Indian language writing – the translations just dont work for me!


Avid readers, you will find this interesting!

Originally posted on sitanaiksblog:

Being an avid Indian reader, and  constantly searching for new and interesting authors, I have periodically tried to read Indian language writers in translation. At the outset, I must confess, that although I can converse/understand a few of the Indian languages, my reading skills are limited and certainly inadequate for any serious reading. So, I have to resort to English translations and therein lies the problem…

I often pick up books while browsing a bookstore and Sivakami’s ‘Taming of women’ was one such. I had read great things about this Dalit Tamil writer and also seen a positive review of the English translation.

I have struggled through the first 100 pages  and gave up. The story, if at all there is one, revolves around the women around the life of Periyannan and the power equations between him and the many generations of women who live in his house – wife…

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Citizenship starts with making your community better: Thoughts on the AAP manifesto

I watch Kejriwal’s antics and I laugh, along with many who make fun of him. I doubt his capabilities, I wonder about his future. But I also admire his courage. Not just him, but all those who has taken the ultimate step towards making change possible. All those who have joined the AAP, given up being ordinary citizens to become people with a cause. I am excited to live these moments of history, experience these cataclysmic changes.

I, like many of you, am afraid to commit. I am shy, scared, ambivalent. I do not understand politics as deeply as I think I should. But I do care, about myself, my family, my nation. And I firmly believe that the way ahead can only be with the participation of all of us in the democratic process, in ways deeper than just pressing the button on the EVM every now and then!

I, like many of you, am loath to take either side on the Cong vs BJP, RaGa vs NaMo debate. I see them both as part of the same problem. Even though I abhor right wight politics, I do not see the Congress being able to, at this time, provide any stability or direction. AAP’s short stint in Delhi confused me. Like many of you, I wondered if this was the end before the beginning. I also went over the various choices again and again in my head.

This morning, though, something clicked. I was tired of hearing people make wild calculations about who would win and then try to take sides as per these estimates. It seemed to be a lot like betting on the horses. This is not a horse race, I thought. I’m not gambling, I’m trying to take a rational decision about who to vote for! I decided to vote by gut feel, for the sort of politics that I am willing to live with.

I read the AAP manifesto and it echoed a lot of things I have felt and said about how I want my nation to be. It, most of all, was rooted in the idea of giving power back to the people, the idea of deepening democracy. A few analysts feel it toes the Congress line and in a sense, there is a common left of political intent. (Aside-All manifestos must talk about the same stuff; modus operandi, collect a list of current hot topics and put in a point about each!) But therein ends the similarity. In tone, the AAP document empowers citizens. The Congress manifesto reads in a top-down fashion. It sort of lords it over us, the masses. It is a critical difference, I think. The AAP’s document is also a lot   more succinct and well-organised. The BJP is still silent, as of this moment (I just checked their website).

The idea of devolution of power is problematic, especially for us Indians who have been used to someone or the other being our mai-baap for centuries. But it’s time gave a chance to party that says of itself: “It is not a party that will solve your problems. It is a party that wants Swaraj; that wants power to return to your hands, so that you can solve your own problems.”

This is just my own personal point of view. Each of you reading this is entitled to their own perspective. I am not trying to convert you. But please, those of you who follow the strange logic that they should vote for XX because they will win anyway, please rethink. Either you should just admit that you agree with XX’s political agenda, or you should follow your heart and vote for the right candidate in your constituency. Please remember, citizenship starts with making your own community better!

How much does this matter to you?


I so agree. We need to put our weights behind a party that promises alternatives. No one knows what they will or won’t do, but if anyone will try, it’s them! At least let’s give them a fighting chance!

Originally posted on The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker:

I don’t think there should be any confusion anymore.

 The point is not even whether you think Modi is better than Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, or any other potential prime minister. What matters here is where you draw the moral line between what is acceptable in a politician and what is a deal breaker. []

And then take a look at -  AAP National Manifesto 2014 This is the party that we are being told is going to do nothing. Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 12.00.50 PM Provisions of’Right to Reject’ and ‘Right to Recall’, Animal Welfare, and here’s something we have been asking for:

i. Implement comprehensive and long-term public education programmes to end the culture of gender-based discrimination and violence. These will include: SMS, radio and TV public service campaigns, accessible lesson plans for schools, modules for training teachers and to train professionals such as doctors and lawyers. To this end we will…

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Will Modi be able to check these goons if he becomes PM?

Last evening, I attended an interesting talk at the Nehru Memorial library by Neema Kudwa who teaches at Cornell. She was speaking about the relationship of history and memory with urban planning, urging planners to delve deeper into how cities work and how people experience their urban environs over time. Her research in India looks closely at Mangalore, the second richest city in Karnataka and a centre for higher education.
At some point during the question answer session, an interesting discussion in the religious politics of this region. She spoke about the strong strain of RSS and extremist Hindu groups even as the area has historically had prosperous trading Muslim communities as well as Catholics.
Naturally then my eye was drawn this morning to this news item reporting the sexual assault of a Congress councillor by extremist Hindu groups in a town only 15 kam from Mangalore. Women like her, of course, are targets of a twin bias of misogyny and communal hatred but what diatribes me most was he threat by the goons that when Modi comes to power, we will teach all you Muslim lovers a lesson!
Of course, all those of us who are neutral about religion or refuse to believe that a Hindu is superior, all those of us who respect and love our Muslim friends because they are good people (not just because they are Muslim certainly!), are banded into this category by these people.
I shudder to think what sort of anarchy we are to expect when Modi comes to he helm, if he does. With polls coming nearer, the clamour for him gets louder and people like me fear for the future. Yes, even people like me who are Hindu by birth, who practice Hindu rituals, who are the so-called majority.
Will Modi be able to restrain these sort of goons? Will his plank of development, which also remains to be really tested, be strong enough to convince the muscle flexing crowd to reign themselves in and wait for economic prosperity? I fear for minorities and I fear for women, who can be assaulted for befriending a Muslim while the infamous bhartiya sabhyata simply looks the other way!

Sugar rush and insomnia ring in my daughters birthday!

Aadyaa is turning six tomorrow. Her infectious enthusiasm has had us all work overtime to prepare for a party. She has worked, opined and supervised many aspects of this event and I can only learn from her attention to detail.

I feel proud, emotional and excited. I never thought I would be the kind of mum who gets into a tizzy over organising a birthday party. But it’s not the stress, it’s the creative juices that drive me. A few moments before midnight and a few years before Aadyaa gets into the routine of bringing in her birthday the night before, I’m pondering…

I have, many a time, longed for time away from my kids. I still do. But with Udai turning 10 later this year and Aadyaa turning six, finally all that stuff the auntys and more experienced mommy friends warned me about is coming true. My babies are not going to be babies for much longer. I see, in my minds eye, Aadyaa’s turn to independence, I see her grow and move away, no longer my shadow. With Udai, the transformation is already underway.

I want to clutch at these experiences now. Laugh with them, play, do stuff together, nonsense stuff. Roll in the garden. Today evening, we were dancing in the lawn, some imaginary ballroom scene! Time is flying by and perhaps I want it to slow down.

Gosh, so much mush! It doesn’t sound like me, even to me! Sugar high perhaps. Insomnia definitely.

Go to sleep Mukta and happy birthday Aadyaa!


The transformations that Indian women experience! Musings…

I took the Delhi Metro today after a longish time. It’s always an entertaining experience. The people watching especially. The ladies’ coach in particular!

Today, I was struck by the multitasking that women manage, or have to manage. In front of me, a newly married young woman was frantically calling home and no one seemed to be answering the phone. Finally, she got through to her domestic help (I think) and instructed her to put her washing out to dry (she had hand washed clothes than ran color and left them to drip dry in her bathroom). After this call, she was visibly relaxed. Another young lady was calling home to check on her guests who had clearly come in from out of town and were being given all sorts of assurances about her getting back home on time, taking care of some taxi arrangements, etc.

I was also struck by the many women who wore symbols of marriage in a very overt manner. Newly married girls wearing the traditional ‘chuda’, the red and white bangles plus gaudy clothing. Also prominent sindoor, toe rings, mangalsutras, etc etc. It’s cultural, sure, and nothing wrong with it. But then I saw these two sisters chatting. One was college going and dressed in skinny jeans, top and sports shoes. The older sister, just a few years older I presume, was in salwar kameez, bindi, sindoor, bangles and all the get up of a married woman. And I wondered about the transformation that she went through. Was she proud of it, embracing the tag of ‘married’ like young women in India are taught to? Was she proud, of being in the married people’s club, perhaps looking down on her friends who hadn’t managed  a membership yet? Or did she just adopt these ways without thinking, because everyone did it? Did she, at times, long to slip into her jeans and t-shirt, did she rue the lack of choice?

I have been in those shoes and I’ve aspired to be the ideal daughter-in-law, the ideal wife, the ideal mother. I don’t know who I needed to, still need to, prove myself to. I don’t know what made me think I wasn’t already good enough. I’ve come a long way in being a little more comfortable in my skin. But I’m still finding the balance, and still processing the transformations that women undergo to just be women in our society.

Fruit team: Space conquerers


The next one from UD!

Originally posted on theamazingud:

Continued from Fruit Team 2 and Fruit team 1

Spawner fruit and broccoli were stranded in space, surrounded by alien colonies.

“You better upgrade this house. We have to in order to survive,” said spawner fruit.

“You better give me some builder fruits,” said broccoli.

“Okay,” said spawner  fruit.

“Okay, now builder fruits,” said broccoli, “make this house bigger so it looks like a warship. Make sure you use strong materials, put veggie monster spawners where you think it is appropriate and make sure you make awesome  defences.”

When they were done with it it looked like this:

“Space colony No.1 sighted!” said broccoli.
“Set orbit around it,” said spawner fruit.
“They’ve sighted us!” said broccoli.
“Well, if it’s that way then, ATTACK!”said spawner fruit.
“All missiles have been aimed at them.FIRE!”said broccoli.
“Their attack team has been routed,” reported a veggie monster.
“Now let’s take down their planet,”said broccoli.

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Fruit team 2


I love the absolute lack of inhibition in a child’s writing!

Originally posted on theamazingud:

Continued from Fruit team 1

Coconut is gone for ever but the fruit team still has a challenge to face, junk food. They need to choose new fruits in order to face junk food. Junk food is so strong they have restaurants. Fruit team has a luxury house nobody can enter except Fruit team members. One day, grape destroys Mcdonald’s plane. On another day, KFC nearly destroys broccoli. Phew! He is just saved because he retreats to the luxury house. And, yes grape gets awesome powers [like duplicating everything].

There are too many attacks happening on the luxury house. The Fruit team decides to change base. They make………………a treehouse for each of them! Since broccoli and mango are best friends, they make a house which got an awesome defence system and all. But the most amazing thing is that it can …fly!
It goes at 90000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000000000000 mach [there were…

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‘Queen’: An important narrative in breaking the mould of senseless #patriarchy

Watching Queen last night, I couldn’t help thinking how predictable the average Indian male is! Queen, for those not in the know is a  Bollywood movie currently playing in the theaters, that tells the story of a young woman gets dumped on the eve of her wedding, but decides to travel to Europe on her honeymoon, alone.


It wasn’t the pain of the dumping that hit the protagonist Rani (played by Kangana Ranaut) as much as the realization that her fiance is, essentially, a lout. And that she had been brought up to think his loutish behavior was ok, not just ok but fine!

I wish many many young Indian girls watch this movie and learn from it. And here’s what she must realize she has been conditioned into.

That atrocious patriarchal behavior by men must be interpreted as protective, sensitive, loving…

The fiance, played by the talented Rajkummar Rao, is shown in the movie chasing the young college going Rani on a bike with his friend in tow, calling her names, heckling her while she is in class, passing judgements on what she wears, who she talks to and assuring her that she doesn’t need to work because he can take care of work. Essentially, he is insecure and his strategy is to undermine her self-confidence and keep her in check, so she lives her life forever in his shadow. Paradoxically, because he is this confused soul, he dumps her because she isn’t as classy and suave as the wife he now wants, now that he lived in London! Crazy!

That not having a man in your life is not an option…

The scene in which the heroine pleads her fiance to not leave her is poignant. Her desperation. Her inability to comprehend this rejection, to understand how to view herself in the light of his decision.

That what society thinks is your biggest hugest problem…That being a good girl is your only option…

In that scene, her paranoia about her family’s reaction, that really hits your hard.

Through the film, she realizes how useless her goody two shoes tag is in the light of the realities she has to face. How her parent’s well-intentioned protectiveness and upbringing has actually turned her into a wimp, unprepared for risk, unprepared for loneliness and independence. And her frustration about being that ‘good girl’ conflicts endearingly with her conviction that being good is the only way to be!

Think about the Rani in you!

I know many friends who are like Rani. I see many shades of Rani in me. I felt her irritation at her fiance’s irrational possessiveness because I once, long ago, dated someone like that, someone who wanted to control me but I thought it was endearing at the time.

We go through that phase, don’t we? All us girls? Of jumping right into the ‘love’ phase with any male who pays us attention, pampers us a bit? We see everything as signs of love and we are resigned to changing ourselves for our partner. We engage in mushy dreams about marriage and children, we imagine our lives as daughters-in-law and wives. Deep inside, do we fear we will ‘miss the boat’ and end up unmarried and unloved? Or is it a natural phase for young women to want the security of a normal life cycle, the one we have seen repeated hundreds times over in society around us?

I’m not saying any of this is wrong, though much of it is. It’s important to go through that phase, but for some of us who got lucky, we passed through that test unhurt, or hardly hurt. We grew up, we married or didn’t marry. We chose partners who had been through their own ring of fire, or we grew thick skins and learnt to explore the world on our own without support. Others have not been so lucky though and they suffer, sometimes without knowing they do, many a time in the know, but also in the trap!

Get out, get moving, get free

All I know is that role models are important. And talking about all of this is important. For young girls (And boys of course!), in and just out of their teens, exposure is important, letting go of fear is important, being lonely and dealing with that loneliness is important too. I salute the brave parents who made all this possible for me and many of my peers, and I hope more films like this spread the message that toeing the line of convention isn’t always a good thing, that a man (or anyone other than yourself, in fact) should never be the beginning or end of your life, that shit happens to everyone and the best we can do is learn to deal with it!


Call for Submissions: International Urban Design Conference


A real good opportunity for my design friends~

Originally posted on Price Tags:

Submit your abstract for an opportunity to present at the 7th International Urban Design Conference: Adelaide, Australia - September 1-3, 2014.

The Conference theme “Designing Productive Cities” will explore the framework required for creating today’s cities, the process of designing and shaping our cities to make them more functional, attractive and sustainable.

We will examine affordable housing and diversity for “Gen Y” who are interested in more compact design models. For the rapidly growing ageing population sector, we will discuss isolation, location, ease of transport, mobility and affordability.

You abstract may address:

• Visualisation
• Strategic Planning
• Whole City Thinking
• Urban Design Projects
• Active Transport
• International Design
• Issues in Construction
• Financing for Compact Cities

If selected for the Conference Program, you also have the opportunity to have your full paper peer reviewed and included in the book of proceedings with an ISBN number.

You can submit your abstract via…

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