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Showing posts from February, 2011

The PR Obsession

If you are single and living in India, it is but natural that you would be asked, “ Shaadi nahi huwi? (You are not married?)” You see, it is not rude among Indians to ask the rudest of questions. So, whether you are meeting someone for the first time, a few times or after ages, that question is bound to crop up in conversations. Worse, you will be also asked ‘Why’. I don’t know why we love asking questions. I have been bombarded with: “So, where is your family, where are your brothers and sisters, why are you travelling alone, why are you not married (and if yes), why no children?” from complete strangers. Maybe Indians are just too caring and concerned about others, I argue. Or maybe, we just have too much time on our hands to indulge in others’ problems. Living in Delhi, I was swarmed by neighbours, whose heads peeped out of the window every time a car stopped by or a person stepped out of my house. And if I happened to be standing outside the house, I would find myself in the co

Manipur Enchants Melbournians

On a warm evening at St Kilda Road, dancers from India’s north eastern state of Manipur enthralled an audience and had them wanting for more. For many, this was their first peep into a culture and tradition born of a state which despite its small size has so much to offer. In fact, India’s art and dance is not complete without Manipuri dance, which is pristine and unique in more ways than one. The group of eight dancers and drummers were especially sent by the government of India through the Indian Council For Cultural Relations to perform as part of the Indian community’s fund raising concert for Victorian flood relief. The performers offered a glimpse into Manipuri style of Indian classical dance and the hall packed with people were treated to some of the best dances from the region including pung kortal cholom, Krishna jagoi and thabi kakpa, to name a few.   The first dance was dedicated to Lord Krishna. Manipuris are worshippers of Lord Krishna and Manipuri classical dance is as

Australia Floods: A Survivor's Tale

A cruel January. Like an inland tsunami, giant floods came gushing in many Australian towns and cities last month and almost paralysed a nation. Australia came to grips with one of the worst natural disasters in ages affecting thousands whose houses were either marooned or loved ones washed away. The stories are countless. But here is a first-hand account of an Indian survivor who narrated his ordeal to me on the phone: It was a manic Monday. Just back from a holiday in Malaysia, Manjeet Singh, 44, a resident of Gatton town in Queensland was enthusiastic about joining his work back in Toowoomba, 35 km from where he lived. Despite the drizzles, he reached office in the morning but by 1 pm decided to call it a day as the town of Withcott through which he had to drive was prone to landslides. But before Singh realised, "I was stuck in the middle of the flood and the car hung in there." It began to pour heavily and Singh could hardly see the road ahead. As he was driving down

After Pooran, Pollah Gets His Due

The ashes of Indian hawker Pooran Singh going back to India after 63 years made headlines and opened Indians to a world hitherto unknown, that hawkers from  the late 1800s and early 1900, were part of the social fabric of Australian life.  Recently, another significant gesture on part of the Australian community spearheaded by historian and playwright Len Kenna and his research partner Crystal Jordan, shows the continuing effort on the part of Australians to keep the history that connects Indians to this country alive. The occasion was the unveiling of a plaque of hawker, Pollah Singh in Corryong, who died on 21 June 1923. Len Kenna unveiled the plaque on the 7 December 2010, he was invited by the Upper Murray Historical Society who decided to have a plaque erected in memory of Pollah Singh, so that his story could be incorporated into their folklore. Pollah Singh, said Len, was a successful and well respected Hawker. Pollah came to Australia in his early fifties from Jallandhar in

Merry 2011

I do not make any New Year resolutions as resolutions are only meant to be broken, after firmly holding on to them for a while. My first moments of the New Year were waking up feeling crap, like all the previous years after a night of intense partying. When will this madness end, I have often thought? Maybe when the bones feel stiff and I am marooned on a no man’s land. Whenever, however that happens, I hope I am still not alone! This time we drove down to Caroline’s Springs, a suburb that looks like Gurgaon to me. Plain lands, new housing, not much greenery! Dressed up as hippies, we arrived to an ominous music and people in different dos that gave us a complex. Great enthusiasm. I had my eyes only on the beer as the weather was 40 degrees. I swear I did that when I was young, I dived at the drinks to combat nerves in a party full of unknown people. Now I am empowered that everything I do is out of taste and education on alcohol. The other thing empowering is watching my friends a