Thursday, October 30, 2008

That Impress Me Much!

I read a fabulous quote today. It read, "Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free till they find someone just as wild to run with them and trust."

When I have these periodic reveries about the future, I can never quite figure out what I want. Ssshh, don't tell anyone. On a more serious note, I think this quote knows what I want better than I do.

I'm convinced that I'm about as eccentric as my social circle allows me to be. So will I want to conform later? Chances are, no. Which is why I think someone offbeat would work well. What's life without a little chaos?

The human spirit is too free to be fettered. Not that it doesn't require guidance or direction or purpose. Just no chains.

Does that mean I'm looking? Not exactly. I have no idea what's ahead. I'm as clueless as the next person and am waiting to see what happens next. It's like a blind curve on a winding mountain road. Add some fog for further reduced visibility. But the suspense is exhilarating.

Do I wish that someday I find someone who celebrates the mad scientist in me? Sure! For now though, I'm just going to concentrate on now. Because, at the risk of sounding corny, Deepak Chopra did say, "The past is history. The future is a mystery. But what you have now is a gift. And that's why it's called the present."

Feeling Surer on Shaky Ground

It's been two months in the new land and I'm happy to say that it's OK. That's more than I could have expected to say two months ago. When I first landed here, I thought I had made some sort of huge mistake. What was I thinking leaving the comforts of home and venturing out into foreign lands? On my own? I was obviously kidding myself.

Turns out I wasn't. The revelation came as a suprise to me too.

When I think back, there were times I just wanted to turn away from all of it and not have to deal with any of it. What was the big deal about going abroad to study anyway? It's besides the point that millions of people do it every year. What made it necessary for me?

Now I have some of the answers. I needed to grow up. I was a child and would have always remained one back home. Out here, it's just me and that's making me develop in ways that take me by surprise sometimes. No, I'm no Einstein and I don't claim to be. But here I find myself turning going from a girl to a woman. The thought scares me sometimes. Most of the time, it makes me smile.

So I'm glad I didn't turn away. I like it here in this city where no one recognizes me. Makes me appreciate the familiarity back home. Of course I miss my family and friends. Who knew youtube could be so entertaining? And the course load is hectic. But there are some definite advantages and I'm not complaining. I've also realized that the tough parts are done almost as soon as they begin. It's just a case of hanging in there.

Does it make me want to go back. Hell yeah! But that can wait a while. For now, I'm learning too much to leave. And growing as a result of.

I'm grateful I took the advice of a teacher days before I left, when I was wavering whether I needed to take this big step at all. She said, "He who hesitates is lost." Thank you. I listened. Because I didn't hesitate, today I don't feel so lost.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dance with Daryl Davis

Tonight was a real eye-opener. How often do you meet an African American man who is friendly with members of the Ku Klux Klan?

Eyebrows raised? Mine came down just a few hours ago.

Daryl Davis got his first taste of racial discrimination as a child and was caught off guard when it happened. From then on, he became aware that he was part of a world where not many was were as his naive as him and that it could pretty cruel. Instead of letting that discourage him, he found an anchor in music and boogeyed away with stalwarts like Chuck Berry(given credit for starting the rock 'n roll movement and being the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Van Halen and anyone who's played "rock guitar.") His flawless music caught the attention of a Ku Klux Klan member who one day who put his arm around Davis and invited him to chat over a drink. The two men from backgrounds as immiscible as oil and water shared a friendly chat over alcohol and cranberry juice.

The association grew from that moment on, with Davis being admitted to the clandestine operations and lives of these clan members. He learned plenty and instead of forming strong opinions either in favour or against, he realized the importance of everyone being granted a forum to explain their views. That conversation can dispel so many myths and misunderstandings. The exercise will either achieve in shedding light on where a person's thought process is coming from or will make them question their own beliefs. Both outcomes can result in powerful changes. Who knew that the answer to something so complex lay in something so simple?

Tonight I also got an answer to a long-standing question: what's the difference between ignorance and stupidity? Davis summed it up succinctly by saying ignorance was poor decisions people made without sufficient information. Therefore, they can't be blamed because they don't know better. Stupidity is when a person makes poor decisions, despite having all the information. Education is the cure for ignorance - and for plenty more. Unfortunately, there's no cure for stupidity.

Tonight I went thinking that I'd hear a man rant about the evils of white supremacy. Instead, I got a beautiful message of how it's required to purge all forms of racism and discrimination from our society as though it were a cancer. Because it's common knowledge that an undetected or untreated cancer ultimately consumes the host.

Tonight I was filled with a feeling of looking forward to being part of the only race that exists - the human race.

Below is a video of Daryl David's music. Lose yourself in the universal language that constantly reaffirms its position.

Celebrity Don't Vote Video

I loved this video!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This Space is My Pensieve

"You're so optimistic."
"You say it like it's a bad thing."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Answers anyone?

Judith Miller visted campus two days ago - the journalist who spent 85 days in jail after refusing to reveal the name of her source during an investigation of the Valerie Plame case. She's advocating for a shield law that will guard journalists from disclosing their sources, much the same way in a patient-doctor relationship or the way a person and their priest share confidentiality.

I'm no one to pass judgment on these issues but it definitely stirs some questions. Is it likely that this law could be misused, becoming another loophole through which dirty secrets can remain hidden or the weak barrier behind which the cowardly can hide? If the press is allowed complete freedom, would this rule being enforced become the price it pays or the reward it earns?

Miller raised some other interesting points. What is the future of journalism, as it stands today? What can we (the journalists) expect from the profession and what can they (they consumers) expect from it? Does the profession have a chance of surviving or is it just another money-spinning degree for universities where those who love the written word will enroll? Is journalism about the tools and toys that have become imperitive to it - technological gadgets and gizmos - or is it about the content which is reaching the public through these fancy contraptions.

The questions tease me. I'm as eager for the answers as the next nervous journalism student in the seat next to me. We're both here to find out what happens a few years from now and if we'll be able to do our expensive degrees their due justice.

And finally, who is a journalist? The lines are blurring, with bloggers and just about anyone with access to the Internet, is able to make their opinion public. I just realized that there's a great irony in this message being declared here. Heck, who makes the rules anyway?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Second Sound Slide Story

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Little Things that Matter

Good journalism lies in the details. I've been hearing that plenty the past month and a half.

Get what the people said, in exact quotes. Get what they were wearing, what they were doing at the time of the incident you are reporting, their reactions, facial expressions, neighbours' views, family and friends speak - anything that helps "breathe life" into the subject. Make him "come alive" in your writing.

At first, I though the advice was a bit over the top. But then I realized that journalism is all about the people it covers. Their stories, their lives, their experiences. Journalism is the tool that makes them heard to the rest of the world. Peoples' role is pivotal and therefore they need to be captured as accurately as possible in a story. And that's where the details make all the difference.

Now I realize that while details are the answer to superior journalism, it's also applicable to almost everything else. Excellence lies in the details. It's what makes the distinction between better and the best. It's the line that divides acceptable from perfect. It's the difference between almost there and far beyond.

So pay attention to the details. Don't forget to smile or eat a good breakfast. Get eight hours of sleep and donate to charity, in time/money. Love your job but love the people in your life more. And most importantly, love yourself enough to make the effort.

You never know when it will be the day that the little details count.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Ridge with an Edge

I flipped the last page of Judgment Ridge by Mitchell Zuckoff and Richard Lehr and breathed a sigh of releif. The nerve-wracking weeks I had spent staying up late and chewing on my fingernails to find out more about the murder case that rocked New Hampshire seven years ago had come to an end. And at the end of the read, some painful realizations became clearer.

There is a fine line between sanity and insanity. It's a delicate mental balance, which if disrupted, can make a person's actions baffling to their own family and friends. Not that they're always easily understood by the same otherwise. The killers, in this case, chanced upon Half and Suzanne Zantop as the couple prepared to enjoy another lazy weekend. They were the victims of an act of violence dreamt up by two small-town teenagers who had too much spare time. And one of who thought himself to be a "superior being."

What made the killers unlike their peers who spent their time enjoying the snow and the rustic outdoors? What made them think that they would get away with their porous plan of killing randomly-selected people after robbing them to runaway and live their lives like vagabonds?

It's likely no one will entirely understand what the two teenaged boys were thinking at the time of the murder or what caused them to hatch the bizarre plan in the first place.

But what truly deserves a mention is the impeccable reconstruction of events that the authors have managed to achieve. Investgative reporters for The Boston Globe, Zuckoff and Lehr have transported readers to the scene of the crime and the days that preceded it, leading to the build up, and allow them to witness it by narrating the story in scary detail. It's not just the details that are scary. It's the precision with which they've got all of them.

A line in the book speaks of one of the killers revisiting a "place that he loathed," referring to him reliving the double murders, during police questioning. It's similar for the readers who are taken to a loathed place and play silent spectators as the authors piece together the bloody carnage that ensued that January afternoon.

The people of Chelsea will never find answers for why two of "their children" turned into cold-blooded killers. Half and Suzanne Zantop are gone forever. The way in which they are spoken about in the book drives home the great tragedy in losing the couple. But there probably wasn't a better way to immortalize them than this book.

A definite recommended read.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Triumphing over Parkinson's

"The good thing about Parkinson's is that it can't kill you," he says. It's ironic that a man who ran regularly and bicycled 15 miles a day just four years ago, now concentrates hard just to rise from his seat.

"I'm very self-conscious," he admits. "But the medicines help. See, my hands aren't shaking as much," he says, holding one out.

I see.

"Please don't be self-conscious. There's so much more to you to notice than that."

He's grateful for the comment. Now I just wish he takes it to heart.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Off the hook

"...guitar sounds are on their way out..."
- Dick Rowe, executive of Decca Records about the Beetles.

"Television won't matter in your lifetime or mine."
- Rex Lambert, Radio Times editor in 1936

I believe similar words of discouragement were blasphemously and infamously uttered when Alexander Graham Bell was attempting to launch his invention of the telephone. And it was a turbulent beginning fof the cell phone as well.

Today, I sit in my apartment, miles away from home, divided by ocean, land and time. But my family and friends always seem close by. The Internet helps undoubtedly. But the phone calls are the real highlight. Hearing a loved one's voice in real time allows you to naively believe that they are just a few houses down from your own. As I'm talking, I can visualise the signals and the long elegant paths they travel to make my voice heard so far away.

Where would be without these inventors who fought to realise their dreams? Depending on letters that would take weeks to arrive and broaden the chasm that inevitably settles comfortably between two entities that are forced into a lack of communication.

I like being able to call home. I like receving calls from friends. There will be plenty more inventors who will meet narrow-minded obstacles. I only hope that they step over them like pebbles in order to make their genius available to the world.

Until then, I'll bask in the fact that Mr. Bell and I share an alma mater.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Presenting Coldplay

Coldplay resurrects my faith in the existence of good music.

Common Ground by Scott Strazzante

And this one struck a chord with me especially since a home is such a sacred entity in Indian culture. Joint families are the norm, generations live under one roof, speaking of selling the ancestral property is blasphemous. Watch this video and leave your comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Baby Drops of Blood

I thought this was beautiful and should be shared. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What's in a name? - A lot Shakespeare!

How hard it is to say Ayesha? Yes, Ayesha. Just two syllables. Aye-sha. No, not Ayeeesha. Ayesha. Stop it, there's no 'L' in my name. For the last time, my name is not Alisha!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What Parkinson's?

You're immaculately dressed and always on time. You're never grumpy and are regular to class. You take pride in your past while being hopeful of the future. Your eyes twinkle with mischief like that of a seven-year old boy. You've lived a full life and don't see why you should slow down now. Neither do we.

You're bursting with energy and I know for a fact that if you had been healthier, it would have been hard keeping up with you. It's already a challenge to match your step.

And while I have to admit that you're not always the best to teach the subject, I think you teach us plenty more. About life and what lies beyond the textbooks. That a smile can take you far and that no reason is good enough to give up on life or yourself. You are alive as long as you breathe and it's a crime to not take advantage of every second. You teach us about life - not by words but by your shining example. You make me want to be a better person. Parkinson's disease has found a tough opponent in you. Here's to your undaunting strength and tireless spirit. I hope that you continue to spread your infectious cheer.