February 22, 2007

It's that time of the year again!

Did I get this as a birthday present from k?

Or this? Or gasp! this?

No, he fixed this instead for my birthday.

I am so thrilled about it! No more squeaking, no more leaking! A shiny stainless steel knob that rotates smoothly!

Yay! Happy Birthday to an older and wiser me! (Just stacking up my comebacks for tomorrow, let's see, I can also say, "I am older and wiser", "aging gracefully", "more mature"...)

Yes, I have officially lost it. At 28 :p :) :)

Hey! I didn't mean to announce my birthday but you really should see the new faucet, it's shiny and sparkling and...oh never mind, I already said that. I may repeat myself but am older and wiser. Darn it! I repeated that too! Thrice!

February 20, 2007

Back to India?

So, I've been mulling over this for years (four to be precise - I spent the the first 2 and a 1/2 years ahem...studying for my Masters and the next 1/2 year frantically looking for a job here). So for four years, I have revisited the same argument:

To pack up and go back to India for good vs staying put.

It seems to me that NRIs suffer from a "Kal'la Chakram" syndrome (badly translates to a wheel bound to our legs :p); we want to leave India desperately (alright, don't huff and puff now, "Some of us, not all" - there, happy now?) to come here for whatever reason - in pursuit of a higher academic milieu, in pursuit of $, in pursuit of comfort and happiness - and then you would think that we bask in the glory of our achievements and look at the world with the equivalent of a satisfied burp? Naah, we want to run like the wind!

Back to India!

We talk about it at length, some of us dare to pack up and go back, some of us go back and then come running back and then there are the rest of us, that just talk about it. On and on, an unending stream of arguments, never tiring of playing the devil's advocate...a few of us even claim to have found "home" here in the US, and then wonder in the middle of the night if we still have enough reasons to support that claim and then we fall asleep wondering. Maybe our dreams will point us in the right direction?

By now, I have heard arguments from different sections of people, each section in itself offering different viewpoints, all true, quite interesting and conflicting:

- the back-then NRIs

The original settlers, "Back in 1976 your uncle traveled all the way to US with just Rs.500 in hand..." - those people. Comfortably wealthy, trademark SUV and a car, 2 kids, custom-made puja room in own house, meets with other such NRIs every weekend for potlucks and such.

They are (seem?) happy in America and do not have any intentions of traveling back to India.

- the aspiring NRIs

Finished Masters, found a job, just-married, looking for a house, planning on starting a family.

This group has started thinking about going back to India, but probably won't. I mean, visualize the excited look in her eyes as she picks out the right throw pillows for the couch or the right curtains for the hall. Think of the happy glint on his face (Wife happy-->No nagging-->husband happy :) They are just way too excited to move on with their life here to consider going back seriously.

But every other weekend discusses going back with friends, cousins, parents, anyone who would listen! Misses home.

- visiting US for a short project (work related)

Inspired by the life style here, pleasantly surprised with the traffic, wide roads, cleanliness and general comforts this country has to offer but also miss home a lot. May/may not go back. Definitely considering (at least talking about) going back for good.

- in India.

Never seen America. Don't plan to or want to (but might yield to childrens' pleas :)

My parents for instance and probably yours too :) What kind of a culture will the grandkids grow up with? What if they want to date, eat meat, marry a "foreigner"?

(There are several groups of NRIs that fall in between these categories; irrespective of the category, the confusion remains!)

Of course these are also concerns of the younger age-groups showcased above, along with which they also worry about their parents back in India. Why not just drop everything and go back to your parents? Maybe you can't, maybe you need the money for your parents' medicare back in India, for a sister's wedding...(Yeah, yeah, "thoda filmy", I know but life is stranger than fiction and life inspires fiction, not the other way around). And thus we let ourselves get pulled into a discussion that will never conclude until we go back for good. Or we eventually wake up one day and realize it's our Sashtiabdhapoorthi tomorrow and our kids don't even know what it is! Maybe they will know - "Mom, pop touched 60, ain't that like awesome?! Totally rad! Let's go like party!")

If you are a woman reading this post, you will of course know that we have a slew of additional issues to consider - day care in the US (too expensive, feel too guilty, your kid catches a ear infection from another kid every other week; back to India? No part-time, long work hours; Stay-at-home-mom - loss of confidence, "Am I a burden?", "I am worth nothing" and related positive feelings :)


Maybe we are just stuck like the man in the hamster wheel running away from now, to relive his past in the future?

Just like we came here to the promised land, in pursuit of several promises, some of us go back in pursuit of what we left behind. Some of us don't. I don't know for sure what I am pursuing now.

Maybe it's as simple as...happiness.

Image from

February 15, 2007

10 things to think of when I am bored. Yawn.

Need. Food. For. Thought. Bored.

So, I thought I'd take control of the situation and think happy thoughts and see if that brightens my day a little. Let's see...I'll stick to the recent past just because it's easier to recall happy incidents from the recent past. No. Energy. To. Think. Back. To. Not-so-recent. Past. Because, I am bored, duh!

Without further ado (I could have said adieu, but this is hardly a farewell post; All this language business is boring me now, so without further fuss), I present to you (I don't really like to present anything, it makes me stupid and I become this person with a five word repertoire, three of which are, "Umm" and its variations, but then it'd be silly of me to say, "I write" instead of "I present"...boredom vs silliness, it's all one silly business, I tell you, these language purists just make our lives that much more difficult)...

Where was I? Oh yeah, things that make me happy:

1. Watching an old English movie with a cup of Graeter's butter pecan sundae (I love movies - all of them - English, Tamil, Hindi but somehow this ice cream goes with an old English classic).

2. The feel of snow flakes on my face - especially the first few minutes of a light snow fall (I recommend not more then five minutes of this activity - I am a very warm person :p)

3. The feeling of satisfaction that I get after cooking something exactly to specification (which is not something I do often, cooking to specification, I mean, not cooking in itself!) and having it taste divine, just the way I wanted it to taste!

4. Silliness - different from childishness or buffoonery, just plain, old-fashioned silliness. You know? You don't? That's okay, you'll catch up eventually! :p

5. Dancing - know the phrase, "dancing like no one's watching"?, that kind of dancing.

6. The energetic feel after a good hour swimming or @ the gym - I can't believe I have this here on this list, but hey, gym beats an after-work evening nap any day!

7. A nice 45 minute spent reading before sleeping and going to sleep on time! I always plan to sleep on time but somehow succumb to a lot more reading than I planned or start late and eventually go to sleep at 1 am, which is not what I planned in the first place! So, the few rare nights that I get to read and sleep on time, I feel really good about myself!

8. Talking to ma and pa on the phone and laughing about something that only we find funny, like an inside family joke :)

9. Preparing (ahem...creative) gifts, such a high, I tell you!

10. Doing a small good deed (or a bigger one, for that matter)
- giving a sincere compliment,
- leaving an extra big tip during holiday season,
- taking the first turn to say sorry - although, I just hate it when I take the initiative to say sorry to set right a mis-understanding and the other person comes back with a "Yeah, that wasn't right..." blah blah. Geez! Just be glad I wasn't as stuck-up as you and actually meant and said, "Sorry!" (So this one's a conditional feel-good thingie)

10 points; not so bad, considering this is a post written by one super-bored person! Come to think of it, am not so bored anymore (I just transferred it to you with this post :p)!

February 12, 2007

Yes, lucidly written!

That little black box hidden behind layers and layers of sane, white in your head and mine, waiting for the right time to spill its black outside…Do you know what lies in that black box?


Cold, dark fear.

Not the kind that you confess to friends and perhaps even laugh about, not the kind that dances for a few uneasy seconds in your mind and drifts away just as easily, but the kind that has an unnerving, churning, wringing grip on your stomach, the kind that fills your mouth with a bitterness that won’t go away no matter how hard you swallow, the kind that nudges you awake from deep sleep and you realize you are sweating and you are scared to open your mouth because you don’t know if you can cry for help…

That kind of fear.

Fear that some of us, the lucky ones, feel only in the middle of the night - when it’s too late to be called night but too dark to see light, when time does not exist and night blends into day.

The unlucky ones? They feel it even in the middle of the day, for a few seconds when the birds seems to have stopped mid-song, when even dogs don’t bark, the walls suddenly close in on them, without warning and then they feel...fear. Just them and the creatures of their imaginations (or perhaps a reality so aberrant, they (we) don’t, can’t even acknowledge its true nature?) – the ugly, putrid, misshapen gnomes, luring them into the dark caves of their own selves, filled with evil thoughts and terrifying accidents, ghosts of the past, secrets that have been entertained but hidden and locked away. But no-one, not you or me can stay lucky for long. Can we? Sooner or later, the dark world of our fears catch up with us, a race with a predetermined result. We still run the race, hoping to outrun the black cloud of our own imprisoned feelings, the what-ifs and hushed thoughts hiding behind the screens of our defenses and then one day, we can no longer run, we can only wait for the cloud to descend, to weaken, to break our spirits…

Perhaps you hear it (if you listen closely) when you are under water, when your feet can no longer touch the bottom, and your face is hidden away from light, when you are in another world, a blue world with the dulcet sounds of water. One moment you see the bubbles in front of you, you are laughing and floating at ease.

And the next moment, perhaps you closed your eyes for a second of rest and everything changes - the sounds die down in a whoosh and it’s as if, the bright blue world turns a nasty, inky black, the warm water turns frigid – the hackles in your neck stand up, your arms and legs flail desperately and then drop down flaccid. You stop struggling because a voice whispers, “Hush now! There is only one way to go!”, until you no longer see the bubbles or the blue, but only feel an uncomfortable creeping the swirling black vortex swallows you…down, down, down.

Cold, alone, scared.

That kind of fear.


Blame this little snippet on Lisey's story (not for the weak-hearted) or my little swimming accident. Fear is universal. Real fear lurks just under the surface in all of us, waiting, waiting...have you ever felt real fear?

February 06, 2007

What's cooking?!

To make up for my lack of meaningful, interesting posts here and @ whimsical-raconteur (which a~ helpfully pointed out to me on phone - "Say, what's up with your blog? You hardly blogged about anything interesting nowadays!" :p Notice he didn't say, "You haven't blogged in a while", that would have been face-saving :)), I present today's menu!

Trying to replace colorful words with a colorful assortment of foods!

February 01, 2007

Are we there yet?

No. Not now, not ever. We are never where people assume we are or even where we assume we should be. So, what exactly am I talking about?! Time and age, to give you a short (cryptic?) answer.

I’ve seen it happen too often for me to ignore it. When I reached my 20s, I couldn’t believe that I was no longer a teenager. When I graduated with a Master’s degree, I couldn’t believe that I was a working professional and not a PIGS (Poor Indian Graduate student) anymore. Two batches of students had successfully started or perhaps even finished their Graduate study by the time I graduated! I was actually advising them about courses and I just finished being on the receiving end of the same advice!

My office colleague once told me, “You know, I was here in this play pen with my 1 year old daughter and someone there called me a mommy and I didn’t respond. It took me sometime to realize that I was the mommy now!”

Me? I am going to be 30 in a few years, the big three-O. Liquor Barn has a whole aisle dedicated to birthday jokes, caps, greetings that convey pretty much the same messageyou are no longer climbing the hill; you have begun descending the other side of the hill. Yes, I have heard the adage - You are as young/old as you think you are. And then again, are you? It would be quite silly of me to act like a teenager now but that's how I feel (want to be?)...

I remember when I received my first mail addressed cheerily to Mrs.Shah and I just did not make the connection. “Mrs? That mail is not for me. I am just a girl.” A girl trying to adapt to being a woman, still…8 years have passed since I was a teenager and I am still adapting. And before I can adapt to being a woman, an adult, I will soon be a mom and then an aunt and so on.

We are never there. Are we?
© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.