Category Archives: Pictures Speak

“Make America Great Again”

Illustration by Santiago Caruso

Yes, let’s make America great again not by ensuring health care to all, food for the hungry and homes for the homeless, but by giving weapons of mass destruction to our kids so they can murder their friends in order to deal with their frustrations because no one is willing to listen to them.

It’s a perversity and nothing less than a disgrace that citizens of the most advanced country in the world have to lead their lives in fear. We are so worried about government tyranny that we don’t trust law enforcement to protect us instead we have to carry guns to defend ourselves. We have become a nation of gun toting vigilantes, who shoot first and pretend to ask questions later. And if some of us happen to die in the crossfire; well a great wall of greed and impotence is the perfect consolation besides of course ‘thoughts and prayers’.

This is exactly what we envisioned- a classic case of hypocrisy. On one hand we talk about advancements in technology, AI (artificial intelligence) etc making our lives easier; on the other we train our kids to prepare for the eventuality of being killed. We send them to school not to get a sound education but to participate in active shooter drills. But don’t you see it’s a ‘mental health’ problem. Isn’t it always?

Okay let’s talk about mental health. Yes undeniably it’s a huge problem in this country. I know first hand as a physician because I deal with it everyday. In fact the system is overburdened. But most people with mental health issues aren’t violent. Even those who are don’t go around shooting down innocents with AR-15s. They do so because we put the idea in their heads and provide them access. And tell them it’s okay to do so because thoughts and prayers will solve everything.

According to me and I dare to say “ there’s no place for guns in civilized society,” in the least AR-15s. According to a radiologist who treated victims in the Florida shooting said the high velocity bullets from an AR 15 cause significantly more damage than a typical handgun and should be banned. I agree. But are we ready for a conversation? No. Not even the educated and rational  want to discuss it. They love their guns. Some of my colleagues own AR-15s and say they use them for hunting and target practice. It’s a hobby. 

The right to a hobby vs that of a child to go to school and be safe. What is more important? You be the judge.

Happy 70th! What ails my country?

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I wish A Very Happy 70th Independence Day to all my fellow Indian brothers and sisters 🙂 On this momentous occasion I’d like to briefly discuss about what ails India and Indians in general. It is not meant as a criticism but as an opportunity to reflect.

Its inertia. 

Yes that’s what it is. We are so used to a life of drudgery that we have no desire to get out of it. Its become a way of life for us. We are so used to corruption and handing out bribes for every little thing that we can’t envision a life without it. Like my father (rest his soul) used to say whenever he happened to visit a government office armed with a few thousand rupees and then proceed to dole them out incrementally starting from the peon to the officer in charge: “You have to or the job won’t get done.”

People are lackadaisical. They will stand around and stare at a dying man on the street and observe a helpless girl as she gets harassed by a bunch of goons but they won’t step in to help. Why? Because its a tamasha. A spectacle like that which unfolds in a movie theater. Why buy trouble?

And we have lost our voice that independence provided us. We feel empathy, shake our heads with regret but we don’t speak when we need to.

But all is not lost. Right now I feel a new India in my veins. We are waking up and perhaps realizing that the bonds that held us down for so long are old and rusty. They can be broken. Freedom is not a fairytale. It is a reality. Jai Hind!

Jugaad–Innovation the Indian Way!

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Necessity is the mother of invention. This is no more true in India where the lack of resources and the unquenchable aspirations of the common citizens prompts them to come up with ingenuous and often insane inventions. Here is a tiny sampling 🙂

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No electricity required- ‘Mitti fridge’ (a refrigerator made all of clay)

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The Beautiful Art of Kolam

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Kolam is an age old tradition in Southern India. These are temporary geometric designs consisting of curved loops drawn around a grid of dots employing rice flour/chalk/chalk flour or oher types of white or colored powders. Female members of Hindu families draw Kolams in the front of their houses. These are also known as Rangolee in Maharastra, Hase in Karnataka, Muggulu in Andhra Pradesh and Golam in Kerala.

While living in Chennai, I have watched with fascination my mother along with several other women on our street, drawing a fresh new Kolam every morning. This would be done after cleaning the floor with a broom and then with water. They would draw what appeared to be very complex designs in a jiffy, sometimes without lifting their hands off the floor. During the day the Kolams would get eroded by people’s feet, and the wind. But not to worry. A new one replaced it the following morning.

As always these Kolums are not just decorative. They have a cultural sginificance. They are meant to bring prosperity to the house and are symbols of welcome as well. There are many other purposes, but the following is what I found particularly endearing and is probably also true. In days of yore rice flour Kolams were drawn so the ants did not have to travel too far for food. They also attracted small birds and likewise other small creatures, hence welcoming other forms of life into the home and everyday life symbolizing harmony and peaceful coexistance with nature.

Below are a few Kolam designs drawn by my cousin and her friends 🙂

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Happy Republic Day!

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On January 26th, 1950, India adopted its own constitution and officially became an independent republic. Today, when our most fundamental right of Freedom is being threatened, let us all get together, not just Indians but global citizens of the world, and celebrate this very important day and determine to fight against all those forces who wish to snatch away what we hold most precious from us.

HAPPY REPUBLIC DAY! 

ind_constitution_premble_orgThe preamble of The Constitution of India

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First Republic Day Parade in 1950

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The Indian Tricolor setting the skies ablaze.

 

‘A Tanga Ride’ and an Excerpt from ‘The Accidental Wife’

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It has been more than fifteen years since I left my homeland and as expected the memories have begun to fade. Yet some persist stark and bright reinforced by odors, colors and textures and often bring a whimsical tear to my eye. If I go back now, I doubt my experiences will be similar as I’m older thereby more cynical though I like to think otherwise. Some of these reminisces are irreplaceable and as I don’t trust my brain enough I try to preserve them in my writings. Taking a tanga (horse drawn carriage) ride in Agra or through the streets of Old Delhi is one of them. The following scene in The Accidental Wife illustrates it—

Accidental Wife Book Cover

Then turning to Naina, Rihaan asked, “What now wife?”

She colored, appearing markedly disconcerted and made toward the autorickshaw stand.

He yanked her back. “No, that’s not what I had in mind.”

A few minutes later they were on their way.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Naina looked at Rihaan, concerned.

“I’m perfectly fine. Couldn’t have asked for anything better.” He let out a contented sigh, allowing his head to sink back into a pillow of fresh straw, and his worn out body to stretch along the length of the traditional tanga. With eyes closed, he inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with a mixture of the sweet hay and horse dung. The jerking rhythm, the clip clop of horse’s hooves, punctuated by the shrill cries of the tangawallah as they made their way through the busy thoroughfare was strangely comforting.

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