27 October 2010

A new song on my lips!

I have always thought that music strikes a chord in your heart some time or the other. Not all music/songs do that, but a particular song arouses a particular emotion in you, which you don't even know you have, in the first place. Now, im not a music expert but there are a very few songs which i can never get tired of listening. And when I hear those few songs, each and every time I get cut off from the real world. I am transported somewhere else. Those are the few songs that strike a chord in me, and I feel the same emotion rise in me for each particular song. Now that I think of it, I can think of about 4-5 songs that have that kind of effect on me. The effect that puts me in a trance.

The most recent song that I have loved in this sense in the song 'saiba' from Guzaarish. I know people around me are going ga ga over 'tera zikr' (which i loved too), but for me, 'saiba' struck the chord. It is just so poignant, full of love and longing ( a strange kind of longing ) and has a very subtle sadness to it. I have been listening to Guzaarish songs in a loop for the past 2 days, and I keep going back to this one song. So yesterday night, I was lying alone in my apartment, lights shut, pin drop silence around me and was listening to this song. And I was surprised to find that at the end of it I had tears in my eyes. I know this sounds a bit stupid, because the song is not really a sad song, per se. (plus, who cries on listening to songs!!) But I had tears without me even realizing i was silently weeping. I don't remember at what time i had started weeping, but when the song ended it was like I was jolted back from a dream. I had to pinch myself to make sure i was not actually dreaming. That was some experience. I am still trying to find out the exact emotion in me that was stirred by this song. But I am not able to put my finger on the exact emotion.

I have been humming this song non-stop for the past 2 days and cant get it out of my mind :-)

Do you have any particular song that makes you cry? (or emotional at least?)

25 October 2010

a random post!

Read Sophie Kinsella's "Can you keep a secret" over the weekend. Loved it!! Its a chick-lit, and its been years I have read any chick-lit. So I devoured it. It has a distinct mills and boon kind of feel to it. Though I was never a mills and boon avid reader, I have read a few of them many years ago, and this book reminded me of them. Though it has the 'Bridget Jones' Diary' kind of humor to it too. There were a few times when I was literally laughing out aloud while reading it. Sophie Kinsella is known for her shopaholic series. I have not read that series (and I don't think I will), but I did see confessions of a shopaholic (movie), based on one of the books in that series. And I did not like the movie at all. Simply because I could not relate even remotely to the main character (who is a shopaholic). That is pretty evident considering I absolutely cant stand shopping. :|

But 'Can you keep a secret' was very nice, and I actually found the protagonist quite cute and could relate to some parts of her. And plus, the hero is absolutely gorgeous... I mean really awesome. Geeky, multimillionaire, funny and sexy. I think I have a miniature crush on him. sigh.

Next in the queue is the Asimov foundation series. I have had the books for a long time and never got to reading them. Now is the time.

My weekend was actually very nice. As expert as I am getting to being an ace couch potato, I think I broke all my records over the weekend. Spent the entire weekend reading the above mentioned book, watching random Hollywood flicks, talking on the phone and catching afternoon siestas. Plus, its actually been a long time I have had a tension free, travel free, headaches free, work free, study free weekend. So it was welcomed with wide arms :).

Saw Robot the last weekend. I still cant get over how HOT Aishwarya Rai looks in that movie. I was seriously considering shifting loyalties from Abhishek to Aish after watching the movie. Planning to watch the movie again in a few days. It has some mind blowing and logic blowing concepts. Need a second time watch to fully register the movie.

Hope you guys have a good week ahead :)

07 October 2010

DV. And our role in it.

October is Domestic Violence (DV) awareness month. link. Though this issue does not need a particular "month" to create awareness, but I am glad that this issue is given its due importance (or should I say "some" importance) among scores of other issues that are present in our society. I am against all sort of violence: spouses abusing each other, parents hitting their children, cruelty against animals, against unborn (most of the times girl) children link . It contradicts our race. The race that we call "human race".

When you don't get the opportunity to directly help anyone facing domestic violence (or any injustice for that matter), then the next best thing to do is create awareness and spread the message. And that's what I am doing here, in this post. I also posted a link on my facebook page about the DV awareness website, and I was indeed saddened that I got no response to it. I mean i get f*#&*%& 10 messages and "likes" to my lame "flying to CA" status updates, but to this one, not a single response. Neither did anyone re-post the link on their page. Why cant this issue raise the same amount of public uproar that a Rajni movie gathers? Why are we, as a society so mum about these issues. Govt had started some schemes link but I have not seen their awareness commercials that frequently on TV, especially in recent times. This is one awesome scheme that we all MUST be aware of. Please read through this link. Why cant we let the victims know that we as a society wont shun them, wont question them, wont sneer and gossip about them if they walk out on their husbands to avoid DV. Or has the society not reached that stage yet. Maybe the society needs more deaths, dowry incidents and abusive marriages to make it "AWARE" and do something against it?
I wonder.. are the people on facebook lucky enough not to have comes across DV before (or know someone who has) or whether they simply just don't care about this issue? There is also a possibility that people in my friend list are actually out there helping others with issues like DV (but I have decided to be a skeptic, and ignore this possibility). And as I said above, we ought to be more vocal about such issues that are still considered as a stigma by the society. Imagine what we can do if we use these social networking and mass media channels for issues that really matter?! Issues that can save lives. Issues that can make the society 'humane'. We underestimate the power these mediums have to create a positive change.

Anyways, whiners are wieners, and I don't want to be one. So I shall just do my bit and write on this topic. I have grown up knowing people who have suffered DV. Right in my family. 2 such cases to be precise (that I know of). In one case, one relative xyz (now, no more) hung herself because her husband and in laws were torturing her physically and emotionally. She had a son. xyz was very close to my mom (but never mentioned the torture to her or any other relatives), and I was a little girl at the time she died. At the age when I didn't even know what domestic violence meant. Her death (and many other incidents i witnessed in my childhood) have left impressions on my mind. They are indeed responsible in making me more aware, more independent and more confident. (I am using xyz here because I am trying to keep this post as 'general' as possible without any mention of names or my relationship to them) But I still remember this incident with crystal clear details. When xyz died, and we came to know about the whole torture that she was subjected to, I had cried. I was shocked that someone would physically abuse anyone to this extent. And i was even more shocked that xyz's own parents had sent her back to her husband's house after she had come to them for help. The first time. And every time after that. Even me, a child, knew that this was wrong. Parents are supposed to protect their children. But its shocking her parents were more worried about what the society would think of them. For them, protecting the family name was perhaps more important than protecting their daughter. I read a nice line in an article: Duniya me sabse bada rog: kya kahenge log?!! Well, I don't know what the society thinks of them now, but I absolutely detest them for sending their daughter back to die. As for xyz's husband and in laws, I have nothing to say apart from the fact that they repent. They repent so badly, that their conscience does not allow them to live peacefully. And I also detest the society I live in which thinks less of divorcees and single mothers. And I also detest myself that I can do nothing other than write this post about an issue I feel so strongly about.

The other case in my family is exactly the same as above. The only difference being the lady finding enough courage to walk out of the marriage after 25 years. She is sane, happy, with her children making her proud. And yes, I salute this lady for her courage. Though late, she did muster the courage, and did an awesome job of raising perfectly sane children single-handedly.

Other than these 2 cases I have come across in my own family, almost EVERY domestic help we have had till now has been a victim of DV. Few months back, Mom was telling me about this lady she had hired to clean the house, has her own miserable story behind her. Husband is a drunkard, beats her, makes her work (while he himself sloths around the house doing nothing), and takes all her money to be incharge of all the finances (which are all spent on booze). He wont divorce her. When she left the house with her kids, he attempted suicide and left a note holding her responsible for his act. He did survive (i think that was his intent), but then to get the police case off her head (as a result of him blaming her for suicide), she had to pay some hefty amount, putting her in debt. And in the meanwhile the husband is back to troubling her and beating her up. She has no support from her family, and that single woman with no money finds it impossible to go register a complaint with the police. The police and the corruption and the horror stories that involve them is another day's post.
But just listening to her story sent shivers down my spine. This is something that is not new. (According to UN, 2/3 of married women are subjected to DV, according to a report that gave year 2005's statistics. I could not find more recent stats from a trusted source.) But I wonder if there will ever be a moment of peace for that lady? will she ever sleep a good nights sleep, knowing she will not be beaten up later that night?
Some would argue that she herself should be strong and fight it out. But how? Is it her fault that she was not educated when she was little, because her parents found is more important for her brothers to educate (which they will make use of by being sloths when they grow up and beating their wives). Was it her fault that she has not a single channel of support? I know, and have seen some people fight out of these situations even without any support. But what about the cases when the victim seems to think this sort of abuse is a part and parcel of life. It is something every one has to endure, Because her mom also had to endure?
Mom did all that she could do to help her out, but she left after few months and we have no idea where she is or what she does.
In most of the cases, the victim does not know that the abuse he/she is being subjected to is wrong. The social conditioning we get matters a lot. If a son grows up seeing his dad beat up his mom, chances are he will turn abusive. There are exceptions, and I am not generalising anything, but unless you are taught that violence of any form is wrong, you wont learn.

I request the people who read this, please spread the message around about this month being DV awareness month. Also, keep your eyes and minds open. DV victims (women, men, children.. DV is not gender specific) can be around you, in your circle of acquaintances and you might just end up helping them in some way. Be aware, be safe, help others by making them aware. There is another article I had posted on my fb page a while back: pink saree gang. This article had inspired me a lot. These are what I call "modern" Indian women. Women who don't need western clothes and english accents to prove they are modern. They don't even need to "prove" it. They are the people who "are bringing about a CHANGE". Who are not just writing articles but actually going out there and saving lives. I salute them.

05 October 2010

A cake walk.. well almost!

Whenever my husband visits the great city of Boston (and me), I get these urges to cook something grand. Every time! Well, ok, not every time, but most of the times. Suddenly all my love for him starts brimming over and my heart tells me to cook something (nice) for hubbie dear.. though my mind warns me against it. (I think I have remained sane and happy because i have listened to my mind most of the times :D) So, over the weekend during his visit, I got an urge to bake a cake. Not the ready made cake mixes, dear people, but an actual cake, the real kind, with flour, eggs, a slab of butter and other unhealthy supplements. But determined I was, and hence decided to bake a chocolate cake! I have never baked a cake before (apart from the ready mixes of course), just for the records. But I thought to myself, 'how hard can it be?!!' It just involves measuring and mixing and beating and baking. But I soon realized that this was nothing short of an adventure. And not a pleasant one. The only thing that kept me going was seeing the happy face of hubbie dear as he took a bite of my delicious cake !! :D (I don't remember his reaction when he actually ate the cake.. I really don't!!)

Anyways, with cooking made easy with scores of online recipes and videos, I chose a recipe that had the most awesome looking cake. ahh...im drooling already. Again. So, I gathered everything I needed but at the last moment realized I didn't have any measuring cups/spoons. And I decided to use 'estimation' to remedy this. Turned out it wasn't a good idea after all! Though I finally managed to get the 'cup' measurements correct (found an old shaker that had it marked) I approximated the teaspoon/tablespoon measurements. Though nothing went wrong catastrophically in the end product, I think I ended up adding more baking soda than required. And a little less sugar than it asked for. Anyways, once I got the things measured, then came the daunting task of "beating" the mixture. An electric beater might have made this whole process a 'cake walk' , but i just had the hand whisk at home, and had to use it. The first 3-4 minutes of beating the butter and sugar was actually fun. I was all excited to see it become nice and fluffy (just as the recipe said). But I was supposed to keep beating it for 10 minutes, and after the first 5 minutes, things started getting hard. The 10 minute beating session soon turned out to be a short gym session when I do my arm strength training (which has been off for about 2 months).
But the sunny positive person that I am, I decided to concentrate on how much workout my arms were getting and how nicely toned they were getting (true or not , I don't care. But that's what I kept telling myself) The beating/workout did not stop here. After that, I had to put in 3 eggs and beat them up. (easy). Once that was done, I had to add some of the dry mix (flour + wrongly measured baking soda) to it and keep beating. The mixture had turned nice and think and my arms were sweating it out. I put the rest of the dry mixture in it to torture my arms some more. (mission was accomplished, if you are wondering). Then the remaining ingredients followed, making the batter easy to work with. Once I got it at the desired consistency, my joy knew no bounds. I was happy maybe because of the adrenaline rush you get after a workout? Anyways, the last step turned out to be my favorite, pouring the batter in baking trays and chucking them in the oven!! Voila!!
I was indeed very happy and hopeful after seeing my cake rise beautifully in the oven. And my apartment smelled great!! It was a smell I associate with my childhood. My mom used to bake birthday cake for us when we were kids, and the house would smell of vanilla and chocolate and orange! *drooling*

You might be thinking reading the post that my cake was a disaster, but it actually was not. It wasn't a success either. It was just on the border. I am not quite sure what went wrong with it. The look and texture and color was perfect, but I knew I had screwed up the taste with my wrong measurements. Even the taste was not disastrously wrong, but it was not perfect.
Things learnt in this expedition (and will keep in mind if i ever bake a cake again):
1) use measuring cups/spoons.
2) Don't try to make the cake healthy (unless you are an expert cook and know how to make it both healthy and tasty). I cut back on the butter and sugar (responsible for the lackluster taste)
3) ALWAYS use electric beater. Unless you regularly go to the gym (and don't bunk it for 2 months like me) and your arms cooperate.
4) Be patient for the cake to cool down and then cut it properly. *Never* take a spoon and scoop off a bite from the center just because you are impatient to see the results of your hard work!! Not only it is bad manners, but you are also at risk of burning your tongue.
On a parting note, I have decided to find other channels to express my happiness when hubbie visits.. something other than cooking grand dishes.