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December 22, 2006

Women! Go figure!

Women are supposed to be unpredictable, emotional, sentimental and way-out-there crazy at times. Being a predictable woman who tries not to make things too complicated by conforming to established notions, my range of moods fits the general category of women-moods. One womanly attribute that men can't seem to fathom is their ability to chatter about issues ranging from eye-brow tweezing and how much of sage or oregano to add to your soup to women's rights and questions dealing with existential paradoxes (I just made up that word but, man! it sounds so...intellectual).

This womanly chatter can range from a few seconds to a few hours, it's hard to say what captures our fancies at that instant. And I tell you, while men make great listeners, understanding spouses and flexible friends ("I want to eat only desi khana today, even if its greasy, fatty and is probably reducing my life-span by a considerable amount!" - they smile and nod and tag along, all for our selfish-selves), they just are not meant to understand or contribute to this kind of chatter.

"You spent an hour discussing what?!"

"Hair coloring. You see, we can use henna and herbal products and be oh-so-natural or we can for home-coloring-kits or we can go to the parlor and get a professional color shine if we are willing to spend a few dollars more."

"Ok, so what did you discuss for the remaining 55 minutes?"

"I just told you!"

Stuff like that. The purely girly thrill that we get by indulging in these trivialities is something that is beyond the grasp of your regular male brain. I don't often get the chance to indulge in girly talks but I always feel great after one of those rare, giggly, girly talks. And before you can snicker, let me point out that they are not always trivial talks, we also like to talk about issues facing women, women-power and how we need to stand up for ourselves. I particularly like talking about these issues just because of the here-she-goes-again look that paints itself on hubby's face. That's just a side-benefit, I am serious whenever I talk about equality between the sexes...but that does not mean we get to take the trash out and mow the lawn. But, I am serious about equality. Oh! and we also won't accompany our husbands to their bi-monthly hair cuts ("Just get rid of as much as you can" and my BP is waaaay up there!), but we would like them to accompany us to our beauty parlors so they can tell us if our new hair style and hair color accentuates our skin tone (whatever that means!) :p

Wise men (who have nothing better to do) are always telling us not to take life too seriously. Since, we are good listeners and we heed to good advice, we are just doing that. See, that's a whole new dimension to our chatter. A deep and significant explanation behind a woman's psyche (Catch me in the right frame of mind and I amaze myself by the amount and quality of nonsense I can come up with :)

So yes, the next time you find a guy rolling his eyes (with envy?) when a bunch of girls chatter away, just point him to this highly scientific explanation of why women talk...three times more than men!

December 13, 2006

Paper shredders are fun because...

You get to do this...


and then watch them do this...



but seriously, they serve a dual purpose, men (boys?) find it fun to play with the shredder (almost a gadget) , we get rid of paper-clutter (Fengshui and common sense tells us that's great for the heart :) and we beat identity-theft!

December 04, 2006

Mountains, molehills, leather, being a vegan and such things.

So, if you need to make your life more complicated, make even the simplest question more convoluted than your regular "Chicken or Egg" questions, need an ultimate answer to "Life, The Universe, and Everything", then you have chanced upon the right blog (well, I don't really know the answer to the last question, a wise computer once claimed it to be 42 :) Welcome to the world of "Yours confused".

Ok, enough noise. So, we set about on a simple task - buying a sofa. Now, how complicated can that be? thought Ms.Confused and set about on a bright and cheery day to a bunch of furniture stores. She liked almost all the sofas but took a special liking to the oh-so-comfy leather sofas and barcaloungers (Now, I get to watch Friends, sitting on one! - she thought and did not hear nature smirking at her over-simplification of life :p)

Then, she came home and had a weekend-get-together with a few friends and asked their opinions about leather sofas (This is when nature actually proceeded to hold it's stomach and laugh out loud at her). What started off as a general discussion on cloth vs leather sofas turned into a full-fledged discussion on morality, veganism, vegetarianism, wearing silk sarees at weddings and what not.

Since then, I have googled quite a bit about whether I should buy the leather sofa or not:

http://www.veganviews.org.uk/vv86/vv86leather.html

http://veganrevolution.free.fr/documents/itwfrancione.html

And found some suprising albeit upsetting comments, facts, opinions:
"There is probably more suffering in a glass of milk than in a pound of steak." and so on.

Now, I doubt I'll give up drinking milk because I read this website but I can give up a leather sofa if it saves cows...but then, what about k's leather belts, what about my wedding silk sarees? What about woolen winter-wear? Are we hypocrites because we claim we saved lives by not buying leather/fur while causing the same/if-not-greater pain to animals by just our daily activities? I mean, why not switch to soy-milk? Why not give up on silk-sarees and wear a nice, pink cotton saree for a wedding?

Anyway, so drop a line, leave a comment and I shall teach you the tricks on "How to complicate simple stuff" :-)

Hmm...I am not able to leave comments on my blog. Are you seeing that too? Well, I guess you can't tell me if you are indeed seeing that problem, so, I can take absence of comments to indicate either that you cannot comment or that you just don't want to :) In any case, if you can comment, do let me know, if you can't...I'll figure it out :)


November 17, 2006

'tis the season to be jolly...tra la la la...


It's that time of the year, warm, fuzzy holiday cheer, Santa-claus, colored lights, smell of cookies and brownies and Turkey! It's like this quirky bird has the whole country wrapped around her paws. On TV, in supermarkets and just about everywhere we see...Turkey-o-mania! It's kinda fun, you know...seeing turkeys everywhere means the holidays are not far away. It's interesting how just about everything around you changes...Halloween starts it all off and even before you have finished your candies and taken off the scary faces from your office, Thanksgiving sneaks up behind you and you see pumpkins and turkeys everywhere and then white covers the shades of brown and reindeers and Mrs.and Mr.Claus are everywhere!

As a kid, having digested a healthy dose of Archies for many years, I always wanted to have a christmas tree! Reading about Christmas in those comic-books made it all seem all the more magical - snow flakes, Santa's snowy beard, glittering Christmas trees and brightly wrapped gifts with enormous bows under the trees...I would have lived in that world, in my head a thousand times. I remember one particular story (after all these years!) - Archie's jalopy breaks down and they decide to stay overnight in what looks like a haunted castle, inside the castle, they find toys all around with cobwebs around them, and we see the invisible mom and baby ghost watching the gang, the baby having died before celebrating it's first Christmas. The gang unaware of all this, decide to celebrate Christmas in that castle, so they clean the toys, light a fire and decorate the old Christmas tree in the house. After a few hours, they fall asleep and the baby happily plays with all it's new toys and the mom and baby hug happily and leave the place to...heaven.

I just loved that story...







Anyway, it is that time of the year and I wonder if I should go tree-shopping... :)

November 11, 2006

Dog Dilemmas!

"You will keep it tied when you go to work, isn't that a sin? How would you like to be constrained like that?

"Who will take care of it when you go on vacations?"

"Have you thought about how much maintenance goes into handling a pet?"

"You have to feed it Non-Veg!"

"How will you handle it when it passes away? You will have a void in your life..."

"Three walks a day plus you have to clean up after it!"

Jeez! What does a (wo)man have to do to get a pet?!

(Yes, I could just visit the Animal Shelter, get one and then let all hell break lose...sometimes I think I should do just that and see what happens! No thanks to my husband who got his parents and mine to support him on this issue! You would think your own parents would support you...
:-(

November 08, 2006

Kabhi, kabhi...

What more can I say about relationships that weren’t meant to be, love that hurts and the inability to love, when it is clear there is nothing else to do but to share at least a bit of the love that is submerging, almost suffocating you? And yet that is the one thing that you cannot do. How much will you bend to the unfair, overpowering demands of a heart that won’t listen? And finally, when the heart has had its way, all that is left is guilt, shame and a clarity even in tears of what love can be but is not…

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna is all this and more. Sappy, sentimental, long, the movie may be but it has also managed to handle a complicated, difficult theme as delicately and realistically as the Indian audience would allow it to be. I loved the movie, the NYC background, autumn leaves, snow that blanket a whole new range of emotions…we often see movies dealing effectively in love, romance, tragedy but few take up infidelity and even fewer movies dare to make such a relationship succeed; not commenting on whether it is karmically right for such relationships to succeed, but realistically speaking, some of them do…

Till the end, I kept waiting for something that would separate SRK and Rani Mukherjee, some contrived twist-of-fate ending where they can never live happily ever after and I was surprised by the ending. Also, Preity Zinta not immediately leaning on Arjun Rampal’s shoulders for support was a refreshing twist, so also Abhishek’s marriage to his American lady love. The big B took on a role that needs a lot more than just panache to pull it off without coming off cheap and he did a good job with Kiran Kher providing the right sensitive touch to their scenes.

Comedy was good, the bespectacled football-hating-kid was great, Abhishek as the doting husband evokes a tugging-at-the-heart sort of sadness...haunting music to go with all this and you have a blockbuster movie, alright!

So there, I said it, I really liked the movie! I would even see it again (oh, stop giving me that look, you should see the movie with me next time and then you’ll like it too :)

October 31, 2006

Guess?



Yeah, yeah, cheesy, I know but was fun when people had that "aha" moment when they figured out our halloween costumes :)

So, have you figured out what our costume stands for (and no prizes for the right answer)? :)

October 19, 2006

Jus' your regular dusting and mopping!

Gosh, I never realized how much useless trivia, random bits of information, absolutely trivial bits of conversations and memories I have stored in my head over time. So, now, am going to publish them here (what's the equivalent of "putting on paper" anyway? Am gonna go with "publish" for lack of a better sense of imagination and vocabulary :)

So anyway, here goes my list:

1. If you place frozen carrots on wet hand tissues, they will stick to them and the only way to separate the couple is to wash them!

2. One of my friends told me long back about how she fell asleep on her boy friend's arms and I remember thinking, "Wow! I thought that only happened in movies..."

3. The first time I watched DDLJ in the theatre, I didn't quite catch most of the dialogues because I cried throughout the movie. So, I went to see it again in the theatre. And then one more time to make sure I had all the dialogues memorized :) I was in 11th standard, I think...

4. 11th standard seems to have left a strong impression in my head...I remember feeling bad when one of my friends started crying during a Computer Science assignment and she said, "I know you think I am not as good as v~ or s~, if you don't want to do this assignment with me, it's ok, I'll understand..." I vaguely remember that we did finish the assignment together and managed a grade as good as v~ and s~ :)

5. The first time I flew to Atlanta from Madras, I did have trouble with my seat safety belt buckle. And then five years later, I heard a joke that was along the lines of, "Why do we need to listen to the same old safety instructions? Slide your seat belt into the buckle...even a two year old knows that!" and I remember finiding it funny but not so funny.

6. I remember my first ever potluck contribution - a strikingly yellow peas pulav, it had peas, turmeric, cooked rice and salt...and that was about it :)

7. I still remember my crushes in college and I still remember how I felt, I can't feel that way again but I know how I had felt then, isn't that weird?

8. Kids play favorites without guilt. I remember my neighbour's kid, Abhay, he was really smart about judging people, he could differentiate between those who spent quality time with him and those who got tired after, "Oooh, Abhay's so cute! Now run along and play with your friends, sonny!" The first one got a cuddly hug and the next one got a clear i-dont-like-you look. I wish I could do that too sometimes without having to offer an adult-ish explanation for my weirdness...

There, now that I have it on paper...err published, am going to try to clear these notes in my head and make space for more :)

Also, Happy Deepavali folks :)

October 18, 2006

For Aditya.

Edited: Venky added a Digg link for more visibility.

Verification: The Cancer Patients Aid Association Case File for Aditya.

My brother sent me this email. No, it's not spam, Aditya's parents are friends of friends of his...

From the email: "Aditya Kumar, 4 year old son of Kumar S, is suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a form of Blood Cancer. The only hope to give new life to Aditya is, Bone Marrow Transplant, from an unrelated donor. This treatment, unfortunately, is not available in India. And the cost of this treatment outside of India is approximately 70 Lacs to Rs 1 crore ( USD 150K to 250K) . Kumar is able to source Rs. 35 Lacs, through various personal sources."

What you can do to help?

From the email: "Donations to CPAA are tax exempt under section 80G (50% exemption). You will be sent a certificate of exemption along with receipt and letter of acknowledgement.

Apart from steps below, please also drop a mail to kumarsangatgmail.com and ravi2604atgmail.com so that we can track and acknowledge. This is important for us."

Ways to donate:

A. Through Internet

1.Visit http://www.cpaaindia.org

2. Click on picture of the credit card seen in the left pane.

3. It will take you to a https://donations.cpaaindia.org/ , where a Donation Form is available.

Please ensure that in the field, Specific Projects / Causes (if any) ? you mention "For Patient Aditya Kumar"

4. Make the payment through your Credit Card.

B. Through Cheque

* Send a cheque or demand draft in the name of "CANCER PATIENTS AID ASSOCIATION" to the address below.
* ( Please write "For Patient Aditya Kumar" on the back of the cheque)

Shubha Maudgal, Cancer Patients Aid Association,
Anand Niketan,
King George V Memorial Infirmary,
Dr. E. Moses Road, Mahalaxmi,
Mumbai-400011, INDIA
Phone: 0091-22-24924000/0091-22-24928775
Fax: 0091-22-24973599
URL: www.cpaaindia.org
Email: Shubha.Maudgalatcpaaindia.org

The above instruction is applicable for donations from any Country including U.S.

C. For Residents of US & US Citizens who wish to take Tax Deduction

Residents of USA and US citizens who would like to take a tax deduction in USA can mail their contributions by checks, wire transfers, bank drafts, etc., payable to
Cancer Patients Aid Association Inc., Fed ID # 34-2007461 at the address mentioned below:

Cancer Patients Aid Association, Inc.,
c/o Lachman & Lachman,
Certified Public Accountants,
444 Madison Avenue ,
28th Floor, New York , NY 10022.
Contact Person: Neil Lachman,
Phone (212) 371 8319,
Fax (212) 371 0707.

DO NOT write patient's name at the back of the check in this case. After mailing the check, please send the check details to kumarsang@gmail.com and ravi2604@gmail.com .

Please forward to your friends and family and let's help the little boy in any way we can.

But, what really broke my heart was this picture...do pray for the little one and his parents.

September 28, 2006

Silly post by shorty.

About being short...Today, I became short. It's so hard to drive a car when you are barely looking above the steering wheel! So, I had to drop k off and realized that I didn't have my trusty height-booster pillow. So, I decided to be daring and drove back home without the pillow. As a result, more than three-fourths of the car was over my head level, the steering wheel was on the same level as my head! And you can imagine, how smoothly I would have managed the curb!

I had my height checked recently with one of those old-fashioned weight machines, (you know, the one that has a measuring scale built in) and I kept hoping I would be like an inch taller than before, 5'3.5" = 5'4" right? And the young Doctor turned to me and announced happily that I was a whopping 5'2" tall! I probably shrunk because of old age or something!

Anyway, it must be a lot of fun to be a tall person, no need for heels, no pillow needed to drive and when you are making a point at work, it's so much better to be looking down or at eye-level than craning your neck and looking up. All the time. That's not true actually. When my colleagues are sitting down and staring at their screens, I stand a few inches taller than them and that's one time, I don't have to look up :p

About Golu...Anyway, it's navrathri time and this time, we built a modest forest for our golu. Sowmya aunty had a very nice Andaal story depicted in her golu (see pic). Someday, I want to do that too...for now, pictures of our Golu will be up soon :)

About being fortunate, guilt, fate and serving...have you ever been served by an old Desi uncle or a young girl about your age at an Indian restaurant and felt guilty about it? You probably smiled a bit more, tried to act natural, maybe didn't quite meet their eyes or maybe...it's just me :) Not always though, I normally reflect what I see, I get uncomfortable whenever I see an uncomfortable waiter...know what I mean? Anyway, I wondered, what put me where I am and this pretty girl where she is, wearing slightly battered old clothes and trying not to meet my eye? Fate? I don't know. And why Indian restaurants in particular you ask? Because we as Indians have never given the art of serving the respect that it deserves; for us, it's always something we do because we have no other go...I guess. Remember what the head waiter says in 'Maid in Manhatten'? "Remember that we serve them but we are not their servants..."

About Ubuntu...This article says it all, am all for ubuntu :)

September 16, 2006

31556926 seconds!

Wow. Three crore seconds. That's how many seconds have passed since our wedding. Hard to believe, isn't it? People keep telling me, "Really? One year has passed? It's like you just got married!" One bucket of three crore, many more buckets to come, each marking it's own milestone(s)...

And what's an anniversary without red roses, huh? Even if they are bought hurriedly a few hours before the clock strikes twelve, along with an anxiously picked greeting card and a cart load of yummy white chocolates to make up for the last minute anniversary gifts ;) ?

~~~~~****~~~~~

And if you live in Lexington, check out this Italian restaurant, Giuseppe Italiano Restaurant, off of Nicholasville, a nice restaurant in a cute little alcove, good food and a warm, happy ambience, I really liked it :)

~~~~~****~~~~~

For a change, p~ and I decided to pick a guyish movie for the party - V for Vendetta rocks, I loved the play of words in the movie (even more after referring to the dictionary)...

"This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V."

"Words will always retain their power...words offer the means to meaning...and for those who will listen the enunciation of truth."

"We are told to remember the idea not the man...400 years later an idea can still change the world. I have witnessed first hand the power of ideas.I have seen people kill in the name of them and die defending them. But you cannot kiss an idea or touch it or hold it. Ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love. And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man. A man that made me remember the 5th of November..."

"I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares more is none - Macbeth."

"Symbols are given power by people. Alone, symbols are powerless but with enough people..."


~~~~~****~~~~~

Our local chefs, k and anm~ baked three pizzas yesterday for the party - pineapple, mushrooms, jalapenos, onions, italian seasoning and a crust from scratch! But our oven kind of protested after fifteen minutes and burnt the base, so our chefs launched upon an ingenious plan to scrape off the black layer on the bottom of the crust. Anyway, it all worked out in the end, pizzas were yummy (great going, you guys) and people hardly noticed the burnt crust ;) Pb~ decided to make hot rotis for himself with p~'s help and that worked out too, although he started off with amoebic blobs of dough, they turned out pretty tasty :)

~~~~~****~~~~~

September 10, 2006

Totally disconnected, teary-eyed movie ramble.

Long weekend. Lots of free time. What do I want to do?

Exactly what the lady at the beauty parlour told me while making my eyebrows look more shapeless than they already are - "I am really looking forward to this weekend. I am looking forward to doing absolutely nothing whole weekend!"

Most weekends, that's what I feel like doing, add in a nice masala movie (romantic comedies especially) and you made my day.

While outdoor activities are fun, nothing beats cuddling in the sofa with one of those velvety throws wrapped around me, a hot cup of cocoa/coffee, shades drawn and a "Maid in Manhatten" or "The Devil wears Prada" style movie. A few days back, I watched "Chup Chupke", a typical Bollywood ishtyle movie and towards the end, I actually ended up crying - Kareena Kapoor is dumb in the movie (meaning she can't speak, you wise guys!) and there is a touching scene in the end and I kind of felt bad for Kareena in the movie and cried and all that.

This is one thing that k cannot relate to. How can I cry at a movie? I don't know, I think there is something to be said about getting involved in the movie, treating the characters in the movie as your own and crying and laughing with them and after three hours, rising to reality. If you are not doing that, you are missing the magic of movies...

I remember (yeah, many many years ago) when I was in 11th and DDLJ released then, I was totally besotted with SRK then and I had an important exam coming up, but I still went to the theatre with my family to watch DDLJ. I cried through most of the movie, my mom thought I had gone a bit crazy, my bro was highly amused that I cried so much...but I just couldn't help it, I mean, wouldn't you cry too if you knew Raj and Simran or if you were actually Raj or Simran? :) I remember when I boarded the TN express to go to Bits, I looked around to see if someone stood at the compartment door with a hand extended out...:p Actually one sardarji uncle did extend a hand towards me andd pulled me into the train, somewhere near Bhopal, but not in any romantic way. I was about to fall out of the train having boarded it while it was in motion (my wise cousin and I got down to fill water in our water bottles and suddenly we heard a whistle and the train was off...I rushed in with all the people and one of my friends accidentally used me as a support to get into the train, she used me to propel herself forward, equal and opposite reaction, you get the picture? So, she went into the train and I did a slow motion falling out of the train dance). That uncle blasted me for boarding a moving train, "Aap pade likhe nahi ho?" etc but he was really sweet, saved my life and all, so I was happy.

Coming back to movies, I think I first cried when I watched Anjali, then it was for Baazigar, DDLJ, more recently, BLACK, Chup chup Ke (stop laughing now), Life is beautiful, Alaipayuthey...man! so many movies made me cry...it's about time I watched a nice chick-flick!

Psst - talking about chick-flicks, you know what I think? I think, guys secretly like to watch chick-flicks, they just don't want to admit it :p

Quick update: I saw KANK yesterday and I actually liked it :)

August 25, 2006

Many, many years ago...

Today, for some reason, I was reminded of my Bits ragging incidents. I didn't realize how much fun they were until later, but then I was a first-yearite, no longer a "freshie".

One of my favorite ragging sessions was when I was caught with another DAVia, S~. We were discussing Calculus and he was about to start explaining a particularly complicated problem when I noticed a bunch of "seniors" staring at us.

"Freshie?"

"Yes, sir"

"Nee DAV (pronounced Daaav) thaane?"

"Yes, sir"

"Come along. S~, neeyum vaa pa."

We followed them meekly, all thoughts of caluclus left far behind.

"Unakku eppadi ivana teriyum?" They apparently already knew S~.

"He was the school captai..."

Nooo, S~ whispered to me but it was too late. As soon as I said "captain", a flurry of comments surrounded us.

"School cabtaina? S~, sollave illa? Nee vaa ma."

I realized a bit too late why it was not prudent then to let them know that he was the school captain. The poor kid just got ragged more for that.

Anyway, it turned out to be a pretty pleasant session, I got my shikanji and S~ proposed to me (well, it was either me or a buffalo) with a blade of grass (my seniors asked me to imagine it was a rose, I tried, believe me :) and then S~ had to recite a poem for me.

Just to be on the safe side, S~ and I never discussed calculus after that.
*** ~ *** ~ ***

Then, there was the time when Radha caught me, she was a final year student and we discussed books for a couple of hours! I totally enjoyed the discussion. She did make me fill up her water-bottle which was cool with me (like I had a choice) as long as she didn't make me cry (I'll come to that soon). She had these thick glasses on, hair tied up in a bun and she was dressed in casuals, a capri and a tshirt. The next day, this pretty girl in a salwar kameez called me, "Freshie, come here!" I took my dinner plate and walked towards her table. A few of her friends snickered.

"Yes, ma'am?"

"Adi paavi, you don't recognize me?"

"No, ma'am"

"You spent three hours talking to me yesterday and now you say you don't know me?"

The salwaar kameez, the pretty flowing hair, lack of glasses and nice bindi totally threw me off! Anyway, I thought she was cool!

*** ~ *** ~ ***

"What are your hobbies?"

"I like to read..." (I know...lame but hey, I am no singer or dancer!)

"How is it that all freshies like to read?"

*dumb*

"Tell me some books you like, authors you usually read..."

*decent-sized-list*

"Did you rehearse that to tell your seniors?"

"No, sir."

"Ok, tell me the story of Shall we tell the President."

I started telling him...five minutes later, he stopped me, convinced that I wasn't lying.

We talked for some more time and then he asked me if I would meet him again.

"No, sir."

"Why? Didn't you have fun talking to me today?"

"Yes sir but I would rather be at my bhavan studying." (I can't believe I said that but I vaguely remember that I was very intent on making a transfer to the Computer Science group then and it required a 9.0 GPA!)

He was quiet for sometime and then he said, "Ok, then go."

I wondered if I had hurt him by saying that but I really blurted out what I had been thinking all that time...

*** ~ *** ~ ***

Then, there was the time when a second-yearite caught me and asked me to name all the states in India with capitals. After a traumatic half-an-hour, I burst out crying and then she spread out a map in front of me and we went over it together. Whew! I never was that good in Geography at school...

The other time I burst out crying was when a couple of DAV seniors (again!) started teasing me. As soon as I started crying, they were kind of taken aback, they took me to C'not and treated me to a milkshake and tried to cheer me up (one guy even sang a song). I laughed a lot that day, after the initial crying session :)

*** ~ *** ~ ***


There was this guy who became well-known around campus for "catching freshies" multiple times. People wondered if he attended any classes at all. My count was 3, there was this girl who got caught 9 times, by this guy! Each time, he would talk, buy her shikanji and drop her back at the bhavan. Such a chivalrous dude!
*** ~ *** ~ ***


Other sessions included collecting different colored tooth paste blobs on a brush, fashion parade with broom sticks, explaining why more guys got into IIT, was it because girls were duh..."DUMB"?!

Hmm...those were the times. (Really, am only 27 ;)

*** ~ *** ~ ***

August 11, 2006

Me, k, food, rakhi, this and that.

People (men) say they have difficulty understanding women. While they have their own reasons to say that, I am going to say, I have a lot of difficulty understanding men! Now, I am not saying this to do something juvenile like getting back at them (after all, I don't even know them, why should I care what they say? Except if the men I know say that and in that case...well, in any case, they should read this post :)

Here's why I can't understand men or why I find them curious, to say the least.
Disclaimer: This is based on my observations of the men I have come to know in my life. Hmm...actually, let me just narrow the target population, this is what I have observed in my interactions with k (there, no room for oppositions...I think). But, let me go ahead and substitute men for k 'cause it sounds cooler when I generalize like that...whew! All that talk for nothing, anyway, here goes:

1. Men can't multi-task. For instance, if k is cutting vegetables (which he does, like once in 8 and a 1/2 months) and I am asking him if he likes the song that's playing on TV, he can't answer while cutting. You know what I mean? He has to:
- finish cutting
- listen to the song
- express opinion on song
If he is browsing and I ask him to switch on the TV, they are discrete tasks for him, so:
- he will place his laptop down
- he will search for the remote
- he will then go, "Ramya, where is the remote?"
- he will then take the remote from me
- he will switch on the TV
- he will go back to browsing.

Girls take it to an extreme in the opposite direction, I guess :) I cook dal while cooking a curry and listening to a song, sometimes balancing a cell on my neck. k would have a nervous attack if he was asked to do any two of these tasks together.

2. Men can't remember movie names/scenes/actors/actresses. It's kind of like it is with directions for me. I remember the place, how it looked, what it sold but not how to get there. For example, a typical conversation between us goes like this:

k (while watching Kasthoorimaan)- "This Tam movie sucks."
rs - "Ok, I didn't expect it to be bad, I like Meera Jasmine..."
k - "uh uh"
rs - "Remember? She acted in the other movie that we liked? Sanda Kozhi?"
k - (expression-less)
rs - "Remember it had Raj Kiran? You said he acted well in Thavamai Thavamirundu?"
k - "Hmm..."

Sometimes he asks me questions like:
"Hey Ramya, remember that movie with that babe in it that I liked? What was the song that I liked in that movie?"

I usually manage to answer questions like that but still, it makes me wonder :)

3) Men can't search. Examples:

k - "Where are my car keys?"
rs - "In it's place."
k - "What is it's place? I kept it on the floor here! (He points to exact x,y coordinates)
After I hand him the keys, he goes, "Where are my spectacles?" and then followed by, "Did you see my coffee mug? It was here (another x,y coordinate on the floor)."

4) Men don't like grown-up parties (be it birthday parties, polite get-togethers, house-warming parties - anywhere, where it's necessary to be polite and mature). And if there's one thing they dislike even more it's buying gifts for these parties. I mean, we cannot go empty-handed to a birthday party, can we? (We can but not after we are 25+ ;)

5) Men don't like grocery shopping (see previous post :p)

6) Men don't like to be reminded of responsibilities:
k - "Am going swimming Sat morning"
rs - "Ok, but we have to call your parents Sat morn. We promised them."
k - "If it's such a big job, we shouldn't commit to it!"
rs - "??!" (A big job for you or for me?!) :)

6) Men like to have as few thoughts as possible in their heads at a time, women like to leave as few thoughts as possible out of their minds!

k - (reading investment book)
rs - "Hey heard about this?..." and I tell him something interesting that happened at work that day. We then each start thinking about it. I have a 100 thoughts running through my head about what happened that day.
Five minutes later, I see k carefully scrutinizing a point in space and I ask him,
rs - "So, what do you think?"
k - "About?"
rs - "About what I told you."
k - "Oh...nothing."
rs - "Ok, what were you thinking between then and now?"
k - "Nothing much."
rs - "Nothing at all?"
k - "Well I thought it would be fun if I could make my robot start my microwave oven for me."
rs - "Oh and?"
k - "That's what I thought."

So...anyway, that's a lengthy post about a whole lot of nothing, so, I'll conclude it with some random pics (my culinary experiments and k's rakhis)!

July 30, 2006

Visiting the Grocery Store.

So the whole discussion started when k started wondering about Lego Mindstorms possibilities! He bought himself a little toy over the weekend but I will let him do the honors and describe it with a page long essay, I will focus on what he thought his toy should be made to do.

"What if the robot could shop for us?! Then we don't have to go every weekend for groceries!"

This whole discussion occurred just outside our local Indian grocery store, Sagar and it left me puzzled. I actually look forward to going to Sagar every weekend. I mean, I am not a "Wheee! I love shopping" kind of girl but I do like to go to Sagar, read the desi ads on the store window, linger over the big pile of video cassettes and DVDs and I like to see human activity around me :p, greet and be greeted by familiar faces, once a week.

k on the other hand cannot understand why he should be pulled away from his robot for a precious half-hour to buy fresh curry leaves and expensive toor dal :)

And since we have had this discussion several times and have just agreed to disagree on the topic, I'll just file this aside as another one of those guy-girl things that I never seem to "get".

I rented out a Hindi DVD, Gangster this week, at least I have my excuse for my next weekend visit, "We have to return the DVD! It's a new movie and it's been lying here for a week!"

July 26, 2006

Daydreams...

Do you ever get the feeling that you are approaching the edge of a cliff? You have no idea what’s going to greet you once you reach the top, all you see is the few steps separating you from the top…and you wonder in the space and time that separates you, if you will find your destiny there, if it will be an epiphany that makes you a new person, a feeling of freedom, a moment of magic that changes you completely, a vista opened up for you to absorb…

Or perhaps such fantasies remain just the mere subject of day dreams filling the minds of lazy souls and what you see is just reality, no miracle to sweep you off your feet, just life as expected, everything as you would expect them to be…and then you will probably make your way back with drooping shoulders and nothing to show the people standing down but the tiredness of your feet...who knows? Life changes in an instant, doesn’t it? Maybe that instant will be mine in a few…


You don’t ever get that feeling? Sometimes, like now, I do and I eagerly await the breeze to embrace me, at the top of the cliff, and sway my existence to wisps of nothingness, until I feel light and free…my thoughts, myself and my body, all weightless and dream-like, dispersed everywhere with no boundaries, to experience...life.

July 25, 2006

UPDATE blog SET content = {SELECT random-thoughts FROM RS} WHERE theme ='quirky'

Movie Update: The past two weeks have been "Bollywood vaaaaram" for me, watched a whole bunch of Masala movies: 36 China Town, Fanaa, Shaadi Se Pehle, Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, Malamaal Weekly and Krishhh (yet to watch)...whew!

Book Update: Still working on “The Monk who sold his Ferrari”, it says we need to rise with the sun. I really want to do that, at least once in my life! “I am that” – talks with Sri Nisargadatta is next (My library was sweet enough to get the book for me :)

Dream Update
: I woke up remembering bits of a really strange dream, that I was still not married and my parents were selecting a guy for me. I was actually chatting with this guy and talking to him on phone…I vaguely remember dreaming that he was cute, he also looked a bit like k but had morphed features from a number of familiar yet unfamiliar faces (this is such a common occurrence in my dreams – the face is so familiar, but I can’t place one name on it!). How does this dream process work anyway? I am pretty sure my subconscious was not mulling over anything related to a wedding, especially mine :)

Quirky Update: So, I bought this chapstick at the airport and it was kind of frozen. So, I left it out in my car so that it becomes a bit more goooey, and it did. When I opened it the next time, a tube full of liquid squirted out on me and promptly solidified. Never try to melt a stubborn solidified chapstick.

Talk Update: We were discussing work, vacation and time-off and what we would do if we took a half-day off and I remembered the time k did that. When I came home in the evening, a tasty aroma wafted from the kitchen, books and magazines were neatly piled up on the table and everything was in it’s place. He opened the door with a ladle in hand and a welcoming smile, I almost had the urge to say, “Honey, I am home!” but then I didn’t have the hat to toss :)

Acronym Update
: Heard of SAHM? What?! You don’t know about Stay-at-home-moms? Bus told me about S/D-INK (Single/Double-Income No Kids). Hmm…we learn something new every day!

Article Update: Here's a nice article by Shobhaa De.

Food Update: Tried to be healthy and all and cooked brown rice! Pretty good for a first attempt!

“Mental” Update: Sometimes life’s just a series of rewinds and reruns. That’s what makes it so hard to live in the present, as the wise men say. They must be really wise, those men, they sure had a lot of things to say.

July 18, 2006

A motley post.

Hmm...it's 4.45 PM, so if we leave in half an hour, I can have a light tiffin, maybe bread with honey. Do we have bread at home? I wonder if we get that super-soft Sara Lee bread at Kroger...hmm, else we can stop by at Meijers and buy bread and some butter milk, maybe pick a Hindi movie from Sagar.

# # # random thoughts # # #

Man! my leg aches, am I not exercising enough? Or did I over-exert myself at the swimming pool yesterday? I really have to start lifting weights else I am headed towards Carpal Tunnel for sure!

# # # random thoughts # # #

If I find time, maybe I can arrange the pantry, it's really a mess...drat! I forgot to use the strawberries and it's been a week, so much for my strawberry spinach salad!

# # # random thoughts # # #

I have to, have to do my laundry today. Maybe I can put my clothes in the washer, finish vacuuming the kitchen...I need to arrange the closet and drop the big bundle lying in the trunk, at Salvation army...I wonder what k's mom would think if she saw the state my closet is in!

# # # random thoughts # # #

Let's see, it's 5 PM, If I leave now, I can...

Ping! A chat window appears on my screen:

K - "Hey! I am going to play TT here, be back in half an hour."

Sigh...so much for my over-active trail of thoughts and frenzied planning. Back to ajax or comet or whatever cleaning product is hot for web-based apps now!

Also, new story up. If you have nothing better to do - oh, come on, whom are you kidding now? Stop playing that stupid cycle game :) and do check it out.

I also changed the layout of my blog a bit because unlike you, I have lots of time - I don't play stupid cycle game :)

July 13, 2006

Back to Normal?

So here I am, typing something inane on a blank document as a city tries to forget what should not be forgotten and limps back to normal. But “normal” for Bombay has changed…

Here is a city that pretends to go about it’s routine tasks as if it has not witnessed something terrible - an attempt to destroy the very cogs that make it function, like a well-oiled machine, is that normal?

Where there was not enough place to stand on both feet, where people were happy to swing with one foot in the compartment and the other dangling out just relieved that they had managed to catch the train, now there is place to actually sit on the seats. The same guy who dangled from the edge of the train now checks under the seats before sitting down, is that normal?

k’s cousin, Hardik who boarded the very same compartment that was blown to bits at Mahim now relives the terrifying scene every day even as the doctors have declared him fit to go home, he has cried not just once…relieved that he is alive or stricken that he would have to live with memories that cannot be erased? Will life be normal for him again?

Back in Madras, my mom tells me about my brother’s friends who wonder what unknown power still lets them live, breathe, feel…alive. They both usually board the same trains at the same time, on Tuesday, one decided to take the bus “for a change” and the other had an accident recently and stayed back because the doctor had advised bed-rest. Lucky souls in an unlucky time. Will life be normal for them?

And here in the US, as I fearfully clicked on a link that declared that there were blasts in Mumbai, as I anxiously scanned more articles online and then even more frantically dialed the 15 digits that I can now dial in my sleep, over and over again, as I imagined the unimaginable for those few minutes that it took for me to talk to familiar, tinny voices so many miles away…I wondered if it was all worth it? Did I feel guilty because I was so far away, safe in my cocoon while Bombay burned? Did I feel helpless that I could do nothing? Selfishly happy that my brother who works in Bombay was at Madras for a short vacation and that my in-laws were safe? Or did I just feel plain scared?

So, what’s your point, you ask me. I don’t know. Meaningless rants, emotional trash dumped on you all…anyway, I, will also be “normal” soon, just like Bombay.

God bless Bombay and the spirit of Bombay.

July 05, 2006

About alternate lives, old friends and power cuts (this is one of those posts).

I wonder if it’s just me. I have this compulsive reaction to people and their places – to put myself in their shoes and imagine how life would be for me (as them), if you know what I mean. I do it all the time, when I visit the post office, the bank, Office Depot, Best Buy, yesterday it was HhGregg!

I watch the sales rep at HhGregg help us with our microwave purchase, I watch the teller count the currency notes at the bank, the friendly post office lady tell me the charge for my India packages and I always wonder how life would be if I were to be them.

What if I worked at the post office, wearing my smart grayish blue uniform, weighing letters and packages and answering questions posed to me in different accents, sitting under the ceiling fan (there are there in our local post office and for some reason ceiling fans always capture my fancy because I see them so rarely), would I make any friends there? What would I talk to my colleagues there at lunch?

What if I didn't work and had more time (the lack of which I complain about every other day), would I actually sign up for those yoga, swing dancing and keyboard classes? Or would I just make myself like "Manaivi" and such exciting soaps on TV (recently I realized the American ones are just as bad)? Would I be one of those oooh-my-dress-has-to-coordinate-with-the-house genteel hostesses with perfect nails and a perfect house?

Such a weird trail of thoughts but it happens all the time...

* * *

Another of the is-it-just-me mulls – ever gone back to visit old friends having this image in your head of them that you have carried from the last time you met them (which may range from a few to a several years)? And then you notice small changes? Essentially, they are still the same person with the same quirks but them many more quirks have joined the wagon and several other factors play a role now to dictate how they talk, how they react, how they spend their time…but then you catch a bit of the old college slang, a facial expression, a gesture that reminds you of old times and a younger you and them…when things were less complicated, when you felt more at home, more to act on an impulse and say just what you feel…now you think for a second before you speak and that second makes you wonder what has changed...still, is fun to catch up and reminisce of times when we were younger, more foolish and probably had more fun?

* * *

Okay, I see the "You are a weird one" look nice and clear(come on, haven't you got used to these kinda posts by now?!), so, I’ll proceed to talk about more normal happenings around here. Yesterday and today, after heavy rains, we had a power cut! The first sign was the alarm clock blanking out on me this morning, (thank God I had set a backup alarm on my cell phone), then I wondered what we would do for hot water (the water decided to come out hot for a short while and we managed to get ready quickly!), we couldn’t have coffee (read – two cranky zombies driving to work), and then the unexpected side-effect – we couldn’t use the automatic garage opener, so early morning, we sleepily read through the garage manual and figured out how to open it manually. It will be interesting to cook tonight without electricity (now I see why gas ranges are just as popular as electric ranges!)

So, that’s all (as Meryl Streep puts it oh-so-saucily in “The Devil Wears Prada” - watch it, it’s fun!)

June 28, 2006

It's a whole new world!

Heard of the phrase "kenathu thavala" (frog in a well), the frog's world is the well around it and it thinks there is no world beyond the well (somewhat like H.G.Well's The Country of the Blind). So, anyway, two frogs from Lexington set out to see the world last week (I wouldn't go as far as saying we didn't think there was a world beyong Lex but well, it's a whole new world out there :)


The first thing that struck me about Seattle is that the city is aged, the buildings, the huge trees and even the weather seemed to suggest a place that had aged. B~ told me Redmond was much younger (built after MSFT came up), to me Redmond seemed old too (maybe it was just the weather that day). So, anyway, we wandered about the wise old cities and I liked quite a few things about it:



  • Let me begin with coffee because I think Seattle is to coffee is as Kentucky is to horses and KFC (tell any relative about Kentucky and you'll know what am talking about :) - There really is a coffee place every street! And not just Starbucks, there was this cute artsy coffee place (bottom row, first two photos from the left) that we went to at Pike Place in Seattle, then we had Seattle's Best Coffee and strangely enough, we didn't have coffee at Starbucks in Seattle. We did take a picture in front of the very first Starbucks (top left-most pic) though!

  • Pike place is this really neat market place in Seattle, we went early morning immediately after our Canadian Visa appointment and people were just setting up their stalls, within half an hour, the entire place filled with rows and rows of fresh flowers, fruits, produce; it was fun just to walk around and watch the busy morning unfold in this place. We then wandered around to this candy shop which also happened to sell kites. The lady there asked me if I recently got married (she was so thrilled that she was right) and since we bought a bunch of kite stuff from there, she also gave us honey-roasted popcorn (bottom row, two pics to the right) on the house. I will vouch that it's the best popcorn that I have ever tasted in my life!



Our Visa Stamping Appointment...

was anything but what we expected. First we got kicked out because we carried sealed envelopes (our official transcripts), "Go to the back of the 8.30 line!", the burly guard roared (it was as if I was in school again, only that noone had screamed at me like that in school!). So anyway, we went to the back of the 8.30 line and started giggling because the whole episode was so weird. First they ask for official transcripts, then they ask us to open them (to be fair, we didn't open them all and that was our fault) and then he strikes through our visa appointment letter (quite traumatic for B~ who hates even the lightest pencil marks on his books :) we get thrown out, anyway we sobered up lest we should get thrown back to the 10 AM line (he actually threatened to do that) and then were let in. The guard must have felt bad for us because he said, "See that guy there?" (pointing to a confused looking chap hovering outside) "I sent him to the 10 AM line!" Joy. Poor chap.

The interview inside went smoothly for the most part but k has a different version of the interview. Anyway, the good thing is we got our visas stamped after all that. B~ commented that he hated talkative interviewers, he said, "Imagine if they go on yapping for 15 minutes and then say, 'that's all very good but your visa is rejected'" :) I did see one woman denied a visa (she was there for a H4 to H1 transfer)...

Sights and Eats...

We went around Vancouver, Whistler and Victoria and saw the usual places - Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island, Butchart gardens, scenic drive to Whistler, biking in Stanley Park, Robson Street, BC ferries...Ikea(!) - all fun. We ate food ranging from greasy Indian dal and questionable vegetable-curry in a small, dark restaurant with one-man service (he was the waiter, cook and cashier!) to expensive Greek leafy wraps with lemon sauce! In Seattle we ate twice at Thai restaurants, King and I and Thai Ginger - the pad thai definitely had a whole lot more oil than here at Lex. We had pasta, icecream and coffee all for less than $10 each at Old Spaghetti place - beautiful decor with tinted glasses.

Worth remembering...


- that the suspension bridges make the tree stronger! Also that they would have to rebuild the bridges once every 4-5 years because of tree growth! That's a douglas fir that k and B~ are hugging in the picture above. We saw some that were more than 300 feet tall, older than us by atleast a couple of centuries and more than 20 feet in circumference! We actually bowed down to one of the Grandma douglas fir trees!

- At Butchart gardens, the flowers mainly stole the show but it was fascinating to watch the different varities of leaves and plants that surrounded them! (Note the second row in this picture-collage).

- On the way to Stanley Park, there was the cutest cupcake shop (bottom right most pic), I just had to eat one!

- Microsoft is everywhere, literally. It's hard to escape it when you live on the campus, MSFT somehow manages to enter most conversations, there is less of a home-work distinction there than here...

- So we heard quite a few quips about our "small town" life :) Ku~ asked if we still had only two roads (one for the University and one for Companies) or if they were building a third road. Driving in downtown Seattle was kind of...wild compared to Lex (you know the two roads that we usually drive on :)

As k put it, the trip gave us a chance to get a different perspective, to catch a glimpse of a different life style, to take a peek at a different work-culture, to catch up with friends, to raise eyebrows at the real-estate prices and all that good stuff...a nice little breather in all, frogs back to well now :)

Tip: Green implies there's an associated photo in the collages somewhere :)

June 27, 2006

All about "I"

I am thinking about...
why I cant think of anything except what to think about when someone asks me what I am thinking about :(

I said...
it's always about me but people keep hearing "me" as "you".

I want to...
have a demanding career, retire;
keep my days full so I can hardly breathe, do nothing all day long;
aim higher, be satisfied with what I have;
give up and move on, hold on and stay rooted;
do everything, do nothing;

I wish...
i could remember our Acura's mileage (for heaven's sake, it's just one number!).

I hear...
voices I no longer want to hear, too loud and voices I want to hear, too soft.

I wonder...
if anyone's gonna actually read through this whole tag, except the people I tagged...actually even them :)

I regret...
at times, things that were just not meant to be.

I am...
quite silly except when I am not.

I dance...
better than k! :))

I sing...
to myself.

I cry...
when I am alone and wish someone were around with me to ask me why.

I am not always...
imagining rosy beginnings and fairy-tale endings, I just happen to be doing that most of the time and at other times :) (wipe that see-I-told-you smirk off your face, I am kidding!)

I make with my hands...
scrapbooks and good food :)

I write...
what I feel and what I cannot.

I confuse...
numbers and directions. Always.

I need...
a sanity check :)

And finally...
thanks to Kumari for getting back at me :) and to the rest of you for the 3.5 seconds that you spent reading this post. Be back with some cool photos from Seattle and Vancouver (now you know what the pics in my previous post meant) :)

I tag Kamal (because I want to see the look on his face when I demand to see the answer to this tag :p), Dinesh (because he would love to answer a tag like this) and Bus (so I can force him to write a new post).

June 19, 2006

Clues, Plays and Such.

Had fun making up clues for K’s birthday-gifts-treasure-hunt. It’s almost a kind of tradition now with us, where I make up these weird, complicated, sometimes downright silly clues for him to go hunting for birthday gifts.

Last year, I recall he had quite a day of fun solving clues. This year was even better (for me ;) I was initially disappointed when he solved the first few clues in a flash (I didn’t realize he would guess the Da Vinci mirror trick so soon).


But, I had my revenge especially with the LEET clue, here goes the clue for those of you who would like to get tortured too:


\-/37 4|\|()7[-]312 8eye127[-]|)4\-/ 61ph7 4VVaeye75 @ |)4|\|\/11_1_3 - ^^\-/ $1$7312 31_1_3|\|

Hint: I’ll give you the first word: \-/37 is YET. It’s all about pattern recognition, symbols and a solid imagination (ever played joining the dots as a kid?)

I finally finished obsessing over the scrap book that I was making for his birthday and gave it to him. He made all the appropriate gestures to indicate his pleasure at receiving it (I don't really know if guys dig scrapbooks and stuff like that!). And this time my cake came out not-so-sad-looking! Thanks to egg substitute and the right amounts of ingredients (you wise people were right in warning me not to mess with the Science of Cake Baking :).

Anyway, if you live around the Lexington area :), you should check out the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, Kentucky (where else? :). It's a quaint indoor/outdoor play house and I have watched a couple of plays there (under the stars, just as advertised in the brochure) and they have been nice old-fashioned comedies or dramas. We went this Saturday to watch "My Sister Eileen" and it was fun! K and I were probably the youngest members of the audience (if you don't count the few kids that managed to laugh louder than K)!

Which reminds me, The Lexington Shakespeare Festival is coming up soon. Be there or be square or whatever geometric shape that doesn't appeal to you :p

So be back with more stories from:

and

Gosh! I hope I took all my forms and remember all their names!

June 15, 2006

Stuff I don't "get".

It's that time again. Filling up online forms that generate PDFs that cannot be edited, re-filling said forms re-generating said PDFs, spending more than what you would for a decent lunch on passport-size photos which should have your face covering at least half of the whole photo, noting down the exact dates of entry and exit into the United States (5 trips so far for me - if you manage to decipher the vaguely reddish, smudged stamps of entry on your passport, I shall declare you Master and Lord).

Anyway, I finally got tired of my ignorance on aforementioned subjects and decided to educate myself to the minimal extent permissible. So, here goes a totally lost person's (I refuse to use the word, dummy) attempt to embrace what she does not wish to - the dreaded world of visa forms and indecipherable acronyms.

OK firstly - what is a passport?

Oh boy! You are way behind. Please peruse Visa Documents 101 before you come to this post!

1. What is a visa?

An official authorization appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country or region.

2. What is an I-94?

A USCIS Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) or Form I-95 (Crewman's Landing Permit) shows the date you arrived in the United States and the "Admitted Until" date, the date when your authorized period of stay expires.

3. What is an H1-B? (Sigh...don't we even qualify for a "Who"?)

An H1-B is an alien coming temporarily to perform services in a specialty occupation. (Alien :()

4. What is an LCA?

H-1B status requires a sponsoring U.S. employer. The employer must file a labor condition application (LCA) with the Department of Labor attesting to several items, including payment of prevailing wages for the position, and the working conditions offered. The employer must then file the certified LCA with a Form I-129 petition plus accompanying fee of $130.

This is a two-page form that contains information about the employer. By completing and signing the form, the employer is agreeing to pay the higher of the two wages, that the employment of this individual will not adversely affect the conditions of other workers and that there is no strike for their occupation at the workplace. Recently, Congress determined that employers must attest that they will offer H1B visa holders the same benefits as their other workers. This includes health, life, medical, retirement, stock options and bonuses.

Forms used: ETA 9035

5. What is an I-129?

Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker – US Employers may use this form to petition USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for an alien to come to the U.S. temporarily to perform services or labor, or to receive training.

After the Department of Labor accepts the LCA, then your employer can file your H1B visa petition. BCIS Form I-129 (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services or BCIS).

6. What is an I-797?

An approval notice (Form I-797) is issued to the petitioner. The Form I-797 shows dates of validity for the foreign worker to work in H1B status for the petitioner.

7. What is a Visa stamp (H1-b stamping)?

A visa stamp is used solely for permission to enter or reenter the U.S. The visa stamp does not control how long a visitor may remain in the U.S. That is, a visa stamp is used only to cross borders. The visa stamp authorizes the visitor to enter the U.S. to engage in a particular activity using a specific visa type (e.g., J-1, H-1B, F-2, etc.).

You need form DS-156 (Non-immigrant visa application form) and DS-157 (Yay! Only guys need to fill up this form :).

Don't congratulate yourself yet. Once you emerge out of this slew of forms, a mutated version in the form of a green monster awaits, which we fondly call, "The Green Card" (which is not very green actually). Here's a quick description of the process:

1. Are you eligible for permanent residency? If you are a studied-at-top-indian-college-completed-masters-now-working candidate, mostly you are under category EB3.

2. The U.S. employer complete a labor certification request (Form ETA 750) for the applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.

3. Third, CIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for the person wishing to immigrate to the United States.

4. Fourth, the State Department must give the applicant an immigrant visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United States.

5. Fifth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he or she must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available.

Forms: I-94, LCA, I-129, I-797, LCR, I-140, DS-156, DS-157
Acronyms: USCIS, BCIS, INS, LCA, LCR

If your head swirls a tad, if the alphabets in your cereal soup seem to read BCIS and INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), if you see flashes of green whereever your head turns, if you've already started revising the 120 or so questions that a person must know the answers to before becoming a US citizen in your sleep, yup, you've definitely caught the "Green Card Fever" :)

References:
http://www.h1base.com/page.asp?id=49
http://www.uscis.gov/
http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/residency/employment.htm

June 12, 2006

Camping.

Scratch. Scratch.

Must be a wild cat or something. It was a little after 3 AM.

Scratch. Scratch. Louder this time followed by a definitely human cry, "Help!"

I tried to locate the zipped door of our tent and opened it frantically.

V~ stood outside holding an umbrella in the pouring rain, shivering. He must have caught the look of panic on my face or maybe he realized he shouldn't have exactly said, "Help!", anyway, he added, "Our tent collapsed in the rain. But no problem, I just need a car key so we can sleep in the car, you guys go back to sleep!"

!!!

Anyway, our camping trip was fun, the rain made it more "adventurous" as our local Tarzan claimed. Few observations/thoughts/random musings follow:

  • We are possibly the only bunch of people that cooked Suda suda alu + onion curry with lotsa green chillies, channa + tomatoes + masala + lotsa chilies curry with gravy (thanks to Sb~) for a "light" dinner at our campsite. And to add variety, we had sev puri and bhel puri in the morning (thanks to p&b) and sandwiches and hot coffee the next morning.

    Making each cup of coffee was a kind of elaborate procedure (devised by k), first he would mix milk, coffee and sugar in a plastic cup and place it in the microwave, set it to 2 minutes, approximately 1.5 minutes he would come back and notice that the plastic cup has lost its delicate balance and the coffee is now getting directly heated in the microwave and then we would proceed to step 2 - the cleaning stage. In this stage, a few other unfortunate souls will join him to clean the microwave plate which is now swimming in a rich almost-coffeeish liquid. Then k would fill in another plastic cup with milk, coffee and sugar and this time make sure it is placed exactly in the center and standing straight inside the microwave. And viola, a hot cup of coffee is ready in exactly 4.5 minutes!

  • P~b rocked with the grill! He managed to make 3 tortillas/minute, he made a total of 24 tortillas for the twelve of us. His grilled potatoes (I helped, I helped! Yay!) were a big hit too!

  • Black bears were a popular conversation topic at the campsite. Although we couldn’t reach a consensus on 1) whether we should play dead 2) make a lot of noise 3) run away 4) attack, if a black bear drops by.

  • K and ANM were absolutely fascinated by the whole fire bit. They had the most fun buying the logs of fire, adding coal, coal starter, lighting it up and giving the camp fire company until it died. ANM’s word of the day, “ember” was a big hit at our campsite.

  • I was glad that I was not the only one that prayed at night when we saw one lightning after another flash outside our tent. Oh and the gentle pitter-patter of rain drops can sound so much louder when you are sleeping inside a tent in the middle of nowhere. It was a scary but thrilling experience, distant and then not-so-distant sounds of thunder, flashes of lightening, a slightly leaking tent and me. Well, there were seven other people in the tent, but you get my point.

  • We had several interesting discussions/arguments inspired by let’s say nature…one of which was, are the guys who got a campsite allocated right outside the rest rooms lucky or not? Since the restrooms were really clean and smelled great, we decided they were lucky. P~ and I decided guys were luckier than girls when it came down to basics. While we drove to the restroom from the campsite twice a day, they just picked a tree and they were all set.

  • ANM decided at 1.30 AM Saturday night that it was way too scary to drive back alone in the night. I totally agree. We discussed what we would do if we were left alone in the dark, I figured I would just knock (err...scratch?) at the nearest tent, asking for help (and get shot for it probably)!

  • I heard the sound of waves splashing against the shore, after a really long time.

  • 6 cups of rice is too much when you are also making 24 tortillas and alu curry and chickpeas curry with lotsa green chillies. Yes, it’s a lot even if you are having a second serving of rice with butter milk and manga thokku pickle.

June 09, 2006

Me and My Christmas tree.

My ex-boss once told us a story about his christmas tree. He said he had an argument with his wife about his christmas tree - where do they place it? In the living area or the front room? He wanted it in the living area so they could all see the nicely decorated christmas tree when they were relaxing with the family. His wife wanted the tree in the front room so that people outside would see the brightly lit christmas tree sitting in the tastefully decorated front room, through the window.

"I don't care if you can see the tree through the window, I want to enjoy the view when am at home!"

Fair enough. But I see his wife's point too. The right thing to do here is to put it in the family room but then there are some things we do because we feel compelled to do so even though they may not work to our best interests. Women tend to be affected more than men by this society-syndrome.

I remember this other time, when one of my office colleagues said, "My neighbour bought a new Lexus, you know? So, the pressure is quite high on me! But, we are a single-earning-member family and my wife understands that we cannot afford to match our neighbour, you know what I mean?"

Yup, I do. I try to do things because they make sense for me but sometimes I end up (not) saying/doing things influenced by what others say. And much as I try, I know am affected by the society-syndrome more than k. After all, haven't we all learnt long back that "Man is a social animal"? They just forgot to add, "Woman take that to a whole new level." :)

If I do anything that falls outside what society deems as "normal, appropriate" with an approving nod of her (this society that I talk about is definitely feminine, believe me!) head, my mom objects with "What would Vaishali maami say?" Her little society initially did not give her nod of approval for a Gujarathi son-in-law. She (society) extended a warning finger and shook her head sadly, much to my consternation. But somehow, over time, she brought me into her embrace and mom said, "You know that pretty girl Anju who lived in 2nd street? She married a Punjabi and he takes such good care of her!" Yup. Nod of approval. Took time but she did nod.

Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to say was, maybe sometimes, it's good to take a stand back and think of what it is that "we" really need, just us, not the family next door, not the Doctor couple that saw our house and said, "Oh, that's a good starter home!" (maybe for you uncle, it's a good finish home for me :), not whether Vaishali aunty would approve, not whether others can see the christmas tree from outside...

For now, I want to see the christmas tree, with it's twinkling lights and starry decorations, with colors winking at me and angels flying around...I want to see the tree when I sit cuddled on my sofa in my finish-home...just me and my christmas tree :)

Photo from: http://lee.org/blog/archives/2006/01/05/my-christmas-tree-is-famous/

June 05, 2006

Almost Yum!

Have you watched the Rachael Ray 30 minute cooking shows on Food Network? Blank look? No, have more useful things to do? Well, I don’t :), so I watched it and was so impressed with one of the desserts that she whipped up ;) that I thought I’d try it too!

Ingredients: Brown Sugar, peaches, butter, vanilla ice cream.

That’s all. Simple ingredients and a simple recipe...well, I did spend a few minutes wondering whether to buy the light brown brown-sugar or the dark brown brown-sugar, I settled for the light brown one, it looked better :)

The dessert came out pretty well, unlike my other sun-tv Sunday samaiyal attempts. All I had to go was melt 3 spoonfuls of butter, add ¼ cup of brown sugar to it and stir it till it melts, cut pecans into little pieces and fry them in the mixture. Then the fun bit, To one scoop of vanilla icecream, add the fried pecans and a little bit of the syrup left behind on the pan and you are done! It tasted heavenly although I didn’t set the pan on fire with a little cooking wine and add three layers of whipped cream to the icecream (which is what she did on TV).

And then I thought, since my dessert attempt was a big hit, I’ll try baking a cake. So, I bought two boxes of Betty Crocker’s cake mix, lemon and chocolate, a cup of chocolate frosting and a tin of condensed milk (which was to be my egg-substitute) and I wore my apron (that’s a must, you can’t bake if you don’t wear the apron).

But then, I decided to alter the measure of ingredients to suit my mood, and so I added 1/4th a cup of oil instead of 1/2, I added 4 spoons of condensed milk and a little bit of yoghurt instead of eggs and then added the cake mix to this and used the hand mixer to beat it (Can I say “to beat it” although I didn’t add eggs?). For some reason, I missed the 11/2 cups of water, I just didn’t see it in the recipe the first time I read it. When the cake came out, it looked a bit sad, instead of being all fluffy and happy, it kind of sat depressed in the center. Also when they say extra-moist lemon cake mix, they mean extra moist because the filling in the center of my cake was really moist.

So, anyway, my second experiment was not as good as my first but I shall still put on a brave front and cook more exciting, new err…experimental stuff (In my defense, I also tried an angel hair pasta with my very own tomato based sauce and it came out really good!)

Anyway, Until my next experiment, eat healthy ye' all :)

May 31, 2006

Economics and Shopping and Patio furniture!

Shopping. Do you know how to say that? You have to stress on the "p" and forget the "g", so, it reads more like "shopppppin"! Now that we know how to pronounce it, we can proceed to the story of why I hate shopping for patio furniture. I'll tell you why:

1. Either the furniture explodes
2. Or they are sold out
3. Or they only are available fully assembled

Anyway, the story with our old patio furniture was that it had kind of exploded on us, I mean literally exploded into little pieces. They tell us glass expands in summer. Duh! As if we didn't know that! Still, we bought a patio table with a glass top which promptly expanded and burst. One night we had a nice, blue tinted patio set sitting outside peacefully, the next afternoon it lay in small bits in our back yard. So, we took pictures and took the chairs and the table frame and asked Lowes for an exchange. I think the guy at Lowes was kind of shocked to see the pictures and gladly gave our money back.

This time we went to Lowes looking for a patio set that wouldn't explode and we saw the cutest swing set sitting there. It was love at first sight but before we could do our little family-happy-dance, we made out the word SOLD in bold written across the canopy. So, we asked one of the Lowes employees when the next batch would arrive. "Umm...I don't know but I can tell you if the Lowes at Richmond carries these. These pieces are selling like hot cakes." We were disappointed but willing to fight it out and so we waited for him.

"The Lowes at Richmond carries four of these!"

Yipppee. So, we rushed to the Richmond Lowes, a replica of the Lowes at Nicholasville and there it was, our cute little swing set, swinging gently in the wind. So, we rushed inside the store to pick up our packaged swing set before they also sold like hot cakes and we didn't find any. We went straight to customer service and dragged a guy who looked knowledgeable aside, "We can't find any of the cute swing sets!"

"Umm...yeah, these come assembled. We recently sold a bunch of them. You can rent a truck and take them as they are!"

"Oh..."

"Yeah, it's like $19 for an hour and a half...if you rent a truck, that is..."

Yeah, we got that.

So, I put on my best i-am-a-lost-but-cute-puppy-look and turned to k.

"No."

"But I really like the swing set."

"If you look at economically, it's a bad deal."

Huh? The way I am looking at it now, it sounds like a cute deal to me and quite economical at $69. I really have to improve my lost-puppy look.

"But this is perfect, I can make tea for us and you can read your fin magazines while sitting in the swing..."

I imagined making tea in a nice, hand painted tea pot (Bed, Bath & Beyond has really cute ones) and serving them in matching little cups and saucers (we got a set for our wedding reception and they are really cute although the cups are really small, each holds about 4 spoonfuls of tea)...I broke out of my reverie at his emphatic no.

"No. We can't spend 1/3rd of the cost on shipping, it's just not wise."

So, I turned to the wise Lowes man, "So, how much do you charge for shipping?"

"Umm...it's really a better idea to get a truck..."

"And if you ship it?"

"It costs $60 ma'am."

Now, that's "economical". $60 shipping for $69 swing set.

And so, I walked out of Lowes hating shopppin and economics and patios in general. Maybe if we buy a new sofa set also, I can convince k to rent a truck...or maybe, as one of our office colleagues suggested, we can buy a truck. That's $30,000 for a $69 swing set but hey, we save on shipping and we can always transport mulch, that's what he tells us :)

May 24, 2006

Catch My Point?

Some days, nothing interesting seems to be happening, so we go in search of the out-of-the-ordinary. So, that's what I did today and I found this:

http://www.towelday.kojv.net/

So, maybe I should just carry a towel tomorrow because after all, A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have! He is one of my favorite authors which reminds me I have to buy the Hitchhiker's collection some day.

Have you ever come across the phrase, crossing the rubicon? I hadn't until today and strangely, while reading a technical article on javascript. Since I had decided to spend the day in such critical pursuits, I looked it up:

Crossing the Rubicon: Irrevocably commit to a course of action, make a fateful and final decision.

And then I looked up a few more phrases I had come across recently and since I have nothing else to write about, I am posting them here, hoping you find them as exciting as I did (yippeeee!):

Occam's Razor: the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable.

A self-fulfilling prophesy: a prediction that, in being made, actually causes itself to become true.

A self-authorizing language (sound familiar?): "That is, if you’re smart enough to read it, you’re permitted to know what is being said."

On to lighter stuff, one lady at the University actually showed me what this phrase meant (tip for maximum effect - hold the hand straight up while walking away as the person is talking to you! - atleast that's how she did it):

Talk to the hand: contemptuous and urbanized way of saying that no one is listening.

Water Under The Bridge: used to refer to something that is over and gone and so not worth thinking any more about.

One of my friends kept using this and finally, I had to look it up (I didn't tell him that I nodded all those times without knowing exactly what it meant, though :)
Moot point: A debatable question, an issue open to argument; also, an irrelevant question, a matter of no importance.

Another one of those phrases that cropped up at work when someone said, "Am winging it here..." and the phrase went over my head as it filled with colorful images of birds and blue skies:
Wing it: To improvise.

Here's one that sometimes applies to me literally and figuratively
Bad Hair Day: a day when everything seems to go wrong.

And here's what you, the reader and I, the writer will exchange now at having successfully completed (reading/writing) this post:
High Five: A gesture of greeting, elation, or victory in which one person slaps an upraised palm against that of another person.

May 18, 2006

Just like that!

I have to, have to finish reading Da Vinci Code a second time before tomorrow because we are going to see the movie tomorrow and I am only on page 40!

*~*~*

Visits to the dentist are turning out to be fun nowadays. This time the dentist asked us how long we were married and then he said, "Oh just six months, so, you guys actually like each other still? That will change soon!" And then we both grinned while silently panicking inside. Atleast I did.

*~*~*

"How Opal got kissed..." reminded me of my College days. Of course, no similarity between my College days and what happened in the book but still, a teenager narrating her College traumas and high points reminded me of Bits and my teenage life in general. So, on a whim, I wrote a campus love story, just like that. It's not a great story or anything but just something that left me satisfied once I finished it. Don't ask me why. Some of you bitsians out there might recognize the setting ;)

*~*~*

Scrapbooking is fun. I have always wanted to try it out and I am finally making my own scrapbook now! Yay! I kind of lost it in the n aisles dedicated just to scrapbooking at the local Michaels store. I wanted to buy everything in those aisles!
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