Category Archives: India

Queen of Katwe and A Tour in Delhi

Dave and I saw Queen of Katwe this week.  The movie tells the true story of a girl from the slums of Kampala who becomes a chess champion.  The film connected with us because it was directed by Mira Nair. Although Queen of Katwe takes places in Uganda where Ms. Nair has lived for decades, her first movies were set in India where the accomplished film maker was born and educated in the city of Delhi. After her initial movie successes in the 1980s Mira Nair established the Salaam Baalak Trust a charitable organization that now provides food, clothing, education and health care to more than 8,500 street children a year at 25 centers throughout the city of  Delhi. canadian visitor with children at salaam barakk trust dehliWhen we visited Delhi we were able to take a tour of one of the centres and be guided through its neighbourhood by a graduate of the Salaam Baalak Trust to learn what life is like for the 50,000 children who call the streets and train stations of Delhi home. 

At the movie theatre on Tuesday night the film Queen of Katwe gave us a glimpse into life for children on the streets of Kampala,Uganda. On our trip to India we were given a glimpse into life for children on the streets of Delhi, both courtesy of Mira Nair. She has used her profession to raise people’s awareness about the needs of children living in poverty around the world, and to strike a note of hope that they can have a better future. 

Other posts……..

Children on the Streets of Delhi

India Inspiration

Love in a Lunchbox

 

 

 

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India, Peacemaking and Hospital Life

golden son

I just finished reading The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda . Although the plot of the book is a bit predictable and formulaic I enjoyed it throughly because I learned so much about India, the inner workings of a large American hospital, and the art of diplomacy.  

The main character is a man named Anil.  I  have a friend Anil who was born in India so that was a personal connection to the book for me.  Shilpi Gowda tells Anil’s story as well as that of his childhood friend Leena. In doing so Gowda teaches us much about the customs, traditions, gender role expectations and the influence of caste in India.  

A good part of the story takes place in Dallas, Texas as Anil carries out a residency in an inner city hospital there.  We learn about the daily life inside that hospital as Anil moves from area to area; in particular we learn about cardiology, oncology and emergency care. 

How will Anil handle the freedom  life in America offers him? How will he handle the discrimination he faces there because he is from a minority group?  How will he balance the opportunities offered him in America with the responsibilities he still has towards his family in India?  How will he explain some of his life style choices to his very traditional mother? 

Most interesting to me was Anil’s role as a community diplomat, a role he takes on after the death of his father.  Everyone in the neighborhood is used to coming to Anil’s father to help them settle disputes whether it be marital discord or property conflicts. Anil is expected to continue doing that work on his trips home to India and via the phone while he is in Dallas.  I found it intriguing to watch as Anil develops his diplomacy skills and learns to apply some of the lessons learned to his own life. 

You may have read Shilpi Gowda’s first novel The Secret Daughter.  The Golden Son will no doubt be as popular largely because of the interesting subject matter it addresses. 

Other posts………

Beggars Everywhere

A Different Kind of Snow Angel

Meeting the Street Children of Delhi

 

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The Hero’s Walk-Canada Reads- My First Place Choice

I think The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami should be the winner of the Canada Reads contest beginning in less than a week.

a hero's walkThe book takes place in India and the author makes the city on the Bay of Bengal where the story is set come alive for readers with her haunting and often humorous prose.  

Sripathi Rao, the main character is about my age. He’s trying to be a good son at the same time as he’s trying to be a good grandfather and he’s having a hard time adjusting to the fact that his roles as a husband and father have changed dramatically .  His two children anger and frustrate him because neither is following the path he thought their lives should take.   

Who is the hero in The Hero’s Walk?  There are plenty of candidates. 

Sripathi’s best friend Raju who must decide whether or not to take his severely handicapped daughter’s life before he dies because there is no one else to care for her. 

Sripathi’s daughter Maya who surmounts many odds to build a successful academic career and has the bravery to flaunt tradition and family expectations to be with the man she loves.

Sripathi’s son Arun who is a political and environmental activist and envisions a better future for India, one he feels responsible to work toward. 

Sripathi’s grandaughter Nadana who must leave her home in Canada to start a new life in India with her grandparents after her mother and father are killed in a car accident. 

Sripathi’s wife Nirmala who refuses to play the role of submissive wife and daughter-in-law. She starts her own business and continues to have a relationship with her daughter even though her husband refuses to. 

Sripathi who eventually realizes that while moral integrity has value, when you stick too rigorously to your pre-determined ideas of what is right and wrong you can be very unhappy and ruin your relationships with the people you love the most. 

The Hero’s Walk is about a family in India but it could be about a family anywhere.  The issues and problems Sripathi’s family faces are ones we can all identify with in some way. 

Note: I read this book while we were in Costa Rica.  We went on a night hike to watch sea turtles nesting.  In The Hero’s Walk Sripathi and his son Arun watch sea turtles digging nests and laying eggs one night and it brings about a change in their relationship. 

Other posts……….

Bone and Bread- Canada Reads- My Third Choice

Turtle Night Walk

India Assaults The Senses

 

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A Different Kind of Snow Angel

snow-angel-museum-of-civilization-quebec-city
We had our first snow in Winnipeg last night and it made me think of this art piece Snow Angel I saw in the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City. It is by Karine Giboulo and shows a child playing in a garbage dump in Mumbai where her family sorts different colors of plastic to sell and make a living. Artist Giboulo says, ” What could be more common to North American children than making a snow angel? But the image takes on a whole other meaning when juxtapositioned with the reality of children working among the refuse in Mumbai.”

sorting-plastic-in-mumbai-by-karine-giboulo-jpg

Other posts…….

Beggars Everywhere

India Assaults the Senses

Co-Creation at the Art Gallery

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Filed under Art, Childhood, India, quebec city

India Inspiration

recycling workers dehli india

It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it. – Lou Holtzcamel on the highway india

Unreasonable haste is the direct road to error.- Moliere
women with cows in indiaWhen you walk with purpose you collide with destiny. – Ralph Buchanantaj mahal at dawnMarble I perceive, covers a multitude of sins. – Aldous Huxley

little boys playing ball in india

Peace begins with a smile.- Mother Teresablind beggar in dehli india

“When I lost my sight…… people said I was brave……But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”- Marie-Laurie-a  character in Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot Seeman selling foot in dehli india

Presentation is everything.- Amanda Clarkmonkeys in india

Being a mother is an attitude, not just a biological relation. ― Robert A. Heinleinchild begging in dehli

Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not.. for of such is the kingdom of God.  Luke 18:6

woman in sari in india

Rest and be thankful.- William Wordsworth

I took all these photos on a trip to India in 2008.

Other posts about India……

 Seeing the Taj Mahal At Dawn

Indian Tiger Safari

Beggars Everywhere

 

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Filed under India, Inspiration, Reflections

Sweet Spicy and Sad- The Hundred Foot Journey

a hundred foot journey“It was sweet and spicy,” commented my friend Glenys astutely as the screen credits began to roll. I’d just seen  The Hundred Foot Journey with three good friends.  The film tells the story of competing restaurants across the street from one another in southern France. One is owned by a French Michelin star winning restaurateur played by Helen Mirrin and the other by a family of recent immigrants from Mumbai India. 

The story is  sweet. It’s a fairy tale, without too much character depth but some sweet romance and a sweet ending.  And the food scenes! Sweet! All those luscious fruits and vibrantly coloured vegetables, creamy cheeses, crusty baguettes and perfectly prepared meats. Watching people taste the food is a sensual sweet experience too.  There’s a scene where Helen Mirrin tastes an omelette prepared by her Indian protegé and her expression of exquisite nearly orgasmic appreciation is worth the price of admission alone. Also sweet are the scenic views of the southern French countryside- silvery streams, hills bathed in golden light, star-studded skies and leafy woodlands. 

There is spice as well! The movie starts with some intense conflict.  There’s a devastating fire in the Indian family’s restaurant. The brakes on their car stop working nearly causing a tragic  accident. During the first half of the movie Helen Mirrin and the patriarch of the Indian family played by Om Puri pitch a back and forth battle trying to shut one other’s restaurants down. Their duel is symbolized at one point by a lengthy montage of shiny knives expertly chopping. It’s a  juxtaposition of French and Indian cooking ingredients being sliced and diced and dissected at such breakneck speed it leaves you breathless. Further spicy conflict is provided by the young Indian son Hassan’s inner turmoil about what he really wants in life and the rivalry between Hassan and a lovely French sous chef . Despite their  professional jealousy they are  personally passionate about each other. 

For me the story was also a little sad. The mother of the Indian family dies right at the beginning of the movie. However it is made clear throughout the film that her influence, advice and the lessons she has taught her family live  on. At the end of the movie her son finally makes sense of his life when he returns to his family home to cook a dish his mother taught him to make, with the spices she left behind.  He is also returning to the  values of love and family loyalty she instilled in him.  marylou and mom dec. 23I’ve really been missing my mother recently.  Things happen and I can’t quite make sense of them and I wish I could talk to her about them. I know her love is still with me but I wish I had her ear and voice here too. The important role of the gone but not forgotten mother in the movie reminded me of that and made me cry.  The Hundred Foot Journey isn’t a film masterpiece but it did provide a sweet, spicy and for me sadly sentimental evening of entertainment that I was glad to share with good friends. 

Other posts about French films……

The Kid With the Bike

Monsieur Lazhar

Les Miserables

Chocolat

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Love in a Lunchbox

the-lunchboxI love a good romance and so the movie The Lunchbox was just my cup of tea. It’s  an exquisite love story set in Mumbai. You get a real flavor for modern city life in India along with a tender tale and a lesson about the value of relationships. Saajan is a lonely widowed accountant and Illa is an unhappy wife whose husband is cheating on her. 

One fascinating thing about the movie was learning about the dabbawallas lunch delivery system founded in 1880. 5000 workers called dabbawallas pick up hot lunches in tins from people’s homes or from a restaurant, and deliver them to office employees throughout Mumbai. According to an article by Meena Kadri only one mistake is made in every six million deliveries.

This movie is about one such mistake. Instead of the lunches Illa makes arriving at her husband’s office they land up on Saajan’s desk and one thing leads to another. They begin exchanging notes in the lunch box and fall in love by letter. But will they actually ever meet in person? That’s the question at the heart of this movie. 

Although I enjoyed watching Illa and Sajjan’s romance develop my favorite part of the movie was the way both Saajan and Illa are supported, inspired and renewed by a strong friendship.  There is an older woman we never see who lives just above Illa’s apartment. Illa calls her ‘auntie’ and she is a humorous wise character constantly shouting down advice, warnings, recipes and observations to Illa. Illa’s mother has troubles of her own to deal with and this ‘auntie’ is a true friend and second mother to Illa. 

An Arab young man named Shaikh is sent to Sajaan to be his trainee at work. Although Sajaan doesn’t like Shaikh at first they eventually come to be friends and Shaikh, who is an orphan, invites Sajaan to be the best man at his wedding. Shaikh helps Sajaan realize how lonely his life has become since his wife’s death and how reaching out to other people might change that. We see this change demonstrated in Sajaan as he becomes less gruff and more interactive with the children in his neighborhood as well. 

I wanted a more conclusive ending to this movie but my husband chided me saying the last scenes were fairly bursting with potential and I should be satisfied.

Interesting note:  In the movie Sajaan is a Christian, Illa a Hindu and Shaikh a Muslim

Other posts about India……

India Assaults the Senses

Seeing the Taj Mahal at Dawn

Meeting the Street Children of Delhi

Beggars Everywhere

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