Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Storyteller In Us

Deep within each and everyone of us lies a storyteller. Keen, curious and imaginative. The role of stories in our life seem so insignificant, but when you look a little deeper you realise that we are a part of innumerable stories everyday. Some stories that we hear stay with us and eventually become a part of who we are.



There are bedtime stories, incidental stories, old folk tales, stories that trace the origin of recipes, movie stories, drunk stories, ghost stories from sleep overs and so many more to add to these. What is it about these stories that builds an instant connection between us and the subject?

Menu art- Farzi Cafe, Gurgaon

Growing up, my dad told me stories of the time he spent on a sugarcane farm with his uncle. These stories would thrill little me as I reimagined every moment in my head adding my own twists to it. I felt little shivers when I imagined cold rainy nights at the farm when my dad cuddled with his pet dog to keep him safe and warm. This was one of the classics that I asked my dad to repeat over and over again. I think it's these stories that nurtured the inexplicable love I feel for dogs.

Artists have a blessed opportunity to immerse themselves into someone else's story. We listen to a story, digest the story and then become the story itself. Painters bring stories to life with imagery from their own imagination. 

Illustrations by 4 different artists derived from the same love stories of Radha and Krishna
A few centuries back, Kathak dancers enacted tales and stories of gods and brave kings to village crowds. The word 'kathak' means storyteller and is derived from the word 'Katha' which means story. But unlike theatre, a dancer plays all the characters in a story. She brings out actions and reactions of multiple characters and paints a beautiful tapestry for the audience.




Everytime I play a character through dance, my guru repeatedly reminds me that I am every character but none of the characters are me. Telling a story as is, without any influences of personal experience, is what makes 'Abhinaya' (enactment) so challenging.

Storytelling has so many forms, but in every form it brings out the same child like innocence in all of us. Eager and inquisitive to get to know the end.

My sister in law, Mohavi wrote and illustrated a children's story recently. The main protagonist of her story, Lakshmi is a child full of character and spunk. Everyday Mohavi imagined how Lakshmi looked, spoke, sat, thought and felt. As Lakshmi evolved through the story, she became a part of our household. At lunch and dinner, every one of us added a new element to Lakshmi's character as we got to know her better. 

Creations and Evolution of Lakshmi

What touches my heart about storytelling is the fact that someday, somewhere a child is going to read this story and connect with Mohavi's imagination and add a little more reality to it.


An idea swims through our minds and drowns itself in our emotions before a beautiful story is born. The power of these stories are evident to us only when we think of how many years and lives they have survived before we decide to re tell the same tale to our kids. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Pretty Cloth Bag

A month long sabbatical and it's been a writer block ever since. 2 days back, in an attempt to get back to my schedule I went for my dance class. It was almost like magic. I felt like my systems went through a reboot. I guess what a vacation does for most people, a rigorous dance lesson does for me. So here I am, unclogged of all the blocks and back to my blogging self. 

I typed out this post 2 years back. April 10th 2013 to be precise. Still new to my life in Oman and very pissed off with how casually we live disconnected from the world's problems here. This weekends Y magazine reminded me of my post and how strongly I feel for this cause.


You could catch me on a day at the mall without my cell phone but im always with my Pretty Cloth Bag :)  

My Pretty Cloth Bag




I luv the confused look I get from a bag packer at a store when I say 'I have my own bag'. It's like i'm asking him to give up his job at gunpoint. I've even noticed cashiers smirk at me when all my stuff doesn't fit into my cloth bag. Its like a 'Ha Ha...I told u so' face. There have been times when packers have put my pretty cloth shopping bag into a plastic bag and given it to me. So much for environmental awareness.  Give it a minute and watch the packing trend we follow here. There is a new bag for every 2 items!

Once I get myself out of the store I always meet cynics who think there is a perpetual comments box available to them "How does it matter?..Everyone does it anyway!".  "This is an oil rich country..who cares" and of course my favorite "You're just doing it because you think it's fashionable!" WHAT?!!!

I wish it were fashion because then more people would be doing it. 
I spent a whole month in Gurgaon and I was blown away by how successfully india has managed to almost completely stop the use of plastic bags. Carrying a cloth bag of your own or just condensing all your purchases to one single bag can make a huge difference.

Reduce your use of plastic.
Recycle the plastic that you can.
Reuse the bags that you already have.
And now REFUSE to use plastic bags on your next shopping trip

Stay Green! :)  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

When Pruple Expressions met Violet Hues

Ever given a shot to something you are extremely skeptical about? Last week I took the leap and attended 'The Journey of Consciousness'; a talk about the deeper aspects of the mind and the soul (yup, I am one of those...) I had a couple of reasons to attend the talk. The important one being the speaker, Natesh Shetty, my childhood buddy.

Violet Hues is a healing center run by Natesh and his wife Dr. Sushmita Gowri. They specialize in hypnotherapy, energy healing, DNA theta healing amongst other therapy methodologies. So now amongst all other fancy professions, I also have a healer as one of my closest friends :)

So like most people are after a talk like this, I expected to feel renewed, moved and inspired. But I felt none of these. I expected to now start believing in hypnotherapy and Past life regression therapy but I am still skeptical. All I felt was a every deep and honest admiration for MYSELF. I felt like a director would feel when he spots talent for the 1st time.

The brain is an immensely brilliant organ and its manifestation (i.e. thoughts) can determine every single aspect of our existence. Throughout the talk, I kept thinking about how little of this immense capacity we use. We have heard for years that positive thinking and the power of the mind can even heal physical injury. If thats true, we should be able to physically measure this change. Masaru emoto,  a Japanese author, experimented with healing of water with positive thinking. 

Masaru Emoto simply spoke words of love and chanted prayers to water samples from different lakes and rivers. The findings of his experiment were astonishing. The water samples crystallized to form beautiful hexagonal shapes.  







Masaro goes on to explain that if this is the influence of positive healing on water samples and humans comprise of 70% water, the possibilities of healing the human mind through positive thoughts are endless. 

Its a beautiful thought and Masaro theory restores so much faith in my heart that I could manage a difficult situation myself through just my thoughts 

Many have challenged his findings and labeled it pseudoscience. But with all my heart, I want Masaro's theory to be proved right. 

Our brains are programmed to continuously store data. Good or bad, every thought gets ingrained in our system. So how much of this can we control and alter? 


When I was in college, my roommate Srishti and I did this thing called the 'crazy dance'. Everytime we felt dull, bummed, annoyed or just bored, we would turn on the silliest playlist of songs and throw our hands and legs in the air. It was ridiculous, hilarious and looked nothing like dance. Anyone who saw us would think we were electrocuted. But nothing in the world equaled the stomach clenching laughter that followed every single time. We'd look at each other innovative moves and burst out uncontrollably. When I look back now, I like to think of 'crazy dance' as a forceful positive healing experience. And what could be more healing than dance? 

With so much happening around us everyday in our lives, its hard to always keep ourselves positive. So I have begun a little experiment myself. Every morning, I pin up a positive quote, a joke, a picture or anything that makes me smile. I think about it consciously for 5 minutes and those 5 mins make a huge difference in the way I feel through the day. 




Of Course there is no way to prove if my experiment is science, pseudoscience or just hokum but I think it works for me. After those 5 minutes in the morning I feel like I have control about how I will feel and think through the day. If my brain is going to store every piece of info it is exposed to, I would like to believe that I can monitor what it takes in and what it leaves out.  

Our brain is so advanced and capable that it can weave a complex intertwined web of thoughts in a few seconds. As much as we want to give our thoughts direction, the mind wavers between so many past experiences and influences that it becomes hard to focus. 

Brainmap in a few seconds

Through my experiment, I am attempting to give my thoughts a positive pattern. It is said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit (maybe another myth!). And so I am going to keep at it.  I don't know if this will work for me in any way at the end of 21 days. But I will always carry with me the thought that I stuck with a positive habit for 21 days. Its important that every one of us feels empowered and in control of our thoughts. The method we choose doesn't have to be scientifically proven or even acceptable to the world. 

 Here is the beautiful thought I started my day with. Take a deep breath, read the words and let the water in your body soak in the positivity of each and every word. 

"Ideas are the mightiest influence on earth. 

One great thought breathed into a man may 

regenerate him."






Monday, February 9, 2015

Speak When Spoken To


I'm in the midst of a few thoughts right now. One of the greatest cartoonists of our time, RK Lakshman passed away recently. He is credited for the creation of a cartoon character called 'the common man'. Through his work he has left behind a reflection of himself in the 'common man'. For years RK Lakshman used his wit, intelligence and creativity to reflect the hypocrisy of our country. While india continues its long battle with corruption, humor plays an important role in reflecting the opinion of the masses.







The simplicity of the common man is what tickles our thoughts. RK Lakshman had a lense through which he could view everything around him and recreate it with such innocence and honesty. Of course he offended some but he hit the nail on its head with the blatant truth.




So here comes the thought of free expression and speech. How far is too far? In the wake of a the Charlie Hebdo incident this thought crossed my mind so many times. Its disgraceful and unforgivable  the heinousness of the crime but is it still ok to step on broken glass when u know it could cut u? Secondly, who decides what is appropriate humour and what is outright disrespectful?


 A group of Mumbai based standup comedians who call themselves All India Bakchod (AIB) hosted the 1st real Bollywood roast in Mumbai.  For a couple of days it was trending on everyone's Facebook and Twitter wall. All of a sudden the 'moral police' woke up to this piece of entertainment and labeled it 'culturally unethical'. 

The complainee stated " The show, which can be seen on YouTube and other websites, was extremely abusive and it is not only ruining the clean image of the Indian culture & women, but is also misleading today's youth,"

Just because obscenity is sung in a tune and called an 'item number', it makes it no less offensive. For some perspective, here is a translation of a very popular bollywood song that plays on TV with no age restrictions or objections. 





Joban hai pyaasa to jor kare
Ainvai ye din mein bhi shor kare
Takiya bana lipat le
Kambal bana rapat le
Tan hai kateela par 
iski ada hai shaitani
This youth is thirsty, and hence loud,
It makes noises in the day even..
Make it (my body) a pillow and hug it,
make it a blanket and glide over it..
The body is jagged, but it's style is naughty..

Night ki naughty kahani
Ye Halkat Jawani
Teekha ye namkeen paani
Ye Halkat Jawani
Night ki naughty kahaani
Jawaani.. Ye Halkat Jawaani..
the naughty story of the night,
this careless youth..
This salt water is spicy,
this mean youth..the naughty story of the night,
this careless youth..






Sadly, the AIB roast has been taken off YouTube. Personally, I enjoyed parts of the roast. Repeated sexual implications are little over the top for my sense of humour. But I enjoy the innuendoes and outright honesty in humor. So the roast was a little long but an entertaining watch for me. 


The roast began with a very detailed disclaimer giving the audience a very clear picture of what was to come.  Insult comedy by it's very nature is designed to be offensive and all of a sudden people who had absolutely nothing to do with it woke up and said "this is offensive". Well, that was intentional. It's like sipping milk out of an expired milk carton and saying "let's shut down the dairy!". Satirical and insult comedy and fairly new age styles of comedy in India. There is a large section of the urban indian audience who enjoy this structure of comedy.

So heres going back to my initial question. There are different styles of entertainment and different structures of comedy. Then why should there be a one size fits all sort of format in humor? We are an intelligent country with the gift of freedom of speech. Then why do we need governing bodies to tell us what we can and cannot speak about? 












Saturday, December 13, 2014

Walk the Talk with Jabber Walk

Exercise has always meant dance to me so it has always been puzzling when people said they were too bored to exercise. Equally puzzled is my fitness freak husband who loves his runs more than he loves me. I have made peace with it since its the least of the evils out there. I'm ok as long as I don’t come second to a phone or an Ipad. 

As important as it is to keep our Body Mass Index in check, its essential that we enjoy the experience of leading a healthy lifestyle. Movies, magazines, social media and every other thing around us contribute to making us believe that being slim = being healthy. 

“Get up! Lose that belly!!” Look fabulous after you have starved yourself to death. 


Almost every weight loss/ healthy living program shares the same annoying condescending tone. Why would anyone ever want to 'fix' themselves after being shamed into it? 

Imagine there was a huge ad for a gym which said work out for an hour a day and enjoy a big juicy burger guilt free!!

Gyms around the world get their highest enrollments and client flow in the month of Jan and it starts to drop mid way through the year. So its a given that over time, exercise turns into a mundane, boring activity. 

So to break the routine, once a week my husband and I would go on a long walk...to chat catch up and soak in a little bit of the outdoors. It worked for both of us coz I got to talk to him without interruption and he couldn't run away. He loved it coz he could do the 2 things he loved simultaneously....walk and listen to my beautiful voice *flattered blinks*

We gradually began exploring new walking tracks around the city and introduced the idea to a couple of our friends. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and we continued adding new people to the group. We strapped on our fit-bits, fuel bands, jawbones etc and tallied our stats after each walk.  



 Now it was time to brand ourselves and organize the idea a little better. We were clear that we wanted the concept to remain casual where weight loss was never a concern. Make your fitness routine fun and you will realize that the advantages you reap are twofold. So keeping it cool and casual we decided to name it 'Jabber Walk’ (Get it? Jabber away as you Walk)
























Our 1st real Jabber Walk with a group was in March last year and since we've done 25 walks around the city. On an average we have about 12 enthusiastic Jabber Walkers every week. We managed to  gather some impressive statistics last year with a completion of 144 kms in 32hrs burning a collective 6,741 Calories!!

So while we chat our way to good health there are more perks to Jabber Walking. A real experience of this beautiful city.  We have covered 12 different routes in different parts of Muscat. We've mixed it up between hilltop treks, beach walks and garden walks. My personal favorites are the PDO walk and the walking track by the Seeb exhibition center.  



My resolution for 2015 is to find balance in everything I do. To start with, I will eat a big frosted cupcake when my heart wants it and Jabber Walk when my body needs it.

Do let me know if you are interested in being a part of the Jabber Walk clan :)






Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Rape Minister

Rape: To force (another person) to have sexual intercourse with him without their consent and against their will, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them: the woman was raped at knifepoint.

The 2014 Indian election was different in more ways than one. Never before have so many people stepped out of their homes to cast their vote. Never before have the youth been so concerned about the elected party. This was the 1st time the Indian media covered the elections like a football game, screaming at every foul and celebrating at every tiny victory. 

This election made us as citizens feel like someone’s listening. 1.2 billion people in our country have 1.2 billion demands. Me, as an Indian girl in her late twenties have one demand. I demand an India where my mother does not have to pray that I come home alive after dark. I demand an India where rape is something we only hear and read about in books and not in 10 newspaper articles everyday. 

There is more than just a little evidence to put forward the fact that rape in India is no longer a problem, it is a crisis. New brutal methods of rape fight for their spot on the newspaper. Victims of rape wore anything from burkhas to skirts and were aged anywhere between a few moths to their late 70s. 

Over dinner with my dad, he came up with a concept of a 'Rape Minister'. It sounded bizarre at first but the more I thought of it, the more it made sense. The heinous crime has tarnished the image of our country. The least our government can do is make a strong statement by appointing a minister to only deal with rape cases. His 5 year plan will include pulling out past rape cases and pushing them through a fast track court. 

In 1996 a law student was raped and murdered by her stalker in Delhi. Even more horrific than the crime was the fact her case was in court for 10 long years. During this period, the accused got married and had a baby while the parents of the victim dragged themselves to court for every hearing. 

How much more flawed does our system have to be before we take a step forward. Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) laws are reviewed and rewritten every few years in America. Until 2012 India didn't have a law against CSA. 

The punishments for burglary is 7 years and the punishment for raping a minor is anywhere between 7-10 years. I draw this comparison only to compare the trauma and pain of the victims in both these cases. A rape victim loses a part of her soul, dignity, confidence and existence after that one incident. 

So what would the rape minister do?
  • He would put forward a 5 year plan where they would set up Rape cells all over the country. 
  • Appoint doctors, lawyers and psychiatrists in every cell.   
  • Set up therapy and support centers for rape victims all over India. 
  • Set up separate courts where rape cases can be tried. 
  • Provide hospital the required tools for after rape medical exams
  • Publish newspaper articles and newsletter with statistics and number of rapists held. 
  • Review the laws and come up with new laws 

Make a statement louder than the one made by the rapists in Muzaffarnagar, who thought it was only fair to hang up the bodies of the 2 victims to show the world how proud they are of their act. 

It’s been one year since the rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai. Two minors accused in this case, are currently being tried by the Juvenile Justice Board separately from the other 3 accused. If convicted, the maximum punishment the minors can face under Indian law is three years imprisonment, which includes time in custody.


Every time I read about a rape case, a part of me dies. It reminds me of the barbarism that exists amongst us. I wish and pray for a happier and healthier society where I don't have to watch over my shoulder every time I step out of my house. 



Sunday, August 10, 2014

For the Love of Makeup!!


If I were to blog about everything I love, it would be totally unfair to leave out my most frequently exhibited form of art, MAKEUP!!

My favorite aspect of going out, shopping, experimenting and reviewing is makeup. I love blending colours and looks together. Colours and tones can instantly fix any kind of mood swing. I absolutely believe that there is nothing that a perfectly winged eyeliner and a bright coloured lipstick can't fix.

Since i'm not a great artist on paper or canvas, my face has always been my experimental space.

But today i'm going to blog about stage makeup. Its obviously completely different from the regular everyday makeup, but it brings about an equal amount of satisfaction.

Makeup and prep for stage is a long and precise process. It takes hours to build on the layers of makeup that will brighten your face and keep it that way throughout a very demanding stage performance. The top layer of stage makeup usually melts away with the focus of harsh lights on the dancer's face. Hence its essential for stage makeup to be much thicker and longer lasting than regular makeup.

A lot of artists completely mask their natural features and draw enhanced and exaggerated features for stage. Its always hilarious to see people's reactions when they come to see me backstage.



Most indian classical dance forms use no props or sets on stage. So most of the expression and communication is done through the face and particularly, through the eyes. Exaggerated eyes are drawn so that the viewer in the last row of an auditorium to be able to connect with the dancer on stage.

For most of my time as a dancer, I'v had other people do my makeup for me. Initially it was my mom's best friend who spent hours dressing me up and then its been different makeup artists working on me.



While thats been fun, I'm now trying to master the art of stage makeup myself. So here's a quick look at some of my makeup trials. :)

STATUTORY WARNING: The makeup looks are not for the faint hearted and were intended for stage.




video