Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cheraw - dance of the Mizos...commonly known as the "Bamboo dance"



The Cheraw [pronounciation: 'Che' as in 'check' and '-raw' as in 'raw fish' :)..that's the best i could come up with for people who don't speak the Mizo language] known to many as the “bamboo dance” apparently because of the use of long bamboo staves, is probably the most popular and most beautiful dance of the Mizo people.  In a nutshell: this dance, in stark contrast to its energetic and colorful demeanor, was originally performed in olden days for mothers who had died at childbirth so that their souls could enter ‘Pialral’ or ‘paradise’ safely. However, with the passage of time, this dance was incorporated into festive occasions and is now commonly performed during big festivals. There are many variations to this lore, and others may beg to differ, but i'll stick to this one for now. :)



There are several form of this dance, and one of these is known as the ‘Bualpui cheraw’ or "Buh za aih". The bamboo staves are arranged criss-crossed over each other, and the women dressed in vibrant traditional clothes, have to dance with great precision and grace to the rhythmic clapping of the bamboos by the men, and the beating of the drum. This exuberant dance is thrilling, elegant and engaging….a pride of the Mizos. The dance performed here by the Mizo students in the University of Hyderbad (India) is complemented by a song infused with traditional tunes and sounds. 

See the video here... 

  
or here for a panned out view...same thing though :)...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Droplets


Just a few drops of blood from a nose bleed were all it took to remind her of the last time she had one. It felt like a lifetime ago, yet, remembered it all like it was just yesterday. This time, the blood that was dripping into the wash basin was because of her allergy owing to the relentless winter that caused bouts of sneezing. The last time was a totally different story.
It started with a blow from the back that came out of nowhere…but it wasn’t like she didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t the first time that had happened, and it was something she knew she would never get used to. It wasn’t unexpected, especially when alcohol was involved. He’d always been a careless drinker, and it always brought out the dark side of him. The physical pain was nothing…it was transient, it healed. What hurt more was the recurring betrayal, the broken promises of “I’ll never do it again!”
And with that painful blow, she could tell the night was going to end badly, and apologizing to the host of the party was out of the question. He’d dragged her by the wrist into the kitchen, and that gesture was unquestioned by those in the room, who left quietly, concerned, yet chose to mind their own business. She was still clueless as to what had triggered the rage this time, but she was sure it had really nothing to do with the two of them. They hadn’t had a reason to fight in a long time. She’d assumed the drinking that was messing with his head had everything to do with it.
He started talking nonsense, bringing up reasons to justify his anger, which made absolutely no sense to her. He pushed her so hard, holding on to the dining table was all she could do to keep from falling. But she couldn’t stop the plates she’d knocked over, and was scared the noise would stir up attention from the others….but nothing…much to her relief, and agony. She felt helpless, she couldn’t stand up to him, not now…he was in no condition for a sane conversation or reasoning, and she tried her best to keep their voices down, but for whose benefit she wasn’t really sure.
She ignored all the accusations that came from him, because she knew they were just nonsense…reasons concocted from a drunken stupor. But her silence and resilience made him all the more livid, and his anger found its way into his palm, slapping her across the face. She felt the searing pain, wondering how he still had that much energy after all that drinking. She’d warned him not to drink too much, but that fell on deaf ears, and here was the outcome. She was scared now, for her safety, and she knew that nightmare wasn’t going to end very soon. No amount of pleading from her side would do any good…and she accepted the fact that she had no choice but to sit through the storm.
Every passing minute felt like hours, and the torture seemed never-ending. He’d kept coming at her with his fist, in between verbal outbursts, on her face, on her arms, and she’d tried her best to soften the blows. And all the while, she could hear the others, talking, laughing in the next room, wondering if they had any clue what was going on. She couldn’t believe how far apart their realities were right at that very moment.
A handful of people came in every now and then, went about their business, and left without much concern. Even though he would know enough to stop when they came in, she could tell from their expressions that they knew what was going on, but she didn’t blame them for their indifference…who’d want to stir up trouble with an enraged, drunken maniac who they weren’t really familiar with…she could understand them for keeping a safe distance.
Things went from bad to worse…he insisted they go outside, into the darkness. She was terrified now, realizing she would have no sane person to turn to…just in case…but she couldn’t go against him. It was ironic, frustrating even, how she did not want to, but had to give in to his bullshit, and she had hoped no one would know, not for her sake, but his. It still hurt her to imagine people would come to know this side of him…and she also knew it didn’t make any sense. Every little action seemed to enrage him more, and she tried her best to dissuade him from going too far. It worked to some extent…they sat outside, near the stairs that lead down to the gate, far enough to drown out the crowd. It was past midnight already, and the darkness of the breezy autumn night did nothing to soothe her fear.
Just as soon as she sat down, he started all over again, this time even much worse, owing to their distance from the house. The stories and accusations never ceased…but she was too tired now to even care. He pulled her hair, as she tried her best to prevent her head from hitting the wall. She was defenseless, and she’d never felt more alone, and her mind raced, trying to drown out the reality. She thought of her parents, who’d raised her with love… how she had been daddy’s little girl…a stark contrast to her current reality where she was being beaten up and abused by a maniac…if they only knew!!! She tried to brush away those thoughts…the last thing she needed at that moment was self pity, and she didn’t want him to give him the satisfaction of seeing her break down, weak and feeble.
Then it happened…one painful blow to her face…and as the impact of that blow forced her to hit her head against the wall on the left, she saw the blood from her nose splatter on the white washed wall. It stood out on the white background even in the slight glimmer of the faraway streetlight. She was shocked and terrified, wondering how it had gone this bad so fast. As she was trying to stop the bleeding from her nose, she looked up at him, this time with rage on her part, in her eyes. He, even in his drunken state, seemed to realize it was a step too far. He kept quiet, but the angry eyes never gave way to signs of a change in emotion. He just stood there, silent…she took that chance to get up, run back to the house and lock herself up in the bathroom. She wanted to lock herself away until the nightmare was over.
When she’d finally come out from the bathroom, she felt drained, physically and emotionally…it was all too much for one night, and she knew she couldn’t take any more of it. She wanted to run away…but where?? There was no means of transport at that time of night, and it was also unsafe for a girl to wander out alone. but she didn’t feel safe there either. She had nowhere to turn to. But just when she was contemplating taking her chances out on the streets, she breathed a sigh of relief when one of his friends came and told her he’d passed out on the couch. He didn’t ask how she was…strange!... She went to see for herself…he was indeed out cold, yet she still didn’t feel safe…it was all too soon... She decided to sit outside, in a little corner of the porch, and she couldn’t be more relieved when the sun decided to show up after what seemed like forever.
Morning…they had been looking for her. He wanted to see her…she didn’t…not in the least…but again she didn’t have a choice now either. She knew it was coming…yes…he was the sorriest person on earth…again!! He’d pleaded and begged for her forgiveness, again…he said he remembered everything in a ‘blur’ and that he didn’t do it on purpose, again. He’d blamed it on the alcohol, again. He promised he would know better next time, that he’d never do it again. She just agreed and forgave in silence. As she tried to cover the bruises on her arm, and combed out clumps of hair he’d pulled out, she heard his voice in her head…promising ‘things are gonna be different now’. But she knew…
That was a long time ago. She had stopped the bleeding, it was a minor one, and as the water washed away the blood as time had slowly washed away the painful memories, she couldn’t help but wonder how things would have been like for her if she had let him get away with another ‘promise’…and she shuddered at thought, because she knew…

Friday, December 30, 2011

December to December

I certainly didn’t wake up this morning to find myself in the current state of mind that I am in, and I hadn’t anticipated on breezing through my old notes and taking a mental trip back to this time last year, December to be exact. And as November is drawing to a close and we are on the brink of stepping into the new month, I found it rather convenient, so to speak, to have re-read that note on this particular day, which I had left idle and untouched for a fairly long time. It was a note I had written about my longing to go home for Christmas last year…and the conversation I had with my best friend last night, compelled me to put pen to paper.

December 2010…even just the mention of it brings back a flood of memories, which sometimes, to be honest, makes me long for a really bad memory. I would always, unfortunately, remember it as a time that demanded both emotional turmoil and physical toil. I was faced with one of the most important exams of my life, and at the same time I had to put on a brave face that belied my inner anguish. If it weren’t for the strength and comfort that I found in the strangest of places (of which I still am, and would always be grateful) I don’t know where the confusion would’ve led me. December came and went, just like any other month, and I had embraced the New Year with the hope that things would turn out for the better. But the New Year was just another chain of days that were a continuation of the old ones.

The good news came…one by one…and thank God they came. I will never understand what I had done right to deserve all the blessings I’d received even though I was constantly grumbling and feeling sorry for myself. I don’t remember giving any special effort worth blessing, but I was thankful nonetheless.

Just as the winter chill had faded, summer came with the unexpected…and the bad times came like a raging ocean that kept forcing the relentless waves in rapid succession, towards the shore, breaking and dragging away everything it could. Mildly put, it was a severe blow to one’s dignity and foundation of trust. It is something that should never happen to any normal, self-respecting girl. The sharp edges of the pain that cut through were something I had hoped would only get blunt with time. The best thing I could do to escape the engulfing storm was to run away as far as possible, to move further away from the unsettling shores where the waves could no longer do any harm. So I did just that. It wasn’t easy, running away from a storm that wouldn’t allow you to escape its unyielding grip. I could only choose to be stubborn and walk in the opposite direction, braving the winds that were trying to blow me back to the shore.

As I scan through the various states of emotions I had undergone between then and now with inevitable hesitation, I realize the rough patches have now been overshadowed by all the good that came out of it. I’d be a fool not to realize just how blessed I am, and to linger on the darker days would serve no useful purpose. I knew I wasn’t alone through all of this. I saw the beautiful rays of hope that were shining through the clouds, leading me to safety. Hope came in the form of family, friends, and strength came through something much more special. If it weren’t for these pillars of support, I can’t imagine just how I would’ve found my way out.

I’m glad to say things took a turn for the better, and autumn followed, with its gentle nudge to move me forward. Just like the trees shedding their old, yellow leaves to make room for new, vibrant foliage, the memories of summer started to wither away, the old leaves of hurt and pain carried away by the winds of autumn, giving way for the happiness that was reaching out a patient hand.

So now, here I am…winter, facing the December of 2011 with new hope that it would be a world away from the previous one. I know I can’t downplay these feelings of hesitation, or brush away the apprehensions of uncertainty, because the chill is all too familiar. But I can still Hope…hope to be happy, hope to be at peace with the past, hope to find more reasons to be thankful, and hope to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with the people that matter the most. It is not my intent to tell a sob-story, or to earn pity…but rather to acknowledge that fact that I’d come so far, and that I had overcome so much with strength I never knew I had within me. I’m glad to be where I am today…with regard to personal achievements and state of mind. But even though a lot has changed in between these two Decembers, there’s just one thing that still remains the same…I sure as hell still want to go home so badly!!.....:(

Saturday, September 5, 2009

no judgements...

I was speechless. I didn’t know what to do. And I certainly didn’t know what to say. He was standing there, right next to me, waiting for an answer that wasn’t coming. I could see in his eyes that he was hiding behind the happy fa├žade that he was putting up for me. Yes, of course I could see it. He was my best friend, and I could decipher every emotion that was surfacing through his eyes, which made me feel all the more worse for him. I knew it had taken every ounce of courage he had, to say what he had just said to me, and he knew from my reaction that he didn’t need a verbal answer. It was obvious. As I stood there, blank and silent, and still trying my best to make sense of what had happened in the last few minutes, he finally broke the silence.


“So I guess this is it then?” he said in a rather soft monotone.
“Umm…yeah…i think so…” was all I could mutter for the moment. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I couldn’t help it either, because I was unable to give him the answer he wanted to hear.

I had kinda known that this was coming, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t, because it was something that was gonna change our lives forever, something that would shake the very foundation of our friendship! And it would hurt us both, though not in the same way.


“Okay,” he said under his breath, “then can you at least see me off?” he asked reluctantly, refusing to make eye contact. I thought saw a sparkle of a tear in his eyes…was he crying?? I couldn’t tell for sure, as he was quick to turn away.


“Yeah, sure” I said awkwardly as I followed him out the door. He slowed down to match my pace as we went down the stairs. I could sense his hand trying to catch mine, but he thought otherwise and retracted his. My heart skipped a little, mainly because I foresaw the awkwardness that would result from that specific action. He was my friend and I couldn’t see him any other way. I felt the load of guilt that pressed down on me at having hurt someone I loved. Yes, I loved him because he was my friend, but the problem was that I wasn’t in love with him! All I could see in him was a caring, older brother I never had.


The awkward silence that persisted was no doubt uncomfortable but neither of us had anything to break the ice with. I guessed we were both contemplating the situation, but definitely not on the same frequency and wavelength. On my part, I was trying my best to come in terms with the facts of the reality, analyzing everything that had happened, and I questioned my own sanity. But of course, I was sure I made the right decision. Although I had no right to break my best friend’s heart I had no right to deceive him either, to lead him on and make him believe what he wanted to. I just couldn’t lie to myself. And I knew he was gonna be okay. He was a strong person, and this little crack in his wall wouldn’t deter him in any major way.


Finally, after what seemed like forever (though it was really only a minute or two) he finally looked up and said, ‘I don’t think we’ll be seeing each other again anytime soon. I won’t be coming back home till I graduate. So….’ His voice trailed off. I managed to catch his eyes to my own; before he stared away at nothing in particular…the pain in his eyes told me it was deeper than I would ever be able to comprehend. “So this would be like a major goodbye then, for now at least??” I asked, unsure of myself. He just nodded slightly. And then, before I could make sense of anything, I suddenly found his arm wrapped around my shoulders. I was caught off guard, and tried to break free from his arms. But he tightened his grip, and gave a weak smile, that was deceived by his eyes. “Hey, this may be the last time well be seeing each other. Just say still!” he said in a tone that was too firm to sound friendly. He was determined to make me stay that way. And as uncomfortable as I was, I obliged. 'It’s nothing, just a friendly hug', I tried to convince myself, but failed miserably.


Nothing else was said until he hailed a taxi and before he got in, he carefully took my hand in his, looked deep into my eyes with a silent and pleading gaze that I would never forget. “Hope you don’t forget me” he said with a nervous smile, yet the urgency in his voice was more demanding than his expression. I mumbled something about a yes, and then something along the lines of a wish for a safe journey, and made my way back home with a pace that was more like flying than walking.
Everything had happened in a blur, nothing solid and fathomable. All I knew was that whatever it was, it was enough to alter the course of our friendship forever. And despite the effort that would be taken to conceal the damage that had been done to the pillars of our friendship, the cracks would still be there, that run deeper than the denial we both had to adhere to. Time would never be a healing factor, and nothing would ever be the same again!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nitpicking...:)

I'm supposed to be studying,but I can’t,you see…
I feel these four walls are closing in on me,
My books are open, my computer’s running,
But my mind is somewhere else, wandering…
Is it my fault that I’m dodging this task??
Or is just a moment’s rest too much to ask??

These questions are tough, not your cup of tea,
Bizarre disease names, like ‘acromegaly’,
And I’m stuck reading about the ‘missing link’
A tad too tough, when I can’t even think.
I try my best to rack my brain into action,
So I can figure out this chemical reaction!

My back’s starting to hurt, so are my eyes,
But I can’t stop now; I still have to revise…
Everything from earthworms to dinosaurs,
It’d be no surprise if it includes Minotaurs!
And proteins with millions of amino acids,
Make my stomach churn, I need an antacid!

This clock in front is ticking away my hours,
Why do I have to study reproduction in flowers?
Then I’m struggling with translation in a DNA,
Along with the diseases caused by retro-viridae!
Now what’s with the analysis of animal pedigrees,
And the diminutive details of bumblebees?!

This heat is doing nothing to improve the situation,
At best, it’s causing bouts of dehydration…
Here I am studying about kinds of mosquitoes,
When all they cause is scars from my knees to toes!
Complicated is this structure of the human kidney,
And suddenly I feel a really strong urge to pee!!

But whine and grumble as I may, I can’t deny
The beauty of science…a few explanations why…
The wonder of life that springs from a single cell,
To the forces in a magnet where like poles repel,
The details that are embedded in genes so intricately,
That cause special resemblances in each of our families!

Who can forget the beauty that lies in a rainbow??
And now we know what makes fireflies glow…
Advancements in medicines that help in saving lives,
Who otherwise, wouldn’t have had any chances to survive!
So just who am I to grumble on my part??
Because in science lies the beauty of God’s art!

Friday, May 22, 2009

ANGELS......my dad's version!

I bet we all have our own different versions as to how angels would look like…and I wouldn’t be too wrong if I say that the most common version that pertains to the imagination of the vast majority are the angels with glowing white gowns, and beautiful kind, faces; and spanning shiny wings. Well, I admit that was my version as well…until the day my dad shared his very own version with me…and might I say I was quite surprised! It totally changed my whole perspective on that particular subject. And you would understand better if I shared the story myself.

It all began on an ordinary day, a day like any other (the exact date to which I can’t be specific due to a certain lapse of time…let’s just say a few years back!) It was here in Hyderabad, and my dad and I were supposed to pick up my little sister for the weekend holidays from her new boarding school in the evening after 7p.m, which was the only time the school authorities would allow her to leave the school campus. So after a little shopping for basic necessities (like clothes, cosmetics, etc.etc…i.e. for my dad…Lol) to pass the time, we took an auto and started on our way to the school, which I might add, is situated at the outskirts of the city. It was a really long drive, which was worsened by the heavy traffic, and we moved forward inch by inch, in insignificant paces! After what seemed like forever, with the heat blowing against our dust and grime covered faces, and wind-struck hair - a commonplace result of auto rides (well me at least…my dad has short hair, but you’ve probably guessed that much), we managed to reach outside of the city limits. The roads there were kind of desolate and the traffic, obviously, thinned out.

And here’s the best part!! As luck would have it, at the most desolate part of the road, our auto ran out of gas and wheezed to death on the side of the road!! Even though we laugh about it now, it was sooooo not funny back then. It was just me, my dad and the driver, standing at the side of the road in the darkness, only to be brought into contact with light when a car or two passed us by. I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t comfortable either! Worst case scenario, we would need to walk on with all the baggage until we got an auto again. At least my dad was there. And as we stood there helpless, hoping for an auto to come by, my dad must’ve been praying, coz after like a matter of 3 or 4 minutes, an auto already carrying one passenger, stopped in front of us, maybe to ask what the matter was, or maybe he took pity on our plight coz it must’ve been quite a sight-two Chinese-looking people with a Telugu auto-driver, different faces but with the same helpless and mildly panic-stricken expressions standing on the side of the road with a non-functional auto parked awkwardly beside them, at around 9pm at night. Our auto driver spoke quickly with the other driver, and told him where we were headed, probably in Telugu or Hindi, coz my dad and I wouldn’t have been able to present our cases in those languages (we were that much fluent in those as we were in Finnish…lol).

And so, the other driver agreed to take us on board, but told us that we were not going his direction per se, and that he would take us as far as possible, so that we could take another auto from there. Gratefully, we hopped in, and a few miles later, we seemed to have entered a civilized world again, and the auto-driver directed us as to where we could find another auto. When we got off, my dad asked him how much he would charge us, but to our surprise, he denied any offer of money that my dad was trying to give him. He wouldn’t take a cent. By normal auto fares, the ride would’ve cost at least 40 bucks! As we stood there, still offering him the money for his generosity, he spoke to another driver who was standing nearby and told him where we wanted to go, and before we could force the money on him, at least for his generosity, or thank him, he quickly drove away empty handed.

My dad and I just exchanged a surprised glance, before we got into the other auto and went on our way. The ride to the school was short from there, but it was a bit late into the night, way past nine p.m, and so the main gate to the campus was already locked, with a gatekeeper standing nearby. As we stood there explaining to the gatekeeper why we’d come there, he told us to talk to the hostel warden before he would allow us inside. That was kind of impossible since the warden couldn’t pick up her damned phone which must’ve been ringing off the hook due to our constant redialing. A surprising thing she didn’t hear anything. And we couldn’t have possibly called my little sister who secretly kept a phone with her despite school rules forbidding cell phones, or she could kiss her new phone goodbye!! And as we were negotiating with the gatekeeper to the best of our abilities, wonders of wonders, a car came up to the gate from the main road…and guess who was in that car?? The vice principal of the school!! He stopped the car, rolled down the window, and spoke to us two strangers that were in unprogressive conversation with the gatekeeper.

We, then, presented our case to this treasure of a man, and he then gave us permission to enter the campus and proceed towards the hostel. We called my sister to inform her of our arrival, after which she persuaded her warden to allow her to leave. She got the required permission, (even though I was sure her warden was a bit skeptical as to how my sister would’ve known our arrival, as she was oblivious to the fact that she was in possession of a cell phone) and there we were, the three of us, united again, with the spirit of happy rejoicing…or maybe not, but we were certainly glad to get her out after our long and tedious journey.

With our mission accomplished, we then headed back to the guest house where we were staying, and none of the matters of the previous journey lingered in my head, up until the part where I heard my dad mention to one of his friends about how we had encountered three ‘Angels’ on our journey that particular night. I was caught off-guard as I pondered over the little details of that night, and was a bit confused. Angels?? Really? i tried to recall everything i could and nope, i was certain we did not see any heavenly visions with extraordinary bright light shining on us from the heavens above.

Then I heard my dad explain. The three ‘angels’ he was talking about were none other than the kind auto driver who had given us a ride for free, the vice principal of the school who had kindly allowed us to enter the campus so late at night, and the hostel warden, who gave permission to let my sister leave so late at night without so much as a complaint or a protest. I was amazed and awestruck by how my dad had viewed the whole thing, and it turned my whole perspective around. There I was, still holding on to my beliefs that ‘angels’ were heavenly creatures with wings that kept watch over us, and were confined to heaven, but what I never knew was that angels could also be normal people…people on earth that you encounter everyday, be it friends or family or even complete strangers-people who help you in little or significant amounts, show you little acts of kindness without expecting anything in return, and who stand by you in time of need!! How can we not regard these people as angels, for they truly watch over us in our most needed hours, because angels are supposed to do that, right??

So every time someone helps you in your time of need, be it just helping you up when you trip, or help you carry your bags that you couldn’t possibly carry alone, or even direct you the right way when you get lost, the smallest things that we often tend to take no notice of, remember to be thankful, privileged even, and realize that you were in the presence of ANGELS!!
“Little acts of kindness, little words of love,
Make the earth an Eden like the heaven above”

Monday, March 16, 2009

TEARS...

“Tears are but the brain reminding you that you have a heart”…I couldn’t agree more to this quote I remembered from my old book of quotations.
I didn’t just remember it; it came as a sort of revelation to me.
I cried a lot today…I was in a variety of moods that kept changing from one moment to the next. I think I cried, mostly because I was feeling sorry for myself, and not because I was physically hurt or anything. I felt alone and helpless. You can never predict how a few words can crush you so terribly!

I admit it’s my own fault that I get tangled up into these troubles of mine; I made my own choices. Sometimes I think they were mistakes, sometimes I don’t. Even if they were indeed mistakes, I’d gladly own up to them myself. But in the hardest times that I’d gone through, I had been able to endure the pain of it all, because I would constantly remind myself that it was a really bad nightmare, and that one day I would wake up from it all!

As those irrepressible tears streamed down my face, I suddenly came to a realization that even though my body ached with the mental pain, my heart was still intact- safe and untouched, locked away in a special place inside me that hasn’t been opened up yet! I know it’s unfair to feel so (because of reasons I can’t disclose)...but I have an unfathomable faith that my future hasn’t been written on stone, and that I make my own life story as I go.

I was grateful that my tears didn’t hold back to suppress my emotions, because I was reminded of the fact that, crushed as was, I still had a heart that was pulsating with life inside me, and I was still in one piece…alive! And I believe with that very beating heart that today’s pain will be yesterday’s memory, and that is what makes me look beyond the tears and ready for tomorrow’s unpredictable surprises!