March 31, 2014

What's the point?

She was lying there on her flat tummy with her head turned away and, maybe, even her eyes closed. Her bare bony shoulder peeked from in between the sheets while her jet black hair was strewn carelessly on her back, maybe even hiding her face. The faint morning sun was fighting with the light-green drapes to get in and expose last night’s recklessness. He woke up to this scene with a frail recollection of reality and a reluctance to accept it. A broken smile.

 She moved the minute his head made a rustle against the pillow. Light sleeper. Yes. And turned her head towards him while the hair still covered her face. Her slender fingers reached out from under the sheets to give her a clearer picture of him and parted her hair from her face. She saw the smile. Amused she asked, “What? Was I snoring?”

“Nope! Purring rather”, he replied as he approached to catch her waist and pulled her closer to himself. “Hey look!” she said softly, “Don’t get me wrong but, I need to leave now.” She slowly moved his hand away from her waist and pulled herself up and sat crouching on the bed like she was praying. The sheet was shrouding her slender figure and he could notice her breathing deeply. The smile slowly faded and reality started setting in. She carefully crawled out of the bed to get her clothes and started dressing up. Not once did she look him in the eye while he was lying there on the bed staring straight at her. Now on his back with his arms folded behind his head, he was carefully observing her while she got dressed. Not even a glance his way. There was no hurry in her demeanour and she took her time to wear her jeans and t-shirt that she usually slips into like a Russian magician quick-changes her dresses.

“So, what time’s your flight?” he asked, to force her to break that uneasy silence. “Hmmm? Oh it’s in the afternoon” she said, “But I need to get home and make sure that I have everything packed and ready.” “Do you need help?” he asked. He knew what the answer was going to be, but he was a sucker for a better reply. “Nope. I’m good!” and she finally looked at him and smiled. “You can enjoy the rest of your day. You don’t have to waste it around me. I can manage.” Somehow her words and her eyes just never spoke the same things. He had noticed this too many times before and how that smile was used to mask the dissonance. She reached for her bag, took a final look in the mirror and was probably going to say bye.

“Hey why don’t we go for a quick breakfast and then you can come back home. I’m famished. Care to give me company?” she said instead. The smile was back on his face beaming brighter than the sun. “Of course. I’m hungry too and I could kill for some pancakes” he said jumping up in his bed. “Our last breakfast together. Let's make you some breakfast.”

“Pancakes sound decent” she said with a smile that brought a sparkle to her eyes. He was out of bed even before she completed her sentence. He made the breakfast while she lent a hand with a few things that he let her help with. He hated people invading his cooking space but that was not important now. It was a perfect breakfast of pancakes, apples and some coffee with the regular banter on the side. Not once did last night appear in the conversation, though it was constantly on their minds. The regular nonsense was just to distract from last night. There was desperation to fill in the awkward silences. No one wanted to discuss last night or maybe that’s all that they wanted to talk about.

They finished their meals and washed the dishes together. Soon it was time for her to leave. "Could there be more reasons for her to stay?" both of them thought. The moment they reached the door, she turned and hugged him tight. “It was awesome” she whispered to him and he could almost hear her smile in his ear. “Yes, it was” he said. She looked at him and beamed... and slowly let go of him. She opened the door, gave him one final glance and said her final goodbye as she walked out on the pavement.  When she turned back one last time, both waved at each other. He took his time to close the door behind her while she walked away. She trotted down the quiet lane, kicked a stone lying on the ground out of her way and continued walking to her house.

January 18, 2014

Knowledge gained is knowledge shared | University of Westminster

This is an entry for a contest by the British Council on For more details, please visit: 

After recently completing my MBA in communication management, my next quest was to understand ‘Subliminal communication’ as a subject. Having presented an award winning research paper on the topic at one of the oldest universities in India, Banaras Hindu University, I finally identified my calling.

A subject that merely gets a page in communication management books, or barely a one-hour lecture in most business schools, definitely means more to me. Moreover, the lack of awareness on the topic in my country made me run after it even more. Currently pursuing a career in communications at a reputed branding and communications firm in Delhi, I realised the pressing need to pursue this subject more aggressively. Hence, began my quest on researching options in the subject abroad.

A quick search on the top communications colleges in the world to pursue this passionately was the first step. The countries that topped my list for this were US, UK, Netherlands and Australia. These countries were selected on the basis of various factors like college rankings, weather and culture, opportunities for foreign nationals, suggestions from friends and relatives, etc. That’s when I learned about the University of Westminster and the research options available in my field of interest. The research areas available in Communications and Media Research; and Research and Education in Art and Media were exactly what I needed. After a little more seeking, I learned that their media research was previously awarded an excellent (5 out of 5) rating in each of the three past Research Assessment Exercises.

The clarity in instructions on their official website for research applications was more than impressive. Since each college has its own requirements for research programs, exploring research opportunities that fit one’s bill can be quite a tedious process. The step-by-step instructions on their official website were extremely helpful. Moreover, the new QS Worldwide University Rankings places Westminster above the London School of Economics in the UK, second only in Europe and number 19 in the world. These ratings are based on the university’s reputation among academics and employers and citations to published works. There was no doubt that this was going to my list of most sought-after colleges for research opportunities abroad. The university receives more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and has been continuously encouraging new developments, research projects and new ideas. All this makes this university unerringly one of the best media research hotspot where I want to flourish.

CREAM – Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media is one of the UKs leading centres for research in visual and media arts, design and music. Being a connoisseur of music and wanting to streamline my research in the subject around the music industry, this was the best place to be! I have been strongly influenced by music and arts since childhood. With a strong background in Indian classical music and dance, I slowly meandered into western styles of music and dance. This is how I got acquainted with the music scene in the UK. Especially Indian artists who found great reception in the UK and other countries were awe-inspiring. Understanding subliminal expression and messaging in the music industry has now become more of a habit than just an aspiration.

CREAM’s members include internationally renowned artists, filmmakers, photographers, ceramicists, theorists, critics, historians, designers and musicians. CREAM focuses on critical and cross-disciplinary approaches. Whilst its individual members cover a wide range of subject areas and expertise, they do encourage cross-connections between areas. It is also home to a range of research centres and projects including: Africa Media Centre, Ambika P3, Ceramic Research Centre, Documentary and Experimental Film Centre, India Media Centre and Screenplays. With all this information, I can already see an opportunity with CREAM on my subject turning into an obsession that I’ve been losing my sleep on, for the past one month. All that’s left to do on my end is to make that cutting-edge proposal that they can just not say no to. The rest will be a dream-come-true with a fairy-tale ending!