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THE CHANGE ISSUE


Welcome to the ninth issue of Udantya! ________________________________

We welcome the new year on Udantya with interpretations of change! __________________________ Backstage Pass The Essence of Udantya Megaphone A Word from the Editors Spotlight As the Saying Goes - Aparna Vidyasagar Good Morning Change! - Namita Azad Jam Session Cameo Memories from Change - Aman Khanna 2011 - The Year of the Common Man in India - Rahul Srinivasan Cameo II Mi Tierra - Rashmi Gowda My Train Ride Home - Samar Khanna

FAQ

Š Namita Azad


BACKSTAGE PASS The very essence of artistic expression is that, it is captured in many different ways.

A picture, a word or a tune. Your rebellion, your journey and your destination. Here, we aim to capture it all. Join us or explore with us. Welcome to Udantya. Welcome to our creative space!

Udantya aims to be a collaborative effort. If you have any articles, photos or music you would like to share, please email us at udantya@gmail.com. Future themed issues will be announced a month in advance.

Š Udantya 2011


MEGAPHONE

From the Editors This month's issue is 'condensed Udantya'. We will not be running Darkroom and the Armchair critic. It is a fantastic issue nonetheless, with very interesting perspectives on change.

The New Year has come upon us and instantly our thoughts turn toward change. January is the month of hope, looking forward and the desire to make changes in our lives. However, the concept of ‘change’ has many different shades and impacts much more than just the individual. In this issue we explore change and the many meanings it holds. _ This month's Spotlight, features pieces by Aparna and Namita. Aparna examines some well established notions about change that have made their way into the English language. Namita talks about the changes she sees every day at the hospital where works. These observations have impacted her views on the meanings of change.

Jam Session highlights some changes we can make to our lives for a more fulfilled year ahead. We also highlight a woman from Germany, Heidemarie Schwermer who made a very drastic change to her life and now lives happy and free. Making their Cameo appearances this month are first time contributors Rahul Srinivasan who writes of the momentous change that has occurred in India and the psyche of its population- a change that promises for a monumental year ahead and Rashmi Gowda who tells us the personal story of her change; a move from the United States back to her home country of India. Returning this month are, Aman Khanna who writes a wonderful little poem and Samar Khanna who ponders change during his daily commute on a train.

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Happy New Year from Udantya!


SPOTLIGHT

‘Times change and we, with time’.

As the Saying Goes Change. We invite it, we covet it, we resist it, we embrace it and we reject it. Whether we like it or not, change remains a ubiquitous part of our lives. Change has inspired many a pithy saying and timely platitude that serve to placate us, motivate us or explain things away. But how true are these well established adages? Spots, stripes and one big cat! The proverbial leopard couldn’t change its spots, suggesting that some traits are fundamentally ingrained within us. In short, people don’t change. I’ve heard it before, uttered in the context of a failing relationship or in the context of an employee who has been given one too many chances. These people have been explained away by a timeless saying. But the truth is, people do change. Sometimes it’s deliberate, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s positive and other times not. I have seen people so open minded that they realize flaws within themselves and begin a brave and difficult journey to sculpt a new persona. I have seen people touched by tragedy who never really recover a semblance of their former selves. Every day people are inspired, taught or led. Everyday people suffer and shatter. And, they change.

As a child of the 80s, growing up in the 90s, reveling in the new found freedom of college and the new millennium, I happened to witness a rather large amount of change. Much of it was the obvious technological advancements around me. From having to refer to books in the library to having the Internet at my finger tips; from having to wait till the bookstore opened to instant gratification on an e-book reader; from ditching my Walkman and stuck tapes to carrying a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ music player, I happily embraced the advancements, to an extent. It’s true that I won’t trade in a quick a Pubmed search for poring over fat volumes in a library but going to the library to borrow books is still rather fun. I will never give up the musty, dusty, paper-y aromas of a used book store and will continue to always hunt for rare old books; even if they are available in seconds, online, somewhere. Little music players are wonderful but I promise myself never to shut out the world with a song blaring in my ears. We do change with the changes around us; we think and act differently. But carrying forward a little bit of what was, is not such a bad thing. “Be the change you want to see in this world”- Mahatma Gandhi Mahatma Gandhi was an introspective philosopher who was able to apply his personal ideology to play a role to lead his

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country to independence. Many famous humanitarians, thinkers and world leaders have cited Gandhi as an inspiration. Yet, I feel as if they were exceptions- able to instigate change on a grand scale. Call me cynical, but when I think of Gandhi’s many, oft-quoted sayings, I find them more applicable to self than to a larger scale. More often than not we simply become the change we desire to see in ourselves; a goal which can sometimes be difficult to accomplish and satisfying when attained. Sometimes, we try to become examples for our friends or colleagues or children. We may hope to touch the lives of those around us, but reach a vast cohort, is a life’s work of unfaltering dedication. - Aparna

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Good Morning Change! Everyday I walk the along the colored tiles of the second floor of the hospital where I work. I am surrounded by patients walking in for their appointments, doctors getting their early morning caffeine fix, nurses discussing the admission process of a surgery that’s about to begin. And then there’s me, just making my way to my office. Yet with every moment the atmosphere of this hospital is changing. Patients are getting cured, some are dying, others are being diagnosed and some just fighting for a few more moments with their loved ones. The meaning of life is best learned in a hospital room and the feeling of change best experienced there too. Yet I have noticed that the only pair of eyes that show no change are those of the care-givers- the change-makers. I feel, for most of them it’s a duty they perform everyday- their day to day routine; but they deal with human lives and not machines. Therefore, one would imagine that their touch would be the warmest and their look, most comforting. More often than not, I find that, you encounter this very rarely. This observation has slowly made me realize that with every person defining their change, the basic idea of change takes on a new shade. So, as I walk down the path to my office, I look keenly around me at the change that is actually happening. For the patient recovering, change is coming back to life; for the family letting go of hope, their change will be a void; for the physician stepping out of surgery, change is in the number of surgeries successfully performed that day. We all carry our change like our shadow; it is continuous. Sometimes change is as harsh as the scorching sun and other times it washes over us like a cool starry night. So as I walk along the colored tiles of the second floor of the hospital where I work, I hope to change some of the lives that I touch and hopefully tilt my day towards the stars. - Namita

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JAM SESSION

Beat Box Living without Money is the story of a Heidemarie Schwermer, a German woman who challenged herself 15 years ago by giving up everything she owned and all of her money. Yet she continues to live a happy and contended life. See the story of her change. http://livingwithoutmoney.org/about-the-film/about-heidemarie/ Š Udantya 2012


CAMEO I

Memories from change Let the impostors evade the meaning of what it is to live, Let the believers revel in the true meaning of existence. For when the times pass and shriveled leaves contain memories of the spring that was, The cold winter becomes easier to bear.

When the trodden paths are worn out. The footsteps of who walked resonate with the memories. When shriveled skins and weary smiles have become, The leaves of yesterday shall lift us. Pink be the memories and black, the solitude. - Aman Khanna

Š Udantya 2012


2011 – The Year of the Common Man in India ___ 2011 was a year of major political upheaval. The Arab Spring reaffirmed that a nation should be run by the people and for the people. While the Arab Spring was violent in character, India showed the global community that a revolution can be orchestrated by virtue of peaceful and democratic tools. As 2011 draws to a close and we welcome 2012, it seems apt to recap a year that marked a significant change in the Indian political milieu and also to see what lies ahead for a nation embroiled in various political and social predicaments. For many years, Indian politics has been synonymous with corruption. The common man had come to accept corruption as way of life and voted in hope that some day, his/her elected politician would validate the vote. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was voted to power in 2004. With two world-renowned economists and an erudite Harvard Graduate at the helm of Indian politics, one would have imagined that constructive change in Indian politics would be on the anvil. On the other hand, different corruption charges vying for supremacy plagued our system. Over the past seven years, frustration and helplessness of the silent majority threatened to erupt but could not find a congenial vent. Six decades after independence, after spending trillions on education, health and food, and yet leaving two thirds of our people hungry, illiterate, unskilled and bereft of basic medical care, the government continued to enjoy immunity from a unified confrontation. The year 2011 changed everything. Out of nowhere, it was a 74 year old Gandhian, Anna Hazare, who channelized the anger of the Indian gentry and hoi polloi to lead an unprecedented, peaceful protest against corruption. The austere messiah shook the pillars of the government’s monumental arrogance and galvanized an entire nation to stand up and be counted. The age old adage ‘A democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people’ echoed repeatedly at the Ramlila Maidan (Delhi), Azad Maidan (Mumbai) and countless other maidans across the country. Such was the impact of the protest that even the Indian diaspora felt obliged to chip in and demand for an accountable and responsible government. While it would be immature and foolish to assume that the Lokpal Bill would be the panacea/right option for all our problems, the government failed to gauge the pulse of the nation and performed the reprehensible act of trying to tarnish the image of Team Anna. While you would expect a sane government to engage in dialogue to solve pertinent issues, it was absolutely preposterous to see the government indulging in puerile one upmanship. Of course, the voice of the common man could not be ignored and common sense prevailed when the government realized that it had no other option but to debate the bill in parliament. As I write this article today, the Lokpal Bill is being debated in the parliament. I re-iterate that this bill may not be the right option. Its various shortcomings are a different

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point of discussion altogether. But at least the government has woken up from its slumber and is contemplating to reweave (read change) India’s social fabric. At the risk of sounding pseudo-intellectual, let me confess that some of the problems facing multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-faceted India are too intricate to be solved by a simple bill or agitation. Also, not all our politicians are corrupt and are in fact facing the brunt of some inexplicable laws and policies that were endorsed, proposed and implemented by some of our parochial and power-hungry politicians. Be it the issue of Naxalism, home bred terrorism (one cannot always point fingers at our neighbors), reservation or apathy to the North-East’s economic and social plight, we are stuck in a quagmire which is becoming murkier by the day. In my opinion, the concept of coalition politics has been the Achilles Heel of our democracy. While you may or may not endorse their bold actions or policies, would the shrewd, almost dictatorial, Indira Gandhi or even the more composed, articulate Rajiv Gandhi have been able to implement what they envisaged? Today, with the likes of Karunanidhi/Jayalalitha, Mamata Didi, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav (absolutely horrendous to watch him clamor for reservation in the Lokpal structure when deciding the content of the bill should be a priority) wanting a share in every pie and calling the shots from their palatial dens, it is not difficult to empathize with world-renowned economists, Harvard Graduates who are forced to pander to the whims and fancies of these minority parties. Ultimately, as trite as it may sound, the denizens of our nation suffer. India is an idea whose time has come. With a demographic dividend higher than that of most other nations, the biggest disservice we can do to our youth and working class is to bury them under the rubble of corruption and petty politics. Today, I feel optimistic about constructive change when I see Indians in India and countless Indians across the globe (just deciding to stay in your country does not make you a responsible, conscientious citizen) striving to battle corruption and empower and educate their brethren by various innovative and effective methods. Leading from the front, these conscientious citizens symbolize the Gandhian maxim ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. More power to them! -

Rahul Srinivasan

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Glossary UPA - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Progressive_Alliance Maidan - ground or any open space Team Anna - A team of eminent and virtuous people who supported Anna Hazare and held talks with the government Jan Lokpal Bill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Lokpal_Bill Indira Gandhi ( Emergency) http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/jun/23/inder-malhotra-on-35-years-after-the-emergency.htm Rajiv Gandhi http://www.indianetzone.com/3/rajiv_ratna_gandhi.htm Naxalism http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/NM2/History-of-Naxalism/Article1-6545.aspx Karunanidhi/Jayalalitha, Mamata Didi, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav Chief ministers in different states of India and are/were a part of the UPA coalition Lalu Prasad clamoring for reservation in the Lokpal structure http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-12-22/news/30546789_1_lokpal-bill-team-anna-lokpal-bench

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CAMEO II

Mi Terra It is early September. I am spending the long weekend at my friends’ home. They have a little son; nearly two and a half years old. He is the most well behaved, intelligent child I know. My friends are expecting another baby in January ’12. They want to get little ‘S’ to be a bit more independent; him being such a mamma’s boy. Another friend and I, tell them we will help as much as we can before, and when the baby comes. They are after all, my family in this city. I have always told myself that I will go back to India. And for some time, the niggling question has been ‘when?’ Change is the only constant in life. So much so that we cling to cliches to reinforce it. But dealing with all my lifechanges (nothing dramatic: just your average going to college, work, new city, new country experiences), the writer’s propensity to observe and my analytical background makes me view such changes via a chevron diagram. I call this the ‘Four Step Process of Change’. The first, is wariness. We don’t like the prospect of change very much. For quite some time now, I have been telling myself to make the move before it gets really hard to make that call. This presumably is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend outside your own country. I won’t bother you with the reasons but, I finally decided that I would go back home in a month or two.

The second step, anticipation, is dealing with the in between-ness of now and that of the change. You have come to terms with the move and can’t wait for the D-day to arrive. You know you will miss the French and Spanish olives from Trader Joe’s. But then you realize what you have always suspected: that every place has its pros and cons, just like everything else in life. You hurry getting ready for the move, selling your car and sorting your stuff. I had arrived with two suitcases; I am leaving with three. It’s hard to say your goodbyes to whatever you are bidding adieu; especially little S. His parents have told him I am leaving to India, where he has visited, but has no comprehension yet of where it is, or what it really means- I won’t be able to play with him as often as I used to. The third step is the actual change, the moment you have been waiting for. It’s a mixed bag. It can be overwhelming, exciting and scary. Whether you are going off to college, jumping off a plane for your first sky-diving experience, getting married – your world will change, even if for only a moment, and it brings the promise of something wonderful. The fourth step is the landing on the ground. You come back to constancy. The new becomes the norm and you adjust to the changed reality. It isn’t all that hard to get used to living

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at home, in spite of years of living alone. A few weeks later, I am on a Skype call with little S and his parents. It takes a few minutes but he figures out (with a bit of help) where to sit so I can see him on the webcam.

He has started school and is making new friends. I miss him. Its a wonderful feeling to receive such love, but I also know that I will soon become a distant memory; children grow up way too fast, don’t they?

“Where is she?” his parents ask him. “In India” he says, smiling.

I look in a Namdhari’s store about a kilometer away, and find a jar of black olives, but I am looking for the green ones. At a local store around the corner from home, I find a Del Monte jar of green olives from Sevilla. I smile.

“And where is India?” “Far far away.” His parents have been working on helping him understand the distance.

Not everything has to change. -

“When are you coming home?” he asks me right afterward.

© Udantya 2012

Rashmi Gowda


My Train Ride Back Home What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of change? Come on now! Nothing generic or plain. Think about it for a second. I, for one, can honestly say that I first thought of coins. I mean change is hard after all, have you ever bitten into a nickel? I put my case to rest. But at the dawn of the New Year, as I fumbled my way onto the first train heading home, I had a thought. Change is everywhere around us. In the ticking clocks, in the pace of your life, in actions, in me warming my hands. It’s bewildering at how many things are changing around us. Yet it eludes us! We find ourselves scrambling for it most of the time and can’t find it. This rather banal thought intrigued me. As I warmed into my seat on the crisp winter morning, I let these thoughts fester in my mind. People do make conscious decisions everyday – every moment, everywhere. It’s what decides who you are and where you’re heading. But then again, your unconscious mind guides you too. You may not be able to control it, but if you’re open enough as a person, you will take up opportunities out of habit. These breaks will lead you to the change you’ve vying been for. It’s about grasping it at the right time. I looked out the window as I realized the gravity of the word and my simplistic emotions towards it.

The duality of change in these situations, made me explore it a bit more. If you saw it differently, change could also be thrust upon us, unwillingly. For we would only have the ability to react to it. And then there are decisions we make, which steer us in life. Ultimately, it spins down to what we can and can’t control. But the truth of it remains that humans are essentially insatiable creatures. They’re working to improve themselves and the world around them. Constantly. People give themselves challenges, make plans and come up with so many quirky techniques to achieve what they want. It’s worth a try if it works right? And beneath this layer of the wish to constantly change, lies a bubbling sheet of hope. Which makes you dream of a better tomorrow, yet makes you that greedy and limitless person. Even a fairly apathetic soul like me was humbled by this discovery. A new year does bring new beginnings, new opportunities and new wishes. For when the sun rises, you get up with a hopeful heart and a invigorated will. Or maybe all this relentlessly flows out of my resolution to be an optimist. I settled into my thoughts and my seat, as the train went on.

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Samar Khanna


FAQ We’ve had a few questions over the past few months, so we thought it would be a good idea to chart out our very own FAQ page. Do you have specific requirements to submit to Udantya? Absolutely not! We love it all; the quirky, the unexpected and the conventional. Share your ideas with us. We want to highlight creativity and artistic expression in all forms. Since we are a web-magazine, we have not yet felt the need to set any page limits or length restrictions. If that changes, we will let you know! How much time do I get to submit a piece? We usually announce the following month’s theme when we release an issue. Our rough editing scheme is as follows. (When you email us to contribute to a particular issue, you will get a set dates for that month). -We usually ask for a short summary of your idea for the intended piece by the end of the first week of the month. -The first draft follows roughly a week to ten days later. You can submit a first draft even if you didn’t tell us your overall summary. Partial drafts are also accepted, so that we get an idea of the direction of your piece. -We like to work closely with you and reserve a week thereafter to finalize a draft. Our goal is to facilitate your vision for your piece and we view this portion of the process as a team effort. Can I send you stuff even if it doesn’t fit a theme? Yes, of course! We will try to find a place for it. You may even give us ideas for more themes! Might I make a suggestion? Yes! Questions, comments, suggestions and ideas are all welcome. Just email us at udantya@gmail.com

© Udantya 2012


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Udantya Issue # 9