Random conversations @Book of life 2

IMG_7082It was the last day of our Rural Stint. I didn’t want to miss a single bit of the fresh village air nor did I wanted to leave a single chance behind for a memory to be remembered and cherished. I captured a lot… if not all. With  ‘a lot’ I mean not only the nearly thousand pictures captured in my camera but as many of them in my heart as well. I loved being there. For the uncorrupted nature as well as minds.

It was almost our time to wrap up from the village, I noticed this little girl across the mud-beaten path playing with some clay sort of a thing. Out of sheer habit I pulled out my camera and slowly zoomed in to take a close-up of her. As I tried to focus I realized that she was not playing but collecting cowdung with her bare hands. I was taken aback for a while and approached her slowly, enquiring why  she was collecting the cattle-dung.  She squarely looked into my eyes saying ” Mei apni Maa ko madat kar rahi hun.” The so called concerns of basic hygiene, child rights and rural empowerment all vanished from my mind before even they could be flashed through. And I realized one simple thought being replaced there ‘asaliyat‘… of innocence and humanity…

 

 

 

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Random conversations @Book of life

At Shri Sarayan Daji Samath Chowk, (a street at Bandra, in the City of Mumbai, India)Sonam’s family sits at the traffic point.With her parents and siblings, she sits on a footpath playing on a touch screen mobile. After introduction I ask her if she goes to school.

“No. we just stay here.”

“What do you do here?”

“We simply sit here. We are basically from Vasai. My Dad and Mom come to work here.”

“Where are they working?”

“They clean the drainages. We sit and wait here whole day. But only once in a while, people call them. When no one calls them for work we go for begging for food and survival.”

“Do you want to study?”

“Yes, but my parents can’t afford it. I have to look after my siblings too.”

“Do you want to come with me?”

She didn’t say anything but there was a strange glow in the eyes, which I guess was a sign of hope , a mixture of doubt, fear, confusion and perhaps a question as to why are you asking me all this…While I was clicking her photo, she asked me “will you come again to meet us? We will be here every day after 1:30 pm.” I gave her a smile assuring that I would meet her someday soon and walked away only to realize that I had a lot more questions to be answered in my mind.

 

Hearing a Heart Out- An Experience that lingers in the heart

Hearing the hear out

From her house too we walked away. Thinking nothing really much, but with that elusive sense of responsibility where we were compelled to meet few more people so that we have something factual to say while we are back from the rural stint as part of the Lowe Lintas Apprenticeship Programme. It was sheer dutifulness that robotically took me to house to house until that moment.

There she was… running behind us! Gasping, she reached us just to know one single thing. Her voice surfaced over her panting, “Didi… Apka shaadi ho gaya kya?”

Now that was an astounding question!

Though puzzled for a moment I answered “Nahi. Kyun?”

“Meri Dadi Maa pooch rahi thi. Isiliye. Woh aap se bate karna chahti hein” She replied.

I stood there for a while as though thinking. It was so obscure a moment yet I nodded in agreement.

Her Dadi Maa was right there, sitting on that Koyar Gadda in the patio in front of the house. Seeing us she got up and enthusiastically approached us. Her face ignited with a delighted smile and with an ardent sense of responsibility.

She kept smiling while we gazed at each other. We stood a while like that; she looking deep into my eyes as though to sink her thoughts into mine and me searching through that fierce glow of her stare to uncover the mystery.

She began to talk “Beti, tumko ye bolni chahti hein, ki apni zindagi kub maza se jiyo. Aur ab shaadi nahi karna.  Ye dekho hamari gaon mein ladkiyam 12 aur 13 saalo mein shaadi kar dethe hein. Unko apne liye aur koyi zindagi nahi hein”

And that was it. She held me close with a warm embrace. Nothing more did she say nor did I ask anything.  I could feel a whole lot of emotions whelming out of that 80+ years old lady.

Once again our eyes met each other’s and I found myself nodding with a murky feeling yet again.   However I drew her close to me returning that warm embrace, just to ensure her that she was indeed a phenomenal woman for me and that I was inspired and even more importantly she was heard…

As I walked away from her, the murky feelings began to get even murkier. But soon to realize that it is those murky moments that lead us to clear sights.

Note: It is nothing about the marriage or feminist instincts that made me pen down this story. It is about the tremendous insight that this illiterate old woman from  a remote village brought into my life. I realized that she too is a phenomenal woman! Perhaps with her age earned wisdom she has a vision for  her younger generation. She want them to be free and contented… And she is not afraid of letting others know how vulnerable her life is… As the famous going says “When you refuse to hide your scars, they become a lighthouse for someone else”.

Once Again WordPress turns Picturepress :)

Once Again WordPress turns Picturepress :)

Amazing moments captured from villages near Indore, a city in the state of Madya Pradesh, India. More stories detailing the wonderful moments in the picturesque country scape will hopefully follow soon 🙂

Purpose-filled…

Purpose-filled…

Parted with the gem inside…
Shell that let it grow
O Shell that let it go.
Purpose driven your life as I see
Though, purpose less it seems
As you lay along the shore.

Parted with the gem inside…
Shell that let it grow
O Shell that let it go…
You let me see as you lay
A thousand ways to begin a new!

Where Do We Go Now?

Where Do We Go Now?

PRODUCER                  :-          Nadine Labaki

DIRECTOR                   : –         Anne-Dominique Toussaint

TYPE OF FILM             :-          Melodrama

BASIC THEME             :-          Conflict between Christians & Muslims/ Ethnic clashes

Where Do We Go Now?, is a surprising independent film filled with laughter despite the darkness that lingers in the background. It in fact is one that celebrates the music, the food, and the good humour of Lebanese culture in its best senses. Humour is ever present in this comedy of manners, and it is best embodied by the female characters’ conniving yet endearing ways. They decide to manipulate their husbands for their own good after they realize shaming them with words for their frequent outbursts will not be sufficient. The decision to bring the night- club dancers and once they arrived the reactions seen from the men flock, he fake miracle of Virgin Mary etc (considering the fact that they did it for a greater cause) seems to be rather entertaining. In one scene, they traipse through the darkness together to bury their husbands’ guns far from the village—afraid of encountering wolves on the way. Back in their village, they gather in the kitchen and make cakes by mixing paste with sleep-inducing drugs to placate their husbands. They dance and sing in the kitchen while revile in their trickery. It is really is a laugh-out-loud film about sectarian violence—and that in itself might be the chief indicator of its seriousness and craft.

The film also has got a great social value in it. From a feminist point of view the film tries to convince that the women in a society can be a very important social institution in the village, serving as the moral and ideological police force for the community. There is a sincere attempt to reflect on the fact that when it comes to acts of communal violence, it is men, rather than women, who are most often the agents of barbarism—but one need not be a feminist to make this observation.  At one point in the film, the Dancers visit the cemeteries, and one of them comments, “There are more dead people than living here.” They see a photo of Yvonne’s son that they recognize from her house, and remark how they can now understand why she is so crazy. “Poor mothers,” they intone. (In the closing frame of the film, the work is indeed dedicated to “our mothers.”) Another Russian replies, “They are even buried separately.” This, it seems to me, is one of the moments in which the everyday practice of sectarianism, which might be opposed to the innate passion for one’s community against all others, is referenced.

Victimhood is never evident in the female characters. The women of the village play a critical role in their marriages and local politics, albeit in an unofficial, covert manner. They do not reflect the caricature of Middle Eastern femininity often portrayed on screen. They are not hiding behind the veil or doing their husbands’ bidding for fear of retaliation. They are full-fledged, empowered human beings, living in communion with each other and their neighbours.

The portrait of two men of the church—the local priest and imam—is also poignant. Together, they call followers of their faiths to ‘compulsory’ conclaves of forgiveness and compassion. One night the two patriarchs organize an evening in front of a television set—a symbol of modernity and another chance for the village to come together. The scene is a reminder of the poverty of Lebanon, an emerging economy struggling to succeed in face of combat and destruction.

The logic of the film can be also questioned on the film’s notion that a mother might actually go to such devastating lengths to “protect” her village from further bloodshed, however, the film is worth the effort of bracketing questions about the plausibility of her act.

One cannot also deny the fact that the film offers an unsatisfying picture of the persecution of Christians across the Middle East. It conveniently ignores the fact that there is constant force trying Christians out of Lebanon, or the religious persecution pervasive across the Middle East in wake of the Arab Spring. I personally feel that the film could do well in being a little more realistic.

Nadine Labaki has made a satisfying film, one that celebrates the music, the food, and the good humour of Lebanese culture in its best senses. It is a laugh-out-loud film about sectarian violence—and that in itself might be the chief indicator of its seriousness and craft. It is meant as a feminine fairy tale, though it is much more than a feminist answer to ongoing sectarian tensions. This makes for a pleasant surprise. Moreover, Where Do We Go Now? Nadine Labaki deserves high praise for continuing to help put Lebanon on the map of international cinema.

The music for the entire film is done by Khaled Mouzanar  and the Lyrics are by Tania Saleh. Sound effects used are mainly that of gun shots, tension, suspense and even happy and peppy once. Fantasy song-and-dance Such as that of Amala and Rabih is another plus point in the movie. Such musical interludes punctuate the movie throughout, providing moments of escape and alternative possibility.

The film is beautifully shot, oscillating between chiaroscuro night scenes and bright ochre and olives, as the gorgeous cast and the tranquil mountain village is bathed in Mediterranean light. The camera zooms in and out of the lives led by the villagers as a hand would flick through a photo album. The pace is at once lively and fast-paced, yet equally reflective and placid. As I have already mentioned the excellent cinematography makes it possible for the film to be well reached to even to the illiterate.

The film ends where it began, in the village cemetery. The entire village sets off to bury Nassim, with all the women still dressed in their “sectarian attires.” When they arrive at the cemetery, however, the pallbearers are confused, asking, “Where do we go now?” No one knows where the body should be buried. This is how the movie ends, leaving the title question hanging in the air.