Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just a few pieces of me

So I feel like I jumped into this whole blog thing too fast and I wanted to take a step back and post a little bit about myself. I guess you can say that these are just some details about me that the average person wouldn’t know, and some of these things drive me in my writing, my thinking, and how I approach life every day.

If you know most of these things already, you’re probably a very good friend who I can have great conversations with and you share an important part in my life, and I’d like to take this moment to say how grateful I am that you are a part of it :)
  • I like to keep myself very busy. Sometimes I end up taking on more than I can handle.
  • A professor once told me I’m too ambitious. I just want to do so much in life! I want to be a lawyer, a professor, and a bakery-owner. I also want to write on the side.
  • I’m big on women’s empowerment. I want to be a strong, successful, independent woman one day. That’s my main goal.
  • I’ve become really interested in human rights issues recently, and hopefully one day I can be a lawyer who can really help people who need it.
  • Writing has always been a passion of mine.
  • I avoid confrontation. It’s probably my biggest weakness.
  • I hate holding grudges; I think life is too short for that. So I always try to forgive.
  • I tend to bottle everything up. And I don’t open up to a lot of people.
  • I’m very big on honesty.
  • I don’t believe in earning trust. I will trust a person unconditionally until they give me a reason not to.
  • I like having deep, philosophical conversations with people. It makes life so much more interesting.
  • I’m a good listener. People always tell me their problems, and I like to help fix them. I’m a big pep-talker.
  • I don't like to curse and rarely ever do.
  • People tell me I’m too nice which sort of makes me scared people won’t take me seriously as a lawyer.
  • My biggest pet peeves: ignorance, bad spelling and grammar, and lateness.
  • My biggest fear is that I’ll die alone.
  • I truly believe that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen.
  • I won’t change myself to please anyone. I want to be accepted for the way I am.
  • Faith plays a very big role in my life.
  • I don’t give my heart away easily. But if I do, it’s completely.
  • I’m a very straightforward kind of girl. It annoys me when people play games.
  • I find intelligence really attractive.
  • I’m really loud. Which is funny, because I’m really shy when I first meet people.
  • I’ve been told I smile a lot. And I laugh at everything.
  • I make life decisions in the shower.
  • Dancing is one of my favorite hobbies.
  • I love being creative. I love graphic design, decorating cakes, and making jewelry.
  • I’m a klutz. And I get really happy when people tell me otherwise.
  • I think chocolate really does have curing powers.
  • I love diversity. I love accents, cultures, exotic foods, and most of all, I love NYC because it’s just bubbling with diversity.
  • As cliché as it sounds, I want to travel around the world.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet some amazing people in my life so far, and I’ve developed a really good circle of friends, and they’ve definitely influenced my life in great ways.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Whitewashing Bollywood.

I would always hate getting a tan during the summer. Ever since I was a young girl, I had this idea ingrained in me that having light features was a beautiful thing – only the lucky few Indians had light skin, light eyes, and light hair. So I would try to stay out of the sun in the summer, trying hard not to become a darker version of myself. 

But as I got older, I began to question why this was. It was in freshman year of college that I took a sociology class and began to really understand that my own perception of beauty was merely an echo of what the media put out there. And the problem with the media is, it reinforces the racial hierarchy of the world. That’s right – the media may be great in many ways, but in certain matters, it can be dangerous.

Beauty is a concept that is produced and reproduced again by media. Celebrity culture and channels of media determine what is beautiful, trendy, and acceptable. And this often becomes a social problem. For example, in American society, the association between “beautiful” and “thin” has become so overemphasized that eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have stemmed and spread like an epidemic throughout the country. In this way, the values that media produces are instilled in people’s minds and later reproduced in society.

In Bollywood (India’s equivalent of Hollywood), all the actresses and actors are light-skinned, with light eyes, and light hair. And if an actress or actor does not naturally have light features, they appear to have them on-screen. They will dye their hair from black to a lighter shade of brown, use blue or green contacts, and use lighter foundation to cover their dark skin.

It doesn’t end with whitening features either. As innovation and technology make the world a more connected place, cultures are able to interact with one another. As a more global society is born, media allows values and beliefs to flow across borders. In recent years, attire in Hindi cinema has moved drastically away from its conservativeness, and has become much more revealing. With actresses dressed in low-cut, skimpy clothing, the attire worn in Bollywood movies has become even more revealing than the clothes worn in Hollywood movies.

Bollywood music has also had its fair share of influence. Many of the songs that have been released lately have English lyrics, and often contain rap, differing from previous classical Hindi songs.

This “whitewashing” of Bollywood is, without a doubt, a reproduction of the racial hierarchy with dominant white culture being the top rung of the racial ladder. Hindi cinema is recognizing (perhaps subconsciously) that not only is white culture dominant in global society, but that Indian culture is inferior to white culture.  And through the process of social reproduction of the racial hierarchy via media, this inequality is naturalized, and a very systematic racial hierarchy is promoted.

It’s not just Bollywood and Indian culture. This is prevalent in many parts of the world. But it’s time we stop letting media determine our perceptions. Challenge the concept of beauty in the media. Challenge social customs. And above all, challenge culture – because if we don’t, society will continue to be brainwashed by mechanisms like the media, and as intelligent human beings, I think we’re better than that.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


“Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”
- Ayn Rand

I remember when I was young I read a story about a man who tried to build a staircase to heaven.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve never really been able to believe in heaven. And it has nothing to do with religion. Maybe it’s because I don’t believe in perfection. I think perfection is something we all work towards, and although it is our ultimate goal, I don’t believe anything can be purely perfect. I guess what I’m trying to say is, heaven is always pictured and portrayed as, well, perfection. And we live our lives in anticipation of heaven; we expect that when we die, we will go to a place where everything is good. But what if there isn’t a heaven?

Here’s my problem: what is so terrible about life that we need to dream of something greater?
What if this is heaven?
I don’t see why we all jump to the conclusion that there is an afterlife. In all honestly, why couldn’t this be it? Why do we take everything around us as ordinary? I truly believe everything around us is a miracle. All you need to do is look. Most people go through their lives waiting in hope for something greater. But why not appreciate all the greatness in life?

You’ve probably heard it before, but this time, really think about what Mark Twain once said: "Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."

Stop constantly searching for something more. Look around you. Appreciate what you have. Learn to recognize the miracles around you, however small they may be. Really live.

Who knows, maybe I’m wrong – maybe when our breaths run out, we will find ourselves in a heaven. But I’m not going to take that risk. I’m not going to try building a staircase to heaven. For me, heaven is right here.

“If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson