Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Scarce Commodity

When a commodity is scarce, but demand remains high, the value of the commodity rises. Right?

If the commodity is girls, and the country is India, a declining supply actually manages to push down the value placed on the commodity. 8 girls to every 10 boys means men who can afford wives but can't find them, are forced to look for younger ones. To keep girls virginal for their wedding night, parents get them married as soon as they can. Keep them too long, and they might get abducted.
Will my country ever realise the true worth of its girls?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Words, and more than just words

In love with words as we all are, we presume that it is words that are at the heart of effective communication. Thoughts articulated with words. Images painted with word-strokes. Words breathing life into characters and situations. Words that take your hand and gently guide you through the plot. Words that convey what it is that the wordsmith wanted to convey. Even words that mislead.

But important though words are, they are at best the bricks that make up the edifice. At the heart of communication is something else- the ability to listen. Why do we choose to forget that?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

For more of the same, do visit my post on Burrowers, Books and Balderdash.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On your chest

'So many boys, so little time', proclaimed the tee-shirt a friend was wearing. I was surprised; that wasn't exactly the message she normally sent out. There are always hidden facets to people, I reasoned, before putting the slogan out of my mind.
Others were not as kind. They took off in precisely the manner the tee-shirt demanded. She tried covering it up with her windcheater. Told stories about how she loved the cut and the colour of the tee-shirt.

None of it made sense to me. Shouldn't you at least know what it is that is emblazoned on your chest?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Surprise

"You are coming for your run tomorrow, aren't you?", my friend asked.
"How can I not?"
My Saturday runs are precious, and having a birthday on Friday, was no excuse for bunking a run.

I woke up with a back-ache, but didn't want to miss my first run of the decade. I struggled during my run, but was still glad I'd made it.
When I made it back, there was music belting out, the mood was festive. "What's the occasion?", I gasped, before catching sight of the white chocolate cake.
Nothing can beat the joy of a surprise birthday party!
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beauty that will remain

Distant mountains. Majestic rocks. White lines where there will be waterfalls. Arid vegetation clinging on tenaciously, knowing it will soon be smothered by wildflowers that spring up after the first rain shower.
Heightened senses. The cool breeze lifting up my hair, playing with every strand before putting it down. The smell of parched earth. The sound of water scuttling by.

Surrounded by exquisite beauty, my heart should soar. Why then does an inexplicable sadness overwhelm me? Is it because I know the beauty will remain even when I am gone? Is it because perfection reminds me of my own mortality?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Me.... and Us

"Forty is the beginning of the end", said a friend. "No, it is the end of the beginning", said another. If there was any difference between the two, I could not find it. Both sounded rather morbid to me. Like an artificial date drawing a line down my life. Beginning? End? Who really knows? Or cares? Maybe half my life is over, or more or less. Can anyone know?
Isn't it better that you are here and now. Happy. Healthy. Productive. And likely to remain so. Why think of the past, or the future, when today is more than enough.

Birthday shoutout for the two Thursday ladies I share half my birthday with (go figure) - Tami and Leigh. Love you both. Here's the only thing a writer can give you- words (even if not my own)

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.
–Ruth Ann Schabacker

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A splash of pink

The splash of pink caught the eye. Paint spilled on the lush green carpet. A wildflower blooming by the side of the trail. A month back, it had been a tiny seed waiting for the monsoon showers to breathe life into it. A month later, it would have faded and died, after scattering seeds that will wait for the next monsoon rain.
I knew not the name of the flower. So ephemeral is it's existence that I might never see it again. We shared a moment in time, a point in space. And life will never be the same again.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No artist can come close

There it was spread out before me. A glorious carpet in vivid hues of red, flame and green. It drew the eye in, encouraged it to trace curves, then threw it out again. The pattern was deceptive; did it repeat, did it not? You could gaze at it for hours, and not see enough of it. Can anything be more beautiful than the canvases painted by Nature, I wondered.
A gentle breeze hit the stream. Threw a blanket of silver ripples over the water. The carpet disappeared under the cloak of silver. No artist can come close to Mother Nature.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Almost the worst place in the world for women

Women have always had the vote in India. The first woman Ambassador to the United Nations was from India. There have been women Prime Ministers and Presidents, and a fifth of our states are headed by women.

And yet, only three countries in the world are worse places for women than India- Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan.

Female infanticide and foeticide. Forced marriages. Sex trafficing. Domestic violence. That is the reality of India, not women professionals heading banks and other corporations.

But what's worse is that we just don't care. I would have expected outrage. All I got was hushed silence.
Afghanistan worst place in the world for women, but India in top five

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Choice

"Come on, choose", he said. One hand held the camera-lens-cap I'd lost. The other a chocolate biscuit. Dark, tempting, irresistible.
It wasn't meant to be taken seriously- no matter which I chose, I would have got both. But it somehow became the most significant choice of my life.

'Life can't be too bad as long as there is chocolate', is my motto. I celebrate with chocolate. Chocolate is how I deal with pain. I was being asked to choose between that is fundamentally me, and something I wanted at that moment.

It's scary how close I came to choosing wrong.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Accepting the inevitable

We treked to a waterfall today. There were four streams to cross on the way- small seasonal ones, which could be waded across. Each became a minor adventure- remove socks and shoes, balance precariously on stones, worry about slipping on mossy ones, follow what looked like easy paths, celebrate after getting across.
On the way back, with water sloshing inside the shoes, and memories inside our hearts, we waded through the same streams with little effort. Nobody slipped, nobody even thought about how easy it now was.

All that had changed was that we had accepted the inevitable- wet shoes.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The "older woman"

On my morning run today, I saw a bunch of saree-clad women taking a walk. Their clothes, their gait, the way they were talking, everything branded them as 'older women', and I was secretly thrilled that women of 'that age' from older families were starting to get fitness conscious. As I jogged past them, I overheard snatches of conversation, and deduced that most of them were my age. And yet, even on an absolute scale, I had dubbed them "older women".

Am I getting delusional about my age, or are you really only as old as you think you are?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, June 17, 2011

When it comes to staying young....

I'm turning Four Oh next week. Fabulous, fantastic, freaking awesome are some of the adjectives that I plan to affix to that age. A birthday is just an arbitrary date, but it is a great time to take stock of how far you've come, and how much further you can go. I'm excited.
Many of my friends are turning forty too this year. Not everyone's happy. There are people feeling depressed, because thinking of the looming birthday makes them feel soooooo old.
I guess attitude is everything.

"When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day."
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vatapoornima- a truncated ritual

Vatapoornima is another of the long list of Hindu festivals where women pray for the long life of their husbands. Whether I agree with it or not, tying a sacred thread around a living growing banyan tree, to symbolise the long and happy life they want for their husbands does make a certain kind of sense.
But to carry out the same ritual on a twig of the tree seems almost counter intuitive. Is it only the long life of an amputated body part that the women are praying for?
Adapting customs is great, but shouldn't they also make sense?
Braving the rain to sell banyan twigs- brisk business he had!

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I will be back!

Seven days. One week. Nearly a quarter of a month.
That's how long I have kept away from the blog. With my life spiraling out of control, I though taking a break might help.  One less thing to worry about and all that.
But it hasn't. Blogging doesn't take too much time. And weird though it may sound, I miss not doing so.
The challenge of thinking of something to blog about. The quest to find an appropriate picture. Putting it down in exactly one hundred words. I miss it.
And it doesn't take much time.
I will be back!

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New ways of teaching the same stuff

"We work top down", the educator said. "We first teach our kids to appreciate literature, and then teach them the rules that govern language." It sounded like a lot of jargon to me. We had studied English the conventional way, and there wasn't anything fundamentally wrong with us, was there?

But then I looked at the books my son has to "study" in grade three- two Roald Dahls and Gulliver's Travels. Books perfect for eight year olds. Books which the kids are sure to enjoy. Books that have real emotions and lessons.

I realized different need not always be suspicious.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Experiments that are doomed to fail

Sometimes, you know a scheme is going to fail. And yet, since the intentions behind it are good, you are slightly sad when proved right.

A year back, when the government made it mandatory that all private schools take on students from poor families, I knew the experiment would fail. A school implemented it, and found that despite their best intentions, they just couldn't cope. The kids who were given admission may well have to leave- their dream snatched away after seeming to come true.

Why couldn't the government have listened to people who knew, and put their effort elsewhere?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back to school

I remember the day when we went to school to seek admission for my older one. The younger one was just a couple of months old, and I couldn't image ever letting him go. Today, that baby of mine started primary school. It was bitter-sweet dressing both the kids in their 'big boy' school uniforms and dropping them off at school.
Before I know it they are going to be in secondary school, then high school, then college. I look forward to seeing the kind of men they become. But sometimes I also wish I could hold onto the past.
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Evidence you cannot ignore

In a country where if you cry for help, your rapist's wife can accuse you of adultery and have you stoned to death. In a country where the testimony of a male witness is needed before a case of rape can be registered. In a country like that, what can a woman do except cut off her rapist's body part and submit it as evidence. And you have to admire a woman who does just that.

I don't condone taking the law into your own hands. But when the system is stacked against you, how else do you get justice?

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Read the whole story - Bangladesh woman gets Ultimate Revenge

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review: Stanley ka Dabba

Mindblowing is not a word I use, but that's the only word to describe "Stanley ka Dabba".
A very short movie by Bollywood standards, you couldn't help falling in love with Stanley and all his friends. Every situation was one we could relate to- the portrait of life in a typical Indian school was perfect. There was nothing not to love.
And five minutes from the end, the reality of Stanley's life was revealed- an orphan, he earns his keep working for his "uncle". We meet boys like him everyday, but never look at the person beyond. Now, we will.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Friday, June 3, 2011

She is Ten. She is going to be Sold!

She's ten. She's won a scholarship to a top school. She dreams of becoming a doctor. The world should be hers.
Her mother is a prostitute. Prostitution is the family trade. She is going to be sold into prostitution.

Poverty is why women are forced to enter the sex trade- voluntarily or otherwise- I always thought. If women could earn a livelihood elsewhere, why would they have to sell their bodies? Education should be the key to their salvation.

But apparently even that is not enough. Selling a girl today seems worth more than what a doctor can earn tomorrow.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Read Nick Kristoff's article on the girl here

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why do we hold ourselves back?

When it comes to running, I fall into one of two extremes. Either I don't turn on the stopwatch at all, or I obsessively run with the clock. "Tune into your effort level", a much wiser runner keeps telling me, but that's something I've never been able to do.
Yesterday, the display counter on the treadmill was off, so I had to run by effort. And I was shocked by what I could do. Today, I chose a much higher speed, and comfortably broke a barrier I never thought I would reach.

Why do we choose to hold ourselves back?
drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do it all again....

It is the ironies of mountaineering, that grown men are happy to spend months preparing for a climb, weeks rehearsing and honing their skills, and days attempting to reach the summit. And then, having achieved their goal, they spend just a few moments enjoying the experience along with one or two equally certifiable companions who have little in common other than wanting to do it all again, on an even higher mountain.
Jeffery Archer


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