The Taj

The Taj
The Crown Palace (The Taj Mahal)
Welcome!! Swagat, Dumela, Valkommen, Jee Aayan Noo, Tashreef, Bula, Swasdee, Bienvenido, Tashi Delek. Thanks for joining me.....

Monday, October 20, 2014

T-Shirts: Rule Number #1

T-shirts and their popularity fascinates me, especially since they have become increasing available and used in the last fifteen years. Which is a very American invention, as I learnt once from a documentary. The following two lines are taken directly from wiki's entry on T Shirt.

By the Great Depression, the T-Shirt was often the default garment to be worn when doing farm or ranch chores, as well as other times when modesty called for a torso covering but conditions called for lightweight fabrics. 

A V-neck T-Shirt has a V shaped neckline, as opposed to the round neckline of the more common crew neck shirt.  V necks were introduced so that the neckline of the shirt does not stand out when an outer shirt is worn over it, thus reducing or eliminating the visible cloth above the outer shirt of a crew neck shirt. 

But the more interesting and amusing aspect for me is the use of quotes and interesting images on T-Shirts.  T-shirts are like public art, and because they are on people, it is also mobile art--more often than not, the quotes are meant to be witty, funny, and occasionally condescending.  The latter part has become more common, as our culture has become proud of the irreverence that we exhibit, whether it is in smart-alecky humour from Chandler of Friends or razor sharp jokes of late night talk show hosts. 

Yet many a times I have read quotes that have made me smile. I never noticed them so much as I did in Fiji, and so I kept an account of various T-Shirt quotes.  T-shirts have become a trend, many of these end up in second hand shops, some defected material that visibly isn't so makes it there and people don them as an expression of their wit--or not.  Often times I think they are not even aware of what it means.  For example, a very nice straight Indian man was wearing this T-Shirt with a rainbow on it that proudly claimed, that 'It was in to be out¨.  But two of my favourites were, 1. I tried being good (on a child who was about four years of age).  2. 100% Instant human, just add coffee!!  

And how can I forget the only one I remember from Portugal, on an ageing but agile man, who was unkempt, looked like he had not bathed in a while, had a loose cigarette hanging from his cracked lips----which read--¨Believe me, I am a virgin.¨  I doubt he knew what that meant either.  But there it was a claim!!

So, the following few pictures reminded me of my fascination with T-Shirts with words.  We were going to my teacher's place (yes, I keep in touch with my teachers too, and try to visit her every year when I am home)--so we stopped for some fresh fruit to take as gift.  And there was this buff vegetable seller, who was so different from the vegetable sellers that I used to know. Scrawny, malnourished and hardly interested in anything, or so they looked.  This one, looked like he was a bollywood star, or getting ready to go there.

I kept moving my head and my camera to get a look at what his T Shirt said.  He must think that I was taking pictures of him. But I did like what his T Shirt said, even though, I am not sure if he could read it.

A slightly better view, but I still could not get the whole thing. 

And there it was--almost a message for me at the time...

Plain and simple truth--through a T-Shirt--Rule # 1 of Life, Do what makes YOU HAPPY.  Once again life is not as simple as that, sometimes we should think of other people's happiness over ours, but we will leave it at that....may be we need to first ask ourselves, what makes us happy.....(for you and I know, we loose that in the rigour of life...)

Fresh apples and bit of life philosophy, you can't beat that....

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Clarion Calls: Autumn Leaf Festival

A shot of Main Street during Autumn Leaf.  Note:  This picture was taken from the net (click here to see the source), as were the other logos. 

Pennsylvania was a dream for me.  Clarion, with its simplicity and quietness made it happen for me.  It was the hardest of times in more than one ways, but visually, it was ‘many sights to remember.’  My memories of first autumn in the US are from Clarion.   Clarion is synonymous with ‘Autumn Leaf Festival’, when everything turns red, yellow and orange. 

I attended about four of those in Clarion, two as a student. One as faculty, and one as a visitor. 

The sleepy little town comes alive--for weeks before the actual day.  There are reminders on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, in stores and in schools and universities.  There are sights to see, and smells (mainly food, talking mainly food) to smell and memories to make.

It should be around anytime soon now.  For me though, autumn is always reminiscent of the first time I saw the nature burst in color--in Clarion.

Its a town that still remains unknown (one American student had asked me, 'so is Clarion really famous in your country?* with a reference to us landing in Clarion as students.

Nope,it had a department I was looking for and the admission fee was not too high. She had smiled.

But my heart was also set on Pennsylvania, ever since I had seen pictures and read about the Amish.  

That love affair lasted over a decade.  I don't know its politics, nor do I know much about special laws, rules and regulations if any apply ---(except that there is an exemption of taxes on computers and electronics stuff every february--and no taxes on clothes)--but I know all about candied apples, blueberry muffins, pumpkin spice ice-cream, and of course autumn's leaves!!  I can smell Pennsylvania on crisp days, I am back in Pennsylvania every year on the first day of snow, and I wake up in Pennsylvania every year when daffodils make their appearance in spring, or trees blush at their own coming of age in autumn.....

And wonder if the school children I saw march in bands in Clarion, are now bringing their children to the autumn leaf festival this year......

Friday, September 19, 2014

Two Hundred Years without a War!

This is a a statue in the town square-- Stora (big) Torget (center/square).  Its the first thing you notice.  A friend of mine had told me that this was considered the ugliest statue in the country (Sweden). What ever it may be, it symbolizes a treaty  between Norway and Sweden, when both countries call an end to the use of arms.  It has been nearly 200 hundred years since the countries have gone to war.  While there is criticism about Sweden being engaged in selling arms to countries in conflict, overall there is an underlying peace in the country that you can feel.  

LIke all countries, it may not be perfect, but it is the only country that I have lived in so far, where they had made 'people' a priority over a generalized way of living.  Commercialization is at its low, there is only one 24 hr McDondald's in the entire country.  Not to mention that McDonald is not that popular.  The first Starbucks was opened this May (2014) at the airport. 

Yes, like all developed countries Sweden was a colonizer too, you can ask the Czech, Norwegians, Finns, Estonians and even some small colonies in Africa.  Yet, it is a country that has took a stance against war and has stood by it (ok, there is a massive arms industry).  But, I must say this is the only country where women are not afraid of having children, because that does not mean a break in their work, instead it means paid leave, while they can spend time with their children and later several years of parental leave and government supported child care.   Also, their being pregnant is not an obstruction to looking for jobs.  I known an Indian woman, raised in the UK who came to Sweden to work and lost sensation in one of her arms in a skating accident.  The company she worked for allowed her to continue with her job, 'we hired you for your brains' they said.  There is a cushioning around people here, that lets them feel human.  Two hundred years without a war and a focus on controlled individuality and collectivity, has allowed people a simplicity and sweetness that I have not seen anywhere else.  
Or, may be, may be I just got lucky and met the best people in the country, so I am always gushing about it.....