Monday, April 25, 2011

Intimate Favorites

"Gori sove sej par, mukh par daare khes,
Chal Khusrau ghar aapno, saanjh bhai chanhu des"
(One of my most favorite couplets, composed by Amir Khusrau at the time of Nizam-ud-din Auliya's death)

Finally, I'll plagiarise. Yes, I know there is no word like that, but it comes from the root word 'plagiarism'. That much was guessable, I guess. Of about the five blogs I religiously follow, one draws me towards it on a daily basis. It is called An Indian Muslim's Blog: News, Views & Urdu Poetry Websiteand in particular, it is the poetry bit which charms me the most. Every night,  I end up reading some really beautiful Urdu couplets from his blog, which invariably make me reflective and happy as my eye lids get heavy, and I drift into a peaceful slumber.

I have stolen some exquisite pieces of shayari from various sources over the years- blogs like the one mentioned above, newspaper columns (especially the ones penned by Khushwant Singh), random books, even public hoardings at times. All of these have been lovingly preserved on the pages of my journal. Today, I feel taking a whiff of their mustiness, smile, and pour the best of them here, on my blog. I reckon I kind of really love my blog. I end up recording the best things here. These poetries are also one of them.

Meherbaan hoke bulaa lo mujhe chaaho jis waqt
Main gayaa waqt nahiiN huuN ki phir aa bhii na sakoon.

Is saadgii pe kaun na mar jaaye aye Khudaa
Ladte haiN aur haath mein talwaar bhii nahi
(Ghalib again)

Kab thahregaa dard-e-dil kab raat basar hogi
Sunte the voh aayenge, sunte the sahar hogi
(Faiz Ahmed Faiz)

Jo chaahti duniya hai, voh mujhse nahi hoga
Samjhautaa koi khwaab ke badle nahi hoga


Khamoshi chhupaati hai aib aur hunar dono
Shakhsiyat ka andaaza guftguu se hota hai

(Shams Ramzi)

Achchhi cheezein lagengi aur achchhi
Darmiyaan kuchh kharaab rakh diyaa karo

(Balraj Komal)

Na jaane tumne subah ka qasiida kaise likh liyaa
Yahaan to kal bhii raat thii, yahaan toh ab bhi raat hai

(Iqbal Ash'har)

Main us se door bhi jaaun toh kis tarah jaaun
Voh itr ban kar mere pairahan mein rehta hai

(Waseem Rashid)

Talvaar to kyaa merii nazar tak nahi uthi
Us shakhs ke bachchon ki taraf dekh liya tha
(Munawwar Rana)

Maine mana ki ye shab guzregi, magar kab guzregi
Maine mana ki sahar hogi, magar kab hogi
(Abdullah Kamal)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From the Pen of the President, Women Studies and Development Cell, Jesus and Mary College

Our logo, designed by Priyanka Tampi
an artist blessed by the Almighty
A few moments back, I signed for the last time as the President of the Women Studies and Development Cell, Jesus and Mary College. Nostalgia. I was drafting the Annual Report of WSDC, to be published in the the JMC Annual Magazine (and I cannot remember its name). For those who do not know, WSDC has been my alter ego for the past two years in JMC. It has been that aspect of JMC, which I have been most intimately attached to. My friends call me a 
workaholic, and I reckon that is because I enjoy working like nothing else. And, its been WSDC, which has given ample of avenues to work in, to take initiatives in precisely the direction I have desired and which has not constrained me in any manner whatsoever. I have had a mad, at times even a rough time working, but on not less than thirty times in the past year, I have had a smug smile on my somnolent face, reflecting the satisfaction in my heart at having done something constructive during the day.

With a member strength of more than 180, the year ahead did seem an uphill journey, but the cooperation of each one of them (with, of course, few disappointing exceptions) made my tenure as the President a smooth, delightful and memorable experience. We functioned as a single, cohesive, well functioning, and a well intentioned unit, and managed to succeed at endeavours that did not seem viable at the time of their inception. We've had our little failures, but they have only served at making us understand and learn a bit more, and improve as we go ahead. Personally, as the President, I received a lot of love, affection, and respect from my juniors, but the most gratifying was when I received a note from one of my batchmates, Ancy Thomas, congratulating me for my work and calling WSDC my 'baby'- something I have nurtured in the past two years to make it reach to the level it is at present. Of course, I could not have done it alone; many names are responsible for it having journeyed successfully this year.The most important among them, I feel, is the preceding President of WSDC, Rashneet Kaur- the most dynamic leader I have known, and a woman who essayed her role with a poise and perfection which was very nearly inspirational.

A satisfied Core Team after successfully concluding the
Declamation Competition
From left- Riya (my most trusted), Namita(the silent worker),
Sharon (her creativity on the board at the back), myself, Ishani (my magazine head),
Priyanka (whom I cannot work without, simply)
I can go on and on about my society, my WSDC, almost my doppelganger, but I feel its not required. Enclosed below is the report I wrote, and although its painfully concise (enlisting only about six of our twenty endeavours), I guess it reflects enough let readers know that we are a society with purpose. And dedication. And sincerity. I wish I could write more, but for that, I will wait for my own annual report- a ten page document that talks exclusively about WSDC

The Women Studies and Development Cell is one of the six compulsory societies of Jesus and Mary College. Until last year, our society enrolled members only from the second and the third year, but from the academic year 2010-11, we enlarged our membership to include girls from the first year also in our society. With a vision that aims at creating more awareness and sensitivity among the youth on gender related issues, and a desire in our hearts at contributing our bit in improving the adverse and prejudiced conditions for the fairer sex, WSDC does not aim for the stars; in stead, it looks to promote simplistic, and realistic ideas and thoughts, all of which point in the direction of general welfare of womanhood. In each of our member, we look forward to a sincerity and an incorrigible urge towards doing something constructive for the society.  WSDC has always made its presence felt on the campus, our last year being exceptionally successful with a plethora of diverse events being organized by us, viz., talks, seminars, workshops, cultural programmes, debates, etc. We, at WSDC, have a reputation of putting a lot of heart in what we do, and being in a progressive girls' college only aids us in all our endeavors.

Launch of the Annual Report 2009-10 during the Orientation Ceremony,
held on 18th August, 2010
The year began for us with the ritualistic Orientation Ceremony, where all the members are inducted into the society, and the year ahead is planned. At the same event, we also launched our facebook page, to keep our members better apprised of all our activities and to promote discussions on matters of concern. The Orientation Ceremony was followed by many more events, aimed at sensitizing the college students about different issues like Honor Killings, Female Genital Mutilations, Cervical Cancer, Human Trafficking, Healthy Food Habits, Girl Child and about a dozen more topics which directly or indirectly affect our existence as a society. One of the first proud moments for us was when Mr. Shiv Khera, a renowned motivational speaker and author visited our campus to address a full capacity audience in the MPH. He spoke about the Value System in the Indian Society, and the meaningful role played by womenfolk in preserving and upholding our values. WSDC, to emphasize its dedication at fighting the most pernicious of evils prevailing in our society, invited Smt. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, President, International Congress of Woman and the Chairperson, Committee for Review of National Policy on Women, Government of India, as the keynote speaker for a National Level Symposium on Contemporary Social Evils on 12th November 2010. The Symposium was a resounding success and the topics discussed, viz, Honor Killings, Human Trafficking and Prostitution were further taken up by our member students as the theme for the Annual WSDC project, prepared and printed under the guidance of Dr. Nivedita Giri, with Namita Joseph as the student head. The President of WSDC, Saumya Kulshreshtha, who also serves as the Campus Ambassador of Teach for India, conducted a placement talk for JMC students along with the recruitment officer of TFI.

Our Annual Cultural Festival, Jagriti '11, only into its second year, attracted massive participation from many colleges across Delhi University. Besides holding events like Folk Dance Competition, Painting Exhibition, Creative Writing etc, WSDC also launched its official logo, designed by Priyanka Tampi, head of the WSDC Creativity Team.  The logo, a simple yet attractive illustration, reads 'Being Me'- a tag line inspired from our Annual Magazine- "Being A Woman, Being Me!". Our magazine was very well received and lauded by staff and students alike in its first issue last year. It is now ready as a new and improved magazine for its second print to be released soon. To cater to the very contemporary concerns of keeping fit, WSDC organized a Wellness Check Up Camp where many girls received valuable tips on a healthy lifestyle and diet. We also conducted a talk of the upcoming concept of Stem Cell Research and a Registration Drive for stem cell donors as a follow up of the same. One of the novel steps in the past year was to invite a counselor, Ms. Shifa Haq, on biweekly visits to our college, with whom, girls can share their problems and seek appropriate advice. Besides this, we conducted a declamation competition, a field trip to Ma Dham- a widow ashram, workshops by NGOs including Smile Foundation, and GDs to promote dialogue on several issues.

The banner for Women's Day
 The year for us culminated with a huge celebration of womanhood on 8th March, 2011- the International Women's Day. Many eminent speakers, including Ms. Barkha Singh, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, a dynamic lawyer, Ms. Rama Vaidyanathan, a prolific Bharatnatyam exponent, graced the occasion. The event started by a captivating dance performance by Radhika Kathal, member of WSDC and a disciple of Ms. Geeta Chandran, and, it ended with a soul stirring Odissi performance by Ms. Kavita Dwibedi, Director of Odissi Academy, New Delhi.

Ready to host the Women's Day-
In style!
WSDC has always received a lot of encouragement and motivation from the Principal of Jesus and Mary College, Sister Marina John who takes keen interest in all our activities and guides us for improving at each step we take. WSDC is blessed to have as its Convenors Dr. Alka Marwaha and Dr. Amita Tiwari, who have never said no to any initiative we wanted to undertake. They have been wholly encouraging, and since the very beginning of the year, they had high expectations from us, expectations which we have hopefully been able to fulfill. A big, heartfelt thank you to all the member of WSDC core team- Rosemary Lobo and Nikita Sailesh in particular, for tirelessly working behind the scenes to make every single event a huge success.It would be appropriate also to thank Rashneet Kaur, who served as the WSDC President last year, for doing wonderful work during her tenure and laying a foundation for us to build upon. And, lastly, none of our events in WSDC can be made possible without the support of the non teaching staff, who aid us in all conceivable manners and work very hard to make every event of every department and society possible and successful.

-Saumya Kulshreshtha
Women Studies and Development Cell,
Jesus and Mary College

Core Team of 2009-10
Seated to my left is the graceful and dynamic ex-President, Rashneet Kaur,
 whom I succeeded as the President this year

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To India, To Zaheer!

I know it is a protracted response. By now, much of the ecstasy-laden-disbelief would have subsided. By now, most of us would have accepted that we are world champions. The dancing, singing and shouting would have been over. The inebriation after gulping down bottles after bottles of alcohol would have become history. The SMS chains would have broken. The tears would have dried. The demands of a National Holiday ended. Yes, many of us are still congratulating each other, but the instant laughter has metamorphosed into a more smug smile, which will linger on with a firm cognizance of the fact that we are number one! Our greatest national passion, Cricket, has triumphed! Our team has won, and made us all proud.

Yes, I am a little late, but I have to express my absolutely crazy delight at the Indian victory.

It was a perfect catharsis. The moment we won, my apartment building reverberated with a collective roar of jubilation. Everyone ran out. Gathered in the society park, and broke into impromptu jigs, even before a Dholi was summoned to make our celebrations more rhythmic. Even as everyone was shouting for me to come out, I remained firmly glued to my television set. We had won, but my favorite part was yet to come. No, not the Presentation Ceremony, but the celebrations on field. Players were crying on field, and I was crying with them. I had still not registered what had happened, but I knew it was a major event, and I knew about millions of us were happy. I was happy to be happy with them. My neighbourhood aunty remarked- 'This is the third Diwali I am witnessing!" She was so true. Crackers, and fireworks coruscating the sky. It was a national festival, only this time not bound to some religion. It was bigger. Much bigger.

It is for him that they claimed they did it- for the legend, the phenomenon, the God of Cricket- Tendulkar

It was sheer pleasure being treated to this site (gratitude to HT photo gallery for preserving such amazing moments). I was left pondering for a long time as to what would be crossing the mind of this great man. So much adulation, so much love, so much respect- a living, breathing idol. 

And even as I was thinking all of this, my eyes were searching for that face which has made me sit in front of the television set for hours to catch a single glimpse of his while India fielded. He is that cricketer, who made my teen years more cherishable. I had a mad crush, and it was, of course, him! So while my two best friends, in an innocent eighth standard classroom, somewhere around the 2003 world cup declared a war between Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, I would proclaim in all snobbishness that they both did not stand up anywhere in front of Zaheer Khan- my one and only love from the world of cricket. Even before I completed my sentence, the whole class would be staring at me incredulously. In fact, contemptuously. While in my heart I would feel a little sheepish, I would never allow the sheepishness to reflect on my face. With an air of conceit still accessorizing my face, I would then go on to defend my choice. I would offer 'expert' opinions of his bowling in that naive tongue of mine (most of it a repetition of what the commentators would have said extolling Zak). More than the bowling, I would rant on about his looks- his athletic physique, his intense eyes, his boy-next-door appeal. I has a pathetic teenage crush on him, something I in no way will ever regret. 

At that time, Zaheer was an upcoming talent, and understudy of the much revered Javagal Srinath. I was smitten by him the first match I saw in World Cup 2003- India versus Holland, which India, conveniently won. I had no understanding of the sport, so I could never understand why experts criticized him, whenever they did. For me, every ball of his was a wicket taking delivery. It was a celebration for him when he would be declared the Man of the Match (I remember two such occasions, one from WC 2003 itself). On his birthday, I would be silly happy. My fondness for him was so well known, that once, one of my friends gifted me a print out of his bio data, just because she wanted to make me happy. And happy I was. Very very happy! 

The naivity had gone now. The fondness has not. I still watch cricket matches to catch as many glimpses of his as I can. And I still have that eight year old copy of the bio data. It is torn along all folds, but, it is still very cherishable. 

So, as Kumar Sangakkara put India in to field first, I was obviously waiting for our bowling spearhead to give our team an awesome start in the Final. Honestly, I was scared. The memories of WC '03 Final were still ripe. Zaheer had to bury some very ugly ghosts from the past. He did it! And in style! He gave India the best start possible, made the Lankans starve for runs, and got the first breakthrough by taking Tharanga's wicket. He bowled three straight maidens in the Final, a feat, I believe, is unparalleled in any records. His last two overs did yield some 30 odd runs for the opposition, but for me, it is insignificant. From being plagued by persistent injuries, to losing his place in the team to upcoming stalwarts like Irfan Pathan, Zaheer has bounced back as India's pace spearhead, has been touted as second Wasim Akram, and regarded as a bowler with tact and adroitness to make India stand tall in front of the most intimidating batting oppositions. For me, this World Cup was about seeing him shine. Even when he has performed bad, I have never felt let down. But this time, what was special was, he did not let the country down. Every one sang his praises. Those praises were honey to my ears. Kudos Zaheer! You made us proud!

(A little photomontage of his best time frozen moments I could find on Google images)