Tag Archives: Blog

Respectful & Necessary: India’s Daughter

I am posting this on March 9, 2015. A regular Monday. Rape is not just an International Women's Day issue. It is an everyday-of-the-year issue.

Death and Birth of Nirbhaya

On the night of December 16 2012 a 23-year-old woman, a medical student, was gang raped by 6 men in a moving bus in Delhi. She had boarded the bus with her male friend after watching a movie. There was no one else in the bus but them and a group of intoxicated men who were out for a “party”. An altercation between the woman’s male companion and the group led to his beating and her brutal rape. All the while the bus kept circling a strip of highway. The rapists then dumped her and her friend, naked, by the side of the road into the cold Delhi winter night. She died a few days later in the hospital of her wounds. The doctors were surprised that she had lasted as long as she had, given the extent of internal organ damage that she had suffered.

On December 17 2012 when the news started circulating about the horrifying rape and its shocking details young Delhi-ites took to the streets demanding justice for ‘Nirbhaya’, as the young woman was metaphorically named to keep her identity safe. Nirbhaya means “without fear”. The demonstrators cried for justice for rape victims, for equal rights and equal freedom for Indian women everywhere.

(c) Ramesh Lalwani CC BY-SA 2.0

(c) Ramesh Lalwani CC BY-SA 2.0

The fire spread to other major cities of India. All this is very reminiscent of chapters from our history books on the Indian Independence Movement, and it rightly should because we, Indian women, are still fighting for our independence from the Patriarchal Raj.

The controversial India’s Daughter

When I first learnt that the incredibly insightful documentary series, BBC4’s Storyville, will be premiering a documentary film-“India’s Daughter“-on the Nirbhaya rape case on March 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day, I was nothing less than proud. I was proud of being a citizen of a country which was open to unbiased documenting of an incident that had cast such bad light on its gender values for the world to see; that was mature enough to revisit the trauma, not to rekindle pain, but to educate; was unafraid to expose its weakness in order to give voice to its weakest. Having been a long time viewer of Storyville documentaries and appreciative of its programming quality I knew that the film would be well done (to say the least). I marked the date on my calendar, sent out a tweet about it as a ‘to whomever it may concern’ (as I thought it should concern everybody), and went to bed.

Over the next couple of days I picked up on some odd goings-on. I caught snippets of Twitter chat on…the idiocy of giving airtime to rapists…disrespect to society…the commercial interests of foreign channel…ban of a documentary…

No, it could not be!

Quick searches on Google and Twitter led me to these outrageous headlines,

Read article by clicking here.
Read article by clicking here.
Read article by clicking here.
Read article by clicking here.

My pride in my nation was replaced by bewilderment which soon gave way to anger. It seems we are not a rational country, we are an emotional one. The ruling party of India, BJP (which recently cut expenditure on its initiative for rape crisis centre by 92.6%!) was extremely annoyed by BBC4’s documentary and banned it from being aired in India.  The reasons for the ban against the film as a whole are superficial, ironically mocking their own logic:

“…rationale that the ban was in the interests of justice and public order as the film “created a situation of tension and fear amongst women” and the convicts would use the media to further his case in the appeal that was subjudice…”

(as summarised by the Editors Guild of India in its public appeal for revoking the ban)

If a convict’s statement of his innocence is considered to be true just because it was on television and on no other merit then  our Judiciary clearly doesn’t know how to conduct its business. I think it’s insulting and shocking that that is how much faith the Executive and Legislative branches of our government have on its most precious democratic institution. #JudgesAreNot Stupid.

As the ban was announced the public became aware of the aspect of the film that had stirred up the controversy: giving a convicted rapist (who was driver of the bus), Mukesh Singh, a public platform to profess his views on rape. If you thought that was soul cringing then how about dedicating film footage to the defense lawyers, (so-called) educated Indian men from higher social and financial classes, whose arcane ideas of female decency and role in Indian society weren’t so far away in their essence from that of the rapist’s notions. Now that struck a sensitive nerve. While many applauded the dissolution of the thin veneer of modernisation that Indian society boasts at any given opportunity, thousands took to online forums to voice their anger against the presentation of the film. The director of the film, Leslee Udwin fled the country in fear of arrest and BBC4 decided to air the film early (in the UK) on March 4 stating that the issue had been handled responsibly and refusing to bow down to external pressure. A BBC effigy was burnt in a protest in Varanasi, a sacred city for Hindus as a warning to BBC.

The key lessons that make India’s Daughter necessary

I didn’t want to enter the debate without first seeing India’s Daughter in its entirety since placing judgement on anything seen or heard out of context is much too similar to high school drama for me and I swore to stay away from all that the day I graduated high school.

The film makes a compelling case for facing the evil spread of the cancer that is gender inequality“.

Although it is the rapist’s voice that has stirred so much controversy making it seem as though that is what the documentary is all about it in fact makes up only for a fraction of the film. Yes, I knew beforehand what he could say in his defense. We’ve been given excuses for rape for a long time and they have come to be used as scare tactics/advice/disguise for misogyny: girl was “under-dressed”; was out late; was “mixing with boys” and other such banalities. So when I considered his statements they did not shock me. I was certainly angry. On the contrary I am surprised by people’s shock at Mukesh Singh’s unrepentant stance. Even those who have seen the documentary and reluctantly appreciate it seem to not understand the impact of the film.

Rape is about power, a misplaced idea of power. Power is the real source of the evil here, as is the case in many other circumstances. (I wonder how many people realize this.) Singh’s statements make this abundantly clear. He still feels powerful because he believes he is right. He believes he is right because we live in a society that propagates the same ideas. Society however does not condone Singh’s and his friends’ chosen expression of power (rape), which surprises Singh because he thinks he was acting within the rights given to him by society. That is a crucial message that hits home and makes the documentary necessary: Indian society as we know it right NOW gives POWER to men and not to women.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

– Lord Acton

Also, I can’t imagine why a man who could indulge in such a heinous act would change his lifelong-held beliefs just because of incarceration. We like to think that if we caught sexual offenders, locked them up, sentence them to death our job is done.

So why should we hear a convicted unrepentant rapist?

Because the solution to making India a safer place for women is not by locking up rapists, it is EDUCATION ABOUT GENDER EQUALITY, and that is the primary lesson of India’s Daughter.

The other major lesson gleaned from hearing Singh speak his mind is that of a sobering reality that exists not only in Indian society but also worldwide, a message that is amplified by the point-counterpoint nature of the narrative. The realization came when I heard from his parents and also relatives of the other rapists: These rapists (or devils, demons, animals, scum as we usually refer to them) are PEOPLE. They are OUR people, born to ordinary folks and who were living ordinary lives. They weren’t born as sociopaths they were made into one. We use language to distance ourselves from horrifying acts and their actors. When we give dehumanizing labels to people we remove society’s culpability. We can then sit proudly in judgement of these “others”. I suppose here’s where many of the detractors of the documentary chime in: “Why does this animal need to be heard?” Because by calling him an animal and giving him a sub-human status we refuse to face the ugly aspects of our species-nobody is above or beyond evil. Scary? Yes, it is. Right now it is scary to be a woman. (What is scarier however is a moralizing government for a seemingly democratic country.)

The main question here is could we have learnt all this without Singh’s interview? Was his interview necessary? I think so. He is a concise representation of the mistakes we are making. Perhaps some of these lessons are out there in the obtuse reviews made my investigative committees and in court documents; social scientists’ theses; lost amongst the indecipherable shouting matches dubbed as TV talk shows; or even rant-y blog posts on the internet. How far and wide would these sources of information reach when compared to an hour-long hard-hitting documentary on cable TV? Let’s take into account here the populace that does not use the internet regularly for social commentary and relies on television for everything.

A lot can also be learnt from the delusional statements made by the defense lawyers (ML Sharma and AP Singh), that are anachronistic to the point of hilarity. Especially when paired with the liberal views of Nirbhaya’s parents (whom we would consider of being from a lower social class and “unqualified”), make for the disturbing realization that India’s gender equality problem is not class-based or educational degree-dependent. How many Indians believe that only poor, uneducated people rape; women are oppressed only in the lower classes of society? Prejudice doesn’t play favourites. We need to stop generalising about our societal problems.

It’s convenient to blame the British for everything

I am also happy to note that India’s Daughter does not generalise. People were certain that a documentary made by a foreigner would provide wrong and overly generalised inferences about the problems in India. The film makes so such claims. It does not spin the idea that ALL Indian men are misogynistic with rapist-like tendencies. Neither did I hear a foreigner’s view on the issue. The film has been produced for a TV show that has a dedicated following. I think if Udwin or the BBC wanted to make money off it then we’d have heard of them submitting India’s Daughter to film festivals. I find this argument highly ridiculous especially given how ubiquitous rape scenes are in Indian cinema. I learnt the word Balatkaar (“rape” in Hindi) synchronously as I learnt Pyaar (“love”).Where did I first hear the term “ Uski izzat loot lee” (“stole her honour“)? It was Indian cinema. There is even a wiki page dedicated to Indian movies ON Rape (which now includes India’s Daughter)! How many generalisations have we gleaned from these other movies and how much money has been made? How much of this went to the  supporting rape victims? Also, I don’t think Udwin, who has been a victim of sexual abuse, would make this film for commercial gain (Source: “India’s Daughter” – A Young Woman’s Open Letter to the Prime Minister).

Will giving Singh a public platform encourage those who think like him to rape?

I don’t think it will; but ONLY when put in context of the film. When watching the film I realised that it is Nirbhaya who is the champion here and it is her life that needs emulating. The heart wrenching accounts from her parents and tutor paint a picture in such bold, resilient and joyful colours that Singh in comparison is a dull, ugly blotch. His act and his ideology pale into nothingness in comparison. The film crew have not been “disrespectful” as touted by many before the film’s release. They haven’t killed her memory. They have immortalised her achievements and her person forever. Even though there is quite a bit of eulogising in the beginning of the film towards the end we see Nirbhaya simply as a daughter who was taken away, in the most horrific manner possible, from her parents. She is the average Indian woman that we can relate to.

However over the past week we have just been hearing about Singh’s statements. He has received more publicity than ever before. If we were to believe that “publicity of rapist can entice rape” then the ban and the media circus that ensued has done more to further this cause (dubious as it may be) than the movie could ever have. Ironically the ban intended to protect our society has silenced the one who needed to heard the most: Nirbhaya.

Why should you want to watch India’s Daughter?

  • Because only by facing your biggest fears can you fight them.
  • To talk about things that make us most uncomfortable because that is how we tackle ignorance.
  • Because you need to know that every woman in India country is disempowered right now.
  • To realise that the ban is a myopic stand taken by a government that has essentially shot itself in the foot. (For more on the incredulous reasons given by politicians for the ban please read the op-ed piece (“BJP Government, Don’t Embarrass India“) authored by writer, ex-diplomat and politician Shashi Tharoor.)

It must however be said that India’s Daughter is by no means the BEST documentary ever made. It is certainly good. It is also not a piece of comprehensive investigative journalism. I don’t know if it was ever meant to be one. There are some open questions, which are best outlined in the article: “The Selective Amnesia Of ‘India’s Daughter’ – What The Film Conveniently Ignores!” by Dr. Shivani Nag.

Let us remember

Your parents remember you, Nirbhaya, in the name they gave you. They call you Jyoti, “light”, that was born to remove darkness from their lives. I use your name now because your parents think that you, as a person, should be remembered in as much detail as your death, if not more. You have achieved more than what your parents dreamed. You have brought your searing light to our entire society, to burn through prejudice and patriarchal interpretation of Indian cultural values. You have made me nirbhaya to carry your jyoti for the freedom of all women. I don’t know what you looked like and I don’t need to. I see your face in every woman. Those who have missed the point of the documentary on your life and death have missed the point of all revolutions: to depose oppressive ideas by public activism.

(c) Ramesh Lalwani CC BY- SA 2.0
(c) Ramesh Lalwani CC BY- SA 2.0

Asymmetric love in a symmetric world

Alcazar, Seville.
Alcazar, Seville
Though symmetry can be pleasing to the eyes asymmetry can grab all your senses.

 

An informal ode to an uncharacteristic love

I wrote, in quiet symmetry of love and loss,
About the ineptitude of wisdom’s foresight.
One hears and sees but does not learn until one crosses
The path littered with shattered hopes. A light
glows and I divine thick patterns out of thin air.
This design will be positive because you can trace
Out the negative with architectural flair.
Your skewed beauty gives me courage to colour outside
The lines. Asymmetry now fills my life and this I find
To be perfectly in line with my girlhood dreams.
O Wonderful Anomaly, you make me lose my rhyme scheme.
Why else would I love you so dearly?
 

This post is inspired by Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry and Daily Prompt: Cupid's Arrow.

Hammerblows by Mr. Pink, The Husband (#11)

I am going to start a blog, like a support group, and name it ‘My Wife’s a Blogger‘.

 

Mr. Pink is feeling neglected.

I should feel sorry, but then he also (always) says,

 

Aren’t you going to put what I just said on
Mr. Pink’s Hammersmith Blows‘?

 

 No! I am not! And it is Hammerblows by Mr. Pink, The…
Oh forget it!

source: animal-kid.com
Image source: animal-kid.com

 

 

For new followers/readers who feel lost as to who this Mr. Pink is then please refer to the first post in the series here or go backwards in time reading through the category, Hammerblows by Husband.

Irrational

Not just a mathematical uncertainty
An exclamation of human emotion that
Makes one feel insensible, irrational.
I wonder how much it matters – this
Need to logically think, to unravel
Quandaries with a stick of a defined length
And set out the shapes in perfect geometry.
Where does it come from?
We are governed by laws of nature
That can’t be broken, only mended.
So given how we are slaves
To the very idea of order, wherefore
We believe in chaos? Oh wait!
Isn’t it the other way ’round?
There is a tornado somewhere that
Seems lost and confused – the sense
In its existence being questioned as
It rapidly turns on its eye to see that
It is here because of a butterfly’s
Innocent flights of fancy.
Ah! The rational irrational.
I wish I knew you better.

Explanation:

I had to write by hand for 10 minutes without break, to let my irrational mind free and help me address new topics in poems.

I found the outcome interesting. I don’t know if I like it but it is what it is. (The poem is presented in its unedited form.) I was structured by the word and wrote about irrationality when I could have written about anything! I don’t even fully understand what I wrote: some math, chaos theory, natural world and almost no human emotion (which is the very essence of what I would consider irrational). I took the most rational subjects to speak about irrationality. Am I such an academic? Please don’t hate me!
“I wish I knew better” now feels other-worldly, like my own conscience was asking me to connect better with my emotions. Mildly freaked but highly intrigued!writing-with-pen
Why don’t you try the same? Make sure you handwrite it. I got very different results when I typed – very uninspiring and wholly depressing.

A final acceptance speech made to share 33 blog sites

Thank you to everyone who has ever nominated me for anything. I appreciate it but this is going to be my last acceptance since it takes a LOT of time to make these posts. In case anyone ever feels like giving me another award please don't desist and I will accept it on an honorary basis. Although if you feel you need to see a post then sorry, that won't be happening again. I hope you understand.

I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the bloggers who keep me motivated but this list of 33 sites is by no means meant to be comprehensive. To the nominees - please don't feel obligated to do anything about these awards. I am just sending out some of the love I have received here at WordPress. I've heard that it only grows when shared. What a curious thing!

Adored, admired
Liked, loved
Shared, showered
Accolades, awards
Acknowledged, accepted
Bloglove, blogshare
Aiming, ageing
Gracefully, giving
Back, but
Final, formal
Thanking, thinking
Happy, humble
Feeling fortunate.

1. Sisterhood of the world blogger award

Nominated by Saya at Saya..D..Poet. Thank you so much!

index1

Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
  2. Put the award logo on your blog
  3. Answer the ten questions they’ve set you
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer
  5. Nominate ten people

Saya asked me just 5 questions, rather intense ones. You have been warned.

  1. Name a moment till now which has brought on tears of sadness or gratitude or happiness etc.

The most recent moment was tears of gratitude that I shed just past night because of my husband’s unconditional love and support. *Ick! That was tough to type.* I don’t do ‘corny’ well but the truth had to be told. He deserves more than just a page on this blog.

  1. Have you felt an incomplete feeling as to what you are doing is not enough? If yes, what did you do?

Oh yes! I feel that constantly and it adds to my anxiety tremendously. I am trying everyday to not to feel inadequate but it bothers me that I am not doing enough to mitigate this feeling. Irony: You make my life interesting.

  1. Have you ever had a chance to rectify a wrong decision on your part? If yes, what?

Interesting. I don’t know how to define ‘wrong decision’. I don’t regret my past choices since I am happy where I am in my life right now, generally speaking at least. If you want to know if I have wronged someone and tried to rectify it then yes and it didn’t go too well. People unfortunately hold on to grudges longer than what I would consider healthy.

  1. Have you ever done a crazy thing while in public? If yes, what and what was other people’s reaction?

I am very easily embarrassed so I try to be proper in public. *key word: try* I would like to think that I flirt with the line of what is appropriate but I am still on the un-crazy side of things I suppose.

Here’s something that I don’t consider crazy (and haven’t done so for a long time) but at the time that I did it I wished I had turned into water and just disappeared into the pavement: Kissing my husband (then boyfriend) in public. *Ha ha! Laugh away you.* For an Indian girl raised in a traditional Indian home it was a massive act of defiance. Something crazy. People’s reaction: The Europeans/Britons couldn’t have cared less. For all they knew I was water on the pavement. The South Asians gaped and still do.

  1. Have you ever been at cross roads in life where choosing any option over other was equally painful? If yes, what did you do?    

Saya, are you reading my mind? I am at the crossroads of my life right now. I am battling my many pro-con lists everyday and things are getting clearer but too slowly for my liking. *Ahem, answer to question 2 needs to be read again.* I don’t know what I will do but this blog will be updated with any (and all) revelations and epi-funnies (yes, that’s a Mr. Pink word. Do you like it? I love it!)

My nominees are some wonderful ladies I have met recently,

(Fearless) Natalie at Science, Books and Silly Things

(Factual) Science-y sisters (not their official name; just made it up now) at Faraday’s Candle

(Fotogorgeous) Desley at Musings of a frequently flying scientist

(Free-writer) Ameena at Randoms by a random

(Friendly) Nimmi at Soul mate’s – so near, yet so far

(Fantastic) Jini at La Belle Seychelloise

(Fervent) Betty at Pocketful of Joy

(Fostering) Rosemary at Le Chic en Rose

(Fun) Rekha at Window with a view

PS: Thank you for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Rekha. You can find my acceptance here.

(Forensic: because she dissects my poems artfully) Robin at Robin’s real life

My questions to you ladies,

  1. Do you like soap operas; which one and why? If not, then imagine a soap opera you’d like to see televised.

  2. What is the one language you wish you knew and why?

  3. What is(are) your favourite word(s)?

  4. Has your blog affected the people in your life? How?

  5. Do you think desserts should be eaten first?

  6. Do you believe the world can be divided into cat-people and dog-people?

  7. What/who makes you laugh the hardest?

  8. What’s the one song that can make you smile and why?

  9. Have you cuddled (or sent your cuddles to) your loved one today? *You know what to do if your answer is in the negative.*

  10. My favourite: Why did the chicken cross the road?

 

2. Premio Dardos

Nominated by Nimmi, Ruth and Faraday’s Candle. Thank you so much!

premiodardosblogaward

Rules:

dardos-rules

This is not a rule but since I have listed only sites run by women above I wanted to pass on this award to some excellent blogs run by MEN. Equal opportunity for ALL!

Some strong and lovely male voices I have come to admire,

(wRiting) Jamarow at Behind the Eyes

(Rambling) Derrick at derrickjknight

(Read-worthy) Dhruv at dhruvpartha

(Rocking) Akhiz at Akhiz Munawar

(Roaming) Jithin at PhoTrablogger

(Recklessly: too easy?) disconcerted72 at Recklessly Discreet

(Rhyming) Upen at VoiceURmind

(Reaching out) Suyash at Suyash Chopra

(Romantic) Chester at chester maynes

(Requisite) Geo Sans at Geo Sans

(Risk taking) Bryan at A Speculative Poetry Blog

(Reasoning) Nihar at Makeup & Breakup

(Riding) Dookes at Hogrider Dookes

(Realistic) TJ Paris at A ma vie de coer entier

(Researching) Prakash at Its PH

It’s been an absolute pleasure gentlemen. Thank you and good day sirs.

 

3. The Versatile Blogger

Nominated by PhoebePrakash and Saadia

award21

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog
  2.  List the award rules so your nominees will know what to do.
  3. State 7 things about yourself
  4. Nominate up to 11 other bloggers for the award.
  5. Contact your nominees to let them know you have nominated them.
  6. Display the award logo on your blog.

Seven things about myself. (I have already listed them here in my first award – Very Inspiring Blogger – acceptance but I’ve decided to end this final acceptance with another 7 things for you to know about me)

a. My favourite cocktail is The Long Island Iced Tea.
b. I am a dog person but I will pet a cat very happily.
c. I still love it when my mother feeds me.
d. I cannot go an entire day without hugging someone or something tightly.
e. I think Biology is super duper cool.
f. I like collecting bookmarks and poster prints of paintings.
g. I recently shovelled snow for the first time and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

My nominees whom I admire because they don’t belong to a niche and make it look brilliant:

(Artful and heartful) Paula at freshpaula

(Gaining perspective) Nelkumi at What does nelkumi think?

(Simple living) Livingonchi at All About Being Human

(Multi-talented) Iva (or Ivy) at Ivy Mosquito – Liberating My Creative Soul

(Dreaming big) la chica de la barbuja at La Chica de la Barbuja

(Unsurpassable) Judy at lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

(Revolutionary) Hardi at Fifty shades of reality

(Reminiscing) Teresa at River of Life Flows

Adored, admired
Liked, loved
Shared, showered
Accolades, awards
Acknowledged, accepted
Bloglove, blogshare
Aiming, ageing
Gracefully, giving
Back, but
Final, formal
Thanking, thinking
Happy, humble
Feeling fortunate.

New Awards for the New Year – Part I (Virtual Blog Tour)

This year has started off with me being nominated by some exceptional bloggers for some wonderful awards. Although I am usually very uncomfortable when praised I would be completely amiss if I didn’t say I am very grateful.

You have hundreds if not thousands of blogs that you follow. You read, like and discuss many posts by talented bloggers apart from pushing out lovely posts of your own. With all this ongoing activity I find it incredible that you think of my offerings as worthy of notice; that somehow Another Voice spoke to you loud enough to be remembered when the time came to nominate a blog for an award. I come from the world of scientific publishing so I know how important peer-review is, which is what makes these blog awards so special.

I haven’t been as active in the community these past couple of weeks as I used to be since the poetry course I am currently enrolled in leaves me just enough time to push out a post or two a day. I do apologize for that and trust me – your continued presence and interest in Another Voice is so heartening.

Also, to all the new followers of this blog – Welcome! I haven’t been able to write to you in person (yet) but be sure that I will as soon as I can.

I am going to accept just one award in this post and acknowledge the others in a separate post tomorrow.

VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR

VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR I was nominated for this award by the talented poetess – Vonita, at Passion Through Poetry. If you don’t follow her already well then go on, correct that! Here are the rules:

  1. Pass the tour on up to four other bloggers. Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post.
  2. Answer four questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.
  3. Compose a one-time post on a specific Monday (date given from your nominator).

1. I would love to nominate the following poets who have great sites worthy of your time and comments:

Andy at Aroil In Pain
Phoebe at Musings of a Puppy Doc
John at johnpoetflanagan
Ruth at I-read

I haven’t asked them to post anything yet and I don’t even know if they’ll accept but I wanted to share their sites.

2. Answers to questions about my creative process:

  • What am I working on at the moment?

I am currently enrolled in an online poetry course offered by Stanford Continuing Education. I am 2 weeks in and it’s been a steep learning curve. In the more broader sense I am currently working on my life. I am attempting to answer a major question: What do I want from my life? Writing helps me confront this and the many related but heavily loaded questions on an everyday basis. I haven’t yet written down my answers as I am still trying to find a structure within my thoughts but the process at least has started.

  • How does my work differ to others in my genre?

My work differs from others in the only way it can – it is mine! I write from a very personal space and find words that have multiple layers to them fascinating. Yes, I am in love with words. However, I cannot claim that no one else’s work reflects this. I have to point out that I am now beginning to distance myself from the speaker in my work and trying to be objective with my writing. I have noticed that that has helped improve my understanding of the issue. Also, importantly, on this blog – I am an amateur at everything and I don’t assume I know what I am doing. That helps a lot!

  • Why do I write/create what I do?

I want to call them brain worms. Instead of behaving like a normal infection that leads to cerebral impairment I find that these worms fortify the synaptic connections inside my head. I seem to want to write everyday about something/anything/everything. I don’t know what I am going to post when I wake up. I am inspired by a word heard or read, a photograph or my husband. Or just an invisible maggot of a thought that ends up becoming a brain worm. Once I write I feel complete. I feel the world is right. I am happy. Content is a BIG word  and I am scared to use it because one cannot become content when being creative I think.

  • How does my writing/creative process work?

I open my Macbook or a traditional notebook to a new page and I just put my fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper. Just that. I don’t know what’s going to come out. At times when I have to write an informative essay then I do my research, make notes and have a structure. Writing scientific papers/reviews this past 7 years has taught me a lot. But if it’s a personal essay just for the blog then I start writing – then structure – then edit – and then publish. I am not very rigorous but I am learning how to write more and write better and quicker. As for poetry I am still learning and all I can say is that I am a vessel for words. I have an image I want to portray and words materialise that help me say it. I then go on to tweak the order/structure where possible. Usually I don’t touch my poems. They are first drafts. Thanks to the Stanford course I am becoming more deliberate and it’s been highly instructive. As for photography – I really don’t know ANYTHING! I see things and I feel I need to remember them in that exact way because they made me feel something. I use a camera as substitute for my eyes and perishing memory; which is also why I don’t know how to edit a photo. But I am learning a lot thanks to all my wonderful photoblogger friends.

Phew! One down and a few more to go. I will post the rest tomorrow. I hope this post helped you understand me a bit better. I am very happy to have answered these questions. I urge you to go check out the websites of the four poets I have listed and hope you find them as enthralling as I do.

Letter to Googlers who happened upon my blog

Dear Google searcher aka Googler

I usually don’t get to see what brought you to my blog. You have strict privacy settings and I only get to stare into the abyss of ‘Unknown search terms‘, trying to decipher your intentions. Then there are days when something quite extraordinary happens: I finally get to see your trail of breadcrumbs. Such a fortuitous circumstance presented itself not too long ago and I snapped up all of its crumbly goodness,

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 23.57.43

At first I read it as how you intended to write it, with knotted eyebrows: “my CASUAL relationship is getting in the way of dating“. A legitimate worry surely but I have never voiced my concerns on such matters. I wouldn’t know what a casual relationship is to begin with. (Perhaps that’s what I have with my sock drawer.)

I think what you found on this site was my post on CAUSAL relationships (just as you had typed it). I don’t think it would have been of any help to you in case you were genuinely looking for help – in the area of dating. In any case I hope you found it interesting.

I am sad (but happy really) to say that I profited from any or all of your following issues which I infer led you to Another Voice that sweet day,

  • The choices you made in your personal relationship are weighing you down.
  • You are looking for possible solutions to key life questions on the internet because a friend requires a dialogue and you just don’t have the time.
  • You click on any odd site that Google throws at you just because it is Google and She can do no wrong.
  • You always google every funny one-liner you hear to make sure you heard it right.
  • You don’t know that you don’t type very well.
  • You think you type very well and hence don’t check for typos before hitting the Search button.
  • You know you don’t type very well and you intentionally leave in typos because that’s how you play ‘I’m Feeling Lucky‘ search option.
  • You like making honest mistakes.
  •  You want to make people you have never met very happy.

Well, you made me very happy indeed! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Please stop by again – anytime you wish. The site is open and friendly to friendly people.

Bests always,

Sam

PS: The Googler of the following search is also heartily welcomed back and this time I want you to explain yourself. Just a pick a post, any post, and explain yourself in the comments section.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 21.02.06

(Fireside Chat)

Solar by Philip Larkin teaches

Sunset in France
Sunset over the marshes of Camargue, Southern France. (c) Sam Rappaz, 2012

Solar

Suspended lion face
Spilling at the centre
Of an unfurnished sky
How still you stand,
And how unaided
Single stalkless flower
You pour unrecompensed

The eye sees you
Simplified by distance
Into an origin,
Your petalled head of flames
Continuously exploding.
Heat is the echo of your
Gold.

Coined there among
Lonely horizontals
You exist openly.
Our needs hourly
Climb and return like angels.
Unclosing like a hand,
You give for ever.

(November 4, 1964; 1974)

 – Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Larkin’s mastery of metaphors leaves me breathless. Each image is unexpected and unforced. I read, I try, I learn and with each passing day the talent for expressing the ordinary in extraordinary terms is developed. It’s tough, frustrating and words can seem immalleable but the rewards outweigh the effort multifold. Anyone who has ever wanted to write in any genre and write well must read poetry – a lesson I am learning too late for my liking but ever so eagerly.

My Favourite Things, Verse 2

Continuing with My Favourite Things, as part of Cee's Fun Foto Challenge on things mentioned in songs.
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles,
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

As before I am posting photographs that I consider come close enough to what the verse lists,

1. Seeing Camargue horses run

Festival of Virgins, Stes Marie de la Mer, Camargue

My husband and I visited Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, in the region of Camargue situated in the south of France, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in 2012. The town is famous as a pilgrimage destination for the Roma people. It is a lovely town with a unique history. You can read more about it here and here. We (unintentionally) happened to be there on the last sunday of July which is the day for the annual Festival of Virgins (Fête des Vierges). It was started in 1904 by Frederic Mistral, the great Occitan poet. It is a way to preserve the Occitan culture and lifestyle of the region and entails the running of the famous Camargue horses by the cavaliers (horsemen) from the region and young women parade around town dressed in traditional Provençal dresses. You may find them walking or looking majestic on the beautiful horses. You can catch a glimpse of these women in the picture above. The thunder of hundreds of horse hooves knocking on the asphalt of narrow streets in Saintes Marie that day filled the salty sea breeze with sweet and wondrous excitement.

2. Chocolate tart and Apfel Strudel at Café Diglas in Vienna

Cafe Sacher

Yes, I am remembering a Viennese café that is not Café Sacher. We went there as well but we fell in love with Café Diglas for its beautiful atmosphere. It had an ‘old Vienna’ feel. The interiors are marvellous and the café doesn’t attract as many tourists as Sacher. I am not a fan of the apple strudel as such but I have to say that the one at Café Diglas (the pie you see at the back on the photo) was delicious and went perfectly with the creamy Wiener Melange (oh how I love you!). The other tart (the one with the whipped cream on it) was most probably a chocolate cake. I don’t remember its name but I do remember it being divine! To be noted: Sacher torte is one of my favourite cakes of all times.

3. The church bells of Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral bells Seville cathedral bells

We walked up Giralda – the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral for the best views of the city of Seville. We weren’t disappointed! It took us 15 minutes and there were 34 ramps to scale. Phew! But you can always take a break in between at the little windows for some amazing views of the cathedral as you rise slowly above it. It’s well worth the effort. I fell in love with the bells at the top, that rang with the history of Medieval Europe.

4. I love swans

Swans Switzerland You can find swans in all lakes of Switzerland. They are territorial, hungry and always in love. I identify with them a 100%.

5. The Sound of Music is my favourite musical: The Tour continues…

gazebo, The Sound Of Music

Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg
Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

The famous ‘I am Sixteen, going on Seventeengazebo was made just for the movie and the scene was shot in Hollywood. It was later presented to the city of Salzburg and is now kept in the gardens of the Hellbrunn Palace which is a very fun visit on its own merit.

Mirabell gardens, Salzburg

The Mirabell Gardens as part of the Schloss (Palace) Mirabell, in the city of Salzburg, feature in the ‘Do Re Mi‘ Song heavily. The wall of bushes you see encloses a path on which the kids and Maria have ‘a long long way to run‘.

Does the fountain look familiar in the picture below? It should. Watch the video of the song again and you’ll notice it in the last few moments of the song. In the last verse of the song the children and Maria run up and down the steps of a garden in line with the notes. Those steps lead to the Mirabell Gardens and we see the hill with the Salzburg castle towering over the city in the background. Mirabell gardens, Salzburg In the last verse of the song the children and Maria run up and down the steps of a garden in line with the notes. Those steps lead to the Mirabell Gardens and we see the hill with the Salzburg castle towering over the city in the background.

For the post on verse 1 please click here.

Remembering snow

One of the poems I was suggested to read as part of the the course I am currently taking brought back beautiful memories of the time I spent in the Alps not too long ago. I would like to share this remarkable poem with you and some more photos from when I was in the shadow of a snowy winter...

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of pine-trees crusted with snow;

An have been cold for a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice.
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

(1921)

– Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

Alps Swiss snow

Nax

Snow

Switzerland snow

Pine

(..)