Phir Le Aaya Dil

I recently recorded one of my favorite songs from the movie Barfi.. “Phir Le Aaya Dil” by Rekha Bhardwaj.. Music by Pritam, and Lyrics by Sayeed Quadri.. This song will always remind me of the month I spent in London last year for work coz I heard it non-stop while commuting.. I am totally obsessed by Rekha’s voice, and love all her songs (even the item numbers).. And the lyrics are ridiculously amazing.. The song is built around a relationship that keeps coming back into your life but never works out.. And the lyrics are sort of telling you to go fulfill the unfinished feelings, complete the incomplete memories, and get back the suppressed spark..

I usually understand most Urdu words, but there were a couple in this song that stumped me..

“Mayassar”: is to make something available. And so the line, “use mayassar kar bhi aao, wo jo dabi si aas baaki hai” means go make it available (to yourself), as in, go get it for yourself, that suppressed wish that still remains there.

“Musalsal”: means continuous, constant, something that does not change. So the line, “dil keh raha hai use musalsal kar bhi aao”, means to go make it forever or constant..

Hope you enjoy my rendition of it.. :)

Stripe me..

I was in the process of cleaning up my site, and realized that in the last couple of years or so, all I have written about on the blog is SERIOUS stuff.. So, I thought maybe it was time to put up some fun light-hearted content.. And one of my favorite things to talk about is — Fashion ;)

I don’t know if you all follow trends that emerge from Fashion Weeks throughout the year.. I kinda do, coz I like to know what I will be seeing in the stores.. And looks like one of the major trend for this Spring Season ’13 is Stripes.. Here are some of my favorite looks from the Spring runway:


And here are some more affordable options.. I am already a proud owner of the middle 2 items from ASOS.. ;)

Mango Navy Style Blazer  ASOS Midi Skirt in Stripe  ASOS High-Waisted Shorts  Jcrew Bennett Cropped Chino in Multistripe

Rape City?

I have been holding up on writing about this because I have just been so angry about it that putting it in words was fruitless.. That coupled with the shame and embarrassment of belonging to not just the country but the city this happened in, I just did not know what to say. Did this incident surprise me? Not at all. I have heard about & read about such rapes for years. There was even a graphic scene in the movie “Bandit Queen” where they showed how Phoolan Devi (who later turned a daciot and then politician) was gang raped by several men in her village. I remember watching that scene and just not be able to get that image out of my head for months. I sometimes even imagined the pain she might have endured. And reading about this gang rape has done the same. I have been imagining how hard it must have been for that woman to physically go through something like that. But what I can’t imagine is what could possibly have been going through in the minds of those men that could lead them to not only rape her but also damage her forever with the rod.

I grew up in this city – Delhi. Inspite of my single mother’s efforts to keep me protected at all times, I did experience sexual harassment on a pretty regular basis. While walking to the grocery store, traveling on a public bus, out in my neighborhood with friends. From guys on scooters/bicycles touching my chest and speeding away, to groping in crowded buses, all of this was very common. As I grew older, I got stronger and learnt how to deal with these things. I even grabbed the shirt of the guy on the back seat of the scooter once and beat the shit out of him. Most of the time making a lot of noise would take care of things. The decent men and women around us in a bus would get alerted and keep a watch on the guy. But, nothing prepares you for when while making an ice-cream run with a friend, you experience a middle aged man just whipping IT out. My heart is racing right now just replaying all of this in my head.

It was a constant fear that you lived with, and dealt with. It was this fear because of which my mom was very strict with me about going out, I was not allowed to be out at night. I hated her back then for it, but I see it now. Because going to watch a movie after sun down could turn into a gang-rape that eventually kills you. And who in their right mind wants to even take that risk! Every single time I have visited India in the past, I have felt that fear again while taking cab alone to the airport or just shopping around. I would look for a pen or something sharp in my purse in case the cabbie was going to kidnap me. That is the kind of fear I’m talking about. For women that grew up there and still live there (few of my friends), they have learnt how to work around this without giving up their freedom. But for me its quite a claustrophobic feeling to not be able to roam around where and when I please.

I thought this past trip to India would be different, since I was going to always be with my husband or my brother, who were both visiting after a long time. But, if anything, it was worse! Incidents which I would have otherwise ignored, where a couple of guys were staring at me constantly turned into the guys confronting them. This happened EVERYWHERE! When we were hiking up to visit the Vaishno Devi temple, or just taking pictures at Qutub Minar (an old monument in Delhi). I think the rape incident had put both the men in a more protective stance than usual. They noticed way more and confronted it. All the attention this rape incident got via media is good, and does bring the issue of the protection of women to the surface. But, what has happened in the end? There were 2 or 3 other rapes just days after the protests. One of a 4 year old, and another of a 45 year old. What are these men thinking? And what do they really get out of it!?? Why not just pay for sex if they are so desperate?!

But its not about sex, its about the power they feel after doing this to a woman. In a society where women are growing more independent, and are refusing to put up with stuff, this is a way of instilling the fear back in her mind. An incident that I was a witness to in India while the protests were still going on proved this and was at the least expected location – an Apple Service Center where I was getting my laptop’s hard disk fixed. A group of 5-6 goons showed up and started a brawl about the screen of a new iPhone 5 which the guy believed had been cracked by the Service Center. After quite a ruckus the cops came and resolved the issue. But as soon as they all left, the receptionist broke down in tears and told us that the guys had threatened her. They told her that they knew the route she took home every night, and that she shouldn’t forget the Delhi rape case so soon!! Can you believe it?! Can you believe that for an iPhone screen, these men had threatened to sexually assault her!? I tried to comfort the girl, but I didn’t know what to say, and quite honestly I just wanted to get the hell out of there because I had started to feel scared as shit inspite of my Husband, Brother & Uncle being right next to me. That’s the kind of fear that you live with.

And its unfortunate that the government chooses not to deal with this head on, and you still find some congress members (even some women) criticizing the women for being out at night and wearing western clothes. In a nation where they address the country as “Mother India”, they can’t even protect their own women. Its shameful, and I am embarrassed to call that country and city my home.

Sabaq Aisa.

Uploading a new recording after ages.. It’s an old song from the movie Tehzeeb (2003).. Music is by the amazing AR Rahman, and lyrics were adopted by the 19th century Urdu poet Daagh Dehlvi.. This is a song I have wanted to record for a very long time, but couldn’t get the track worked out.. Finally, after a lot of audio editing to create the base track, I was able to record it.. Hope you all like it.. :)

The ugly side of Indian Weddings

I just saw a very compelling episode of Satyamev Jayate, a new show talk show about Social issues in India, and was inspired to post something on my blog.. Something I haven’t done in months, or has it been over a year? ;) It is hosted by Aamir Khan, which is why it has been hugely popular in India..

I cannot really say that I have experienced any of the scenarios that the episode talks about, but I have to admit that I came very close to one, and understand how important it is to walk away from something that does not seem to have the right intent, specially for something like marriage. The only intent of a marriage should be to be together for companionship or to have a family, if you both want to have kids.. If dowry or a bump up in your social or financial status is what either of them is looking for, then that marriage is set to be doomed. Apart from the financial point, there is also immense pressure from in-laws for Indian wives for a variety of things, and find it shameful that the husband, who is also the middle party in this alliance, never sticks up for the wife.. I have seen a lot of my girlfriends, some who even live in the US/Canada, go through this kind of pressure from their in-laws, and find it absolutely ridiculous! I am not sure at what point the concept of marriage evolved into something more than the legal union of two individuals..

The other thing that appalls me is how women are still struggling for their place in the society today, in spite of her being immensely successful. Today, women are making more money than men, being excellent mothers, and also good role models, but are still fighting for an equal place in their marriage. Maybe the Western society has, to some degree, reached a good place in figuring this out, but the Indian community still suffers very heavily. Sometimes when I watch Mad Men, I feel that the Indian society is 30-40 years behind in women’s lib than their Western counterparts. Which is even more surprising in today’s global economy. The first step, in my opinion, has to come from the mothers and families of these women. There is nothing stronger for a woman than the support of her own family. When that bond is weak, her confidence is low and she is insecure. And that almost all the time is going to end up putting her in a horrible situations like these.

I also watched another movie this weekend, called “Blue Crush”, and was very impressed about how it inspired women to focus on their careers, and their own identities instead of running after men, specifically rich men. If the man you fall in love happens to be successful, that’s great, but that shouldn’t be the reason to marry him. In today’s world of the “Real Housewives” & “Basketball Wives” reality shows, I don’t see much out there that inspire women to work on themselves and not look for an easy way up via marriage. I hope they churn out more movies like this one..

I don’t claim to have all things figured out, but my 2 cents for all girls reading this would be:

  • Have a strong bond with your own family
  • Focus on building a career for yourself (doesn’t matter if it makes money, it should give you an identity)
  • And find a man who wants to marry you only for you
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I know its been forever since I wrote something on my blog, and its mainly because of work and all the wedding planning. But I was compelled to write today because I have spent this whole weekend arguing about this one topic “Revenge”.. It started on Saturday with a discussion around some family disputes and was fueled very strongly by last night’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s being killed by the US troops.. I am glad that we have put an end to the leadership of Al Qaeda, but I don’t find myself jumping with joy.. And isn’t because I didn’t lose a loved one on 9/11, but its simply against my right mind to celebrate anyone’s death.. I may see people finding closure of some kind, but are we really that insensitive that we are rejoicing a man’s death, even if he was evil? A man who was killed after 10 years of hunting, spending millions of dollars, and killing millions of innocent people in the process? And lets not forget the millions of people who are unemployed in this country due to the millions of dollars that were spent elsewhere instead of improving the situation for their own citizens.. Was all this really worth it? I somehow don’t see the point, and I don’t understand if this crazy chase to kill one man was really worth it..

Now getting back to main point, did we all forget that Osama bin Laden became a terrorist because he was seeking revenge from the US after what they had done in Afghanistan to win another war against Russia? Was his revenge worth it? He killed 3000 people on 9/11, and instilled this grave fear in all our hearts which made us suspect the next muslim we ran into, or even the turbaned sikh who seemed pretty similar to an average mid-western american.. And we went back after him to seek revenge for 9/11, killing another millions.. So at what point is this cycle of revenge supposed to end? Is this is the purpose of our lives on the earth? To keeping going in these cycles of generations after generations seeking revenge? Today we killed bin Laden, tomorrow who knows in what form their revenge will come back? Is this the point of this life?

I don’t think so, and this also applies to our little ego battles and quarrels with our friends and families.. If one person wrongs you, you set out to avenge it by doing something stupid, and that kicks off this infinite loop of back and forth of ego-driven attacks.. What happened to striving to make peace? Maybe making peace with Al Qaeda sounds impossible to a lot of you, but how about starting with your own brothers and sisters, and friends that you have lost in this ego battle? And what about forgiveness? Even if you don’t believe in any religion, you still know that forgiveness is a virtue and ego a vice. And let me clarify, that I am not preaching, if there’s someone who knows ego, its me.. I have done a lot of stupid things in the rush of my ego that I now regret, but atleast I am trying to change my point of view.. I am trying to end any cycles of ego wars in my life and am reaching out to the ones I lost in this process.. And if I can do it, I have hope that others can too..

Lets get out of this revenge cycle, this ego battle, and embrace the life that we have been given.. Maybe I sound like a hippie from the 70s, but revenge and war will never do any good.. It will continue this cycle forever and we will simply end up being consumed by either getting back at someone, or in the fear of their retaliation.. If there’s anyone that can put an end to this, it is you..