July 29, 2005

A little bit of everything :)

The air conditioner in our office conked out today morning and I couldn't be happier about it. Without the constant hum of the AC, everything seems more...real, believe it or not. I almost feel like I am a bank employee working in Madras - I hear all the familiar sounds associated with it - table fans, people talking, a sultry feel all around me, the clickity clacks of keyboards, I hear everything more clearly and somehow, I feel better about it all :)

For those not able to keep up with my n blog updates, here's a gist - am writing a non-short story, well, not exactly a mega serial type story but a long one nevertheless...I wish I could write like Shobha Narayanan or Amulya Maladi, the way they weave food, spices and smells into their novels without breaking the flow of their narration, oh well, if wishes were horses...!

I saw b & p's marriage video recently and it was a pleasant experience. You should see the genuine smiles and the almost palpable, childlike excitement that adorns the faces of the maamis and mamas who come to bless the newly wedded couple...whether it is singing during the oonjal ceremony or watching the kasi yatra or wishing them during the reception, it's obvious that they are present fully, if you know what I mean, they are not thinking of the stinging smoke, the elaborate rituals, the never-ending queue assembled to wish the couple, the confused and loud mantrams, squeals of laughter, loud chatter that make it difficult for one to even hear one's own voice and every other inconvenience that completes the beautiful picture of a wedding...they are there because they care and that's what matters to them...and to us!

July 25, 2005

Myriad Colors of Silk!

For some reason today, I thought of DAV ("My" erstwhile School); actually it's a pretty winding trail of thoughts and hence this random post. Out of the blue, I thought of Jyothika and Surya, probably because my mom recently told me about Jyothika's wedding saree, alleged to have 54000 computer generated colors worth an exorbitant* amount to match that claim. Apparently, the salesman at RMKV silks (the latest big silk saree store in Madras, to the best of my limited knowledge) tried to sell this saree to my mom :) So anyway, my thoughts then wandered on to a scene from Khaka Khaka where there's this School going girl being teased by rowdy guys from the corner liquor store and this girl for reasons best known to her (and the director) is wearing a white skirt, part of her School uniform that would have probably fit her correctly three years earlier! Anyway, the white skirt then reminded me of my DAV School uniform on Saturdays, white shirt and white (long) skirt and several unrelated thoughts which incidentally is not the subject of this post (am beginning to wonder if there is one)! But I have uploaded these nice little pictures, so let me say something related :)

There's something to be said about silk sarees - gaudy or trendy, monotoned or double shaded, with thick golden borders or delicate single-lined borders, parrot green and shocking orange or all the shades of the panjavarna kili...they all dazzle and glimmer, sparkle and shimmer, add a touch of glamour and familiarity to marriages made in heaven :)

July 21, 2005

Affairs and Accidents, in blurry pictures...

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, an affair to remember...I loved the book and now I am positively depressed that I need to cease existing in the mystical, magical, mysterious (adjectives do little justice to Potter's magic) Hogwarts castle and I find myself back in the muggle world. 2 long years for the 7th book and until then, well, atleast I have the movie to look forward to in November...

Keeping track of this many families sagas is difficult enough for the reader, I wonder how the writer (Vikram Seth) managed it with such ease and eloquence - history, poetry, romance, religion, law, music, politics - you name it and it will weave its way into A Suitable Boy, the longest published English novel. I am still struggling with a family tree for this novel...another of those books that leave behind a strange tugging of the heart that one cannot ignore (I couldn't)...just wait for it to dim away with time...

Cyrano De Bergerac, played at the Lexington Shakespeare Festival left behind tender feelings and rosy romanticism...the picture I have here is from Roxanne, a modern and well made Steve Martin movie adaptated from the play.
As you like it
that we watched a week earlier was a treat too, more fun and songs and a little less romance but delightful all the same :) The disaster of a photo by the side was an impulse on my part to capture the moment!

Finally, this picture taken just after a near miss accident! Am not sure if I can blame the rain or the slightly old tires or the fact that we forgot to turn on the anti skid mechanism...we were merging on a ramp and we skidded all the way to a railing on the right and in an attempt to correct this, we skidded all the way to the left, the nose of our car jutting well into the freeway...A waffle and two coffees later, we stopped trembling enough to drive! This picture just because I have an inkling that He (sitting happily here) had given us a hand, somehow...Amen.

July 19, 2005

Love, as dictated by my pen.

Ah, the joy of putting pen on paper - it's like running into an old friend unexpectedly, the conversation often turns out to be pleasant and ...unpredictable! And, so it is with this experiment, I command not what my hand decides to scribble, it is the pen I hold that dictates what my thoughts are to be, coloring them as it paints a picture, mere wisps of outlines seen only to the discerning eye to begin with but more defined as the ink begins to dry...

Trailing epithets that demand to be associated with the lazy eyes - dreamy, beguiling... :)

From my archives, more for relevance than anything spectacular - A slight lifting of the corners of the mouth, an almost imperceptible smoothening of the crinkles of the forehead, perhaps a dimple that winks at us from one cheek…a small wave rising from the lips, touching upon every feature of the face, gently coaxing the eyes to speak, to evoke, creating magic for the one who receives it…a smile.

My surrender complete.

July 18, 2005

Loud and Clear, unpopularly yours.

Baby steps towards Audioblogging, thanks to the blogger folks and lazy geek :)

this is an audio post - click to play

Yes, I know, but that's my voice and I have made peace with that fact!

* * *

It's official, confirmed, stamped and sealed. My theory of ordinality (as defined by me) along with P~'s theory of the unpopulars leads me to believe that I shall remain an insignificant speck in this universe from now on, with no hope of recovery :)

A short summary of P's theory would be the popularity scale in decreasing order shown here:
  • Single girl

  • Married girl ~ Single guy

  • Married guy

Well, atleast am not the married guy :))

July 14, 2005

Brace yourself for this one!

A cavitron, India, a farm house in Texas & a wedding - what do they have in common? Nothing. A visit to the dentist and you get all of this and more!

I stared at the ominous looking dark clouds and the angry showers that fell in quick, sharp bursts and I knew they were trying to warn me before I stepped into the clinic - proud in the knowledge that I had successfully postponed my dental appointment by a full six months(!) and a bit apprehensive all the same.


Close enough, better than the battering my last name is subjected to, anyway.

I stood up and smiled, hoping my freshly brushed and flossed teeth would gleam away any doubts that the hygienist would have about them. I had spent a full five minutes at work, brushing and flossing carefully before driving over to the clinic. So what if I missed a few flosses here and there, the past few weeks, months? A good final brush and floss and my teeth ought to be as good as new, or so I thought.

"Tsk, tsk...I do see a lot of tartar deposits here and here and..."

I stared at the small masked face of the hygienist and wished she would stop tsking.

"Do you floss daily?"

I was used to this trick question by now. I nodded enthusiastically.

"Hmm...well, maybe a year is a long time and you just need to come sooner for your cleaning. Well, you do have a lot of tissue and that perhaps makes flossing harder...."

Ah, there it was, an escape route and I jumped on it with an appropriately forlorn expression, "Yes, the hygienist who saw me earlier seemed to think the same"

"Really? Well, let's see for ourselves..."

And before I could object (not that I would have anyway), she produced a floss kit out of thin air and proceeded to floss on my teeth, "Hmm, I see no problem at all...unless you floss daily, you will have these periodontal problems and ..."

I listened to the familiar lecture and tried to smile as she plodded thoughtfully, some more inside my mouth.

"Now, the know what it is"

She almost giggled an evil giggle and I joined her, well knowing what I was getting myself into. The cavitron - an apparatus from hell, it attacks all your senses at once, making you almost wish that you had flossed everyday! At this juncture, let me mention that I have a bone to pick with Indian dentists - they did not ask me to floss, just brush, brush everyday and I did, being the obedient girl I was and now, there is this sudden intrusion, a three hundred second daily intrusion on my time to floss, floss, floss and I object! Well, in any case, we moved on to non-dental issues - the usual "Where do you work?", "Oh, Masters in Computer Science? Really?" among others questions whose responses were greeted with more than necessary enthusiasm and surprise.

"Oh, you are from know, my brother had to stay there for 6 weeks for an assignment"

I noticed the usage of "had to" and said, "Oh, that must have driven him crazy!"

"Yeah, you know what shocked him the most? The punishments given for stealing..."


"yeah, you cut both hands right? Isnt that your punishment for stealing?"

"huh? huh? huh?"

You see, that was the best I could do considering that I had the wretched cavitron and another nasty tube in my mouth. I did however manage to convey my incredulity with raised eyebrows.

She continued, "Oh, that's not what you do? Maybe it was not India, let's see..."

She named a few places and then laughed and said "Oh, trust me to spread these silly rumours!"

Yes, trust you to do that.

Noticing that I was not very pleased with the whole cutting hands business, she continued, "My brother has a farm house in Texas with cows and all..."

I wasn't sure how to react to this revelation and I just gave my now familiar, raised eyebrows expression. Our conversation went on to other things and she asked me about my single status and was thrilled (once again!) to note that there was a wedding in the near future, and in India (believe it or not!).

I stammered whatever came to my mind, numb and strangely soporific partly due to my smarting gums and partly because of the annoying hiss of the cavitron and my goosepimples! I just gave her a tired smile in response to her many questions. After our refreshing conversation, it was time for the dentist to see me.

"Hmm...did you wear braces?"

"Yes, many years ago? When I was 16..."

He smiled, "Many years? And what are you now? 19, 20?"

And even before I could grin stupidly and blush and say thanks, he said, "You will need a full periodontal examination though and you should consider wearing braces again, you know, your teeth seems to be growing at all angles..."



July 13, 2005

Meera Bhawan, Gatecalls...and a lot of nonsense.

Sagnik's post reminded me of Meera Bhawan (girls hostel at Bits) and in particular the gates of MB that closed exactly at 11 PM. We had to be in before that or we had to write our names down along with the names of the other culprits in a small book just outside the gates...somehow, I felt the need to talk more than anything else exactly at 10.50 PM and several animated conversations would begin exactly at 11 PM and the chouki would start closing the gates and we would run inside the gates just before they closed...if only I could go back to being a silly teenager rushing back to MB gates, fighting over who would sit next to the cute guy during Apogee movies, wondering if x~ would give me a gatecall or would he give a gatecall to the girl whose shade of nailpolish I hated even more than her and other such mind boggling trivialities and eventualities.

Gatecalls refer to the silly business of guys having to stand outside MB (they were not allowed inside MB, ofcourse) and asking the chouki to announce the name of the girl they wanted to visit - the chouki mostly mis-pronounced the names and the speaker made the remaining part of the name indistinct with the result that a bunch of girls with similar sounding names would quickly touch up their makeup, change into something "not so fancy" and would come running outside and all but one lucky girl would walk back in disappointed and swearing never to give the guy she thought was giving her a gatecall, a gatecall!

Well...I cannot be a teenager but I can be silly still and I can certainly write silly stuff, so here goes...

An ode to you, O hallowed gates of Meera Bhawan!
you welcomed me with open arms as I walked in with hesitant steps,
you demanded my presence well before the strike of midnight, everynight,
you hid me away from cruel boys giving gate calls to all others but me,
you consoled me when heartless girls talked outside, endlessly on lonely nights,
you greeted me with a smile as I walked into your arms smiling some days,
precious minutes and hours wasted carefully in idle talk about adolescent fancies,

Ah, for the gates of Meera Bhawab, I yearn, for my sweet haven, I yearn...

And to end this misery, I yearn :))

Seriously, did you actually spend time reading this nonsense? :)

July 11, 2005

Philosophy reflected by The Mirror of Erised.

Harry sits forlornly, staring at the reflection of his parents and himself, in the Mirror of Erised and Dumbledore's voice of wisdom explains, "Ah, I see you have found the Mirror of this mirror, you will see your deepest desires, the one thing that will make you the happiest...the man who looks at this mirror and sees himself as he is, is perhaps the happiest man there is..."

Or something to that effect. And for a few moments, I disengaged myself from the bewitching world of Harry Potter and wondered what I would see, were I to be standing in front of the Mirror of Erised.

A hundred fleeting images, a blur of quickly concocted happily-ever-afters and deeply pondered over desires and yearning surge forth and I strain to identify a clear image. I see none, the sad fact being that I do not know what will make me as happy as I can ever hope to be.

My mom tells me sometimes we make the mistake of praying for some things for us - a particular life, a particular soul mate, a number of very particular somethings, and sometimes the strength of our prayers or perhaps some unseen consciousness, some unseen power grants us those wishes and then we wonder if we could have asked for something different, something better? She tells me He knows what is best for us and perhaps when we pray, we just let him decide what is best for us...the fickle mind that I have, I find it hard to follow this little bit of advice.

Still curious though, will the Mirror of Erised show me what will make me happiest when I myself am unaware of what will make me so? Perhaps, we don't need mirrors to teach us about happiness, perhaps we look deeper within ourselves and the answers will dawn on us someday...

July 08, 2005

Little somethings.

So many little lessons to learn and so little's like that!

A couple of kids came to visit us today at work and kind of made our day. They were all shy and smiling, genuinely happy to see us and glowing in all their innocence. I couldn't help smiling back and feeling the warmth that they seemed to surround themselves with. I just can't place my finger on it, it's the same with some people - then enter a room all happy and smiling and suddenly everything around you seems to be smiling back at you, a certain happiness flows all around and you feel...well, happy :)


As if this were not enough, I have started to steal now! Been planning to for a long time anyway :) My apologies for spelling mistakes and translation mistakes, those I can claim to be my own. Remember those moments on the silver screen that you always carry with you? Those few lines in the novel that you can quote in the middle of the night? The lyrics of that one song that you can't stop humming, that means something special to you? It's just about all these things that have become a part of me - stolen (from movies and novels and poems) impressions :) (trust me to make it sound all dramatic and go overboard!)


Am on page 952 in The Suitable Boy; I wondered if I would ever cross a 500 and if I would remember all the parallel yet related stories that Vikram Seth traces in his novel but now I suspect I shall feel sad when I finish the book, that Latha, Mrs.Rupa Mehra and Pran among all the others will no longer be my side when I want them to be :( Maybe, I will draw a family tree and post it here!


I swear I heard whispers near the fountain yesterday at work, and I thought of Moaning Myrtle! Harry Potter has begun to cast his spell on me much before July 16th, I see...


I am really looking forward to As you like it, this Saturday. If you are in Lexington, you really ought to be here - open air, friendly crowd, lovely weather, fennel cakes, delightful theatre, bonhomie and all that kinda thing - can you ask for more?


An excerpt from this week's India Abroad newspaper (don't you just love reading newspapers, not online for a change?): "...The United Hindu Dharma and Vedic Identity, and Hindu, Bindu and Sindhu: Issues in Global Hindu Dharma."


OK, they are all not little lessons but they certainly are little somethings that mean a lot to me.

July 06, 2005

The concept of comfort zones and men.

Based on recent observations, I have come to (yet another) a conclusion about guys - to those of you who conform to the generalization, I will not say, "Hah! See, I toldya!" and to those who don't, I will not say, "Surely you jest!" Having established ground rules, here we go. Guys, especially those in a relationship, are comfortable within established comfort zones. By comfortable, I mean mentally undisturbed, at peace, like when they watch the nth rerun of a test match between India and England and they know that India will lose. By established, I mean established by them with, dare I say, limited information! Let's look at a few examples that will impress upon you what I divined a few days back.

Ms: "Duh, I don't know how to get to Tates Creek Road, can you navigate please?"
(First, let me firmly state that I do know how to go to Tates Creek Road and I do not go "Duh" for anything!)

Mr: "Sure honey, ofcourse I am here to help you."

The Mr as you can see is complacent and secretly pleased that his services are essential and he is even more thrilled that her direction-sense is non-existent. All is well in his little world.

This little example explains the relatively simple concept of comfort zones. Every guy builds up a safe little comfort zone around him, based on his assessment of the girl in question. There are certain areas where he is comfortable if the girl is more proficient than him and these areas commonly are a subset of what I represent in the little comfort-zone-ellipsis on the right. The area outside the ellipsis is usually a subset of what the guy assumes he knows better than the girl at all points in time and space. For example, in my 26 years of pretty unsignificant existence, I have not come across a guy who can admit that his girl friend, wife, any girl for that matter, drives better than him - please refer to diagram once again (I sense seemingly logical explanations being mulled over now before being thrown at me - "That's coz girls are just bad drivers!" and similarly worded mis-conceptions to which I will not say, "Yeah, right!").

As you can see, driving, cars and directions are subjects that we (women) should not dream of excelling in. Oh, but we can be great at responding to flowery pink greeting cards with appropriate thank you notes hand written in cursive writing. Also, we can be famous for knitting, stitching, interior design and cooking and our men would hold their head high in pride. But, start sneaking into the x-box, PS2 arena and they become all jittery and nervous :)

Anyway, a few days back, one such guy, let's call him k, who conforms to the comfort zone principle, and I were having a good conversation and I, unthinkingly suggested, "Why don't you call 411 directory assistance? You can get xyz's phone number from them".

Big pause. k looked blankly at me as if I had just said the unthinkable.

"411 huh? really? that thing works? I was thinking about it anyway, might as well give it a try..."

And several other indications that would convey one the impression that he definitely knew about directory assistance ever since the birth of directory and of assistance, short of suggesting that he had actually coined the two words.

RS rests her case :-)

July 03, 2005

The timeless magic of thachi mammam (curd rice)!

It’s high time I put this post up. There are certain non-believers-who-shall-not-be-named and their understudies who ought to read this post and change their dogmatic assertions that go against my theory, the veracity of which has been established several times.

My theory states: All shall eat thayir sadam and all that do not realize or want to realize the panacean effects of thayir sadam shall be made to do so and shall rot in a thayir-sadam-less hell :-)

Imagine - A marriage hall, elai sapadu, splashes of glimmering pattu jarigai on sarees and the glint of jewellery, the good-natured hustle of long lines of relatives and friends towards, and the fragrance wafting from, the dining hall – the delicious aroma of vengaya sambhar, punctuated by touches of urulai kizhangu curry and kaara rasam, creamy avial inviting us with lemony kootu and crispy apalams and just when you think you can indulge your senses no more and feast no more, along marches the stainless steel bucket of thayir sadam carrying with it a smell so delectable your palate begs you for an encore, after which you can smack your lips in pleasure and slowly roll out of the dining hall.

Thayir sadam is a fussy girl – she wants it all – not only does she demand to taste almost sinfully heavenly, she insists on looking good enough to eat! Complexion like a fair damsel, purple grapes for eyes curiously looking at you, itsy bitsy green chillies adding a shocking taste to her conversation and a tangy flavour - her witty sense of humour and one similarity you cannot miss – both are characteristically unpredictable!

Rain or shine, any time is good enough for thayir sadam for me. You know how you (atleast some of you and me) cannot dream of having bread instead of rice for dinner or tea instead of coffee in the mornings? Well, hand me a plate of thayir sadam and oorgai any time and I promise to eat it with relish, for what I revel in is not just the thayir sadam but the feeling of home it carries with it.
© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.