Monday, 27 August 2012

First week of French class ;)

BON JOUR...Yes, after many months of deciding whether to go for Spanish or French, I finally got enrolled with Alliance Francais for level A1 of French language.  Tried to learn Spanish online, but I guess learning online didn't motivate me enough to keep learning it regularly.  This is where money worked... ;)  How ?  Well I think its all in the mind.  Just the thought that you have paid for something and you don't want your money to be wasted, you somehow manage to motivate yourself and keep doing things regularly.  At least this works for me... ;)

It was just so spontaneous decision that I even had to skip the first french class.  Paid the fees on the day the batch started.  Started my class from the 2nd day actually.  By the end of the week the class grew and the number of students reached approx. 25.  Till now its not that tough as I had thought, but I would surely say it was interesting.  The professor, a young lady I must say explains things really in a very nice manner.  I knew before that @ Alliance Francais they don't speak English or Hindi while teaching.  So I was a bit skeptical of how shall I understand, but hasn't been much of a problem.

Back to learning and I'm really enjoying it.  Learned how to introduce myself in French, numbers and sounds of alphabets. Names of few objects and some other small but important things.  Its been all and all fun.  But morning class of 8 - 10 means that I had to now find some other time for doing my fitness training.  Feels like I've become a lazy pig... ;)  

This week its a vacation at french class, but I'll have to revise what I've learned or else I'll forget things.. ;)  And next week I'll be missing 3 sessions as I'll be traveling for work which I don't want, but no choice :(  The students in my class are an interesting mix from 19 years to 35 years.  But typically like it is in school, its divided in 2 parts.  One side the girls and the other side the boys and the back bencher's are all boys.  Some how somethings never change.  For an instance I had this weird thought of breaking this monotonous situation, but reaching early and finding a place right in the middle of where the girls sit and then see how the seating arrangement changes... ;)  

Au revoir... :)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

' INDIA ' --- Either LOVE her or HATE her

INDIA....The most diverse land in the entire world.  The second most populous land in the world.  One out of every 6 people in the world lives in India.  A land even mysterious to its own people.  A land rich in culture and traditions. A land rich in spirituality and ancient medical science.  A totally different world for most of the people visiting it.  Its extremely interesting to know the perceptions of travelers visiting India and also of those who while sitting back in their homes in another countries, either dream of making a trip to India or speak about the lack of courage that many have to visit a world so very different from theirs.

In the last few years, especially after joining couchsurfing I've been fortunate enough to meet people from all continents of the world.  Some I met while I was on travels in India, some when traveling out of India, some while hosting or surfing, some I met on social networks or on social gaming networks.  And its a great experience to have known how people perceive about this mysterious yet magical land.

I still remember few years back, while playing FB games I started chatting with this lady how she used to think of India as a land which she would never ever want to visit.  And how we used to argue on her perceptions about India. I guess I was the first Indian from India with whom she must have talked and argued... ;)  Agreed the people here are very conservative compared to the western world, but still as I've always believed there is always something good and bad about everything.  Its just what you want to see and how you want to see.  And surprisingly today she's dying to visit India and meet some of the friends she has made right up from north to south.

The right way to drink CHAI ... ;)
And then how can I ever forget my wonderful friends from all over the world whom I met in Ahmedabad.  Right from South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Ah and yes a friend from Australia too.... ;)  Well now that all of them are back in their respective countries, but still I remember how they used to hate the dishonesty of people, especially the rickshaw drivers.

Ask them what they noticed the first thing they noticed and all had the same answer, 'the streets are so dirty'.  Well yeah something that we Indians seem to have never learned.  We keep our houses extremely clean, but not the public places, streets and whatever else that is meant for public use.  How almost all of them loved to sip 'Chai' anytime of the day.  And of course the variety of Indian cuisines.  Indian bread, paneer dishes, mangoes, food from the street side eateries and tandoori chicken... ;)

Also I'm fortunate enough to have hosted so many people from all over the world and most of them loved how this land surprised them everyday.  I would say most of them are lovingly surprised but there are many who are shockingly surprised.  The cultural shock travelers get when they arrive and travel in India is something many want to experience in their life at least for once.  While I've known some who are just too scared to come out of their comforts and experience the shocks of moving from one place to another in India.  Its just so different.  Yes this country is simply and totally different from the rest of the world.

But when one sits around and starts to ponder over the cultural shock that this beautiful and colorful country gives to its travelers, one needs to look and understand the people of this country.  A great country, a great civilization with a great and inspiring history.  But are we citizens of India today worthy of the greatness of this country ?  I have doubts.  Its not one simple thing that has raised such doubts in me.

Ancient caste system some of which still
continues in some rural parts
I can start with illogical and useless religious rituals, stupid and rigid customs, gender inequality, big time hypocrisy, lack of importance given to education and hygiene, extremely careless attitude towards cleanliness, dishonesty, extremely corrupt political system and to a certain extent corrupt private enterprises too, lack of respect and tolerance towards fellow citizens, relentless greed for money and power leading to unequal distribution of wealth, ugly religion and caste system and highly male dominant society. 

Its not that the entire population is like this.  But majority is.  How can than someone love being among such a population.  Its so difficult.  But still its going on and attracting more and more people.  Attracting people to come again and again and again.  And its not just people who travel across this wonderland, but people from all over the world are studying here, working here, traveling, felling in love with people and many are visiting time and again.  And not surprisingly there are some who land here and in few days are on a flight back home... ;)  For them India is just not the land to stay even for few days... ;)

Indian states Vs. World countries in terms of GDP
If one sees this country from economic point of view, than what ?  Its very easy to understand that when a person is living and managing to earn bare enough to just sustain himself, every economic opportunity might lure him to do something which is wrong in the economically rich world.  A country in which nearly 30 % of the people are poor and whose per capita income makes it one of the poorest country what to expect from this big percentage of poor and lower middle class.  What they only dream of is a better life which in today's world can be achieved with some money.  Some money ?  Well some more money ... ;)  As I view even this can be one of the major point if changed, can change the scenario of this country drastically.

Well we are changing, but slowly I guess ?  Just hope that with the new generation we change more fast and better.  Well what else to say, I love my country but I doubt if I would say the same for the population.... :(

But still I'm proud of the grand history that this country holds.  The festive celebrations that add so much zeal in the day to day life of people.  The colors of Holi, the lights of Diwali and Christmas, the flights of kites in Uttarayan, New Year celebrations of respective religions, fasting ways in the months of Shravan and Ramzaan make this country so lovable and enjoyable.

I still believe in spite of these few problems that people face while traveling in this country, its just because of the greatness of this land and its rich true customs and celebrations that keep attracting more and more people from all over the world and most of them returning back with pleasant and everlasting memories.  To some the impact is so beautiful and deep that they keep coming again and again.  And I'm fortunate enough to have known them and talked with few of them.... :)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Americans can find nothing, but just problems in India....

Well I just hope this do not offend anyone.  This is what I feel.  I might be right also and might be wrong also.  But I'm just putting down my opinions.  In the last few years I've come across many Americans.  Some are kind of friends too.  But somehow I feel I don't get along with majority of Americans.  Of course there are exceptions and they are really good ones.  They too are Americans but still very different.  

Well yeah the most powerful nation in the world so seems like that power has got to the citizens too.  I've been noticing this when I've met and talked with them.  Yes I'm talking bout Americans.  Most of them I've met have been mostly living in India for a while and few of them are the ones who are traveling in India.  Just couple of them I've met while I was traveling out of India.  So the discussions happened mostly with those who were living in India.  And most of them when they talk about things happening in India, the disgust they show or the negativity they show just doesn't go well with me.  

Yes I know many of the things are true and wrong also, but so what.  In which country no wrong happens.  Every country has their own problems which might vary in nature, but instead of dealing with them, why look at them with such disgust and give such a huge disapproval to them as if its a big crime... ? 

For example the other day I had a discussion on bollywood movies.  And an American lady says, 'Oh bollywood movies are so sexist'.  The way they portray a woman's character or her part is never equal to the men's character. Now how to tell this lady that what sort of different movies are made in bollywood and just by seeing or knowing the stories of few films she made up her opinion.  Well I agree many movies are like that and in reality also we still are much behind giving equality to women.  But its not that its not changing. They still think as if the whole of India is still living in villages.  

Why can't they never find such a problem in their own country.  Take for example the U.S. army.  They have admitted so many women soldiers and officers but when it comes to give justice to the rape victims in U.S. army they can't do that.  Why can't Americans see that ?  Isn't that called being sexist ? I can go on with lots of such problems American land has with statistical proofs. If someone wants to know can write in to me... ;)

We have our problems and we are dealing with them, but please first look at your own country, solve your problems first and then comment on the wrong things in India.  We are here to take care of our own land.  As a country we have problems which are different from yours, but problems are problems. You can't just keep pointing to them wherever you go.  If you want to understand them, there are better ways to know about them.  

Sorry if I sounded to offensive, but that's what I've felt.  I know there are some wonderful people among such critics and I've met few of them.  But I just feel too strongly agitated and hurt, when such people come to India, travel around or live for few months or years and the only thing they come to know are the problems.  They would just be able to see the slums, the litter on the streets, animals pooping on the streets, take pictures of poor people and make a collection of it and share it with their friends and family.  Well how ignorant and stereotypical.  I could go on and on with this, but I'll stop here. The following video shows what the other India is to the British.  But I just feel lot of people ignorant about the other side of India might want to increase their knowledge.  Jai Hind... :)

Happy Friendship Day....:)

5th Aug. 2012, another friendship day.  Over the years friendship day celebrations are getting bigger and bigger, and why not.  Its one thing for many people in this world means a lot to them.  Its like a second family.  And I've been fortunate enough to have a great second family.  Since my last years in school the people that have come in my life as friends, are still in my life and with every passing year the bond of friendship is growing stronger and stronger.

I still remember those school and college days, which I've lived virtually with friends.  And last year after almost 15 years it was great to reconnect with my school buddies of high school.  Thanks to facebook.... ;)  Meeting so many of them after one and half decade is just awesome.

Last few years since I've joined couchsurfing, life has again given me that chance to meet new people.  Something which over the years I've been missing after I graduated.  And I'm fortunate enough that through couchsurfing I've met people who in a just few years have been awesome friends with me.  Many times just by talking to them and knowing how much this friendship of ours is cherished just overwhelms me.

I still remember those hard times in my life when I had my friends standing next to me and even their silence told me how much I have them by my side.  When I think of each one of them and the memories I have with them is one of the biggest treasure that I have gathered over the years.

As Mother Teresa has said "if you judge people, you have no time to love them."  Today I'm extremely happy to have never judged this awesome people, or yes I would have lost them way back.  The happiness of just being with them and having them in my life is so supreme that I never had the time to judge them and why should I ?  And probably its the same thing they did with me and accepted me with all my ebbs.

And as someone has said which I truly believe today that FRIENDS ARE BORN, NOT MADE.  I guess I was destined to have this good people in my life whom I could have for my life.  And on this special day which is gonna come every year special thanks to you - Stuti, Shelin, Darshan, Chirag....Thanks for being with me always.... :)

Happy Friendship Day....:)