NUGGETS of LIFE: When I missed mishap by an inch

Did the zebra cross the road? - The Hindu
I could not stop thinking and overthinking about what went wrong.

The incident left me numb for several days after it happened. Each time I would sit down for some peace and quiet, ‘the incident’ would play itself in my head.  It happened the day, I drove down to my daughter’s school and parked a little ahead the front gate. As per routine,  the nanny takes about five to 10 minutes to go get my daughter from class and accompany her back to the car. However, that day she was out in no time and I could see both of them walking down towards the car in the rear-view mirror. So,  I did not shift the gear to parking mode. And that was it! That’s when it all happened…

The nanny was settling down my daughter in the car and I had my face turned towards both of them. The moment they settled in and I turned my face in front while lifting the brakes; a man and his son were passing right in front of my car. It shudders me to think that in that moment I could have rolled over them for my car had promptly drifted forward.

God was kind that day, and the petrified father and his cute son, who had no idea what could just have happened, were saved, because I applied the brake in the nick of time. However, for a few seconds after that, I could only shake my head stupidly. Onlookers may have seen me mumbling sorry from behind my face mask, and perhaps the father could have taken my head shake, as either aggression or simply a “gone-nuts” case.

I politely gestured them to take their time and cross the road. The father thankfully nodded when he passed by and I was still stupidly shaking my head. Anyway, I drove back home at the speed of 20km per hour that day much to the nanny’s irritation. It was a simple human error. It might have happened to many. Yet, I could not stop thinking or over thinking about what went wrong because with due humility I say I am a good driver despite my gender (sarcasm intended).

It was a simple pick and drop your kid from the school task and yet my reflexes were not square enough. I scrolled through doctor Google and came across a recent published study that said that over the years with upgrade of technology, especially the internet, our attention spans have greatly reduced. We have become more absent minded than ever before, losing touch with the subtleties of life that bring the real joy because everything is getting automated. No wonder, our generations have forgotten the art of knitting, the touch and feel of the slumbered brown paper of a Nietzsche book, the thrill of using manual four by fours.

Surely, fancy technologies in our daily lives are altering our behaviour pattern, our instincts and reflexes. Or perhaps, I should stop over thinking altogether because “there no zebra crossing” as my father opined.

Published in Hindustan Times Sunday Read on 28.11.2021

SUNDAY FEATURE: 5 FASHION TRENDS FOR THIS FESTIVE SEASON

Come September and we are at the cusp of festivity in India. The lovely curls of the athletic model on the glossy magazine cover, the futuristic angular sleeve dress worn at a sun downer or that Cleopatra gold shimmering eye make-up you saw your friend wear – all metamorphoses into Indie fusion festive trends in India around this corner of the year. So gaining inspiration from the Indian and International Fashion Week Runways 2021, here are 5 fashion trends to brush you up with, that are here to stay this festive season!

Color Code

Generally, the transition from summer to winter means saying goodbye to vibrant bold hues and hello to shades of blue, gray, green, brown and burgundy. Yet, this time bold monochromes with dash of sindhi gold will take festive wear by storm. “Colour Blocking will pick up attention in Indian wear. Having said that, butter cream and coconut cream for bridals and festive collection will rule the roost too this time” predict Chandigarh based fashion designers Navneet and Harpeet Toor of the Moods and Colours label.

Malaika Arora  in a maroon Manish Malhotra piece
at the Lakme Fashion Week 2021.

Floral Frenzy

Not paisleys but florals will be the center stage this festive season. Florals with more saturated – muted tones with sequins and sparkle will be trending the Festive Look Book 2021. From Dolce and Gabbana to Abujani and Sandeep Khosla, all are digging in for florals in one way or the other because floral print is a trend that just won’t end.

Jennifer Lopez setting major floral goals in a Dolce & Gabbana ensemble.

Back to the Roots

The covid pandemic has left an indelible imprint on the fashion industry, favourably spotlighting the trends that are more sustainable, conscious and rooted in traditions. Fast fashion has paved way for slow fashion which means limited but exclusive fashion pieces for the closet. So the pandemic can be credited with one good thing at least that the hand looms and works of traditional embroidery artisans are seeing the light of the day once again.

Shraddha Kapoor donning a handloom saree at a recent event.

Make Up alamode

“Make up has been an ever evolving world of stains, colours and glitter. 2021 Festive season will also not be shy of experiments”, says Mumbai based make-up artist Ritika Cheema. “Dewy skin make up look for the face or nude soft tinted lips and cheeks with strong liner and mascara laden eyes are some of the looks that we should be prepared to see this festive season”, she further added. The romantic red pout with sheer skin or shades of pink – peach shadows with nude lips are some other make up trends to watch out for.

Dewy makeup never goes wrong. Gidi Hadid looking a dream vision.

Hair on Fleek

Festive season is always about renewal and our hair play a major role in setting any sort of new vibe one intends to don on. Bob cuts above shoulder level, fringes, 70’s flip hair are some hair trends that will rock on this time. According to the senior hair stylist at the Mohali based The Hair And Body Lounge, “Slick back combed hair is the perfect runway inspired look for this festive season but beach waves, face contouring highlights are equally trendy and in fashion these days for Indian party looks”.

Alia Bhatt in slicked back hair looks every bit a Diva!

               

OPINION: PUNJAB ELECTIONS AND ISSUES THAT NO ONE WILL TALK ABOUT

Election time in every state is the time when the populist issues take center stage – whether relevant or irrelevant. Sadly, deep social and political problems are overlooked and public fails to bring it to the table with their leaders. However, people of Punjab should not ignore it further. The key uncertainties lying ahead have been aggravated by the consequences of pandemic, climate change, demography, economics, political climate, artificial intelligence and can spiral out of control if unaddressed in the coming times.

Here is my analysis:

Agrarian Crisis and Cultural Crisis

While Green revolution might have sustained the country, it has drained Punjab. It has depleted the soil of its nutrients, increased dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The traditional crop diversification has disappeared from the state, leaving rice-wheat monoculture which is now an extremely dangerous practice for the state with rising air pollution and depleting aquifers. Post green revolution, the cropped area for pulses had reduced from 19% to 0.4% and for oilseeds from 3.9% to 0.5% from 1960-61. This needs immediate attention because these crops are important for fertility of the soil. Today, 50% of Punjab’s soil is carbon, with only 0.3% of organic carbon. Soils with less than 1% organic matter are found in desert. The farm laws that were needed with MSP to woo the farmer out of this rice-wheat monoculture have now altogether left the farmers helpless. The public and legislators need to come together with models and strategies to face this foreseeable crisis which no one wants to talk about.

The wealth that ushered in the state due to green revolution has eventually led to a cultural crisis too. Where once every farmer began his sowing season with utter respect and regard, throwing five fists full of seed up in the air in gratitude and love of god, nature and all good things; now the next generation of farmers has loud screeching music on their tractors, forgotten traditional practices and have lost the muscle for farming. The good old Punjabi culture is slowly dying.

Hollow Economy

The state of Punjab needs a solid engine working for it to survive. It is principally an agricultural economy which is on the brink of crisis. With state having water depletion issues, electricity deficit status, skilled workforce shortage – the future looks dismal until a major booster model is put in place to flesh its hollow economy. With Union government’s new policies the economy of the state will further weaken. It is importing pulses and oil seeds to maintain the demand supply difference in the domestic market, but not ready to tap into Punjab’s potential in catering the increased domestic demand of oilseeds and pulses in India by offering better incentives in form of MSP for these crops.

On the other hand, the process of de-industrialization across Punjab that took place was not stopped in its nascent stage. Not much effort had been made to retain the small or large scale industry which could have generated employment in the state. According to Annual Report of Periodic Labour Force (2017-18) Punjab has an unemployment rate of 7.8% which is higher than all India unemployment. One of the major reasons for loss of competitive industry and deep in debt economy is the cross-subsidization of farming, farm loan waivers and power subsidies. And yet, every election season is fought on which party will provide maximumn FREE power units. For how long is this viable? It is indeed a sad situation.

Misplaced Priorities

Every election season the blame ball starts to roll from one party to another. The incumbent Congress ministers in an effort to save their own faces before beginning the election campaign, have brought up the Bargari issue blaming it on the Chief Minister. The CM is so embroiled in this infighting that the state seems to be going to utter neglect. On the other hand, Akali Dal is milking the situation by blaming the shortage of electricity on the policies of Congress government in the state. Not staying behind, AAP makes tall claims of providing free electricity upto 300 units which is highly unlikely in the current scenario without overburdening the already burdened financial exchequer of the state. One should be mindful of the fact that Punjab and Delhi’s electricity situations are very different due to its pre – purchase agreements.

Everything from farm bills, farm loans, electricity shortage to Kotakpura Bargari sacrilege has become the hot election issue. However, topics like Buddha Nala, environmental costs, effluent treatment plants, sustainability of farm loans and solar panel subsidies – that really matter to the future of Punjab have still not found a voice. The politics of vote bank always takes over serious issues that all political parties willfully ignore – not understanding that if these issues aren’t looked into they are responsible for the onset of catastrophic times.

However, are politicians solely responsible for not talking about it when the public – the people – are not ready to raise these issues and seriously take measures for it?  The truth is the day people of the state put the right issues on the table with their elected leaders, all political parties will be at their service to do the right thing.

NUGGETS of LIFE : To women who made a difference

No one is greater or lesser, all do the best to their abilities

Women have always been the equals. Only, their form is different. Yes, their style is different. And certainly their language is different. It is a fact and that is that. Therefore, I often wonder the need of highlighting the Women’s Day. Every year, United Nations declares a theme for the year’s campaign. There is lot of activism as well as commercialized activities around this date. Sometimes I feel that the more they point out that women are underdog and need to be treated equally, the more they are likely to remain an underdog in the collective minds of people.

Am I being mean? Have I out rightly dismissed the heavy history of the struggle for women civil and political rights and the need to celebrate it? Should I look back? I conjure up events in my head – the horror that so many women had to endure and the social milieu of yester years. I get shaken. I open my eyes.

Now I sit straight, and thank that supreme light for being born in freedom, born in good times. We have come a long way from the absolute torturous times, yet we know there are still many suffering helplessly. Albeit, we should thank all the women who walked the line of fire to bring this change and to bring us to this point in time. It must not have been easy for them. When you read autobiographies and memoirs of women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg or even young famous Indian women like Priyanka Chopra, you realize how much grit and effort it has taken for these women to bring about social changes or make their own way. These are women who dared and razed the less travelled pathways for the younger generations of women.

My reverie takes me closer home now. I think about the two women in my family, whose stories I had heard and whose actions I had seen closely – my paternal and maternal grandmothers. These women were special in their own way. The former got married to an officer, yet chose to work and become an officer herself, breaking the glass ceiling. The latter was orphaned at a young age, in the violent Partition, but in spite of such loss in early childhood, she grew up to be a wonderful woman. She set an example of resilience and grace for one and all. They are both long gone but this Women’s Day, I thank them for their unique contribution in my life.

Finally, my eyes browse through Google as I look for this year’s theme chosen by United Nations. It is ‘Women in Leadership’. There is an instant reflection – I think of Queen Elizabeth II; the Forbes list doesn’t miss my eye too. I think of all the women I know or have known and conclude – no one is greater or lesser; all did their best to their abilities and circumstances; all are great leaders who have made a difference as career women or homemakers.

Published in The Tribune 8.03.2021

SUNDAY FEATURE: Power Purple

The sedimented meaning of purple can be destabilised but it power and profoundness still stays.

When Kamala Devi Harris walked inside the Capitol, chin up, shoulders square with utmost grace alongside her husband Doug Emhoff for the US Presidential inauguration ceremony – the historic moment was made even more striking by her choice of Tyrian purple outfit that swayed the masses rekindling the rhetoric of purple.

The fashion diplomacy of purple interestingly has a mythological story to begin with when nymph named Tyrus subsequently asked the mighty God Heracles to make a garment of the colour that Heracles’s dog had smeared his face with on biting into a mollusk. It was the colour purple that the sea snail secreted. The colour was novel in its origin and exclusive in its access. Around two and a half lakh mollusks could hardly yield an ounce of usable dye. This gave it a regal reputation becoming the colour of high priests and royalty from Roman and Persian empires to the Japanese in the east who extracted purple from shigusa, a purple gromwell plant which is equally difficult to grow. 

In spite, of purple’s association with royalty, the meaning and perception of purple is a cultural construct and is very contextual. In Thailand and South America (particularly Brazil), purple is the colour of mourning and grief. Purple is also considered a jinxed colour to date in many regions across the world, associating it with mystery and magic. No wonder why in antiquity oracle of Delphi had a purple veil as mentioned by authors like Aristotle and Ovid. While, in United States Purple Heart is given to the soldiers wounded or killed in war as a military decoration but more to show love and compassion and when Alice Paul started and unionized the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington D.C. in 1913, purple came to symbolize the “color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause,” and “the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity”. While Alice Walker, winner of Pulitzer Prize for her outstanding book ‘The Color Purple’ bestowed saturated purple (the one Kamala Harris chose to wear) a more intense and classic meaning that represented the mature and wiser ‘womanism’ which is in contrast to the delicate feminism represented by colour lavender. Thus the royal purple began to symbolize freedom, resilience and transformation of marginalized women (black women in particular) who have been obliterated from history.

Therefore, purple has no fixed signified meaning but endlessly differs and defers with ‘supplementarity’ and ‘traces’. It is indeed a sign of a sign of yet another sign quite literally too. In Old English purpre described the royal purple clothing of an emperor. It has been derived from the Latin purpura which in turn was derived from the Greek porphura denoting the mollusks that yielded the crimson dye. According to the dictionary meaning, purple can be defined in two ways, i.e, as a group of colours with a hue between that of violet and red and as a cloth of colour between violet and red which is worn as a symbol of royalty or high office. This leads to various concepts leading from one signified to the other. For instance, ‘purple prose’ is used for exaggerated and elaborate writings; ‘purple cow’ for something remarkable and unique; ‘purple speech’ for profane and bad language and ‘purple haze’ for confusion induced by drugs.

Indeed, this colour creates confusion enough by leading to the knowledge of unthought-of-thoughts just like when we realize in the end that PURPLE is not a colour at all. Scientifically, purple is not a colour since there is no beam of pure light that looks purple. Our eyes see purple because they are tricked to believe it so. It is a secondary colour that is obtained by mixing the blue and red. However, it is precisely this reason that also makes purple special in spiritual realms, thereby, associating it with creativity, imagination and high minded spirituality. It is believed that purple is the only colour that is profound enough to engulf and balance the calm stability of blue and fierce energy of red.

Although the sedimented meaning and symbolism of purple can be destabilized further and further but its power and profoundness stays even when deconstructed to smithereens. No wonder, Kamala chose this colour whose power cannot be pinned down, that refuses to fit in a typecast and that which broke the glass ceiling.

On a lighter note, looks like Kamala and all the other powerful ladies also knew how best to tell their nation that it is high time for the red of republicans and blue of democrats to work together, to genuinely make America great again after the veritable cyclone of Trumpism has been over now. 

Published in The Post India on 4.03.2021

NUGGETS of LIFE: Balance, another name of life

The art of balance

Things come and go! There is day and there is night! Change is inevitable. In life you go through many phases and there is nothing static. There are moments that you want to hold on to and then there are others which you want to let go. One has to learn walking the thin line of balance with élan and ease. For this you need to know the act of balancing and then there you are – ready to go those miles with a sunshine attitude!

Every culture – be it Indian, American, Balinese, Arabian or any other, strikes a chord at one common but fundamental element called balance, because without this it wouldn’t have thrived. The theory of karma is also based on this. To describe it in a very short way, it can be said that when a person is born, his life cycle is based around the famous proverb – ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’! His ultimate effort should be to achieve balance in his life, only then can he attain salvation. For this you need to learn about certain factors which have a profound role in achieving this state of bliss. These are as follow:

• Flexibility – Without flexibility or adjustment in other words, neither are you successful in your personal life nor in professional. All the fingers of our hand are not equal and without either of them, you loose your strength to perform any function. You should be content with yourself and your surroundings. If you do not like something, accept the fact that you do not like it but then move on. Do not expect everything to be perfect! One should not crib or think much about the past that is gone, neither think of the future that he certainly knows not. Life is about living the present (the very moment that you live!)

• Faith – Things do not always work out the way you want. There are many hardships and obstacles in life. Face them with a brave heart and you will survive! Never loose faith in yourself. Similarly, never loose hope. It is only then that the whole universe binds itself to achieve what you want. The law of attraction that Rhonde Bryne has pointed out in her book ‘The Secret’ actually works!

• Respect – All of us have two eyes, two hands, two legs and a heart but we may differ in our genes, habits, emotional bonding. What I want to point out here is that although we might not be able to love everyone but we can surely respect everyone because at some point we all are same. This not only brings balance in your life but also peace and harmony in the world.

• Yoga – This 5ooo years old form of meditation is truly a wonder. It balances mind, body and soul. Yoga inculcates positive energy in life. Not only does it make you physically fit but also a more calm and happy person. Serenity gets reflected on your face. It is a proven fact that an hour spent practicing yoga can teach you the deeper intricacies of life.

If you understand these key factors, then you understand the act of balancing life. Excess of everything is bad. Therefore, learn to balance! We have one life so make it worth living.

Published on EzineArticles.com on 30.7.2012