Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sweden, here I come!

It is less than 24 hours for me to board the plane to Sweden via Frankfurt and travel anxiety has struck me already. I mean its never too late for you to realize that its your first trip abroad and that too you are all by yourself! So right now I am a little sleep deprived, restless, nervous and excited, so basically I am anything but calm. ( calmness and presence of mind being a prerequisite for travel) I chose to blog rather than take my much awaited afternoon nap.
It is a two weeks student exchange program to Lerum,Sweden. I'll be staying in my Swedish hosts house, they are Paulina, Hanna and Joel. All three of them are very nice people, they answer my endless questions about the weather, the food and everything else! So I'm looking forward to meet them and get to know them better. My two weeks there seem to be jam packed with activities that they have planned for me ,which seems all the more exciting. So the plan is to keep my blog updated on my daily activities.( Gosh, like a travel journal)
Six other friends of mine and two teachers will be accompanying me, since it is an "official" thing. They are good company to travel with, because each one of us is so different in our own ways and we'll have so much to share and tell each other. Sometimes, when the company gets too overwhelming or annoying I sink into my crazy mind and entertain myself. So there is no question of sulking around or being bored. Just fun. Over the past few days I have been marveling about the serendipity-ness  of it all. I mean what are the odds of seven of us getting selected to go to Sweden, so this is indeed something special.
For one reason I know that this trip is going to be different from all the places I have been to and yet to go because this being my first trip abroad and also not often do you interact and bond with the locals of that place and live with them, eat with them and discover the place with them. So I am looking forward to this interesting experience to gather over the next few weeks.
Coming back to my friends, family and relatives. I must say that they have all been very supporting and a lot more nervous for me than I am, it doesn't help much but it is quite natural for them to feel that way. The 'Happy Journey and Take Care' calls started pouring in today. I woke up to the noise of mum explaining my travel plans to my grandparents and I have been cranky since then, just 30 more minutes of sleep would have been good. Sigh. But nevertheless, my muddled up head still cant take it all in. It just seems so unbelievable. But for a fact I know that it is going to happen in a matter of hours and when it happens, I just got to breathe and take it all in. On second thought, I'll be all over the place, yelling " HEYY,I'M GOING TO SWEDEN!" I can totally see this happening. So having said , how much this trip means to me now I have a lifetime of memories to make and cherish. I'll write more once I come back, talking endlessly about the culture difference, their food ( can't wait to eat Swedish meatballs) , the weather and scenic beauty. Gosh, I am excited. This is finally happening, because for days I have imagined what it would be like and now it is FINALLY happening.

Consumed by wanderlust all I can do is but recall J.R.R Tolkien's words," Not all those who wander are lost."

 Thanks for listening out. I look forward to a great trip! 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

QUEEN.

 Couple of weeks back this new unconventional bollywood movie named “ QUEEN” releases and there is a lot of frenzy about it all around but in a good way. Whatsapp statuses, Facebook updates, tweets it is all over the place. Overnight the protagonist of the movie Kangana Ranaut became literally and metaphorically the queen. So I had to go see it myself and just like that I hit the theatre with two of my friends. And for once I was happy that the movie lived up to all the hype created about it actually a little more than that!
It was an amazing experience.We fell of the seats laughing in a few scenes and a few scenes just made us go Aww. So the story goes like this- It all starts on the eve of Rani’s wedding. All of a sudden her fiance refuses to marry her and the wedding is at a halt. Rani who was brought up in a traditional Hindu family in Delhi, like most of the girls in India, faces her worst nightmares when she hears those words coming out of her fiance. She is almost lost and ruined and doesn't have a clue as to what she is going to do next. You see for a traditional Indian girl like her who has been brought up and told that marriage,kids and her husband is what she is going to live for the rest of her life this is a matter of shame and a very big deal. It is not just about her and the fiance but their families, relatives and friends. Just when all seems lost, Rani out of her impulse decides to go on her honeymoon all by herself.( and impulsiveness is not a quality an Indian girl must possess)  For a girl who needs a sidekick to walk her to the grocery store next street, to travel thousands of miles on her own to a whole new unknown country requires a lot of courage. But this wasn't her fault, she was just brought up this way. Each and every decision she made in her life was that of her parent’s and her fiance’s, until this one of travelling all the way to Paris. That’s when the real adventure begins. Her whole life turns around. Somehow her impulse and courageous decision changes her whole life and grasps the audience.The best part was that the ending was nothing like the conventional bollywood style. She transforms and doesn't give in and lives for herself  just like a queen! I absolutely loved the way it ended. It wasn't much of an exaggeration for me, a very simply weaved story. Each of the characters have done an amazing job. So it is worth a watch!
 We came out of the theatre, completely satisfied and it struck me that hey each one of us is a queen in someway! (In context to the movie, of course!)
 Be it the part where you are raised in an orthodox Indian family, a patriarchal society or being dependent on others to make simple life decisions or to be told that you can’t have a life of your own, you were brought up this way and you have to satisfy the society’s norms. After a point of time you don’t question anything, it just becomes a way of life. Though one might say that times have changed, with urbanization, exposure for girls and all that. But has it TRULY changed for all? My answer would be, it quiet hasn't and will take a lot of time and work for that to happen because we aren't talking about mere structural -societal reform rather it is the minds of the people and the very way the society has been laid down. For centuries India has been a patriarchal society and to expect change all of a sudden would be very unrealistic.
The question is about equality and all those little things that empower her and help her stand up for herself. Oh, and if that doesn't happen you surely have the impulse and courage to go out there and discover yourself. The saddest part is that the question of self-discovery or empowerment shouldn't be about gender but equally given to the whole of humanity!
I guess all you can say for now is that gradually it is all going to change and you just have to hope for the best! Because movies like this surely give us some food for thought, perspective and with it’s wide reach and range of audience you can say that the spark of a small inner change has begun. One can surely glean a lot of things from Rani's life!
So remember all those girls and women out there, there are times when we feel lost, broken beyond repair. Times when you might almost curse your very existence. It isn't easy being a women out here. Times when you feel caged and left with nothing. But these times will change and we will make it happen. Not just for a bit of freedom and dignity but for that smile to shine brighter on your face, for yourself! Remember that you are beautiful, brave and you will not settle for nothing!

You are a warrior. You are a Queen. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Pursuit Of Happyness.

Chris Gardener is the chief executive officer of Gardener Rich and Co, a multimillion -dollar brokerage with offices in NewYork, Chicago and San Francisco. But there lies a struggle beneath all this success. The pursuit of happyness is his truly inspirational rags to riches story. The book begins on the lines of describing his troubled childhood and goes on to narrating his success story. Chris Gardner's story is the perfect example that nothing comes easy in this world.There is no easy money making or five quick steps to a successful job.  Everything is blood and sweat. If you want it you earn it and yet never fear to dream big.
With all odds against him, an African- American man who faces racial discrimination in work place, homeless for almost an year as a single parent to raise his son whom he loved the most. Yet he some how doesn't loose hope. He has that faith in himself that no one else could have had on him. His mother's words and his son's smile is what kept him going in the face of adversity.
What gets me thinking is that this story is not a work of fiction but rather real and weaved with all his strong spirit. The amount of wealth he has achieved is not what inspires me but the path that he takes to get there, without giving up on himself, is what inspires me the most.
Homeless and left with hardly any money and a child to raise all by himself. It is easy to put that in words but extremely difficult to over come that.
Then one day all of a sudden he is out there, a millionaire and the CEO of a  a multimillion -dollar brokerage firm. The multitude of his accomplishment is no fantasy but the strong will of a single man to chase his dreams. Having read this book, all those self help books and those inspirational-you can do it- quotes are starting to make much more sense. It is always easier said than done and there are a very few people who do it and Chris Gardener is one among them. Not everyday do you come across such a story. So when you read the book, it has a huge impact on you and you can't resist but embrace it's true essence.
A man even after conquering all his dreams, having all the money and power is still not complete if it weren't for to pursue his happiness. Becoming the success story that he has become today hasn't changed his spirits and surely hasn't stopped him from pursuing his happiness.
 "Arriving in the next city for the next opportunity is always a thrill. As busy as I am, wherever I am, I try to get out and walk the streets, to check out the sidewalks for cracks, to remember how far I've come and appreciate every baby step to the way, to stand in amazement and joy that the pursuit never ends."  These lines to me are absolutely the best winning statement ever. He says these lines after he has made a place for himself in this world and they truly reflect humility and accomplishment. He was surely blessed beyond the dreams of a thousand men to be able to believe in himself.
I have incurred one more thing that the pursuit never ends. Your journey is an endless one just like the endless baggage of hope and dreams that you carry around. There is something that clearly sets apart men like Chris Gardener and us. It is only that they are willing to go that extra mile and look out for themselves.

When it seems like your world has come crashing down and the last ray of hope is blinded by the darkness all you have to do is read this book, recall similar stories like this and regain your faith in your capabilities. Because if you want something after all you can have it. This story isn't going to be your success itself but will surely inspire you to get it because only such real life examples can help you push that last mile. You have to remember one thing-" Don't ever let someone tell you that you can't do something. Not even me. You gotta dream, you gotta protect it. When people can't do something themselves, they are gonna tell you that you can't do it. You want something go get it. Period."
This story gives me hope, perspective and courage to follow my dreams. May it give you the same. And If there is one thing that I can take away after reading, that would be- If Chris Gardner can, then I can and you can! Trust me, I am not exaggerating when I say the above lines. Read it and find out for yourself.
Happy Reading!