At the Stroke of the Midnight hour

75 years ago, on August 15th, 1947, “at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world slept, India awoke to life and freedom” and promised to bring equal opportunity, justice and fullness of life to everyone who lived in India. 

As a child of the 70s, I saw my country steady itself towards this north star every time the billowing waves of religious turmoil rocked it to its very core. Not a day went by when we didn’t take pride in its religions, languages, cultures and communities that were so diverse and yet so uniquely and equally Indian. In fact, my non-Indian often ask me, “You all speak different languages, eat different foods, produce different textiles, yet I don’t know of any community who identify so strongly with their country of birth and strive to go back to there as often. I fail to understand what, despite all these differences, makes you feel so Indian?” I have no answer because it has always been this way. Each Indian community takes pride in its language, foods, faith, and culture, and yet knows we are all connected through our shared history.

Today, as that country of my childhood steers far far away from fulfilling that pledge of equality made some 75 years ago, are we brave enough and wise enough to yet again realize that quintessential trait that is at the heart of our Indian identity – that despite all our differences we are much stronger when we embrace our Unity in Diversity?

Jai Hind.

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Mangoes, Mangoes Everywhere, Yet Not One For Me to Eat

Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.

Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.

Summer is almost over, as are the monsoons. The mangoes are most definitely gone, but here I am, still trying to snag one from the tree in the backyard of my childhood. There is nothing more delicious than a mango in the middle of the blistering heat of an Indian June. If this national fruit of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh can’t bring us together, I don’t know what can. Happy 70th birthday to India.

Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch for Snagging a Mango. Pencil on Paper. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch for Snagging a Mango. Pencil on Paper. 2017.

Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch with color for Snagging a Mango. Pencil, colored pencils on Tracing Paper. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch with color for Snagging a Mango. Pencil, colored pencils on Tracing Paper. 2017.