19 December 2007

Happy Holidays - Part Trois

This super-mini faux tree stands on the coffee table.

18 December 2007

Your move -


Ever since Al Gore 's movie " An inconvenent truth " has hit the the theatres, climate change and global warming is a hot topic for everybody. Financial analysts reports show that a " green industry" has been taking shape in the last few years and the projections have shot up only higher. Green Century Funds, and other industries are beefing up their social responsible activities through some environmental intitiatives to increase their ticker value at the stock exchange. The Food and Drug Administration have relaxed their definitions for "organic". Coco cola has asked a jewellery maker to make ear rings using old coke cans which they can list on their corporate social responsibility report. But many serious scientific minds know that only this time the " Green industry " will become black if serious conscious attempts are not taken, which scientists are keeping silent, lest the people get panicked !

A veneer of green is attached to any products that you buy these days. What fails me to understand is, one still finds shelves stocked with eco-friendly green products such as
seventh generation. It is paper being used again. Umpteen number of 'Green" cleaning products are in the market when vinegar and baking soda will do the job. The number of products and attractive packaging have only been increasing all in the name of green ! I fail to see the green aspect when people are having each TV in every room and putting up a solar energy on there roof tops. Every children's toy has a battery and each kid is profusely playing with it instead no encouraging or coaxing is done to the kids to play in the park or in the backyard. ( I did not know how to react when a six year old girl told me that she is fat and that her mother has asked her to hit the gym) Retail stores give discounts and ring up sales when products green and not green is flying out the door. The heater is set high that an egg will start to cook! An extra layer of clothing at home and insulating the windows will save some energy. Such inertia is yet to be found in many households and retail chains. Our so called politicians-cum leaders who are using climate change as an election gimmick are only using more number of green alternatives - when the number of things used are not decreased. My imagination says the green shall soon deplete.

Al Gore is smart enough to have established his legacy having won a Nobel prize, but that does not solve the pollution of soot. Oprah, the cultural icon for many North Americans is touting
" favorite gifts". Consumerism galore is definitely not green. Only a change in attitude about what earth means to each of us will bring about change. When children grow up in urban jungles with very few trees or no trees around, they do not develop a love for the earth that they live in, because what they know is the superficial, electronically sophisticated electricated jungle. Learning through imitation is the fundamental nature of mental development. And more so as a human species because children learn as they watch what adults do. So when as adults we do not observe actions that inculcate a love for the earth that we live in, children will fall behind, which has happened in the last few generations. When adults doused their own agricultural land consumed with greed went in rigging for oil destroying the forests, the earth turned backed and lashed on us, let it not happen again. There is no room for mistakes anymore

17 December 2007

What Globalisation means to me?

if my reading is correct, globalisation is a word baptized for North America by Thomas Friedman in the book The Lexus and The olive tree and further propogated the word and its phenomenon in his next book The world is flat. If I may borrow Martha stewarts's catchphrase, according to friedman, globalization is a good thing which I would take only with a pinch of salt. Further, though the world has only seen the phenomenon actively in the last few years and fears the consequences of it, General Electric has been actively globalizing its company since a couple of decades, which is why it has been able to keep its shareholder value at a price while continuing to diversify in as much and as many as possible. It is not just General Electric but even people who have been able to sucessfully work and cross culturally beyond their boundaries and have been able to have a larger vision rather than their counterparts which are homespun.


What does gloabalisation mean to me - The world will become a homogenous society. Languages will be erased and English will continue to domineer its power. So much will be lost in translation. Culture, Ethnic communites, Traditions, Heritage will slowly disintegrage and the world will disintegrate, just like how assimilation has created a faceless america with absolutely no culture of its own but loosely tied tidbits with commercial strands. Essentially the economically strong will always rule and may be even cast something like the world government. International organizations like the UN and the others will slowly diffuse and a world parliament will be formed. Basically there will be one world body governing the surfaces of the land. In terms for those looking out for jobs, the forest will become larger, but this time denser - because a few of them will decide and plan while the others will have to do just what they are told to do. Slowly a dark dictatorial government will take shape. Soon there will be uprisings and protests, revolution and wars - the world will run a full circle and may be wars will reach a point where so many and so much will be destroyed and man will return to the stone age, only this time the temperature of the earth will reach boiling point. It will be like times square - glitch and kitsch. When the electric lights are off and the crowds are gone, there is nothing in that square -

15 December 2007

An overdose?

On a visit to a friend's house , the exciting to-be parents took us to their yet to be born child's nursery, which was already up and waiting for the kid (6 months in advance) I was thunderstruck at the book shelf - around 30 books in all - of many sizes, colorful, some with music, great pictures etc etc.. and in different languages !!! The kid not yet born and the parents had already decided what should be read to. Sterotypical of urban parents -overstressed, overambitious parents who have already decided what their child should be.To-Do lists for the kids also included that their child should learn at least three languages by the time she finishes pre-k. My idle mind went on a spin ..

So what was there when there were no books or when books were less in circulation ? In most cases it was a lullaby or parents spun a story on the spot before they tucked the kids to bed. Folks, Folklores which formed communities and celebrated milestones in people's life, still exists in many parts of the world taught the infant many a thing. Wasn't reading and learning the privelege of a chosen few or the royalties? With the advent of the printing press - the bible was the first book to be printed and in circulation. Before paper - leaves, stone tablets, cave walls were the medium of writing - in the form of images. Sculpture - was the medium to express style, design, ambience than a bunch of words which dictates the world of journalism today. Today the rule of the word has become the medium of expression, where once images, dance, songs, music took center stage.

Of course, these days there are many mediums to coagulate these expressions or seperate them individually, thus each of them receiving their due credit. That's definitely good. Something for everyone. But over loading of data, from many sources has made the benefactor of information to wonder about its credibility. And so how does one determine what one reads is correct, or is it only a radical or lopsided persepective ? Who has written it and What kind of affiliations does the author have, with which we come to the most important question - why should we trust the writer for the information to be correct. Fox News or Faux News ? And correct for whom - Questions and more questions - answers are few - skeptical or dissatisfying - Is that why we have incredible amount of information floating everywhere, trying to make its place? However, creative and enterprising minds who has a stomach for risk will analyze such information and become entrepreneurs.

10 December 2007

seeing a prop stylist at work

Art and Design are worlds quite unknown to me. But I know for sure what pleases my eye. Long time ago I told a friend who wants to have a food cooking show to become a food stylist little knowing that a profession such as a stylist exists. Yesterday for the first time I saw a prop stylist at work. We didn't have a chance to talk much, but gathered that she does not have a degree in art and design, but styling is her day job. Her task was to set up shop for the weekend which is an illustrators office during the week. While the tables, the bookshelves and two computers remained in position, the rest of the office items were packed and boxed before the stylist, Philippa Brathwaite began work. Other volunteers and two other stylists, one of whom worked for the Martha stewart Living Omnimedia were also in action. It was a delightful experience to watch the stylists who were brainstorming ideas and tweeking little every day objects that would make the objects look fancier. The items for sale - christmas ornaments, scrolls, bags and purses, small wooden, bamboo and soapstone stable ornaments made in different parts across the globe were displayed such that it was visually pleasing and enticing to the onlooker, just like how we are reeled in at window dressings at crate and barrel or pottery barn.

On instructions from the stylist, volunteers filled huge glass cylinders with water and placed branches of trees where the christmas ornaments went up - blue glass with orange and green art work with golden outline, a glass organment with golden artwork, croched ornaments and bead ornaments. Next strings were stapled across the wall so that the rest of handicrafted items from india, peru, iraq and jordan were placed. Colorful beaded jewellery adorned the center table that would beacon any wandering eye. The handcrafted purselets hung across the wall near mirrors and huge lights would become conversation pieces at a christmas party. The coffee station looked like it was a coffee bar at an upscale restaurant. it was looking good...like christmas wonderland. None would say it was an office space. I really wish I had some pictures as a testimony but pieces of the lead stylist philippa's work can be seen at http://www.michelekarpe.com/artists/philippa_brathwaite.html

Image from the above mentioned website.

09 December 2007

Holidays 2007

For the remaining of the day,when the dusk falls as early as 4 in the early afternoons the candle light brings warmth.

picture: a corner of the living room

08 December 2007

Eye contact with history.

Like many of you I am in the midst of reading several books at a time. I was reading the book Confessions of an economic hit man by John Perkins and am left with last few pages. In some ways it helps you to see the world in a different light. How a few people blinded by corruption and power are looting countries and reducing them to poor desert lands at the same time filling their own coffers. Their sole aim is to rule the world while they enjoy. How the world " progress and prosperity " is lopsided, conceited and deceptive . If they cannot capture other countries through its strategy, they do not hesitate to trodden the land with guns and barrels and leave it barren. They loot and plunder and throw dust in the eyes of the world and many think they are sheep when they are a pack of wolves in reality. They plunder rich agricultural lands and entice the country leaders to fill the pockets while reducing the people of the land to a bunch of stray dogs. They rule the media and if we are not a part of this mafia gang they erase us with no trace.
I am also in the middle of another book A people's history of the United states by Howard zinn, a book written through the eyes of the natives of america to whom this land truly belongs. I must admit that in the last few days my eyes have opened to so many things in the history of this world that I suspected and was puzzled but could not put the pieces together. Which makes me to come to the point that I have so much more to understand about world history.

So would you recommend me a book, about the history of your land - which tells me the history of your country or your adopted country through the eyes of its masses. Please leave your comment.

Thank You
Yours truly
anrosh.

You can hear the author John Perkins on You tube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTbdnNgqfs8. More on the website -http://www.johnperkins.org/

15 November 2007

06 November 2007

My Marrakesh.

Hooked on the Morroccon Blue ? I am.
I have been "armchair travelling" with Maryam of My Marrakesh for some time now. Living with her family in Marrakesh and building a guest house, this blog brings to us the sights, and sounds from the Morroccon olive grove. Maryam writes about her life and the beauty of this land - the beaches, the dessert, the shouks and of the people of Morocco. She also writes about countries that she travels and have travelled ( 60 so far) and lived in quite a few. Maryam has opened the world of Morocco to very many. Thanks to her blog .

Maryam has been chosen as one of the finalists in the 2007 Annual Weblog Awards in the category of Best Middle East and Africa Blog. So hop on to My Marrakesh and decide and vote for her HERE. Polls close November 8, 2007. You can vote once every 24 hours. And that can happen only in the blogging world.

05 November 2007

It just takes a hand.

On the way to the grocery store, I come to a point where I have to take a right turn and there is no signal which tells me when my turn is. It is a three way junction and that makes it all the more difficult in determining who gets to go first. New Jersey Drivers Manual does not suggest any rules when there are no signals and it is left to the predicament of the person at the drivers seat to determine what to do. These are the unwritten rules followed by drivers at this particular junction.
a. Each one has its turn, followed by the other from the opposite side. If the car follows the first car immediately in the same direction, the other cars get to honk indicating that they are angry.
b. When each gets its turn to go, they show their hand out of the window indicating Thank You.
c. If it is my turn to go and am absent mindedly sitting at the drivers seat, the person in the drivers seat opposite me waves his hand horizontally to indicate , " GO ON", BUT will not honk, instead the guy who is waiting behind me gets to honk !
d. A different way of indicating Thank You to the car behind you is looking at the mirror and talking to it. The guy/gal reads your lips and smiles !
What are the unwritten rules in your country of residence?

Circles

Have you ever wondered the most common motion made by human beings ? When you dance, it is in circles. when we swirl the pasta it is in circles. When we whip it is in circles. When we go around a room introducing ourselves it is in circles. Circles rule our lives, unlike squares, triangles or other geometric shapes. What do you think ?

28 October 2007

25 October 2007

mistake me not.


I am not an artist, neither a painter. But I like colors and love the brush.

24 October 2007

in my shadow

Mall-ification in the United States of America.

I don't remember the name of the movie - but Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star in it. Tom Hanks is responsible for building a chain book store right in front of mom-n-pop book store run by Meg Ryan who was an expert at children's literature. The emergence of this huge store slowly forced the meg ryan store which had its run for 40 odd years to die. Of course, the corporate store had huge discounts that the meg-ryan store could not offer and hence had to shut its doors. And that is exactly what has happened in America. The country has been mallified. That is where teenagers spend their evenings. Bored? The adults are at the mall too with the kids. Consumption being the center around life.

Going back to the movie -The huge store represented " quantity " of books and " quantity" of customer service but was never able to do a job which a small store can handle in terms of quality of customer service, opinions, subject matter expertise, which a small bookstore and an owner who is a voracious book reader can offer. This kind of jumbo development has been happening over two decades now and the country is one huge mall. - Huge grocery stores like Pathmark, Shoprite and Walmart has conquered the grocery and pharmaceuticals market. Now old Navy, Banana Republic , Gap, Macys, Kohls and lord and taylor decide what we wear. Every one has the same red sweater, the good old black trouser and a blue turtle neck. In a way, somebody sitting in a board room has implicitly come to dictate what we wear and what we can own. Just like how communist russia decided what russians should wear and eat.

Every town in America has all these - a big mall with the chain stores, a post office, an insurance office, town hospital, bank, grocery store, a movie theatre and and that's it - the town is defined. And to ensure that tourism bring in revenue - a zoo, a japanese garden, a park, a tavern, an acquarium and a few museums are thrown in. Few and far in between some shops here and there too. From the east to the west, from the north to the south - America is homogenous. At least the diversity is not evident (exceptions being Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York city). if variety is the spice of life, homogenity breeds a constipated mind.

The uppereast side of manhattan which reigned in mom-n-pop kind of shops has been at the crucifixation since the 2nd avenue subway development plans were announced. Crate and Barrel, Starbucks; other similar such giants are lapping it all up and repurposing the space for big chains. The very essence of a neighbourhood, the charm, the culture, the people and the ambience that was provided by these small shops are being robbed by the giants . The local eclectic vibe, which was unique to the area is plucked and tarnished, leaving not even a trace. Well, this has happened all over the country in the 80s and now it has come to the last of the small neighbourhood which had retained some synergy of charm , but that is not spared either.

Of course, I am not saying that the corporates are no good at all, but when it comes down to thumping of small stores and stealing the charm of a neighbourhood - I have no good adjectives to offer. But people know to survive and survive well. The farmers market which is held almost everyday and sometimes in multiple locations is an answer from the people's movement bringing in farm fresh produce from the local farmers at a good price. If I were to compare the quality and the price of farm fresh produce to neighbouring new jersey supermarkets, the farmers market has the best produce. With the coming of community supported Agriculture, life has been good for those willing to go out in the farms and bring their share. If the people have found an answer to tackle about fresh produce, certainly they will find a way out of mallification - Will we? or Won't we?

21 October 2007

getting started


In my attempt to pick up the brush, this is the first in a long time.

The battle of the Accents

On the Presidential campaign front Barack Obama, one of the candidates in running addressed that his audience are not the hispanic americans, asian americans, afro-americans but the United States of America. On a popular TV show,the Topmodel, where prospective top models contested for the season, and when an hispanic american and the russian american were the 2 leads, Tyra Banks, the hostess exclaimed that the contest now became ‘The Battle of the Accents." I realised that as the world globally connects, co-operates, contradicts and goes on wars among themselves, it is the English language which is the global force that allows people to talk to each other. Indeed, the English having anglicised the world – it has become a battle of the accents. However the french are not the easy one to cave in.

I was at the French Institute of Alliance franchaise, where beginner french students greeted each other “ Ca Va ( How are you )? And the other person responded, "Ca Va Bien." A passerby french woman was very upset with the conversation that she stopped in her tracks and addressed the two people. “We, the french do not respond like the English – “Ca Va Bien”. Instead we say “palmal.”(spellcheck?) which means okay.” When you learn to speak french, learn its culture too.” It does not come as a surprise that the french language did not spread even when they ruled over certain parts of England and its surrounding for fifty years. To still use french words as part of the English language is considered sophistication itself.

There are several of us who are reading this whose first language is not English, but have heard and spoken the language since we started learning to form words as toddlers .Whereever the English went, it roped in people as its slaves and expanded the kingdom and with it adopted many words into English. English, in becoming the most widely spoken language in the world has been influenced more as as a vocabulary than other languages and is always in a flux. For eg: the word guru, a word in Hindi ( language spoken in India) has been increasingly used in the English language that it is now part of the english dictionary. So is the word, restaurant, which originally has its roots in French.

Though English is used as the most colloquial form of language in the business world universally, the Anglo-Saxons way of using expressions, phrases and idioms is different from the Euro-Americans who has settled in the land of the Arawaks (now Americas) who came in search of gold speak English. Though each one battles over who has the right or the authority in deciding what the standard is, one of the greatest figures in literary land, George Bernard Shaw, an Irish, came up with his own spellings. From the east to the west of the globe and from the north to the south of the globe people have found their language – interspersing their own mothertongue with English. For instance the spanglish as in the US. In the world we tread, we have realised that the rulers of oil dictates other countries as well. So who is it this time – the “gas” calling Englishmen or the “petrol” calling Englishmen?

If one eavesdrops a stranger’s conversaton ( not that I recommend) on the streets of New York you will learn how a native spanish speaker sounds different from a chinese speaker to an arabic speaker or a guyanese when they speak English. This constant clashing of English voices on the the streets of New York is a remarkable feature of the language.The grammar and the syntax are the same , but the phonetics vary while English is spoken and broken.

01 October 2007

The five of us

It is a common remark to hear "we like to celebrate with family and friends". Friends ? The people who stand by us and support us when families don’t. The people who encourage us when our very own flesh and blood have lost faith in us.The people that warm a certain part of our soul .Are they mirrors of ourselves ?They bring us a smile, pat our shoulders, and bring sense into our lives when we don’t see it. They save us from blunders and call us crazy at times. They may not stay within driving distance and they may have been out of touch but it only takes a call or an email to be with them when distance seems to be a hurdle. They are never away.

K, B, R and S were four guys whom I met in my first year at college. I was standing with my other girl friends, when another friend D introduced us to each other. I immediately noticed K and R were very good looking and handsome men. B and S were the first athletic people that I came across. I was taken in by all of these, but mainly by their sense of humor. What else can you expect from someone who had just turned 17? Though we never took any classes together we would hang out. They grew on me. And may be I grew on them. We had fun in each others company.

Their parents were great hosts and we felt very welcome at their homes even when we went in for lunch unannounced. I don’t recall many specifics but each one would bring out the best in each other and sometimes the worst. We discussed, debated, disagreed and played very hard. One incident that is vivid in my memory is my 20th birthday. I had graduated from college and was distraught and still figuring out my next step in this world. We got together without any preplanning. It was as if it was a premonition that they knew I would be at the train station. I was on the way home after running an errand and they picked me up at the station - Just the five of us and the friend, D who introduced me to them. In the two hour of togetherness they gave me wings to fly and a renewed sense of courage, and a message that good wine comes in old bottles. As time passed each of us moved onto other pastures and met occasionally .

Very soon I left the country. A new marriage, a new country, school, work kept me on my toes. Meanwhile I tried to get in touch with K, B,R and S but their phone numbers had changed. Back then there were no face books, you tubes and Google was still in its nascent stage and no luck searching them on Yahoo lists either. I had lost in touch with them for five years by then. One day when I was reading a news article, I came across a name which was very similar to D’s husband. Thanks to the internet I found out the address of the company that he was working with. When I called he was attending a family function and seeing a strange number on his cell phone, picked up the call. He beamed on hearing my voice and couldn’t wait to pass on the number to his wife D who in turn gave me the phone number of all the four. Within hours I called each of them – K, B, S and R. They couldn’t believe their ears and the minute I said hello – they responded with excitement ringing in their voice .They verified it was me, "Is that you ?" and asking me other funny questions – their humor rising in each of them and making me laugh. My telephone bill was rising every minute and that month it went through the roof. We have kept in touch ever since.

They have beautiful wives and children. It is now nearing a decade that we have met. When I called K’s house – his beautiful wife picked up the phone. After our initial greetings and other friendly enquires I asked “Can I speak to K? She said, of course, you should not be asking to talk to K; you should be demanding that the phone be given to him. I was touched by his wife’s words. I now share a special bond with their wives. We have kept the flower of friendship alive even when we have spread ourselves.
Image: Valanne's photostream

24 September 2007

Contemporary Marie Antoinettes.

While obesity plagues people in some countries, several millions of people go to bed hungry every night. Farmer suicides are on the rise.. Selfish societies, Greedy Corporations,Vote hungry politicians and ruthless policymakers rig the lifecyle of food chain. J'ai faim !... cries millions. Are we deaf?

19 September 2007

From Planet-Online To Capitol Hill

Thanks to bloggers and blogs. Anyone who wishes to, can now speak up and speak out. How remarkable ! Not so long ago, the norm was to let only a chosen few speak. The same editors and columnists would present perishable news items day after day, brushing away all that seemed too ordinary or unworthy to them. But now we can hear it all, the musings, ramblings, rantings, questions, the answers from ordinary people without the weapon of journalism which is often manipulated and articulated so well that at the end of it the story is just a news item or an impressive article that will help them fetch their best story of the day.

Thanks to the growing community of bloggers, facebooks, youtubers, - incidents, accidents and events can be broadcast any minute across the globe. While many good accidents have happened due to blogs - some people have found their business partners. We can now hear first hand - accounts from countries far flung, not so well known. Myths, rumours, sterotypes, biases established by the media now broken up by interacting with bloggers across planet-online. Yet, an interesting event has taken place due to the effort of online bloggers. The story of collaborative, organized legal immigrants in the United States of America.

For the first time in history, an online legal immigrant community began to take shape. On september 18, 2007, this group and Legal Immigrant association marched to Capitol hill in Washington D.C . An historic march in the likes of many historic rallies, the legal immigrant community, organized themselves online. Often defensive in their actions, they rallied from the grounds of washington monument to Capitol Hill.

The west coasters, midwesterners, southerners joined the east coasters and made their way to D.C to petition. For the first time hundreds of people, most of them who have met only online for years now gathered on the grounds of the Washington monument in D.C. Many not even knowing each other by their names except for their logins, rallied and lobbied as a result of blogging. Meetings with lawmakers, congressmen, press, all an effort of an on-line community born in foreign land, now marching to capitol hill with their petition. WOW, the power of blogging.
More on http://dcrally.blogspot.com/
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Image from http://dcrally.blogspot.com/

15 September 2007

My BOSS

Well, let's just say that nobody likes the word or may be even some do. So who is a boss? Somebody who prods you to work ? Somebody who has the right to hire and fire you, somebody who makes sure that the job gets done right or somebody who signs your paychecks and helps you put food on the table. Or for most part when we say boss, it is somebody who pays for your livelihood. Do you think she is also somebody who assists in your growth while you contribute to the organization, somebody who helps in self actualization.... that is a far fetched thing..Isn't it?

A boss is somebody who has some control or influence over your situation. If you think about it, there are several bosses in life's way- somebody whom you lookup to or someone who implicity influences you in your spiritual, physical, social and economic situation. And someone/something who reigns as a factor in forming your opinion, taking decisions, making choices and in turn acting or reacting to life's situation.

Do you like your boss? Who is she/he? Does she/he really make a positive impact in your life or is she/he just another badgering statement? Would you like to replace her/him? Would you rather get along with her as it is, without creating more imbalance than what she is already doing? or Would you retain her ? Research studies show that the most reason one would leave their job is because they do not like their boss.
Here's your chance. Evaluate your boss with respect to the areas mentioned. Feel free to add or delete. Here's a broad framework -
Areas to be evaluated - financial/economical, physical, spiritual, social
Q. Who is the boss ?
Q. Do you work with your boss ? OR Do you work for him ?
Q. How has the boss impacted your life. List down the positive and negative impacts.
Q. If you do not like working with the boss why are you compelled to do so? And if you are compelled to do so isn't it better to change the situation than working for him?
Q. Who is the real boss? Your boss or YOU?

10 September 2007

We all delve into deadly sins sometime or the other - No, I am not talking about committing a murder or robbing someone's intellectual idea or stealing money or oil by the white collared executives. I am talking about procastination, which remains to be one of the unchaste sins. What do you think ? Doesn't it take over our lives sometimes? Is it because the goal that we need to accomplish takes lesser priority or we attend to things that need immediate attention which takes over our time and mind, and leads us away from our original goal. Or Is it because we are having second thoughts Or have been brooding about it ? Or thinking, is it feasible or simply want to dispense it off without giving a thought. What will happen if it does not turn out right or did we take a leap too far in faith - or may be even basically bawdy thinking if I may say so.

What I have realised in due course is that putting things in black and white helps to focus, connect and interconnect the dots, both short term and long term. Ah, what a revelation.!!! How about we write quarterly performance reports of ourselves, write a check to our life, do some asset management and create a strong portfolio? No, not the numbers kind. But won't that become too corporatorial ? But when we think about it we do that year after year at our place of work where we spend some of the best hours of our daytime and are rewarded for accomplishing the goals listed in our performance appraisal by the company that we work for.I was wondering what would happen if we do that to ourselves in our lives ?( other than work ). What did you do today that you liked? Did I spend at least five minutes for myself before going out and saving the world ?

How about if one did not have an identity of an organization, which we all take refuge in when asked, What do you do ? or Who are you? In short, Let me be. Even if it is taking a break and enjoying the little things of life, for some of us it is a goal - enjoying the full moon, the stars in the sky, the rain come down and watching the flora and the fauna, or simply seeing the fish in the pond gather, or to take that little walk which we always think of doing but never come to actually do it. As for me I will buckle down and bring out my brown paper and paint - I have been procastinating it for tooooo long now.

02 September 2007

The zerosum game of design

When both of us decided to play house, we knew early on that ours was the zero sum game. While I am very practical, B needs to find aesthetics and ambience in everything. B is handy and I like to design furniture out of things we already have or can be found at a bargain. So everytime we put together something there is a little bit of both of us in it.

We live in a one bedroom apartment and each sq. feet is valuable. Since we both do yoga at the same time, there should be sufficient positive space so that our limbs would not hit the furniture in the room. When the weather is not good we need to find space to do jumprope too. B is also a student and we need to constantly find additional space to hide the growing pile of books, papers et al, which is quite a bit, and adds every semester.

Hence we like to buy collapsible and multifunctional pieces which accomodates our changing needs. Most of the furniture has been bought at goodwill stores, yard sales and outlet stores. We also find value in discarded odd objects and give aways by friends and strangers alike which when recycled and reused have found many a use in our home, keeping with our minimalistic way of living.

One of the art wall in our house is a good reference point in this regard. Once holding bath and shower toiletteries the deep turqoise box has become a shadow like box holding one of my favorite toys - Lego. A rainbow of color is enclosed , yet it adds a splash of color to an otherwise beige wall and adds some interest to this corner.

The logs came from a firewood pile at my upstate student home. It serves as memorabilium of my life in the scenic Adirondacks. My husband raised an eyebrow when I was unloading it !It has found multiple uses in the past - candle holders, accessorised with other earthern objects it has become a conversation point when company comes over and hidden many unaesthetic corners such as electrical wires, which is what it is currently doing now.

When I first spotted the red base at the local home improvement store it was a tool box generally used in a auto mechanic shop. The table top is glass reused from an old coffee table.Without the glass table top it has also served as side tables.
An interesting point to note is that men more than women have found this table more appealing.

30 August 2007

Will you take orders?

I was asked this question, when I went for an interview with an organization few months ago. I had not submited my resume, but was invited for a discussion. Like every interview should be, they asked me about myself and I presented to them my best cases for leadership, responsibility and initativeness, a trademark of any individual who is ambitious and goal oriented. At the end of the discussion they asked me "Will you take orders? What guarantee will you give me that you will follow our orders? "

Few days ago an acquaintance who owns a company asked me the same question. As global as New York city is for its people, it was intriguing to note that both the organizations belonged to the same geographical region in the world. That brought me to my next chain of thought - whom do they want to hire - somebody who is responsible and creative, yet demure ? Somebody who would help the organization grow or somebody who would play a passive role?

My thoughts led me to arrive at certain inferences - Both these organizations - one a consulate in new york and the other a health care industry, were headed by people whose countries were ruled by foreigners for long - the French, the Portuguese , the English and the Persians. Their lands and minds were conquered and still today generations are reeling under its influence, good and bad. So what if the people are intelligent and hardworking ? Though they head organizations they are not sufficiently savvy!(for lack of an alternative word ) and may be do not have enough confidence to make decisions that will help themselves and others in a different light - A light that will help them realize that they are the creations of God and nobody can let them believe that they or others are small in any way. May be they feel threatened ? And they see themselves as their erstwhile rulers - oppressive, abusive, giddy with power and want to make their employees feel as subjects of exploitation ?

How would you respond to the question, Will you take orders?

The image is a painting picked up at a yard sale.

25 August 2007

G. WhiTman

The story goes something like this...
A college student went around town rummaging through yard sales. It was a moving sale and so the wares were in plenty. Her roving eyes danced and stopped at this painting which was stashed in the far end corner of the huge yard. After all this was a suburban yard in an upscale home in New Jersey.This was the last day of the 3 day sale and still there were plenty of things. She then focused on other people who were looking around, afraid that the painting would catch their attention.

She walked towards the painting, praying that people who were standing near it would not pick it up before she did. With a silent prayer in her heart she picked up the painting and examined its condition. There were water damages at the bottom . There were rips and folds too. The painting was signed G. WhiTman on the bottom right hand side. She cared less about the condition. She knew she would not be able to afford a painting which has so much depth. The breath taking yellow and the size was a bonus. Little did she have any idea who the painter is either. Taken in by the sheer beauty of the mountain, the woods and the stream she decided to make it hers if the price was in her budget. The owner cared less and said it was $ X. On hearing it she knew it was hers.

She left the painting in her husbands apartment and went back to school. This was in the summer of 2001. The painting sat on the floor for the next 3 months. When she finally came back she took the painting to the rag shop to get it framed. Shocked at the price given by the sales representative she decided against framing it. The painting found a space on a barren wall in the apartment. She admired the painting and was glad that she found it. Friends who visited had something to say about the painting. Now and then she googled for G.WhiTman, but did not find information. But today when she googled she found WhiTman on Askart.com she found many others who has a G.WhiTman painting and everybody is glad to have found it.

From the above site I gather "WhiTman is listed in the 'Artists in California 1780-Current', was born 1860 and died 1939. Almost all whiTman paintings are views of Mt. Carmel" posts Gregory Lorenzo at askart.com. Many other people who have left comments adds others notes with skepticism and are seeking information on the artist.

16 August 2007

Traffic Jam

Sitting in one of the worst ever traffic jams in recent years my mind ravelled across many things at the same time. Miles of cars were ahead of me and the bridge that would take me across could be seen far ahead. In times like this I truly wish for a boat to sail across. After all I am surrounded by water on all sides and If I have to get across anywhere I have to take a bridge or go under the water through the tunnel.{ It is said that there are more than 1000 bridges in New York and New Jersey combined}.

In the ancient of days when the wheel was not yet invented we had water ways. Not the high end canoe or the kayak that we see these days but one made of barks- bended and twisted, of weeds , sticks, logs to carry goods, produce and people. Using a compass, lighthouse, winds and sails man has travelled great seas and mighty oceans to discover for himself land for his progeny to live in. and the thought that follows after the new find is a sense of gratification, " Life is going to be better ahead "- Hope for a better future.

And traffic jams are just one of the features of that future, which is our present. Comfortable and speedy journeys in hours which was not possible or would take days now takes only hours. Only what was for the adventuresome to travel to faraway lands is now possible for anyone who would want to see new places and people. The lands near by the water would have been densely populated if it weren't for the bridges and tunnels that has made it possible for us to stay anywhere and everywhere. So when you are in traffic jam next time, be glad for it, since we can travel, which was once not possible for our forefathers and you are one of those, what do we say, - widely travelled wise women/men.

Image by Jim Frazier

08 August 2007

Street Vendor for a day in New York city.

For those who have visited any metropolis, street vendors are not new. They are part of what makes a city a city! In fact if you are new to the city, they are the ones welcoming you. I was glad that I was part of this group even if it was only for a day. My friend, lets call her Q, who is a savvy business woman wanted to set up one more mode for selling her goods. Just below her office she contacted a street vendor who put her through Karen, a licensed street vendor who agreed to put Q in the street vending business for a day.

Last weekend on saturday, we packed a folding table, our wares, and other things needed to set up our table and drove into Manhattan bright and early. We walked towards our assigned street in anticipation to meet Karen, with whom a deal had been struck . While waiting for Karen we spoke to the other vendors. An hour had passed and Karen was nowhere in sight. No response inspite of leaving a voicemail.
Determined not to go home without setting up shop Q and I negotiated with another vendor who agreed to be our licensed vendor. I was told that in order to be a street vendor one must have a license, which takes almost 10-15 years to procure. Our being a street vendor for a day could only be possible because one licensed NY vendor, lets call him X was standing in for us and we were working for him. That's how many of the street vendors operate.

We moved right over to the Battery park walkway and arranged our wares. Little did we realise that placing our goods would take one and a half hours . The tourists were pouring in. We did not have a placard big enough to see that the wares were only 5 dollars and up. And the sun was blazing upon us.


Then came the park enforcement officials and asked us to move. Our licensed vendor, lifted the table along with our nicely arranged items and moved us to another spot- this time right in front of the Bowling green station .By then the sun was beating down. Besides us there were other street vendors selling perfumes, T-shirts, caps, and other NY paraphernalia.

Hot and Humid the only thing that was selling fast was ice cold water and the ice cream which was being sold 2 blocks away. We were told that were at the wrong spot. And tourists are not interested in jewellery as much as NY paraphernalia. Each block in New York caters to specific products. bags on Canal street (near china town), funky jewellery in SOHO ( that's where we should have been), paintings near Washington square park, african masks, bags near west broadway, NY paraphernalia near all tourist spots. With not too much success we decided to leave during mid afternoon.

But come again some other time and when the weather is good we may decide to sell at the right spot this time!
Image by Smaku

06 August 2007

Proverbs

Half of the books that are read are not published
Half of the books that are published are not sold
Half of the books that are sold are not read
Half of the books that are read are not understood
Half of the books that are read are misunderstood
- A french proverb.

I was wondering about the books that everybody reads and everybody writes. It is one of the ways to learn, but better still are one's own experiences ?That reminds me of another adage - The wiseman learns from others' mistakes.


The book of Proverbs in the Bible teaches many lessons. But each time you go through it, you perceive it a little differently. Though some of us may like reading a particular author or a book, don't we all analyze the book from different perspectives? Authors are often scared that the reader might keep the book down even before finishing the first paragraph. I was once told by a mentor that it does not matter how many books you read, if only you could analyze one of them thoroughly. I guess that applies to proverbs too - they are snippets of wisdom.

Image by Norby

02 August 2007

It's cultural.

Have you ever wondered why typical Scandinavian design looks very fresh and uncluttered ? clean Lines, no extras.
While the western world and now some certain parts of Asia is constantly trying to ape the contemporary! style, I wonder why inspite of having Scandinavian furniture in their homes the place does not have the inviting and the hip retro feel that Scandinavian homes usually exhibit.

Certain cultures are very consumptious. "I have to have the new iphone and the new apple computer and a new headset." is a common thought for anybody in a consumeristic society. Five gadgets to hear the same song.!! The furniture is four years old and it is time to throw it out is another common thought. These and so many other shopping patterns are a norm. Time is spent shopping to buy that will rejuvenate their life. Though American stores sell Scandinavian furniture at a premium, I was wondering if they are doing anything to make the customers aware of how Scandinavian furniture was built. These days minimalism has become a style, not a function.

My curiosity prompted me to call a friend who now stays in Finland for some answers. How does Scandinavian homes radiate warmth, with such minimalistic and simplistic looks? She said, it is 'Lagom'. It's a norwegian word ( some say it is swedish or finnish ) and difficult to translate. At best, the english equivalent would be ENOUGH. 'Nothing showy, just enough to be comfortable.' They live by the law of jante. My next question was, don't they ever have the need to indulge, to buy something absolutely luxurious - may be a fancy mansion, or even a designer watch. In short, according to jante, to be flashy is to be considered gauche and disrespectful to others who have less.
Images from Damiel's photostream

30 July 2007

Stories of our lives

Have you ever tried telling your own story to somebody? The story of your life. From the day that you were born till now. If you like to do an exercise try telling the story of your life in third person to somebody for 10 minutes. Continue the same exercise with a second person for 10 minutes. May be you want to do the same exercise with another 5 people. Make notes in your diary about what you tell each person.

Check back your diary after telling your story to 7 people.
Answer the following questions for each story that you told the other person -
What part of your life did you tell ?
What was the main issue of the story ?
Why did you tell that story?
Were you comfortable telling the story?
If you tell the same story again what part would you change?
What did you realise after telling the story to the 7 people?

29 July 2007

Breathe in ... Breathe out.

This weekend I learnt to breathe. The same way I breathed the first time I came into this world.

It is said that in the course of growing up we forget to breathe correctly. We usually breathe only 1/10th of the capacity of our lungs. We thus collect a lot of toxins in our body. We forget to smile. We laugh a little. And we feel sad a lot. We get easily frustrated and upset. Anger mounts on us like a heaping pile of garbage. We sweat and frown. We sleep less and be awake trying to figure out what to do next. We are always waiting. Waiting for the next thing to happen. We are happy a little and wonder why it did not happen to me. We obsess on our weight, career, family and the world around us. We are filled with thoughts.

We wonder why did we not have that house or why did we not get that particular job. Why the deal fell through and Why is it difficult to get clients. We are always worried.
We are not happy with our colleagues and get frustrated why is it taking a long time. We want to remain in control, but feel helpless and we wonder why me and why not him. We forget the moment and live in the future. We breathe hastily. And we do it half heartedly. In the process we forget to live NOW.

Since the past 3 days I am attending a session conducted by a Columbia University medical school professor who is volunteering his time teaching
the art of living course. He has been teaching this course to military veterans, doctors, layman, and everybody who is interested in learning how to breathe. Breathing fully triggers neurotransmitters in the brain, over a period of time new brain cells grow, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, gives a respite to arthritis, increases energy, helps in increased blood flow and helps to live happier.

Several medical studies have proved the profound benefits of breathing. One study on the effects of breathing on Type A/superachiever personalities show that they have been able to be far more productive with their time than before and have been able to shift their focus on things that they liked to do, and could spend quality time with their families too.

Are you grateful that you breathe every second ? I am. And I am learning to breathe fully.

Images by Auro

27 July 2007

A-P-P-L-A-U-S-E


Music by an unknown artist.

She was announced as the protege of famous musicians who play
tabla. They ranted the names of celebrity tabla teachers while her accompaniments, violinists and the cello player were not even introduced. The stage was set. The tabla, the cello and the violin were arranged such that it brought warmth even while it still sat for the artists to make magic.
The show was called to celebrate the tabla player. She introduced herself by playing the tabla. The people did not seem to warm up. Then came the violinists and the cello player. The cello player seemed excited playing the instrument because this was his first performance with his newly acquired cello shipped from Japan. The violinist was in tune. He seemed to enjoy what he played. He stole the thunder under the tabla player's feet whom everybody had come to hear . The cello player followed suit. The rhythm took over. The beats produced by the tabla player were left behind. The protege player tried to catch the audience's attention but resigned to the fact that today the unsung violinists and the cello player was taking center stage.
Image by Monceau

23 July 2007

We see the horizon.

He speaks so softly that I have to strain my ears to listen. He is so quiet that we will never know what he is upto.

If my friends whom I have grown up with met him, they would say, he is not my type. He is a numbers person while I am not. He does not understand abstract art, but he likes to paint. While I like to hop galleries and enjoy the streets, he would like to listen to classical music or play the violin. When I read a book , he will read a page. When I discuss politics, he will ask - who is the president of America ? He likes the outdoors and enjoys kayaking and hiking. He likes history and the national geography. And He likes me !

When he is with his friends another personality of him seems to emerge. Chess, physics, puzzles, music are their favourite topics of conversation. Growing up both of us were raised speaking different languages and in different faiths. Our friends wrote off our marriages - they gave us one year. One set of parents persuaded to break the marriage , while the other set refuses to talk till the marriage is broken. Life has been spersed with both joyful and heartwrenching rides. And we are in it together. No promises have been verbally made nor rings exchanged.

When we went to the city hall to register, I was the one with the question, " Do we need to get married? why can't we can just stay together? Things are easier that way. No expectations, No obligations, No heartaches". He said, " sign now, we will see later". It is 9 years now and the later is yet to come.


Images by Robert Thomspon

20 July 2007

pEACE.

"People who have made peace with themselves are the people I most admire in the world" said a famous writer of the 20th century. The statement is not only relative and would be interpreted differently by people at various crossstages in life. Can we be at peace with ourselves when we see injustice done ? The author made the above statement when she herself having produced one of the best literary marvels did not want to be overwhelmed about producing a second novel because of the pressure to keep up, inspite of having written a manuscript. She has aged in years , but did not publish the second novel. You may be wondering why am I not telling who this author is, Only to respect her privacy which she vehemently holds so tight.

Coming back to the quote, do you think you can make peace with yourself about what you have not done or what you were not able to do. How about unproductive times or about not having pursued your dream ? Is it painfully scary or horrifying ? or Is there a large amount of the doubt of failure which is looming large. Isn't perseverance better than being overwhelmed? Wasn't this kind of attitude that made the predecessors of wright brothers continue on their mission of being able to fly? Isn't it this kind of patience and vision that helped man to set foot on moon, to invent treatements to life threatening diseases. Isn't a dream to "make it happen" and refusing to hear " No" bought man to achieve all the good things that has happened to the human race.

I learnt that Discovery channel has come out with a series called Planet Earth - which has documented nature in 200 locations in all the 7 continents which was never seen by the human race. The producer and the host of the show that was promoting it said - "Global warming is inevitable. We are getting warmed up. This documentation is an attempt to tell our children, how beautiful earth was.” Isn't this the lowest form of being at peace about the inevitable.


Perseverance, Faith and Prayer has helped human beings achieve what we are.
Lets make peace of the wonderful things that this earth and all the people in it can achieve - harmony with the earth and within themselves. We will then break free and a generation far greater than what has passed will evolve.

17 July 2007

I said Hello and she said Hello

She was 5 feet and 3 inches, wearing a pencil skirt, well groomed for a 21 year old and trotting down the hallway in her high heels. She was hurrying down to the lab since she was running late. I was checking in at the dorm when I saw her for the first time and thought to myself, How can I get to know her?

In the following days between my classes and hers we would hardly see each other. But sometimes I would catch a glance when she would drop in for lunch. With her high cheek bones and a nice tan she was an attraction to many young men at the University. Her confidence and her athletic abilities helped her to stand tall from the rest of the crowd. Her strong sense of identity, intelligence, and leadership qualities found a place in many professors books and may be a heart too! She was a heart throb.

After being in the dorm for more than a month or two I greeted her "Hello". She looked at me straight in the eye and responded very softly," Hi ", said she and smiled. But I didn't make any attempt to ask her to hang out. I don't remember our first conversation and how we became friends.


It has been 12 years since I first met her. Life has moved with us too. Along the way we have kept in touch with each other. And been for each other along life's bumpy road and joys. One of the high point was when she fell in love and got married to the man she loved so much. I wonder what is the bond between us and what keeps us together , though we do not share common interests. She is into sports, music, film and technology, all of which I am not. These days she has been reading some french authors, so it seems and she has read 2 books this year. That's excellent considering the fact that it is difficult for her to read more than 5 pages of her textbook in one sitting. We discuss all of this and so much more. We call each other infrequently. It would be realistic to say she calls me and I email her. That's how we keep in touch. Work has been bringing her to the city next door and we get together whenever both of us can. I cherish her and the time we spend together.

Every time is a time better than the last.

15 July 2007

Workmanship







































It was the weekend, and I indulged in the art and crafts.The workmanship and the skill of the designers. They drew and visualised. They used local metals and the stones found in the area to create it. Religion, culture, tradition and passion played a role to create them and so did long hours of toiling to recreate them. These pieces have travelled from far. From far east, from a place called Rajasthan in India. A place known for palaces, of valor and bravery of kings and their kingdoms who patronised the artisans. Art and craft grew and spread all through out the state and beyond.
Images: collections of a friend who sells these pieces.

14 July 2007

The best things in life come free.

Don't we take it for granted - The sun present every morning and the moon every night. Though we know that the sun does not show its face for several days at certain times in certain parts of the world have we ever wondered what will happen to this earth if the sun never came out? If we look carefully at what we eat - nature produces all the food, anything processesed is more harmful in the long run. Aren't we more satisfied eating food that are in its most natural state?

It is not carbonated drinks that quench our thirst but a liquid that gushes out of fresh water springs and wells ! Cotton, one of the natural fabrics that is soft to our skin is also produced by nature. Anything mixed in this natural fiber reduces the breathing capacity of the fiber. Polyster should be rooted out. It adds more industrial waste and is an absolute kitsch. And what does one enjoy more, the ambience of a hotel or a day at the beach, A walk in the woods, the sight of the full moon and the multitude of stars in the dark blue sky. Isn't it more royal and regal than all the bling?

In all, it is nature that calms our nerves . We dedicate one day to it - earth day. We try to mimic nature than enjoying it more. The color, the sound, the sight of nature are more soothing . Don't we like to hear somebody sing or somebody play an instrument than that comes out of the taperecorder or the ipod ? Why have we stopped exercising our vocal chords and stopped playing instruments that enhances the sound of nature. It is easy to forget that when we play certain instruments - the temperature of the air, the humidity and many other such things factor in it. Behold Nature, it will uphold you. It will uphold your soul.
Image: Photograph of a wine bottle

13 July 2007

I don't know, Do you?

I found this painting on the walls of New Jersey Performing arts center in downtown Newark, a town southwest of where I live. Many other paintings were also around, but this truly takes the cake. Does anybody recognize what this is?

09 July 2007

It would help

Books have always been a major part of my possessions. Some of the books have been with us for a long time and is accumulating valuable closed shelf space in our small apartment. 90 percent of these books are read and are around because I like the comfort of them around me ! and are occassionally referred. I have stopped buying books and continue to use the public libraries and other university libraries that are near my town.
I am planning to move these books onto open shelves that will be kept in the front room since we do not have space for a separate study. My fear is friends and relatives would think this as a pompous gesture or even a faux pas. What do you think? .

08 July 2007

eARTH.

The heat wave is here and the weather is sultry. As I stepped out early in the morning to the balcony the sun was already beating down. They say, when one does not have anything to talk in common, they talk about weather. It is always a pleasant way to hold a conversation than an awkward silence in an elevator . It is also one of the better ways to start a conversation. But I am here for none of that. Don't we dread the wrath of the blazing sun, the way it parches our skin and dries up the water source. It makes us immobile and tired.
Words without actions is a man of lesser faith, says the bible. So are we loosing faith in ourselves, Are we going to get beaten by the sun and its temperature ? Or are we going to step up and stop it. You are the master and the controller of your life, said a famous poet. The cutting down of the forests and the depletion of many a jungles and carefull mishandling of the flora has led us into this deep chasm. We can plant a sapling, and protect the ones that are standing from being at the mercy of the real
estate developers in our town. It will pay back generously. It will protect us and will protect the very earth that we dwell.

It is easy to loose sight of the fact that we design our homes, make it colorful and entertaining but seldom extend it to the earth that our house sits on - The earth and all that is in it ?

07 July 2007

Lifestyle and Earth

When I was growing up, we used cloth bags to go to the market, canvas bags to carry books to school, cloth instead of kitchen tissues in the kitchen, reused tins to grow herbs and plants, used vines of certain plants as scrubbers, mud for a facial, leaves of hibiscus plants for an hair shampoo, earthen wares to cook, recycle old bedsheets into pillow covers, use an earthern pot to cool water, drink sugar cane juice to quench our thirst come summer instead of carbonated drinks, handwash clothes instead of a washing maching, make washing soap,use pestle and mortar to grind, eat whole grains and use 100% whole grain flour for making flat bread, reuse milk plastic bags to store leftovers , have seasonal vegetables and fruits and used fans instead of an air conditioner. Walking and public transportation was a way of life. We had limit order on our consumption of biscuits, cakes and icecream, though they were homemade .We slept on mats /cotton mattress and had a shelf of clothes. The furniture was made of solid wood and they are still strong after 3 decades even when all of us have tested our strength on them. This and so much more. We lived large in a small space. Today, I am trying hard to be an honest practitioner of what kept me sustainable and healthy.

This picture is an image of the tote bag that was purchased at the liberty park where they celebrated earth day. Now they are sold in the supermarkets for 99 cents.
Please visit the website online at www.kssf.de/EHF

03 July 2007

Freedom, It is Mine.

Need I say more?
When the US celebrates its independence day tomorrow many more grills will be fired and barbecue parties will be held. Shopping discounts are already in full swing and offices are half empty. Schools are closed and families are vacationing in lieu of fourth of july. Spectacular fire works will adorn the dark sky in the evening tomorrow to commerate the Independence. Amidst all this, people who have immigrated or emigrated are left wondering the rheoteorical questions - Has the country stayed true to its commitment as it was written in the declaration of independence? Are the inhabitants of this country free? Can they exercise their freedom of speech? Does the country give liberty and justice to all those who seek it ? Who is America ? Who are Americans?
Happy Independence day.


The Image is a travel brochure of Historic Caroline county, Virginia Map. Please ignore the folds.

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