March 31, 2010

Love and love only.

He reaches for the book, she reaches for the same book and a million stories play out in the glances they steal; Love and love only is the book that marks the beginning of their love story in Kadalukku Mariyadai. I used to love this song (I still do...)

I saw a tweet about movies that moved me and I thought it was quite some time since I'd written about movies. So, while I wait for Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya to reach our little town, here is some silver-screen-reminiscing to keep me going :)

There was this scene in Anjali where Revathi confronts Raghuvaran about something -- The exact scene is a blur but the chemistry between them really worked. The movie in itself was not a love story but this scene stayed behind with me.

Of course, there is no one like Mani Ratnam to etch out love scenes and so we have:

I remember watching DDLJ seven times in the theatre -- a fact I have repeated ad nauseum in this space! I would sit running eyes and nose crying over poor Kajol crying her heart out for SRK. I loved the terrace and moonlit night scenes and the running into his arms in the field in a white dress was probably one of my favorite scenes in the movie. This movie is probably my all time favorite love story! Folks at home assumed I had lost it and was in one of my teenage phases post this movie :)

For some reason, I can't think of many recent movies that had that baam! impact as these older ones. That probably has also to do with the fact that I am no longer a dreamy eyed teenager looking for her one soul mate and so the movies fail to turn my thoughts upside down and feature in my dreams.

Recent movies are a mix of pastel shades for me: Wake up sid and the like. Not the shocking feast of colors that older movies paint. Hmm...I wonder why that is. But, I have to run now (Seems like I am writing most of my posts as a tumble of words without much thought to organization...Oh well, at least I am writing). More on the movie topic (but of course) later!

And my current obsession:

March 22, 2010

Life skills and a story.

Everyone complains that the current schooling system is outdated -- large volumes of information that we are forced to read although we are not interested in it and we probably will end up forgetting most of it by the end of the year anyway to name a few. L~ sent me a link about a couple of kids who were home schooled in a pretty unconventional way by their parents -- they were just encouraged to read about their interests and they ended up scoring more in their SATs than most traditionally schooled kids. That's an interesting experiment, one that I would probably be too chicken to try on r~ but nice to know.

Anyway, one skill that they did not teach me at school is life skills! Duh, that's what you learn by living, you say? Well yes but a little help along the way would have gone a long way. Recently, I noticed that I was not very equipped with dealing with difficult situations at Tachibana (of all places!) So, we had gone there to send off a friend who was quitting work to establish her own business (so cool!) and as expected most of the items on the menu were not vegetarian which was a bit awkward for me and s~. So, here we are sitting around this round table, 15-20 of us from work and we are trying to ask the waiter if x was meat-free, the sauce was meat-free and also trying to make ourselves understood. By the end of it, I was slightly turning pink and wondering if I was creating a scene. Just then, k~ turns to s~ and me and says, "You might want to make sure the rice is not rolled in pork sauce" and he laughed when he caught our eyes popping out. The joke put me at ease and then I forgot all about the awkwardness.

The other time, another coworker had posted a Facebook status update about a difficult time his family was going through and how they had managed to pull through -- the entire story was published in a local newspaper and he had posted a link to the article. I went through a series of emotions -- empathy, sympathy, sadness, guilt (don't ask)...and then left a "Happy for you...blah" -- one of those standard, trademark responses. And then I read a comment left by another of my coworkers, something along the lines of "Neat stuff...the article didn't mention that you continue to be a healthy, robust young man...(something about his volleyball skills)" and it made me laugh. Here it was again -- a light-hearted comment for a heavy situation that worked!

And I was thinking, where do they pick these skills from? This ability to joke in the face of adversity, awkwardness and this ability to dispel an embarrassing/sad situation and inject smiles into it? So anyway, that's the kind of education I wish I had received. Perhaps, it's the American schooling system; while it has its drawbacks, maybe it teaches what Indian schools fail to teach? Maybe one day, I'll watch r~ interact in a formal crowd and learn from her ;)

For now, here's something I do know to do (or I claim to know to do :): a 3 minute short story based on a photo.
(Woohoo! 100 fans on my facebook page!)

March 18, 2010

About grass and India and women and the pursuit of happiness.

How much truth is there to the observation that the grass is greener on the other side? It's become one of those tired old cliches but what exactly is it supposed to mean? That no matter where you are in life, you want to be or do something the person across is doing? Is it just a cliche to hide petty jealousies and envies behind a thin veneer of words? Anyway, this week is ♪repetition vaaaaaram♪ as they would say on Sun TV and so I am going to type up my thoughts as quick as I can (Unfortunately, I do have some work that needs to be done today) before I head home.

So, I've heard of several theories that claim that choices inherently make a human being less happy. Simple choices, simple life, peace. By that definition America would be a very unhappy country but I'll put that thought in the back burner for now (As my English teacher at DAV used to say). Going by that logic, if I did not have a choice to come to America or a choice to go back to India now, would I be happier? Does that mean me would have been happier living in Des having never lived and experienced life in this country? Or would I be one of those folks who really wanted to come abroad but for some reason or just bad luck maybe could not? And then, would I be spending my days envying the greener grass on the other side?

And if I did not have a choice to return to dear old mera Bharath mahaan now, would I be happier because my life is lived here and can only be lived here (because of whatever reason)? Or would I then be cursing my luck for not having saved enough or worked hard enough to move back to India? Would I be envying those brave and fortunate people who actually crossed the seas back home? I can't say for sure because I am not in a position where the choice is not available for me.

This brings me to another question about us women. As a teenager, I was a little bit of a feminist in the sense that I viewed the hard life of women and the lack of recognition as a misery that they tolerated because they had no choice. But then, did they tolerate that life or were they happy living under a roof with their family able to cook and provide food for the umpteen mouths that needed to be fed? And the husband that needed to be appeased at the end of a hard day's work? Were they just happy that they had it in them to do so much -- cook, clean, birth, please day after day? Or did they see it as a drudgery that they had no escape from? Did the lack of choice make them happier than modern women? We keep coming across statistics that claim modern women make more money, have more freedom and yet are unhappier while the men folk have raced ahead in terms of happiness. Is this because we have so many choices in front of us -- work/stay at home, provide outside care for your child/care for your child at home or even the basic cook/take out? I guess for women of the previous generation -- providing outside care for kids, working outside the house, ordering take outs were not an option, were they? They did their jobs and at the end of the day, snored their way into the next chore-filled morning. But, what went on in their heads? Just thoughts about how to manage the children and their school work and house hold chores and finance? Or did they dream of some version of me-time too? :)

It's hard to generalize and banish choices as evil. Sometimes choices rock -- Hersheys Bliss white chocolate or Lindt white chocolate? (Provided you are not thinking, exercise to lose the extra pounds or just pack them on and give up the slim-wicked-mom-figure ideal)...

So, if it's all in the mind and it's all about choices, can anyone be happy pretending their life was the one choice they had and they better work at it and make it the best one they had? You know, how you keep hearing about people who survived accidents or were laid off and the shock jolted them towards what they really wanted in their lives? Perhaps if we are clever enough, we can sort of do the jolting without the precursor. Just put our minds on time-out and ask them to sort the mess inside them asap -- basically, Quit crapping and go get a life, willya?!

March 11, 2010

Restless spirit

I remember watching a movie a long time ago about this woman who moves because she gets restless in one place (Was it Chocolat?). I feel like that nowadays. I am trying to figure out if my life goes in circles alternating between at-peace and restless or if this feeling is genuine and I really need a change.

When I was at Bits, while I managed to have a wonderful time, at the back of my mind, I kept wishing for a transfer to the Computer Science stream. I would dream of it day in and day out, hoping I would earn a GPA high enough to transfer to it end of the first year. I had a pretty good GPA but not > 9.5 which was what was needed to transfer to Computer Science. I would look at my friends who had enrolled for the 5 year degree BSc + an engineering degree and wonder if I should have done the same because my GPA would have enabled me to do a 5 year course with Computer Science...anyway, that's all water under the bridge...

And finally, I did manage to get a Masters in that exact field and all the while stressed about getting a job. I wished to be confident like all those people who had an undergraduate degree also in the same field. Finally, the job arrived and then I started this whole nostalgia drama about returning to India.

And now, the latest to my list is to quit my job and become a stay at home mom. There. I have said it out aloud. That's what I want to do. But, I am just scared of the consequences of quitting. Also, at this point, I am not really certain of my reasons for wanting to quit. I just know they are many and they drop in for a tete-a-tete almost every day. To the point where I am sitting in a meeting and mentally going over a checklist of my reasons to quit and how we'll handle the financial side of it.

On one level, I do see the advantages of my position. I have a job that is relatively stress free and has many benefits but something doesn't feel right and am trying to place my finger on it. My motivation seems to have gone in for a late hibernation and I reckon it's not coming back any time soon. Also even if I do end up getting a super interesting assignment at work (which is certainly not the case now), do I want it? r~ seems to have entered an unbelievably cute phase and I really don't want to miss it -- we actually have conversations which is wonderful and makes my eyes well up with pride...I can't really tell until that actually happens and I have to spend extra hours at work, I guess.

So anyway, where does that leave me? k tells me I'll get bored at home. So, I asked him where I would find the time to get bored?! r~ should take care of that part for me.

Some people quietly argue in their heads and then confidently take a decision and make peace with it. I am not one of them. I ponder and rethink and analyze and ask and consult and then finally when everyone's done with it, I take the leap and hence this post.

For now, my mind is a mess of questions and...possibilities. The grass is oh-so-verdant now on the other side, I want to take the jump right now and live my life the way I want to! Gonna be logical about this and flip a coin soon as I go home.

March 04, 2010

Say Aaaa, Bbbb...

Pre-r (which is how I am going to call my pre-parent days), I used to notice one common characteristic among parents. Whenever they had their baby with them, they would try to convince the baby to do something fascinating like saying the alphabets or singing a song or even dancing a particular piece. It almost never worked. The kid would look shy and hide behind the parent or would just look blank and do nothing. I would excitedly wait for the kid to do its wonder but couldn't help wondering what made the parents want so desperately for the kid to perform. I believed them, that the kid can say its alphabets or sing a little jingle or tap dance; then why the attempts to coerce the unwilling kid to do that?

Now, I know. Of course, I know! When friends drop by, I try to not request r~ to do this or that but I can't help myself. She would have just recited her numbers with that steal-your-heart-away mazhalai or done the cutest little poonai-walking imitation and I am so proud/elated/excited that I want to show the world what a genius she is (which am sure is pretty much how a parent feels when their child says "Aaaa Bbbb Sheeee" the first time :-)

Anyway when we have company, we usually and predictably have a scene that goes something like this:

"Kannamma, poona epadi nadakkum kaami?"

"Aeh." That's how she refuses requests when she feels what is asked of her is beneath her level of accomplishments.

"Kanna, amma cake tharen poonai epadi nadakkum kaami?" I am now sitting in front of her at her eye-level which I have read is how you communicate effectively with kids. Bribing with cake was not mentioned but it works occasionally, so...


"Modalla poona madiri pannu."

"Caaaaaaaake." And now she makes her cute-whiny face. So, five minutes later after she has had cake or equally acceptable replacement, I try a different tactic.

"Kannu, 1-2?"


"Yes, yes. 1-2 Buckle?"




So, I give up and by now the guests are anyway bored and looking at the clock. The moment the door closes I hear,

"One-Too bucke mashoo, thee foa dooooor, fiiiive six pickupsti, shevem ate laaaay, naaan ten, heeeen."

And then "Cockadoo..."

I swear next time, am going to hide and record her and then just play the video when people drop by!
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