August 30, 2007

On ILs and assorted irrational fears - 2

  • k's parents reached Lex last night! I gave his mom a bouquet of roses! P~'s parents also came with them! It was all one happy reunion!
  • My dazzle-with-dinner attempt met with lukewarm responses - k was really sweet and tried to mask it all with, "Dinner was good, Ramya!" So, A+ for his effort :)
  • Made tea without much fiasco this morning while k slept in (took a day off!)
  • Slept after 1 AM last night - talking to ILs, so feeling pretty woozy...
On a different note, been obsessed with this song lately...totally resonates with the strings of my's called "Friends forever"...

August 28, 2007

Fun with PJs and IMs.

kamal_shah@....can I say this ..
ramya_sethur...u say it like this

The fun part (Apologies to my English never know!) of chatting with your spouse at work :p

On a disconnected note (Aren't they always?) -

"A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her. - Oscar Wilde"

Wonder what (all) Oscar Wilde meant by that... :)

August 24, 2007

On ILs and assorted irrational fears - 1

Now, am a pretty nice girl, wouldn't you agree? Patient, smart, accommodating, obedient, not your typical speaks-her-mind, tells-off-husband-sometimes, impulsive, sometimes dominating, unreasonable? modern wife...right? RIGHT?!

Well, ok, most of that is a stretch. I am probably more of the latter than the former (in my defense, I am supremely patient, just watch me at the dentist's office!)...but I still can't figure out why am so anxious about a visit from the MIL and FIL. I mean, they like me (ha, ha, very funny but no they did not say that because I threatened them, they meant it...I challenge you to get "the-best-DIL/SIL" certificate from your ILs...there!). So where was I? Yeah, so they like me, really. So, why am I so nervous about their visit? You would think I party all-night long, have breakfast in bed without brushing my teeth and roam around in mini-skirts and tank-tops all day long! But no. I wear nice salwaar-kameezes with big bindis and bangles, sarees (if I have one of my girl-friends over to help); to work I wear jeans (without holes) and full-hand t-shirts (always so darn cold in the office)...I cook edible (read healthy) food and am a good wife or at least try real hard...ok, least try to be one.

So, why am I biting my nails down to their skins? Well, I don't really bite my nails, but you get the picture...

Anyway, k is tired of hearing this from me, so you poor folks need to tolerate my emotional outpour over the next few months.

* I wonder if FIL will hate my Bharathanatyam make-up? Especially my scary kohl drenched eyes...

* I wonder if MIL will think am spoilt 'coz I get up late on weekends...and not so early on weekdays either (well 8 is pretty decent, if you ask me)...

* I wonder if they will be ok if I ask k to do the dishes on the days I cook...

* Which reminds me, I seem to have forgotten how to cook! Are laptops allowed in the kitchen?

* Can I lounge for a few hours everyday (after work, after a tough day of blood and sweat, err bits and bytes...whatever, pot-ae-to, pot-ah-to) in my PJs...watching Reba or Still Standing?

* Can I....static....overload....core dumped.

August 21, 2007

The moment has passed...

Ever felt lost in those scenes that seemed to steal the words from your heart? Mesmerized by the magic of the moment...when the dialogues seem perfect and somehow familiar? Like you have heard it before in your dreams, in your own wistful musings, in another lifetime perhaps?

"When you love someone.
You say it, you say it out loud.
Right now. Or the moment..."

Long pause...when he stares right into her eyes, as if searching for something...a glint of understanding? An affirmation? For those few moments, the sounds of the waves hitting the shore die down, the boat's motor stops roaring, just silence and a comfortable warmth as they look at each other; the sun ripples off the waves and fills everything around them in a golden haze...and a heartbeat later, the boat passes under a bridge, he swallows hard and she looks away, breaking the spell...the sun shines on them again but, the moment has passed.

"... passes you by, yeah."

Or the succinct, powerful, absolutely-madly-irrevocably-in-love declaration by Robert to Francesca:

"This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime."

Just perfect.

And just like life.

August 16, 2007

Won't you stay back?

This sucks. People, hear me loud and clear. If you want to leave, don't get to know me. If it's too late for that, then at least don't be my friend. Jeez! Is it too late for that too? Then at least don't become a close friend! Don't have a good sense of humor, don't make my days any easier, don't relate to me, don't listen and please act distracted when I talk. Frown and interrupt, talk obsessively about yourself, act lost when I express a vague thought and delight in my little blunders.

What brought this on? One of my colleagues at work is leaving for good! He is fun to work with, cracks me up with his jokes and is smart! So, I thought if all the people around me who make my life a bit more pleasant, a bit more fun start leaving, where does that leave me?!

Aside-->Wait a minute...even if that happens. Internet is not going anywhere. I can still blog. And my blogging friends will still exist no matter where they move to. Gosh! Don't you just love technology at times? You guys rock!

Somehow, email doesn't quite work when we really want to stay in touch. It is really a mode of impersonal communication, I can think of several misunderstandings that originated from emails. So many of my close friends have left or perhaps I did. But, the few emails I get from them (usually piggyback-emails congratulating, commiserating, announcing significant events) only make them more distant than they already are. A sudden flash of a smile on a teenage kid I once thought was one of my best friends in Bits fades in and just as quickly fades out as I finish reading,

"Hey, happy birthday! Have fun machan!"

No unread emails.

Oh well. Life goes on. Just that sometimes everything seems to go still for a moment when a fond memory, an impulsive hug, the glint of a tear when we parted...unspoken words carried away by the wind alight unbidden...and then it's business as usual.

August 10, 2007

A journey with many stops...

So, our predominantly singles gang in Lex has now jumped teams and most of our members now fall in the to-be/just/recently married category. For someone who has lived here for the past 7 years, this is another of those changes that I initially need to make adjustments to accommodate, and then adjust and finally assimilate. I remember a comment I heard recently that the real friendships are forged during your College days (For some reason, this reminds me of "Musthapha Musthapha..." from Kadhal Desam - I saw it in Bits and loved the experience - a bunch of us lit candles although it was forbidden, threw paper bits, it was riot!) but I have gained some meaningful experience and hopefully a few long-lasting relationships after Bits...In terms of social life and relationships, living in America has been quite an interesting journey for me.

GOLU @ my apartment.

In 2000 (the year I came to the US), I had no idea that I would be sharing a one-bedroom apartment with a 30 year old woman from Hyderabad who had spent several years living in N.India and then Canada and had an almost fanatical urge to keep everything squeaky clean (let's call her R~), a 20 year old from Hyderabad and a 22 (25?) year old from Madras. So the 4 of us managed to co-exist in that apartment for about a month when R~ decided she had had enough of us and she would prefer the apartment to herself. So, we packed our few belongings as R~ scrubbed the kitchen floor and we shifted (one of my many moves as a student) to a 1BR apartment in another block. Life was all hunky-dory. The 3 of us decorated the apartment, unpacked as much as we could (I kept most of my Indian dresses and winter wear in my humongous "India-suitcase") due to the limited closet space. I learnt to cook (still remember the first dish I made -a pulav with peas, three spoons turmeric and less salt, k taught me to make maggi and tea!), kept my first Golu, and was thrilled about it. My gang was predominantly Telugu-speaking and I picked up the language fast and even watched a couple of movies (Murari?, Manasantha Nuvve...). And wished I could also watch Tamil movies at times. Unfortunately the small Tamil gang at that time was pretty closed, under-grad friends who didn't seem like they were accepting new members :p

Never thought I would learn to even stand upright on skates!

Several exciting, stressful, happy - trips, fights, confessions, talks, moves later, I became friends with a Marathi/Hindi gang. Around this time I shared an apartment for a short time with a memorable room-mate, a 65 year old Bengali lady who stored a huge fish in her fridge everyday - it was always there, stored above the vegetable tray - I stopped storing anything other than milk in the fridge, I also stopped cooking at home. How I came to stay with her is an interesting story, about my not having an apartment and being declined temporary accommodation from all the senior Indian girls in the apartment complex :p Anyway, by then, I had moved away from my earlier gang, just a general drifting-apart in some cases, conscious moving-away in others and I began to fit in with my new gang. I wished I could speak/see/hear some Tamil though. Finally, k probably bored of my constant complaints suggested that I start a Tamil Cultural Assoc (at that time the Indian Students Association frowned upon regional movie screenings and any thing presented in a language other than Hindi/English), around that time I remember meeting D~ (my first impression of him was "Gosh, this guy is critical of everything in Lex!" - he found it strange that we did not have dinner in big groups and sometimes ate alone, he mentioned it about three times the first time I took him to Walmart and I thought he was a strange sort of guy! D~, by the time you get to reading this post, it would be pretty old anyway, so am hoping this will kinda slip by unnoticed :p), so anyway, I had my first real conversation with D~ about starting a Tamil Cultural Assoc and the rest as they say is history (Yeah, yeah, I like to gloat! So what?). Finally I had my beloved mother-tongue all around me and I reveled in her embrace!

During my trip to Arizona (for some reason, I had an impulse to try out pigtails :p)

Around 2003, I had a good mix of Hindi and Tamil speaking friends and then a Gujarathi (Yes, I insist on the "H") room-mate. More drifting-apart, fights, make-ups, messy birthday parties and impulsive road trips later, I now find myself in a predominantly Tamil-speaking mini-community. The surprising outcome of organizing cultural events is that I got to know the mamas and maamis in Lex and in some strange, comforting way they filled a gap in my life - I still missed my parents and relatives back home, but now I have people to remind me of them, to ask me where I purchased the pattu podava I am wearing, was it one of my marriage sarees? Someone to say, not unlike relatives back in India - "You should drop by more often, we are at home only, come and join us for dinner sometime..."

My very first car, my cute '93 Camry which I lost in an accident :(

Talking about relationships, I enjoyed working with the professors @ UK, I remember having interesting discussions, academic and otherwise with my professors - my Math TA prof, my Statistics-TA prof, my advisor. And I cannot forget the day when the wretched lady in my department insisted that I had forged my professor's signature on my defense slip and perhaps, I would never be allowed to get a degree. In retrospect, I think I shouldn't have cried and depended on my advisor to sort it out, I should have handled it myself. But, he was an angel that day, who convinced her that I was a good student who deserved her degree :p God bless him (although he made me edit my project report 11 times - each time the proposal would be smudged with red lines - "Dangling participle", "Active, not passive!", "Wrong use of the word 'example'", "The density of red on this page is too high for me to continue!").

Guess who managed to graduate!

Anyway, coming back to Tamil, k's complete sentences in Tamil surprise me every now and then. All my years at Lex, I yearned to experience my mother-tongue and finally it had come true. k says I tend to exaggerate when I tell him how all my life, I have wanted to learn and be near Tamil, as if "she" were a real person, a friend I sorely missed...I don't think he believes my story that I cried for weeks together when we shifted to Bangalore from Madras in the 80s, I sense his mild skepticism when I tell him, 5 years later no-one was happier than I when we shifted back to Madras; I insisted on taking Tamil as my third language in-spite of 5 years of Kannada and Hindi and I actually did pretty well (thanks to my mom's help with essays on Bharathiyaar) :)

So, believe it or not, I know "exactly" what the phrase below means...perhaps I needed to be away to realize how much I missed it...Bharathantyam and living-in-Madras are other example s of this same feeling (Not only am I repetitive, so are my feelings!) but that's a whole new post!

"தமிழுக்கு அமுதென்று பேர், இந்த தமிழ் எங்கள் தமிழ் இன்பம் உயிருக்கு நேர்..."

Talk about digressing! I started writing about marriages and friends and landed up in languages! Gosh, I can think of a million other things to write about my student life here but it's lunch time and am starved! Anyway, I discovered some old photos and thought I would add some visual touches to my disconnected reminiscence.

Life...can be strange at times. Memories too. But, in a comfortable sort of way.

Fall in Lex (when we were still students @ UK)...a season when our sleepy little town explodes in colors!

p.s - apologies for the spelling mistakes in Tamil.

August 03, 2007

A birthday song!

To fond memories, friendship and fun...

Happy Birthday to you...

Happy Birthday to you...

Happy Birthday dear Dinesh, happy birthday to you!

August 01, 2007

If only...

Words. Slippery little devils. That's what they are. So often, I open my mouth to express a wish, a thought, a feeling and the little devils twist and turn and change flavors so that I end up saying not entirely what I felt, sometimes not at many lifetimes would I have to spend before I say exactly what I feel right when I feel it, when it would make the most sense, when it would convey the feeling it ought to convey? Instead, I churn and chew and mull over the same thoughts and emotions until the perfect little train of words that ought to have conveyed what I felt are lost in the dark, and am left with cliches, awkward pauses and silences bereft of their meaning...and I sit staring at the old email, holding a phone receiver that is silent after the click at the other end...wondering for the umpteenth time if I should have handled it better...

Sometimes, what we call "advancement" might just be another step backward...of course, a million unopened proposals floating over the web and 143s cluttering chat messages claim otherwise, but nothing beats an honest, face-to-face conversation where expressions and gestures fill in the gaps where words cannot...when I know by his walk, the way his eyes linger over seeming nothings, the way he breathes, when he knows exactly what he wants to say and I hear him say it, sometimes with words, but equally well without...ah, but what we do instead is convince ourselves that a phone call a month or a few lines emailed in a hurry between meetings to a loved one will fulfill the purpose that reading her face and laughing with her will...

We are a lazy bunch. We want to communicate and not commute. And so we type what we think is an email that is as good as a personal meeting, a chat that supposedly reflects what we think, even a telephone call that tries to share our thoughts...and we misread the silences, the symbols, the unspoken words...and before we know it, it's over - the connection and the relationship with it has ended even before it began. But, the memory remains. Like an old scar that never quite heals, a dull pain that surfaces to remind you of the unfinished chapters in your life...

If I had instead talked to you, standing in front of you, holding your hand, watching you as I said the words that painted my thoughts, would you have understood?

PS - Don't worry if you don't get what am saying, sometimes I don't get it either :)
© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.