An open book of hymns on the table of her dorm, a keyboard in the corner on its stand, small pots of plants on the window sill, memories past pinned to the wall in stills — and amongst them Eva Ross sits on her bed, eyes closed, plucking on to her guitar, singing The Avett Brothers’ “Paranoia” as she drifts off to a world of music.
The 19-year-old WKU horticulture major is not only a student but also a folk singer. She is a motivated musician who does not want to use her musical talent to make lots of money and a big name for herself. Instead, she wants to use music to cure the ill through music therapy.
“I am really interested in music therapy. Because it would allow me to do what I love, while helping people,” Ross said.
Ross has been exposed to music from a very early age.
“My mother was a folk singer too. She is the one who taught me how to play guitar when I was eight. She taught me a few chords and then I found my own way. Later, when I was 12, I took piano lessons but it didn’t quite click, because I didn’t want to sit there and learn. I wanted to go wild with it,” she said.
Ross has never been fond of school because of its restrictions and rules. She has always wanted to be free and limitless — to be able to do whatever she wanted to do.
“I never studied music because; I didn’t want to make it like maths. I wanted to make it fun. Also I didn’t know how to read music and that is why I have been hesitant to study it, plus music as a career is very unsustainable,” Ross said.
Jeremy Kelly, a music professor at WKU who has also been an opera performer for the past 25 years, said that making a career in music is not only very difficult but also very limited.
“A career in music is not only about having talent, one must also have the drive to achieve and realise dreams. It is this drive that should make you say ‘I don’t need internet. I don’t need cable. Because I want to be an artist,’” Kelly said.
Ross said not everyone can make it big.
“That is why we praise the musicians who make it to the top without learning music at school,” she said.
“When I play music, I play from my heart. Music is like an expression to me, it is not something I do to get fame, recognition or money. I do it because I love it,” Ross said, and that is why she aspires to become a music therapist over a performing artist.
“Music therapy is real and genuine interaction with people. They are not just listening to a recording, instead they get to experience and feel the music,” she said. “And ultimately, one day I would like to have my own institution. I think it takes a soft-hearted, gentle, caring person to become a music therapist.”
For Ross music has been her salvation and will always be her salvation, even if she doesn’t get to do it professionally.
“I don’t necessarily need someone to sit beside me and listen to me sing,” she said “for me, knowing that I have the freedom to sing whatever I want to sing, makes me happy.”
P.S: This article was written as a part of my final project for my Introduction to media writing class.
‘Toilet-paper’ is the one word that makes any Indian cringe with disgust. But, that doesn’t stop us from coming to America and then complaining about using the paper.
Even though I am an Indian, I was never brought up in India. I grew up in the United Arab Emirates. The culture in UAE is pretty heterogeneous, so when it came to the restrooms a choice of both water and toilet-paper were available. This meant never having to learn to use toilet-paper.
Thus, the January of 2014, was one of the toughest months. I had start using toilet-paper to clean myself, as I going to complete my education in America. And the thought of getting used to this new habit scared me more than anything I had ever been scared of.
By this point of time all you toilet-paper using fellas, must be wondering as to why and how did toilet-paper scare me, and the Indians, I know you feel me.
We Indians don’t have a specific history behind our use of water in the washrooms. We use it simply because we find it hygienic and get a sense of cleanliness after we wash ourselves. In some Indian cultures they have various rules like; one must completely remove all garments of clothing from ones body when using the washroom for your daily business. But, there is no such account as to how we came to use water.
Thus, the transition was not only terrifying physically but also mentally, because it took me nearly three months to look up ‘how to use toilet-paper?’ tutorials on YouTube. And I must have barely looked up a dozen videos before I shut my laptop and swore to myself, that I will accept being the odd one out but, I shall never use toilet-paper in my life.
Nonetheless a woman can change.
On reaching the Red Roof Inn, Bowling Green, Kentucky I felt it was necessary to embrace the culture where I was going to be for the next few years. So, I gave it another try, and voilà, it was so simple; I could not imagine why I was being so paranoid about using toilet-paper. Not only was it simple, but in fact it was so easy, so convenient and so damn fascinating.
Did you know; toilet-papers have been in use from the 14th century? Joseph C. Gayetty of New York started producing the first packaged toilet paper in the U.S. in 1857. It consisted of pre-moistened flat sheets, which were medicated with aloe and were named “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper”. Then in 1877 Albany Perforated Wrapping (A.P.W.) Paper Company gave us rolled and perforated toilet paper that we are familiar with today. (http://nobodysperfect.com/vtpm/exhibithall/informational/tphistory.html).
The history of its conception was much less fascinating than the fact that toilet-paper came in various types, textures, colours and prices. It’s been nearly three months since I step foot in America, but the toilet-paper aisle at the markets still leaves me baffled by the kind of choices it offers.
You can literally choose to be stingy or incredibly generous when it comes to taking care of your hienie. You can choose from an array of papers, from moist to dry, quilted to course, made-out of trees to made-out a recycled paper, standard to jumbo to jumbo junior. Not only that, if you think that you want to reach the apex of luxury, you have to buy the 22-karat gold-plated toilet-paper, which by the way, comes with a bottle champagne. And trust me; it will only cost you a meager $1.3 Million, (shipping charges not included) (http://www.ealuxe.com/most-expensive-toilet-paper-world/).
So, the next time any of you water using fellas think about making a face when you hear of toilet-paper, you just remember that water available to you in the washrooms are not scented, not coloured, not textured, doesn’t come in various sizes and guess what it doesn’t it come in gold.
And as for me, using toilet-paper was one fun experience. So do you still want to judge a book by its cover?
P.S: I wrote this blog post for my Introduction to media writing class, the assignment being write a blog post on any topic.
She sat there in the middle of all commotion.
Clinging on to something cold and drifting off to a place she found peace,
Her eyes narrated and re-narrated thousand unspoken stories, of days, months and years, of once upon a time.
As she slowly came back to reality,
the cold was replaced by warmth…
Warmth that her beloved Grammy promised to bestow on her forever.
So how are you? Long time…
I am fine she said with a smile. Yes it’s been a while.
Wondering if he felt the similar emptiness inside.
The birds chirped at the break of the dawn.
And the sun seemed to set at its own pace.
She lay there grasping her breath,
on the small hospital bed.
But in pain she smiled, re-living 80 years in the blinks of her eye.
And then it all stood still, as she sunk in her trance.
As a student I have never been able to ace a subject that never interested me. So once I was done with school, my father and I sat down to have a chat when he told me that, he wanted me to do Engineering and graduate to do a white collar 8-9 job. My exact reaction to his statement was simple; “NO!” He asked me why, and I explained to him that I wanted to do something that interested me, something that made me happy, something that I loved, something creative, something that defined me. And then it all began!
For the past three years I have been studying Media and Communications in an affiliated esteemed Indian college, Manipal University, Dubai. The reason I initially joined this course was to do a lot of creative writing and to eventually become an event manager and a freelance journalist. But by my second year I had totally changed my intentions. When I was introduced to the subject of photography (professionally), and I was amazed as to how keen I was to learn more. It was then when I realized that; how much I enjoyed doing photography. Being able to express through my visual perspective, to convey to others my exact emotion on the subject matter made me happy.
Once I was introduced to the concept of photography, I constantly wanted outlets of inspiration, of how different people took pictures and expressed themselves through a single picture. That is when I came across webpages like Lens (New York Times), Photojournal links, National View (The National), various blogs and individual photo essays sites, finally helping me understand the concept of photojournalism and how different it was from photography. I was intrigued. And I knew this is what I wanted my career to be about, being able to take pictures not for pleasure but for being able to tell someone’s story through picture and text.
The concept of photojournalism is not thoroughly understood in India as opposed to other countries. So I constantly find myself answering questions like “What is photojournalism?” and “Why do you want to do photojournalism? Isn’t it a dying art?” (The latter are reactions of people who have a fair idea of what photojournalism is.) I reply to them by saying,
“photojournalism is the art of packaging more than thousand words in one photograph. It is the quest of every photojournalist to make its viewers go ‘WOW’ when they see what the picture actually depicts. Yes some say it is a dying art, but I think in this generation we have more people claiming to be photographers and trying to understand the concept of photography as opposed to 10 years ago. And the reason I choose to photojournalism as my career is simple, it is because it is not something easy. It is not about just clicking a button, it is about extreme precision and the ability to find an interesting angle to mundane things, it is about being able to see what others fail to see. Because truly, there is no greater joy when somebody reads or looks at your work and you see the look on their faces, and you know that you have left them inspired and amazed.”
It has been a year that I have been pursuing my interest in photojournalism. Thus to learn more about photojournalism as a real world experience, I interned at The National for 5 months. The National is an esteemed government owned newspaper in United Arab Emirates. At The National I was under a very inspiring mentor Brian Kerrigan. He helped me learn how to be a photojournalist in this part of the world, where people in general tend to run away from the camera. I also continue to pursue my interest by maintaining a personal photography blog and help out my college in covering various events. Lastly, I keep updating myself and seeking inspiration by regularly reading and browsing through various photojournalistic blog and sites.
In the past I have done various photojournalist projects or ventures by myself. I did a photo essay on the fruit and vegetable market in my locality and how it looks when the worker trucks bring in the fresh fruits and vegetable from the docks for the day’s business, then I did a project on various people enjoying a weekend at the corniche. As a part of my college project I prepared a photography magazine and a coffee table book related to organic farming in UAE. My next target projects are, to go to India and shoot portraits of different people and find out their story and compile them in a photo feature, and to do a photo essay on my special needs sister.
Apart from photography, I also enjoy writing. I initially enlighten people about my creativity by writing poetry, and consecutively getting published 7 times in a UK based publishing company Young Writers / Forward Press. In the coming years The Statesman newspaper in Kolkata, India had published my writing about the celebration of Hindu festive cultures in a foreign nation. Recently I was also nominated for The Young Journalist Award at Dubai International Film Festival’12. Apart from that I maintain a blog and have done a considerable amount of interviews with people of various facets.
The reason I want to do this course at (this particular college) is because the course you offer is everything I want to learn in my master’s degree and more. Moreover I think studying in the States will give me the proper exposure in my field of interest. Also it has always been my desire to study in the States and learn to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and a whole rounded person that everyone wants to be in their lives and I think studying with this institution will help me to get there.
I will currently be finishing my Undergraduate degree and will purse my maters in USA and after I finish my degree I aspire to initially work at any esteemed newspaper as a photojournalist and gain enough experience to qualify myself to be potent enough to apply to National Geographic and years later I want to freelance my gathered and improved talent. Because just as my management professor says, “You are a media person and after a point of time you should be your own boss!”