1. What does it mean to resist? When our head interferes with our heart, in our art, when our flow is interrupted, when there is disruption in our receptivity, we are resisting.
  2. Writing itself is resistance.
  3. I went to Barefoot College in Tilonia, one of the poorest villages in rural India. I saw puppets educating elders on matters of social justice and musicians educating children on social change.
  4. A kathak dancer, Mallika Sarabhai goes to villages all over India. She educates women on menstrual hygiene through theatre.
  5. I vomited on stage, an Aftertaste of my arrival in America. It was a play about the international experience.
  6. When I was seven, I wrote an angry letter to my grandfather when he wouldn’t listen. We cannot talk back, we need to respect our elders my culture preaches. I scrunched my letter into a ball and threw it at him. He threw it out of the window.
  7. I spoke about reclaiming my voice, my accent at Naropa.
  8. My parents challenge customer care representatives everytime they answer the phone. My parents’ accent “confuses them”. Dear America, must you only understand the norm?
  9. “What is the relevance of writing? Will it get you a job?” my father said.
  10. I speak perfect English. Are you waiting for me to talk in Hindi, will that make me more exotic? Will that make my activism special? Chutiye saale
  11. Two Indian Americans speak about the terror attacks in a school in Peshawar in broken Hindi at a silent vigil. My friend from Pakistan walks out. Must we always voice that which we don’t understand?
  12. Must we always have a cause to resist?
  13. Can’t we just lie down on the grass and enjoy this sunny day?
  14. Please don’t call my approach radical.

Shades Of The Sea

Recently I had the opportunity to go on a Photowalk with some really talented photographers one fine Sunday afternoon on the streets of Mumbai. Equipped with nothing but an iPhone, I tried my hands at street photography and turns out, I was pretty impressed with the results. I also learnt several lessons along the way.

1) Look. Notice. See. Watch every corner of the streetside unfold into photographic beauty as you peer at every pebble and sand grain through the lens of your camera. Beauty can be found anywhere. All you need to do is look.

2) Wait till your subject gets busy and resumes his/her own work before clicking his/her picture.

3) If a Mumbai fisherman tells you not to click a picture of his colorful boats, you DO NOT click a picture of his colorful boats.

Enjoy and comment below!


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The Dirty Picture: Simple people, simple rules.

Namaste. Welcome to India. I assure that you will have an enriching experience during your stay. My name is Ria Gandhi and I will be your tour guide on your visit to India.

India is essentially a land of simplicity. Simple people, simple cities, simple festivals and simple rules. First things first, let me brief you through the journey.

You will be taken to the four metros of India. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta and a few stops in between.  On your ride, you are free to enjoy the rosogullas and the aloo tikki. You must try the pani puri and the dosas. Apart from that, we feast on a meal of roti, sabji, chawal, suh-laad (salad), pakoda, dhokla, chhole, naan, dal and jalebi. Simple menu no?

Our first stop is a collection of seven islands, home to Bollywood and the fisher folk, Mumbai. Its Ganesh Chaturthi festival will leave you in awe of the elephant headed god as you see idol after idol blocking the meter wide roads of Bombay Mumbai. (My sincere apologies, Thackeray :P) It’s not the idols who block the road. It is the processions and the non stop road orchestras.  I assure you it is quite natural if you find yourself complaining about hearing impairment the next day.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi

Make sure you have the spicy pani puri and the chaat of Mumbai that will leave you running for water all around. You will not get clean water from a Kinley bottle. Oh no, that is just water filled in plastic bottles from taps. If you really want to go for hygiene, go for the golas. The ice flavored candies, a specialty of Mumbai, will leave you sucking on the ice long after the syrup has drained off.  I assure you that the vendors use the finest quality gutter water. I challenge you to find a tastier gola than that found on Chowpatty beach anywhere else in the world.

Golas :D

Golas 😀

The Chowpatty beach

The Chowpatty beach

The Taj Mahal. The word speaks for itself. Don’t be surprised if your mouth drops open as the first rays of the sun bounce of the cool white marble bathing the edifice in a warm golden glow. The building reeks of love. Love of Shah Jahan for his pride and honor. Love that overwhelmed him to such an extent that he made sure the craftsmen of the Taj Mahal had their hands cut so that it could not be duplicated.

Me :)

Your tour guide 🙂

Disclaimer for the ladies: Be careful to cover yourself in the holy city of Haridwar. You wouldn’t want to break years long of penance of our priests, right? The pundits detest skimpy clothing, you see. As for themselves, they prefer to keep it minimal. Just a sheer see through waistcloth for their ash smeared bodies would suffice. Like I said, we prefer simplicity.

a sadhu in Haridwar

Harki Paudi

Harki Paudi on the banks of the Ganga

We then visit the great Mother Durga, and her kohl lined three eyed figurines.  She holds a striking pose as if watching over her Calcuttians as they  gorge on the rosogullas.

Goddess Durga

Let’s travel a little down south. Here  are the banana leaf platters and the finest of dosas, lighter than a muslin cloth. You have the intelligentsia here, who speak nothing apart from Tamil and undiluted English. Talk to them in Hindi and they will gape at you as if you are a mental asylum resident. Why bother learning the national language when you are aiming for globalization? Simple, no?

Traditional banana leaf meal

Finally coming down to India’s people. Like I said, we are a simple folk. Our politicians are very simple too. This simplicity is reflected in our rules. We believe in dealing under the table than over it. Over the table only talks are made. Of abolishing poverty, hunger and misery. We make sure we stay faithful too. Faithful to our countrymen as we make those promises year after year.

India isn’t a land of hypocrites. It is a land of simple people with simple rules who don’t follow what they say.