or how she used to pack my favorite dishes during my college-life when I use-to go home every weekend!

Or at early night when I used to chat with my dad, queries regarding health, job, life, parties, future plans and more. Sometimes the whole conversation turned into a simple question by my mom, “When will you come here to meet us?”

And I remained silent like ever. Mom has a power; she can feel some unspoken words. She naturally did-not repeats the same question. She left the topic the moment she felt I am uncomfortable with that.

He is a father, who has invested all of his savings for education of his children and to earn their minimum daily needs and wants. A perfect representative of Indian Middle Class society, who preferred to invest on Education, rather increasing his bank balance, whose expenditure, is same as his income, at the age of pre-retirement. He had invested his time to his children as much as possible and now he deserves to get the same attention from his children as he knows he is also experiencing the old-age problems and he need some-one apart from his caring wife, who is also struggling from fevers and pains due to age and nerve conduction and is failing to keep in check with his physical condition. He deserves a hand who can help him reach the nearest reliable hospital and can bring the medicine on time.

She is a mom; she had a general ‘mango-people’ homemaker mindset of having the best of possible things. Her only happiness in life comes from seeing her children attain a position in life. She still wishes her son could be a schoolteacher in a nearest high school and can stay at home at-least.

And me! Once I dreamt to be near my parents and failed, when I felt that life can be easy but career is not secured in Kolkata. Negligible economic growth and industry-related statistics and HR-satisfaction survey and un-predictable responses never encouraged me to be in Kolkata. The dream has busted. I never realized when.

I am a person who enjoys the cheap ride in Kolkata, cheap food and the lazy moments with family and friends. I do not feel the same in Delhi though I have a core set of friends and experienced colleagues. I am well convinced that this is not a place to grow well for a non-IT profile.

Everyday I wake up early morning and reach home at night; in between I mix with so many identities. I am a daily passenger who pays the same for a ticket to reach office, a colleague, who can do his job, a friend, with whom some information can be shared, a researcher who try to study things in-depth, an executive who interact with clients regularly and try to put some value in the business process, a junior, who try to follow senior’s instructions, a judge, before putting the instructions and a dreamer who try to put something new in front of the management.

And a Govt.

In my childhood, I participated in debates against brain-drain, but later-on realized watching so many unsuccessful businessmen in West Bengal that every state is not open like Gujarat.

I am not happy, but satisfied just by calling and considering my days as ‘The Struggling Period’, where I am struggling to learn some more, to earn some more money, respect and more happiness around me. I am convinced that this time, forget about your emotions and family. Here I wish you find your life different from me.

The Great Debaters: Inspiring and Uplifting

The-Great-Debaters-Review-630x315

As I watch The Great Debaters, I feel the real need of filmmaking classes for the filmmakers elsewhere. So basically when someone tells the audience that films are made to suit the demographics, they bullshit us because films like The Great Debaters break the notion and the thought on its very base. 

The Great Debaters, though itself inspired from a real story, is like one of those sports films in which one team which is the underdog gets inspired and wins the trophy from the favorite,  a team which looks way beyond its reach. Denzel Washington, the lead, and also the Director of the film makes sure he creates a cast that look exact replicas of anyone suited in the roles. Thus, when this team (Wiley College) wins against Harvard, you feel a sense of victory inside you, something that all such films create, if made from the right senses.

Washington himself plays Mel Tolson, a professor at Wiley College. He builds a school debate team and works hard to make sure they are best with great difference from the rest. The auditions that he takes are a treat to watch and Washington himself, polite yet aggressive, humorous yet serious, makes sure he captures your attention as he so easily does. Finally, after rigorous auditions, he gets ready his team.

The team constitutes Henry Lowe (Nate Parker), someone with great intellect coupled with great looks but easily sway able,  Samantha Booke (Jurnee Smollett) who is at Wiley to learn debating and in the future become the state’s third-ever black female lawyer and finally James Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker), the 14-year-old son of another Wiley professor (Forest Whitaker) and also Hamilton Burgess (Jermaine Williams), a superb debater who eventually leaves the team for reasons of not being able to handle Tolson’s political pursuits.

There are two parallel stories which go on for a while. As this debate team starts winning and winning pretty easily against other black schools, Tolson and his rebel ways of acting as Labor organizer for local farmers provide a glimpse of the problems of those times. These were the same times when a black man could be lynched for no mistake of his. These were the bad times in the history of America. This team also found its share of threatening when they actually drove into a mob which was lynching a black person. Thankfully for the script, they could drive away.

Although the film touches on Tolson’s rebel ways, what is concealed is that he is one of America’s best poets. Tolson’s poems got published in magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly and in 1947 was actually named poet laureate of Liberia.

I would recommend this movie to not be seen for how they beat the best, but for how the entire black community in this film is seen to believe that education is their only way out to successfully be equals in a country, otherwise proud of its White culture. India, I feel somewhere needs to understand the same and work and we have examples to prove that with education has come affluence and with it misery often ends. The film is about being proud of your color and culture and not just being subservient to a lead. This team actually shows that they are black, proud of it and focused to win at something they are the best at, debating.

The Great Debaters is definitely one of the best I’ve seen and in it has a lot to learn from for filmmakers. Denzel Washington in himself is an institution. The movie does play around the facts a little as the in the great finale the real Wiley team does beat the national champions but they did not come from Harvard, and had actually were from USC. In the end though these things hardly matter because the idea of the film was well take care of.

the great debaters

 

माँ…

mother poem cover

Abhinav Singh continues the Mothers Week special with this heart touching poem.

एक शब्द ही नहीं,
ममता का रूप हो तुम|
हर कदम मिलने वाली,
छाँव और धुप हो तुम|
भर दे जो जीवन को,
जिस प्रेम एवं आशिर्वाद से,
वो एहसास हो तुम|
क्युं लगे मेरी माँ ,
की कहीं आसपास हो तुम|

मुश्किलों में तुम हो सहारा,
एक अपना है हमारा|
जिसने ये जीवन सवारा,
वो एहसास हो तुम|
क्युं लगे मेरी माँ,
की कहीं आसपास हो तुम|

हमारी नींद जिनकी,
जागती आँखों में सोती|
जो हमारे कष्टों में,
पलपल रोती|
जन्म ही नहीं,
जीवन भी दिया तुमने|
इसलिए ख़ास हो तुम|
क्युं लगे मेरी माँ,
की कहीं आसपास हो तुम|

Thank Her The Special Way This Mothers Day

Mom_Loves_me_by_garang76

While you must be wondering on what to give your mother on the Mothers day, Prachi Sharma suggests 5 emotional gifts that would pleasure her heart more than any material ones.
1. Make her feel special for making you wise: So do you even know where and how did you became all this intelligent? Where did the first few parts of wisdom came from? It clearly came from the person whose body you were a part of. It was her who made you understand the difference between a real sweet dish and a soap you thought was an ice-cream. It was her who made you differentiate between the good and bad. Tell her how all that made you the person you are today. She will feel more proud and happy then if you gift her a bouquet of exclusive roses.
2. Tell her you would get all that she sacrificed for you: I know this as a witness that mothers (especially the ones in he middle class) in general sacrifice a lot to get their children the best they can. They sacrifice sarees so that you can buy two more pair of clothes, they sacrifice holidays so that your excursion trips don’t get spoilt for no budgets. Promise her today that no matter what happens henceforth, one of your primary ambitions in life would be to get her all that she ever desired to have.
3. Tell her how you felt great when she celebrated your achievements: Remember the first time you came third in class and no one including your father thought you did something good. Who smiled at you then? I would answer my mom did. She not only smiled, she made me awesome food that I loved. She also praised me in front of my relatives. It was her who made me feel that I also command some value. It is the confidence that I carry from there which has made me the one I am today. Tell her how she made you what you are by celebrating your achievements and giving you confidence.
4. Tell her that had it not been for her you wouldn’t have been able to stand challenges: I came back battered one day from school. I was scolded badly by a teacher for no mistake of mine. You know what happened next. My mom actually went to school, opened up the case, got the facts corrected and re-instated my position the correct way. No one else cared and had it not been for her, I would have seriously felt low on confidence facing my class and that teacher all the time after that. This is just a one-off. In all such cases it is the mom who weathers the storm for you and makes your path clear. Thank her for that.
5. Tell her you thank her for the right path: I was not the only one who could have gone ashtray. We all land at an age where we can. I also made mistakes but thankfully had a mother who had the saddle in her control pretty tight. When I was just entering youth that control looked like I was being caged. Today though I see the value. I thank her for that and am sure you would like to do that too.
Ask a kid without a mom what and how does he/she feels like? You will immediately understand the higher pedestal that you sit on. Don’t waste any time as life is highly unpredictable. Make the most precious women in your life feel special because when you first felt special about yourself it was she who celebrated the most.

mommy-and-me-9

 

 

The Stoning of Soraya M: A Potent Tale

Soraya1

By Kushal Sakunia

Based on an incredible true story of horrific injustice, The Stoning of Soraya M. is the powerful tale of an entire village’s persecution of an innocent woman. Originally described in 1990 in a book by a French-Iranian journalist named Freidoune Sahejam, the film tells the story of Soraya Manutchehri, a 35-year-old woman, who was stoned to death in rural Iran in 1986.

James Caviezel plays Freidoune, an Iranian expatriate visiting Iran on assignment when he meets Soraya’s aunt, Zahra (played with strong intensity by famous Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo), who convinces him to visit her to listen to her story.

Soraya (Shohreh Aghdashloo) has two boys and two younger girls and is financially trapped in a marriage to her prison guard husband Ali (Navid Negahban). Ali wants a divorce so he can marry a 14 tempting pre-teen girl, but does not want to commit to the financial support of Soraya and their daughters.

Fearing disgrace and unable to support her daughters, Soraya refuses to divorce Ali. So he devises an alternate plan: accuse Soraya of adultery. He blackmails the local Ayatollah (a former hatchet-man for the Shah) into helping him. Soraya’s uneducated employer Hashem is easily threatened into testifying that she had “slept in his bed,” and the fair but weak mayor of the village goes along with the accusations and convicts Soraya of adultery.  Given the title of the film, we all know exactly what is going to happen and my heart was in my throat anticipating that ending.  The film’s strategy is to slowly draw out the horrifying details: the gathering of the stones; her burial standing and of course the chilling bloodlust of the mob.

As a condemnation of violence against women, The Stoning of Soraya M. is quite effective. The message of the film is extremely clear throughout: that abuse of any kind should not be tolerated, and that even the most kindly disposed person can be swayed by mob mentality. The film will certainly bring tears especially when you see the terror of stoning in Soraya’s eyes and the scene where Ali forces Soraya’s two sons to abjure her and throw stones.

Stoning is a terrible, unjust practice, and it is often used against women even when the women in question have done nothing deserving of punishment. The film is definitely not an easy to watch with its uncomfortable scenes of stoning, but it tells a story that needs to be told, and tells it well.  

stoning of soraya review

Review of The Maid Servant’s Story

Arranged MarriageThe Maid Servant’s Story is a part of a compilation of short stories called Arranged Marriage, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the author of The Mistress of Spices. This story is a typical example of meta-narrative. The maternal aunt exemplifies her disapproval of the colour orange for the bridal outfit of her niece by relating an unfortunate tale about a family which hires a maid servant who supposedly wrought devastation on the family.

The title, in my opinion, should imply the content of the short story. But the title of this story is misleading in a way that it seems to suggest a story narrated by the maid servant rather than a story about the maid servant. Moreover, it is unclear till the end as to why and how a maid servant could impact so tremendously on the mistress so as to bring about the drastic change in the latter’s personality.

There are four women characters and one male character in the story, each of whom are given equal importance so much so that it becomes difficult to decide as to who is the main protagonist – the indifferent and morose mother, the sophisticated, America-returned Manisha, the intrusive but concerned observer, Deepa mashi (aunty) or the dark, sensual, intelligent maid servant.

Another conspicuous fact about the story is that the narrator and niece, Manisha, is unable to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruniconvey the crux of the story with clarity. The wife’s recognition of the infidelity of the husband which might have led her to develop a cold attitude, the companionship between the wife and the maid servant and their sudden separation, the niece’s realisation of her family background and the consequent detachment of her mother from her – any of these issues can be said to be the core aspect of the story.

On the whole, the story was very verbose, vague and unnecessarily melodramatic in certain places. However, the other short stories in the same book are not as unclear as this one. Keep a lookout for the review of The Palace of Illusions, a phenomenal rendition of the Mahabharata, from Draupadi’s point of view.