Monday, October 26, 2009

Diwali

Diwali - The festival which is revered as the most sacred as well as the most fun-filled one in India. The festival signifies the beginning of a prosperous year, the victory of good over evil, the spreading of light to disperse the darkness in our lives and who can forget the delicious food and delicacies prepared by our moms.
Before nostalgia sets in, let me tell you guys about the Diwali Puja which took place on campus.

This year GISO hosted the Diwali puja along with ISA to bring together all Indian students and celebrate Diwali, thanks to the kindness & generosity of Dr.Durga Agarwal who came forward with the idea of a Diwali puja. Equally enthusiastic was Dr.Suresh Khator who, along with President Renu Khator ensured that the event was one of the finest in recent times.

Legend says that the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi visits Earth on Diwali and brings prosperity to her worshipers. So people clean their houses and adorn it with flowers, lights and rangoli. A traditionally decorated hall greeted the guests and adding to the festive spirit was the wide array of colors displayed in the Indian ethnic clothes worn by the students. The beautiful Rangoli at the entrance captured everybody's attention thanks to the efforts of the girls who made it. The function started with the Lakshmi puja. The sacred hymns and chants lent a peaceful, holy ambiance which rekindled the feeling of being in a temple. It transports you to a different world where you get spiritual peace.

As guests started pouring in, there was a profusion of joyful greetings. The curiosity and interest which the foreigners showed in the puja amazed me. They were eager to know about each of the rituals performed during the puja. They were all ears to hear the stories and legends associated with Diwali which we were happy to share. A delicious Indian lunch which followed the puja offered a perfect respite to the cravings for Indian food.

This Diwali gave me the satisfaction of celebrating it in the authentic Indian style (with only the firecrackers missing, i guess). I hope the others had the same feel- good factor lingering in them. Wish you all a very Happy Diwali!!

P.S. Our excited web administrator could not contain his joy and uploaded the photos and videos of the event the very next day. Check them out at our website's gallery.

Friday, October 9, 2009

PARICHAY 2009!!

Parichay – the time of the year when fun, frolic & masti was high in the air and everybody had a rocking time. This year, Parichay attained a new height with the event going Housefull. The tickets were completely sold out before the event and we were overwhelmed by the response of the crowd. Thanks a million for your support!!!

The show started with the best moves of Shantanu & Shreyasee. They are the dance legends at UH and no show can be complete without them. Okay, it was a show for the freshers, so stealing away the limelight from the legends, the freshers jumped onto the stage and danced to foot tapping numbers. Boy, I must say we have got a very talented & energetic bunch of new students who gave spectacular performances on stage.

Remember the song “Dil hai chota sa” from the movie Roja?? It always makes me nostalgic of my childhood and it was made more beautiful by Deepthi who sang the song in an amazing mix of Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. It was soulful and captured the true essence of India - the diverse culture. Rohan and Shaunak also captivated the audience with their songs and got the audience singing to their tunes.

The real fun was the games round. Tribal Queen game was where the audience had to choose one person from their table and dress him up with newspaper and other decorations. The winner was the Statue of Uday who was dressed up with a crown on his head and even a torch in his hand. The other game was Longest Chain where the team had to make a chain with whatever was available with them. (I could even see a pair of socks in the chain..lol). The group from Houston Bridges made a chain which went half way around the hall and they bagged the prize!

The Mr & Miss Parichay contest was all about being smart and witty on stage where the participants had to introduce themselves in a hatke way & were asked naughty questions by the judges – Shilpa, Raashi and Vijay. And we got some really smart and hilarious answers. Rohan & Katha were crowned the Mr & Miss Parichay for their cool attitude and talents.

And Oh! Who could forget the Mismatch contest which was held at the beginning of the show? The people who turned up at the contest were extremely creative. A shoe on one foot, a heeled sandal on the other, a necktie around the head, a colorful beach shirt coupled with formal boots, it was fashion at its mismatched best.

Adding to the fun were the anchors – Saumitra, Fabian, Spoorthi and Madhura who were taking a dig at the “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” phrase. Finally there was the Jam session when people let their hair down and danced to the best of Bollywood songs. Had a gala time dancing with the enthusiastic crowd. It was a refreshing change to party hard in the middle of a semester. And to cherish this memorable time, we took lots of pictures. Check them out at the photo gallery of our website!!

-Rajatha

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Orientation & Independence Day!!

As the 63rd Indian Independence Day unfolds, India emerges as a young nation whose dreams and aspirations are recognized by the world over. Be it politics, movies, fashion or food, India is creating waves in the International circuit and is being appreciated everywhere for its unique appeal. The attitude of India is changing too. As Amitabh Bachchan’s Lead India campaign rightly points out that the new India does not boycott foreign made goods anymore, it buys out those companies instead. The world is holding its breath and watching the show.

This year, the GISO team not only decided to celebrate the spirit of the new India but also make the people aware of the grass root level problems which have been plaguing India. There is a shining India living in the cities but there is also an India without three square meals to eat. The time has come to bridge the gap between the two.

Starting off the Independence Day celebrations was an inspiring speech by none other than the President of UH – Dr. Renu Khator. The motivational videos shown after that made the audience realize the importance of an individual’s responsibility towards our motherland. A powerful presentation by Vikram Shete on the true potential of a united India added an interesting flavor to the show. A short play highlighting the problems of India and the ignorance of people towards these problems was brilliantly presented in a simple yet effective way.

We, as students in the U.S.A. , get a firsthand experience of what U.S. offers us and what India lacks. So we are the people who are responsible to take that one small step that would make a big change in India. Several organizations like Pratham and A.I.D. serve the country by funding projects to help the kids and the needy in India. Insights into their work were presented by their volunteers and it was great to see the response from the crowd who signed up with these organizations after the show.

Well, well, there were several interesting things before the show too. Hats off to the GISO volunteers who made the tricolor come out alive with their face painting stall. The very sight of the Indian flag adorning the hands & faces of the audience instilled a proud feeling of being an Indian. Also, the thumb printing of the Indian flag at the entrance took the patriotic fervor to a new high.

This Independence Day proved to be special for GISO because it was the first time that there were two events conducted on the same day. We welcomed the new students with the Orientation program which equipped them with the basic information required to kick start their new life in the U.S.A. The curious, eager look on their faces reminded me of my days as a fresher here when everything is new and you spend your time exploring the city, culture and the people around you.

A word of advice to the new students – be highly adaptive to any situation, keep your learning spirits high and absorb the good features of the American culture in your life. I guess Time = Money seems to be good lesson to start with. There are several more which you need to discover and make them part of your life.

Last but not the least, the time and efforts of the GISO team in putting together these events are praise-worthy. Three cheers to the team and the volunteers for their hard-work and brilliance!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Editor's Note

The exhilarating feeling of actually becoming the Editor of Dautya has sunk in finally and I'm ready to launch this year's newsletter with a humble note of thanks to all the people who support me always and of course GISO for giving me this wonderful opportunity.

On a happy note, let me introduce you to bright new members of the GISO committee. Omkar is the President who is currently holidaying in India. (I envy him). Watch out for his talents right from sand-animation to poetry to drama. (P.S. He also makes excellent chai, so his home has become our official meeting place!!). We have also got an amazing trio of Vice Presidents. Bhushan -The logistics guy. A true philosopher who will make you see the world from a different perspective everytime. (His favorite line- I have got an idea!), Vishnu - He is in incharge of finance and a member of Pratham (Oh boy, i can hear the jingle of the money already), and Tejas - the PR and publicity guy who gets to know a million people wherever he goes.

The gorgeous Gauri is the Cultural Secretary who is also a great dancer. She provides the insights in the planning of the events and will make sure that the crowd is never disappointed. The ever-smiling Ravi is the Sports Secretary who wishes to take sports to a new high. So get ready to play your best game. Not to forget Sandeep- the Webmaster, whose efforts in putting up an attractive website and posters will earn him scores of brownie points.

Well well, I'm proud of the new team and wanted to give them a boost before they get to work. Coming to me, this is my first summer in Houston and it has been a fulfilling one too. Thought I would be bored with my dreadful research but thankfully I'm still excited about it. Weekends are packed with novels, movie nights and masti with friends. Started discovering new dance styles at the Miller theatre which hosts some great performances from around the world. Tried some new cuisines but cannot let go of the taste of the chatpata Indian food. That reminds me, I need to grab my lunch before my stomach starts yelling!!

So, before signing off, a note to the incoming new students - We welcome you to your new life and hope that you have a great time here. We need your cooperation and participation in all our activities to make them truly wonderful. Goodluck and have fun!!!

-Rajatha

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Path of Philanthrophy

Ah Ha!! So it’s that time of the year again. Hoards of new faces would be streaming into the campus - the bus stops, the subway, the library , the parking lot and even the red route bus. Experience having made me wiser, I thought I could afford to dole out a little advice to the new-bies. (Who doesn’t love “giving” advise : )? ).

I recently came across an article which listed out the top 20 ways to stay happy. Getting richer than your peers was one of them – ah – if only things were that simple! However, philanthropy and “trying out new things” also figured on the list. I have always regretted not having had enough time for both philanthropy and experimenting. If you are a new-comer, here is something you could do at U of H - to - you guessed it right – to stay happy! I have done some of them myself- with – should I say – “resounding success” :)

  • Enroll for free Salsa dance classes. They are held both at the recreation center and the cougar den once a week.
  • Join “Cougar for kids”. I saw a guy sporting the “Cougar for kids” T-shirt. Trust me. From the look ron his face, I am sure it was worth the volunteering efforts.
  • Buy a 35 dollar guitar or any other musical instrument of your choice and enroll for a course. At the end of six months, you would be a ‘certified’ and also ahmmm… hopefully a good entertainer. The catch here being that, you would also be poorer by 1000$ – 1500$.
  • Join AID – Association for India’s development.
  • Participate in marathons – the regular rush of fresh oxygenated blood to you head might do you some good in the long run :P
  • ‘Pratham’ holds small fund raising events every 3 months or so. Volunteer in it.
  • Register for donating your Bone marrow – you will be surprised how simple the process is.
  • Learn Turkish for free for 3 hrs on Tuesdays – for all you know, you might one day see yourself at an Indian restaurant with a Turkish date. ( ‘Kind old lady experience’ tells me that’s a far-fetched idea though…)
  • And last but not the least, Houston – it seems, has a separate season set aside for it – the hurricane season! Pray for a few hurricanes...and when the hurricane arrives, stop, take a deep breath and then move around effortlessly as the world around you comes to a mesmerizing stand-still.

Anyways, here’s the original article that I referred to earlier:

Ok, so how about starting your philanthropy sessions by advising the next person you come across? If you look closely, I just did that : )


-Sandeep Bellure

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Maitri to remember!!

“Aankhon mein sapne liye,
Ghar se hum chal toh diye…”

Shaan crooned in my ears. My MP3 enabled phone showed there were at least ten more Shaan songs to come and I smiled. Tea and songs go together better than Vodka and Sprite.

A roommate suddenly crashed into my room,

“Maitri’s coming up in a month. Dude, you have to be in it.”
“What am I going to do in it?” I knew what he had in mind.
“Err, mimicry!!”
“Yeah, right!”, I mumbled and continued in silence.
I entered the University next day on what should have been like any other day. Doing nothing but looking at the girls, eating, attending a lecture; or not attending anything at all and coming home later in the evening. But as that awaited evening approached I found myself amidst a group of fired up enthusiasts, all my age talking animatedly about “I am in a dance”, “Main dance aur fashion show”, “Ok, folks, gather around…”. Stuff that made little or no sense to me. And then,
“What are you here for?”
“Mimicry”
“Mimicry? That’s difficult to adjust in the show”, said a girl, who introduced herself as Shilpa later.
For no reason at all, I was disappointed. I should have been happy. Chalo, I'm free
But a girl sitting on the sofa opposite me, looked and said, “Why don’t you audition for compering?”
Uh oh!

I couldn’t stand on stage for more than 10 minutes, throat would, for sure, go dry not to mention a lingering feeling of 3rd degree interrogation. My heart races beyond time and everything blanks out. Urghghgh

“Ok.... I am Saumitra, and you are?”
“Mayuri”. (Nods at both ends)

Audition time: The President of GISO, Graduate Indian Students Org., for the uninitiated, introduced himself, with a small pep-talk about how good he wanted the show to be, and I was blank all the while. After an audition that had me and two others and a half hour later, I was told that I would be contacted.
Hmm...it seemed to be bigger than I thought.

***********************************************************************************

After almost a month of not practicing at all and hardly meeting the co-host twice, who had a major role to play later, I was confident that we could pull this off.

April 3rd, 12:00 PM…

Roshiny, the co-host, calls me,

“Saumitra, there’s a prob
lem”

I suddenly felt like a bolder hit me, straight at my heart. Even before I could hear her next words I concluded that I was going to be alone on stage, facing the crowd, thinking what do I say, looking puzzled, shivering, and may being pulled away by someone from backstage.

“My advisor is not letting me go, I am going to be horribly late” (Urghghgh Advisors!!)

I let the biggest sigh ever. It was bad, but at least I wouldn't be alone. So what if we were the least practiced of all, I was confident before and I was at least breathing now.

The stage was ready; it looked grand; just like the last time I had stepped on one. Nine years had gone by in ultra-zipped mode. I looked at Roshiny, thought she looked perfect for the occasion. ‘What if I goof-up?’, ’what if I blank out?’, ‘what if….’

The prayer was sung, the speech delivered, and the hosts were called upon.

Moment of truth!! Roshiny looked at me, “All the best”, “Same to you.”

***********************************************************************************

Five minutes later I was back in the wings, banging my head. I had goofed up. Blanked out and all the other ‘what ifs’Okay, I am not doing it again, I told myself; and five minutes later I was almost in sweat and shivering from the second goof-up, and all the spoonerisms.

Roshiny gave me a small pep-talk and all I heard was, “what the heck was that? What are you doing?” although that was not what she was saying.

We went up again, after a near perfect performance by Dhun. I remembered all my lines, and Roshiny took care of the rest. Making fun, involving the crowd, making them laugh, making them clap, basking in those claps… all the perks of being on stage.

Backstage was a totally different story.
“Vishal, I want the next group ready.”
“They are”
“Great, I need them in the wings in one minute”
“Arey, don’t worry about that, concentrate on your compering”
“Saumitra, look at me, concentrate on our job. Don’t look at what’s going on”
‘I can’t, we cannot put fillers for everything’
“yeah, yeah”, I muttered
“So, the next part, we will use this filler…”
‘Everything’s so blurry…’

How in the world was I hearing Puddle of Mudd out of nowhere? But it was what it was – blurry.
The crowd in one section was getting unruly by the minute. Backstage, everyone was starting to get worried, some were getting fired up. Something had to be done. ‘You cannot do that’, I heard someone say. Many were visibly irked by that particular pocket of audience.

“I am going to tell them to be quiet” – Roshiny
“No, please don’t do anything rash” – me

***********************************************************************************

It was my turn to go back stage for the skit. Thankfully, after all the well covered goof-up and near perfect impromptu stuff, with people laughing we left the stage and I was back on… in the half naked Ravana out-fit, I played in the skit.

Dance.

Singing by Dhwani, another round of fashion show, ‘The Dark side of moon’, and all were waiting for the next event. At least everyone back stage and everyone who knew what was coming up.

Sand-animation was announced. It took a while for the set-up. I let Roshiny go to see it. I had had my share of choking in the noon. Vishal asked me to put in a filler as the set-up was taking a while. But something in me stopped from going up. I did not want the mood to change. It was somber after the exploring the ‘dark-side’, it was about to go up to an emotional high now.

Lights… stage… silence… music… Gandhi… the charismatic Bapu enthralled the audience in sand-form on a white screen. The story-telling was perfect. Many must’ve chocked on one image after other. I saw the show from behind the screen, and the effect was same. With tears in my eyes, nostalgia in mind. The crew went up for what seemed to be an endless round of applause. Omkar later told me that he was very emotional while receiving that applause. They deserved every single bit of it. No more words spoken, everyone rushed towards food in pure desi shtyle. A perfect end to a perfect event. Smiles, congratulatory remarks, hugs, flying kisses, more hugs, hand-shakes, smiles, some more hugs, and food.

It is difficult to put all that went by in words, but Maitri will remain.

‘Mitti ki khusbu aaye, palkon pe aansu laaye,
Palkon pe reh jayega, yaadon ka jahaan’


~Saumitra Vaidya

Sunday, April 19, 2009

For Real?




It wasn't supposed to turn out this way, however we half hoped for it. Going in, none of us had predicted the impact it would have on each of us. Cliched, but true. We couldn't deny it, we couldn't verbalize it. The night before, we were struggling, in every sense of the word. Dances weren't set, ticket sales were frighteningly low, every possible quarrel was surfacing, I for one was ready to give up. It wasn't like me, but that was it. I couldn't take it anymore.

I went back home thinking about all the work that we had put in for Maitri 2009 to be a success- the publicity and sponsorships Mayuri and Ravi worked for, Saravanan going through what every President goes through handling an organization, Manny trying to keep up with us with our extravagant demands regarding videos and website updates, Karthik and I still in a conundrum on dances, Prashanth trying to figure out why half of us were screaming at each other, Shilpa going out of her mind handling all the events and then Vishal, poor Vishal handling all of us- who was handling him remains an unanswered question. Chaotic right? How we pulled it off, will remain in the enigmatic books of unknown history.

There was no pressure(all pun intended). Srinath's team had pulled off one the best Maitri's in GISO's history, we had to top it. We had to cut down performances cause there were so many of them emerging, it was hard to do that. It was our reputation on the line. Friday evening was do or die, for me-do and die .

And then it happened, everything fell in its place. A three hour event, all with its glitches, hidden carefully and professionally. New records surfacing, every participant in everything. We couldn't suppress too much talent, yours truly guilty of this as well. Dances were an instant hit, the UH band pulled off their spirits, fashion show living up to last year's side effect, Ram-Leela- hmm I am sure we can keep that off the list given the impact it had on us, phenomenal to say the least and then Sand Animation. That one event we were counting on to make our Maitri better than the rest, our savior from all possible criticism, our messiah. There was not one glitch when it took place- nostalgia filled up the air like never before. Omkar and his team pulled off something none of us had even dared to predict.

The aftermath of Maitri, like generations before had faced, still is the same. An oft heard phrase around the UH campus amongst the Indian crowd - "Let's go practice". Kranti teased me the following weekend, asking me if I had gotten out of the Maitri fever. The answer is a little too obvious. Its one of those things that leaves something on you- be it missing deadlines, be it not caring about homework, be it time management skills (that we dutifully forget later on), be it anything- it keeps us talking of the good times.

To all who helped us make Maitri 09 a success, a sincere Thank You from the Editor. I shall now stop writing since my labmates are wondering what I am doing and let you off the misery this write up has brought about.




~Shreyasee Das

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Circle of Life



Last evening was a trip down nostalgia lane. About twenty years ago, I said goodbye to my own college campus in India and since then never had the opportunity to attend any college function. However, the Circle of Life is such it leads you back sometimes to moments that you have long forgotten. Now that my oldest daughter is a teenager who dances to Indian classical and Bollywood songs, we are revisiting some of those situations that we once experienced, this time around as amused parents.

So it was an interesting evening yesterday, as we attended a cultural function at the University of Houston, organized by the UH graduate Indian students’ organization. The function was held at the beautiful Cullen performance hall, CPH as students call it. As yet, this has been one of the nicest venues that my daughter has performed at. The CPH auditorium was impressive and I was surprised at the large number of Indian college students at the University of Houston. My husband noted that comparatively very few Indians had been students when he had gone to graduate school at the University of Florida.

Being among this Indian college crowd, here in Houston, for a short while, was an energizing experience. It was almost like we were back in India and only the presence of the American security personnel around reminded us otherwise. I could not help reminiscing about my own college days and functions. Everything seemed familiar, the expressions on the young college students faces, their enthusiasm, their energy and vitality, their accent, their silly jokes, the Bollywood songs and tunes that occasionally the audience would chime in with. Life changes and yet it remains the same in so many ways.

The audience seemed like any other college crowd in India, in fact not even that different from the college crowd I knew years ago. With a typical Desi college crowd, which behaved quite well overall, there was the usual howling, whistling, noisy expressions of approval or disapproval depending on what was happening on stage. It takes a bit of courage, I think, to host a college function, so I thought the two young comperes for the evening, Saumitra and Roshiny, did a nice job of keeping things together in a light-hearted manner.

The programs presented by the UH college students were quite entertaining. There was the usual mix of singers and dancers and even a funny version of a Ram-Leela. We liked the ‘hum dum suniyo re’ dance. The audience seemed to enjoy the semi-classical dance that the six girls including my daughter performed, on behalf of Pratham @ UH – a non-profit organization. The audience was quiet during their performance, clapping to the beat when the Taal song played and cheering the youngest performers of the evening, in a nice way; none of the hooting or whistling for our young teens, fortunately.

My daughter was rather intimidated at first, walking into a college campus for the first time in her life. She and her friends stuck together, feeling rather uncomfortable about being stared at, all dressed up as they were in their dance finery. But they enjoyed the evening and in typical American style did a little hooting on their own when they really liked something on stage, while I laughed sitting behind them. When they got a little too loud, I had to step in and ask them to tone it down a bit but it was with a smile on my face. (By the way, it took me a couple of years in this country to realize that this is one difference between Indian and American culture; that Indians hoot as a sign of disapproval whereas American children seem to hoot as a sign of approval or enjoyment.)

So to all you young college students, enjoy those few college years and make them really memorable. Well, hopefully without being foolish or ending up with any destructive life-time bad habits. (Sorry, that’s the mom in me.) And talking of the Circle of Life reminds me of the Elton John song in the Lion King movie, from where this phrase came and stayed in my mind.

The lyrics of the song are to some extent, quite representative of life, I feel, and they read;

From the day we arrive on the planet

And blinking, step into the sun

There's more to see than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

There's far too much to take in here

More to find than can ever be found

But the sun rolling high

Through the sapphire sky

Keeps great and small on the endless round

It's the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life”


~Mrs. Ansu Abraham

Un Humilde Comienzo, Un Magnífico Acabado!!




He called them on stage and some 500 odd joined their hands to honor the efforts of these good fellas! It was the final moment on 3rd April, 2009 when The President-GISO, delivered the vote of thanks, closing Maitri 2009 formally.

The evening was packed with total entertainment. Performances brought back retro-memories, portrayed the finesse of the modern, and flaunted the grace-gait of the otherwise academic human. While melodious rhythms spanned the auditorium, the elegance of kids had the audience in awe! As the people thought about dinner they were served food-for-thought by the organizers. The event unfolded gradually and all were glued to their chairs. The chief guest decided to put his phone on hold and wait an hour beyond his commitment. The Khators, opined that, this was no less than any other professional event on the block. Simply put, if you missed this… you’ve missed something. Un impresionante evento..!!

Why am I all praise for this… am I biased? I am not… what I saw, I am writing! (Don’t crib about the grammar.. get the idea… don’t go guessing my grades in school… !). Yeah, some say that a lot of improvements are needed. Some dances were not upto the mark, some songs were out of tune, the lights were on during animation, fashion show lost sync at one instance, they could have got a better script for the skit, the MC’s were not confident blah blah blah……. Ok… give em a break!!! These are a bunch of students who have sacrificed a lot, put a lot at stake and yes, don’t forget the ever demanding professors with their home-works and exams. By the way, these fellas are few thousand miles away from their comfort zones and with minimum resources, with little or no knowledge where to find those! In such hostile conditions and at such low cost, they provide a total fun filled, for-family, entertainment package with dinner… dare we criticize?

To put up an apparently flawless event of three hours it takes atleast couple of months of planning, tremendous practices (improvisations…!) and debates. The entire process revolves around eliminating and weeding out the deficiencies. It is a grueling task since there are few dozen people involved. The complexity lies not in the gigantic proportions of the task, but the nature of the task itself. There are multi-thronged issues like, multiple -participation due to over enthusiasm, different time commitments of individuals at different times, availability of participants, place and props and funds for those. The list just goes on. It’s the committee that has to deal with it and without letting it percolate to the participants who work religiously towards the goal.

To add to all this potpourri of issues is the fact that the organization is voluntary by nature and no one “has” to do anything. It’s the passion to do what needs to be done or the passion to excel that fuels the volunteers. Amazing things happen when this passion is at its peak. The mind stretches beyond its limits to find simple solutions to almost any problem. Some classics were seen this time too. Sand animation needed sand. Galveston grounds offered plenty and plenty was brought. No one gave a thought that it would be damp then. On the first day of practice, the sand didn’t move an inch, leave alone drawing a sketch. The VP- Finance decides to use a microwave at around 1 am somewhere in the school. On the day of the event, while two over-head-projectors were required, only one was available! Some bright mind thought of using a flexible lamp and the day was saved. A well trained couple decides to walk off the ramp for reasons best known to them. Hours of practice helps the other couples to follow them as if it were a part of the fashion show! It’s just amazing to see people being innovative and doing things impromptu.

What seems to be an awesome event to the audience is slightly less than what the performers are actually capable of putting up. If ever their best is to be seen, it is the practice before the event day. All is at stake, there is no audience pressure but the pressure of a performance is enough to bring out the best without messing around. All these efforts, stress, sacrifice and endurance culminate in an eventful evening like that of Maitri 2009 on the 3rd of April, 2009. Every year, for those who have been around long enough to see a change, there is something new, something better and it’s a sight to enjoy! A lot more can be written but its 2 am and I need to let the eyes drop down else it will be yet another lecture lost ‘morrow!


~Vikram Shete

A Content President


“You reap what you sow”… a phrase which is apt for Maitri 2009. The participants and the organizing committee put in a lot of hard work and were dedicated to make Maitri 2009 a huge success. Kudos to their efforts, for Maitri this year saw a record turnout of 517 people from all over Houston.

Amidst much pomp and grandeur the night was made special by several dance acts. A riot of colorful dresses with an excellent theme for the fashion show plus the vigorous dance movements to Rahman’s tunes got the crowd excited. The band from UH cast a spell on the audience with their melodious songs while the hilarious skit on “Ram Leela” by apna drama troupe 'Berozgaar Mandali’ got the audience in splits. Adding to the variety was the final event ‘ Sand Animation’ which probably(at least according to me ) was hosted for the First time in Houston. This was the cherry on of the cake, for the participants got four standing ovations during their 15- minute presentation.

Cheers to the entire team for pulling off one of the biggest and successful events of the year –Maitri 2009 and that too with ishtyle :)

Maitri 2009- a red letter day in the lives of the GISO committee 2008-2009 , an event full of memories which probably would accompany us till the very end.


~ Saravanan Srinivasan, President

Maitri- A Biased View

What a night it was!!! Aug 3rd “Friday night” - Maitri 2009 – Ah!! What started off as just another day involving the drudgery of my every day grad life, proved to be something quite different. Well, if you are still clueless about what I am referring to, then you need to flip through GISO’s calendar – I am talking about the performance at the aptly titled annual Indian graduate students’ fest – Maitri. The event turned out to be overwhelming, mesmerizing, fantabolous, marvelous, fascinating, enthralling, spellbinding, riveting, absorbing, engrossing, and most of all - invigorating. Hold on! Did you just say that the words mentioned above all mean the same? Hmmm – on second thoughts, may be you are right – however, when you need to describe the profound impact of a mere 3 hour show on your mind, you need the support of these words!

The show started at 5: 30 pm as per schedule. The invitees were treated to an art display at the hall entrance near the ticket counter. Arnika, Shantanu, Gauri and Trupti had put up their art creations and managed to draw the attention of a few who had a keen eye for art. I don’t intend to provide an all encompassing account of the whole fest here and I may skip mentioning a few events and the names of the participants involved. I missed a first few shows myself and wouldn’t be able to do justice to them by writing about them here. That’s the reason I have titled it a biased view – as these are solely my views J

Of the shows I missed was GISO president Sarvananan’s Welcome speech. Well I don’t regret having missed it much since I get to hear a lot from him on a frequent basis anyways :D ( jokes apart , it’s probably his high energy, non – stop Hindi oratory skills with liberal doses of a heavy south Indian accent that made him the GISO President in the first place.) Next came the invocation prayer and the songs, followed by the much awaited dance shows. Dance is said to be ‘art in motion’ and the performers proved it. The efforts that they had put in were evident in the splendid choreography, smooth synchronization and the neat performance for the ‘Desi-Girl’ song. Quoting from ‘The economist’ - “When Chiranjeevi entered the stage (during a political rally) the crowd threatened to boil and burst”. When, Kartik entered the stage to perform the mega-star Chiranjeevi’s song, the crowd response was no different. His performance could only be matched by his co-performer Shreyasee’s village belle act – complete with the appropriate histrionics and facial expression. Amidst deafening noise, Kartik danced to the tune of another popular Telugu song. The crowds went hysterical when he performed the “The veena step” during the Jalsa performance. The smoke screen effect for the dance brought in a new dimension to the performance. NGO Pratham had sponsored a dance show of its own – titled the ‘Kathak Swing’. This was followed by Shantanu and his group slicing the air with their slick dance moves. The rubber-like body twists and gravity defying ‘balancing on the toe’ acts were also impressive. The crowd was electrified. Hmmm, now did I forget something? Ah yes! There was of course the nostalgic 1960s dance song and the evergreen “Dhagala lagli kala” dance performce by “Sita” and group. Having lived in Pune myself, I couldn’t help lift a leg or two for this quintessential Marathi song while I was backstage. Now what was I doing backstage? Well, I was eagerly waiting for Sita to finish “his” dance show, rush backstage, wrap around a sari at the speed of rolling a chappati and get ready for our next show – a short skit titled “Ram-leela”

.“Ram-leela” proved to be quite a disaster – well almost. Sita’s ‘collar mike’ had slid down her sari and had managed to find its way to the ground. Ram’s arrow was supposed to strike Ravan at the 4th attempt but it pierced the center of ravan’s heart at the very 1st attempt. The ‘Berozgar’ drama company manager (myself) was so engrossed in enacting his dialogues that he barely noticed that he held his mike a meter away from his body – the clamorous crowd didn’t hear a word of what he said. In all the mayhem - Hanuman never got to know when his tail got detached. Hanuman’s weapon - Gadha, stubbornly refused to give-in to the physical force of the mighty Ravan and did not break as preplanned. The play’s director – Sarvanan , who sat in the front row with the chief guest , struggled to hide the surprised look on his face when the very same actors whom he had directed a few days ago, mouthed dialogues he had never heard before. But was anyone complaining? Not the crowd at least. When Ravan did his famous intimidating laughing act, the crowd played along with him and laughed too – this time even louder. When Ram entered the stage, the din of the crowd soared. Hmmm, there were a few jeers too such as a clearly audible loud and sarcastic “Wow!! What ye comedy” and “yeek-celle-ant” –as in ‘excellent’.

There was even an irrelevant but infamous kadigesta ninnu shout in Telugu– roughly translating to “I will teach you a lesson” that YSR had uttered to Chandra Babu. However, the fact remains, that no-one stood up, turned around , showed their backs to the stage or started clapping in the opposite direction - to demean the participants as it routinely happens in a few unfortunate fests that I have attended. The fact remains that a majority of the crowd lapped it up and had a hearty laugh.

The fashion show by Arnika was a bit of a show stopper. There was the ethnic round with the girls resplendent in their ethnic dress and the guys strutting their traditional wear. It was hard to not notice that two non – Indian couples also took part in the show, beaming in their sarees and kurthas. The tattoos - be it a well drawn swastika symbol on the arm or a complete back covering design on one of the male participants – all were in line with the dark theme of the fashion show. A few things that I still remember from the fashion show: Bhushan’s hat, Shantanu’s semi painted face and his robot like act, Atul strumming his guitar in the middle of the stage, the ‘Kaante’ Hindi movie act where a string of actors walk to the front of the stage at once – only this time, it was the ladies doing the act -all these added to the captivating experience. And who could forget that it was not the facial paint but the trade-mark gait and “slurp-slurp” act of Gangadhar that infused life into the villainous character of the infamous Joker. The lead girl couldn’t stop flaunting her cardboard wings –even after the show got over! My only regret is that Tejas should have been allowed to unmasked and reveal himself towards the end of the show, which he didn’t.


But it was the sand animation that stole everyone’s hearts. This was proven by the fact that it received four – I repeat – four standing ovations. A surge of patriotism rippled through the crowd when the Indian map was drawn impromptu, in sand. Be it the cute little toy train with "only Europeans" written on it or the more abstract figurine drawing of the Mahatma Gandhi himself – lean, clad in inexpensive dhoti and clutching a walking stick in one hand - the drawings brought new life to the story that Omkar narrated in a soothing voice. He ended the story by thanking GISO and calling it the ‘kalpataru’ – or the coconut tree symbolizing the ‘eternal giver’. Everything ended with a sumptuous dinner from Balaji Bhavan.

So did the whole three hour even unfold without any hick-ups? A day before the event only about 250 tickets had been sold. Minutes before the start of the fashion show, two participants realized that they had either lost or forgotten their costume at home. And , comparisons with the previous event – Maitri 2008 were inevitable. Whatever happened to post-event much awaited free for all dance party? It was held during Parichay. Last year too, it had been held all the way upto 11 pm in the night. I for one, distinctly remember that a few guys had pounced on poor Sarvanana (who was not yet the GISO President then ) during the post event jam session and had given him “birthday bumps”- even though it was not his birthday :D . Sarvananan had pushed me accidentally in the process, and I ended up completely drenched in the University Center’s underground fountain water!! We missed that fun this time. On a more serious note, a lot of guys did wait impatiently to show off-their amateur dance moves on the dance floor during the post-event jam session. It was only later that I became cognizant of the fact that committee had actually tried have one. The space for dance-floor, however, was not available at the University Center – as was the case last year. (The cougar den had been occupied for another event on the same night and this could have been the probable reason). In spite of all these difficulties, the fact remains that a record setting 514 tickets were sold as against the mere 400 plus sold the previous Maitri. This clearly indicates the new level of playing field that Maitri has forayed into!

As Mr Khator said, the chemistry between the lead comperes was commendable. A prize was given to the Anubhav cup winners – Team Ike team and also to the runners – up team. Navneeth, Prasahanth (Majithia) and Rahul were the extra helping hands at the ticket counter.

Hmmm - Aug 3rd “Friday night” - Maitri 2009 … Once again I recoil back in my cozy seat and say - What a night it was!!!


~Sandeep Bellure


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MAITRI 2009


Drumrolls!! Maitri is back! And this time, its gonna be bigger than ever. There's all sorts of stuff going on for Maitri- dances, songs, fashion shows, a skit, and sand animation. And yes of course, MAYHEM at this point.

Be there on April 3rd, 5:30 pm at the Cullen Performance Hall. You don't want to miss it. It is going to be an awesome show followed by some delicious food from Balaji Bhavan.

Tickets are $8. Visit uh.edu/giso to get your tickets.

See you in ten days!

~Shreyasee

Dreams Come True



Please find a song that I wrote and composed a few days back for an article entry in Dautya. In the song, the "you" is a fresh incoming Indian student and the "I" is GISO. I guess you can make out the meaning of the song from that ;)


PS: I have put some random pictures of my friends and myself in the video - just to create it, 'cos Picasa would'nt let me create it otherwise. And please tolerate the vocal quality and since I am not good at mixing and mastering the track, it might not sound that professional.

------------------
Dreams Come True
------------------

By Girish Nandagudi
-------------------

Far away from home
In a strange new world you are
With all the hopes you brew
To see your dreams come true

Fear not 'cos I am here
To help you fare
Fear not 'cos I am here
To help you win the race

'N to see your dreams come true
To see your dreams come true

Guide me through this gale
To the glory we shall sail
'Cos You have dreams to chase
'N I have hopes to brace

You are here
To help me survive
And you are here
To help me thrive

You are here
To make me strong
And you are here
To seek your strength

'N to see my dreams come true
To see my dreams come true


~Girish Nandagudi

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Collection of Thoughts.....

These are some random thoughts that went across my mind over a period of time. Most of them flew between the ears during graduate school classes and possibly are partially responsible for my grades. It’s amazing that the brain has power to think on such issues involuntarily. Please read them, enjoy them if you can and feel free to add more. I will keep adding more as and when they traverse the brain space.


1. What is to be an Indian (if asked to mention in 3 words)?
a. Diversity, Education and Peace

2. Traveling, crossing large water bodies or spanning the skies just for the heck of pleasure is imperative. There lies humility, respect and austerity.

3. God does not exist, belief does. Imposing a belief or an attempt to change one was and will be a violent conflict.

4. Law books of all nations taken together enlist or indicate half the number of directions in which civilized humans can think. Remaining half are left for the crooks.

5. In war let humans perish, but not their creations. For when, some see those, they would realize that indeed war is not a good solution after all.

6. History is created by the best or by the worst. Rest of them are just the text that fall under these rubrics.

7. In school I learned to believe, “I can achieve the impossible.” At work I did the impossible!

8. An education that required a student to show the will and give full dedication for a lifetime
now requires just the bill and 90 minutes of dedication!

9. White is a combination of different colors. Take one off and white exists to cease.

10. Let appreciation precede criticism. Creation is always dear to the creator.

11. To reverse a system of levers that operate in unison one has few options:
a. Be the largest lever in the system
b. Be outside the system and wielding the right tools
c. Breakdown in the process

12. “In this country let a man be judged by what he does and not by who his father was”, Col. Chamberlain.

13. “Love is not gazing at each other, but is looking in the same direction” Source Unknown

14. “An unjust law is not a law at all, and it is my right, infact duty to resist it. I have two options violence or civil disobedience. You should pray that I chose the latter.” ~ Dialogue from The Great Debaters

15. Its human to colonize, consume and leave to decay. It's just a matter of time and methods used.

16. We are more passionate about borders, than the person standing next to us. Only the brave (soldiers) can think of both passionately.

17. Credit history can be rebuilt, not credibility!



~Vikram Shete

Monday, March 9, 2009

Anubhav Cup 2009

The winners- Team Ike

Our annual, very popular tape-ball cricket tournament- Anubhav Cup was a huge success this year. 14 teams registered, compared to 9 last year, and showed an abundance of enthusiasm than any other year GISO has seen. The teams made professional use of make shift cricket fields- the very useful parking lots - with no problems at all. After all, long hours of practice in the narrow gullies in India had to be useful some day.

The matches were held in the parking lots opposite Cambridge Oaks. After the initial elimination of teams, it was time for the finals. 1913 United Won the toss and elected to bat, scoring 85 runs in 12 overs. Team IKE got the runs loosing 5 wickets in 11.3 overs to win the Anubhav Cup 2009

Congratulations to team IKE once again. Hopefully, they will retain their title next year.

1913 United

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Links

Please check the links to the right for current news in UH and The Daily Cougar, its a fun read

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Movies- New and Upcoming

Bollywood

Here is a list of movies that are worth looking out for- that's what some of us think :D


Dev-D
....the less said, the better. Definitely worth giving a shot.



Delhi-6..Yeh dilli hai yeh dilli hai yeh dilli hai mere yaar ;) I am sure some of you have already learnt the Abhishek move in Genda Phool. The movie releases on February 20th.




Slumdog Millionaire
...I was sorta confused to brand it under Hollywood or Bollywood...decided to put it in Bollywood since B could stand for Britain as well...bad joke, flow with it :P. If you haven't watched this movie yet, hmm....Watch it! It's awesome. And of course the soundtrack is brilliant. Get ready for AR Rahman and Sukhwinder Singh to perform on stage on Oscar night (Feb 22nd).




Billu Barber
...




The Sky

White Cotton Clouds

IMG_2878

It happend so quickly

If there is nothing like sunshine, then you've never danced in the rain