All posts tagged: India

Remembering August 6th

Today marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and continues to send shivers down the spines of those that dare to reminisce. 64 years later, the world is still a cradle of hatred, cruelty and destruction. Although we probably had our first tryst with World War II in 6th grade history textbooks, I deeply encountered the implications of war, weapons & death only in 9th grade literature. It tragically transformed historical numbers, facts and figures into real people, emotions and scars. A doctor’s journal entry for August 6, 1945 – Vikram Seth The morning stretched calm, beautiful, and warm. Sprawling half clad, I gazed out at the form Of shimmering leaves and shadows. Suddenly A strong flash, then another, startled me. I saw the old stone lantern brightly lit. Magnesium flares? While I debated it, The roof, the walls and, as it seemed, the world Collapsed in timber and debris, dust swirled Around me – in the garden now – and, weird, My drawers and undershirt disappeared. A splinter jutted from my mangled thigh. …

Advertising bites, 2009

Creativity can never be drained out of advertising. I don’t know if sales will increase post these ads, but smiles definitely will. An incredible Incredible India TV commercial by Nirvana films. A wonderfully executed TV commercial by TATA Communications for its foreign markets (hence not featured on Indian TV). A glocalized Intel ad for an Indian audience. An Amul billboard I spotted in Bombay, targeting the 90% reservation proposal for SSC students by the Maharashra government. Never doubt the power of the freedom of speech in a democracy! What are your favorites this year? Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.

Education reforms in India

The Congress came to power with big promises this year (as all governments post all elections), and much to the credit of the academic party that it is, I am proud to say that I see hope for India, believing, rather optimistically, that Kapil Sibal’s proposed education reforms will be implemented. I must confess that I am an Indian news channels’ addict, despite the trash that they feature and hype, and have followed all day, the vision of Kapil Sibal, India’s HRD minister and a Harvard alumni. My rants on education finally find some relief, at least in acceptance of the fact that our education system is a breeding ground for stress, due to its superficial emphasis on results. The man who led India’s first expedition to the Arctic and represented the country at the Davos economic forum, has now become the harbinger of relief in the Indian student life. In an NDTV exclusive with Barkha Dutt, Kapil Sibal proposed the following: Scrap the compulsory class 10 board exam, for it is merely a source …

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 …

Take me home, to the place, I belong

When you’ve lived away from home for an extended period of time, you start to feel like a leaf, blown far away from its tree by the wind. Its roots though, which nourished and nurtured it, continue to deepen, as though replicating gravity that tends to draw you back to the earth you belong to. The plane ride back to India from another country is a journey of nostalgia. There’s something sweet, touching and homely about it. Perhaps it is that warm feeling inside, a sense of belonging, a knot that seems to have been tied again. Perhaps just the change in air. The last few minutes before the plane hits the ground, with the seat tilting forward, ears blocked, thoughts turbulent, eyes trying to absorb the city lights outside the window… And then it happens. The thud. The sound of tires screeching. Ears pop open to sounds you’ve known and lived among for years. The accents, the language. The smell of the air freshener, that you know will soon be replaced by salivating aromas. …

The Aasha Build: Gift hope, build a home

Slumdog Millionaire has put the slums of India on the world map, albiet in an artistic way. Despite the obvious, it’s still hard to believe that some people don’t have a concrete roof over their heads, that they live in make-shift shacks even in this age and time. Apparently, India homes 17% of all slum-dwellers in the world, a figure which translates to about 170 million people! The odds are just slightly tilted in our favor.  If you have ever witnessed the poverty on India’s streets (in person or through CNN or BBC), I am sure you have wondered, even for a moment, if there was a way you could help. This is your chance. A few of us have started an initiative with Habitat for Humanity to build houses in a slum area in Devanahalli, on the outskirts of Bangalore, India. The 2 weeks we spend on site will involve an intensive 10 day build, with an aim of constructing 8 double-storeyed houses, sheltering 16 families or approximately 96 individuals. A house might sound trivial, …

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: …

While we were sleeping…

They came, they captured, they killed. Fear and frustration mark the days. I pray for those who became victims of the terror attacks in Bombay, those who lost loved ones, those whose lives have changed forever. A prayer for the grieving; a prayer for strength. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), life goes on. We continue to live our little lives in our little worlds. It hit me when I was following the coverage on CNN and they switched from the Bombay shoot-outs to another story in another part of the world, as though the former had moved nothing in their hearts. I know it sounds silly, but it still surprises me how we can just move on with our own lives.  We, as a country, have a very long way to go. And yet, most of us are happy doing what we do, criticizing what is, mocking what will be, never once asking what we could do. Even after all these years of our struggle for freedom, I really believe that we are genetically coded to be …

happy diwali

To ye and to all, a Happy Diwali! Celebrations galore. Let there be lights and diyas, firecrackers and sparklers, and delightful, irresistible food. May the good in all of us taste victory over evil temptations, an end to an exile of hardship, pain and oblivion. It’s that time of the year again. The time when families come together and pray to the Goddess Lakshmi and the Lord Ganesha, for good luck and wealth, to our creator Vishnu, for happiness, and to Indra, for satisfaction. The time when homes, shops and streets glow with lights, hoping that the gods will find their way to our humble abodes. The time when evenings roar with crackers and the sky crackles with mini rockets, and kids jump around dancing sparks from anars and chakris. The time when all our world unites in a bright, loud, happy celebration. May this festival of lights enlighten our lives! Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable …