A couple’s journey of bringing Art & Travel together – Artologue

There are very few people you meet, who leave an impression on you. 

One of them is a lovely couple Mee and Jey. I know them from quite some time but got to know more in a recent panel discussion conducted by Chevening India Art where Mee and Jey shared their journey of becoming Travel Artists and the birth of Artologue.

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Mee and Jey with their Hari Bhari at their IHC exhibit

Mee (Meenakshi) is an artist who is a master in Madhubani art and playing with colours is her life while Jey (Jey Sushil) is a journalist and is also Mee’s sidekick, a strong partner in her art venture.

They are an inspiring couple who have taken an initiative to take art to everyone’s homes. They believe that why art should be restricted to few elites or be in art galleries where common people feel so intimidated with the silence and the aura of the place. Art is unrestricted and should be within reach of everyone.

They strongly believe that everyone can paint their imagination, they just need a canvas or their home’s walls 🙂

Yes. The journey began when on one fine day, Jey asked Mee what she wanpainting on the wallsts to do in her life and she replied, “I want to paint the world”. And there you go! That’s how Artologue was born. Mee and Jey travel to people’s homes, offices, schools and even have gone to jail and hospitals to paint. Mee takes the inputs from the hosts, draws the basic outline and then hands over the brushes to the people and let them add their own touch. And the magic begins. An erstwhile dull wall starts to speak to the onlookers.

They have taken the concept of Artologue to more than 17 states, 60 places and met more than 6000 people on their bullet called Hari Bhari and Kesariya. They have a pool of stories to share right from how they travelled to a school in a village in Naxal belt of Jahanabad where the students haven’t seen the colours before to the jail of Dasna where prisoners accused of heinous crimes like murder and robbery took the brush and started painting their jail walls.

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Mee-Jey in Dasna jail painting with prisoners

They have hundreds of stories to share, some of them you can find on their Artologue blog. But there is one incident which Mee shared during her talk at Chevening India Art Week. She never used to sign her paintings. Once when a renowned artist, S.H.Raza asked her about the reason, she said, “The piece is an inspiration and hence I can’t own it. I have seen these things around me and I can’t take the entire credit for my art.” However, after Mr.Raza’s advice, she started penning her name on her creations as this is how the industry works.

But this reply not only shocked the artist but me as well and the respect for her increased manifold. In a world, where people are hungry to take credit, get famous and are too self-involved, Mee’s thoughts are enlightening and give you a new perspective to look at life. Getting rich, famous and fighting for what is yours is not bad, but at times we should just pause and introspect if it’s worth it.

Will close this blog on this thought. Hope to come back with another one soon. Till then, live, love and laugh. 🙂

The unsung heroes of the movie ‘Queen’

The other day I and my husband were watching the movie “Queen”. It is one of those movies which you can watch anytime and it would still give you those fresh vibes. You are always awed by Rani’s naivety yet strong-headed character, beautifully portrayed by Kangana Ranaut along with the vibrant scenes of Amsterdam which leave you refreshed.

While we were watching the movie, my husband shared an interesting perspective which I had not invariably thought. And that was about the role of Rani’s parents in the film. Though we all get deeply involved with the character of Rani as she sails through her break-up and emerges out to be a formidable force who could do anything and is up for embracing life with open arms, we tend to ignore the side roles played by her parents who were actually her knight in the shining armor.

It was her parents who have stood by her at every step. Be it agreeing to her love marriage, supporting her through her break-up, allowing her to travel solo (that too abroad), and until the end when she asks to meet Vijay (her fiance) again and finally breaking up with him and returning the engagement ring. Her parents were there for her during her highs and lows trusting her judgment and let her be.

Queen movie

This movie is a great portrayal of how one’s parents should be –

  • Supporting and Not Imposing
  • Loving but Not Pampering
  • Protective but Not Over-Protective
  • Trusting and not Commanding

This movie is a great example for all the parents who have daughters. In today’s society, where a girl is subjected to tremendous societal pressures of getting married with no concern towards her education and career, where her opinions about how she would like to lead her life are heard at the last and sometimes not at all, this movie actually shares how parents can be a crucial force in building their children’s confidence. If a girl is let down by others, it is her family which is responsible for lifting her up and giving her that self-assurance that she can fight the world.

And the same has been beautifully presented in ‘Queen’. Kudos to Vikas Bahl, the director for making a path-breaking movie. To honor the movie ‘Queen’, here is its trailer to refresh your memories!

 

 

A perfect Valentine’s Day recipe

Yes, a little late but the day of love shouldn’t be restricted to one day. Isn’t it?

I do not like to go out and celebrate. I love relaxing house parties over going to restaurants with loud music and an exorbitant bill any day. And my Valentine’s Day recipe echoes the same thought!

I always feel unless you are celebrating your special days out of station vacationing, it’s always a good idea to celebrate at home calling your loved ones for a nice get-together. Going out partying not only gets heavy on your pocket, the traffic will frustrate you and you won’t be able to spend a quiet nice time with your group in the midst of loud music and waiters waiting for you to finish and get up.

Hence, here is my perfect recipe for celebrating your days of love. This is not strictly for Valentine’s Day and can be replicated at any occasion. 😀

This recipe works all the time. It’s

V – Valuable
A – All time favorite
L – Lovable
E – Entertaining
N – No expenses
T – Tranquil
I – Intimate
N – Nice
E – Engaging
S – Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (yes that’s a word! 😛 )

Valentine's Day

How did you celebrate your Valentine’s Day? Do share in the comments below! 🙂

 

How to plan a 2 day trip to Jaipur

Before I tell you how to cover Jaipur within 2 days without getting too tired, you should know that:

  • You shouldn’t travel to Jaipur during Jaipur Literature Festival if the only agenda you have is to explore the city.
  • You should avoid travelling to Jaipur on a lonnngggg weekend because that’s when the entire Delhi flocks the city.

My visit happened to be when both of the conditions were true. It was not only tough to find budget hotels, you will also be welcomed by huge traffic, noise and pollution. Jaipur had beaten Delhi hands down in terms of traffic and pollution.

Having said that, the city has its own old world charm and a visit is worth your money. My visit was planned from 23rd Jan-26th Jan and based on my experiences, here is a cheat sheet of how one should go ahead with a 2 day trip to Jaipur:

  • The major highlight of the city is its 3 forts, Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Amer. I would recommend you to keep an entire day for all the 3 forts if you want to really admire their beauty and get some good shots. The cabs organize 1-day city tours but that are worst. Even if you plan to do that, always go for forts first as rest are the city destinations and can be covered the same day or the second day.

While Nahargarh fort gives you a majestic view of the entire city, Jaigarh fort is the abode of biggest wheeled cannon ‘Jaivana’.  Amer being the most beautiful of all three should be given the maximum time. One should keep at least 2-2.5 hours for the fort. I always prefer a guided tour while visiting such historic places. One should not miss out on the significance and minor details of the historic structures which only a guide can tell.

We visited this fort at night (fort remains open till 10 pm) and the beauty of the fort is inexplicable. We must have missed a lot to see but witnessing Amer fort in full moon glory and beautiful lighting was a treat in itself.

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Sheesh Mahal at Amer Fort, Jaipur
  • Keep the 2nd day for Albert Hall Museum, if you are keen in understanding the culture and history of Rajasthan. It is so huge that you can spend half of your day just reading and exploring. Reach by 9:30 am and try to wrap up within 2-2.5 hrs. It is a must visit place. Next comes City Palace and Jantar Mantar which are situated opposite to each other. These places should not take more than 2-2.5 hours of your time.

Keep the rest of your day to visit the local market and you can also see Hawa Mahal on your way at Badi Choupad. We shopped at Bapu Bazar and realized that there is a good scope for bargaining. Try searching for better and cheap places to shop as Bapu Bazar is one of the most frequented markets and the rates are ridiculously high.

I have kept the itinerary pretty simple as to make sure one covers the key places and also gets a breather. There are reasons for the same as well:

  • When we travelled the city, we tried to cover everything in a day. Took the 1-day tour which showed us the city first and then the forts which was why we reached Amer at night and had just half an hour to explore the palace.
  • We didn’t get time to choose our place of lunch and wherever the cab driver stopped, we took a quick bite. And dear, that was the worst ever place where we could have eaten. I would advise you to research about the restaurants before-hand and make your driver informed well before where you would like to eat.
  • The hectic travel and the food took its toll and the next day, I fell sick with fever and cold.
  • Search for reasonable places to shop or be a bargain master.
  • Take the help of guides at places of historical significance. Clicking pictures should not be the only agenda. You should know the history of the structure as well and believe me, there are so many hidden gems which get uncovered when there is a storyteller along with you.
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Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur

Yeah, hence my advice to all of you will be not to exhaust yourself and plan your travel well. Check the distances, mode of travel, places to eat, opening and closing timings of monuments before-hand to avoid any hassles. The key for a time bound travel is to be well informed.

House Husband – Why we dread this concept?

© Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images
© Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images

I cook the meals, clean the house, look after the kids, tend the yard. Because my husband wife has a job.

Yes, House Husband (opposite of housewife, a rare breed and a term which if gets associated with a guy becomes a stigma for him in the Indian society). The other day, I and my husband were discussing wives having the option to leave their jobs whenever they want, but same is not the case with the husbands.

The first question which is asked from a guy before marriage is about his job and salary to ascertain his money churning capacity. Why? Why is it the responsibility of man to be the bread earner. Why it’s only the woman who has the option to leave her job after marriage? The same question should be asked from the girl as well. She should also be able to contribute towards family’s earnings and if she earns well enough, a man should also not hesitate to ask, “If, after marriage, I would want to take a break and be a house husband, will that be ok?”

Today when we talk about equal rights and an equal voice for both the genders, then we should be equally open about this concept as well. The society should not look down on a man taking care of household stuff and wife bringing in income.

Right from childhood, a girl should be raised to become a self-dependent woman rather than society and her parents fuelling her mind with things like, “Graduation khatam hote hi teri shadi kar denge acchha ladka dekh ke” (Will start looking for a suitable boy for you as soon as you finish graduation) or “naukri kya karna, shadi ho jae pehle, fir jo karna hai karte rehna” (What’s so big deal about doing a job, get married first and then do whatever you wish to)

The upbringing of girls need a radical change in our society. The parents should make sure that their girls do not think of themselves as a weaker sex. They should be able to take care of the household and contribute to the family income because may be today, your husband is earning and fulfilling all your wishes. What if, one sudden day, he is not able to and you are required to step up and take his position in the family.    

The way we accept and respect housewives in our society, house husbands should also be given equal acceptance and respect. The way a working girl might need a breather, a guy can also wish for the same.  

What does your wallet say about you?

I lost my wallet recently in a train journey and bought another 3 days back from amazon. Today, I received the delivery and gosh…am I not pleased with my new Lino Perros wallet. 🙂

It is everything I wanted from my wallet. Classy, smart, stylish, inexpensive, easy to carry in a pocket and royal blue (yes, I have a weakness for blue 🙂 ). When I was excitingly flipping through my new wallet, a thought crossed my mind. How one’s wallet defines a person?

One can peek through a person’s personality through his wallet. Some keep their mother’s/spouse’s/kid’s/lover’s picture in their wallet. Those are emotional old-school kinds who keep their loved ones with them as their strength and their wallet gives them the power to have a glimpse of them whenever they want.

The people in whose wallet you see every currency arranged in descending order with coins separately parked and cards neatly decked up in compartments with no clutter at all are the ones who live their life in an orderly fashion. They are the organized kinds who always keep their desk neat and clean, their work folders organized, well headed and sorted in nature.

Some people’s wallet are pretty messy. You can find a two-week old bus ticket lying in the middle of disorganized notes with cards falling here and there as soon as you open it. This species is a little laid back and carefree. Such kinds are those who do not believe in the concept of cleanliness. They are free spirited and explorers.

Some people love to carry the minimum amount of money which can survive them a day’s travel. You open their wallet anytime and you will find not more than Rs.100. Their wallet sees a 500 rupee note as we see ‘Eid ka chaand’. People like these love to live on the edge. They are not long term planners and believe in ‘Now or Never’. Living on credit can also be one of their traits. 😉

There can be many more types. Like the people who keep superheroes printed wallet love that superhero and are creative, imaginative kinds. Or people who keep a worn out wallet are the ones who like to keep things as-is and find it difficult to detach. They are peace loving, no conflict guys who love their old stuff.

Update: I just found out from one of my friends that there is a section of people who do not carry a wallet. What about those? Now, those are the kinds who do not follow a norm. They want to create a distinct identity and do not follow the crowd and believe in creating a league of their own. 

So what does your wallet say about you? Let me know too! 🙂

 

The curious case of Sec 377, Homosexuality and the Indian law

“When people’s love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change.” – David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

lovers

Something which our fickle minded politicians may never understand who turned down the Bill on decriminalizing homosexuality in India by a disappointing margin of 71-24. These are our elected parliamentarians who feel so ashamed to talk about the topic that they rejected the Bill in its 1st reading itself without pushing it for further discussion.

For those who don’t have a background, it was formed under Sec. 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes sexual activities “against the order of nature“, arguably including homosexual acts, dating back to 1860 by British. (Mind you, I quoted their country’s current PM in the beginning and the country itself decriminalized homosexuality between 1967 and 1982. What an irony?). And we are still living in pre-independence era.

Now, who are we to define what is against the order of nature? If a person is born homosexual, how he/she could be un-natural. How anyone can govern anyone’s sexual orientation. Yeah, if you are trying to orchestrate and project yours or your son’s/daughter’s homosexuality as a straight individual, I would call that as UN-NATURAL because then you are not accepting the way you or your child is naturally born.

A study says “Homosexuality is found in more than 1500 species of animals”, then how can it be un-natural. Even our Hindu scriptures which we religiously follow have portrayed homosexuality as completely natural and joyful (as quoted in Wikipedia). Most of us have not read the scriptures, but have visited temples of Khajuraho and Konark which are visual references of the same. And those who attribute diseases like HIV/AIDS with homosexuality should be told that it’s not your identity but your behavior leads to such diseases. So, kindly do not give stupid and baseless logics of decriminalizing of homosexuality will increase the incidences of such diseases in the society.

One can understand the absurdity of this law from the below statement itself,

“The ambit of Section 377, extends to any sexual union involving penile insertion. Thus, even consensual heterosexual acts such as fellatio and anal penetration may be punishable under this law.” – Wikipedia

(I guess this makes most of us criminals already 😉 ). You can read many more funny aspects of this law here.

I believe the only thing which holds back our politicians and society is their fear of becoming naked. Currently, either the children are hiding their sexuality from their parents or the parents are in disapproval and want to hide it from the society. But once the Section 377 is declared unconstitutional, the community will be out in the open. What will happen to those parents who had made umpteen efforts to hide it and mentally tortured their children?

Let me give you a piece of my mind. Once the baby is out of the mother’s womb, you give him a free world to live in. He is entitled to his basic rights to breathe, to eat, to learn, to decide and to make love. We as a society are no one to control one’s feelings and dictate anyone’s love life.

Though I have very less hopes from the elected MPs, who are major RSS followers to pass the Bill but a widespread LGBT movement with press/media support across India might just be an eye-opener for them. The lawmakers should understand the fact that homosexuality does persist and not legalizing it is only making the things worse. Not only such individuals go through mental torture but are being discarded from the society. Also, in the course of contracting any life threatening disease, they would hesitate to come out in the public and may be deprived of right medication and attention needed. If there is any humanity left in the heart of lawmakers, then let these souls give their rightful position in the society with no discrimination, whatsoever.

My 1st Marriage Anniversary and why it is so special :D

Today is my first marriage anniversary and yes that surely calls for a sweet romantic post.

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The day is special not only because we got married on this day but it is a celebration of our victory over inter-caste taboo, dowry and the tensions we both have gone through in our courtship period to give our relationship a socially accepted status.

I am a Baniya from U.P. while my husband is a Brahmin from Bihar. We both knew each other since 2010 but our relationship from friends to soulmates grew from 2012 onwards. We both knew that it would be an uphill task to get our parents agree to this relationship, especially from his side. Any marriage without dowry and that too an inter-caste wedding are seen as against the social order and are totally unacceptable. My path to convince my parents was still a lot easier than his.

And I love and respect my husband for his continuous persistence in convincing his parents, striking a balance among both parties (my parents and his), tolerating my impatience at times and leaving no stone unturned so that we could finally celebrate this day. I must tell you its no lesser than climbing an Everest to accomplish an inter-caste nuptial without dowry in Bihar or for that matter anywhere in India.

I dedicate this post to my most loving husband , Dhiraj for making sure that we remain together till death do us apart. I thank my destiny that I met such a nice soul with whom I can spend my whole life and create innumerable memories. 

Thank you my love for each and every moment. It has been a wonderful year with you and here is to many more beautiful years of togetherness.

Cheers!