Thursday, July 26, 2012

Keeping myself occupied during the long summer days...

Have I not complained enough about the heat in the desert? My husband finds my constant cribbing quite irritating given two facts. One, I am almost-24 hours in air conditioning; and two, I am from Delhi (India), which is also notorious for its summer heat. My miserable lamentations are met with cold dismissals or caustic comments like, "I know it must be tough, especially having been born and brought up next to the Queen in London."

Whatever! I refuse to step out between 8 AM and 8 PM. The world may come to an end for all that I care, I ensure that all work such as travelling, grocery, shopping etc. are either early morning or late night. And so, that leaves me with a lot of time on my hands. I decided to try out something new for a change and here it is.

So, we had these boring glasses for drinking water. Over time they had gotten quite dull, and so I thought, why not make them all cool, and colorful, and swanky. With great ambition, I went about ordering glass paints and other paraphernalia from Amazon, only to realize painting curved slippery surfaces is a completely different ball game from sketching and painting on flat surfaces, which I have somewhat dabbled in.

There was paint everywhere by the time I finished and I had to use rubbing alcohol to clean my hands, clothes and what not. It was quite a messy affair, and for the meanwhile, I have given up my even more ambitious plans of sprucing up the wine glasses and the ceramic ware at home.

Here are some pictures.

The original glasses...

This is the pattern I painted on each glass...

And this is how all of them look now....

One thing I did realize was that maybe I should have chosen bolder and bigger designs, maybe even geometrical ones, for a better finish. Lesson learnt! References to easier patterns are most welcome.

I have already cured the glasses by baking them after drying so that now these have been commissioned back for daily use and are dishwasher safe :).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hating the person staring back at you from the mirror...

At some point or the other, some more often, some less, we all have looked at the mirror and exclaimed, "urrghhh, does that have to be me?" It comes to us very naturally. We don't think of us being overtly negative about ourselves - it is more like we hate the "ugly reality". :P

This very human characteristic, I am sure, has been for as long as human beings, and the sense of beauty and desirability, have existed. The social construct of what is the norm of accepted beauty may have been varying between sizes, the current one being set on 0; however across generations, at any given point in time, the majority people do feel they could do with looking better.

It is granted that the homo sapiens is a greedy species, always wanting more than they have. That's the way we are, so why not desire more "physical attractiveness' for one's self! And, very frankly speaking, I have never felt that my life has been severely and adversely affected because I have always hated my skin, loathed my hair, cried buckets because the skinny jeans won't just look good on me, found my fingers and nails too stubby, and even thought of myself as a midget :(. I crib, find consolation in other people's cribbing and move on with life. I think, plastic surgery would not fit my budget and the care and pain involved would be too much for me to bear. :D.

However, over the past few months I have been reading a lot about this whole concept of negative body image and how it is affecting youngsters today. I came across an NGO that works towards helping young girls perceive themselves and their bodies in a more positive way. Though most of the studies and papers I have read focus on America, I understand this seems to be a global phenomenon. Pre-teen girls are developing severe psychological disorders because they simply hate the way they look. The use of make up in kids as young as 5th and 6th graders, the use of push up bras by girls in junior school, the idolization of models and the size zero, the queue of young tots for hair straightening and pedicures and manicures - this whole new generation that is obsessed with the "physical", is , at the very least, frightful and disturbing.

I realize that this is different from the way our generation has grown up (and am not exactly a fossil yet - let's specify the generation as the 80's kids). Only in, say, end of high school or senior school, we realized the power of being slim. We barely could tell the difference between an eyeliner and a kohl pencil. The more "hep" ones among one would dye their hair a coffee color or wear some jazzy nail art. By college, ofcourse we all knew exactly where we were lacking, but somehow life didn't come to a standstill. We moped around and found other distractions. 

It is difficult to draw a line as to how much of worrying is okay. But the kind of exposure the children seem to be getting these days, I wonder who can really help. The social pressure has never been so great. Unless you are a Photoshop expert, there's little you can do about the double chin, the flabby arms and acne marks in your 16th birthday bash photographs on FB. It's interesting how YouTube is teeming with instructional videos on photoshop makeovers. Here's one for you...

I wish our mirrors could come integrated with Photoshop technology so that we only saw our beautiful selves, always.

Apparently, more females are dissatisfied about how they look than their male counterparts, which is understandable, considering that is how the focus has been of our society. A man's beauty is never a cause of global concern. However, it would be interesting to note that over the years the number of boys and men fussing or being paranoid about their appearance has increased dramatically. Kids in school are worried about how their muscles are shaping up. I even came across protein supplements for preteen guys, at a local grocery store. Chubby is no longer cute. Boys in middle school want tucked in tummies and muscles and six packs. So much for the victory of gender equality but in what context!

I feel genuine concern and fear over where we all are headed in the decades to come, meanwhile, I have an important message for you. When you see school girls and boys - at stores, parking lots, beaches, family get-togethers, wherever,  fretting or not - make it  a point to throw a genuine compliment their way - Love your T shirt, Great hair, great skin, lovely eyes. Don't go overboard, though! But, a sincere remark from a stranger or person outside immediate family can do a lot to boost one's self image and confidence. We as a people need to be more consciously appreciative of those around us. That is the only way we can salvage some optimism! What do you think?

[Image source: Google Images]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

1984: "History" brushed under the carpet?

I recently watched this very moving film, Amu, which is based on the 1984 riots in Delhi, India. The movie is available for free on YouTube. Here's the link. I strongly recommend each one of you to find time for this 1 hr 45 minute eye-opener so that we realize the atrocities and the inhumanity that our current generations of people are capable of. It is a very simple tale but the stark reality of the events slaps you so hard in your face that you wish you didn't belong to these times. 

My belief that genocides and pogroms ended with the closing chapters of the history books on World War II was shattered when the Godhra riots happened in Gujarat in 2002. I was too young to make any sense of the Babri Masjid violence in 1992. The incident did come up every now and then on the mainstream media, and hence, I have some knowledge on the issue. 

However, I am ashamed to admit that being a Delhi-ite, in Delhi for so many years, I had absolutely negligible information on the anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of the then prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. All that was ever discussed, told, was that she was assassinated by her own body guards who were Sikhs, and then there was some obvious back lash. The extent of the brutality and political support with which this "obvious" backlash was carried out has escaped history books, and almost all other kinds of media and even journalism. 

After watching the movie, I tried to dig up more information and was astonished to find out that politicians had openly - on the streets and on national TV - instigated and encouraged the genocide. Apparently, no cases were filed in police stations, a few that reached courts were never judged, and those three days of macabre have been blacked out from the consciousness of most Delhi-ites. Nobody talks about it. I read some of the most disturbing accounts where whole families of Sikhs were uprooted. I also went back to history to read about the separatist movements in the Sikh community and the ongoing tension during the time. However, nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify state sponsored violence. 

I spoke to my parents about this. We all were in Delhi at that time. I was all of 1! Mom and dad tell me that there was fear among everyone, not just Sikhs alone. Mob violence is blind - it spares no one. Only a couple of hours later, when they saw truck loads of Sikh families being dropped off at the nearby gurudwaras, did they realize that it was the Sikh community that was being singled out and targeted. They told me how everyone knew it was state sponsored, voters' lists were circulated, kerosene provided from state pumps and how mobs used to come back for Sikh families hiding with the neighbors. This all went on for three long days. Mom tells me how all the neighborhood women used to prepare food to smuggle to the gurudwara without being noticed; and the men in the society guard the gates all through the night to ensure none of the Sikh neighbors were hurt. She said they often used to wonder if neighbors are helping and strangers are feeding, then who are these people who are killing?

This particular movie was never allowed to be released in India - we all know why. For those very reasons, apparently, no reasonable literature exists on 1984. Talk about democracy, freedom of expression, and then brushing "history" under the carpet. Since no such chapter exists in history, we will never learn from it. That is my greatest fear.

[Image source: Google Images]

Friday, July 6, 2012

WTF Series: Episode 07: Nuclear Families Responsible for Rise in HIV/AIDS

Read the news item here: 'Nuclear families lead to rise in HIV/AIDS'. And please do not miss the Comments section.

So, Karnataka's honorable Medical Education Minister raises the following very poignant reasons, which he attributes to the increase in the number of HIV infected people. Please note that he imparted these pearls of wisdom as part of a literacy campaign.

1. "Living in a joint family eradicates the possibility of extra marital affairs."
Ofcourse, AIDS is caused not because of exchange of bodily fluids such as in the case of blood transfusions, use of contaminated needles, sexual intercourse, and breastfeeding. It is caused by extra marital affairs.
Second, only spouses in nuclear families are tempted to "look outside" because they do not have elders watching over them.

2. "Reading of the Ramayana will help in eradicating HIV/AIDS."
The Ramayana teaches us to be loyal, apparently. Take the example of Lord Rama. He had only one wife, Sita, who he abandoned during her pregnancy for fear of public rumor on her chastity. That is the kind of an ideal husband a woman looks for, and a man should strive to be. And then, there will be no extra marital affairs and hence no AIDS.
I am slightly confused, if I read the Ramayana, do I still need to be in a joint family, under the watchful eyes of the elders? Maybe, his honorable minster will condescend to clarify in his next address.

In principle, I am not against the joint family system. It is a matter of convenience. If you get along and the arrangement is convenient for all parties involved; why not? If it causes constant friction and anxiety to any one involved; why?
As for the Ramayana, I do have a lot of issues with the text (which you can read in my post here), but that is also not the issue here.
What concerns me about these remarks is that if the Medical Education Minister does not understand a diseases, it's medical causes, how on earth will he be able to educate or even launch educational and medical campaigns in an effort to spread awareness and promote treatment. With one speech, he has undermined the efforts of all the AIDS campaigns and NGOs who work tirelessly to remove the social stigma attached to the disease.

Seriously, WTF.


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