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Madhushala- a guest post by Nanditaji

Till recently I knew Harivansh Rai Bachhan as superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s father. I had heard that he was a poet and his poetry “Madhushala” had many fans; yet I had remained oblivious of the madhu (Nectar) of his Madhushala.

I had casually picked up the CD of Madhushala along with other old music albums during my last visit to India. When I started to listen, I was mesmerized by Jaidev’s heart-wrenching music, Manna Dey’s melodious rendition and above all by the poetry. The poetry spoke to me and I had to find out more. Thanks to numerous fans that had shared their comprehension of the nuances of this epic poetry on internet, my uninitiated self was introduced to the subtleties of this exotic, vintage wine.

I have heard several gazals and songs romanticizing liquor and intoxication yet Madhushala felt fresh and novel. The blend of romanticism with rebellion, philosophy with sensuality and undertones of humor gives it a unique allure. I can imagine how the crowds must have gone crazy listening to Bachchan ji recite it in the 30s. It was the golden era of Hindi literature and poetry when stalwarts such as Jaishankar Prasad, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Sumitra Nandan Pant, Mahadevi Verma and Premchand were at the crest of creativity. Madhushala remains one of the most enduring creative pieces of that time as can be seen from the various blogs and from the discussion on quora (http://www.quora.com/Which-is-the-best-line-phrase-para-of-Madhushala-by-Harivansh-Rai-Bachchan).

Harivansh Rai Bachchan was just 28 years old when he published Madhushala. He had joined the nationalist movement and then given it up to return to academia. He had translated the famed Rubbaiyat of Omar Khayyam to Hindi. He had been married for about a decade and was deeply […]

By |August 26th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Madhushala- a guest post by Nanditaji

Guest Review “Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha”

A guest post by our listener Barkha, reviewing the play “Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha” by Rakesh Bedi.

“Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha” is a very realistic depiction of life of two individuals, who were deeply in love in their youth but were separated due to family pressures and are now meeting after 35 years and recounting their life experiences.

Everyone remembers their first love – that first time when the heart flutters and hopes and emotions soar to the sky with dreams of living your entire life with the person you love. However, in most cases, family pressures and the pressures of the society come in the way of the fulfillment of this dream. The two main characters of the play – Pritam Singh Copra and Hema Roy – were, similarly driven apart.

This is a subtle and complex play, yet beautifully portrays the entire range of human emotions – from happiness and disappointment to anger and compassion – that one experiences on this journey of life. And so we see, that two seemingly happy people tell the horrors of life as the outer layers of happiness come off one by one during the course of their conversations.

The story reveals betrayal by the very people – parents, husband, and children – we care for and who are supposed to guard our interest. We also see idealism get tempered by realism as the two young lovers have to make compromises to keep their parents, and later their spouse and children happy. After having dealt with wounds that life inflicts on Pritam and Hema, when they meet for the first time in 35 years, nostalgia takes over and the audience gets a glimpse of their entire life. We […]

By |August 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Guest Review “Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha”

The Dotted vs Blood Line

The Saas Bahu saga, an everlasting soap which fills the lives of most South Asian homes and families. This Soap has not been airing for 10, 20 or 30 years, it has been on air for possibly centuries. As I hear people’s stories and observe the lives around me, I hear the same repertoire of complains, grievances and mismatched expectations. This is not to say each and everyone has had a bad in-law relationship but the fundamentals of this relationship I believe are flawed, hence always making it a fragile alliance. This relation starts when you sign on the dotted line and from then onwards try to fit into the blood line of relations.

As time passes I have stopped judging or analyzing the characters of this soap. I don’t believe it is the characters at fault, I believe it is the script that is flawed. I first want to congratulate every South Asian Saas and bahu who despite having a bad script, little reward and huge expectations still attempts to act out her role, and sometimes succeeds, often fails but continues to try generation after generation. So to all those who blame it on the nature of women, please know it is only with women that you can have a poorly scripted story continue being on air for so many centuries. If this had been attempted with males the script, expectations and rewards would have miserably failed or long been modified.

Some would argue this system has worked for centuries, and the burden of its failure lies with the modern role and new found freedom of women. The truth is the system was only made to work for centuries due to male dominance. A […]

By |May 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Dotted vs Blood Line

The Beauty of Gray

The Beauty of Gray
Posted on December 5, 2012
Our mind is referred to as “gray” mattar. Something to think about

There is something very profound about the color gray. There is a lot to learn from this simple color. Gray is beautiful because it proves that black and white can exist together. In that togetherness, there is the creation of a whole new shade; gray.

Unevolved minds find security and confidence in absolutes. Rigidity in thought stems from the inability to accept and respect that there is not only one path but several paths leading to the same bigger goal. Religion is a case in point. The orthodox sect of most religions functions on very clear and rigid rules regarding issues such as women’s rights, dress code, prayer, etc. Religious fundamentalists can only explain and understand absolutes. Maybe it’s the security it gives them, maybe it’s the comfort of not having to reason and rationalize that makes the “black and white” model very appealing to them. The followers of such sects are typically individuals that have limited reasoning abilities and feel rather confused and bewildered by the idea of questioning, thinking and accepting the “gray”.The concept of ”heaven and hell”, “reward and “punishment play a critical role in the lives of such individuals. But, what would happen if the “black and white” model was removed? Would corruption, evil and immorality take over? Ironically, that’s the exact fear that gives power to the orthodox religious sects.

The beauty of gray is that it is accepting of opposites. It can hold two extremes together without losing itself. The difference between religion and spirituality is that religion forces our minds to assess everything in only two ways: right/wrong, sin/reward, good/bad, […]

By |April 22nd, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Beauty of Gray

The BEST Free Babysitter

I thought this was too good to be true. In Western society, finding child care help is a priceless blessing. But, my discovery stunned me. Imagine, a free babysitter. This young savvy babysitter had a way about her. The way she always knew, she could read your mind, she seamlessly took over parenting when you needed a break. She was even better than the child’s father in stamina and entertainment. She never asked for a break or a raise. Dutifully, she kept going.

The best thing was she was right in front of you. I never had to worry about my child’s whereabouts because she kept him right with her at home. She was willing to be dragged from one place to another. She knew what my son wanted before he would have to ask. Hours could go by and he would forget he was hungry or needed a diaper change.

I admired how she kept kids so engaged. She had endless fun and educational games up her sleeve. There was something she had that I lacked. Though she kept me sane by helping with the child, I started envying her. She clearly had something that held my son’s attention better than I could. If she was not around, my son seemed to miss her. It was like he was searching for her frantically.

My child’s relationship with her started to make me feel uncomfortable. She seemed too good to be true. I felt she was taking over my parenting. I realized the more time he spent with her, the less time he wanted to spend with me. He didn’t care what I said or where I was when he was with her. She very strategically […]

Em-Power-ment: Not just a Buzz word

In today’s world, we hear the word “empowerment” being thrown around a lot. It is heard by politicians, on social media, by the youth. I’m glad the word is being used and its general idea getting traction. But, I’m not sure we really understand the depth of this word. Linguistically, the prefix “em” mean to put into. So, think of words like embody, embellish, embark. Empower doesn’t just mean to put into power. That would assume the person empowering has all the power and one being empowered is purely on the receiving end and at the mercy of the one empowering.

Maybe the complexity of the concept “empowerment” stems from the root word which is “power”. We all want power. Many spend their lives chasing money but in reality, they are hoping that money will give them power. Power is a dangerous animal. It makes us selfish, immoral and is true test for our soul. That is perhaps why a lot of judicial systems create checks and balances so power cannot be misused. A lot of countries do not allow the president or prime minister to be in power for more than a certain number of years.

Think of all the things that exude power: money, position, knowledge are a few top ones. The toughest thing about power is that it makes us want to hoard it. We don’t want to share it with anyone because we fear that sharing power threatens our position. Power makes us a monopolist. We want to keep it all to ourself and all for ourself. We want to ensure the gap between the powerful and the powerless always remain stark and strong. This might explain the […]

By |April 8th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Em-Power-ment: Not just a Buzz word

On Veggie Burgers and Being Yourself

Contrary to popular belief, not all vegetarians like soy veggie burgers, this nacheez (no lacto-ovo pun intended) blog writer included. I had eaten them on occasions when nothing else was available, but I found myself removing the patty more often than not.

Ah, the soy veggie burger patty. Slightly greasy looking, usually brown or a related shade, with a few discolored peas or carrot pieces visible. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a kernel or two of yellowish corn. You’ll take the first bite and be greeted with a burst of…chewiness. That’s right, chewiness. Add some more special sauce of your choice to that and perhaps swallowing will be not so unpleasant.

To replicate the mouth feel of meat (and of course the hallowed protein content), soy is added to many veggie burger patties. Now, I don’t know any meat eaters who have ever been fooled by a soy patty- “oh yum, tastes just like beef!”, said no one ever. And anyone transitioning from a meat-eating lifestyle to the other side probably isn’t going to stay vegetarian because of those clever soy imposters. In fact, it would probably convince them to go back because heck, those burgers!

So it came as a pleasant surprise to me when I first tried a frozen burger patty which was just made of vegetables. A little bit of potato to bind together some beans, corn, mushroom, some seasoning, and voila!, a convenient and delicious filling for my sandwich. This wasn’t going to fool any meat- eaters, either, mind you, but at least we wouldn’t drive them away. And the new vegetarians might just stay and try out a new way of eating.

This evolution of the veggie burger got me thinking about authenticity. Why try […]

Satan Revisited

Like every other Muslim, I was raised with the concept of “shaitan” (Satan). I was told this is a being that will always distract and deviate you from the path of Islam. He is constantly working to guide us towards sin and hell. I’m sure some variation of this description sounds familiar to most Muslims.

For some reason, the idea of Satan as explained above never quite appealed to me. It failed to intellectually challenge or spiritually inspire me. It seemed too simplistic of an explanation and too escapist of an ideology. Every time we sinned; forgot to pray, lost our temper, didn’t fast; I would hear those around me say “ Shaitan made me forget, Shaitan took over me, etc”. At a societal level, I saw how we conveniently blamed all corruption, moral degradation, and societal evils to this great force. It seemed so simple and naïve. It always seemed like we as people were these innocent, mindless beings that were always fooled and tricked by this clever, plotting and evil force. We were never to be blamed.

You might wonder what’s wrong with thinking of Satan in this way. Most people will be quick to quote several Quranic verses and plenty Hadith that completely substantiate Satan’s traits. I am well aware of them and have heard and read them. But, to a rational mind, such a simplistic view will not really appeal. Wouldn’t God want us to use His gifted faculties of mind and soul more and remain in charge of our consciousness?

The flaw with such an understanding is that it fails to acknowledge the magnificence and grandeur of God’s design. Human beings were created as the “best and most exalted” of creation (Ashraf […]

Family Values or Value of Family

For some reason we Asians feel we have a monopoly over family values, and the importance of family, and family ties are an integral part of our culture. We believe our family values are in some way superior to the rest. Definitely better than westerners whose family life is stereotyped by TV shows such as ‘Jerry Springer’ and ‘Roseanne’, just as ours is stereotyped by movies with grand sets, depicting several generations living together in a joint family, happily ever after……Bollywood style Hum Saath Saath Hain ( translation: We are all together). In reality though neither is a true depiction of family life in the west or east, and reality lies somewhere in the middle.

Regardless, the importance of family values is a theme that resonates throughout the Far east, middle east and the Indian subcontinent. It is reinforced through religion, society, media, Bollywood movies, and daily saas bahu (translation: mother and daughter in law) soaps. But to be honest in most of the Eastern Hemisphere, the laws do not recognize the importance or value of family, whether it be granting visitor visas to family members or permanent residence status. For example as stated in the PIO (person of India Origin) card requirements, quote “nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan, and Srilanka do not qualify for a permanent residence status in India” Let alone permanent residence status if you happen to have family members who are nationals of certain countries then good luck visiting them or trying to get them to visit. With half my family being Pakistani, I only know too well how difficult it is to see and stay in touch with loved ones. India is not unique in its discriminatory […]

By |March 25th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Family Values or Value of Family

Responsible, are We?

The word “responsible” and ” responsibility” are thrown around very often in our lives. It’s considered a worthy and admirable quality, measure of maturity and success in life. Conversely, it’s lack or absence is used abundantly in parent-child, husband-wife, boss-employee, older sibling-younger sibling conversations. Those conversations are not pleasant but rather mostly had after something not so great or pleasing has occurred.

What does it mean to ” be responsible”? Being that this word carries so much importance and weight in our lives, it is important to make sure we have a common definition for this. Most problems arise because each person’s definition of being responsible varies greatly from the other.
Dictionary definitions include:
re·spon·si·ble Show IPA
adjective
1.answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management (often followed by to or for ): He is responsible to the president for his decisions.
2.involving accountability or responsibility: a responsible position.
3.chargeable with being the author, cause, or occasion of something (usually followed by for ): Termites were responsible for the damage.
4.having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action: The defendant is not responsible for his actions.
5.able to discharge obligations or pay debts.

As a society, we don’t do a very effective task of raising responsible adults. We either get so caught up in taking all responsibility for everything that we don’t make children feel responsible for anything. Responsibility starts with very little things. For example, we must teach our children to be responsible for making their bed, for cleaning up, for helping out, for being in charge of their emotions. A lot of mothers in our society define responsibility by how much they can take off the plates of those around […]

By |March 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Responsible, are We?