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December 28, 2008

Nayagan and everything Tam.

We watched Nayagan today on K TV. This time, I managed not to cry at all. The last time I saw the movie was about 7 years back. k and I were good friends back then and I managed to convince k and his roommate, Swami to watch Nayagan with me. Although Swami's mother-tongue was Tamil, he was a typical Bombayite like k - meaning, he began all his sentences with, "Abe saale...". So, anyway, we started watching it and all of us became quite involved with the movie (Of course, such is the nature of Nayagan).

There was this really touching scene in the movie where Kamal Hassan asks to see his grandson for the first time and his daughter refuses and Kamal Hassan tries to deal with the denial, hide his tears while hoping his daughter would change her mind and he would catch a glimpse of his grandson. I watched this scene and started crying silently. k and Swami were caught up in the scene and one of them turned to share something about the scene with me. Once they realized I was crying, the intense emotional scene was soon forgotten and I became the target of their attention. Not that they were nice and they consoled me or anything. They mainly made fun of me. And that was when I realized I would never ever watch this movie again with people who do not get as seriously involved in it as I do.

And today, I forgot all about that resolution and watched the movie with k. After the very same scene, he suddenly looked at me and said, "Wait! Isn't this the same scene for which you started crying that day? Ha haaaa!"

And the moment was lost all over again.

I swear, I will not watch Nayagan a third time with k. And if I ever do, it will only be because I know he is going to cry seeing the same scene again!

Anyway, he agreed that it was indeed a good movie and that mollified me a bit. This whole discussion reminds me of another incident.

Many years back, when k was still a novice at everything Tamil, I used to tell him that I could not marry him unless he was familiar with "Mouna Ragam". I was very excited when k sat down to watch the movie and I made sure he caught all the nuances in the movie. And since then, whenever the topic of Tamil movies comes up, k goes, "Whaaa? You haven't seen Mouna Ragam, how dare you exist?" and so on. Serves me right for wanting to share Mouna Ragam with him :p

The other association that he makes with Tamil folks is "Thayir sadam". He makes this ridiculous gesture of slurping gooey rice from his hands all the way to his elbow as if to say we eat thayir sadam like that! Jeez! How can someone not like thayir sadam? Beats me! A year back, we had gone to Atlanta to visit my maama. k, my cousin and I were shopping and we decided to take a to-go for dinner. We were at this amazing desi store called "Shayona" and k got really excited seeing home made kachori, samosas, chola etc in the store. So, he picked up a bunch of "tiffin" items and looked at my cousin and said, "Cool! Let's have this for dinner!" She gave him a weird look and said, "Saadam?" The concept of wrapping up a nice dinner with thayir sadam is lost time and again on poor k. But after the Atlanta incident, he remembers that "Tams" don't do dinner without their beloved thachi mammam :p

December 25, 2008

Murphy baby,

Edited: Thanks to Rushu's comment, finally found the picture:

Murphy baby (Source:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=364681406908569&set=a.323079557735421.80608.100001001383459&type=3&theater)

Edited: Thanks to Shanmugapriya, here is a nice picture of Murphy baby!

Below is a tiny photo on the left of the radio:



Photo courtesy: Santhosh

Do any of you remember the phrase, "Murphy baby"? I vaguely remember seeing a black and white photo of this really cute, chubby kid on advertisements. My memory is probably served more by my mom's descriptions of the baby rather than faded images that I saw in my childhood. My mom said the baby was the advertising mascot for Indian radio.

So, do any one of you happen to remember how the baby looked? I looked on google and couldn't find one and for some reason I feel like looking at a picture of this baby.

December 24, 2008

Men don't ask for directions.

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to fix the garage shutter."

"Look up yellow pages."

k rummages through pages and pages of old manuals to find our garage manual, "No, I think I can fix it. Give me a few minutes."

A few hours later, I find k sitting on top of our car squinting at the motor hanging from the ceiling of our garage.

"Are you coming to dinner?"

"Give me a few, I am trying to figure this out..."

An hour later k eats dinner in silence poring over the hefty manual.

I give him a gentle reminder, "You know you can have someone fix this for you, it's not worth your time."

"I can get the part for it. I think I know what the problem is. If I get the guy to fix it, he's going to charge $170 unnecessarily."

It's midnight and I still hearing sounds of metal clanging in the garage. I resist the urge to advise and wait. k comes up in a few minutes with something in his hand that looks like a jagged wheel made out of paper balanced on a pointy steel stick.

"You see the problem?", he says pointing to the wheel, "This, here has worn out. So I just need to get a replacement for it."

Next day, k finishes his coffee in a record time of 5 minutes and rushes to the store to get the part. He returns in a couple of hours waving the parts victoriously (Amma, naan paas agiten style).

"I should be done in half an hour."

Half an hour later, I find k in the now familiar on-top-of-car position again, squinting at the wheel in the motor.

I give up and walk back in.

3 hours later, k comes in looking somewhat exhausted and defeated, his hands black from whatever it is that motor ejected on him.

"Want to call the guy?"

"If my test run fails, yes, am planning to..."

Men are like that. They will not ask for help if their life depends on it.

Five minutes later, k walks in looking somewhat more exhausted.

"Want to call the guy?"

"Let me wash my hands first and then clean up and then..."

And so on. Postpone the asking-for-help bit as much as possible.

Finally, surprise! k calls the guy after a record 8 hours of working on the garage.

"He said 70 bucks. If I had known earlier, I would have probably called him yesterday."

Yeah. I bet you would have called him.



December 18, 2008

Twinkle twinkle little star...

So baby r~ decided she didn't want to nap like babies are supposed to, she decided to stay awake all afternoon today and I was running out of ideas to entertain her. k decided that nursery rhymes would do the trick and lull her to sleep. So he did what every dad would do - he looked on google :p and he came across this rendition of "Twinkle twinkle little star". I had a feeling k enjoyed it more than r!

December 15, 2008

Being a parent.

If you are one of those people that wondered what it feels like to be newbie parents and what the big deal is about, you are reading the right stuff now :p Or, if you are just being nice to me and reading my post just for the heck of it, that's cool too :)

Remember how we used to consider couples with kids a whole different set of people? People with hefty bags filled with diapers and related paraphernalia, people that were concerned more about their baby's spit-ups rather than their appearance, people that could not talk about anything other than their baby, people with a somewhat needy little one clawing for their attention constantly? We were not them. We even found it hard to imagine how life would be when we became them. Some of us even wondered what "unconditional love" meant. We heard words like sleepless, poop, diapers, doctors and wondered how we would ever inhabit a world filled with those words...

And guess what? Suddenly we are very much in that world. We are now parents that, no matter how interesting a conversation with someone is, always have one eye tracking our baby, we hardly give a second thought to what "poop" used to mean in our older worlds, focusing rather on its texture, smell and contents to smile or frown with concern, we talk less about "I" and more about the baby, we learn that absolute happiness has to do with a lot more than just some "me-time" and we worry. We worry all the time about the little life that we created and hope that it smiles back at us with that adorable, charming, heart-melting, lopsided grin today, tomorrow and forever...

We are now the parents.

November 25, 2008

Baby and everything else.

Everything is a blur. Everything is crystal clear. Moments of insanity interspersed with moments of bliss. Chaos and stillness coexist.

Babies can do this to you and much more.

And in between all this, I managed to notice a silvery glow in the sun. A strand of white in an unruly mass of black. And it happened much before I hit my mid-life crisis. And the unlikely discovery took place in the middle of a conversation between k's mom and me. I was describing r's antics to her absently twirling a bit of hair in my index finger (an annoying habit I picked up from a girl at Bits) and the glint distracted me. I stopped speaking for a while and held the strand of white hair in my hand and gasped.

"Mummy, mera baal saphed ho gaya he"

k's mom, being the nice woman she is, gasped along with me, heard the anguish in my voice and commiserated with me. A few moments of silence and she cautions that I should not remove it else two would sprout in it's place. Yeeesh.

Later I reasoned. One white hair after one baby. Not a bad deal after all.

***

r does the funniest things.

Wait a minute...I am not going to be one of those moms that constantly talk about their kids.

Hmm, on second thoughts, I don't mind being that mom :)

So, the other day r woke up from deep sleep and she had the weirdest expression on her face, like she had forgotten that she was born! She looked to her left and then to her right and stared at me with the biggest eyes possible, as if to ask, "Wrong exit?"

***

The funny thing about marriages like ours (N.Indian weds S.Indian) is...actually there are a lot of funny things, conflicts if you will like:

coffee vs tea

rice vs roti

veshti vs what-do-they-call-it-pyjamas?

and now a brand new addition to the repertoire - thooli vs ghodiyu

So, we, meaning k & I, have this thing called a ghodiyu which swings neatly and r has been kind enough to start sleeping in it now. We, meaning S.Indians, use something called a thooli to rock kids to sleep. It's a hammock that's hung from the ceiling rather than from a stand and it's more closed (to resemble the womb). My mom is convinced that a thooli is the ideal sleep solution for r. k meanwhile is thrilled that we try to put r to sleep in a contraption similar to what he refused to sleep on as a baby :p

r meanwhile assumes it's play time whenever we put her in the ghodiyu. She gives this really flirty grin to the decorative stick above her that holds the ghodiyu together and starts playing.

Personally, I doubt she will sleep well in a thooli either. Babies just aren't designed to sleep like adults unless of course it's an $$amby baby$$ :p

***

k claims he can no longer be the "good husband". Apparently the warranty ran out six weeks postpartum.

"Let's see 9 months of pregnancy plus 6 weeks after birth. Yup, now I can stop being so nice..."

"So now you go back to being you again?"

"Basically yes."

"You are a !@#$$$%"

"Not in front of the baby!"

***

I have never considered myself "girly" nor did people give me that impression until sometime ago. Anyway, I rediscovered a girly part of myself with a quick stitch kit. You know how you always see this picture of a happy, heavily pregnant mom knitting her way to glory? Well, I took a short cut and did this instead (I just had to show off here!):


Proud sigh.

November 18, 2008

The man at the bottom of the stairs.


"The man at the bottom of the stairs. By RS.
"

This sounds like one of those story reading sessions that come on TV. You know what I mean? Usually it's a local channel and there is a still picture of the book and a serious sounding voice reading from the book. If you don't know what am talking about just forget you read this bit and say "Man at the bottom of the stairs" in a grave voice, that should do it.

Anyway coming to the man in question, that would be my dear significant other, k. He has now accomplished the surprisingly tricky task of falling down our stairs three times. I am tempted to say four but that one time he just missed, falling down the stairs that is. He somehow managed to find his delicate sense of balance and stay put on a step.

He always has a valid reason for falling down. I almost bought his story the first time. Of course now am wise. Now I know that his falling down the stairs can be explained by a complex equation involving many variables including the universe, balance, karma and sloth.

The first time he said he was jetlagged and thought he was walking on level land and hence fell down the stairs. Fair enough, we had just returned from India and I convinced myself that it could happen to anyone. No broken bones, so we were good.

The second time, I was an active participant in his fall. No, I didn't push him (very funny) but I did try to save him. Rather brave of me. It didn't really work out but hey, it's the thought that counts. Yeah I know, k is not very convinced with that line of argument either. So what I did was hold out my hand to prevent or at least deter-progress-of his bumpy ride down the stairs but I realized a split second late that I was not endowed with giant arms. So my arm kind of hung in the air as k went down the stairs. Bump! Bump! Bump! When I saw him sitting down the stairs holding his sides, I was terrified and also had an inexplicable urge to laugh. Nope, k didn't approve of that urge either.

The third incident is pretty recent. And I have only myself to blame (No, again, it's not what you think, jeez!). So after the first two incidents, I had gotten into this routine of reminding k not to fall down the stairs. It kind of became a habit. Every time he would go near the stairs, I would automatically say, "k, don't fall down the stairs" and it was all pretty effective. But after a few months, we both grew complacent. I stopped reminding him each time and he assumed he was super man again which means he would go down the stairs 3 at a time and then try 5 and so on. So last week, super-k did just that and Radhu and I heard a thud! thud! thud!

So that's the story about the man at the bottom of the stairs (sounds almost like Harry Potter living under the stairs minus the magical powers). And for the next few months am back on auto pilot reminding k not to fall down the stairs and k believes he is just-k not super-k, so he takes the stairs one at a time.


November 08, 2008

What this is not about.

My birth story
I thought of writing a birth story. As one of my friends put it, Radhu's birth was eventful enough to talk about it for quite sometime. But then, somewhere between midnight feedings and diaper changes I lost the enthusiasm to write about it. I did note down a pretty extensive story in my diary though. When Radhu is 16 and talking back at me, I plan to show her the diary entry, just like Marie (Arrgg, it's finally happened. I am planning to be like Marie of all people!):

Ray -"No"

Marie - "Oh the agony...when I carried you for nine months..."

Ray - "Ok mom, not that story again. I'll do it")

So anyway, I didn't write the birth story here. So, this post is not about that.

Drishti
Just like in any TamBram family, as soon as an auspicious event occurs, there is extensive discussion about drishti (nazar) and even more elaborate ways to circumvent it. For instance, inviting a 100 people to your new house for the house warming ceremony, these people being likely drishti candidates. Now, what defines a drishti candidate (i,e a drishti putter)?

A drishti putter is someone who is likely to see your fine new house and go, "Gosh! Look at their biiiiig house! It's so neat and shiny! Wish I had one like this" and then lo and behold! The east entrance of the house crumbles down because of a rare species of malfunctionaing termites. You get the point. So coming back to the discussion, a new house owner wishing to avoid drishti should invite the most likely 100 drishti putters (it's kind of like the flu vaccine, you select the most probable strains!) and then offer good food to them to avoid their drishti. Yup, we TamBrams sure know how to beat the "casters" of the evil eye!

I wanted to note down my thoughts on drishti but then I was so overwhelmed by the amount of rules and regulations for avoiding drishti for new baby and mom that I forgot to note them down here. (To be fair, my mom has been pretty lax about imposing them on me which is sweet of her...just in case she reads this post :p)

So this post is not about drishti.

Homesickness
What do you call it when you are homesick at home? That's what I have been having intermittently for the past several weeks. And I blame it on my house guests. My dad initially flew in for a week, followed by my brother for 10 days and then my sis-in-law for 10 days. And everytime they leave, I feel homesick all over again. I even considered going to Madras for a couple of months. Being a new mom puts certain things in perspective or way out of perspective. Which is pretty much how being a normal person is but anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, perspective. So you a new mom and you start thinking about how much quality time the grandparents are missing back in India and then you start thinking about moving back to India for good and then your husband goes like, "Whaa? Is this some weird manifestation of baby blues that has my wife suggesting sudden life changes?"

But after six weeks postpartum, I gave up the idea (at least for the time being). So, I couldn't really write about an India trip.

Baby Talk
Ever been in one of those mildly embarassing situations where the parents of a baby excitedly tell us "Oh you should see him doing this, it's so funny..." and then they prompt the baby with all the sweet talk they can muster. The baby of course does its own thing. He gives them a blank look and refuses to do the cute antic he was supposed to do. Even worse, he acts like he did not even begin to understand the request. I am waiting for the time when that's going to happen to k and me. I always told myself I should remember not to do that but am pretty sure I am going to do it. I could write something about funny baby stuff like that but I keep forgetting what else I had to say. All thoughts keep getting entangled with a steady flow of drowsiness.

So that's all the stuff that I did not write here. Until I have some coherent thoughts that I can pen down, this is what my blog is going to be about. Little nothings :)

October 22, 2008

Passions, Obsessions, Madnesses

Italics rock. They add quite a bit of character even to an unremarkable statement like the one below. You can safely begin these statements with "A wise person once said..." even if you just made it up impromptu:

If you dig deep enough, you will find a bit of madness in everyone, a Don Quixote living a hidden life.

Or at least my life seems like that and while I would like to be distinct enough from everyone else (no two people are alike and all that), I probably wouldn't want to stand out too much (nuttu kayanda case :) and so I attribute bits of my trait to the people around. Keeps me from wondering if am a little mad sometimes :p

k often declares (given the chance) that I jump from one obsession to another. He tells me the way he handles my "phases" are to just let me ride it out, be super passionate about something so much so that it borders on obsession and then slowly I'll get over it until the next bright thing catches my eye :p

Books, movies, people, events - they all are a part of my curiosity, passion, obsession - me:

- Like the time I watched DDLJ 7 times and dreamed about the movie. My dad worried, especially since SRK at that time acted in a bunch of psycho-movies - Baazigar, Darr, Anjam! Recently I was totally ga-ga over "Happy Days" and dived into nostalgia for more than a week!

- My obsession ("Iron will" sounds so much better :p) to join Bits when I was in eleventh grade

- My more common book-madnesses - Recently, HP, Shopaholic series, the Twilight series...

- People obsessions - this is less of an obsession than just a large amount of time and effort spent focusing on a person and "relating" to them. This kind of peaks when the relationship is still relatively new and then ebbs down to a constant. k terms this the "feelings network". He is all about being the nonchalant observer and making up theories to explain them :p

- Idea/Action obsessions - Going organic/natural/non-toxic, vaccines pros and cons, Bharatanatyam, writing...

If I think about it, it's like the rest of my life are just periods of time when am "normal", waiting to ride the next high of whatever it is that consumes my fancy, time, mental energy. Ok so, that's a whole lot of crazy in one post. To cut short a long sleep-deprived introspection, I was wondering if this is the same with everyone else, if each life is just a string of passions and obsessions tied together with moments of sanity?

Maybe I just need more sleep!

October 10, 2008

Twilight - Must. Read. Now!

So, I owe part of my sanity during the last few countdown days before labor to Stephanie Meyer for her Twilight series and to a~ for introducing me to the novel. I devoured the first 3 novels of the series in 5 days and was half way through the fourth when Radhukutti decided to make an appearance :) k actually bought the hardbound versions of the 3rd and 4th book for me from Joseph Beth (the paper backs were not yet out) and was pretty smug about it (I made my pregnant wife happy, I rock etc.)

Managed to complete the fourth novel a couple of days back. Yes, it is that engrossing, haunting, touching...for some reason I thought of Harry Potter - after the last HP novel, between sighs and sniffles I thought I would never read a novel series that is quite as addictive as HP, am glad I was wrong.

Can't wait to watch the movie...Edward in my head was a bit different, even more bewitchingly handsome but I'll comment in detail once I watch the movie (provided Radhu lets me :p)

October 08, 2008

So now I know...

that socks and mittens for newborns are an eyewash. They are just something you buy thinking your precious little one will keep her little toes and fingers toasty in them. So far one sock managed to stay on for 15 minutes and that's my baby's personal record!


Happy Saraswathi Puja and Happy Vijayadasami to you all and many thanks for the good vibrations sent my way :)

September 09, 2008

Happy Days, Bits Pilani

Ok, I'll come clean. I am one of those weird people who googles names of old college mates once in a while, just for the heck of it. Not just the names of guys I had a crush on or best friends, even those that I secretly wanted to be like in college, those I had a fallout with, the studs (as we called them in Bits), the freaks, even the nobodys. I guess I am just curious at times to know how their lives turned out, after all these years.

And once in a while, along comes a movie like Happy Days and I feel nostalgic again, pull out my old photo albums, autograph books (how sad to see them die a slow death now that we can boast of always staying "connected" - I just realized am hardly in touch with the people in these fading photos who shared some of the most enjoyable years of my life!) and read the words I had read so often many years back (teary-eyed the first few weeks after leaving Bits).

Oasis (Cultural festival) and Apogee (Academic/movie festival) were the times I enjoyed the most. After coming back to Meera Bhawan, my wingies and I would talk endlessly about the actual events and of course about boys! There were times when we would rush to get seats in the campus cinema hall next to the fun guys. The unlucky ones among us got stuck next to the not-so-fun guys or girls :p. And then back in the bhawan we would get ragged for sitting next to so-and-so. Sounds so silly when I say it now but then it was a big deal!

And Tripping! Tripping, bitsian lingo for teasing you with a boy (girl), was fun especially when you got tripped with the right guy ;) My favourite tripping routine was to substitute names of my friends in famous movie songs and sing it loudly when they were in "kadalai" mode.

Ragging was fun at Bits, for girls at least! There was this one senior dude who made it a point to catch all the pretty girls multiple times until one of them fell in love with him (or at least that's what I thought his persistent efforts indicated)! My number was 3, which wasn't so bad considering he had ragged the two prettiest girls on campus 7 and 5 times respectively (When you are 16 you remember stuff like this for a long time) :p Then, there was this time DAV school seniors at Bits "caught" me for a ragging session and they were being nice and all but I was homesick I guess and I started crying and that made them really uncomfortable. So, they took me to Connaught (Bits hangout area - restaurants and such) and treated me to a strawberry milk shake and cracked jokes to make me laugh and accompanied me back to Meera bhawan since it was getting dark, which was all very sweet of them.

The other incident I remember well is going to Shankar Bhawan to get ragged! Bits had this weird custom where freshees got to go to one of the guys' bhawans to get ragged, eat a really good lunch with some amazing icecream and come back to Meera Bhawan to share those stories. So anyway, I remember that one of my well-meaning Meera Bhawan seniors called me the previous night and said, "Mosa, just wanted to warn you that you better be prepared for tomorrow. you are the only Illad girl going to Shankar Bhawan and those guys are all Illads but they are really nice guys..." (Illad = Tamil students, from "illada..."). I was pretty scared by the time I got to Shankar Bhawan with a few other girls. Those guys did turn out to be nice guys, although a bit intimidating at first. There were the usual questions about why girls don't get into IIT often if they are just as smart as guys and so on. And then at the end of the ragging session, they asked me to rate them on a scale of 1-10 :p I made the mistake of rating one guy 10 mainly because he didn't ask me too many questions and seemed the quiet, studious not-scary senior types. By the time I walked out of Shankar bhawan (and several months following that day), those guys would shout "10 pointer" whenever I passed through the Bhawan.

Another incident I remember vividly was getting caught with s~ by my school (DAV) seniors. I can't say I was entirely displeased considering I thought s~ was cute :p So, when the seniors gave him 2 options - propose to a cow or write a romantic poem and propose to the freshee, I was amused. I knew s~ was good at English but producing a poem on demand was tough for anyone. Anyway, s~ made a quick decision, plucked a blade of grass (it could have been a weed actually) and got down to his knees and recited this really sweet poem (Ok fine, it was kind of cliched but hey, try writing one on demand in a few seconds!). I think sometime in my third year, I asked s~ if he still remembered the ragging incident and he said he did and actually wrote that poem down for me, which for some girly, sentimental reason, I still save in my treasure box. Actually, it's in k's treasure box and he isn't exactly thrilled that I store my "proposal poem" (below) there :)


There were the tie-ups, breakups, misunderstandings that's typical of college life and I think we ended up being in two different gangs over the course of 4 years. There was this one time when someone spread the rumour that I was going "psenti" (steady) with a guy and several people offered congratulations before I could tell them nothing of that sort actually happened. The funny thing was one of the girls who helped spread the rumour eventually married the guy. Talk about coincidences!

You know how in movies, there are always these friends of main guy/girl who make it their business to advise guy/girl about their lives, I had a couple of those advice sessions too - "Mosa, you shouldn't do this..." blah blah. Which at that point I took a bit too seriously. In retrospect I had the most fun when I was just doing that - being myself! I know better now but that's what college experience is about, I guess. Sweet and sour. Oh! Did I ever mention my blog name is based on my Bitsian name, mosakutti ?!

Bits campus is beautiful, almost out of a movie but I never did get a chance to see Jaipur though. My parents were reluctant to begin with and the warden told them it was not a great idea, she would not approve of the trip but my parents could go ahead and give their approval in which case she won't stand in their way! And there was this guy in the group who suggested that he would talk to the warden in an oldish male voice claiming to be one of the girls' dads. We finally dumped the plan :p

I was in DOPY (Dept of Photography) for a year and then in Art & Deco but never managed to gel with the gang there. Always wanted to be a part of PTM (Pilani Tamil Mandram) and wanted to transfer to Comp Sci/Info Sys...at that time, it was a big deal. I was pretty focused on switching my branch to Comp Sci. Never did happen though.

Half the fun of the Bits experience was in the long train journeys. I think of those GT/TN train journeys sometimes when I am searching for short story ideas...I assumed some dude like SRK would hold my hand (just like in...you guessed it, DDLJ!) and pull me into the train. It did happen. Only the dude was a middle aged, pot-bellied sardarji (God bless him) who gave me a lecture on how educated youngsters these days don't have any common sense and that I should have gotten on to the train on time instead of running to get onto a moving train. In my defense, I did manage to step on to the train but one of my friends decided to use me as a lever to push herself on to the moving train :p

Sigh. Memories, memories. Like quicksand. You are in another life when you eventually pull out of it...

All in good fun.

Remaining stories through photos :)


Bhawan's nites (above) were fun. This is when guys get to invite girls as guests to their bhawan and vice versa. Usually a fun-filled night with cultural programs and great food!


I loved sam and chai at insti cafeteria. Especially after cutting classes. One of the bhaias captured in our group photo above.


Many a memorable moment spent at Meera bhawan mess (above).

Ahem...group studies at Ref Li (reference library on campus)!

Crazy times in Meera bhawan (above)!

Gosh! I can't remember where we took this photo...somewhere close to campus, we had taken our cycles for a day trip there...

Yeah, the DDLJ craze still held strong those days :p


Another Bhawan's night group photo...sarees for a change :)

Holi @ Meera Bhawan

Dancing with the stars...

Sky (where most of the ragging sessions happened) with my first gang...

And here's the song that started it all for me :)

September 05, 2008

Flash fiction.

Short stories are hard enough to write, really short stories are even more challenging. I guess, flash fiction is about telling powerful, succinct, quick tales that leave an impact - a flash of inspiration!

Anyway, I gave it a shot for a competition. 500 words with a title hint. Didn't have much time to edit it since the deadline was pretty close:

Lakshmi writes...


August 28, 2008

Gifted!



Smiles, frowns, tiffs, hugs
dusted and polished in

words, images, memories, moments

bundled with tassels of

creativity, colors, music & song...

Many thanks to S & S for my Valakaapu gift (a scrapbook)!

August 12, 2008

Heaven-Hell

Am beginning to think there is no such thing as just love; Or hate for that matter. Where there is love, there will be hate lurking in the corners ready to pounce and shake things up a bit. Where there is hate, there probably was love earlier whose space it now occupies. I wonder if this is true for all absolutes. Even the most dastardly person will probably cough up a little bit of bravery when the right situation calls for it and even the most courageous man will surrender to fear sometime...

One of Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories had a woman in it who describes the change in a man she loves as "Heaven-Hell"; She happens to be married and develops feelings for this other man who relates to her in ways her husband can never can, she marries in India and settles down to a life of being a bored house-wife in the US and meets this desi Grad student by chance...anyway, it's an interesting story - He ends up falling in love with an American girl and she says something like, "He has changed so much...it is like Heaven-Hell", somewhat like the love-hate feeling that we often encounter in life, I guess.

Sometimes, I wonder if I invest way too much in relationships. So much easier to not be involved and just flit along from person to person as my whim dictates and just have a fun time. I have often declared with a little more than a hint of pride, "Oh, he is my closest friend", "She would definitely tell me" and then, poof! One day, he is no longer my closest friend and turns out, she didn't really tell me about it...and then I wonder what went wrong? Expectation? Pride? Or maybe just that these things exist in pairs. And the exact opposite feeling/event is probably occurring right now in another parallel universe and given some time, they just exchange places.

Ping pong :)

Only there is no winner or loser and by the time we figure out if we played it all right, the game is over.

August 04, 2008

Movies and Misc. Musings.

Finally saw "Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na", couple of dialogues that I thought were pretty realistic:

"I have never seen Jai this involved, this into someone, as if the outside world doesn't exist, he has eyes only for this one person...just that I haven't seen Jai like this..."

"Aditi, Jai was always like this, the only difference is that, earlier it was you, now it's Meghna..."

Surprising and yet realistic how Aditi doesn't realize this fact until it was some other girl, just not her, who was the focus of all his attention...

"I always drop you home Jai. You got a girl-friend, so you forgot your friend?"

Pretty clich├ęd yet also believable. Definitely something a girl would say to her best friend who is a boy.

"Tomorrow, I'll spend all day with you, just Jai and Aditi..."

"Jai, you spend time with me because you want to, not because you have to...."

Or something to that effect which also was the right dialogue in the right place.

Anyway, I had fun watching the movie. These sort of college movies never get old, I guess. People of all ages relate to it and kind of relive their own college days...and Imran Khan is incredibly cute, reminds me of Aamir Khan in QSQT. Sigh! Can't believe there was a time when I watched DDLJ 7 times in the theatre!

***

Ever noticed how American kids are far more outspoken than Indian kids the same age? And American teenagers, at least most of the ones I have seen are able to carry on an interesting conversation with strangers, break the ice and sail right through while Indian teenagers the same age seem more reserved? Maybe it's just me. Anyway, one question that 4-5 year old kids always ask when I am at the airport (this time, they asked my mom), "What's that red thing on your face?" "Does it never go?" There was this one time where I happened to have a bindi with me and I put it on this kid that was playing with me and she had an initial panic attack that it was permanent :) but then proceeded to enjoy the fact that she could remove and place it at will!

***

People keep saying working when you have a baby at home is a balancing act. I think working while pregnant is also a kind of balancing act. The one thing that managers will always mention in every meeting with you is "You have only n weeks to go". Yes, it sounds like a pretty innocuous observation but the thing is, this simple observation starts from the time you tell your manager that you are pregnant. So over the course of 8 months, I have heard this observation about 16 times - "You are gone by September, right? That's just like 5 months more, right?", "We better plan your work...you might need to go earlier", "You will be gone pretty soon, so, we need to have a hand-off meeting, you have only 4 months, right?"...so you can imagine, by this time, I so do not want to hear when my vacation starts especially when am working my a** off and putting in after-work hours!

***

The other day k spent a long moment looking like he was in deep rumination, he finally said, "You know, I don't mind taking 6 months off if you want to go to work earlier..."

And then it was my turn to give my trademark evil laugh and say, "Fat chance, buddy!" :p

***

July 18, 2008

Just say "yes"!

You know this trick men have to pacify their wives, just nod every few minutes and say a few agreeable words like "Hmm...yes", "I can understand", "Makes sense"? Well sometimes, I think that works best for the man and the wife. Especially during pregnancy. The other day I was asking k if he knew what the most annoying question is that people ask me? He came up with a few vague answers and in general was clueless, which is not a big surprise. But anyway, one of the most annoying questions for me is, "Have you been walking/exercising regularly? Or..."

Or what? Or have I been sitting on my fat behind, perching my oh-so-light 25 pounds extra on the sofa and watching the 5th rerun of Still Standing or Rachael Ray's summer treats?

Or have I been lying on bed all day calling k on the cell to ask for some light snacks to be brought up to the bed room?

Actually if you think about it, it's an innocent question by itself but somehow it always rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's the weird hormonal imbalance in me that manipulates the question in my head so I process it all wrong. Each time!

In my head, I come up with a fitting response each time though I just nod each time and say nothing, for example:

"Oh nooo! My nurse says walking might result in preterm glycomalampsiacal abberrations!"

"Nooo, I am waiting for you to gain 20-30 pounds extra and join me for walking, that way we can both enjoy how light and breezy we both feel about the walk, so shall we say, next Tuesday?"

"No, I haven't been walking. I prefer not to move much from my bed so I can stay relaxed all day long. Of course my company understands and so does my husband. In fact, the other day my company sent me flowers that my husband arranged in a pretty vase next to my bed so I can smell it without getting out of bed..."

Or I could go with the really simple, "No. I don't believe in walking" response.

Anyhow, coming back to the topic, sometimes the least stressful thing for a woman to hear during her pregnancy is just a yes. Not a detailed logical response explaining why her idea won't work, not a sorta-yes-sorta-no head shake, just a bright, agreeable "Yes!".

"Can we go on a cruise with our one week old baby so we can both recover?"

"Yes, of course dear!"

"Let's plan the India trip that we will make in 2015 so I can make sure we are all set..."

"Yes, I agree. Let's do that!"

"I want tea at 8.30 in the night 15 minutes before dinner."

"Of course, good idea, I'll make some for myself too!"

"Will the baby be born with 6 fingers?"

"Yes..." Well, it doesn't always work but 3 out of 4 ain't bad!

See, what I mean? There is an RSS (Really Simple Solution) to every problem on earth. And if men were to ask me the one thing they could do to ensure a stress-free la-dee-dah pregnancy for their wives, I would say, "Yes. Just say yes!".

Reminds me of this movie in which Rajnikanth will keep saying "Yesssss, yessss" without understanding what the other person says in English :)

July 09, 2008

This and that.

We watched It happened one night a few days ago and I absolutely fell in love with the movie. A few minutes into the movie, I guessed that DHKMN (Whaa? You can't figure that out?) was an almost scene to scene copy of this movie...and here I was thinking the Hindi version was an original. Hey, by the way, how many of you knew that u, me aur hum was a copy of The Notebook? I didn't and was quite disappointed and a bit umm...scared after seeing the movie. Another flop remake was "Mann" (An affair to remember). Anyway old, b&w movies are the bessht! I recently watched Pillow talk and it rocked! So also, Come September and Guess who's coming to dinner. Recently, I also was watching When Harry met Sally for the umpteenth time and I realized this is a theme that has been revisited so many times since but it's always fun to watch. Hum-tum for example and A lot like love (one of my recent favorites).

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So, as you can see, am really focusing on doing research for the little one. Above mentioned movies are...umm a kind of preparation for the movie-starved days that lie ahead of me :p I think there are about 2 million, 836 books written on pregnancy. Someone ought to stop people from writing any more books on the topic!

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I have a bridal shower to go to this weekend. Did you know the right etiquette is to give gifts for the shower and the wedding which are kind of one and the same, I mean they celebrate the same event but anyway, in case you didn't know (and I didn't until recently), you might want to budget accordingly :p I can finally wear one of my cute, American maternity tops to the get-together. Somehow, am not so comfortable wearing it at desi gatherings :p!

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Have you ever been in a situation where people try to justify what they do? I mean, they chose a path in life and maybe they weren't really convinced about it, so to convince themselves, they kind of throw in a bunch of supporting statements towards that choice. Recently, someone I knew made this statement about having 2 kids, "God! I have no idea how people manage 2 kids! I am all done with my one!" Ok maybe "one" worked wonders for you but then is it necessary to wonder and exclaim about the poor humans that decided that perhaps "two" was manageable too? Sometimes I wonder if these people have a small nagging doubt about the choice they made and they overrule it by saying stuff like this. But then if everyone was agreeable and nice and supported one another's choices, then the world would be kinda boring I guess.

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There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those that say it as it is and those that don't. Say, for example, you asked a question or a favor and they don't want to answer it, they talk about everything under the sun, only peripherally related to the topic and think we would be distracted enough by it to not recognize the original intent of all this chatter - the same tactic we employ to distract kids. I think it's just simpler to say it as it is unless of course it means getting fired from your job :p or being downright rude in which case maybe we should revisit our response anyway!

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June 27, 2008

The whole comparison business.

Whenever I talk to k about any given situation and say something like, "Similar to what she did when...", he immediately counters with "Don't compare". I am a reasonable lady and I normally would agree but then I wonder if this is just something that men automatically say to prevent "problems" for them, know what I mean?

It's like they (apologies for generalizing but then if I keep giving disclaimers for my thoughts, I would have more of a disclaimer summary and less of a coherent post!) want to avoid situations in the future where the wife would go, "Oh! But he did this for his wife when he came home late for dinner" or "He baked this double chocolate layer cake with their names spelled out in Monotype corsiva font with icing but you just fixed the tap for Valentine's day!" I wonder if men hate comparisons for this reason more than any logical trail of thoughts about how individuals react differently in different situations and it's not fair to compare and all that good stuff.

The other day, I asked k if he considered me a good cook and I made the mistake of beginning my question with, "Compared to other girls here..." and he went into auto-mode and said, "You can't compare". Uhh ok. So, if I were the only person in a given sample space cooking, I guess that would make me the best and worst cook there is since I can't compare. Which is kind of silly, if you think about it because any rating, ranking, position in society is somewhat based on comparison. I work as an engineer because compared to the other candidates, my employer thought I was better not because in a sample space of 1, I was better than another given sample space of 1 consisting of another candidate. I wouldn't even know how to compare those 2 sample spaces and in any case that renders my argument null and void because we are still comparing! k proposed to me (as in marriage proposal :p) because Gasp! He compared me with other girls!

So I am sort of confused with this whole comparison business. I remember reading articles on spirituality that claim comparison will only cause unhappiness but then that's how we function in a society...is this house better compared to the other houses in the neighborhood? Is this car being sold at a better price compared to n other cars? Is this blog better than the 10 other blogs I read today morning dealing exclusively in life's trivialities and such?

In conclusion, I arrive at no conclusion about comparing. I do have a thought about men and comparisons though. I bet they compare in their heads. All the time. They just don't verbalize it like women do so later on they can claim, "There you go comparing again!" with a lengthy sigh.

June 18, 2008

Activities!

The past few weeks have been full of to-do lists, plans and activities and my mind is a constant whirlwind of thoughts and action plans so much so that I wake up with several to-dos floating in my head interspersed with bits of the fantastic dreams of the previous night. What's up with those dreams anyway? I am a regular dreamer :p in the sense, I have dreams on a regular basis but now it's like I am being bombarded with super vivid dreams which have the most ridiculous scenarios playing in my head - friends from Bits and temples from my childhood, old aunties and strange prophecies - I have no idea what to make of them and mostly I remember them when I wake up. Which is weird because my real-life to-dos then have to compete for space with these dreams and it's all one strange experience.

Anyway, a co-worker finally made a sweet that I have been craving for for the past few months. Not just you-must-drop-by-home-etc promises; a box of real, gooey, huge spherical gulab jamuns! And it was totally unexpected, so I was touched and all that considering that no-one really made anything special for me and all that (Of course k cooks what I want to eat on chosen days after hints from me ranging from the subtle to the arrg-just-cook-what-I-want!) God bless him (the co-worker I mean) and his mom (she called them makhan peda or something like that)!

I managed to find time to write a javascript program for k's birthday which, surprise! He managed to solve while I am still pregnant (with heavy hints from me)! One of the questions was, "How many gifts are you getting this year?" and his prompt, confident answer was "31"! Talk about great expectations! One of the gifts was a set of tickets to "Leading ladies" a play at Pioneer playhouse. I just love the downright-crazy, mixed-up situations that arise in these plays and the cool thing was the play was written by a local playwright! Much fun and laughs!

We finally checked out Earthwood furniture, a local furniture store that sells solid wood furniture, finished but not stained. You can then pick your stain (like cherry, walnut, oak stains) and then finish it with lacquer. Of course, it is a task for men who love working with wood not those just looking to find a quick furniture piece. The sad thing is the store is closing which says something about priorities. Like the lady at the store said, people don't seem to have the time or inclination to buy and finish wooden furniture by hand. They look at easily available, much cheaper MDF furniture and wonder why the price difference is so huge. Anyway, if you are in town, you should visit the place.

Oh! And there's this great sitcom on TV, "The big bang theory" (shows on CBS Mondays 8 PM EST)! It has this Indian character whose parents take decisions for him about whom to date, when to marry etc. All the characters in the show are kind of exaggerated, the geek is super geeky and the Indian guy is like this mama-papa's boy who is terrified of talking to girls except when he is drunk and then he says the most ridiculous things!

So that's that. Expect more disjointed updates and anecdotes in the coming months :p

June 10, 2008

Page 123.

In response to IBH's book tag: "The tag is about the book that you are currently reading, turn to page 123, count till line 5 and write down the lines after that!"

"And then it was fall, and he had enrolled in Harvard. She had chosen Middlebury. He'd made himself give it up then, accept her silence as punishment"

From: The last time they met by Anita Shreve.

Have been meaning to pick up one of her novels for long, this one's kind of super intense though, without a break, which kind of tires me out, if you know what I mean.

June 03, 2008

Mamma mia!

Written after the definite realization that there are several worlds out there, not just ours. I don't mean like parallel universes or something (although that is an interesting topic to blog about), I mean just different worlds that you can get totally immersed in and lose yourselves. And I thought becoming a mom meant one such new world - "The pregnancy world" or you know something cute like "The googoo gaagaa world" and just that one new world. We learn about this one new world, neatly step in and continue living in that world happily ever after.

Oh boy! Was I wrong! Having a baby means entering multiple new worlds that your current world does not provide you enough time with which to research. You know what I mean?

So far, I have come across an incomplete list that includes:
  • "The pregnancy world" - Basically lists of stuff that you can read and be scared about mainly, and also get excited about once in a while :p
  • "The baby world" - This is where you learn that just because someone is little doesn't mean you do little things to make him/her happy, you do lots of really big things!
  • "The materialistic world" - This is where you buy and then buy some more stuff to make sure the little one has all it's demands (and some of ours) met.
  • "The mothering world" - How can you be the #1 mom and live under the illusion for quite some time and so on.
  • "The diapering world" - This is big. There are like 568 varieties of disposable diapers and 295 varieties of cloth diapers you can buy and 2008 accessories you can buy for each kind!
  • "The feeding world" - This Venn diagram kind of intersects with the baby world but is big enough to be it's own world
  • "The rest of the world world" - This a shrinking world consisting of this blog and such, my work, my life, you all and me :)
Being pregnant is funny business, especially if you take the time to watch people's reactions and expressions carefully. Different categories of people communicate with you differently and it can be quite an amusing experience on the whole, at least it is for me ;)

  • For instance, there's the been there done that mom-and-dad-and-mama-and-maami category -I get loads of good advice, the occasional weird advice and the frequent, "You must come home, I will cook whatever you feel like eating, just for you!" which doesn't really materialize but is nice to hear anyway.
  • Sometimes, there are these people who would like to check out how big my stomach is really but are too ahem...polite to ask, so they discretely check out my belly in what they consider an invisible glance. I catch it every time. Well, that's not really a category, I don't believe much in categorizing people anyway :p
  • There's the caring bunch, the people who go out of their way to make things convenient for me and my growing self. That's nice. They also make it a point to remind k how he should always be nice to me and so on and I love the look on his face when he gets advice like that! Anyway, I really like this bunch.
  • There's the oh-nice-ok-then bunch - Basically the people who don't pay much attention since their lives are consuming their time as usual. So, they don't really offer to do much or go out of their way to accommodate your wishes. Oh well, the world doesn't revolve around me, it does obviously for me, just not for them :p
I could go on but I just remembered I had something more important to say, "By the way, I am pregnant" :)

May 21, 2008

Becoming Jane.

Image copied from http://video.movies.go.com/becomingjane/

Only skillful storytellers can capture chemistry on paper or on the screen, and after a long time, I saw a movie that had moments that defined what chemistry was all about. By chemistry I mean hidden messages, silent consents, deep glances and sparks that fill the space between a man and a woman. And if I had to pick a moment that said it all, it was when Jane Austen searches for Tom Lefroy at the their last ball - anxious moments when her eyes skip from one person to another, registering and still not registering their greetings and a disappointing acceptance of his absence when she starts dancing - beautifully captured. And the moment the music begins and she begins to dance, he appears as if by magic, in step with her movements, a mischievous smile lighting his mouth, as if to say, "I saw you searching for me!"

And then on it's a game played with glances, blushes and question marks. They stare at each other even as they mechanically move through the steps with their partners, until it is obvious to all what they might be silently communicating with each other.

Even the scene after the dance when Tom compliments her dance, "You dance with passion", a whisper towards her as he stands behind her leaves an impact; it's as if she can feel his presence inches behind her and yet cannot bring herself to look at him...

And there is the whole element of romance associated with writing itself. And what can speak of it better than the life of a writer in love? Perhaps she derived the inspiration for her masterpieces from her life...

Sigh. It's for moments like these that I watch movies. For bringing to life the magic in beautiful words and powerful silences.

Becoming Jane
is a movie for romantics.

May 12, 2008

Gifts

Pretty ribbons, colorful packaging, glitter and above all the element of surprise! Who doesn't like receiving gifts?! But over the years, this simple act has gotten more complicated. Enter registries and American-style celebrations and the whole picture gets fuzzy.

It took me quite sometime to get used to the concept of gift registries and gift cards, I mean isn't that the same as giving cash? You spent an extra five minutes reading through a list and adding to cart, other than that I didn't initially see the point of registries. But I guess, one might take satisfaction in the fact that he/she picked out a nice little gift that the host is sure to appreciate, after all they selected it for their registry! So, I made peace with registries and religiously picked out gifts and added them to cart on several occasions.

But, over the years, this whole process has become more of a mechanical task than a loving investment of time to create a gift for a dear one. There was a time when I would spend hours together to put together a gift for friends waiting for the moment when their faces would suffuse with expressions of delight! Over time, I stopped doing that for various reasons including the fact that the gifts I received didn't reflect what I felt when I made gifts for people. I didn't expect friends to spend hours together (Crazy! Who does that nowadays, right?) putting together a gift for me, but emails with variations of "Many many happy...", "Heyyyy, happy birthday! Enjoy" got tiring after a while. Once I stopped doing the creative-gift-thingie, things got a bit boring for me. I became one of those people who would drop in on a birthday party with a greeting card or just send ecards or spend five minutes wishing them over the phone. The fun part was gone. I began to group all these occasions as "get-togethers" rather than his birthday, her anniversary and so on...

Then there are those events that don't seem likely ever to happen to me :p Like, leaving Lex. While leaving behind a home is no fun, getting gifts makes that process lighter and more memorable. I have no problem with that but I think it's about time we have a gift-giving day for people who don't leave, you know what I mean? "Gee, you are nice and always there for us in the same town, so here's something cute for you!" - that sorta gift.

So, it's not like I have a constructive suggestion for "how to bring the fun back into gift giving" except the "for-staying-back" gift idea. Until then, it's registries and gift cards and the occasional no-efforts-spared WHOA gift - I still do that for k, which reminds me his b'day is coming up and I have not a thing planned! So much for the big talk!

May 05, 2008

Palace of Illusions.

Like many of Chitra Divakaruni's books, this book also treats us to a rich variety of stories, riddles, hints, colorful characters and mysterious happenings! And how can it not be all of this and more, considering that it's the tale of Mahabharatha narrated by a different voice - the strong-willed, adamant, beautiful and unpredictable Draupadi herself?!

I finished the book in a day and as always it filled me with questions and curiosity; parts of the book surprised if not shocked me. I had to adjust to Krishna being portrayed as a simple, at times mysterious, friend and confidant, that conversations between him and Draupadi were like any that we would have in our lives, not necessarily full of God-talk, for lack of a better word :) The events and emotions that tie together Draupadi and Karna are heart-wrenching, powerful and unexpected (and imagined, I would guess), almost making me wish their destinies had turned out differently, at times, I wished the story had turned out differently, yearning to see a happy resolution for their confusions...but then such is the charm of Divakaruni's writing, her ability to make the reader identify with the characters, look inside their hearts and hurt, laugh, cry with them.

And she has kept up her word regarding the portrayal of women in this book. This is definitely a tale of strong women that changed the course of history, not necessarily hovering in the shadow, but walking proudly in the forefront, hand-in-hand with their men...a tale of Gods and saints, pride and vanity, smiles and tears.

May 02, 2008

Touchy-feely.

Today is glorious! I decided to work from home and nothing beats working in pjs with sunlight streaming into the room! Allergies notwithstanding, I opened the door wide open and let all the nice Spring-time pollen-laden air stream in! Today is the kind of day that makes you want to write a blog post full of small nothings!

Hmm...

Ok, now I really have nothing to say.

Ok, thought of something, I recently discovered that a good selection of Tamil movies is available on Netflix, not very recent ones but I can't complain since our local desi store does not carry any Tamil DVDs at all. Can't blame him since most folks here just download err...I mean find other ways to catch the latest Tamil movies. The next movie on my list is "Oru naal oru kanavu". Yes, I know I have a lot of catching up to do but in Lex, this is the best I can do. I really want to watch "Santhosh Subramaniam" and that Prakash Raj turned God movie and a bunch of others.

We also recently ordered a lot of ...stuff from Amazon. You know, am not really an amazon-netflix kind of person, meaning I like to visit the store (by store I mean a brick and mortar store), browse through selections (even if limited) and pick something by hand and pay for it. I swore I wouldn't let go of Blockbuster, our neighbourhood video store that we can walk to, until they charged me $4.50 for an old English movie, that sadly ended our relationship and marked the beginning of my affair with Netflix.

Still I haven't given up hope. I drive, sometimes walk to my local library and browse, yes browse through bookshelves and pick books out by hand, I still buy my groceries from a local coop store and I hope those experiences are here to stay. I can't imagine reading ebooks exclusively and ordering "fresh" vegetables from an online store! Remember how we shopped for vegetables in India? My mom would actually try breaking the ends of bright green ladies fingers, or turn the rich purple kathrikai (brinjal) round and round to make sure it had no marks on it, the aroma of fresh cilantro would tickle our noses until we naturally gravitated towards the store even if we had vegetables back home. Maybe, I don't break the ends of the okra here but I still relish the visual feast the arrangement of different colored vegetables provide! No sir, I claim, I will not be adding my good old vegetables to a cart anytime soon!

Your touchy-feely writer has spoken her bit!

April 22, 2008

Spring introspection and acchh...acchhhoooo!

When people told me, "Oh, I have Spring allergies", I used to think that they were oh-so-delicate dahlings that needed to develop a better immune system. That was until last week when I developed a bad case of Spring allergies. I sneezed uncontrollably and my eyes and nose itched. Serves me right for thinking those thoughts. So anyway, to cheer myself, I updated my food blog and gave it a new look! For those of you who didn't know that I had a food blog or err...that I cooked, consider clicking the little icon on the right of this blog right below the google custom search bar once in a while :p.

Other than that I am in a pretty vacuous state of mind (read d u m b). Today at work, one of my colleagues asked me a technical question that I should have been able to answer and I just looked blankly at him and said, "I don't know" - maybe I should stop reading those articles that celebrate these situations -

Yeah! Go ahead and say, "I don't know", people will praise you for your honesty and assume there are a lot of things you actually do know


or

Change your career, give up your job, take a sabbatical and get to know the real you, it's okay to retire early and goof off at home.

All my life, people have been telling me that I have a "confidence problem" which perhaps is true, partly at least. I have been in several situations at work where people with far less knowledge on a subject than me have shot off their mouths confidently and worked their ways out of it pretty decently. So, maybe I just need to trust my instincts and gray matter and speak up and appear more confident. Or maybe just be the way I am, perhaps my perception of me is not the same as what others perceive me? Gaaaah.

There was this lady on the Bob & Sheri radio show who claimed that women needed approval from people and that differentiated them from men. k, for instance would ask me, "How does it matter what a particular colleague thought of you? You deliver your work on time and do a good job and that's all there is to it..." You know, I think that lady had a point, women pay way too much importance to other people's opinions, think of the times you had a crush on someone that all the hep girls in school had a crush on? Or think of a more relevant analogy that would prove my point (Don't blame me, I have the sniffles).

So, all this thinking did not help with my allergies. So for now, am goin' to return to my vacuous state of well-being and nothingness. S'long!

Oh, almost forgot, here are some pics we took at Georgetown Kite Fest this year - Spring allergies, gloomy skies and pouring rain couldn't keep us away :)





April 17, 2008

STOMP!

I am in a black and white flashback sort of mood, so much so that I took black and white snaps using my SLR although I loaded color film on it :p


Anyway, we went to see the STOMP yesterday at Danville. And they rocked! It's amazing how they beat out a tune using newspapers, plastic water cans, trash can lids and mops! Gosh! Almost made me want to lead a different life where I could stomp out a tune with my feet, just like they did. I really like attending artsy shows in Danville. I have seen a couple of plays at Pioneer playhouse and now the Stomp at the Norton center for arts. Of course, the Shakespeare plays at Lexington were a lot of fun too, too bad we won't have them any longer. The nice thing about the Shakespeare plays was that it was outdoors, spread out a blanket on the grass, grab some funnel cakes, relax and watch the play! I always bought one of their tshirts although I never wore them more than once :) To me it was the equivalent of an American thiruvizha or maybe one of those travelling stage drama troupes back in India...never did watch one in India, but, you get the picture?

Which brings me to this Saturday, Georgetown Kite Festival! I really hope it doesn't rain this Saturday! I guess I'll switch my SLR back to color mode, way too much color at the park to be clicking black and white photos, no matter how whimsically old-times-romantic I feel!

April 14, 2008

The importance of being awkward.

You know how it is when people invite you to parties? Not the people you normally hang out with, the other people. Like office colleagues for instance or the kind of people who are nice to you and whom you are nice to but have not entertained in a contained space, your home or theirs. The kind of parties that make you feel a bit awkward. Like "Hmm, I might have fun at the party or may find that I have nothing to say, I guess I should go..." - those sorta' feelings.

Anyway, last week, we went to one of those parties after fighting some initial reluctance. There were a mix of people of all age groups, some we know well, some not so much.

And we had a blast!

The newness of the interactions there had something to do with it, I think. Since these were people we would not meet so often in a social setting, we ventured to topics we normally did not discuss at get-togethers. Also, coming from different age groups, they all had something new and interesting to contribute to the conversation - recipes for sweet potato soup, early morning risers and how they manage to wake up just before the alarm, arangetrams and dances, karate and small Indian men as easy opponents, skiing and doctors, medical school costs and bad direction sense and of course food - it was a potluck after all!

So anyway, it was a lot of fun and I would have missed it all for fear of being awkward! No wonder all these bond-together articles in magazines have a bulleted point, "Explore new activities with partner to enrich blah...blah".

And to that I would add, "...even if it makes you feel awkward initially. Don't underestimate the importance of being awkward."

Of course, it doesn't always apply to all new experiences, the other day, I went to a yoga class where I was kind of a mis-fit, there were all these older, well-built (big?) women and a few of them gave me distinctly unpleasant stares, not the "How could you walk in 6.8 minutes late, little girl?" kind of look but the "There is something I really don't like about you, so I am going to stare and make it awkward for you" kind of glare. As the instructor went, "relaaaaaaaax", I tried to ignore unpleasant-stare-glare without much success and ended up not experiencing perfect yoga-calm for the first fifteen minutes of class. Plus I had to use the rest room and I was scared the woman would tsk-tsk if I cut through the class to the rest room!

Those kind of awkward situations are just that...awkward. Not sure if I picked up anything important from all that awkwardness :p

April 10, 2008

Spring's in the air!

Spring is finally here and lex is a beautiful princess in white again! For once, we (k, ~p and I) captured the white flowers on lens, while they bloomed for less than a week before turning a bright green! But fabulous weather has had a strange effect on dear husband. Normally, he is a bit weird. The good weather added a good dose to that normal bit. He manifested that in many ways.

Yesterday, we drove to work; it seemed like a normal day which means we were in the middle of waking up from zombie state as we parked at our office parking lot. That's when k realized that he had forgotten his shoes again (he did that, if am not mistaken, spring last year too). Sounds bizarre but it won't sound quite so bizarre if you a part of our chaotic morning routine.


I swear I will never be one of those people who wake up with a spring in their step, brush their teeth with a manic enthusiasm and sit down to a leisurely coffee and breakfast at 6.30 in the morning and then still in the same zen-like state proceed to drive to work while listening to calming melodies on FM. Anyway, to save those precious few seconds in the morning, k drives bare-feet (or on better days, sock-feet) to work and then wears his shoes at our office parking lot after finishing his coffee (i,e whatever remains of it, the rest would have poured all around our nice coffee holder in the car, but no problem they dry and form a neat bed for the next day's caffeine fix!).

Anyway, yesterday he had forgotten his good socks and his shoes. So at the parking lot, he looks at his bare feet with a confused look and asks me where his shoes are. I did what every responsible wife does in these situations. I laughed and waved a cheerful goodbye to him. So anyway, that's how he spent an otherwise uneventful day at work without his shoes and socks.

Today was another story. The weather was nice and balmy today and k decided to be really brave. He had a dentist appointment today morning at 9. "Just drop me there and I can walk back home!" So, I dropped him at the dental clinic and drove to work and around an hour later, I get a call from a number I don't recognize.

"Hi, it's me. I am locked out of the house and I don't have my cell phone. So, thought I'd...call you."

So, I did the responsible wife thing again. I laughed.

Anyway, eventually I did drive back home, gave my husband his morning cup of coffee, which he had forgotten inside the house before we left to the dentist.


I suspect good weather tomorrow too. It's going to be one entertaining spring season.

April 01, 2008

A good fight.

Growing up means also having to realize that good fights like good laughs are rare. I tried to think of the last time I had an honest, involved fight and gave up after counting back five years. I have had fights, actually let me take the blame here, I have fought often in the past five years but they were not what I would call good fights.

They were either the lame, watery, excuse-for-a-fight-variety where I vaguely expressed displeasure and did not wait to ascertain if my displeasure was registered, you know, the kind where halfway through the fight, I backtracked and just gave up because I thought it wasn't really worth it in the big scheme of things! These fights kinda suck. The issue is not resolved, you don't have the satisfaction of having fought a good fight and there is no closure!

The other variety is the no-holds-barred loud and ugly fights, which is fine as long as I can resolve them at some point. The problem with these fights is that while you have the satisfaction of raising your voice, expressing your opinion forcefully and disagreeing disagreeably about something, the most important part of the fight is not handled correctly - the end! If you mess up the end, you have another bad fight on your hands, the kind that can end friendships or leave it in a lukewarm, comatose almost pitiful state which makes you think of the good times you had knowing you can't have it again. Just as bad as the first variety.

Which brings us to the really good fights. The ones filled with strong emotions and powerful words, tears and scorn, the kind that scares you but then eventually dies down to a resolution - ties broken for good reason or made stronger for better. These are the fights that are fought for the right reasons, they still may involve jealousy, possessiveness and traits not really treasured but they are inspired by closeness and fear of losing the relationship. Like really good movies, such fights are hard to come by. Until then, I'll be twiddling my thumbs with empty fights or none at all.

So...wanna fight?! :)

March 24, 2008

About giving fundas.

Local news first, our newspaper carried this article about the cultural programs organized for Dr.Kalam's visit last Sunday! 26 of us managed to get our makeup and hair done in 5 hours! My eye shadow was a mix of shocking blue and peacock green, heavily inspired by Shrek! Much excitement!

Now that the big day is over, I am looking forward to a bunch of fun weekends - visit to the new Ikea at Cincinnati, Priyadarshini's dance performance, Georgetown kite festival! All the little things that come together to create the cultural scene of our little town. I guess these would be the moments I miss most if I were to move to Seattle or India!

Ok, enough chitchat. on to fundas! By funda, I mean something that you speak (usually while advising others) and believe that it is the whole truth and that you will never behave contradictory to your maxim. This is usually delivered when you have stated a feeling or thought of your own and the other person wishes to contradict it. And my addition to the whole scene is that the funda is wrong, mostly (I have to add that disclaimer or this would become another of those fundas that will eventually be proved wrong!)

Consider this setting. I am sharing some ideas about safe cooking and cleaning - what utensils to use, what cleaning ingredients to use and so on and the other person goes, "Gee Ramya, lighten up. You only live once! You can't keep scrutinizing everything like this...live life a little!"

Ah, a plethora of fundas, in case you didn't catch it,

funda1 -> "You only live life once!"

funda2-> "You can't keep...live life a little!"

That night, I wondered if I was indeed scrutinizing life a wee bit too much and made a list of ways to lighten up - I take advice seriously and somehow each time, when people say something, I assume they are saying it because they really (really) mean it! Anyway, several months later I find the funda giver's kitchen listed in the "safe green kitchens magazine" - model kitchen of the year! And I am told, "Oh you should really consider switching to...safer, non-toxic...blah blah!" What happened to living life and scrutinizing?! Those would precisely be the fundas I am talking about! Well, there is no such magazine but you get the point?

I could give several other examples with fundas like "I would never do that because..." and eventually the funda falls flat because the person went ahead and did just that! The problem with this whole deal is the initial funda makes you go, "Whaaa...did I really say something that bizarre?!" and you actually begin to believe that some thought ought to be given to this funda since it sounds so...point-blank and authoritative!

But, I guess "giving fundas" is in a way addictive. So much fun to declare with certainty that you would do this and not that, most certainly not! It shows such conviction and decisiveness. Not so much when you go ahead and do that instead of this but then you had fun giving the funda and no one is really monitoring your fundas enough to say "Hold it! On this date, you said this...hence proved wrong. Yeah!"

Sometimes I wish I had the time to do that. Just for the fun of it!

March 19, 2008

The sideward nod.

You are in the middle of an excited description of something. You are gesturing with your hands, modulating your voice accordingly and looking into the eyes of the person you are talking to and all the while you are assuming that the topic of the conversation is of interest to the person you are talking to.

And suddenly, pfffffff!

The other person gives you the looking-away-nod also known as the sideward-nod. You know what I mean? She is nodding as you talk as if to say, "Yeah go on. Am listening..." and slowly, her gaze shifts elsewhere. So she has this sort of sideward tilt to her head and she is nodding but definitely not meeting your eyes. To me, it's the equivalent of pouring cold water all over me in the middle of the conversation. I find it hard to carry on but then am in the middle of a sentence and it feels like unfinished business to stop. So, I lamely finish the sentence and grudgingly also turn toward the object of her attention.

So, I ask myself if am a boring conversationalist. Not really. I mean, I have talked to people who obsessively talked about themselves and I have nodded and actually listened (not the guy trick - say "uh uh" and continue doing what you are doing under the incredibly silly assumption that the person talking to you thinks you are listening!). Anyway, if I were to semi-objectively rate myself I wouldn't call my conversations boring. They are not refreshingly stimulating and thought-provoking at all times but then whose are?

And honestly, I have never given the sideward-nod to people while they were talking to me. It is really rude if you think about it. Maybe the person you are talking to is unable to focus for long, then they are not really being rude, they are just being...distracted, I guess.

So remember, people (women...like me) pay a lot of attention to your little gestures and body language. So ditch the sideward-nod. Perhaps you could do something polite like saying, "Erm, excuse me, I have a sudden urge to be away from this conversation. My sincere apologies." instead!

March 14, 2008

About being grownup and some random questions.

Since it's Friday, am allowed to post random thoughts in this space and have the audacity to call it a post.
  • My first random thought is about growing up. Is there a cut-off age when we are supposed to consider ourselves all grown up? The reason I ask is, I certainly don't feel grown up. An uncle I know, who is 42, seemed offended when one of my friends called him "Uncle", my friend is 24 years old. A couple of 50-something-maamis in Lexington did not approve of "aunty". So, really besides the 60-something people (what are they called?), septuagenarians and octogenarians does anyone really want to be considered a grown-up? The other day, I went to a puja at a maami's place. After the puja, I talked a bit to the teenagers there (because some of them were dancing with me for a cultural show - remember I told you, Lex desis are getting all spruced up for Dr.Kalam's visit?), and then I talked to an American Indian 20-something girl and then turned to all the 40 something maamis with the intent of making similar excited conversation. I talked to the maami who invited me and then clung to her like a kid! I really did not know what to say to the other maamis! I actually felt a bit intimidated. The experience was all very strange. k told me that was all cool, "It just means you can totally relate to your kids, won't that be cool?" Hmm, yes. But when does a girl make a transition to maamihood? At 30? After a kid? Would be nice if all of us get one of those notices saying "You are all grown up now lady. So suck it up and act like an adult!"
  • Next random question - do you guys know how to make a blog "by invitation only" but at the same time allow people to request readership? I am getting bored of editing my short story blog everytime I submit a story to a magazine (it's that nice image on the right-hand side in case you haven't noticed - don't tell me that, I'll be heart-broken - just click it :-). I have to save the story as draft because I don't really know what the publishers mean when they say, "Can you confirm that your story is not published anywhere else?" Sometimes they specify "online". So anyway, I made my short-story blog "by invitation" only, but I fear my small subset of readers will quickly exit if I provide such major incentives to not read what I dish out. So...any suggestions? How can I restrict membership dynamically? Oh and please do let me know if you want me to add your email id to the reader list. Muchos gracias!
  • My third question - I want to self-publish a book about my "going green" obsessions. I am working on a website currently. But the thing is, if I publish through amazon, then I have to pay them 75% of the cost of the book, I can't even set the price of the book less than $8 or I make a loss! I checked out lulu.com and a few others but I guess that's the price you pay to buy "presence"! Any smart ideas?
  • Almost forgot! Today is Karadayan Nombu. Going to try sweet adai and delight the better half (So annoying when he doesn't get delighted enough :p). Wish me luck!
Ok, that's that for now. Me off to lunch soon. Tada.
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