Tuesday, 25 March 2008

In The World of Enid Blyton

At age four, I remember a light green hard bound book with dog eared pages and a colourful pciture on the cover, thrust in my hands. I remember Noddy, whose blue cap and red shorts remain etched in my mind even now after twenty years. Noddy and his friends- who fascinated me. I was in another world as words and pictures weaved magic.

I was then introduced to the Magic Faraway Tree – Jo, Bessie, Fanny and their magical friends Moon face, Silky and Saucepan man. A world where children had amazing adventures in the woods where an old enchanted tree stood and spoke an English which was so different from mine. Who would say words like smashing, golly and gosh.

I read about boarding school travails in the Malory Towers series and saw Darryl Rivers grow into a young woman. I drew parallels of my classmates with Gwendoline, Alicia and the rest of the gang. I heard about fascinating sports like lacrosse and mid night feasts of cakes. Even now, Darryl reminds me of my elder sister – short tempered, intelligent and caring. I always identified with her younger sister Felicity.

Then came the Five Find Outers - Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets and Famous Five George, Dick, Julian, Anne and Timmy, followed by Secret Seven. Their mysteries in small English villages, where they travelled on cycles, ate hot scones and jacket potato and drank tea with cream and ginger ale. They found thieves in caravans, lived in cottages, went to fairs, encountered gypsies, and went for camping trips and found adventures in caves, highlands and moors. A world so removed from mine.

Enid Blyton’s books have been such an important part of my early years, memories of hot summer days, my nose buried in reading, visualizing their adventures, living them through those words. I absolutely devoured all the Blyton books I could lay hands on – school library and the local library near home unaware that in Britain these books were in a midst of debate – depicting middle class England and being politically incorrect.

And now Disney has recycled the ‘Famous Five’ and put the characters in a new setting with multi ethnic identities. The characters are now not in idyllic England instead they are in sunny California, they eat pizza, guzzle coke and use laptops and mobile phones. The Enid Blyton loyalists and ardent fans like me will scream blue murder. My favourite books and characters are been given a face lift I don’t want. I wish instead of repackaging the classic and giving a generation leap (à la saas-bahu serials!) they could have started a new series.

I came across some interesting view points in British and Scottish media. The opinion column of Scotsman says-
“In an act of sheer literary vandalism, Disney – who else? – has stripped the very heart out of Enid Blyton's adventures and characters and in their place offered up a pale imitation of Scooby-Doo.”

While Times opinion column says-
“What are we doing to these well-loved characters?... Our longest waiting lists were for the Famous Five books.” Funnily enough, it goes on to add an ‘immigrant’ angle. While the regular news story is more ‘politically correct’.

While everyone has been harping about adding an Anglo-Indian character in the new series no one has analyzed why such a character has been introduced. I believe it shows the cultural influence of India and growth of its soft powers. I also think Chorion and Disney are trying to appeal to a wider audience – a large chunk of which may be South Asian or Indian.

Here’s hoping Jyoti and her gang don’t stray too far from the original! I wouldn’t want Enid Blyton turning in her grave.

Monday, 24 March 2008


As I was travelling through rural interiors of India in the past few weeks for work, long hours of travel kept me busy with musings and thoughts. Suddenly these words came in my head and kept rolling about.

J'étais enchainée,
Et maintenant je suis libre...

I was enchained,
And now I am free...

I had written these words
some time ago – unfinished thoughts in an unfinished, cryptic poem. Inspired by the vast expanse of green fields of paddy, golden yellow fields of wheat and sunflower, the blue sky turning shades of orange, pink and cobalt I really wondered if I was enchained and whether I am free now.

J'étais enchainée,
Et maintenant je suis libre...
I thought so
As I lay in my bed on a hot summer night

But what are chains
Are they not meant to be broken
If they are
Would I be free

Oh! But what if it’s not a chain
It never crossed my mind
What I thought were shackles
Were maybe meant to liberate me

What if they weren’t
How am I to know
What lies on the other side
Can I find without going too far

What irony awaits me
Is it that what binds me
Tries to set me free
Or what sets me free, brings me back

Another summer is upon me,
And I wonder if
J'étais enchainée,
Et maintenant je suis libre...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Tagged for Eights'

I was just blog hopping and noticed that Vrij tagged me. So here goes my list of eight :)

Eight things I am passionate about

Social Issues
Good Food

Eight things I want to do before I die

Travel around the country and the world... Go back to Spain for a longer period of time
Read as many books as I can
Continue learning French and then learn Spanish
Try as many cuisines as I can... Given the fact I am a vegetarian and my options get halved
Work to uplift the social status of women
Learn pottery
Learn martial arts
Buy Vincent van Gogh's art and hang it in my living room

Eight things I say often

Bloodly Mofo
Oh F&*%
Aisa Kya?
Aur Bata...
S&*(% Man!!
Hey Bhagwan
Abey Saaley...

Eight books I’ve read recently

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseni)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseni)
Greatest Works of Anton Chekhov (Anton Chekhov)
The Witch of Portobello (Paulo Coelho)
Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts)
Black Friday (S Hussain Zaidi)
Japan (Yamaguchi Hiroichi)
Radiant Himalayas (R C Naithani)

Eight songs I could listen to, over and over

Inside out (Bryan Adams)
I am ready (Bryan Adams)
I don't wanna miss a thing (Aerosmith)
Kuch iss tarah (Atif Aslam)
I am like a bird (Nelly Furtado)
Bulla ki jaana (Rabbi Shergill)
Chiquitita (ABBA)

I believe I can fly (R Kelley)

Eight things that attracts me to my close friends

A fair attitude
Having no airs or graces
Accepting each other as we are
Zest for life
Ability to be grounded when required
Intelligent Conversation
Common love of music/books/theatre/travel/films/activism

People I think should do this tag


Kamesh (Maybe the tag with get you back to active blogging :P)


Anti Tags has been updated. Do drop in there and leave your comments.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Indian Students Unsafe in US?

According to a survey, 53% of all students in US universities are of Asian origin. Out of which about 80,000 are Indian students and there has been a gradual increase in the figures since the last decade.

Recent news reports seem to indicate that an increasing number of Indian students are becoming targets of violent crimes in a country which was touted to be a safe haven. Why is this happening?

Dr Akkaldelvi Srinivas is the latest to join the list. In fact, he is the fourth Indian student to meet a violent end in the US in the past three months. Isn’t that alarming?

Is it a systematic hate wave? Are people feeling threatened of Indian taking their jobs? Is it the recession? Why are South East Asians not targeted?

Sitting in the other side of the world I can’t analyze or understand this. My blog seems to get a lot of hits from the US. Can anyone shed some light on what they feel? Why are Indian students becoming targets of crimes?