Friday, August 28, 2009

Addiction, rush and technology

The rush to buy snow leopard is on. All the Apple buffs have been waiting this release and I am sure there shall be a queue to be stood in at the Central London Apple store. Ahh..the complex life we lead.

Need a computer with 24x7 access to the internet, which - must be high speed only, with unlimited downloads ofcourse. Now not just any computer, we must have an Apple..and not just any apple..the top of the top category is a must. And then we must also have the iPhone to go with it..and not just any the iPhone 3G and not just 3G it has got to be 3G-S ofcourse. Now not just that..we need the new OS-X as here we go..chasing our technology demon..which always runs faster than us and can only be momentarily caught. I am not even getting into the accessories for Apple category yet..

Its strange really..the amount of time we spend on things that have battery or power connections is not even funny. The day you think you will not work, you do get on the computer, check your with some friends/ family..and then maybe even do some facebooking etc. And then you I shall not spend so much time on a computer and so you watch TV instead..and of course you play with your phone during the advertisement breaks..yes? Sounds like you?

Pointing fingers makes you jump and say NO! that is NOT me and NO i am not a technology addict! Sure? Sure! The only time you are not hooked to something when you are traveling maybe or visiting other humans..neither of which assures me, that you wont at some time whip out your smart phone and check email/ text or use a Sat Nav to talk to you. Or, when you are asleep! and when you wake reach for your phone? Yes? No?

Here is the challenge..spend one day of the weekend at home. When you have finished your chores.. Dont switch on your computer and pick up your phone only if it rings, dont play with it. Do not watch TV at all and yes, stay at home for 6-8 hours at least. Just pretend that nothing electronic will work today..nothing.. Can you? Can you? Now I, have my doubts.

and if you cant..think about getting to one of the internet rehab places which have recently opened. Check you symptoms here.

and you know what..let me know about how you get on!

Monday, August 17, 2009

15th August

What is the whole point of India celebrating independence day in today's time and age?
Quite a few of us dont know what it was like to not be free. That does not mean that we do not value our freedom or belittle in any way possible the efforts made by the freedom fighters to win back our freedom. It just means its somewhere far in our past, a memory of a rule which ended and we started again as a free, its been many years and its time to look forward and stop celebrating and looking back.

BACK here being the important word. We took back what we had/ we had a right to and was ours. Yes we were ruled by foreign nations and people for many years..and thus on 15 Aug 1947 we won back what we seem to have lost/ given up for many years. So is it still worth celebrating? Did we not just get back what was ours and will remain so indefinitely?

I think celebrating independence day and remembering our past by looking all the way back to 1947 is somewhat akin to celebrating a divorce, which can be seen as the demise of an unhappy relationship. The Brits and India did not have a good equation and parting of ways was finalized, with arguments, discussions and finally mutual why keep going back to celebrate it? There is something not quite right with celebrating the end of a painful era. Year after year, after year. 30 years since we divorced/gained independence, 40 years, 50 years...why is it a milestone? (and i am not even going far far back to comparing other milestones in our 1000s of years of history which might be more conducive or compatible with a 'celebratory mode').

The other thing also being the partition of India which has the same birthday. Yet another painful memory, yet another unhappy event. So why remember it with joy and pride which seem to be the mood ordered for 15th August. I can fully understand Pakistan celebrating 14th August as the day of its creation..fair enough. But do we as Indians need to do so? really?

We should place the day into a respectful category and move on and completely stop remembering with pride the day our rulers left us. Does it not have slavish undercurrents? remembering the hated ruler/ owner/ master we once had and not letting time diminish or end the memory of a negative past?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Janamashtami memories

Its Janamashtami of the two days in the year when I fast for a day. For the many years that I have been away from home, I have missed the special prasad that was made today by my grandma, ma and papa. I missed the prasad each year and even though ma kept some away in the freezer for me to eat when I came at Christmas it was never quite the same.

Living a life in transit in a foreign country meant I put it behind me and carried on like it mattered not. Well to be honest, it did not matter all that much. But as I get older I am keen to get the hang of all things traditional that I have seen as a child. I remember dad getting the ingredients for the prasad. All 3 of them sitting and gardually sifting, grating, chopping, dicing, splicing and preparing big massive thaalis of components. Watched them roast some, toast some and cool them, the aroma of coconut, khas, sugar syrup wafting through the house. Ma would also make some fruit chat and other dry roasted nuts and seeds to be eaten all day by all those who fasted. Ma would finish making them and then each year the test was to see if the pattis (sugar syrup based stuff) had set perfectly. Each year my grandma made perfect ones, dad and mom just about managed to pass the test. 8 different kind of pattis and so the test was a long tedious one. Ma would pass sometimes and scrape by sometimes with semi-solid concoctions. Each year the worry about passing was present in varying degrees! After grandma passed away the varieties decreased in number. With the onset of diabetes the sweets got cut back further. With 2 of 3 children leaving home this decreased further to only one kind of prasad being made...and today in India, my mother has made 2.

After so many years of being away I have finally decided to check out my memory and ability to make complex things. I have indeed managed to locate all ingredients in the British market and have brought them home with great delight. I have been slaving over the stove for the past 3 hours and spent about 2 hours preparing Miles away from home, the memory, the enjoyment, the tradition lives on in my own head. The deed is done..the family recipe is intact, how well or poorly made it is shall be seen tomorrow. As of now, I sleep with a smile, knowing I have retained some traditions which I enjoyed as a child, and now, value as an adult. Here's to my granny who insisted on tradition and to my mom and dad for being good bahu and beta and passing it on!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


So I have been away for a while..
I went back to India..went back to Kashmir.
Each time I go back there, my whole system goes into 'happy' mode. There is something uniquely welcoming and at the same time imposing about the Zabarwan mountain range. Its something to do with their size, their presence, their appearance. They sit there, a constant in your line of vision, present but unreachable. There but not involved, almost watching over Kashmir from behind the Dal Lake. There is something about Kashmir - the emerald green fields, edged with olive green trees, the brooks and streams, the mountains and boats..the people - beautiful.

As my visit progressed, I spent various late evenings sitting on some elevated spots - staring, memorizing. One evening on the parapet of Pari Mahal..watching the sun go down into the Dal. The other evening at Dal Gate, watching the lights come on inside the Houseboats. At Dachigam, at Nagin..I just kept looking..looking..looking..

What I see always brings out the same reaction in me. It leaves me overwhelmed, happy, peaceful, at home, and makes me want to emblazon it in my mind, drink in the feeling, soak in the atmosphere to take away with me. Back to UK, in my mind, in my heart, as images, smells and be relished from time to small quantities..till I go back again next year.

In Kashmir, I feel at peace. Yes it is an odd thing to say. I know. But something there makes me slow down, and feel good from the inside out. Perhaps its to do with my genes, perhaps it is to do with my work, perhaps its just the magic of the place.