Monthly Archives: February 2013

A message to you there, reading this right now.

I don’t know you personally. However, I know that you’re human. And knowing that, I also know that you are currently going through something. It might be something little and it might be something huge. That I don’t know. But it’s something. And I know I don’t know you, but I’m a human too. And we both live in this world– that is what I know we have in common. And from one person, one human being, to another, I’m telling you to be strong. I too have been through problems that living in this world seems to cause, and I have seen those problems fade. Sometimes it happens fast–suddenly they are gone– and sometimes they might take a little bit of time. But they will fade. However, before they do, these problems might try to take you down with them. And I can tell you that the best thing you can do in this time is to not put yourself down. Believe in your ability to make it. I believe you will make it. I’m not saying that for the effect. I genuinely believe that you are going to make it through whatever might be bringing you down right now. I believe this, because, again, I know you are a human. It’s not your fault. And if it is, you will fix it. And if you can’t, you can’t. And it will be okay. Because everything passes. You will be okay again, but you have to be strong. You know that you are strong, and you know that you are capable. Whoever is telling you otherwise–even if it’s you–is wrong. Take a breath, and take a step back. It’s okay. Think of anything that has ever made you smile. Think of the faces you love seeing. Think of the food you love eating, and the things you love doing. Pull through for those things. Pull through for you.

I’m rooting for you.

Love,

M

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Valentine’s Day, Punjabi-Style

In the Punjab region of Pakistan and India, there are four major tragic love stories. You got Mirza Sahiba, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnun, and Laila Majnu. And since Valentine’sΒ Day was this week, I thought I’d tell you about each one, and what makes them so special πŸ™‚

But wait. M, you said there were four stories?

Um, yeah, I did. And?

You listed five up there.

Did I? Huh. Weird. I guess–

Wait, Laila Majnu isn’t Punjabi!? It’s Persian!

….It’s my favorite, okay?

Yeah but you said you were just doing–

WHAT??

I CAN’T HEAR YOU, VOICE OF REASON! *crumples candy wrapper to make it sound like there’s static* I THINK WE’RE BREAKING UP!

…we’re not on the phon–

BYE!

Okay, sorry about that interruption. Let’s do this!

First up we got-

MIRZA SAHIBA:

Author: Shayer Pillo (I think.)

Plot: Your typical Romeo and Juliet type of story. Mirza (which is the dude) and Sahiba fall in love upon seeing eachother for the first time. However, Sahiba’s parents make plans to get her married to someone else. So Sahiba sends an urgent message to Mirza telling him this, and Mirza goes off on his horse to go and save her from the marriage. His family had begged him not to go, because they knew that Sahiba’s brothers were violent. Also because it was on the day of his own sister’s wedding. Yay for sibling love. Anyways, Mirza gets to Sahiba and the two of them ride off into the sunset away from Sahiba’s almost-wedding. Hooray and all, except for the fact that Sahiba’s brothers are following them. Instead of riding to safety though, Mirza and Sahiba decide to stop for a while and they take a nap. Sahiba wakes up before Mirza and sees her brothers coming. She knows that Mirza is an awesome archer, and so she breaks all of his arrows before he wakes up, because she doesn’t want him to kill her brothers. She thinks that she will be able to convince them that she and Mirza should be together. In fact, she was able to do so, and they all live happily ever after as mango harvesters.

Oh wait, you wanted to know what actually happened! Oh my bad. Yeah, no her brothers get there and kill Mirza and then Sahiba kills herself. My bad.

Quote from the story: “You must come and decorate Sahiba’s hand with the marriage henna.” This is the note the Sahiba sends to Mirza. I think it’s pretty cool, because she’s sort of discreetly telling him OH SNAP I’M GETTIN MARRIED COME SAVE ME MAN COME FREAKING SAVE MA CAPPICHE?? Or maybe she’s telling him to put marriage henna on her because she wants to marry him…idk, I like the first interpretation better.

Fun Fact: For some reason, Mirza Sahiba is the only one of the four tragic romances that has the guy’s name before the girl’s name in the title.

Next up is the one and only Heer Ranjha:

HEER RANJHA

Author: Waris Shah (Actually, Shah just wrote a poetic narration of the story.)

Plot: Ranjha is his father’s favorite son, and he gets to play the flute all day while his brothers work. After getting into an argument with his bros, Ranjha leaves and eventually winds up in Heer’s village. He works for Heer’s father, and him and Heer fall in love. He’s a boss at flute playing, and Heer lurvs to hear him play it and stuff. Anyways, for a long time the two of them meet in secret, only for Heer’s uncle to find out and tell her parents, who then force her to marry another guy named Saida Khera. (I know that Ranjha is the protagonist, but I can’t get over how “Heer Khera” has a ring to it. What? Is that so wrong? Yeah, okay I can see how it is. It is wrong. Okay, let’s move on.) Anyways, Ranjha is devastated and joins the Jogis, which is a Hindu community, and renounces the material world. He wanders Punjab, and one day he finds Heer’s villiage. The two of them decide to get married, her parents approve, the wedding bells are ringing, but then THE SAME FREAKING UNCLE AS BEFORE POISONS HEER AND SHE DIES. HE LEGIT POISONS HER. HE PUTS POISON. IN HER LADOO. A SWEET, INNOCENT LADOO.

When Ranjha finds out, he pulls a Juliet and eats the same ladoo and dies.

Quote from the story: The only one I can find is the invocation from the beginning of Shah’s narration: “First of all let us acknowledge God, who has made love the worth of the world, Sir,
It was God Himself that first loved, and the prophet (Muhammad) is His beloved, Sir “

Fun Fact: Heer and Ranjha might have been actual people. I started suspecting this might be the case when I couldn’t find an author of Heer Ranjha, and how there were only narrations of the story. Then at the end of the plot summary on Wikipedia, it’s all “Heer and Ranjha are buried in Heer’s hometown, Jhang. Lovers and others often pay visits to their mausoleum.” O_o

Looking around online, it seems like there’s a debate as to whether these guys actually lived. One side says that the story isn’t true, but that Heer was real, and after her parents’ decline from wealth, a rumor was spread that she had an affair with one of her servants, who I’m guessing was said to be named Ranjha.

Cray stuff here.

ON TO THE NEXT ONE!

SOHNI MAHIWAL

Author: Again, can’t seem to find one.

Plot: Sohni is the daughter of a potter. She would draw designs on his pottery, and they would sell the works in their shop. Mahiwal, also called Mehar, comes to the shop on business, sees Sohni and thinks she’s the bee’s knees. He wanders around their shop all the time, and buys tons of pottery from them. Instead of leaving with the rest of his business group when it was time to go, he opts to become a servant in Sohni’s family’s house, despite the fact that he is noble-born. But when people find out that Sohni and Mahiwal love each other, they make it a thing, because Sohni’s not supposed to marry someone outside the community. So Sohni’s parents quickly get her married to this other guy, and Mahiwal despairs and lives in a hut. HOWEVER, every night, Sohni floats across a river on a piece of pottery to see Mahiwal, and every night he catches her a fish to eat. And I think Wikipedia says this next part best:

“It is said that once, when due to high tide he could not catch a fish, Mahiwal cut a piece of his thigh and roasted it. sohni didn’t realise this first but then she said izzat that this fish tastes different and keep her hand on his thigh then she realised it was a piece of his thigh and cried.”

…I mean honestly I would have rather have just not eaten that night, but hey–you do you, Mahiwal. You just…you do you.

Anyways, one night, Sohni’s sister-in-law sees Sohni going across the river, and the next night she replaces the piece of pottery that Sohni uses with unbaked clay. And when Sohni gets on it to float across, she drowns. Mahiwal sees her drowning, jumps into the river, and drowns as well. Legend has it that their bodies were actually recovered from the Indus River, and that Sohni’s grave is in Hyderabad, Pakistan.

Well, this is probably the most cheerful post I’ve ever done.

ON TO THE NEXT ONE! πŸ™‚

SASSI PUNNUN

Author: Again, I can’t really find one. However, the Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was known to incorporate this story into his poetry. Also, the Wikipedia page implies that this one really is just a story, because it refers to it as a folktale.

Plot: Now this one’s pretty interesting. When Sassi is born, astrologers predict that she will bring about the demise of her royal family. So her family has her put in a box and sent down the Sindhu River. Eventually, a washerman finds her and adopts her as his own, seeing her as a gift from God. So she grows up and becomes a knockout and a prince named Punnun hears of her beauty and wants to meet her. So he hires Sassi’s adopted father to wash his clothes, and when he catches a glimpse of Sassi, the two of them fall in love. Sassi’s father, however, had wanted Sassi to marry a fellow washerman. So when he finds out about Punnun’s desire to marry her, he sets him the task of washing some clothes as a test. Never having done something like this before, Punnun fails at the task and somehow manages to rip the clothes up. Smooth. However, Punnun is able to win over Sassi’s dad by slipping some gold coins into the pockets of all of the clothing. Step 1: Win over the dad. Check. So Sassi and Punnun began happily planning their wedding. But this wouldn’t be a Punjabi love story if their weren’t more meddling family members involved. Punnun’s brothers hear about this whole shenanigan, and they’re upset that their brother plans on marrying a washerman’s daughter. They travel to where the two are and they try to threaten Punnun into calling off the marriage. Punnun doesn’t listen, and so his brothers act like they’ve given up. The next day, they take part in the pre-wedding festivities as though there was no beef the night before. But at night, they get Punnun drunk, put him on a camel, and send him back to their own town. In the morning, Sassi freaks out and starts running through this desert to get to Punnun’s hometown. She runs and runs and calls his name, to the point where she starts getting thirsty. A shepard comming out of his hut sees Sassi and offers her water. However, he then attempts to rape her. Sassi starts praying to God to save her, and apparently God listens, because THE GROUND OPENS UP AND SASSI FALLS INTO THE VALLEY OF MOUNTAINS. Meanwhile, Punnun wakes up where he is and, like Sassi, he flips out and starts running across the desert to get back to Sassi. He comes across the same shepard, who tells him what happened. (But he probably left out the part about trying to rape his fiance, I’m guessing). Punnun recites the same prayer as Sassi, and he too falls into the earth. Legend has it that the two of them are still buried in this valley.

I can’t believe that just happened though. Sassi and Punnun just wanted to be together and God was like YO I GOT CHU. IMMA OPEN UP THE EARTH LIKE DONT EVEN TRIP.

Fun Fact: Not only is this story one of Punjab’s four tragic romances, but it’s also one of the seven most popular love stories in Sindhi culture as well. Sindh is one of the provinces of Pakistan.

Quote from the story: I can’t find one, but I did find this:

\

Aww cute except WHO IS THAT OTHER GIRL. Straight up just photo bombed this picture. You can’t just photo bomb pictures of star-crossed lovers!

photobombOh can’t I?

romeoandjuliet

No! You really can’t!

thenotebook1

NO! STOP!!

lailamajnu

NOOOOOO! NOT LAILA MANJU!!!!

…Where…where did she go?

Okay…I-I guess we’ll just…move on?

Well, at least that brought us to Laila Majnu. *fangirl squeal*

LAILA MAJNU

Author: Nizami Ganjavi

Plot: Majnu was actually a guy named Qays. He falls in love with Layla and starts composing poems for her. He never gives a thought to how he his poems are received by others, and so people begin to call him Majnu, meaning madman. It was this that caused Layla’s father to deny his marriage proposal to Layla, because he did not want Layla to be married to someone who was thought of as mentally unstable. He gets Layla married to someone else. After this, Majnu flees his tribe and wanders the desert. His family eventually gives up looking for him, but they still leave food out for him, should he need it. It is said that Layla moved far away, and Majnu kept wandering, writing poems in the sand with a stick. Layla eventually dies, whether due to illness or heartbreak, it is unknown. Majnu dies eventually too, and his body was found near an unknown woman’s grave, near a rock into which he carved his last three verses of poetry.

Fun Fact: Eric Clapton’s album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was inspired by the story of Laila Majnu. One of the songs on the album, I Am Yours, is actually a quote taken directly from Laila Majnu. Check it out HERE.

Quote that makes you go asdlfkj;:

My lover asks me:
β€œWhat is the difference between me and the sky?”
The difference, my love,
Is that when you laugh,
I forget about the sky.

Guys. He forgets. About the sky. adslkjfl;.

Wait, are we done? Huh. Well this is sudden. Now you know the four romances of Punjab. I hope this didn’t inspire you to go and do irrational things in the name of love. As we’ve learned today, that doesn’t always end well. Anyways, there you go. That’s them. One thing I realized while writing these posts is that none of these stories have elaborate titles. They’re simply the names of the girl and the guy, which seem to say enough on their own. They don’t even have an “and” between the two names. I don’t know if any of these stories are real or not, but if they are real, it would make sense that they don’t have titles.

In all seriousness, everyone of these stories is pretty beautiful. In a culture where love is somewhat of a taboo, it’s cool to see how these love stories are still told today.

Anyways, I guess that’s it for this–

photobomb

Wait.

NOOO! Please! Leave me be! I will never again question your right to photo bomb!

photobomb

I’m not going to photo bomb anymore, okay?

Oh…well that’s good!

photobomb

…..

Hey, why the long face, former photo bomb girl?

photobomb

…I never really wanted to photo bomb in the first place, you know.

You didn’t? Well then why did you do it?

photobomb

Because…because there is no love in my life, okay??

Aww, former photo bomb girl!

photobomb

I thought if I photo bombed myself into pictures of other people in love, then I would find love too!

That didn’t work out too well, did it photo bomb girl?

photobomb

No.

Wait a second…I think I might know someone who you might be interested in…

photobomb

No, really M. I’ll be fine. On my own. Forever.

Photo bomb girl, I’d like you to meet photo bomb stingray:

photobomb

…..

Well, photo bomb girl? What do you think?

lovestingray

…I think my work here is done.

Have a great week! πŸ™‚

-M

P.S: Don’t trust the ladoos.

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BHANGRA! BHANGRA! BHANGRAAA!

HOWDY THERE PARDNER.

YEE-HAW.

YIPPE KA YAY, IF YOU WILL.

What’s up guys, I’m BACK this week, and with some bhangra-y goodness, too. Last night there was a bhangra competition in my area called Virsa Punjab Da. Bhangra teams from all over the country came to compete. I went because my cousins were performing (shoutout to DCMPAA!!) and it ended up being a lot of fun. I went last year also, and something different that they did this year was have a singer by the name of Ricky Jatt perform. Ricky Jatt is an up-and-coming Punjabi-American singer. What I like about him is that he’s American-born and he’s still making an effort to connect to his roots. Here’s a bit of one of his other performances:

I guess I already have a post on bhangra (check it out HERE), but it really is super fun and such a huge part of Punjabi culture. Punjabis on both sides of the Pakistani-Indian border know how to bhangra, which makes it kind of a unifying force as well. What was really cool last night was that, while a majority of the performers were South Asian, I also saw a white girl gettin down onstage, as well as a black girl and an East Asian dude performing. Bhangra is so much fun and I think as many people as possible should enjoy it, you know?

One thing commonly heard while bhangra is taking place is “Chak de phate!!” Today we take this as “raise the roof!” or “go HAM!” and so on. HOWEVER the AWESOME thing about this phrase is that it used to be said when like, in the spring, Punjabi farmers would lift the piece of wood that was holding back the water so that the water could…go and…water the crops? Okay, well it was something about lifting the wood and farms. It was a time of celebration since a ton of Punjabis have historically been farmers, and it literally means, “Lift the wood!” And so I think it’s hilariously awesome that Punjabis still use this in times of celebration, even when it has nothing to do with farming. It’s such a testament of where we come from.

Hmm…what else? Did you guys enjoy the guest writer last week? I’m sorry about the formatting on that post, I was obviously having some technical issues :/ Anyways, I guess I’ll see you next week. Until then, remember: you are a fabu awesome possum.

I mean that.

-M

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A Different Perspective

What’s up guys? This is M, by the way πŸ™‚ “Um, M, why would you specify that it’s you? It’s ALWAYS you!” Right you are, critical thinker! But I felt the need to specify that it’s me, because today on shadesofbrwn, we have a guest writer! :DD Her name is Katey, and she’s a friend of mine who started a FABULOUS fashion blog recently. This week we did a blog swap–so I wrote a fashion post on her blog, and she wrote the lovely post below. To check out my post on her blog (coming soon!), as well as all of her awesome posts, click HERE.

Enjoy!

Hello, readers of Shades of Brwn! My name is Katey, and today I’d like to give my perspective on
issues that I have seen in the feminist blogging community lately. Now, first let’s get things straight, I
am white. I am a full, bonafide white girl. I am aware that, as a white person, I have certain privileges
that others don’t. I will never be able to understand what it is like to be a POC and I will never
understand what it’s like to not be privileged. I am represented in the media, I am viewed as the neutral
race, I have never been profiled, etc. The list goes on and on, and it’s not okay, and I’m aware that it’s
not okay. I try to do my best to inform myself and make sure that I am aware of what happens in the
world around me and that I am aware of random prejudices that I might hold against different cultures.
I’ll fess up, yes I never knew a Muslim person before 9/11 (I grew up in a very ‘white’ area), and yes, I
sort of grew up with the idea that Muslims were bad people. Do I still hold that horrible, racist idea?
No, of course not. I don’t think I should be awarded for this because everyone has a duty to themselves
and to others to educate themselves, but what I have come across lately is kind of weird.
Let me explain, I am a feminist. A super feminist, actually. I typically spend a tiny portion of my day
checking out all my feminist blogs to see what’s up and to observe what others are talking about, and
something that has popped up on my radar recently is the fact that racism has become a huge part of
feminism. Namely, the fact that many have previously excluded WOC from the feminist movement and
that these individuals had acted as if they themselves were sole controllers of the movement. I agree
that this is horrible. It’s awful to say that we want equality, and then proceed to say, β€œOh no, not you.
We want equality for US, not you.”
I feel like people are getting a bit too eager, though. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t mean too eager for
equality, because being eager for equality is never wrong. I mean that recently, I have seen many
bloggers completely villainize white people. Let me repeat what I said before, I know I am privileged
and I will never know what it’s like to not be privileged and there is no way for me to ever know what
it’s like to live with oppression, but it does become a bit annoying when people don’t try to practice
what they advocate for. I’ve seen people write beautiful, great things about equality and the inclusion of
all races, and then go on to write weird, totally off-base things about how white people are the problem.
White people are not the problem. Bigotry is the problem.
I feel like advocates for equality have sort of gotten off track. I am seeing less and less of people
writing about how to gain equality, and I am seeing more and more about how all white feminists are
bigoted and racist.
I’m not bigoted, and I’m not racist. I don’t know everything about everyone, but I do my best.
What really irks me the most is when I see people saying that they wish white people would try harder
to educate themselves on topics, whilst bashing them as well. The thing is, people aren’t going to want
to listen to what you have to say if all you do is badmouth them. I really do try to continue to follow
blogs even if they tell me that I am evil simply for being white, but after a while, the stupidity of it all
just begins to get taxing.
Yes, I am aware that there are a LOT of racist and sexist white people. Believe me, after a conversation
with my grandpa, all I want to do is take a bath to cleanse myself of all the white supremacist language
and ideas. But the thing is, there are racist and sexist people in EVERY culture. I’ve met racist people
of every color, shape, and size. I’ve essentially met a rainbow of bigotry.
Now, I’m not trying to gain sympathy for my ‘struggle’ here, because really, anti-white language doesn’t
bother me. I am not some ‘boo-hoo poor me’ whitie. I am simply annoyed by the hypocrisy of it all. We
are campaigning for equality. What we want is for every race to be paid the same, treated the same, and
seen as equal in status, education, etc. What I love about this blog is that it has never tried to exclude
any group of people like, ever. I love reading this blog and learning so much about what it’s like to be
Indian and informing myself on issues and topics I never even knew existed before, and I wish other
blogs could follow in this one’s footsteps.
Basically, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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