All posts tagged: culture

Gargano, Lake Garda, Italy, offbeat

Gargnano; Life or Something Like it in Italy.

“Experiencing a country through its cities is like judging a book by its cover.” ~yours truly. Welcome to Gargnano. An unassuming little village on the northern shores of Lake Garda in Italy, away from the touristy towns of Desenzano and Sirmione. Here everyone knows everyone else. Two days is how long it takes for the locals to know me, despite my broken language.

My First Chinese Wedding

A wedding is a must-attend to graduate in the understanding of a culture. A batch-mate at work took the plunge last night, giving me my first sneak peak into a Chinese-Singaporean wedding. Gate crashing The title’s a misnomer. It’s a Singaporean tradition in which the groom must earn the right to his bride. The groom, accompanied by his brothers (the western equivalent of the best man), shows up early in the morning at the bride’s house. They are greeted by the bridesmaids and tasked to pass tests on life’s essential skills (culinary, physical, endurance etc). Before the tasks started, all the brothers were made to sign indemnity forms! In this particular wedding, the tasks were considered rather mild, and included doing push-ups, decorating a cake, dancing & eating dumplings of 4 kinds – sweet, sour, spicy (stuffed with chilli) & bitter (boiled with panadol!) After completing all the tasks, the groom is given the key to his bride’s room where she waits in her bridal gown – rescuing the girl, Bollywood style 🙂 Tea ceremony …

Justice shining?

I am trying to stifle the fan within me as I write this post, because objectivity is important. There is a 4-letter word doing the rounds on Indian news channels and I cannot hold my silence any more. My intention here is merely to weigh the arguments I have been constructing in my head since June 16, rant about the media, and assess the state of affairs in my dear country. If you haven’t figured out yet, I am talking about Shiney Ahuja. The 4-letter word is rape. I quote from Wikipedia (which I am way more tempted to trust as a source than everything that appears as breaking news on CNN IBN, NDTV, Headlines Today and the like): On the evening of Sunday, June 14 2009, a household maid working at Ahuja’s house lodged a compliant with the Mumbai Police alleging that Ahuja raped her when they were alone that same afternoon. She further claimed that he threatened her life to prevent her from disclosing the incident. At first glance, or if you have …

Of Rural India & The Aasha Build

The soul of an Indian is incomplete without a journey into the heart of rural India. The 2 weeks I spent in the slum region of Hegdenagar / Kamanahalli (to which I partly owe my long absence from the blogosphere) has transformed my perspective on India’s development, and my own ambitions and issues. Hegdenagar is an ignored little village, about an hour’s distance from Bangalore city, and a few decades’ development. Honestly though, I had imagined a replica of the Dharavi slums, and Hegnenagar’s cemented, albiet small and dilapidated houses, alleviated, if only for the shortest time, my anticipation of the living standards of our rural countrymen. I learnt later that most Dharavi-styled slums stand on illegal land, and Habitat India has fought its fair battle to abide by the law and take Hegdenagar through its first stage of development. The same houses which teased us with a heartening peek into rural life, home 8-10 families in their 300-350 sq-ft boundaries, math that left me bewildered. Constructing new homes for such families that could afford …

Tagaytay City, Philippines

Somewhere among the clouds lie the highlands of Tagaytay, green and misty, 2 hours away from the busy city life of Manila, the capital. It is here that I spent the weekend, treated to a gorgeous view of the Taal lake, and among people so warm and friendly that it almost felt like home. The trip was sponsored by Accenture, for a 3-day Student Leadership Conference (SLC), during which all of Taal Vista was filled with what I believe to be some of the brightest minds in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me that despite our geographical remoteness, the journey we undertake as students tends to bind us in no time at all, like we were always in it together. The SLC was styled with seminars conducted by senior Accenture executives, and intersparsed with team activities that made me feel like a college freshie again! The highlight of the stay was the post-conference bonding with students from different parts of the Philippines, including Baguio, Cebu and Manila. It took me less than a …

The ides of March

Astrology has been a rampant theme in several Shakespearean plays, together with omens, folklores & superstitions. The soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caesar, “Beware the ides of March,”  has made today subconsciously linked with a sense of foreboding. Despite all science, the human mind can be trained to shun logic and stick to intuition.  Here’s a collection of some rather whacky superstitions from around the world: #1: Korea: Don’t wash your hair on an exam day. Apparently, people believed that when they washed their hair, their memories were cleaned by the water, making them forget the stuff they had studied. #2: Mexico, America: Counting stars will make your eyes look like those of a fish, or cause corns on your feet. #3: Korea: If you marry someone with a five years difference in age, you’ll fight with your spouse every day, but you won’t get divorced. If you marry someone six years older or younger than you, you and your spouse will live happily, but you will always be beggars.  #4: Russia: If you look in a broken mirror, …

I do?

One of the side effects of turning 21 is that the word ‘marriage’ seems to be floating in the air, all the time. It makes people emanate all kinds of sentiments – obsession, fantasy, detest, and the most boring, acceptance. Lately, too many of my discussions with people revolve around the subject, and I hope this post is going to be a closure.  Given how rapidly our Indian culture has progressed, generation gaps are so glaringly obvious. Apparently generation gaps work in multiples of 7, and on some level, I have started to notice that. Anyway, this cultural progression seems to have been segregated by community, and some orthodox ones are still in the 20th century phase of arranged marriage, where girls are showcased to boys and only one-sided approval is necessary. I won’t address such an outrageously ridiculous custom here.  Recently however, I had a long debate with a friend who compares arranged marriages to Swayamvaras of history. The similarity is uncanny, if you think about it. Back in the day, suitors would line …

Vision for all

If you wear eyeglasses, I’m sure you can remember what it felt like the first time you wore them. Personally, I was in denial for 2 years before I got my first pair. My bespectacled self realized that my whole world had been a blur. Suddenly, everything was bright and all those blotches had defined shapes. I could see clearly again, thanks to Salvino D’Armate, peace be upon him. Unfortunately, millions the world over, and nearly 15 million people in India can never experience their first time. I shall resist brooding over how this affects their quality of life and how unfair the financial inequality in our country is. I will however mention that the aftermath of unaided poor vision is often blindness.  A while ago, a friend told me how some IIT students had found this problem an ingenious solution. Today, I stumbled upon a similar initiative by Lions Club International. Apparently it has been in place for over 80 years! I’m still blown away by the idea, and to prevent further anticipation, here goes: …