Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Monday, January 7, 2013
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Presented this for my Project 2 at KTM
My speech today is something to do with Books and indeed 3 of my greatest passions after shopping are Reading, Travelling and Choreography. For my project 2, I will make a humble attempt to take you through one on my favorite books called ‘To kill a mocking bird’ by American author Harper Lee.
Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee published in 1960 which is considered a classic modern American literature. The primary theme of Mockingbird is innocence or rather the loss of it and Harper uses a common American bird to symbolize innocence. The premise of the book is a black man’s struggle for justice and the society as seen through the eyes of an eight year old white girl called Scout.
The story takes place during the great depression in a small town called Maycomb in Alabama and is recalled by Scout who lives with her older brother Jem and widowed lawyer father Atticus. Life for them is a series of everyday childish adventure including shooting birds with air guns, a sport they enjoy but Atticus tells them to never shoot a mocking bird as it is does no harm but helps the farmers by eating insects on the crop. The kids are also fascinated and terrified of their reclusive neighbor called Radley whom no-one has ever seen for many years. Rumors of Radley being a mad man floats in the town , but Scout’s 2 elderly neighbors rubbish it saying he is an extremely shy and timid person who is scared of meeting people. Scout and Jem make schemes to get Radely or Boo as they call him to get out of the house but fail; however they do find little presents kept for them in the hollow of a tree, making them realize that Boo has noticed them..
In the meanwhile Atticus is appointed by the court to defend Tom Robinson, a 24 year old married black man accused of molesting a 19 year old white girl called Mayella Ewell, who is the daughter of the town drunkard Bob Ewell. This is at a time when racism was at its peak and the whole town is against Tom because he is black. However, Atticus, a principled man takes up the case and Scout and Jem face a lot of disapproval and taunts at school. During the trial as the story unfolds , Atticus establishes beyond doubt that Tom is innocent and that it was in fact Mayella a lonely and friendless young girl who tried to seduce Tom who in turn ran away , but was seen by her father who after beating her up accused Tom of the heinous crime to save face. But Justice is dethroned, when in spite of the evidence, the jury rules in favor of a drunk lying white man instead of an honest black man. Tom looses faith in the law and tries to escape from prison ad gets shot and killed in the process.
Interestingly, though the jury favored Bob the town knows that he is guilty and feeling humiliated Bob, vows revenge and attacks Scout and Jem with a kitchen knife as they return home from a Halloween play at school on a dark night. Jem’s arm is broken, but someone comes to their rescue and in the struggle Bob is stabbed. Their rescuer carries the unconscious Jem home and Scout realizes that their rescuer is in fact Boo Radely – their extremely shy neighbor. The sheriff is called in and even though he knows Boo stabbed Bob, he claims that Bob fell on his own knife to protect Boo. The novel ends with Scout sitting on her father’s lap as he reads to her in Jem’s room as she dozes off to sleep.
Fellow toastmasters - This is the story of how a mocking bird in the form of a black man was killed at one time and allowed to live at another time though the evidence of a sheriff.
As I conclude I’ll like to leave you with thought- Racism is not as obvious as it was in the Scout’s time and the law is unbiased today, but human nature is still the same. We still have mocking birds that live among us, birds that do not conform to the established norm, think differently and live differently - but birds that do no harm and the question you need to ask yourself at the end of the book is - Did I ever kill a Mockingbird?
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Many moon nights ago in a small town in Maharashtra called Solapur , a set of anxious parents nervously awaited the birth of their second child. Their first child was a healthy and happy boy and they obviously wanted the second one to be a girl. With a final painful cry, the mother pushed the baby into the world and the midwife and nurses eagerly crowded to see the child. The midwife suddenly drew back and exclaimed “Oh my God, it’s a monkey?' Figuratively of course, you see it was an underweight baby with bulging eyes, thin arms and legs and an inflated tummy that looked like a puffed up pulkha.
That monkey, my friends was me, Neha Shinde- a marketing professional , a voracious reader , a budding guitarist with no musical sense and a self proclaimed drama queen !
Though born in Sholapur, My father Dr. Shinde, a professor by profession, migrated to the sunny state of Punjab when I was in Kindergarten and it’s no surprise that everything bright and yellow reminds me of Ludhiana ad Punjab. Every year during our summer vacations my family, comprising of parents and brother and sister would journey to the western part of the country to meet our relatives and cousins. After a month of tremendous fun, I would eagerly look forward to return back to share my holiday experiences with my friends. After a train journey of a day and a night, the next morning would bring us closer to Punjab and I would realize, we were getting closer by the numerous bright yellow mustard and sunflower fields our train whizzed past. As yellow as well yellow can be, I watched these fields with childish joy that I realized home was near. And it was a happy thought.
When I was about thirteen, my father decided to go back to Maharashtra and we moved to a quaint little town called Miraj famous as they say for doctors and donkeys, sometimes referred to in the same vein. I lived there for about 2 years and lived in a beautiful missionary campus, which was as green and lush as the Garden of Eden. I remember the campus scattered with trees of Mango, Guava, Custard apple, Tamarind, Bamboo, and even sandal wood - and where there is sandalwood there are snakes, and it was in Miraj that I experienced two of my firsts in life- the first one was the sighting of a huge shiny black snake just 2 feet away from me on a narrow pathway and the other was realizing how trembling knees actually felt. But that naga naga did not dampen my enthusiasm of exploring the campus and whenever I think of Green, memories of Miraj come back to me.
As soon I started getting cozy in Miraj, we moved again to a town called Belgaum on the border of Karnataka & Maharashtra. Dad worked for JNMC and we lived in the staff quarters. So, whenever I think of white, I see flashes of white coats of the medical and dental students on campus. Even after my father thanks to his travelling itch, moved abroad when I was in my first year of BBA and I moved in to the college hostel, white always reminds me of the JNMC and its students.
Till the time I moved to Pune do my MBA and then to Bangalore for my job in Satyam, my favorite color was black. It still is, but it now shares the honor with Red. As a result I have more than half dozen black shirts and kurtas in my wardrobe that I don’t know what to do about.
But the color or colors that represents me most is not a black or a red, but the combination of 3 colors of saffron, white and green. You see, for many years because of my constant moving places, I had an identity crisis and wondered if I was a North Indian or a South Indian? Did I belong to the west or east? A few years ago I got my answer; I am a Marathi by birth, a Punjabi by nature, a Kannadiga by lifestyle and an Indian at heart!
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Neha Shinde- a marketing professional, a voracious reader, a budding guitarist with no musical sense, a self proclaimed drama queen and a proud Indian!
Friday, December 9, 2011
I was returning back to Bangalore after a 3-day IT Expo and conference, tired and with a bit of a sore throat (it’s uncanny but every time I visit the city, I get this ailment). Anyways, I was dutifully like a good citizen standing in the security check line, when suddenly I spied a pretty lady in a simple black salwar kameez picking up a tiny pink suitcase and standing on the other side of the security check. She looked very familiar, but for the life of me I could not remember where I had seen her before. Was she a business associate I met at the conference, was she someone from Bangalore, was she from my organization? My brain was working furiously but I simply could not place her. I must have made her conscious with my snake-like staring, but she was pretty composed and was chatting amiable with the Jet Airways staff helping her with her luggage, while at the same time looking at me as if she was expecting me to come up to her and say hello, which I would have if only I could place her!
After our ‘staring competition’, I got my security check done and left the place without greeting the lady in black, who soon let the place with her male assistant wheeling her tiny pink suitcase.
It was only after entered a bookstore while waiting to board and picked up a magazine and saw a doe-eyed pretty face staring at me, did it finally dawn on me that I just missed saying hello to the very talented actress of Parineeta & Dirty Picture - Vidya Balan!
Monday, March 21, 2011
A good friend of mine, H called me up the other day and yelped excitedly "TD Jakes is considering coming to India and guess what it's all because of a tweet ( Well, he actually said a tweet and God's hand!).
For those who haven't heard of Bishop TD Jakes, well he's one of the better knows evangelists of today. Founder of The Potter's House , a motivational speaker and author. And my friend like so many others is a HUGE fan of his preaching and style , so much so that sometimes when he preaches, the TD Jakes style invariably sneaks in. But this post is not about TD Jakes or my friend or even about TD Jakes coming to India (though I am happy that he is).
This is about the power social media . To understand that we must get back to the TD Jakes story. Well, after H calmed down (which essentially meant started breathing again), he let me on what exactly happened. Shyju, his close friend had apparently posted a tweet on TD Jake’s profile about how his sermons had been a blessing to him. Surprisingly the Bishop replied saying he had no idea people in India knew about him and his sermons and what would be a good place to visit for a first-timer. Well, that got Shyju all excited and he created a post on his blog asking people to tweet on how TD Jakes had been a blessing to them and inviting him to India, which they did with enthusiasm. Well, that set the ball rolling and now things are now moving ahead!
It set me wondering, if it weren’t for the transparency and connectivity social media offers, how would a 25 year old greenhorn evangelist based in India interact with a 63 year old renowned preacher living in Texas. Social media is not only bringing people closer, it is more importantly empowering them. It’s no wonder celebrities, governments and other corporates are leveraging Social Media to function more efficiently. In fact Gartner predicts that by 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users. I am not too sure how good this prediction stands, but it sure demonstrates the popularity Social Media carries.
So whether a Shyju reaches to a TD Jakes via twitter or a 13 year old amateur singer Rebecca Black reaches more than 15,000,000 listeners via YouTube, it’s a simple demonstration of the power Social Media can harness, a power that changes lives, changes people, changes destiny!