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 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 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 ( 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 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.

March 07, 2008

Blue winter crib-fest, oh! and about being rich.

We are experiencing miserable weather. The kind that makes you want to break the damned alarm clock, pound it into a mush and go deeper into the comforter. I lead a pretty normal life, so I did none of those things, got up on the wrong side of the bed, got ready and came to work. So, I sat staring at my monitor, having finished checking my gmail, my blog comments, the daily dilbert cartoon, my horoscope for the day, witty saying by unknown famous person of the day, the first few links in reddit, headlines of the most read articles in the New York Times and then I wondered about right and wrong, good and bad and such thoughts that only a gloomy, wintery day like this could inspire.

I reached a few conclusions in life.
  1. Oatmeal sucks. I know I claimed it was a super food to my mom, made her switch to oatmeal for breakfast and proudly declare that I eat oatmeal for breakfast to people who enquired about my breakfast - well, there are not really that many that enquire but I tell them all the same. But the dirty little secret that I am privy to is the fact that I completely, honestly HATE oatmeal. It tastes like nothing. And if you add a bunch of stuff to it to make it better, it only comes off tasting even more awful. And that is the truth.

  2. Tiffin time sucks next. You know, around 5 - 5.30 PM after you have driven home from work, that time. That time is what I miss most about India. No jasmine-like idlis with molagai podi, no hot crispy bread upma, no rava kesari, no hot chola with bread, no nothing. It's the same - toast and jam or on other days even chips and salsa and thank God, a cup of coffee or tea. I really wish I had better tiffin options. Yeah, you can stop giving me that look "Cook!", I just don't have the energy to cook anything remotely edible at the end of a long day! No, I don't want cold fruits and ready-made processed crap. I want hot food! Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is...
Ok, that concludes the crib-fest for today. Stupid weather. I am switching to one of those fancy companies on the West coast that has like 4 different canteens on campus serving HOT food, not cold salad but real, hot food. Plus, the weather has got to be better than this. Or better still, I'll go back to Madras. I guess I can't do that either, k promised we could shift to Madras only if I (not him) became super rich.

Any ideas? Let's see...(since I am in the mood for bulleted lists)
  1. I could write a novel like Rowling did, sitting in a cafe or was it a train and imagining super-fantastic characters,

  2. Or maybe I'll write one of those natural-living-green books but then I'd have to eat oatmeal everyday and not yummy crispy-creme donuts...

  3. I could work real hard and become rich, does that still work?

  4. I got it! I need a life event! I keep reading about life-changing events that umm...changed people's lives forever, again. I mean, Lisa Jewell, my new favorite author, got kicked off her job, that was a life event. And then her friend challenged her to write the first three chapters of her novel, she did, sent it to ten publishers and forgot about it. And one of them called back! And she became a famous author. Like that. But, I really would not like to be fired. I like my job (All the people I know say that, I guess it's a sorta ego thing, maybe you don't want the other person thinking "Poor old so and so, look at her stuck with her job", or maybe they really like their jobs, I mean, I can't complain about my job - I fought with my dad to switch from Bio to CompSci. Except some days I think, "What am I doing stuck in a little cubicle with my hands freezing in spite of the wristies when the sun is shining golden bright outside and so get my point?).
So, that's that. I'll probably be doing the same thing ten years down the lane and asking you for ideas even then. You'll stick by, won't you?

March 06, 2008

Priyadarshini Govind

Eagerly looking forward to Priyadarshini Govind's dance performance this year! She will be visiting Lex for a dance performance on April 12 for the Indian arts exhibition at UK arts museum. Seems as though our little town is all excited for Dr.Kalam's visit and the cultural programs that would accompany his visit! Anyway, I attended a dance performance by Priyadarshini Govind, October of 2007 and I remember being so enthralled about it that I wrote a gushing article about the programme for the Kentucky Kernel which they obviously did not publish, but I gushed pretty enthusiastically all the same :p

Photo by Eric Thigpen

Each face in the audience mirrors the quickly changing emotions that dance across her features. Happy as a baby, angry like the Lord Shiva - each expression on her face arrives in a flash and remains for a mesmerizing second before exiting gracefully and yet each abhinaya stays behind in the viewers' eye taking them along its journey. Such is the power that Priyadarshini Govind's dance exudes.

At the Bharatiya Temple and Cultural Society, Priyadarshini started her BharataNatyam recital with a dance depicting femine energy, the Devi. She followed her first dance performance with an equally compelling recital on a woman waiting for her lover, the Cosmic Lord of dance, Shiva to come to her. The second half of her performance covered a wide range of emotions - the love of mother Kausalya for her dear son, the baby Rama; the mischievous invitation that a lover extends to her beloved; the pain-filled wails of a mother who has lost her son in the battlefield and finally a thillana, a fast dance that provided a fitting finale to an evening of scintillating dance moves and perfectly choreographed steps in tune with the musical instruments and the song that accompanied each piece. An evening well spent with dancer Priyadarshini Govind and accompanying artists, Maheshwar, Natarajan, Subramanian and Narayanan.

© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.