2015 – my year that was

2015 was a crazy year.

I returned from the UK once again! This was the third time (and the last – I think, no, I am sure). I do love the country and will continue to remain in its debt for all the things – little and big – that it taught me. And mostly for the support it lent me when I needed it the most – as a struggling single mum. I don’t remember struggling at all for anything in life prior to that and precisely that’s why I yearned to go back to where I always lived on my own terms – India. I don’t know if a life without struggle is a blessing or a curse for I continue to be in inertia all these years. I live a happily vicarious life and I don’t seem to be complaining.

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In retrospect, I now wonder if, like everything else in our universe, was my return also to serve a cosmic purpose? My father had an awful double whammy – a leg accident which made him temporarily immobile followed by the mother of all diseases – carcinoma! Carcinoma, you ask what is it? It is that miserable disease starting with C. No, I am not supposed to say THE word as mum considers it a taboo. I used the word many times initially as a matter of fact, however I was reprimanded by both her and my darling maternal aunt. As much as I would like to call a spade a spade I respect their wishes and will take it that you have worked it out what it means. The last quarter of the year was the toughest for all of us at home – especially for my father who went through the terrible 6 weeks of radiation therapy. My mum who usually is seen as mentally fragile shocked us all by being the strongest. She, who cries at the drop of a hat, was on her toes throughout this phase. Relatives and friends also stood by us. And I believe somewhere I was a good nurse. I was a good buffer for both of them and kept hold of sanity. Hence, my return was perhaps all destined.

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Well, that was the personal front. Professionally, I went back to square one. Travels, relocation and mostly, increase in my voice-over rates saw a drop in my clients. I however randomly did end up taking English tuitions of an office goer on a special request of a friend and realized that it was fun. It kept me disciplined and gave me that power kick. I felt good. It boosted my confidence. I hope to take up tutoring seriously this year and see how I can revive my voice-over work.

Vocationally, in my free time I wrote a children’s story early last year which my daughter loved reading. My long time mission of writing something for her got fulfilled. Hopefully, it will get published someday after my friend-cum-(very fussy) editor is satisfied (three drafts already!). And then I started this blog too last year where I pour my heart out and also hone my writing skills.

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So, what did I learn from last year?

  1. Healthy matters.
  2. If something has to happen, it will.
  3. You need to be strong throughout and as Rhonda Byrne says, count your blessings. I do …every single day.

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(image 1: on our flight from the UK to India in Apr last yr)

(image 2: my daughter with my father in Bhubaneshwar in June last yr)

(image 3: courtesy: http://www.contentcreatorz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/story-book.jpg)

(image 4: courtesy: http://www.multipleblessings.com/bw/wp-content/media/blogger/MB_Count%2BYour%2BBlessings%2B14x6.jpg)

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Being a non-native in your native land

600x600xI-Know-That-Voice.jpg.pagespeed.ic.kX4SfuqMs8                                 (image courtesy: http://www.voiceovertimes.com)

As a freelance voice-over artist with a distinct Indian-English accent I only look (but obviously!) for clients that are also specifically looking for an Indian/foreign accent and the demand is pretty disappointing when compared to the UK, the US and Australian accents. Freelance voice-over is still a niche market here. It doesn’t upset me that much to see online job pages full of voice-over work for other accents than to see an Indian client for the Indian market seeking a western voice!  Our fixation with west can get frustrating.

I have lived in the West and have never seen or heard a foreign (non-native) English voice for their local TV and radio programs unless it is a foreigner who is doing the talking!  It is understandable in countries like the UAE where the country has to cater to thousands of English-speaking expats who live there.

What’s wrong with our accent anyway that some of our very own prospective clients don’t want to give us work? Ok, we don’t sound ‘posh’ like the Brits and have many Westerners poking fun of our accent but that’s how we will be speaking all our lives.  Variety makes us distinct. Imagine all of us speaking alike, what good that will be? Imagine all birds tweeting alike! I live in an area where I am blessed to hear sounds made by different birds and I enjoy guessing the species of the bird by the sound it makes – sometimes it is a koel,  sometimes a parrot and sometimes even a peacock with that voice that deceives its graceful appearance and sometimes all these sounds just overlap! Now, imagine all of us speaking the same accent and having a similar intonation! The world will be a boring place.

And why just voice-overs, we are so fixated with everything West. Why do you want your ramp model wearing a heavy Indian costume for fashion shows that are showcased in India and are exclusively for Indian customers? How many times do you get to see a foreigner wearing a sari other than it is a celebrity attending an Indian function!

We are not a cosmopolitan country like the UK where you see people of many diversities living together – natives, hispanics, Asians, middle-eastern. It certainly makes sense to showcase global models for the fashion shows there.

Ours is an outright Indian market. And if we are so obsessed with the West let’s also pick up good things from them. Like the other day my beautician was telling me that instead of copying all the ‘special days’ like kiss day, flower day and even a slap day (I didn’t know there was a slap day!),lets pick up some civic sense too from them! Instead of just taking our streets and roads for granted and throwing about garbage just about anywhere lets also make an effort to throw it in the right place!

As much as I hate to write this, it does please me then when I see an out-of-the-blue Indian model on the cover of Gap. It is a rarity. And that unfortunately got popular for all the wrong reasons!  Maybe Gap had a reason to make a Sikh guy its model and it must have been indeed a big deal. They chose a very unconventional model belonging to a minority even in its own country of origin. You don’t have many turbaned-sikh models and actors in India too!

gap-sikh-hed-2013(image courtesy: http://www.adweek.com)

Well, the only way I see the demand for Indian voice-overs and everything else that should be Indian atleast in India going up is when a foreign client pushes the demand for it. Why would they do that, you ask? I have no clue! But then we, well many of us and there is no denying that, ape them and it will certainly work!