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Friday, 23 December 2011

Expressions through Rhythm- A collaborative effort by American Center and

With a wide grin and a spark in their eyes they flocked to the stage.  Each step which was slack in the past, was now replaced by a brisk stride, as they sported crisp white tees that read: “Drumming gives us a sense of freedom, dancing empowers us and acting allows self expression.”
Even in their self-disciplined manner they seemed content — their past lives left behind. The past week of their life standing out — as a beautiful memory. They were the 60 survivors of Human Trafficking aged between 11 and 18. They had all seen the dark, ugly side of the world, even before their life had reached the bright and colorful spring phase of existence.
The stage of their dreams was set on December 22, 6.30pm onwards at the Spine Area in City Center, New Town where Expression through Rhythm 2011 was hosted where they played the drums, sang, danced and put up a play. The performance worked as the flag bearer of their passionate dreams.
Laura Price an American social activist and Tanmoy Bose & Taal Tantra had organized a series of creative workshop on expressive art — Restoration of Innocence to introduce these young ones from seven different NGO's, Kolkata Sanved, Sanlaap, New Light, Apne Aap, Hamari Muskan, Save the Children, Iccha and All Bengal Woman’s Union to the brighter aspects of life. The American Center Kolkata supported this initiative.
“Some of them are better than regular school going children,” said Usha Ganguli, the famous face of the theatre world.  “I am doing my bit to improve the society we live in. “These little children deserve better lives and it makes me proud to make them smile for a week at least,” said Tanmoy Bose.
These young survivors against sex trafficking from participating city NGOs —took classes in drumming, dancing, acting and boxing. These classes were conducted by — table maestro Tanmoy Bose & Taal Tantra, veteran theatrician Usha Ganguli and India’s first woman boxing coach Razia Shabnam. Each expert in their own field interacted with the children as they shared their kaleidoscopic experiences, guiding them through the various activities. The joy of the teachers was akin to that of the learners — the former doing their bit to change the world and the latter, being the change.
It was indeed a vacation for the children as they ran to the location of the workshop every day. They went in each morning, with a spring in their step, running in with glee. Laura Price who is the soul behind this initiative and also founding member of has been conducting this annual workshop for the past three years in the city to give these otherwise underprivileged children an opportunity to explore their creative talents. She believes, “This one week of their life should be their much awaited and most well deserved vacation.”
The result of the workshop was obvious as one power packed performance followed the other at City Centre New Town on the wintry evening of December 22.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:  “Violence against women and girls is also an issue of international human rights and national security…We need everyone's involvement – boys and men, faith and community leaders, youth, and people at all levels of society are critical to solving such a widespread pandemic of violence. This message inspired me to write this piece. 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Future leads the willing and drags the unwilling

About 5 months ago, I stepped out of my teens. And believe me, it wasn't as exciting as stepping into 'teen-hood'.
Nonetheless, something that happened today made me feel that after all, it's all about the way you live it.
In the one hour lunch break that our college allows us, we decided to grab a bite outside. We stepped foot on Russel Street and savoured a bowl of piping hot Cheese Maggi, and immediately thereafter, chilled lassi! Which "grown-up" does that? On retrospect I felt, we were practically inviting illness to come our way!
Sooner than later we were clicking pictures on our phone and laughing at our own madness. The shop whose entrance became the backdrop of our photoshoot didn't matter,the passersby who smirked didn't matter. We were in our own frenzy and did I enjoy it! 
The pictures led to crazy poses and even crazier conversations. We talked about the pictures being printed, then we planned how we'd make scrapbooks for each other at the end of college. And then- this is the high point of the trilogue- we concluded that we wouldn't make three different scrapbooks. "That'll make us very typical. Years on end we'll only be sitting with these books and saying I HAD a friend.....," said a friend, rather purposefully. So, in order to save our separate scrapbooks the trouble of our tears, she suggested that we make a single book.
There! Within minutes we had fast forwarded our lives and predicted the future. We made a serious promise, in a not-so serious manner, when we decided that there would now be only one scrapbook which would change hands every year on Friendship Day. The geographical distances would be made up by courier services.... And in more ways than one, we solved all other problems that might crop up. 
As spontaneously as we'd started talking about it, we drifted on to talking about all else that occupied our mind space. And then, we discovered the weird notion of Dimpla Kapadia marrying Anna! Only because when I said Khanna, it was misheard!
Such are the promises and pleasures of adulthood! 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

There's a place and time for everything.....

My newspaper vendor has an absurd habit of delaying the delivery of the paper when it's most awaited. When the city or coutry has suffered a catastrophe the previous day and early next morning, we eagerly wait for this lad to come knocking on our door, he seldom turns up before 9. Sometimes we are left thinking that probably he takes all his time to read the paper before he goes around delivering them!

 Saturday, the 10th of December, the day after the AMRI Massacre took place, was no different for this not so amusing habit. 
As soon as we got hands on the paper we found ourselves comparing the written articles with the information disseminated on the television broadcast. The death toll, casualty figures, timelines were compared at a glance. Expressions grew grim, eyes became wider in awe and heads nodded in from side-to-side, as if 'commenting' on our helplessness.
I noticed how the entertainment supplement was left untouched for quite a while. Instead, our heads were immersed in heaps of information reflected in charts and tables and graphics- all the tools used by the editors to make the details comprehensive.
Later in the day when I sat in my College library reading the articles beyond the headlines, I saw the contrasts that were rampant through out the newspaper.
On the left side of the centrespread was a blown-up picture of a lady being comforted by her relatives, and several other images lined it along the sides reflecting the different states at the point of action on the previous day. As your eyes moved along the spread, on the right side you'd spot a full page advertisement wherein a young boy claimed how "happy" he was about cracking a certain exam because he had attended a certain coaching centre! Now that's what you call the various colours of life! The conflicting images didn't end there. On another page, with similar heart breakig images, you could see a fairly big advertisement of a new mobile phone which was apparently 
"The Amazing Everyday" phone.
How amazing was this particular day for the 89 (or so we are told!) people who died? 
I'm not sure how this situation can be changed or the Editors do anything different on this note. But it certainly does not seem quite right. On one hand we criticize the short span of public memory and here we are - being fed advantages of an Internet pack,being informed about a film show and the list goes on! 
What do you think could serve as an alternative? Should the newspapers declare it a 'No Ads Day' on these occasions? But no, according to some people readership increases markedly after an incident of this sort. So, how can the opportunity be lost?
Are we losing all sense of morality or is there an underlying solution somewhere?     

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Jig to the jingle!

It's a wonder what a mob can collectively do. Create ruckus, instigate riots, express revolt or plainly de-stress; provide a break to the passersby and derive their own pleasure as well. 

Shonan Kothari, a working professional in Mumbai decided to do just that. A similar jig which she witnessed in London, inspired her. Since last week, Chatrapati Station in Mumbai has seen  much unusual activity. It started when this young girl of 23, began to dance to a popular A.R.Rahman number, and soon she had as many as 200 people following her footsteps! Literally so!

It's an ideal way to release stress and take a much needed break from the hustle bustle of daily life which includes the tiring train journeybin Mumbai. With reduced stress levels, there are reduced number of fights and argumets among the people. One smile spread to 200, and soon the whole lot moved on with their daily activity happily, with a SMILE.
That's the essence of a flash mob. People spontaneously take up some act, with or without a message and after the performance they carry on as if nothing happened. Besides the performance what does happen is, vibrations of positivity are passed on from one person to another and soon the whole crowd is in a jovial mood.
Hats off to her genuinely out-of-the-box thinking because even I've seen flashmobs when I've been travelling, clicked pictures, enjoyed the performances and moved on. Who ever thought of this? 
Open happiness!