Friday, January 25, 2013

64th Republic Day of India

Dear India,

You've had a tough year. Well, let's rephrase that. You've had a really tough life. You have demons from your past to haunt you, you're surrounded by unpredictable neighbors, you're being governed by a rather incompetent lot, the youth of your country is slowly giving up on you, and let's not even talk about the state of girls in your country anymore. You've got a lot of fixing to do. It's not going to be easy and it's not going to be quick, but it is indeed possible.

You're still young, you have your very valid redeeming qualities and you're only getting wiser with age. For all my life that I've known you, we've shared a love-hate relationship of sorts. But, let me assure you that it's been love for the better part. I believe in you and I know you will grow up to be something amazing. Please believe in your individuality, your unique culture, and your simple people. Don't die of an identity crisis, the mighty one. There's a long way to go.

Jai ho!

Much love,
PS: This picture was clicked in a little village near Wayanad, Kerala.
PPS: The font used above is from The Hinglish Project. It's a very cool concept and is available for free download. Read more about it here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Bride


Though I couldn’t care less about the joke that most weddings have turned into, the wedding rituals still excite me. Simple rituals, complicated rituals and then some plain odd ones, they’re all designed to make the happy couple realise the importance of this institution. The diversity of this country makes weddings even more intriguing with every region and religion bringing their own flavour to the ceremony. Even through all the cultural variables, there’s one constant that is undeniable. It’s the bride. Isn’t there something glorious about brides? We all know that it’s a special day for both parties involved, but brides always steal the show. They shine with some other-worldly glow, their immaculately put together clothes, the heirloom jewellery, the smell of marigolds and jasmines, the sound of bells and baubles, these little details add up to make these creatures absolutely fascinating to me.

This may also have something to do with my age and stage in life. At 26, it seems everyone around you is either considering, dissing, planning or gushing about weddings. In fact, I’m off to one in another 12 hours. I can’t wait to see what the bride looks like. Is she a traditional bride or a modern one? Is she a coy girl or a chirpy one? Will she shed a tear during her vidaai (formal departure ceremony) or come out grinning? I’ll report back soon. Anyhow, meet these lovely newlyweds from Kollam, Kerala. They’d just gotten married and were bidding adieu to their relatives, when my auto-rickshaw pulled by. Me, being I, couldn’t take my eyes off the bride and decided to crash the party. Turns out the family, friends and even the couple were more that excited to have me click a few shots. Their only condition that I pose with them for few of their cameras. Such lovely people.
Enjoy the pictures.

How pretty is this girl?

Much Love,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Slow Arrow of Beauty

Pretty little school girls from a small town on the Kerala-Karnataka border

What is beauty? It’s such a strange term. What may appear breathtaking to me may be less than ordinary to someone else and yet we live in a culture where every once in a while a man or a woman is put up on a pedestal of being fine creations of God. This makes no sense. Surrounding ourselves with unachievable, often technically enhanced, beauty keeps us from appreciating the most simplistic, often miss-able beauty that passes us by ever too discreetly. I love how Nietzsche describes it. For only he could.

“The Slow Arrow of Beauty. The most noble kind of beauty is that which does not carry us away suddenly, whose attacks are not violent or intoxicating (this kind easily awakens disgust), but rather the kind of beauty which infiltrates slowly, which we carry along with us almost unnoticed, and meet up with again in heart, it takes complete possession of us, filling our eyes with tears, our hearts with longing.” Pg 104, verse 149, Human, All Too Human

Much love,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rapunzels of Kerala

Young girls in Wayanad

I love the women of my country – so beautiful, hard-working and strong. Carving their paths, against all odds, in a man's world. While that's true about most of the country, where the testosterone outshines the estrogen, there's always Kerala - the god's own country and the shining beacon of hope to the women around the world. Mother Earth hasn't only blessed this utopic state with breathtaking beauty but also the highest ratio of females (reaffirming the natural beauty, I guess). The fairer sex enjoys its spot in sunshine here. Women work, study and continue to bring hope to their sisters across the nation. Seeing the social and political atmosphere, we could all use some female inspiration. While I could list number of reasons that make the women in these parts exceptional, I choose to share a very small (almost insignificant) reason that makes these women remarkable to me. I'm always fascinated by people who do important things and make them appear so simple and effortless. Meet the women of Kerala. I don't understand how they manage to keep up their traditionally long, wavy, medusa-like manes and yet get their day's work done. They go around doing their business – taking the public transport, farming, walking around the dusty roads with their immaculately done-up hair, loosely hanging down their shoulders. No comfortable ponytails or I-mean-business buns, just thick, shiny, black hair, massaged with coconut oil, brushing their strong shoulders as they unapologetically celebrate their womanhood. It's magical. They are like goddesses. At least to me. As I sit in my bed, typing this post with my hair tied up in a messy scrunchy bun, I wish I could be a little less shabby.

In Kollam

In Kollam

At Munroe Island, Kollam

In Kollam

There's more posts coming from my recent trip to Kerala.
Come back soon.

Much love.