Monthly Archives: May 2008

Gra(n)d Journeys!

As of May 20th 2008, I officially hold a Master’s in Public Policy and International affairs ūüėÄ

The reason perhaps I savor this moment so much is because it has taken me a while to get here. The interesting part about this whole journey is that I did not know I would be here. Simply because I have always been a science girl. I had pure science in high school. Pure science was – Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, and Physics. I did reasonably well. I went to get an undergraduate degree in Microbiology and internedfor a month or two in a biomedical department in a hospital. It is wierd how one small decision can have this dramatic change in your life that you wake up one morning wondering what the **** were you thinking.

I have always had a passion for history and politics. Hard not to, when the family’s most active conversations revolved around that. I have heard that it is not genteel to talk about religion and politics to strangers or people outside family. Well, then, my family was anything but genteel. All they talked about was history, religion and politics. My whole childhood revolved around the ‘Gandhi” family. I was a toddler when Indira Gandhi died and my father tells me stories of how we went around helping people escape from blood- thirsty people. I was woken up from deep anaesthesia induced sleep at¬†a ridiculous hour of the morning when Rajiv died and sat through a whole conversation of what next…and I was in my really early teens. I know a lot of people go through these phases and have more actively participated in politics and such, but my point is I never realized what the impact would be on me.

I came here having absolutely no knowledge of where I was going. I am not kidding, when I tell you that it took me all of 2 hrs to make a decision that I now realize has changed my life forever. I cam here a little lost, hungry and with enormous dreams to make a life worth talking about. I found out about this school by getting lost, applied on the day of the deadline and got in 2 years after coming here and stretching myself thin. The moment I stepped into the first day of class, I knew I had come home. It is a difficult feeling to explain. It is not that I knew what I wanted, I only had a dream of what I wanted. I did not how which roads led there, I just followed with blind faith that the road I picked would go there. i just had my passion and desperate need to realize my dreams. I am here now, loving every moment of it and will kick and scream and punch if anyone dares to budge me or push me around.

I graduated as the “Outstanding Graduate student”, member of “Pi Sigma Alpha” and an honor student. I also gave the Graduate Student Address during the commencement.

This foot has just put on another shoe!!!!!!!

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Through the Village flowed the Irrawaddy

One against a million. That is the story of how the Military Intelligence sent out their best troops, their best trackers, their best resources to track down one journalist when he reported on the cyclone Nargis. It is interesting to see the lengths that a government can go to protect its “image” when more than quarter of its population is dead, floating around in pools of tidal water, starving, living on the streets and sitting on a mountain of risk of contracting diseases. Interesting is an understatement, it is fascinating.

China is no better, it has almost the same restrictions in place after the 7.9. the difference is they were able to cope at some level without outside aid in dealing with the aftermath. The military has been efficient, and quick and the response timely. With stories of hoarding of aid by the military in Burma and the absolute neglect of people in many places and the threat of another cyclone, what should the world be doing?

The UN passed a resolution called the Responsibility to protectdoctrine. Under the doctrine, if a state fails to protect its citizens, the international community can be authorized after a vote in the security council to intervene in the state to prevent and or control humanitarian disasters. The doctrine gained importance after Kosovo, Sudan and many other instances when the state was absolutely incapacitated and/or lackadaisical about the protection measures that every citizen was legally allowed. The debate now is: Should the security council vote to allow a military intervened humanitarian rescue mission in Burma?

It is not an easy descicion. There are 400,000 burmese troops on ground with whom the UN might have to enter into combat to distribute aid. The military Junta in power is unpredicatable and the consequences of such an action might escalate into more than just an aid distribution. As neighbours, India, China and the rest of the Asian subcontinent have a lot to risk. The other solution is to get China and India to talk or intervene and Enable the distribution of aid that is sitting around Burma right now. The aid is not being distributed more out of fear of persecution than anything else.

I guess what is admirable in this situation is the risk that journalists and aid workers take. The situation they find themselves in is not a very comforting one. Risk being exposed, deported, killed and or ‘disappear’ from the face of the earth. It should be understood that this is no tehelka. These are grim situations where the need to inform weighs more than the need to expose. The reporters on ground are more interested in showing the plight of a million people and the effect that a repressive regime can have than putting the focus on the regime itself. It is a thin line and a very subtle difference and yet lives are on the line just so we can get 24 hr news sitting in the comforts of our chair.

I just pray that the ones who have died, the ones who are dying and the ones who live carrying these gruesome images can all be in peace someday.


Time to open the oyster for the pearl….

Songs¬†like these were the best part of my childhood. The funny part about talking about my mother is that¬†I always visualize her¬†singing. The funnier part is I can never visualize her alone, it is always with my uncle, her twin brother. They used to sing together a lot. He used to sing to put us to sleep. Beautiful songs like Abhi Na jao, Songs from Abhiman, Kishore songs, Burman, Mukesh, Rafi…he had the deep voice I loved. She had a strong voice that blended beautifully with his. After being trained together for so long, I assumed it was something that came naturally for them. When the family used to get together, it invariable ended with them singing again and again and some more.

I wanted to write about all things mother, I just realized how impossible it is. The memories I have of her are always interconnected with either my father or my uncle. There is a line of separation that is so thin I can’t see it. It is not that she was not a individual in her own right, it is just that our happiest moments were always when we were together.¬†I know that she always¬†sang with more passion and happiness when she¬†sang¬†with my uncle.¬†There¬†was a warmth in their voices that silenced everyone else. there was a special magical quality that made listening this intense¬†actvity. There was a passion that left everyone even my off key dad humming to himself. I¬†guess that is why I always¬†associate my memories with songs. Images of my mother singing in marriages, in the kitchen, running to turn the radio a little loud when her favorite song came and accepting requests always the same one from my father and from me whenever people asked her to sing.¬†With so many songs,¬†i usually end up assigning songs to the emotions I am going through. ¬†I am my father’s daughter and I am damn proud to be one. i just wish I had my mother’s voice and talent though. I am sure, however that if not for my mother and the warm and happy home that she gave us, I wouldn’t have had the ability to find myself, figure out who I was and discover that I was my father’s daughter after all.

I guess in a lot of ways it was her passion, dedication and plain determination that saw us through a lot of hard times. She has a quite determination and no nonsense about her that I admire a lot. I have complained a lot that she prefers my brother to me..the usual fight I guess, but somewhere in the 20 years that I was at home, she gave me a lot of things that carries me through times hard and happy. I would like to think I have her determination, her simplicity, her stubbornness to not let a situation get better of her and more importantly to always see the bright side of things, never regret anything and never forget to sing and appreciate the music in life.

For¬†everything that we have been through,¬†For every event that life has thrown at us,¬†For every smile and¬† every tear,¬†for every music and every song that I hear, here’s hoping that there will be many more to come and many more songs to remember.

You are the best amma.