Saturday, 17 February 2018

How Storytelling Inspires Generations

As children we all grew up listening to stories. It could be either fairy tales about princess and fairies, superheroes that saves the day, mythology or just plain life stories about your grandparents, the people they know, the people around you.... and although while all of their plots might be different, there is a particular element common- a message. At the end of the story, you take a lesson, a value , a learning that stays with you. Then you pass it down to others for generations to come.

We all have a story to tell.

As humans, we thrive on stories. We are inspired when other people share their stories on how they started and your inner voice disguised as hope whispers to you "if they made it despite everything, I can too" and this is how a movement is begun. This is how an idea that was buried inside you sparks off into a change.

Take the #MeToo movement as an example. What began as a hashtag to expose details against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, matured into inspiring millions of women around the globe to share their personal stories denouncing sexual assault and harassment.

How?

This is because when someone share their story, you know you are not alone.  This in turn helps you build a larger community of people who will back you up and all of us grow stronger. The women who were afraid to speak up and were kept in shadows now spoke fearlessly - in large numbers and a movement began.

Your stories matter.

Artists have a different way to share their stories. They put a little part of themselves in their art- dancing, writing, poetry, painting, songs. These creations are beautiful, not only because they pleases our senses but also our heart. All of the art pieces - unique because of their stories behind which led them to their creation. They not only tell us about the ideology about the era when it was created but also restores our history in place.

Why do you think we refer to old literature and movies for historic researches? Yes, exactly.

This is the magic of stories- no matter which shape they take. They teach you. They force you to look the society from a different perspective. They bring out empathy. They unite us. They help you to understand the world. They inspire you to change the world.

One story at a time. One idea at a time.

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Thursday, 8 February 2018

#SurajkundDiaries: Visiting the Surajkund Mela, the Largest Craft Fair in the World!

The largest craft fair in the world!

A celebration of art, dance, crafts, ethnic cuisine, music and cultures, Surajkund mela is observing its 32nd edition this year in Surajkund, Faridabad, Haryana - merely 50 kms away from Delhi. This enormous fair witnesses almost a million visitors each year, making it the largest craft fair in the world!


I visited the fair this year and wasn't left disappointed. As you enter the gates, you'll be entering into a festival - with local artisans dancing, playing music and people joining in the celebration, you'll feel immersed into their joyous mood as well.

With around a thousand stalls, and live shows to keep you entertained, this is a nice glimpse of the art that India has to offer. Artists from SAARC nations have also participated bringing in their slice of heritage as well.

What I truly loved about this fair is the fact that these artists from all around the world have this platform to showcase their crafts all under one roof directly to the market - thus, eliminating the middlemen. Also festivals like these just help promote the local artisans, something we don't usually see in the metropolitan cities.


There are food stalls from across the states and what I would recommend you to try from that cuisine:
  • Rajasthan : Dal Baati Choorma/ Kachori
  • Gujrati : Khaman Dhokla
  • Bihar: Litti Chokha
  • Delhi: Aloo Tikki /Cholle Bhature
  • Haryana : They have a pre-defined Haryanvi thali (Bajra Khichdi, Makke di Roti, Sarso ka saag and more)
  • South Indian: Masala Dosa

... and for people with a sweet tooth, we have Kulfi and Jalebi at various stalls. So many options to choose from!
Every year the fair has a theme state and a partner nation that is generally highlighted more than the rest. The theme state for this year is Uttar Pradesh and hence you'll find slogans for UP tourism and famous architecture imitations in the fair.

If you're visiting with kids, the site also offers an amusement park with various rides for kids and you alike! The ferris wheel is a delight to be in - a classic.

At a glance -

Where : Surajkund, Faridabad, Haryana
When: 2nd - 18th February 2018
Timings: 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM
Theme State: Uttar Pradesh
Partner Nation: Kyrgyzstan

Are you planning a visit? Have you ever been to fairs like this in your country? Let me know :)

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Let me take you to Kuala Lumpur? : All you need to know about travelling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Why do we still fear the eclipse?


As I type this, I'm in a middle of an ongoing lunar eclipse, one of its kind. The moon is shining in its pristine glory, bathed in red glow, looking at its absolute best. A celestial treat for all the stargazers!

..and all I hear on the news channels and radio is- how to protect yourself from the evil rays of the eclipse. They tell us to not eat or drink anything, or to put a basil leaf on our food to 'purify' it and to chant holy mantras throughout.

Now I understand where these myths are coming from. They have been taught to us by our ancestors and it does sort of makes sense to believe them but in the past.

Long back when the human civilisation wasn't as advanced as it is today, we heavily relied on the rhythm of the world, to make sense of an order in life. We noticed that the sun rises in the morning, the sun sets in the evening, and that a silver moon shines up the night. Any slight difference in this pattern would set an alarm - causing a panic among people and they were determined that this disorder is a threat to their existence.

The old folk stories related to eclipses often involved demons, dragons, evil spirits and gods and when the eclipse had ended they rejoiced their victory.

Fast forward to today, we are in a scientific era and these superstitions still haven't completely gone away. The bits and pieces still remain or have been modified to suit accordingly.

Even now, a slight change in our routine brings us in a panic of our well being and this is wired in our roots-our DNA. We have been hardwired to worry about us, our well being to survive and hence the astrological gurus will continue to mint money on our fears.

This is why we still continue to believe in superstitions which aren't backed up by science.

Do we really need to fear the eclipse?

No.

We are inside a giant gas ball that has been revolving around the sun and has a celestial friend called the moon who revolves around us. There are times when we all three coincidently are in the same line and this phenomenon is called the lunar eclipse.


That's it! Yes, pretty straightforward. 

Also, it's super pretty and you should look up at this rare phenomenon at least once. It's a sight to behold. 

It's time that we act like the civilisation that landed on the moon to marvel at this beauty together. Shall we?

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Monday, 21 August 2017

When I Look Up at the Sky



WhI look up at the sky, I feel significantly small. Significant enough to make an impact yet small in this vast world that we call our own, yet smaller in this multiverse.

It's an humbling experience.

To learn that billions of us of different races, ethnicity, countries, genders, ideas share the same sky. That we all are so different from one another but yet the same. 

To understand that we are not alone.

To know that there is a world out there to explore.

To realise that there is a universe out there to figure about our origin.

I'm in awe.

To see how differently shaped clouds float together in the bright blue sky in such unison.

To be able to look when the sky is beautifully painted with the hues of sunset.

To see how the sky gets dark and  how the stars show up one by one until the sky is nothing but a blanket full of diamonds.

To be showered in the silvery hazy glow of the moon. 

To feel an ineffable notion within me, that makes me feel right at home, that longs to go back to its roots.

as I continue to look up in amazement, gaze at the infinity and ask the most important questions.

To ponder about my place in this wondrous universe.

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Inner Monologue of a Writer on a Hiatus



I did it again.

I took a blogging hiatus.

I can't write anymore. Words that were typed seamlessly, now struggle to leave my mind.

I stare at my computer screen for hours, my mind brimming with unstructured thoughts and then,

I type. I try to let out but I end up deleting it all.

No, it's not a writers block.

  • I have hundreds of stories to narrate to you, countless lessons that I have learned to share with you.

No, it's not the lack of time.

  • For what I believe, people make time for something that is important to them.

What is it then, Sakshi?

I ask this question to myself repeatedly. I don't know if those are valid reasons or just lies that I tell myself to convince my naive heart.

"Ah! I can't be a technical person with a creative mind"
I would say, as my fingers moved swiftly across the keyboard while I code.

"There is a fine line between my life and what I share"
Forgetting how writing is to be vulnerable.

"I am not able to write how I used to"
You haven't been writing in a flow since months, almost years. It's going to take some time for you to get you in the groove. Do you remember your first blog post? I would have laughed it off, if I read it now. But, you got your first 3 followers that day. Are you going to give up even before you try?

"The blogging community is not what it used to be"
Now you're just finding reasons to not write.

Sakshi, no one is stopping you to write except yourself.

I miss writing.

Every day, it pains me like a goddamn needle prick in my heart knowing I'm losing an essential part of me.

..but here I'm today.

I have decided to believe in myself and start writing again.

I have decided to be a better writer than the day before.

I want to share my stories with you.

I want you to learn from my experiences.

I want to build us a community where we help one another despite the distances.

That was and has been the only reason of why I write and will continue to.

I hope I'm back.

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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Phillumeny: Collecting Stories, One Matchbox at a Time!

I was a child, travelling in a train when I found this matchbox.

The first matchbox that caught my attention :)

Little did i know that this would be my first ever matchbox in my upcoming collection that I'll start to build in my teenage years.

phillumenist
fɪˈluːmənɪst
noun
a collector of matchbox or matchbook labels.

I am a phillumenist. I find it interesting how these little matchboxes stores such large stories. What started off as an inexpensive hobby for me, it turned soon into a gateway of understanding our history better. With over hundreds of matchboxes in my collection, I have noticed how there is a common theme that runs across all the designs on the pack. While tigers, elephants, roosters and bicycles are the most common ones, the diversity ranges from mode of transports, food items, historic monuments and deities of worship. All of them printed beautifully according to the era in which they were made, like a pretty intrinsic design on a tiny box! A piece of art.


I remember getting these as souvenirs while I travel to any part of the globe as I search for a local paanwala with my eyes glued to the window of my car to get a unique matchbox this time. And oh how the managers raised their eyebrows when I asked for a matchbox in a non smoking room in the hotel. My friend Pranjali, helping me in building up this collection in the summer break and my mom remembering all the boxes I still need. So many memories!

I don't understand why phillumeny isn't as popular as it should be. Just like stamps, it depicts the history of the era, stories and values that raises a society and hence are little treasures that serves as the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle when we look back in time. With the modern times, it only gets less popular which concerns me. I wished everyone can see with the same amazement as the seven year old me in the train.

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Thursday, 16 March 2017

How Our Shortsightedness is Ruining the Planet


Picture from Pinterest

We are myopic and I'm not only talking about our eyesight.

It's not only our eyes but our minds that are shortsighted. For the most part, people seem unable to understand how our longing for short term happiness affect us as a human or the planet in general in the long term.

Think about it, in smaller contexts. We will procrastinate on studying for an exam, we will find it easier to stay in home on a day to vote, we will deforest an area to build a community, we will fight wars for the most valuable commodity: oil that fuels our very existential lifestyle.

Rings a bell? Let me break it down for you.

Today, we are depleting what is left of the earth at a rate faster than ever before. We have managed to pollute the air and made air purifiers to sell, we loved bubble bath so much that we made lakes of toxic foam, land are deforested, our ecosystem is in a mess and yes, climate change is real.

"The ironic thing is that we are the only specie that has power to alter our environment immensely to make it unliveable and we are doing exactly that."

The most profound thing is to see the world changing in front of my eyes. I remember how my locality looked when I moved in here a decade ago. There were less houses, the sky was clearer to the point where it was my routine to stargaze each night, driving to the nearest restaurant was a fun outing and I did not feel suffocated. Fast forward to the present, my house is literally jammed with several other houses, the pollution in the city has been termed as one of the deadliest in the world. A 15 min drive is now an hour long, thanks to the never ending traffic and forget stars, I'm lucky if I even get to see the clouds in bright daylight.

We have cut down our trees only to build a concrete jungle to live in.

Why?

According to science, we have been wired to be shortsighted. We can only truly understand what we are able to experience, so the longest stretch of time that we are able to wrap around our head is approximately about 80 years, which is nothing relative to the time our earth has existed and will continue to do so. Having said that, we are great when it comes to micro managing our time in the present.

In the corporate world, all of our work is planned and scheduled down to the last minute. Preference is given to speed despite the accuracy and ah, how being busy is a blessing! This mentality has usher us to our downfall. 

Speedy is being greedy. You basically neglect planning and focus on short term gains instead of how it's going to affect in the long run. 

Cars are a population innovation but who would have thought that this human bubble would be capable of deforesting millions of acres to clear land for roads and highways, will lead countries for wars for oil and would emit nothing but only more cough cough smoke cough cough cough . This is a perfect example of how we didn't think about it before but kept on producing at an extend that there are now more cars than people in the world! Think about that.

It's sad to see how we are misusing our powers to destroy the only thing we have. 

Looking at the present situation, it's evident that a new source of energy is needed which is both clean and reliable and what is better than solar energy? Although setting up the solar panels is an expensive feat, the rewards reaped are immeasurable. 

Another important thing is how we dispose our waste. It's important to ensure that we as corporates don't dump our toxins into the air or the sea where it contaminates the ecosystem in a way which is irreversible. Recycling should be the jargon and reusing, the common way of reducing most wastage.

Take a carpool to work, use more jute products, support your local communities and farmers by buying more fresh produce than relying completely from the supermarkets. These all are so small yet such significant steps when they add up.

We do not have to wait for our government to impose their eco friendly policies on us. Change starts from one of us. Although we tend to focus more on our own individual problems, the health of the planet is our responsibility. Each of us must work to pass on this beautiful planet to our future generations.

We are powerful enough to affect our fate, let's make it on a positive side.

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Monday, 2 January 2017

What Makes The New Year Special

 "Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins? It's not a date on the calendar, not a birthday or a new year. It's an event, big or small, something that changes us." -Greys Anatomy

The chapter of 2016 has now been closed and the world is welcoming 2017 with wide open arms and watching the hype of the new year's eve around me made me question its existence.

What does the new year signify other than a fresh beginning on the calendar?

A sense of hope.

The thing that makes the new year special is our belief of closing a chapter behind us. It provides a sense of closure to whatever mistakes we made and a false sense of hope of a new beginning to tell us that we have a chance to make ourselves and our life better, a landmark, an opportunity to do the things that we always wanted to do. Hence, the ritual of creating new year resolutions.

So, the gym memberships reach to an all-time high during January only to get into its normal pace somewhere in April. The journal you wanted to keep writing is now forever kept in the closet and the books you promised to read is catching dust on the shelf, dying to narrate its story.

Why do we wait until the new year to make resolutions? If you're someone who plans to study at 6:00 and then later it happens to be 6:05 and then you plan again to study at 7:00, you're a serious procrastinator. The same applies to someone who plans a change on Monday (hence, waiting a week) and the most serious ones are those who wait until the new year (new year, new me).

Image may contain: text
Image by Buzzfeed

Do you remember when you fought back your fears and gave that presentation in school/college? When you realized, you had enough and cut out those toxic people from your life? Or even the time you finally passed even when you thought you never would. That mostly didn't happen on new year's, that didn't even on a special occasion because life doesn't work that way.

 The new year marks the beginning on the calendar, for us to measure the span of time and seasons. You don't need a calendar to decide when should you change. Every day, every moment is a fresh beginning and the sooner you realize this, the sooner things get better.

Procrastination destroys and absolutely demolishes your dreams.

So, don't wait for magical dates on the calendar, promise yourself that whenever you need to make a change in your life, you'll work towards making it then and there. The ability to transform yourself into your best goddamn self will require efforts each single day.

Don't wait for magical dates to happen, create your own. 2017 is here, ensure to make each day count.

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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Stop trying to profit on my insecurities!

Today a lady tried to sell me a beauty product in her way and it did not go well.

Comic by: Alenka Doodleline

Over my blogging years, I have received many emails, mainly from teenage girls asking my advice on various topics: ranging from high school, academics, blogging and self-doubt. The last one led me to write a post called "Pretty is not always beautiful". As someone who used to face it, I thought that this applied only to teenage girls as they are still trying to figure themselves and the world around them but now two years later, I see that the entire society is plagiarized by this infectious disease.

My conversation with the lady went somehow like this:

Lady: "Madam, which face cream do you use?"
Me: "Umm...XYZ. Why?"
Lady: "Uhh, XYZ is such a sham. You should try our new product, it will help brighten the dark patches under your eyes and keep the glow in your face intact that comes in your 20s.
Me: "No, thank you", walks away almost instantly never to look back.
This made me think about the way in which these companies try to sell their products and I realized that the beauty industry more than any other, thrives on our insecurities. Protect yourself from the sun or you'll get tanned. Oh, you did. Well, here is our whitening cream. Your skin starts aging in your 20s, apply the anti-aging serum. Lose weight in 2 weeks. Make your legs seem taller in these jeans. Day cream, night cream. Under eye cream, hand cream, foot cream, cuticle oil. There is not a single part of our body, they don't have something to sell for.

I don't have any problem with the people buying these products. I believe, there is a personal preference and it should be respected but I think society has pressurized the female sex a lot more than their male counterparts to look in a certain way.

I'm worried about the teenage girl who believes when the lady tells her that she is ugly because she has dark circles and acne. For the young lady yet in her school who is taught that hair on her body makes her a man. For the young girl out there, who believe that she'll become more attractive if she attains the zero figure by starving themselves. For the woman who believes that she needs to be Fair and Lovely for marriage proposals. For the grandmother, who believes that her wrinkles and gray hair have made her lose her charm. For the newly mother who think that her post-baby weight has made her fat.

No. Fuck all of this.

Your skin tone doesn't define who you're. You need to embrace your child bearing hips.Your dark circles, wrinkles, and grays tells a story. It's a privilege that not everybody gets.

I'm blessed to be comfortable under my own skin but I would be lying if I tell you that there isn't a day when I don't like my body. Sometimes, I do wish for a flatter stomach or hope that my dark circles go away magically. But I have attained that point of beauty nirvana where I can brush off them quite easily. Over the years, I have realized that all of this is just skin deep and it never matters in the long run and one day someone will love you for who you're and tell you that you're the most beautiful human in the world and you'll believe it. You should.

You're beautiful. Don't let the society make you believe otherwise.

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Monday, 26 September 2016

Coffee and Conversations

Beautiful artwork by: tiastudio.blogspot.com

I'm writing this down as I take in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee beans against the backdrop of the "coffee shop buzz", the beautiful mosaic of conversations combining together: hope, dreams, life , laughter, fear and love of people who are strangers yet so familiar. 

I sip in my favourite cup of coffee which disturbs the white foam swirled around the cup, oh so delicately. Coffee is my guilty pleasure and I can't stop myself getting back for more.

At this moment, I feel blissful to be in this coffee shop which is bustling with life. 

Coffee shops are a place where you can have the most meaningful, intense and deep conversation either with your mates or with yourself. It's like an urban getaway but only so much better.

The lights are low and touches everyone with such elegance. The oversized armchairs are cozy and embracing to dive into. The jazz music alongside the buzz is one of the most beautiful music I have ever listened to, a sudden thought shouts back at me: "people are beautiful if you let them be".

I spent hours thinking about life and its ways, the society, the people and the ways to impact all of them positively as the cup of coffee in my hand reached its last drop, I took a ballpoint pen and wrote down a message on the tissue paper, hoping someone will read it after I left.

"You're great and you'll do greater things! I believe in you", it said.

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