The Invisible Red Thread

red thread
An invisible red thread,
Connects those who are destined to meet,
Regardless of time, place or circumstance,
 The thread may stretch or tangle,
But may never break. 

 

 

 

 

The Invisible Red Thread Story comes from a Chinese legend which goes as follows:

Walking home one night, a young boy sees an old man standing beneath the moonlight (Yuè Xià Lǎo). The man explains to the boy that he is attached to his destined wife by a red thread. Yuè Xià Lǎo shows the boy the young girl who is destined to be his wife. Being young and having no interest in having a wife, the young boy picks up a rock and throws it at the girl, running away. Many years later, when the boy has grown into a young man, his parents arrange a wedding for him. On the night of his wedding, his wife waits for him in their bedroom, with the traditional veil covering her face. Raising it, the man is delighted to find that his wife is one of the great beauties of his village. However, she wears an adornment on her eyebrow. He asks her why she wears it and she responds that when she was a young girl, a boy threw a rock at her that struck her, leaving a scar on her eyebrow. She self-consciously wears the adornment to cover it up. The woman is, in fact, the same young girl connected to the man by the red thread shown to him by Yuè Xià Lǎo back in his childhood, showing that they were connected by the red string of fate.

This story in fact is prevalent not only in Chinese culture but in Japanese culture and the belief is that the Gods have tied this red thread of destiny to those who are connected as soulmates or partners in this lifetime to come and help each other or live a life together in some way that will be connected and important. It may be similar to the concept of “soulmates” but is not just singular to lovers, it may also spread as far as connecting two people who make some sort of mark on each others’ lives in some way that is of some significance. The red thread ties them together and will allow them to meet each other for some purpose in life.

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The Idea of You

rainy day man

The past is history for a reason and it should remain as such. It’s not just HIS story, but it’s HER story as well as OUR story. How one may want to go back and rectify events or change things and alter what could have been lies in the deep desire to improve on life. What we do now can never change what happened in the past. One can’t revisit emotions and live them as they were. Nor can one do something today to make it right for yesterday. It just does not work that way. In fact, you may be working to do more harm than good. You can’t examine and make things right with what went wrong. What went wrong or happened in the past changed destiny today. It made you who you are and what you have become today with a life defined by a series of actions from those moments and steps in the past. You wove the story with the threads in your tapestry. They just had to be interwoven in the right places to bring forth an image. It was meant to happen exactly that way. Playing around and trying to go back and change things for the better sometimes may lead to problems. Meaning, if we try to reconnect with people from our past and rectify all the things that went wrong, it may just not work out in the way we may envision or in our favor. We may have good intentions, but the outcome may not be beneficial in the long run. It may cause more pain, more sorrow than it’s worth. So we certainly should do things with some foresight and less impulsiveness in our enthusiasm to be the good guy and right an old wrong. Trying to be a good person sometimes backfires if taken the wrong way. We might find that our stained glass windows are a bit dusty, smudged with soot accumulated from the years traversed. When we try and wipe the dust off, the image of the person who reappears in our life may have changed with time. The one who looks back may have traces of gray hair, may have added a few pounds here and there, may have some lines around the mouths and eyes, but we still see the youth and the charm. We fail to see that time has etched struggles, pain, worry lines or has given wisdom, maturity, depth to thoughts that were perhaps idealistic and romantic in the past.Time not only may add years to the appearance, but may add unanticipated characteristics and qualities to a person today that we do not want to acknowledge exist. Do we really want to blemish the shiny gloss that coats the windows of the past? “Let sleeping dogs lie” is an apt phrase, because if you wake the sleeping dog, it may rise up to tell you it may not like the person you’ve become today and may not be able to say it kindly without causing some pain. Sometimes it’s “the idea of a you” that tugs at my heart strings, the “you” that made my heart melt, the “you” that gave attention to every whim and thought of mine, the “you” that made the “me” in me feel extremely special, but that “you” does not want to remain for “me” today.

Manmohini 2014 , a Grand Success

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Manmohini finally made its splash this year with 200 children performing in about sixteen dances for about 3.5 hours with spectacular costume changes. The show was a feast for the eyes with a captivating storyline tied into fabulous dance numbers. The dances combined Indian Bollywood steps with hip/hop and current dance styles. Some dances featured lyrical moves along with the ethnic Bollywood styling. All the costumes were dazzling and the dancers of all ages starting from 6 to their 20s made an impression on the audience with their layered and intricate dance pieces. Rohit Baxi, choreographer, producer and director of the show describes the satisfying culmination of a great evening featuring Winter Manmohini 2014. Enjoy the highlights of the show.

Click on the picture to see video highlights of the show featured on AVS.

masks manmohini

A Start To My Writing Career?

Manmohini Scenes from 2012 and 2013

I suppose nothing works better than a TV appearance (tiny as it may be) to give me a jump start in a writing career or be a great motivating factor to keep writing.

In all of my years growing up (and I haven’t stopped growing up yet), I have always talked about doing so many things. I have wanted to be a doctor, an artist, an interior designer, a fashion designer, a software engineer, a teacher, a graphics designer, a journalist and above all an eminent writer. Some of these professions I have managed to become involved in, but I still have time to dabble in others. The one constant in all this has been my enthusiasm and passion for writing and throughout all the stages of my life I have turned to pen and paper (now the word processor) for penning down my thoughts. I have been a logophile and a bibliophile since I was little, always expressing myself best through words (yes, people would roll their eyes at me when I used big words like that, as if I was trying to show off). It wasn’t showing off, but just a love for words and being intrigued by fancy words. When I would get emotional, I would write. When I was happy, I would write. When I would become angry, my words would flow like something from a Jane Austen novel and would never be a typical rant and rave with curses. When I felt I needed to tell someone off, they would get an elaborate email expressing my sentiments and emotions from me. Books were my friends when I was young and being an only child, I sought the company of characters from books until I became more outgoing. I have been told by others that I have the capacity to move them with my words.Whether it’s a gift or a talent, I do not know, but I do know I need to feed my soul by writing. I do it for myself, but if others reap the benefits from my thoughts and words, I have managed to fulfill something greater.

In some serendipitous way, I was told to write a script for an Indian dance drama which was started by a South Asian Dance group called Satrangi created by Rohheet Baxi. This was written in the style of a Broadway production with music and songs that would go hand in hand with the story plot. The first script was named Manmohini 2012. It was about reincarnation and the story of a beautiful woman named Manmohini set in the 1940s when India was in turmoil and fighting for Independence with Britain. The woman dies in the early part of the script only to return as Mohini in current times (2012). She meets a man named, Raj, in 2012 who is convinced that they were lovers in their past lives. The dance drama, resplendent with elaborate costumes, lavish dances and a plot about reincarnation (that appeal to most Indians who believe in this philosophy) was quite successful and well received. This set the stage for a sequel. I wrote the script for the first dance drama, Manmohini 2012 diving into a romantic storyline. The second Manmohini in 2013 was written by Rohheet Baxi since I had previous commitments and that too received great accolades. Manmohini has become a winter tradition now and the crowd in the NY/NJ/PA area looks forward to this production every year in the late winter/early spring time frame. This time, I was fortunate enough to write the script for the third installment of Manmohini for 2014. The script this year revolves around the mystery/suspense genre and will be performed on March 30th in NJ. The teaser for this show was aired on a TV show called AVS (Asian Variety Show) last week. I will provide a full review of the show after it has been performed on March 30th at Wilkens Theater in NJ. My portion comes about 1 minute and 35 seconds into the telecast and I have another brief appearance at the very end.

I truly hope Manmohini 2014 is successful and will boost my ego and my desire to continue to write. Thanks for viewing the video and giving me support and encouragement in my writing endeavor. Please click the image to see the video presentation of the curtain teaser for Manmohini 2014.

Curtain Teaser for Manmohini 2014 presented by AVS

avs image

Oscar 2014 Highlights

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WINNERS:
Best Movie: 12 Years a Slave
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey of Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett of Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto of Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave

The 86th Academy Awards, or the Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres was actually not so boring as other years. I enjoyed watching Ellen’s antics and maybe her deadpan delivery was more amusing to me than what others may desire to see from an Oscar host or hostess. The best lines delivered by Ellen were:

“Between all of the nominees here, you’ve made over 1,400 films. And you’ve gone to a total of six years of college. I’m kidding. Kids, stay in school.” (Then she goes on to ask Amy Adams if she went to college and she shakes her said to say “No”).

“Jennifer, by the way, I’m not going to bring up what happened last year when  you were… you  know. It’s ridiculous, something like that happens, and it’s embarrassing,  and people just talk about it. It’s just… you know. [then she goes onto talking about the tripping in detail and her tripping AGAIN this year!] If you win this year, I think we should bring you the OSCAR”.

“Anything can happen, so many different possibilities. Possibility number one, 12  Years A Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two, you’re all  racists.”

To Liza Minelli she says: “One of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I have ever seen in my  entire life. Just really, seriously. Good job, sir. Really.”

But I think she redeemed herself by being the “nice guy” and buying pizza for the audience since they looked hungry and tweeted a few “selfies” in the audience to make up for her risque lines. She has 25 million followers and this was the most retweeted segment. WOW! I didn’t actually think she would get pizza, but there they were, several pies being handed out to the audience. That was something novel. You can warm anyone’s heart with food!

The gowns were just ok. I really did not get WOWed by any one gown. I think many of the starlets looked elegant and well put together. My favorite for style has always been Charlize Theron. I think she always looks statuesque and reminds me of old Hollywood glamour with that perfect hair and body.The best looking couple were Matthew McConaughey and Camilla Alves. Lupita Nyongo looked like a doll and Kate Hudson looked adorable and as cute as ever. Something was very wrong about Angelina Jolie’s dress. It didn’t look right on her.  Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock always remind me of the girl next door, so I love both of them both no matter what they wear. Amy Adams also tried to emulate the 50s era with her Kim Novak style French twist. However, most everyone opted for less color this year wearing creams and whites with the exception of a few. The gowns were pretty humdrum this year. I did like the necklace worn backwards by Jennifer Lawrence. I will have to try that sometime.

I loved Lupita’s doll-like appearance and sweetness when she said her joy comes from the pain of others. I liked that Jared Leto paid tribute to his beautiful mother. However, Matthew McConaughey’s speech was wonderful. He thanked his late father who he said was celebrating in heaven with “a big pot of jumbo and a can of Miller Lite”. He talked about someone to look up to (God or the Almighty), something to look forward to (going home to his wife and family who inspire him to do all that he does) and someone to chase. He then explained that when he was asked who was his hero and what he was chasing, he said that he was chasing his future self who he knows he will never catch up to, but wants to find out who that guy will be. Aren’t we all chasing the heroes that we have the potential to be? That was so beautifully said.

The songs were wonderful too: Idina Menzel has some lungs on her! She belted out Frozen’s “Let it Go” with such emotion and passion. It was wonderful. U2  never disappoints and remains great in my eyes. U2 sang “Ordinary Love”, a tribute to Mandela. Also, Pharrell really got everyone singing and dancing with his “Happy” from “Despicable Me, 2”.

On a disappointing note to my readers, I have not seen many of the movies that were up for the Oscars so I can’t review them with an honest opinion. On a positive note, I have many new movies on my list now to watch. Amongst them, “12 Years a Slave” looks poignant and powerful, “Gravity” looks mesmerizing for its novel storyline and special effects, “Her” looks bizarre in its plot line, but for the mere fact that it’s bizarre I it requires viewing, and “Frozen” looks like another animated great from Disney. “Captain Phillips” has Tom Hanks which is reason enough to watch the movie. “Wolf on Wall Street” looks as if the triumvirate of Leonardo diCaprio , Martin Scorcese and Jonah Hill will prove to have us entertained. I have only seen Woody Allen’s,  “Blue Jasmine”. Cate Blanchett is unarguably a versatile actress who can play the surreal, ethereal beauty,Galadriel in Lord of the Rings and then move onto the role of a neurotic, self obsessed socialite in Blue Jasmine.

What was sad to see is how awful Kim Novak appeared. She was the blonde beauty in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The amount of plastic surgery done to her numbed her so much, she could barely speak. On the other hand, the handsome Sidney Poitier seemed as elegant and as charming as ever.

All in all, the glamor, the fun, the music, the lights, and all that we expect from the Oscars were present and made for another memorable Academy Awards ceremony.

Downton Abbey – Season 4, Pt 2

Mr. Bates and Anna:

brendan coyle  beachI think all are waiting to see what will happen to Anna (JoAnne Froggatt) and Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle). I enjoyed their romance  in the past seasons only to see it rapidly decline this season. It was a sad day for all of us fans when Anna was raped. There was such coldness between them after that, that even though Mr. Bates was trying his best to reach out to Anna, she just couldn’t let him in. My friend who dislikes Mr. Bates with a vengeance couldn’t wait to throw the line,  “See I told you SO” at me concerning Mr. Bates. She is as staunchly convinced of his guilt as I am of his inner goodness. I suppose, this season we had to look hard to find that inner goodness, but I am convinced it’s still there. Fellowes, don’t kill of my Mr. Bates!  Why do I always tend to think that in the end Mr. Bates will come through and show some great quality in him that will exonerate him from all previous dubious, potentially illicit acts?

My friend, call her “Doubting Debbie”, has neatly listed his many heinous acts (according to her he is HEINOUS): murder of his deceased wife, threatening acts towards his fellow inmate, murder of Lord Gillingham’s valet and now forgery. She wants to see him hang!!! Poor Mr. Bates ! Is there no one in his corner except Mrs. Huges, Anna and myself ? Is there no one who feels that he may be justified in perhaps pushing the sleazy rapist, Mr. Green in front of the bus? I just wish Julian Fellowes directed some human feeling into Mr. Bates in season 4, so we could feel a bit more empathy at his plight. I wish Mr. Bates could have shown a little more about how enraged he was at Anna’s predicament, how horribly despondent he was at the turn of events in his romance with Anna and how he plotted his vengeance. I wish for once, Mr. Bates would let down his guard and show some passionate rage. I wished Fellowes showed something of the vengeance plot, if there truly was any. Why was that left in the background like a “oh btw, Mr. Green was found dead”. Anything, except that cold, calculating stare from Mr. Bates would have been more desirable. That cold, calculating stare when Bates realized that Mr. Green had raped Anna gave me the chills. However, he showed his lack of conscience to deliver justice in his own vigilante manner when he showed no remorse in his feelings in season 4. One can always deliver justice, but do it with some passion !  Be the tragic hero that you are, that we all have grown to love in the past and that we saw little of in this season.

I want Mr. Bates to come out to be a hero. I want his romance with Anna to be rekindled like a flaming phoenix; I want them to have a future. Is that in the cards though? Fellowes does not like to keep Mr. Bates happy for too long. He likes to keep happiness dangling for Mr. Bates, tangibly present and near, but never fully attainable without a price. What will Fellowes have in store for Mr. Bates next season? If I was the writer… let’s see…what would I do ?  I still do have faith in him and if I was the writer I would put a twist in season 5. I would throw a wrench in the plot and would create a situation where he would come out a victor, a hero and show the world that he is not at all a villain, but a man of principle, honor and valor. Let’s see what all of you think? Have the tides turned against Mr. Bates during this season? It’s time for another poll, methinks. Meanwhile, I remain steadfastly loyal to Mr. Bates and hope that his goodness shines bright in season 5. You know which way I will be voting.

Toodles to all !

Downton Abbey – End of Season 4, Pt. 1

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All I can say about the finale of Season 4 is that it ran about as lack lustre as the first 6 episodes did. Are you listening to me Julian Fellowes ? I know we were all shocked by Matthew’s death, but not all of us intend to remain in mourning for as long as Lady Mary does. After all , it’s the roaring 20s so let it roar and reign and let the party begin.

Unfortunately, the party in season 4 never started. With nothing but a doleful countenance after fast forwarding 6 months past Matthew’s death, we were left to wonder when we might be getting into the mood of the roaring twenties. Fellowes introduced several men in Mary’s life in season 4, but it got to be too much of a good thing. Too many raining men became just too confusing for all of us simple souls that could only deal with one heart wrenching romance at a time. After all, Mary, at the end of Season 4 is weighing in who has the most financial bank for the buck and who would make her future look more green. I do not like Mary. Did anyone catch that in my snarky, sarcastic comment from the previous sentences? I always feel as if she is opportunistic and is dangling men all over the place, just to see which horse wins the race and brings in the most money. Does one predict Lord Gillingham ( can anyone ever figure out his name – is it Gilligan, Gillian, Gillingham or some form of all of the above? ), Mr. Blake, or even Branson who might sneak in from behind to win the race for Mary’s cold hand?

Edith, on the other hand is a sweet and warm soul who deserves far better than what life has dealt her. The Fates always seem to deal dear Edith harsh blow after blow. Poor Edith can never get a break. Edith, sweet Edith, is forever hunting for the perfect man. She even had a baby with the love of her life, but had to give up that baby. Not only that, she’s lost the love of her life, Michael in Germany or wherever he may be at this point. Where is the baby now?  Julian Fellows, are you listening? This was by far the most confusing part of the plot. We fast forwarded through all of Edith’s pregnancy to find her saying “please call it a she”. I thought, how does she know the baby’s a “SHE” ? They did not have ultrasounds back then, did they? But lo and behold, Fellowes decided to be cheeky and fast forward again to 1923 when Edith has had her baby already. Now, “where is Edith’s baby?” is like asking “Where’s Waldo” except we don’t have a name for Edith’s baby. Is Edith’s baby in Switzerland or is she being raised by the farmer and his wife close to Downton Abbey? And come on, Lady Cora, you are about as bright as a waning light bulb sputtering an early death from an electric fuse. The mother does not even sense that her daughter may be pregnant, whereas the Dowager and Lady Rosamund (who doesn’t even live with them) has figured it out? Lady Edith is going to Switzerland to learn French. Ha! That is about as suspicious as telling parents that senior week is just to go and enjoy the beaches of the Jersey Shore!

Ok, now for the humor and the wit! Dowager and Martha Levinson are always entertaining with their war of words. It’s always fun to see what they will come up with next. We have now added Harold, Cora’s brother to the mix for no apparent reason except to add some more complexity? We had gems from Martha Levinson last night such as “My world is coming nearer, and your world is slipping further and further away.” And the Dowager’s claiming “I feel as though I spent the whole evening trapped in the cast of a whodunit”. Carson never fails to make me chuckle with his lines and expressions. I love his horror and reaction at the American valet’s lingo when he said in his very American way “I wonder if there’s anything going on between Daisy and that other fellow”. Or when Carson raises his pant legs before going into the sea and remarks that Mrs. Hughes managed to sound risque when she told Mr. Carson to hold her hand, “You can always hold my hand if it makes you feel steady”. You little temptress, you , Mrs. Hughes! We expect a full fledged seduction in season 5 with Mr. Carson !

The Scandal of Season 4: We expected something to top the scandal of Pamuk in season 1, but seriously can anything ever top that one ? The London season was highlighted as usual by some scrape that Lady Rose was in the midst of. Needless to say Lady Rose’s own indiscretion with the African American band leader was forgotten quite fast (what was his name?) in the last episode of season 4. She basically just caused an uproar to perhaps ruffle Mama’s feathers. I don’t think Lady Rose really was in love with Jack Ross; it was just a momentary diversion until she found something else to take up her interest as in the scandal of “the letter”. Lady Rose, Lady Mary and Lord Grantham were trying to retrieve a letter written by a married Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward romancing Prince Edward which ended up in the conniving Mr. Samson’s hands. The Crawleys were frantically trying to save their honor. Alas, Mr. Bates came to the rescue of the Crawleys once again with his forgery skills ! Mr. Bates is quite talented isn’t he especially when it comes to some illegal activity? We all seemingly wait with “BATED” breath for his next underhanded scheme. Well, the scandal may have been averted, but this was perhaps needed in order to give our dull Lord Grantham a chance to do something purposeful in his dreary existence. All that happened to no avail, since history depicts that our colorful Prince Edward became King Edward VIII who had to abdicate the throne for his darling, Ms. Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee. From the frying pan into the fire I say!

All in all, I must say more about my favorite couple, Mr. Bates and Anna. If I was the writer (are you listening Julian Fellowes?), I would have ended season 4 with the Bates’ mystery as my season 4 climax. I would have shown the bus, Mr. Bates behind it and a crowd of people around the dead valet of Mr. Gillingham. Alas, Julian Fellowes did not consult me on this one. He left us at the end of season 4 with a very sweet and tender image of a budding romance between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Huges. What a difference from the dramatic ending of last season. I was wondering if Fellowes had something else up his sleeve after that mellow beach scene, but he’s leaving a potential romance between Baxter and Mr. Molesly for season 5, a potential meeting with Daisy and Alfred perhaps, more mysterious comings and goings with Mr. Bates, the mystery of Edith’s child and love interest elaborated and the perpetual antics of Lady Rose highlighted in season 5. I can’t say I like the Branson and Bunting pairing. I hope the Brunting pairing dies a fast death. I truly hope Branson ends up with Edith (my prediction). Of course, how can we forget, Lady Mary has to make a choice : Gillingham, Blake or who knows, some incredibly rich fellow might come into the picture to sweep up Lady Mary. I think Julian Fellowes needs to make a cameo as Hitchcock used to do and try for Mary’s hand.

I can’t leave without saying more about my Mr. Bates and Anna. I will save that analysis for Part 2. Cheerios for now!

Driving Ms. Gargi

Tiwari
Tiwari , our driver

Well I may not be like Ms. Daisy and may not have her personality depicted in the movie, but travelling to India does set you back in time. There are many things that we take for granted here in the US that are not done as easily. One is driving around from one place to another; another is the mere simple process of crossing streets. Traffic rules pretty much seem to be random and  nonexistent. The crowds are immense, the traffic unbelievable and crossing the street is like taking your life in your hands. For that reason, I had to have a driver take me around. Driving around the streets of Bombay (now Indianized to Mumbai) is like being part of a perpetual video game. Our driver is expert at dodging other cars, jay walkers, carts, buses, random animals (yes, there are random cows that just slowly waddle into your path, not caring how long it takes them to cross the street), etc. The first few days, I start closing my eyes at all the near misses, surprised that the driver hasn’t hit a human, cow or car.  But I have a wonderful driver named Tiwari. He has been our family driver for over a decade and he never changes. He always looks the same, hardly seems to age and time seems to stand still for him. I cannot even tell you how old he is, but relative to what he’s told me about his children and some quick calculations, my guess is that he is close to 50.(Asking a person’s age in India is pretty much taboo). He is so trustworthy, reliable, efficient, dedicated and indispensable to all of us in the family. To call him a “driver” is to trivialize his role in our family. He takes me to all the places that I have visited in the past and he remembers the routes without hesitation. I never have to tell him how to go there. He is a living, breathing GPS and navigation system rolled into one. In Mumbai, it is impossible to have a navigation system since there are so many tiny roads and alleyways without signs.

He and I would converse about our various customs. Just sharing stories about our lives and lifestyles would bring us closer. He called me “Madam” and showed me so much respect that I felt like a rich, Southern dame. He would open doors for me, hold my packages after shopping, bring the car around to the front of any store or shop and basically ran all the errands I requested of him. I felt bad initially for ordering him around and telling him to meet me here and get me there like a princess, but after awhile you get used to being driven around and enjoy the pampering.

He would take my clothes to the dry cleaners, pick them up, pick up anything that was sent for tailoring, deliver a message, pick up something from the store if you gave him instructions and money, he would take something that needed repairing and report back for any driving duty all in a matter of a day’s duty. I could trust him implicitly with my purchased items and leave them in the car without any concern. He may not have enough money in his life, but there was an honesty about him. I would never wonder or question the fact that he might take something from the car that I had bought. He told me he had several older children of which I knew nothing about. Some were married and one he would marry off next year to a man who was requesting a good deal of money from him for the dowry. His stories made me feel as if I got transported to another world. I told him about my life in the US, how we could drive long distances very fast (speeds you can never achieve on small Mumbai roads) and how we would drive in the snow. He was fascinated by that. He’s never seen snow and he could not fathom driving in something as cold and slippery as snow.

I do not know Hindi (the national language of India) well and Tiwari’s English is limited. We managed nevertheless with my shabby Hindi and his broken English. For example, I would tell him after visiting a monument or tourist site, in broken Hindi, to meet me at the “big banyan tree at the end of the road”  and he would look at me in a confused, but conciliatory way, nod his head very effusively and say “Sure, sure ma’am, I will wait for you” in perfect Hindi. Except my problem was “banyan tree” is not known by Indians the same way we may say it. There may be a word for it unknown to me in Hindi. So I would be looking for Tiwari and he would be looking for me amongst what looked like a million people. Miracle of miracles, my perfect driver would find me in all the mess of street vendors, a myriad of people and nerve wracking traffic. Tiwari would always find me as if I had a tracking device tied to myself.  What a wonderful, loyal and devoted man our Tiwari is…. I hope he gets all the happiness in his world of simple pleasures.

A Sabbatical of Sorts

I am so sorry to have spent so much time away from the writing. I was away on a long vacation of about a month and did not have very good internet connection to put up some posts. I apologize for the disconnect, but will soon post several items that may be of interest to you all. Where did I go? I followed the journey to the land of my roots, INDIA. It was bright, sunny, warm and I came back to snow, stormy weather, below freezing weather but it’s always nice to be back home. As they say, “Home is where the heart is”. That is so very true in this case. Stay tuned for some travel posts coming up!

Snapchat: Ephemeral Gratification or Subversive Surveillance?

First of all, for those who are not familiar with the term “snapchat”, it’s a photo messaging system that can send photos or short videos on smartphones that last for a set amount of seconds set by the sender. These “snaps” are deleted from the recipient’s phone in a matter of seconds set by the sender. Some of the biggest questions people have are : where are the photos kept , are they deleted from the sender’s and the recipient’s phones permanently and can they be retrieved eventually? I will enlighten you as to how “Big Brother” may be watching.

Those of the older generations 30 and over probably shake their heads at snapchat knowing it is wise to be cautious about such things and rightly so. Those who are in their teens and 20s, are more prone to be adventurous where technology is concerned and take most everything at face value. They will tell you like you know nothing about surveillance glitches “Oh they say it’ll be gone in 10 seconds and no one will ever see me in that nude pose ever again”. They say the Snapchat creators were inspired by Anthony Weiner’s mishaps at texting nude photos. If only he had Snapchat! Adults wonder why there would be that urge to keep ephemeral images. It’s like asking your kids “why do you need to go to the beach on senior week?” The answer is obvious: to meet tons of seniors and to go crazy without adult supervision. Only one answer comes to mind that is at the forefront of our less than innocent thought process: those younger ones want to capture images that are probably embarassing, perhaps sexy and alluring and ones they feel won’t be seen by their parents or others resulting in punishment or future repercussions. WRONG !!!!!

Here’s the skinny about anything that is sent over some data server. Information can always be retrieved !!! Big Brother can always find ways to find out what you are doing ane when you are doing it. If someone captures images on their server, there is a way to retain it if it is needed. So your sexting and sexy lingerie photos or even nude photos are there residing on some server belonging to those services providing this photo app. Snapchat even claims that within the 30 day period before the snaps are deleted from their servers, if the federal law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) asks them to reveal the Snaps to the requesting law enforcement agency they will have to allow it. Your privacy will not be your own at that point.

In layman’s terms, when a snap is viewed and the timer runs out, the app notifies their servers, which in turn will notify the sender that the snap has been opened. Once they have been notified that a snap has been opened by all of its recipients, it is deleted from Snapchat servers. If a snap is still not opened after 30 days, it will be deleted from Snapchat servers for good. Can some group or company retrieve this even after the 30 days ? Sure. Digital forensics is a huge thing out there and anything can be retrieved. Here’s the caveat: HOWEVER and this is a big HOWEVER, what if someone in that company someday programmed the software to retain the snaps somewhere in their information servers permanently. Would they let us know openly?  What if we just didn’t know it? What if someone hacked into it and retrieved those embarassing pictures? Do you want all those embarassing snaps out in the open ? What if some government agency wanted to open those files? What if the company was bought out by another that did things differently. All the ephemeral moments of unabashed indulgence that  you did not want parents, spouses, bosses to see will be out in the open market. Something to think about.

Also, there is a way to actually save the images before the seconds expire and the image is lost to the recipient. Here’s an article that tells you just how: Secretly Save Your Snapchats

So, next time you feel the urge to send that embarassing or explicit picture, think who else may be watching other than the recipient. Ephemeral gratification may not always be so transient after all!

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