Saturday, December 17, 2005

Travel Myths Gone Bust

There are certain travel myths that go completely bust when you go on vacation. I learnt this a longways back. When I was a green teenager, I imagined I'd come down the airport escalators carelessly swinging a fashionable handbag across my shoulder, looking fresh as a cucumber, my hair-do perfect and untouched, my skin glowing, sporting a Colgate smile on my face. A mirthful greeting with adoring parents and friends replete with bouquets, hugs, chocolates et al..completed my imagination. Blame it on all the airport scenes in our movies with our Simrans, Preity Zintas and Rani Mukherjees..:)
Reality bites. You are greeted by serpentine immigration queues; you are lugging two rather heavy hand baggages across the airport; your flight has already been delayed a couple of hours; the flight food really did taste like dog-food and you haven't had anything to eat for the past 24 hours; you misplaced your moisturizer somewhere and your skin looks all dehydrated; to top it all, your feet are cramped and swollen from hours of sitting in the same position. All in all, everytime I get out of a flight, I doubt I look anything near fresh and energetic...:)
The other travel myth that personally doesn't hold for me is the concept of "in-flight reading". I generally find lots of people at airports with their noses buried in books, laptops, memos and what-not. I figured that this time I was going to be one of those people. I was going to be immersed in some book oblivious to the world around me and just look up when the boarding call is announced. With that grandiose vision in mind, I took "Freakonomics" with me. Guess what happened? I couldn't keep my eyes on the book long enough for me to finish one page! The reason is because I see people all around me and it interests me. The young mother who struggles to deal with her baby, an old couple laughing into each other's eyes as they carry on some mundane conversation on yet another journey, executive types who are engrossed in their work, nervous people who shift their weight as they sit around waiting for flights, young teens giggling about a cute guy sitting opposite them...the list is endless! I may never see them again but its interesting to notice a fragment of their lives. How many different shades people do come in! No two people look alike. No two behave alike. The study of humanity is the most interesting thing there is in this world...:)
That’s my two minutes of introspection and philosophy at the airport. And with that, goes me reading “Freakonomics”…sigh.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My Muse has left me.
I have the writer's block.

Not really. Well, I do try to make dramatic statements but somehow they come out better if I have a Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon mouthing it for me..:) It is not really any sort of "block" that is stopping me from posting, it is just plain old-fashioned laziness. Basically, there's too much noise inside my head. I've got too many thoughts racing pell-mell across the corridors of my mind. It is hard to sit and isolate one particular whizzing thought and hang onto it long enough to put it down in words.I need Dumbledore's Pensieve. Dumbledore draws out these thin, silvery wisps of thoughts from people's minds and throws them in the pensieve for future remnisciences. How I wish I had such a luxury! Maybe I could go back to all those unwritten, unsaid thoughts and attempt a rewrite. Then again, perhaps it is better not to have such contraptions. I might sorely be tempted to revisit every single memory looking for some hidden,subliminal message and finally go stark, raving mad. Whichever dude said that "A bad memory is the key to a successful life." sure knew what he was talking about.

I do hope to write some in the next few weeks. There's a special pleasure in putting pen to paper. Especially if that act is accompanied by steaming hot Indian filter coffee providing you your delicious dose of caffeine and hot dosas for breakfast..:) For now, I've got papers strewn haphazardly all over the house, a half-read journal flung carelessly across the couch, dirty dishes in the sink, trash waiting to be taken out, bills to be paid, a couple of gaping suitcases to be packed and the usual last-minute stuff to take care of before catching a plane.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Be safe this winter. Ooops..I've rambled on too long and my Muse has already flown away Eastward on the wings of a Zephyr....:) I better go now.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The peach-river source away from the world

If you're wondering what in the world that means, it is the literal meaning of the Chinese word “Shangri-La” (Courtesy:Wikipedia). Shangri-La is something like the mythical “Garden of Eden” supposedly nestled away somewhere in the Himalayas. On Saturday, some of us went to watch the North American premiere of “The Legend of Shangri-La” in Cinti. More on that later. Do check out the show’s official website.

Here the grass can dance,
If you're not afraid to lay on the earth;
Here the stones can speak,
If you're not afraid to listen with your soul.
Here the mountains are close to heaven,
So the legends may live
in the songs of the shepherds.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

All about movies..


A couple of weeks ago (or more), some 20 people in Lexington, KY were acting as testers for GMail for free...:) We exchanged around 100 mails per day, ostensibly planning acitivities for a weekend. To its credit, GMail didn't break..:) Amongst those plans were watching Gajini. After creating a lot of hype, we rented a projector and started watching Gajini. All our energy fell flat on its face because we couldn't last for more than 20 minutes...:( Surya seemed to act like Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator in parts. Riyaaz Khan did try very hard to act and ended up annoying me. Anyways, we never got past the part where Riyaaz Khan reads Surya's diary. RS and I were waiting enthusiastically for this one scene where Surya looks over the top of his coolers and removes them looking completely handsome in the process. We weren't disappointed but it did annoy a lot of people in the room..:) Song locations and choreography were good and I liked "Suttum Vizhi Sudare.." And I liked the romantic scene in the bus, where Surya tells Asin that he likes her. No flash. No razzmatazz. Just a very simple, casual and classy expression! In the end, we all ended up watching a documentary on Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.


I llllllllloved this movie. It doesn't have any storyline to speak of. And me thinks the director got confused about all characters half way through. Initially Kalingaraayar is depicted as this terrible villain with two Telugu musclemen in tow. Then, he suddenly becomes very samathu and nice. Vikram wants to marry Asin and he does. Then he changes his mind and "advises" her about forgetting him (??!!!?). Manivannan and Pasupathy are awesome fun in this movie. I enjoyed all the songs and have been advising anyone who sees me to listen to "Thai Masam.."..:)) Despite my usual dislike of Vadivelu, I like his comedy in this movie. Wholesome, mindless fun.


Unfortunate movie...:( This director is doubly confused and all the characters are even more confused. There's absolutely no logic and thevai illadha advice galore in many scenes. Asin's character is rather cute. Vijay's dancing kept me enraptured during the song sequences. Tamilgrounds cut the song "Vadu Maanga"...:( Somehow sat through the length of this movie. Worst movie. Don't watch it if you can avoid it.

It is a cold, blustery Lexington morning with the possibility of slight snow showers. FYI, we are still continuing our e-mail onslaught in GMail and I am cozily humming..

"Kanvizhithu soppanam kanden
Unnale kanvizhithu soppanam kanden" :))

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2005


Can someone make an appearance in the last scene of a movie and steal the show? In my eyes, that's exactly what Ralph Fiennes did in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Making an entry in the climax of the movie as Lord Voldemort, the handsome Ralph Fiennes was barely recognizable with his flattened nose, slit eyes and bald head. Slinky, sophisticated, almost effeminate yet subtly menacing, he was the embodiment of smooth villainy! Audiences are normally not very favorably disposed toward villains. To overcome that prejudice and actually earn a "wow" from people, all in one scene certainly takes talent..:) Looking forward to future editions of this Voldemort.
By the way, Ralph Fiennes is pronounced as 'Rafe Fine'. The actor is apparently very picky about his name pronounciation. FYI, lest he cast an unforgivable curse on you..:))
Read RS' version of our HP tryst here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Finding Nemo

I absolutely enjoyed watching  “Finding Nemo” recently. I have no “must-sees” or “cannot-watches” in movie genres and certainly have no aversion to watching action/gory/scary movies. But of late, scenes of unnecessary violence or pathos especially those involving young kids, have become very disturbing to me. Perhaps it is just one of those phases of extreme sensitivity that everyone passes through. If so, I hope to recover soon enough because action movies are certainly entertaining and I wouldn’t want to renounce them forever..:) Or perhaps, I am growing older and I’ve come to realize the value of certain things in life?
Either way, I am quite happy watching animated movies for now. The reason for this post is a statement by Dory (the forgetful, adorable fish) to Nemo’s dad:
“When I am with you, I feel like home!”
I had never given verbal form to that feeling before and when I heard it in that movie, it was like “Bingo!” I am one of those people who believe that “heard melodies are sweet; Those unheard sweeter” but some things do sound good when expressed in words…:)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Story tag answered and a few other things....

Please welcome Lexington's all-rounder Ashokla to the blogging world...:)
Some songs have lyrics that you can just lose yourself in. On an otherwise dreary day, I was lost in appreciation of a few lines from the song "Engey Andha vennila.." from Varushamellam Vasantham:

"Mazhaiyil nadakkiren, kudaiyAi varugirAi
Veyilil nadakkiren, nizhalAi varugirAi
Dhaagam engiren, neerAi varugirAi
Sogam engiren, thAyAi varugirAi"

Thennavan had tagged me. So, finally, after days of procrastrination, here is my piece to the story....

He thought it would be an ordinary journey. Standing behind the pillar he watched the train snort arrogantly into the station. With each snort he was reminded of his grandfather's words "You will fail in the city and return penniless"; with every heavenward whistle, he heard his cousin, "Don't worry. Come here and I will get you a job at the construction site." Now he had a 34-hour journey to prove one of them wrong, and he expected the excitement at the end of the journey. He looked at his ticket once again: compartment S9 berth 23.

Pushing his luggage under the seat, he sat close to the window. "Papa, when will you be back?" - his four year old daughter Munni asked innocently. He stared into those soft brown eyes of the motherless kid. He held her frail palms in his, through the window. "Munni, Papa will get you a nice gudiya from the city..Say tata," his sister spoke to the kid, to avoid an emotional outburst. In a minute, the train pulled forward, and Munni's little fingers parted from between his. "I need to go..", he thought, "I have to, at least for Munni's sake.."

The humid summer breeze and the rattling train coaxed him into an uncomfortable state of drowsy consciousness. He dreamt that Munni ran away, the closer he ran to her, the farther she was, like a mirage. He woke up with a start and squinted at his watch."What is the time please?"A smallish woman, a meek voice as if she was scared that her existence would annoy someone. Her only noticeable feature was her rather large, expressive eyes."4.30"Something made him look at the woman again. He had stopped noticing women long back. Ever since Meenakshi passed away...

But this woman was different. He She reminded her him of someone he knew. In an instant he realized who and the painful memories came flooding back. She looked exactly like his childhood sweetheart Madhu. As teenage lovers in a conservative society, they had often met secretly and had declared undying love for each other.

Then someone had found out and all hell had broken loose. The elders in the village Panchayat had ostracized Madhu's family as she was from a lower caste. Unable to bear the humiliation, she had committed suicide by drowning. That was twelve years back...

Back then, he had thought that the world would stop for his grief; that life would still for his sorrow. He had learnt the hard way that Time's relentless march had little sympathy for anyone. Life had indeed gone on. He had met Meenakshi, loved her, married her, had Munni and lost Meenakshi too, all in a span of 7 years. Suddenly his small town and its confines seemed suffocatingly oppressive. He wanted to immerse himself in something bigger than his life and its problems and his little town offered nothing by way of distraction. He had decided to move to the city, to try his hand at new things and shake away the cobwebs of the past. So here he was on the train to the city. He started thinking about his new career in the city....


(Everything below the dashed line above should be copied and pasted with every accepted tag)

This is a Story Tree and is best nurtured as follows:
1. A blogger can add only 90-100 words (not more or less) at a time
2. All previous snippets of 90-100 words need to be copied before the new set of 90-100 words are appended.
3. Each entire snippet should be linked to the respective author (and not just the first sentence or so)
4. Characters, scenes, etc. can be introduced by an author
5. Bizarre twists, sci-fi, fantasy sequences are best avoided.
6. A tag must be accepted within 7 days else the branch is a dead branch
7. After appending 90-100, the Story Tree can be passed on to at most 3 bloggers.
8. If more than 1 branch leads to a blogger, s/he is free to choose any one of them but cannot mix the snippets of the individual branches.
9. The Story Tree is best left to grow than concluded
10. Please attach the image of the Story Tree below with each accepted tag (the link address can be copied and used).
And I tag:


Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Nothing Journals

Beauty contests offer a peek into the human psyche. There’s an absolutely gorgeous twenty-something on stage with the eyes of millions of viewers around the globe on her. She knows she is pretty. She knows she is minutes away from riches and glory if she gets the answer to one question right.

Judge: “If you could be one person in this world, who would you be and why?”

[If you ask me, these are the dumbest questions on earth. If I were a beauty queen, I’d much rather be me myself than any other person in this world!]

Beauty: “Hmmm…I’d be Mother Teresa because then I could serve humanity selflessly and give away wealth blah blah blah…”

If a pretty, talented, young girl with the world at her feet were to come and tell me that she wanted to be a saint, I’d think she was nuts. If our dear beauty queen wanted to be Mother Teresa, she wouldn’t be in the contest in the first place.

Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because of blogging. Recently, I was trying to convince a friend of mine to start blogging. He, unlike me, is actually not vetti and is something of a geek. So, he asks me this question:

“So, why do you blog? Give me one good reason to blog. Convince me.”
“Uh..hmm..ahem…I blog because….uh-eh…”
“Go on..”
“Err…I have no clue…”
“There must be some theme to your blog?” [This is the problem with these logical, geeky types. They are the Hercule Poirots of this world. They want to have “order and method” to every single thing!! (]
“Uh..err..I write about nothing…”

Sometimes, when you are under scrutiny like this, you wish you could give an answer like our beauty queens do; something that sounds really "cool" even though it is dumb! But alas, I can rarely come up with something even remotely interesting. And that, folks, is the truth. I write for no reason. I don’t hope to eliminate world poverty. I don’t hope to achieve world peace. I don’t think that some poor suicidal soul is going to come across my blog in his/her last moments and change his/her mind because of my wonderful (I wish!) writing. I don’t aim to become to this one extremely popular blogger and have crowds hang on to every word of mine. I write because I enjoy the process of writing. More than the end result, the act of condensing thoughts into a communication medium is more exciting than anything else.

I think I have some quirky gene that appreciates nonsensical nothings. It is for this exact same “nothingness” that I like Seinfeld. It is a show about “nothing” and I don’t have to look for hidden meanings or undercurrents of philosophy. Everything is there to see right before your eyes and most of it is “nothing”. Catch my drift? Perhaps I should name my blog “The Nothing Journals”.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why do all healthy things have to be SO unappetizing? I decided to give my poor body a break from the Subway, Taco Bell, Trumps, BK House food I've been nourishing (?! I can hear my stomach say "yeah right!") it with this week. So I decided I'd go the healthy way at least for one day. I made spinach dal and boiled some vegetables. I am staring at my lunch now and pondering how on earth I am going to finish this healthy "serving" of veggies for lunch. I don't remember having any such trepidations when consuming onion rings, egg rolls, taco salads and burritos. Oh, why does health have to be so hard? :(

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Being Serious...

I have decided to become serious. I mean, really. Sometimes you have these "Aaahhhaa!" moments. News just filtered in from the grapevine back home that I don't act my age *because* I smile and talk easily (I'd have understood if I was given other reasons for not acting my age!). That's right, people. Since this is a big insult, I am going to frown all the time. No more smiling. And no more easy talking.
I am going to crib all day long about how I am used to velvet beds and satin sheets in the US; about how I don't like the dirt and dust in India; about the roadside stall Milaga Bajjis; about the crowds, buses and public transports. And I am going to find faults with every single little thing that my hosts offer me- from the coffee that is just a bit off consistency to the dosa which could've used some more salt. I will permanently keep my face screwed up like a GEM (Ginger eating monkey or "Inji thinna kurangu") whenever I talk to family. And to complete the picture, maybe I will take exception to the saree that some maami is wearing when I visit her and I'll decide to throw a tantrum that she was wearing her worst saree just because I was going to visit her that day! Maybe then I will seem more "adult-like" and "normal".

Coming to think of it, I never did think I smiled/laughed too much. My bro used to think I was a "serious" person. See, this is why you need brothers. They will make you feel much better with their support..:) So, let's have a toast to the new "serious", adult-like me!

P.S: I somehow feel that all the above is not going to be possible because I like sleeping on the floor, the dirt, dust and noise in India, the roadside stall food, crowds, public transport. I find it very hard to find faults with people for silly things and even if I do, I forget them. And, I think, the hardest part is going to be the stopping smiling part. Life is too short to keep bad memories..:)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

LTCA's Vaibhavam

I've been meaning to write this for a while now but as usual, the procrastrinator in me kicked in. On October 15, we had a Lexington Tamil Cultural Association function here in Lexington. And "Vaibhavam" deserves mention because it was, as all LTCA shows have been, a gala show! Now, what it makes this topic rather interesting is that many of the people involved with LTCA are our fellow bloggers...:) The idea of LTCA as a forum to host Tamil events and provide relief to an otherwise Tamil-parched land was first conceived by RS, Dinesh and Kamal . The first event was "Sangamam", in 2002 (if I remember right). Then we had "Vaanavil" in April 2004, "Thaen Mazhai" in April 2005 and "Vaibhavam" in October 2005.

This time around there were kids' shows, dances (classical and film), orchestra, debate a.k.a. pattimandram and a stand-up comedy show. The kids show was refreshing and fun. It always amazes me how kids are completely nonchalant performers! They say what they think and they do whatever they want. Some are completely natural performers and they steal the show! There were certainly some moments to remember...(Lexingtonites, you know what I am talking about!)..:)

The debate was a big hit and we found some pretty passionate speakers. The topic was "Tamizh cinema paadalkaL, Tamizhai vaLarkkiradha, azhikkiradha". As you can imagine, it generated quite a debate. The Naduvar was PB and he finally decided on behalf of the "vaLarkkiradhu" team..:) Those of you who have a problem with that decision, please ask him. Other blogger personalities who participated are VS and our 'Aasthana' commenter VV. I, personally, didn't get to watch this event because I was off frantically practicing for the music event..:(

We had an excellent Bharatanatyam performance. Then, we had an amazing dance performance for a medley which included "Otha roova tharen..", "Kattu kattu keeraikattu..", title track of Punnagai mannan etc... Kay, DR, D, P, A and gang did an amazing job!

Then we had our music orchestra event. Sujan was our aasthana mridangam vidwan/drummer supported by all-rounder Ashok (man, this guy was everywhere-dance, music, cricket etc...!). We had two excellent keyboardists and a Dholak/tabla player. Singers included yours truly, D, S and Vasu. Sujan wowed audiences with his mridangam for "Maargazhi thingaL" and Vasu with his rendition of "Poo vasam.."! "Andangakka.." had the crowd dancing..:) Dinesh, our drummer last time, was our audio expert. He drove all the way down from NJ to watch our show. Good performances from everyone involved!

Sai Santosh's stand-up comedy bought rip-roaring laughter from the crowd and was a fitting end to a good show.

Apart from the actual show, we had amazing back-stage support for the backdrop, food and a zillion other things that come with organizing an event! I might be boring you with un-ending initials for names but I had to gush about this . I think its special that we had a very talented, well-rounded Tamil program here in Lexington that made us feel at home. Full kudos to organizers Prabhu,Priya, Sundar, Kay, DR! Now that all the excitement is over, I feel like there's a void. I have a thousand other things to do but still, I do miss all those practice sessions, vetti arattais, side-show comedies and general camaraderie..sigh. It is back to reality, school, work and normal life..:(

Monday, October 17, 2005


I read in one book ("How Winners Do It") that the maximum amount of time humans can bear silence in a conversation is one minute. You’re guaranteed that at the 59th second, someone is going to burst into talk. So, to get your way, all you've got to do is make a proposition, shut up and wait for the other person to say something. Sounds easy? I don't know about that.
One of the bad things about being more sensitive than others around you is that you are forced to cover up for other peoples’ bloopers. And mostly, you do that by rushing into speech. Bloopers are anywhere there’s a big crowd. Even a gang of good friends has its awkward pauses at times.
You are at a wedding or a big gathering of relatives. There’s always this one Uncle, Aunt or a second or third cousin who is going to give everyone at least one awkward moment. It might be a rather bawdy comment, a very correct but ill-timed observation or plain undiplomatic frankness. And the blooper people (people who make bloopers) and most of the audience are quite oblivious to the level of discomfort permeating around. They’ll happily act like nothing happened till the silence grows. 20 seconds. You shift feet. 30 seconds. Still none breaks the ice. 40 seconds….
And if you are the rather sensitive kind, you sense the discomfort in the atmosphere and immediately hem, haw and rush into speech to cover the moment. The thing is when you embarrassedly rush into speech, you don’t make sense. You just say whatever comes into your head: pretty random, off-topic stuff. And people forget the blooper but (and here’s the caveat) remember your well-meaning nonsense forever. And the very same blooper person, who was the cause of all this in the first place, will thump your back and roar with laughter at your gaffe. And you’re the toast of parties and the whole-hearted roast of the gang. Hmph. The worst part is that some people take the liberty of shooting their mouth all the time expecting/knowing that you’ll be around to fix their verbal mess-ups.
Well, I used to be the sensitive kind before. I used to feel compelled to make everyone feel comfortable and happy. Then I got annoyed. So I figured I would let people solve their own verbal gaffes. So these days, I sit back, relax, tap my fingers and enjoy the comedy until someone decides to crack...:)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Divine Comedy

There are days when I think that somethings happen just to annoy me. And I hate it when these happen early in the morning. I woke up to the sound of my cellphone ringing its head off (I had forgotten to put it on vibrate). It didn't even seem to have dawned yet. I groped around in the darkness and I couldn't find my phone to save my life. The ringing stopped and I sighed as I went back to bed. I'll deal with it when I wake up, I thought. I was wrong. The insistent ringtone that I'd liked, "Tere Liye" from Veer Zaara, started its melancholy melody again. I groaned, switched on the light ready to blast this person calling me at 4.30 AM in the morning. After frantically rummaging in and around my bed, I found my phone in the crack between the wall and the bed. I had to do some gymnastics to get to it. The ringing had stopped but I found a voice mail that sounded like someone was crying.
Phone rings again.
Me: "Huh..hullo.."
Guy (Obviously drunk): "I neejz ta talk to ya.."
Me: "Who is this?"
Guy: "Cut the ****. Ya know me..I know thaz.."
Me: "You got the wrong number. Sorry." [Slam the phone down]

[Phone ringing again. By this time, I am ready to throw my phone out the window.]
Guy: "You canna slam the phone down on to me." [makes suspicious sobbing sounds]
Me (sighing): "I think you got the wrong number, man. Go to sleep." [Groaning and wondering what I'd done to deserve this!]

Well, there I was wide awake at 4.30 AM in the morning wondering what to do. I tossed around and couldn't go back to sleep. So I stumble bleary-eyed to the kitchen to get some coffee only to find no coffee. Great, I curse myself. I turn on my computer and some playlist starts playing. First song from 'Padakotti' (MGR Starrer):
"Tharai mel pirakka vaithan,
engaLai thaNNeeril pizhaikka vaithaan."

Idhula situation song oNNu dhaan kuraichal..:(

Finally, I get myself a cup of hot water and go to the living room to watch CNN. I trip across my ethernet cable and spill hot water all over myself. My wireless router had gone bust and I had resorted to a physical connection with the cable running across the room. So there I was, jumping around like a cat in hot water (I mean, literally!). Finally, I settle down to watch CNN's coverage of the earthquake and fall asleep for half an hour with some stupid dreams of visiting Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Presidential Palace. And the weird thing is that his palace has no roof (!). And Saddam gives me some explanation about how good it is for one's health to have no roof. Yeah right.

I woke up thoroughly cranky and started writing this blog...Sigh. If this is God's sense of humour, I don't think its funny. I think this is going to be a long day.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Word play...

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said,
in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you
can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty,
"which is to be master-that's all."

-Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mid-week rants...

If you select some of US TV's worst programs, Judge Hatchett, Judge Judy, People's Court, Maury and like programs would be on the top of my list. All these "Judge whatever" programs have a hypothetical "judge" in full paraphernalia sitting on the bench. And people's cases are presented before them in which they feel free to sneer, insult, jab at people and come to some random conclusion on what should be done. What I can't understand is how people can settle their differences on TV, in front of a person who is nothing like a Judge. Some cases are divorces, "My husband stole my money", "My wife slept with my best friend", "My marriage is on the rocks" etc...I mean, what drives people to get insulted on TV by some person play acting and sitting in judgement???!! Is the need for publicity and notoriety that great? Whatever makes them think that such personal things can even be settled by someone else? And there are catch phrase ads for some of these programs: "Judge Judy- she is kind, compassionate, caring.." What the hell?
Sometimes, when I am waiting to watch some of my favourite programs, I stumble across the end portions of "Maury". I have to tell you I've come to loathe this guy. Toward the end of one of his shows, there's a contest called "Man or Woman?". People are supposed to guess whether a particular human is a guy or a girl. I have to tell you that this is one of the most freakish things I've ever seen on TV. He settles disputes of the sleazy kind: paternity, maternity, adultery et al.. And you can see people copiously crying, throwing tantrums, shouting, making obscene gestures, getting insulted and saying the most outrageous things all for your entertainment! God, I am disgusted.


Second, while we are on the topic of marriages/breakups, latest is the split of Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. I am so fed up of hearing about breakups and heart-breaks. Once in a while, the romantic in me wishes for a fairy tale and the "Happily ever after". Why is it getting so hard to be happy in a relationship? An overdose of "I, me and myself" these days?!? Perhaps, they should introduce a clause in their marriage vows that says, "till irreconcilable differences do us apart".
But I do admire (if this is anything to be admired!) the enthusiasm (?!) of these people in jumping from one partner to another. I, for one, am ready to hear a story about someone who says "I do" and actually keeps it up till "death do them apart"!


I do have to complain about some traffic incidents. I have been delayed in traffic for 30 mins twice this week in Lexington. That, in itself, is a rare happening because Lexington is a sweet little town with little or no traffic problems. I got stuck on Broadway going into downtown on Wednesday evening around 5 PM. I couldn't make any sense of it because at 5 PM, people are supposed to be heading out of town; not going into town! After crawling for 30 mins across a 1 mile stretch, I was ready to have a fit. The other time this happened was on Monday afternoon on Rose Street. I had to run to UK for something and I made the mistake of taking Rose Street. Man, did I pay for it! I spent 45 minutes on the stretch between Rose/Maxwell and Rose/Washington. Lexingtonians, never ever take Rose in the middle of the day when school is in session.
The Powers that Be really need to fix the Broadway/Virginia Ave intersection left-turn light. Broadway is an artery out of Lexington and after work, this busy intersection is usually packed with traffic. Now, this left-turn light stays green for 8 seconds. Given the response time of people to lights, this means that only two cars can actually go through that intersection. And then we are stuck again for some 3-4 minutes before the next time. I've been stuck at this light for nearly 10 minutes on some days and it drives me crazy!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Beautiful (Sun)Day

I confess that I am guilty of writing similar posts before. But I can't stop myself from eulogizing lazy Sunday mornings..:) After all, what can ever beat listening to your favourite playlist while browsing the latest news on the web, all the while sipping a steaming hot cup of coffee (made in Indian style. Can't stand having black coffee!).

The playlist that I am listening to after a long time and made my day:

Please Forgive me....Bryan Adams
Patience......Guns n Roses
Coming Back to Life....Pink Floyd
Wish You were Here.....Pink Floyd
Could I have this Kiss Forever?....Enrique Iglesias
When you love someone..........Bryan Adams
Bailamos................Enrique Iglesias
Drops of Jupiter........Train
Better Man...............Robbie Williams
Wherever Whenever.....Shakira
Desert Rose...........Sting
Staring at the Sun....U2
With or Without you....U2
Beautiful Day..........U2

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Microsoft's Deep Throat!

Check out this blog by a Microsoft employee. He is rather brutally frank, passionate about improving the company,pulls no punches and is not afraid to call a spade a spade! It has been a while since I was this entertained. One other thing I noticed was the whopping readership this guy has: 256 comments in one blog. Sure is getting some publicity. But I do shudder to think what'll happen if the Big B ever finds out his identity. But that's what makes being Deep Throat fun, ain't it? :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Empowerment of Women

Amit Varma had commented on this move by the Haryana government in this blog. Is this a case of disempowering women? I tend to disagree with him. I am all for women's empowerment and equality. I know many of my friends work night shifts in Bangalore and Chennai. But I've also heard stories of terror, fear and harassment at night. In one instance, a drunken taxi driver made an obscene comment to one of my friends because she worked nights. She made a complaint to the taxi company but it went on deaf ears. I wouldn't really trust the Police Force of our nation especially when it comes to women. When we hear stories of rape and harassment at police stations, what confidence would we have in the police?
Empowerment has some meaning only when backed up with proper measures for infringement of certain rights. If empowerment means, "Alright, you can do what you want. But you're also responsible for whatever happens to you", that makes me think twice. I don't think I'd want to work nights and then get harassed in return. I'd rather find a day job and be happy with it. Perhaps the Haryana government had in mind the inefficiency and corruption of the police force when they passed this?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Truth About Cleo

I, like many others, grew up hearing legends about Cleopatra's beauty. The Queen of Egypt was and is still held as the epitome of the "black, dusky beauty" paradigm. I happened to revisit my old copy of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar recently. I have been a fan of Mark Antony since reading the "Friends, romans, countrymen.." speech. I mean, any guy who can muster popular support in one speech must be worth something..:)
Anyways, I'm digressing. All this led me to look up Cleopatra in the wikipedia and suprise: I found Cleopatra was not the "black beauty" she was touted to be. In fact, she was a Greek who had settled in Egypt. Read about her here. Just goes to show how much spin people are capable of to suit their own ends!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

On a whim..

This song has been haunting me for the past few days. The beautiful lyrics kept growing on me till I had to make a pathetic attempt at translation...but at least, I got it off my mind..:)

Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai
Sometimes, the thought crosses my mind
Ki jaise tujhko banayaa gaya hai mere liye
That you've been made just for me..

Tu abse pehle sitaron main bas rahi thi kahin
You were a dweller of the stars before
Tujhe zameen pe bulaayaa gaya hai mere liye
You've been summoned to earth just for me

Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai
Sometimes the thought crosses my mind that
Ki yeh badan, yeh nigahen meri amaanat hai
This body and these eyes were preserved just for me
Yeh gesuon ki ghani chaav hai meri khaatir
That these dark tresses of your hair are for me alone..
Yeh hot aur yeh baahen meri amaanat hai
That these lips and these arms are solely in my care...

Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein, khayal aata hai
Sometimes the thought crosses my mind that
Ki jaise bajthi hai, shehnaaiyaan si raahon mein
Just as the shenaai strikes a tune somewhere
Suhaag raat hai ghuunghat uta rahaa hoon main
I am lifting your bridal veil on our wedding night
Simat rahi hai tuu sharmaake apni baahoon mein
And you are blushing shyly in my arms...

Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein, khayaal aata hai
Sometimes the thought crosses my mind
Ki jaise tu mujhe chaahegi umr bhar yoon hi
That you'll love me like this for life
Uthegi meri taraf pyaar kii nazar yoon hi
And caress me with a loving gaze always
Main jaanta hoon ki tu gair hai magar yoon hi
I know you're just a stranger, nevertheless
Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein, khayal aata hai
Sometimes the thought crosses my mind...
Agnibarathi had tagged me. So here it is....

Seven things you plan to do before you die:

- Go on a luxury cruise to the Mediterranean.
- Leisurely visit Europe and all its famous landmarks. Europe has always fascinated me with its history and fascinating personalities. I'd love to spend a lot of time in Rome visiting all the beautiful cathedrals and artworks that it houses!
- Bungee-jump!
- Donate money to temples and Veda Pata Shalas for the preservation of the tradition of Vedas.
- Own a Ming dynasty china masterpiece unparalleled for delicacy, artistic perfection and beauty!
- Go on a wild Safari in the African deserts!
- Be able to appreciate the music of different countries and traditions. I recently began listening to NPR and they play classics in the morning. I found I was rather ignorant of Western music traditions. I have listened to Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, Bach etc... but never with a trained eye. I hope I find the time to study and appreciate it.

Seven things you can do:

- Write. I never run out of interest in writing even if most of it turns out to be nonsense!
- Read books non-stop especially mysteries (Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Frederick Forsyth, A.J. Quinnell etc...)
- Mehndi: It has become an obsession for me to draw intricate designs!
- Sudoku: Have become completely addicted to this game and play it whenever I get free time.
- Sing moderately well and listen to diverse music.
- Talk with friends on the phone for a long time and not get bored!
- Watch 'Alaipayuthey..' for the umpteenth time and still be as hooked as I was the first time...

Seven things you say the most:

-"Freeeeya vidu"
-"Google it.."
-"I wanna go to India..."

Seven things that attract you to the opposite sex:

- A warm, open smile.
- Intelligence
- Expressive eyes
- The hint of a stubble - I've found it gives a rugged, handsome look. Never been a fan of chocolate-faced guys. Of course, doesn't suit everyone..:)
- Fierce loyalty and passion toward work, family, friends etc...
- Sense of humour
- Tenacity

Seven celebrity crushes:

- Saurav Ganguly
He fairly leapt out of my mind as soon as I started doing this tag. I have long been a fan of this Bengal tiger as much for his elegant batting as for his cute looks.
- Shoaib Akhtar
I have had a mad crush on this Rawalpindi express since I saw him debut. I love the passion and ferocity he brings to his art! I heard him sing "Roop Tera mastana.." in a Star Plus interview once and that made me an even crazier fan!
- Goran Ivanisevic
I've always liked this gentle giant with his tantrums, aces and all, perhaps because he was an underdog living in the shadow of The Great Pete Sampras. He wasn't the only one jumping with joy when he won the Wimbledon..:)
- Shahrukh Khan
Needless to say, he still makes my heart go "dhak dhak".
- Singer Karthik
I love his youthful voice and fresh rendering!
- Madhavan
I can't think of any girl who didn't fall for his smile in Alaipayuthey. He had me at 'hello'!
- Perry Mason
I daresay it is weird to have a crush on a fictional character. I've been a terrible fan of this lawyer-detective character creation of Erle Stanley Gardner and have read almost all his novels. Daring, living-on-the-edge, bold, strong, fiercely loyal and always on the side of truth and justice- he always seemed to be my ideal of a man!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A few captured moments..

******UPDATED: A small correction- the last pic shot in night mode was shot with Venky's camera, not mine! ****************
I captured this on the go from our car. I might not have done justice to the beauty of the landscape but I simply loved the play of the light behind the clouds and the seeming convergence of land and sky...Reminded me of the line "uppu kadalodu maegam uRpathi aanaalum, uppu thaNNeerai megam oru poadhum sindhaadhu" in the song "Moongil kaadugale.." (Samurai).

Mighty Niagara captured on a beautiful, sunny summer day!

A head-on view of the Canadian Falls from the "Maid of the Mist" .

View of the American Falls..

Grand finale of the firework display..

The Canadian side at night..

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Post-vacation ruminations...

Many people would've seen the Niagara Falls. I am not going to do the stereotypical, descriptive post-vacation post about Niagara Falls. Instead, here are a few of my very own personal views/happenings on this trip.

-The amount of desis at Niagara Falls is simply incredible. Priya was shocked at seeing so many Indians around. What with the heat, we all felt like we were in Mumbai/Delhi with a few foreigners visiting. I've realized that one of the perks of talking a foreign language in the US is that usually, none around you will follow your language. I can feel free to talk whatever nonsense I choose without getting weird looks. So it was rather disconcerting to get a few inquiring stares when I was talking in Tamil with our gang. Oops.
-We ate at a Punjabi Dhaba. It was set up like a typical Indian roadside stall with the flies, uncleanliness and all. Indian roadside stalls usually offer amazing food but this one was a horror trip. I got Channa Batura with Batura that looked like half-fried pancakes. The only saver was the Masala Chai but even that was cold and I paid $1.95 for it! Net result: a half-eaten lunch.
-Pittsburgh Lord Venkateswara is truly a life-saver. I mean, literally. We got food from the temple on Saturday afternoon. And we hit the road almost immediately afterwards. After a long, tiring drive, a box of thayirsaadham, upma and boondhi really did me a world of good! We had so much left that the next morning, I had pulihara and thayirsaadham (again) for breakfast! :)
- We missed out on all the nice labor day sales at the stores...:( We saw a Kohl's near Buffalo and all us girls were real tempted to go in and shop for an hour or so. Alas, there was a spoilsport amongst us and we missed it!
- I was driving back on I-75S in the wee hours of the morning. Everyone else had gone to sleep in the car. Along with sunrise came the beautiful vista of the Bluegrass region: idyllic, sloping grasslands swathed in golden sunlight with cattle grazing peacefully. A beautiful, light breeze was blowing and suddenly Amitabh's baritone voice boomed out:

Magar yeh ho na saka, aur ab yeh aalam hai
Ki tu nahin, tera gham, teri justju bhi nahin.
Guzar rahi hai kuchh is tarah zindagi jaise
Ise kisi ke sahare ki aarzoo bhi nahin
Na koi raah, na manzil, na roshni ka suraag
Bhatak rahi hai andhere main zindagi meri
Inhi andhere main reh jaaonga main khokar
Main jaanta hoon meri hamnafas,
Magar Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai...

That ever-green voice, the beautiful lyrics and the song brought to life the allure of eternal love and romance....A drive to remember for me!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Niagara, here I come!

Well, I am going to be gone for the weekend to Pittsburgh and Niagara Falls. Looking forward to taking a break from Lexington. You see, I can blame this unceasing travel itch on my Dad...:)We moved around so often since I can remember that I get bored of places pretty easily. Anyways, hope it is going to be a good trip. Pics later. Have a good long weekend, people!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Look who's talking!

I always thought that the art of making conversation is something everyone is born with. After all, how hard can it be to actually listen to another person, keep an open mind and respond accordingly? But I've realized that it is VERY difficult. There are some who are natural conversation killers. You can have three kinds of conversations:
- The person you're talking to actually understands what you're talking and responds relevantly. This is the ideal case.
- The person doesn't understand what you're saying but *thinks* that he/she understands. Half the time, they don't want to really see the meaning of what you're saying; they just want everything that you say to fit into their image of you. This conversation is bound to lead you nowhere because you'll hit a firewall called Presumptuous Ignorance. Most Customer Support people and many relatives belong to this set.
- The third variety is totally hopeless. The conversation is like one of those Shakespearean asides. Except instead of it being an "aside", unwary onlookers will be made scapegoats of this sudden eloquence. The topic will usually be tangential to the ongoing discussion. These people are totally untouched by the likes/dislikes/opinions/boredom of the crowd because they think the world should know of their brilliance. Telemarketers and a few pedantic, pompous specimens are an obvious example.

I am sure all of us get into each of those robes once in a while as our mood, context and surroundings dictate; but some people are permanently stuck in one particular type. I don't know which one is more irritating: the second or the third. Category 2 people are usually the insufferable know-alls of this world with tinted corneas. No matter what you say or do, they'll get you exactly wrong and propagate that wrong perception to the world. The third can be kind of amusing at times if you have the right sense of humour...:) You can tune off when you want to. When you return, you can give a vague smile and nod and they will be perfectly satisfied because all they wanted was an audience for a monologue!
But all in all, I've found that 95% of the conversations we have is utter nonsense because there is no giving, receiving and understanding. We stand from our own comfortable vantage points and try to get a view of everything right from where we stand; If something doesn't come into view, we simply ignore it. Jeez, what a boring prat I've become! And I wonder how many will be putting me in Category 2 or 3...:) So which one are you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Confessions of a mellowed mind...

Ages 6-10: (Cranky, smirking kids' voices) "My Dad can beat up your Dad!"
Ages 11-20: (Angry, embarassed, annoyed adolescent voices) "You don't know anything, Dad; you don't know anything..."
Ages 23+: (Nostalgic, wistful voices) "My Dad used to say..."

Once when I was up in arms against my Dad over some matter during my teen years, my exasperated father repeated the above dialogues to me. I guess he couldn't stand his little girl arguing against everything he said. He said that one day I'd reach the last phase when I'd see the value of his advice. The cranky kid that I was, I shouted that I'd never, ever state that my dad had taught me anything useful! After all, what special thing had he taught me and why did he have to think that he was the best judge in most matters?

Well, those days are gone. Curiously enough, today, I think about the hundred times over the past few months I've prefaced my utterances with, "My dad used to say..."! A sign that I have grown up?! A sign of maturity?! Perhaps it is a sign of acknowledgement that as the years have rolled by, I've come to see the wisdom and temperance in my father's and mother's words...:) A wistful smile creased my forehead as this thought crossed my mind today. You know, my Dad used to say....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What Dreams May Come..

"The famous co-discoverer of DNA who also became renowned for his work in neuroscience, the late Francis Crick of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, and molecular biologist Graeme Mitchison of the University of Cambridge have maintained that we actually dream to forget. According to their theory, dream sleep is a self-cleansing program. Unencumbered by the constantly flowing signals of the waking state, the brain uses the calm of the night to free the system from informational refuse. Superfluous and disturbing images, memories and associations are brought up in dreams, checked for value, then erased from the cortex."

"Sweet Dreams Are Made of This"- Read this article at Scientic American Mind

From now on, if someone asks me why in the world I sleep for 8 hours a day, I'll say, "Hey, I need to cleanse informational refuse from my clogged neuronal network!!"..:)

Jokes apart, I know many friends of mine who survive on 5-6 hours of sleep per day and are consequently irritated, forgetful and cranky. I daresay there are thousands of others out there who cut back on sleep to maybe party, work hard or watch television. To my friends and all those others, there's nothing that a little bit of planning and prioritizing can't accomplish. Nothing is worth your sleep!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Of Baddies and Hum Tum and so on....

Have you ever noticed how baddies in movies get all scared when they're about to die?! This is a universal truth in all Holly,Bolly,Golly,Tollywood flicks. I mean, these villain guys (it can be women too. I make no distinction between the genders here)shoot,loot,defile,ravage,rape throughout the movie; but when the hero points a gun at them, they suddenly start cowering and begging. Huh? I'd think that if you heartlessly kill and maim for a considerable period of time, you'd either

a. have thought about the fact that someone is prone to do the same to you or
b. devote sometime to the concept of dying and how your victims would feel during their last moments since you spend so much of your time bumping them off.

After all, they can't be successful villains without some intellect! Actually, let me extend this observation of mine to something else too. This might be rather controversial and I might be called a FCS (Female Chauvinist Sow- courtesy ethiri. Supposed to be the opposite of a Male Chauvinist Pig). But honestly, this is just a general observation and I am sure many guys would agree with me.

Now, we all know that guys in general (and the 18 somethings that are in college, in particular) will tease/pass comments/jokes on girls' appearance rather indiscriminately. These comments are often humorous, funny and might not necessarily be extremely harsh but nonetheless, they are at times unwarranted and hurt/provoke girls. Usually, girls ignore such things or cry (if particularly sensitive) to their girl friends (Face it, guys. What's a non-issue to you might be a BIG issue to us..:)). Oftentimes, the guy involved might walk up and say "Naan joke-ku dhaane sonnen. Adhai yen serious-a eduthukittu azhara?" and it will assuage her feelings.

But if the girl just turns around and says, "Dhoda, comment adikkara moonji-ai paaru! Enakku sirippe varalai. Konjam improve pannikko" or something to that effect, the guy (s) usually gets totally incensed at this. I don't think a simple "Naan joke-ku dhaane sonnen. Adhai yen serious-a eduthukkara?" by the girl would work here..:) How dare a girl (after all, a girl!) insult him? It is tantamount to blasphemy, heresy! Aren't you supposed to be able to take back as good as you get?! How is it that people don't realize that the same thing that they do day in and day out might not be as palatable when it happens to them?! I spent four years of undergrad trying to figure that one out..:)

Well, I've seen similar situations in other places too. For example, guys in a big crowd and a few girls. Suddenly guys crack a joke and laugh raucously amongst themselves and the girls are left to wonder if it is about them. Ask them and they'll tell you, "Hey, why does everything have to be about you? We are just having some guy-talk!" and girls are supposed to be satisfied. If they persist in asking, they are called nags. Now turn the situation around. Girls start giggling about something amongst themselves. Immediately the crowd goes silent. Somehow, the dialogue about it just being girl-talk doesn't work here....:) If the men persist in asking what's going on, well, they're just being curious, that's all! After all, what is girl-talk anyway? Guys usually think girl-talk is just a subset of guy-talk; they are the universal set; we are just a poor little subset and they'd know what we're talking about anyway....:)

Hmm..I guess what I am trying to say, in general, is that people who know to dish it out should well know how to take it too! Oh well, I guess I've added my portion of the fuel to the "Hum Tum" debate. Guys, no offense and gals, you know what I'm talking about! :))

Monday, August 15, 2005

Vaishnava Janatho...

Mahatma Gandhi's favourite song was said to be "Vaishnava janatho..". Recently, SB had written a post called "Main Nathuram Bol Raha Hoon" and in a sudden impulse, I chose to look up this song up on Google. The words of the song encradle some very simple, high thoughts; thoughts which every human should have but unfortunately, many don't. A man who harbours such noble thoughts is indeed a Mahatma and it is fitting that this was Mahatma Gandhi's favourite! Here's my salute to the Father of the Nation and the country that he unshackled on its 58th birthday....

The lyrics and meaning were originally taken from

Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je
PeeD paraayi jaaNe re

One who is a Vaishnav (Devotee of Vishnu)
Knows the pain of others

Par-dukhkhe upkaar kare toye
Man abhimaan na aaNe re (Vaishnav...)

Does good to others
without letting pride enter his mind.

SakaL lok maan sahune vande
Nindaa na kare keni re

A Vaishnav, Tolerates and praises the the entire world.
Does not speak ill of others

Vaach kaachh man nishchaL raakhe
Dhan-dhan janani teni re (Vaishnav...)

Keeps his promises, actions and thoughts pure
your mother is blessed indeed.

Sam-drishti ne trishna tyaagi
Par-stree jene maat re

A Vaishnav sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice
respects women as he respects his own mother

Jivha thaki asatya na bole
Par-dhan nav jhaalee haath re (Vaishnav...)

though his tongue may tire he will utter no untruth
Never touches the property of others.

Moh-maaya vyaape nahi jene
DriDh vairaagya jena man maan re

A Vaishnav is one who does not succumb to worldly attachments,
Who has devoted himself to staunch detachment from worldly pleasures,

Ram naam shoon taaLi laagi
SakaL tirath tena tan maan re (Vaishnav...)

Who has become addicted to the elixir coming by the name of Ram,
For whom all the religious sites are in the mind.

VaN-lobhi ne kapaT-rahit chhe
Kaam-krodh nivaarya re

A Vaishnav does not succumb to worldly attachments
he has renounced lust of all types and anger

BhaNe Narsaiyyo tenun darshan karta
KuL ekoter taarya re (Vaishnav...)

The poet Narsi will like to see such a person By who's virtue,
the entire family gets salvation

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Tomorrow Never Dies...

"What would you do if the world were coming to an end and today is your last day? What would you do different from your regular life?"

I was faced with this poser of a question recently. No light bulb went off immediately in my mind. After all, tomorrow never dies or...would it? Would I have regrets about not doing something in this lifespan?

It is amazing how much effort it takes to consciously probe one's own mind. Sometimes thoughts simply don't wish to surface from the depths and you have to fish them out! There are a lot of things I'd do if this was my last day on earth but wouldn't do if there is a tomorrow. Why? Am I scared of the consequences? Yes. Am I scared that perhaps if I give in to my wild ideas today, it might be a disaster all around? Yes. Am I scared of doing things that would spoil my relationships with people I hold dear? Yes. These are not necessarily bad things I want to do or say. There have been times when I've wanted to say more, do more but refrained because some invisible barrier left me tongue-tied and paralyzed. Everytime I wanted to say a few caring
sentences or extend a hand of support or express empathy, a cynic would pop up in my mind and whisper, "Who needs your affection or care? Move on. Don't be a sentimental fool!" There were times when I wanted to speak up and let people know that I respected and admired them and again the cynic would play spoilsport: "Bah! They would've a thousand admirers. What difference are you going to make?"

Venky told me he'd read somewhere that the repentance for having done something heals with time; what doesn't heal is the repentance for NOT having done something. So why does having no tomorrow prompt all these reflections? Perhaps it is the freedom of not having to protect or save anything for tomorrow; perhaps it is the certainty that I don't have to live with the burden of appreciation,expectation,jibes, taunts, brands, judgements that people may choose to anoint me with. Ultimately, I think it is the knowledge that 'today' will forever be buried six foot under the earth alongside me with no spillovers to a tomorrow...

There are the 'Carpe Diem' advocates who ask us to "live life as if it were the last day". I think that is ridiculous. Psychologists say that what separates adults from children is the fact that adults can delay gratification. I work today so I can save for tomorrow and so on. Maybe children are so happy because they only care about the present!

Amongst the zillion things I can think of to do on my last day, there's one thing that is close to my heart. This might sound like a typically girlish thing to do but here it goes. I am not exactly a demonstrative person. There are very few personal things that I'd let show through to anyone in this world. I know some of my closest friends have told me that as much as we were totally comfortable with each other, sometimes even they'd like to have a verbal statement of "I
care". I don't believe too much in PDAs but I do think I owe a lot of people in my life for what I am right now. There are my parents, relatives, close friends, well wishers, ill-wishers, even passers-by in this chapter of my life who've written a word or two. Even if a syllable goes missing, I think I'd be incomplete. If this were my last day, I'd tell all my friends and people who've touched my life in one way or the other:

"Thank You for being there and making my life better!"

So why are you writing all this, you ask? A few incidents reminded me of mortality. And I thought it would really stink if I died without letting people know that I value, respect and care for them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

And Lexington Stirs to Life....

Freshers for Fall 2005 have started arriving at Lexington. Eager questions about on-campus jobs, RAs, TAs; anxiety at being at a new city, home; worry about finding their way through the campus; ponderances over where to have lunch/dinner; I looked back to the time when even routine things seemed daunting to me. At the risk of sounding patronising/maudlin, yesterday, I somehow felt a lot older at 23 than these young kids. It was as though I had suddenly grown up and I had a responsibility to make them feel comfortable, even if only to a small degree. And in their shining eyes, I saw a reflection of me two years back!

But the good part of all this is that Lexington has started to fill up with young blood. The campus will be buzzing again with chatter, laughter, worried sleepless kids doing assignments/projects, running here and there. The mid-summer lull and laziness at Young Library will be replaced by brimming study halls. I am smiling..:))

Friday, August 05, 2005

Up, Up and Away....

Google Earth is one cool tool. I had flights of fancy to all the different places I have been to in a matter of minutes. Speaking of flights...

Ever wondered how airports have their own feel and reflect a city's culture? Boring, digusting, smelly, bare, conservative, glitzy, elegant, comfortable; airports have their own unique feel. Kualalampur, Malaysia is an airport I don't associate pleasant memories with. I was flying for the first time , that too just 10 days after a severe bout of jaundice. Orange juice and plain water were the only things my dad would allow the airhostess to pass me. I remember sitting at the airport with longing eyes while my brother was devouring some chocolate mousse..:) The airport in itself resembled Chennai Central Station with a huge waiting lounge cluttered up with people sleeping on the floors. I don't remember if there was some problem with the flights out of Malaysia or if that was the general nature of the airport. Seoul, Korea was really bare. I was there in-transit and all I remember are cold, hostile marble floors. Heathrow, London bought back memories of India. I was flying from Canada back to India and I got my first feel of India in Heathrow! Back to bare, uncarpeted floors and signs reading "Toilets" instead of the "Restrooms" of North America. I didn't really like Heathrow that much because of the nasty, snotty Immigration Officers.

Vancouver, Canada is a really friendly, quiet, elegant airport. It doesn't have the hustle and bustle of a JFK or LAX but is quietly busy. LAX was typically hollywood-ish. It was friendly, glitzy, attractive but not all that comfortable. I had a bomb scare at LAX. And I was hustled out of the airport in a huge wave of humanity into the hot blazing California sun and none seemed really worried. Finally, it was a hoax. Duh. JFK is a HUGE let-down. Unfriendly, smelly, crowded. I hated it. Of course, our own Bluegrass Airport at Lex is pretty cool. The best thing I like is that there are no huge check-in queues and I admit, it is pretty beautiful too. Dulles is like Washington itself: sombre, formal.

I had a brief taste of Paris at deGaulle. I checked out all the perfumeries at the airport and I can see why they call the city the "Fashion Capital". Tokyo was an amusing experience. We had one of the worst landings at Tokyo, Japan and I remember holding the airsickness bag all through the landing process. Our flight made a steep banking turn and my ears painfully plugged up. My brother and I were cursing the pilot as we tried to hold onto our sickness bags for dear life because we didn't wanna have it smattered on the person next to us!
But the "Best Airport" title goes to Changi, Singapore. One of the most beautiful, aesthetic, comfortable, charming airports I've ever set my foot in. It is as friendly as the city itself, has some of the best eateries, cool soft music playing in the background. And it is one of my favorite cities too!

If you think this is a miserable post, I am sorry. I was having my Friday afternoon indulgences...:) Oh and on a parting note, I think "Anna" as a name for an airport stinks. It could be Annadurai but to call an airport "Big Brother"....I wonder what Sai Santosh would have to say to it...:)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Recent Reads...

I recently finished two books- Ellen DeGeneres' "The funny thing is..." and Art Buchwald's "Stella in Heaven". This really calls for celebration given the fact that these days I can hardly gather my thoughts around me for more than 10 minutes when reading books. Woohoo! The sad thing is that I found Ellen's "The funny thing is.."..well, sad. To do justice to her, perhaps the stuff she has written about might actually be funny in a stand-up act. But the book is a sad let-down. Somehow, when I was reading her book, Jerry Seinfeld kept popping up in my head.

I liked "Stella in Heaven.." in a weird way. As I described to RS, it was a flatline with no dramatic ups and downs. But it was a strangely moving story about a widower (Roger) whose wife (Stella) talks to him from heaven everyday. They talk about everything including Roger's loneliness,social life, their children, mother-in-law, investments et al. Stella helps Roger in wife-hunting. And finally when Roger marries Samantha, he calls up Stella in heaven to say one last goodbye. I felt a lump rise in my throat as he decides to let go of the past and Stella reluctantly acknowledges the fact that she has moved away from him to a different world. I started wondering if I would be able to let go of someone I loved, that too after some 30 years of married life. If for some weird, quirky reason, I was still having conversations from heaven with my husband on earth, I think I'd burn with jealousy if he marries again.

Stella: "Someday-not very soon- but someday I hope I see you up here."
Roger: "And Samantha"

Friday, July 22, 2005

Too much of a good thing....

Disclaimer: I am not bragging or boasting or showing off about the number of phone calls/mails/pings I get. In fact, I don't get many and I am thankful for the few I do. And I hope this post doesn't stop people from pinging, mailing or calling me. I am not sending invisible, subliminal messages via the ensuing post. And I am not expressing some hidden philosophical meaning beyond the literal sense the following words convey. The contents of this post are merely my musings, albeit in a more serious tone of mind. And I am not a anti-technologist...:)

The world would be a bad place for me without a cellphone. And Internet. And e-mail. And Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger. But is there something as too much of a good thing? I've come to think "Yes".

I cook as I talk on the phone. I watch TV when I browse news in the morning. Half my ear is tuned to listen to Miles O'Brien on CNN American Morning (which, by the way, stinks after Bill Hemmer left the show), the other half listening to my microwave beep with my morning coffee and the rest of my brain is tuned to what I am reading.

Sometimes when I work, I have someone buzzing me on Yahoo! Messenger, Gmail Notifier telling me that I've got mail, my phone crying out to be answered, a movie on TV beckoning me and my RSS feeds going crazy with new stuff from my subscriptions...whew! And I keep checking mail every 10 minutes regardless of whether I am going to get something or not. Honestly, somedays I've been plain irritated because of too many things going on.

I think there's too much of expression going on in the world. I chat, e-mail, blog, comment on forums and blogs, read online, talk and what not. Too much expression that it leaves no room for introspection and some peace and quiet. During my undergrad days, I didn't browse too much thanks to the clogged Indian phone lines (Broadband was not exactly available in Trichy). When I wanted to read something, I walked to the library. I talked and actually listened to people around me. I found the time to go for a walk, go to a temple, ramble through the busy marketplaces selling flowers, vegetables, fruits etc...and actually enjoy haggling with the vendors over prices. The smell of fresh vegetables from the villages around Trichy used to enliven me. The sweet scent of jasmine flowers in the Sathaara Veedhi flower markets in Srirangam would tittillate. And a gentle breeze wafting from the Cauvery and caressing my face on a humid mid-summer evening would actually feel heavenly!

Sigh. Now, I order stuff online, read everything online, do online poojas and arathis, go to Kroger or Walmart to get tasteless, artificially grown vegetables or worse yet, frozen food and have totally forgotten about the sweet smell of Santhana mullai, Jasmine and Jaathi flowers woven into tight little strands.

I am not against technology. In fact, it is my lifeline. But sometimes, just sometimes, I do wonder.......

Thursday, July 14, 2005

This and That...

Okay, if you are expecting something sensible out of this post, my advice to you is: Don't Read It. It is going to be a bunch of nothings. This morning, I drove to work and got out of my car. Just as I got out of the car, I totally blanked out. I mean TOTALLY. For some 2-3 seconds, I had lost sense of orientation, where I was and what I was going to do! I looked around and I didn't recognize anything familiar.I had been about to slam the car door shut and there I was, wondering what I was doing with my hand on the car door. Scary, huh? Well, after those 3 scary seconds, I did get back my senses. I've heard some of my friends say that it has happened to them at times but this was my first major blankout.
I called an ISP to order broadband internet. As usual, I was on hold forever. I had enough time to finish reading the NY Times, Washington Post and do part of the crossword on Hindu and still I was on hold! So I finally got totally bored and was googling for something when I ran cross 'Henry VIII' in a result. And my funny bones got tickled and I started singing,
[Remember 'Ghost'? Patrick Swayze keeps singing this song...]

"I am Henry VIII I am, Henry VIII I am I am
I got married to the widow next door
And she's been married seven times before..."

And I got really gung-ho about the song and was pouring my heart and soul into it when I heard a very disapproving, strict voice on the other end, "Ma'am, how MAY I HELP you?". I bet she was thinking the best help she could offer me was take me to the loony bin. Duh.
This is inspired by RS's post on silly things. I was giving a lengthy dissertation to one of my friends about this. Why in the world do we have to make sense all the time??! I think we should all have some "nonsense time" in our days. We can basically talk all we want to talk: disconnected, discombobulated, whatever. I usually make sense (I hope. Please, if you
disagree, mail me personally..:)). But I find I am at my most relaxed when I can just blabour and not worry about people judging me, taking me too seriously or acting on what crap I talk. Those are the best conversations! And believe me, it is therapeutic. I find many people collapsing under the strain of being sensible all the time..they think and think and think and finally, they become SO sensible that it is no fun!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

With Charity Towards All....

My cats Azagi (grey and white) and Amul (orange) look like the ones in the pic. I gotta scan my actual cats' pics...:) Aren't they cute?

I love animals whether they're tameable as pets or not. I had three cats back home. The first one was a stray cat that just kept coming back to our house whether we wanted it to or not. It started stealing milk in the afternoons. Our mom appointed my brother and I as Guardians of the Milk. Neither of us relished it much because we couldn't do anything else in peace during afternoons. And the cat was an expert burglar! Once my brother caught it stealing and he chased it down. It tried to get out of the house via a grilled door and it couldn't wriggle out because it had grown so fat! My brother and I just rolled on the floor with laughter and my mom decided that it was too bad to starve a desperate cat. Anyways, it kind of became our house cat. My bro named it "Ramba" because it seemed to have a variation of cross-eyes...(no offense to the actress. Hey! you could take it that the cat was really cute too!:)).

Anyways, Ramba had two offspring- the first one being christened "Azhagi" (by virtue of its prettiness) and the second "Amul" (by virtue of its chubbiness). We bought up both these cats and they were a part of my college life. I used to love the fact that when I came home, Azagi used to run to the door "meowing" as soon as she heard me. Of course, my dad didn't exactly relish our feeding a cat Horlicks milk, cream cakes, chips, murukku, bakkoda et al..He used to look at me and my brother and put a hand to his forehead: "Kashtam!"...:)

Srirangam had an abundance of monkeys because of the groves in the little island. Now that realtors are exterminating groves to build multi-storied apartment complexes, the monkeys get displaced and wander into residential areas in big groups. We used to have monkeys in our backyard all the time. And the poor things used to look for water in buckets to drink and quench their thirst. We always used to leave a bucket full of water for the crows and monkeys. And we had fun feeding monkeys bananas, fruits, biscuits etc... albeit from a safe distance.

Now, there were people in our neighborhood who used to empty water buckets just because monkeys and crows drank out of them. They considered it a "waste of water"! And I have seen many people throw wasted food or fruits in the trash can when they could've given the same food to a starving cow at their gate. They call cats and monkeys "dushtai" (evil ones) and that raising them is earning "pavam". They'd rather sell the cocunuts from their trees for a paltry Rs. 10 rather than give one to a hungry monkey. And these same people would go to Ranganatha temple and search for people to do Anna Daanam. I say "search" because in these days and times, not many people want food; they want hard cash.

Which one is charity? Giving a portion of the food and water we consume to a needy, hungry being or thrusting our charity at other human beings when they really don't need it?? If the former is earning "pavam", I'd gladly go to hell.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

A dream, a post, Star Wars and some ramblings...

There are days when things worth writing about happen. Most of these things are disconnected, trivial incidents but they are funny and interesting.

I made my directorial debut yesterday. Yeah, in my dreams.. (That's not sarcasm.No, I mean literally :-)) I slept off after watching some Vivek comedies and in my dream, I started watching a movie. I switch on the TV, pick up the remote and hit the play button. Only the TV is in focus. And "Manichitrathaazh" starts playing except it is black-and-white. I haven't seen this movie and god knows what prompted me to dream it all up. And so the first scene is someone with a deep voice who describes what MPD means and he says: "The best example is the story of -----" and the scene cuts to a verandah. Two people are sitting reading newspapers. The camera focuses on the lady and she removes the newspaper in front of her face and lo! It is Shobana! Again, all this is in B & W for some weirdo reason. And she talks animatedly with her hubby (I can't see his face). After a while, Mohanlal walks in looking all serious and scholarly and he talks something in Malayalam (I swear to god I have no knowledge of Malayalam but believe me, Mohan Lal talks a full-length Malayalam dialogue in my dream! God knows how my sub-conscious made it up so well. I seem to be blessed with a fertile imagination...:)). Then, there is one scene where Shobana rips up at MohanLal like a wild cat. Then finally, when we get to the "Raa Raa" like scene a la Chandramukhi, my dream goes bust....kind of a sad, dull
ending to my directorial debut. I am curious to watch the original to see how it matches with my dream venture...:)

The funny thing is that in my dream, I watch the movie in a big bhoot-bungalow type place and I hear the echoes richocheting off the walls.(There was one place in the dream where I hear a scream and my actual self shuddered in response to it) So my dream-self decides to close/open the window and I lean out to do it. Now I know that in reality, I had opened my window that night before sleeping. So when I
woke up, I had an eerie doubt as to whether I actually leaned to close the window or not.......


Baby K has written a post about money and investing. I liked it and found it useful. So here's to Lex's new found Sledgeman and Financial Advisor...:))


I had to switch to a Japanese character set for Windows recently for some work I am doing. And I found it so hard to navigate through my system. I didn't even know which were the OK , Cancel, Apply buttons anymore for some screens. And I had to IM someone and without looking at the screen, I hit the keystrokes and pressed enter. Only to find gibberish (Japanese to those who understand it, Gibberish to me) on my screen. I am not sure but the probabilities are the person at the other end thought I was swearing at them. Embarassments galore.


I have become such a lazy bum that I am far behind with schoolwork and if I don't get my act in place soon, I am going to be in a huge mess...Eeks! I wish I'd not have these great enlightening thoughts just before the long weekend. They just spoil my peace.


Some movies should be watched in the context of the decade/era they were released to capture the awe and amazement. Watch them farther down the line and they just don't seem as eye-popping as they must've been back then. I watched Star Wars-IV last week. It was not mind-boggling for me. In the 70s, the concept of spaceships, aliens, robots etc...was a giant leap in creativity and it captured people's imaginations! Now I am used to having aliens pop out of woods and cupboards and have all sorts of Borgs, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians walk across my living room daily. Sigh. This jaded feeling is what comes out of watching Star Wars after having heavy doses of Star Trek (Deep Space Nine, Voyager etc...),Earth-Final Conflict, Mars Attacks, Independence Day, MIB and so on and so forth. I wish I were a kid who'd be amazed with every thing that she sees.

Why do people need to elevate a person talented in some field to iconic status to the point of making them non-human? Be it Rajinikanth (to the extent that he was doing all sorts of Vittalacharya style magic tricks in 'Baba'), Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson or Gandhi, people simple make them icons to the point that any one negative quality attributed to them becomes totally unacceptable. Why not? I mean, weren't they humans too? So what if Rajinikanth has some bad qualities or Abe Lincoln doubted the divinity of Christ or Gandhi had (allegedly) been a bad
father? In my view, all that doesn't make any of these men lesser. I think it kind of cool that even people with imperfections can be great/famous. The quest for non-existent perfection in icons is dangerous.

Monday, June 27, 2005

And here I go again....

People, you've gotta put up with me for pouring tag lists on you..:) This one is in response to Dinesh's tag.

1. Favorite fellow blogger and why?

There's no one person I can name as being my favourite. I enjoy all types of writing and as my mood varies, I like one or the other. Here are a few that caught my attention recently:
a. Agnibarathi's Saadhanaa and Lalitha Maha Tripurasundari

I'd have to say I was very, very impressed with the flow of words and beautiful description in some of his posts!
b. Thus spake Vivek
I liked his post "Blah, blah and a lot of blah". Made me laugh.
c. Atanu Dey
d. Ramya Kannan I enjoy her creative taxonomy! She calls her shoutbox the "Tower of babel"..:)And I like her matter-of-fact, interesting ruminations.

2. Your favorite person/people in life

Tough call. Invariably, there's no list one can conjure up that could cover all people/aspects who've influenced me. This is just what comes
off the top of my head:
a. Mrs. Nair- One of the most well-read, intelligent, kind, graceful and elegant people I've met in my life! A PhD. from the University of British Columbia, she was as famous for her lectures in Mathematics as she was for her crisp, cotton sarees. A Canadian student of hers
remarked to me, "She is not just a great professor, she is a sight for sore eyes too!". My mentor in many ways, she introduced me to a variety of books ranging from "History of Civilization" to Alfred North Whitehead's "Introduction to Mathematics".
b. My Brother- At the risk of sounding maudlin, I am putting in my bro..:) I like him for his cool, devil-may-care attitude toward life. He is completely laid-back and rarely lets things upset him. Loves life and enjoys it to the hilt right from food to movies to friends. So here's to you bro (Whenever you read this post!)!
c. Kanchi Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi- I don't think I am worthy of writing a preface for him..:)
d. Steve Waugh- For his tenacity, strength of determination and the will to win. Aside from his tough sportsman attitude, I like the fact that he is involved with orphanages and charity. Glenn McGrath- for his punishing line and length. The next on my list is going to evoke a
lot of criticism: Sourav Ganguly for his bad-mouthing, swearing and off-drives...:) I like the fact that he sledges back and his getting penalized for that doesn't reduce his image in my eyes one bit! India needs more players like that. Frankly, the Mr.Goody-two-shoes image is jaded and
doesn't work these days.

3. If you could be one person of the opposite sex, who would it be and why?
No thanks, I think I am quite happy being a female..:) Of course, I like and adore many people of the opposite sex, but I'd rather be me.

4. If you could be in a book/music band/movie, what would you be in ?
I would like to be in a music band. Singing/songs lightens, refreshes, levitates me and makes me plain happy.

5. If you were to be marooned in an island and you could pick one friend to go with you, who would it be?
Hmm. If I had to be marooned (which I wouldn't prefer in the first place), I would rather be marooned with someone who is strong and good at practical things- foraging food, building shelter, making a fire...:) I am not much good at this stuff and there's not gonna be much
to enjoy in an island with someone if we were both to drop dead in a few days. And this person had better not be a whiner because I hate whining when caught in life-death situations.
I'd probably pick my best buddy, Shailaja to go with me because she is witty, cool as a cucumber always and finds humour in the most unlikely situations. We have both been in a zillion scrapes together in college and have managed to wriggle out of most tight corners.
Or I would pick another good friend of mine, J. I always fight endlessly with him over the silliest of things. And despite all the terrible fights we've been in (with a good measure of swearing,cussing, gnashing teeth), we have managed to be good friends over nearly 5 years. Good timepass and that'd keep my mind off other pressing concerns..:)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Shades of Secularism


On my recent trip to India, I had an instance of how misunderstood the term "securalism" has become in India's politico today...
The Railways is a great leveler. For the period of the journey, you get to talk on par with people from all walks of life. I met an interesting, old Muslim gentleman on the Dadar (Mumbai-Chennai).
Old man to me: So, would you marry my nephew? He is smart and intelligent but he is a Muslim.
Me: (laughing) Well, if it was that easy!
Old man: You are Hindu? Ah, you don't like Muslims!
Me: No, it has nothing to do with it.
Old man: Then why are you averse to the idea?
Me: But...
Old man: (shaking his head) Ah, you are a Hindu fundamentalist; not secular.
Me (Totally confused at this tangent): ????????????????!!!!!!!?

(Who says that only women go on tangents?:))

And the old man didn't talk to me for the rest of the journey!So, these days, I gotta marry an unknown Muslim whose Uncle thinks it is a good match in order for me to be "secular". Sweet.

The Spectre of Jinnah

Jinnah must be turning in his grave. A half-century after the demise of the founding father of Pakistan, he still lingers fresh in people's memories; fresh enough to brew trouble, this time in the House of Saffron. India Today carries a series of articles on the soup that Advani has landed himself in with his comments on Jinnah.
Amidst the ruckus that Advani caused by calling Jinnah "secular", some say, "Why bother with issues surrounding a man who's been dead for a long time?". Some others, like the VHP and RSS, are adamant that Jinnah shouldn't be characterized as a secular figure.
I don't think you can ignore some things as being in the past. After all, the past is what defines the present. But neither can you say that the past is all black and white. Jinnah may have caused the bifurcation of the erstwhile British Raj but then he might have had his own ideas on secularism just as our netas have today (And most of what our honourable netas say are skewed, politically motivated and utter crap!). I prefer not to judge Jinnah. I think he must've been a complex man and perhaps, he had his own reasons....

[Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre give a more unbiased (I thought it unbiased. My dad disagrees with me.), objective view of Jinnah's political motivations in their "Freedom at Midnight". Read it if you get a chance!]