Sunday, September 18, 2016

I had a dream this morning and it was about my Dad

It was amazing at the San Jose Poetry Festival today. I was attending the poetry workshop where they talk about different types of poetry writing and it was amazing to hear as for me poetry is something that comes to mind or something that I feels in my heart and I narrate it in my own words. 
We were told to write about the recent or the latest dream that you had and to my surprise I had a dream this morning and it was about my Dad.

Here’s what my dream was in a poetry form:

It was a serene day
I saw dad walking towards home
The visual from my window that I saw was
Dad in his big check shirt long sleeves folded
with a dark blue trousers walking
And the colors all over him
I know he was out when 
The color of festival Holi was played
He was sure mom will be mad and even I knew of that
We both caught each other’s eyes
And I signaled him to stay intact 
So I can take a picture of him.
The moment he saw my action with camera
He jumped from the ground to an elevated one
And to my surprise I clicked that moment!
Such a surreal moment I thought and 
Wondered if I am missing dad or is this him?
The thought took me to the childhood days
As a proud daddy’s girl, I always thought
This is the world.
And when I look today,
I see how I created my own world!!!

~ Dawn

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Until when is it called as discrimination?

Until when is it called as discrimination? These thoughts have been creeping in lately and the reason is my children.

As part of learning and sharing, I often discuss how things were when I was of their age and the main reason to share this with them is to give a glance of the era.
How things were different and yet we survived and how things have changed and we see how the generation is all about.

Definitely, we all agree with the change and the generation being much smarter than what we were. At least, there is more awareness and technology that is a big blessing.

The other day I was telling about how I was helping mom in the kitchen even when I am in 10th grade and how the responsibilities increased from there. When I walk-thru a day’s chores that I used to do besides my studies and games, my 9-year-old son starts sharing his feedback. He said, mom whenever you tell about how you were told to do things by your mom I feel your story is just like the Cinderella ... the very thought and his expression always brings a big laugh for me.
Imagine, our elder’s instructions were taken with all due respect and we used to do it but today? Those are seen to be as rude or bully.

The other day I was telling my daughter how we managed our studies and helping in the house and it was not a weekend job but it was something we grew up with because that’s how life is going to be even when we are out of our student life.
My daughter immediately starts with her gender discrimination statement. Mom, even he should be doing things at home. The point of learning and taking responsibility stands on the side and a new topic started with gender discrimination.

I explained how her brother will be slowly pulled into this as he also needs to learn and be independent no matter what gender he is, or who is his partner in life, one has to do their part and not to be dependent on anyone.

As I was saying this I also started thinking about my time... yes, I remember when I was a kid my elder brother used to do chores at home, he used to make tea for parents and boil the milk which was a tradition those days. But as we grew up things changed and yes I wondered that’s so true things changed.
My parents never discriminated but I guess my mom was more worried to make me independent than my brother because she might have thought he will be home and she can manage it for him.

Yes so far I was not thinking of anything like that in fact I felt proud that I was able to help my mom with her daily chores but todays kids are putting these discrimination thoughts in mind that why didn’t your brother helped in the kitchen?
Sometimes awareness can take you to that crossroad where you wonder :)


Monday, August 08, 2016

Don't Let Your Fears Win.....

There is a saying, if you really want to kill someone then kill the fear inside you. My goal in life always had been around this.

I have been always scared of water, even though as a child I used to play in the Pamba (holy river in Kerala) river, which was near my grandma's home. Every other summer vacation we used to be at grandma's and the best part of visiting there was that I used to go to the river with everyone from the house that goes to take a dip.
Playing inside the river with my brother and cousins, throwing stones and then dive to fetch that same stone and what not but those days fear was not there. I realized as a kid when we don't know much we just take a step and move forward. Fear is not there of anything as its unknown but the moment we grow up and knows a hell lot or even little it builds that fear and then we try to pull ourselves backward.
I had a long time wish to do snorkeling even though I don't know how to swim. My aunt used to teach me whenever I used to visit Kerala for summer vacation but after I return I used to forget it. 

My visit to Hawaii a first time here, but doesn't feel that I don't know anything about it. Because every tree and flower, birds, ocean makes me feel I know them from back home. It gives me a feel of Kerala.
We planned today to snorkel and hence I was also prepared as I was more eager to see how I kill this fear and enjoy when I don't know how to swim. The crew was awesome and really made everyone very comfortable. Since I told them that I don't know swimming and this is my first time to snorkel, they literally spent one on one time with me. 
The captain of the boat Chad who very carefully asked me to step into the ocean while he let me hold to the boogie board and without anything he just said, try to look inside the water.
First I couldn't figured out as how come he is asking me to look down without wearing my mask and gear. Yet, I listened to him. Its one of those moments when you know the expert knows better than you so let go and give the control to them.

I looked down inside the ocean and the sight was mesmerizing. It was all colorful beautiful shaped coral reefs and different colored fishes around me and all across. I looked up to Chad and he said isn't this beautiful what you see there down? 
That lead me to wear my mask and gear but I was scared when Chad was about to leave me saying your life jacket will not let you drown. This will keep you floating in the water and you can hang on to the board and look inside. He was right, but the fear inside me was not letting me to.
I just requested him not to leave and he helped me through out to take my own time to feel comfortable with floating and taking support of the boogie board. 
After an hours snorkeling at 180 feet we came on board to move from Molokini - a crescent shaped submerged volcanic crater to another location for watching Green Hawaiian Turtles at the Turtle Town.

This time I was much confident and was feeling better to go for another round of snorkeling. The crew knew that I needed their help hence Allison the life guard she helped me in fact she was nice to be with me while I started focussing on the underwater world living creatures. It was beautiful to watch those colorful fishes, star fishes, octopus and many beautiful coral reefs. As I was going through each one of them I saw this big green colored Hawaiian turtles that were swimming in their own pace and mood. The world is so beautiful inside there, as everyone is in their own space and no one is bothering anyone, even we as humans have intervened their world yet they are so peaceful.

I somehow fell in love with the underwater world where there is beauty, peace and harmony too. It was tough to make the decision to go back to the boat because at the end we all had to come back to the shore.

A unique experience for me, it was like looking through the window and you see the clear sight of beautiful world. The world where we as human were also moving around in the similar fashion as the sea creatures were, with the mask and gear breathing and floating around.

I wish we human also did the same in our own world? 

~ Dawn

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Who was an ugly duckling with a crown

There was a time, when I was not so fine
Friends whom I thought were mine,
Never appreciated or liked me that time
Some called me a skinny or a stick 
Even the leafy vegetable for my thick hair
Some made fun by blowing me off like a feather
And with a husky voice being dusky in color
Few defined my future calling a housewife
Cooking sambar and rice
One called me coolie said, why not am angry?
All this was said I never knew the word 'racism' then!
I feel so good that I was only aware of what I want 
Not what others said to me or wanted me to be
I always thought am alone that did a lot good
Walked in my dream and caught few of them 
Some landed me in paradise and some in dice 
Never expected anything from anyone 
Never cared for so called society
Lived an independent life
Figured out a way to lead in time
Got engrossed in the chores of life
And didn't realize when lined up
All the good things in life called family
As the time was running ahead of me
Motherhood made me pink and bright
Those who called me dusky and husky
Started greeting as dusky beauty
Hair or color nothing was a matter
One simple confidence of mine 
Made everyone eager and me shine for better
Such was a discovery made of a swan
Who was an ugly duckling with a crown
One message to everyone
Good or bad be your own
There's no one who actually cares
Until they have a reason!!!

~ Dawn

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A captivating evening with Antara Asthaayi - Tale of a Kathaka

What an enthralling evening it was, I am yet to get over with it. Antara Asthaayi - Tale of a Kathaka, the journey of this Kathaka to the world was an amazing story telling event by Antara Bhardwaj.
I mean every art is a way of telling us a story in one or the other form and this one through Kathak was one of a kind.
I have watched Pt. Birju Maharaj performing at the age of 75 and then Antonia Minnecola (Mrs Ustaad Zakir Hussain), what a graceful performance and after that I never felt so mesmerized until this evening.
Antara Bhardwaj, the fastest feet dancer in the world, around 12 slaps per second performer rocked the stage by engaging the audience with her story as an immigrant to a country where she could dream to be a kathak dancer that too watching old Hindi movies such as Guide, Pakeeza and many more. 
Most of the time you will see in mehafils, the kathak dancer will play in tukra (short dance composition) and toda (long dance composition), and tell the story and here what I loved about Antara is that as she was explaining about the story she was performing in tihais (footwork). She also did few tukra for Sader to play on his tabla - that was unseen where the tabla player is playing on the bols and tukras of kathak dancer.

I agree when people say learn the basic schooling which is so important as lot of logics that we use in our day to day life is based on that elementary to high-school level of subjects and Math being one of them. Antara explained very well how the rhythmic play with its time cycle be calculated by splitting it into triplets or quintuplets marked on the footwork so that it counterpoint to the rhythm of the percussion.
All this was summarized in a sequential and a very well choreographed performance along with internationally renowned musicians from India and US. Salar Nader on tabla, whom I have been watching since long time when he performed at SF Jazz and there on in many such events and its amazing to see his creativity as I follow him on twitter too. One must learn from them to understand the basic so that everyone can have their little creation on the bols (dha, ge, na 'ti' 'na' 'ka' 'dhi na').
Pankaj Mishra on Sarangi, Ben Kunin on Sarod, Rajib Karmakar on Sitar - we were told it was his first performance on the stage - but frankly speaking his performance didn't say that as he rocked the solo and the jugalbandi like a pro.
When Deewani Mastani started with 'mastani' song from Bajirao Mastani film, it gave a feeling of reawakened may be because I am bias towards Hindi-Urdu poetry but I knew my evening is going to rock. The beauty of this piece was the fusion of Kathak with Khepri (Belly Dance) very beautifully choreographed by Antara herself and Andrea Sendek - both had the sensuality and passion that this deewani needed.

Thaat, actually we all have it within our selves and we do use at times whether to show love, mischief, or even when you are upset with something. The expression with your face, eyes, neck and all this was done by Antara which reminded me of Ustaad Zakir Hussain's residency class that takes place in SF Jazz center every year - an amazing one.

Every time I go for a Kathak I learn something new and the eagerness of what this dancer will relate to is the curious part which Antara here was able to fulfill with the journey of steam engine and I being grown up with that time really helped to relate it and such a beautiful and graceful depiction of that with her footwork. I wished it could be replayed again and again :).

The jugalbandi by musicians I have always loved since my childhood and I remember how my feet and my hand used to play with that rhythm, it took me back then when I used to watch these with my dad. Pankaj Mishra and Ben Kunin's communication through Sarangi and Sarod along with the solo Sitar by Rajib Karmakar was captivating.

There was Gat Bhao where the dancer tells a story as well as she will play all the characters of that story and a small piece of incident which I have read in my school days about the naughtiness of Krishna, Radha and the Gopis. Beautifully performed and best was that each performance had its own costumes. Antara did spend time in changing costumes based on the dance she was performing and it was an epic selection of all - kudos to Alka Garg. The funny part was when she said she always loved the Radha but not the Krishna's Radha, instead the Radha characters which Subhash Ghai's movies have, I tell you what an influence of Hindi films and this kind of influence is not bad at all.

The Hindol Tarana is something I have heard and watched the dancers performing but it was not known to me that there is no meaning in here other than the dancer portrays the beauty, delicacy, and technique along with the rhythm. I think I enjoyed it more when I understood the meaning of tarana here.

There wasn't a moment where audience was not kept engaged, as Salar Nader took everyone on his journey from Kabul express to Mumbai express while the bullet train from Japan came over. Tabla has always made my feet restless and unknowingly I would play the beat and his tali and khali was reminding me of Ustaad Zakir Hussian sahab. 

It was not over yet when Chilman (veil) happened, this was the last piece of the evening. Urdu has been my weakness and chilman is something which expresses the beauty of a woman thats what I believe. This dance was a creation of Antara and it really did surprise me when Antara started the dance with Javed Akhtar's (my favorite poet), lyrics and ended with Hazrat Amir Khusro on chaap tilak... I swear to anything I was thrilled and mesmerized with this creativity. 

Antara has gained many fans I am sure and I have become one this evening for being such a graceful performer with the professionalism which she carried through out that audience could only applause until the end. It was an amazing performance package and I am looking forward to her next one The Conference of the Birds - I am sure its going to create history right here in this silicon valley and its dance and music direction is done by none other than Antara Bhardwaj. Its with thirty dancers and fifteen actors representing twelve cultures from four continents - its going to be a heaven with mystical sufi allegory.... the wait is worth!!!!
I am so happy to be part of Sangam Arts and along with Sangam Enacte bringing these events for audiences like us in bay area - its a true blessing. The evening dosage was such that I am still high :)

~ Dawn