No Shave, No Lipstick, What Nonsense!

The front page of the newspaper today created such upheavals with the sheer gravity of news it carried! It gave its  audience vital inputs on the crucial  movement called No Shave No Lipstick Movement, which asserts in its self assumed voice of women that if men don’t groom themselves by of course using “Gillette Fusion which is three times better than Mach 3” then women threaten to not use, Oh I dare not even think of such omens, but yes, if they don’t then, Heavens shall curse, for women will stop using …LIPSTICK! OH MY GOD!!!

So they say that men shaving off their stubble is directly proportional to women grooming themselves. This means that both genders should now try to live up to the crafted images of themselves which the opposite genders have been sold and made to believe in and accept as real, magical realism at its best must say.

Kyun  Bhai? ?

Such fine exemplification of unnecessarily attempting at stereotyping an image, creating newer attributes to sell products, and in this entire process, trying to create homogenized perceptions of beauty, tch tch, as if they have nothing better to do in their life.

What was most amusing was a quote from a relatively well known lady suggesting that she cannot trust men with stubble. Wow! That’s like stuff taught in orthodox schools about “Ganda AAdmi! Ganda Log!” (in an accent of course)

In doing so they tried to create an illusion that look woman! power! control! dammit they have been able to sell two images in one go! Cosmetic Brands, please thank Gillette. Because well groomed women who can make a (lame) choice on whom to trust use lipsticks, and well groomed men who date strong headed (ahem) women with Lipsticks are clean shaven.

And you know they also did a survey! You see we love quantifying stuff, numbers sell. So 79% women always prefer to accompany a clean shaven man to party!!!

Goodness what revelation, what life saving characteristics! We must thank them for such brilliant discovery! We shall forever be indebted because 79% of 150 women, only in metros (they mentioned in a tiny font) surveyed i.e. 118 women said so and this must be believed in and bought by others too. I am just posting some links about India’s women population and demographics if of any interest that is. Does reveal the vast scale such absurd comments are made on.



I pray that people think more before the absolute trash they generate!


The conspiracy of Silence

A book in her hand, she sat engaged in thoughts. In thin air, she stared at the ghosts of yesterday. The train moaned with a penetrating rhythm, and  drowned in an ominous obscurity the ruckus of its inhabitants. The tunnel is not a poetic dark abyss, but a gateway to past and memories, those which refuse to be lost in oblivion, and resurface in spurts to announce their voluminous upheavals.

To travel is a journey inside.

She had been warned against reliving that which was gone, been advised to move ahead and close the zipper of silence on her baggage, which she single handed tugged along, painstakingly, nurturing hope that when she finds them, those who open it, they shall but show her the mirror hiding inside. She craved for acceptance of that-which-she-was-not-to-speak-of, of voicing her anger, and to heal her wounds.

The train halts, a frantic man boards it only to find his compartment full. He pushes through unrelenting children and angered mothers, finds his seat, wakes up a man sleeping on it, and sits by the window. He puts on his headphones, to be drowned into silence by music. In those incredulous lyrics he might find an answer for questions he dare not ask. He looks at her and smirks, another one of those psychopaths, he convinces himself with an easy lie.

Miles away, a rowdy man makes his way through the maddening traffic. Be it a vehicle or a human, he sees them all as one “Silent Victims”.


In the name of “Storytelling”

I have always been intrigued by narratives and for quite some time I had been contemplating on having a storytelling session with children, for there is always so much to learn from them.

Thanks to Pratham and Lit World (http://blog.prathambooks.org/2012/03/tribe-of-pratham-books-champions.html), I volunteered to read out a story called “Paper Play” (Written by Mala Kumar, Illustrated by Ruchi Shah, Pratham Publication) to children in Ahmedabad.

7th March is “World Read Aloud Day” and though I wanted to conduct multiple sessions and reach out as many children as I could, considering the festival Holi,  I conducted today’s session with a small yet exceptionally vibrant and enthusiastic group of children. The next session shall be held at a school along with dialogue on Child Rights and Paper Craft Workshop.Following are notes and pictures from today’s experience.

Today’s session would have been impossible without our jovial and loving Prakash Bhai, who works at the National Institute of Design (NID), Gandhinagar. Prakash Bhai and his  wife were extremely supportive and helpful in conducting this session at their special terrace.

(Note: all the photographs in this post are only to share the experience of the session and must not be used for any other purpose!)

Prakash Bhai with his Better Half (Photograph taken from facebook)
Sudeep Shyamal, Photographer for our mini event

( All following Photographs Courtesy Sudeep Shyamal)

The playful terrace

Artwork on the terrace has been done by students of Toy and Game Design at NID. This lively environment was indeed a great boon.

Colors of Joy
All set!
And the Story begins with the Window

We started with four, in due course via interest and word of mouth we were seven children and three adults. In the beginning, I also gave sheets (we reused sheets which went waste in an earlier purpose) and pencils, so that they could write down about things we discuss throughout the story. I did not want it to be a one way process, and intended to make it as participatory as I could.

This is where we discussed our favorite foods
Discussing Bittoo who sings popular movie songs
Keen interest?
Children singing their favorite songs. Here Jinal singing a recent Bollywood number.
Gujarati version of Kolaveri Di
Everyone's enjoying and engaged
Now original Kolaveri being sung by Arth, upcoming Rockstar
The illustration style in the book was quite liked by children as they repeatedly asked to go through the pictures themselves.

We also spoke about paper boats, our favorite movies, actors, whom we idolize as heroes and where all would we like to travel, just as Bittoo in the story wished to sail all around the world in his paper boat.

Since Bittoo seemed to be liking fame, all of them wrote their answers on what they wanted to be when they grew up and what were their dreams. From driving an auto rickshaw to wearing high heels, we sure had fun discussing our dreams.The children also shared their favorite destinations and where all they would like to travel, Kankaria Lake (Ahmedabad) and Canada seemed to be much preferred locations.

Children kept cracking jokes in between and shared incidents from school
All ears!

Now, we reached an interesting stage when Jinal promptly volunteered to cut a hole in the paper just like children in the story did. Arth drew the circle, Jinal cut it with scissors (she seemed to be really enjoying craft) and everyone got their picture clicked from behind the hole, just like in the book! and of course, each time “Smile Please!”

Jinal cuts the paper
Dhruv and Aryan
Hetu and Arth
A look at the illustrations
Children telling names of their best friends. Dhruv's best friend is Salman Khan.

This input from Dhruv came in when we were talking about names of our friends as compared to names of children in the book. Since he mentioned Salman Khan as his best friend everyone came up with their favorite characters on Television. And voila! they even enacted their roles :

Arth enacting a character from "Chidia Ghar"
Spontaneous Garba by Aryan
Spider Man!!
Happy Hetu thinking of her favorite character on T.V.
According to story, Anil redrew the Sun

So why should we be left behind?

Shaping the Sun
Different respresentations
Once the story came to an end, all of them narrated a story/joke each. Here Hetal is telling a joke on how a Lady applied lipstick all over her face during electricity cut and ended up looking like a Post Office.

Jinal narrated a story on Ghosts later. This led us to talk about villians. According to Hetal, Aryan was one for he would tease her.

Children giving feedback. "Very Good Story"- Aryan

And now our terrace version of Art Attack :

Since the story began with a window, I asked them to list down what they possibly see from their window (including ghosts) and we could make our own window and gift it to Prakash Bhai for being so generous and supportive.

The window
Group at Work
Shreyas (post word of mouth)
Everyone must participate

Our Guest 🙂
Quick recap
Discussing placement
Intense Discussions
One side almost done. Unanimous decision to keep the Ghost hidden until one opens window. We had two National Flags visible from our Magic Window. They also came up with a brilliant suggestion to put the ghost on a spring so that it would pop out and be scarier (by the way, noticed the red teeth?) Alas! we had no spring.
We had enough illustrations, so we decided to put them at the back side. After all, its a magic window, anything can happen!
And we are done. The Window is gifted to Prakash Bhai by the youngest one, Dhruv.

Since these children stay in Prakash Bhai’s neighbourhood, his house allows fair access (to Window) to all of them and they can come and use/play with it any time.

A look at our Window urf Mini Kaavad 😉

Window Closed
Window Open and Magic!
Backside: Notice the thoughtful alignment of the pond
Thankyou Prakash Bhai and Sudeep Shyamal

A very special thanks to Shruthi Raj Gangadhar and Suneeta Karri  (Toy and Game Design, NID) for their help and support. We definitely owe a thanks to Pratham for giving us the opportunity to enjoy this Story.

Today was the first time I had met these children and we ended up having  great fun. Not only was it constructive but also a good learning experience. The children enjoyed themselves and had to be called back to their homes after two hours. They all liked the story but we felt it could perhaps have been even longer. 🙂 A day truly spent well.


Joy of Listening, Joy of being the audience

I spent half an hour today listening to a jovial Parsi lady in the office, and was amazed at how she could connect one event with another. We started our conversation (where I was the audience) from the store at NID, to School of architecture’s Garba, and ended at her preference of Jacuzzi Bath and how she wishes she could own a grand bathroom in a humble setting.

In late evening I got to learn about taking care of dogs from the elderly Gija Ba and of course Mr. Altaf.

These are  precious storytellers who do not need to learn  techniques, they are born with the art and have nurtured it.


Also I witnessed the Gujarati version of the following footage from “Madagascar” today in Paldi, Ahmedabad.

Granny played by Gija Ba (Granny yet again) and Alex by a huge dog Haara who shamelessly bullies the others while demanding his ears to be scratched. Gija Ba came exactly like granny here and without any inhibitions slapped Haara as many times as she could (of course lovingly and not so violently) while fiercely admonishing him for bullying others. (Gija Ba was also carrying a bag 🙂 )Later she told me she was a teacher in her younger years and invited me over to her place.