Saturday, December 23, 2006

A 1000 small pieces are equal to a picture....

A jigsaw keeps my restless mind fully occupied and there's fun in piecing a whole together from the parts. This jigsaw is more special to me because one of the cats in the picture looks like my pet kitten - Azhagi..:)

The jigsaw in pieces...

On completion...

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Taking stock...

The end of the year is approaching and everyone is taking stock. Have I grown in some way this year? Have I learnt some things? Have I changed a lot?

- I've learned to consciously walk away from certain relationships that hinder my peace of mind. Its not easy and often, I want to just forget and go back. But I've realized that its unhealthy and consciously stayed away.

- I've cut down on phone talking and consequently, become mentally more calm (Yaay! That's quite an achievement).

- I've given up afternoon coffee..:(

- Most importantly, I am learning to forgive - even when something's not my fault at all; even when the world knows that someone else is wrong; even when I am hurt; even when I'd rather kick and scream. I always thought that anger took more energy to manifest. I've realized that forgiveness is the toughest art to master in this universe and he who does this is truly divine.

- Gotten back to my Carnatic music roots and learnt some new krithis.

- I've become more conscious of the levels of human resource consumption thanks to a lot of conversations amongst friends here. Maybe I can contribute to the betterment of the world? Maybe I can't? But at least, now I am aware and that's always the first step.

- I've learnt that friends will stay friends no matter what you do or don't do. And those that leave because of something you did or didn't do were never friends in the first place. I know that sounds like a Hallmark card but I think this year is when I really realized that fact! :)

- I've learnt that few people remain "friends" because of some incentives. The moment that incentive vanishes, they'll walk away and not care a tuppence.

- I realised that being "good" (whatever that means), is purely principle-based. Being good doesn't guarantee a return favour. I had a bit of soul-searching in the middle of the year about this topic. I guess we still adhere to good behaviours for our own peace of mind.

Lastly, there are so many things to see, learn and do in this world! And there are so many colorful characters that make this world what it is - including heroes, villains, comedians, jesters, heroines, vamps, relatives, well-wishers, hangers-on, passers-by, friends and props! :) And in each story, each person takes on a different role. He who was a hero in one story becomes a comedian in another. When we have all these characters in a play in the right mix, we have an interesting story. Otherwise, it would become drab, wouldn't it? :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A known devil...

I have a lot of blogger friends - people whom I know only through their writings and e-mail exchanges. I have never seen these people but I feel comfortable enough with their personalities as expressed through their blogs. But when it comes to Orkut virtual friendships, I become a tad cynical.

I keep getting friend requests from random people on Orkut asking me to be their best friend. They know nothing about me since I've not divulged much on my profile. I don't know anything about them aside from what they write on their profiles. So how do I "decide" to be best friends with them? Isn't that something that evolves over time? Besides, knowing what movies, books, food XYZ likes really doesn't make you understand them. A thousand people can have the exact same similar likes.

I did add a couple of strangers thinking that maybe I could overcome this "bias" of mine. I could rarely ever get past "hi, how are you?" with these people.And a couple decided to take it up a notch by asking obnoxious personal questions (Girls' "single" status especially seems to be of paramount importance to even strangers..:)). So I just chucked these right out of my friends list. How much can you really divulge to some stranger on chat? And it really becomes boring when, all the time, your conversations go something like,

"Hey, how're you?"
"I am fine. How are you?"

Now, I know a lot of people who are very comfortable chatting up strangers on Orkut and even getting to know them well later. I guess I am not one of those.

I recently got an earful from an irate Orkut-ian. He had sent a rather nice intro message and friend request. So I thought I  should have the courtesy of responding to him. I asked him, "Do you really believe in virtual friendships? Is this really possible?" Honest to god, I meant it in a really good way just curious to find out what he was thinking when he asked me to be his "best friend". And he responded to it by detailing what a gentleman he is in his dealings with women, how he'd treat me honourably and never step over the line, how I was being callous in my comment etc etc...

Anyways, so I've switched back to doing what I always did before: ignore unknown friend requests...:) One of my friends complained rather loudly that I might be missing out on really wonderful people because of narrow vision. But I desist. Why? Because a known devil is better than an unknown angel...:)

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A question(able?) post

I am sick and tired of hearing about astrologers and horoscopes. Really sick. I don't blame those who practice the profession of astrology alone. I blame myself and millions like me who really can't take a stand on the issue. I can't stand up boldly and say, "Hey, I don't believe you can predict the future. You're a bogus". Neither can I surrender completely and say, "Hey, you are so right. I believe you completely".

It does seem odd to completely give in to a stranger's prediction of my "supposed" future and take decisions based on it. What if he's wrong? What if I make a decision based on it and then it fails completely? Would I blame myself then? Or the astrologer? Do we believe in astrology to feel re-assured about our future? Can someone really "see" the future so certainly? If he sees the future so certainly, isn't he supposed to be God? Well, what's the purpose of God or any actions that we perform in everyday life if everything's already pre-determined? Besides, if one's karma is so strong and we can't really escape it, why bother evading it using astrology?

In short, I've decided that "predicting" the future is a crime and astrologers as a profession should be banned. I think its better to just do what your heart tells you and consequences be damned. If that turns out to be wrong, hey, at least its your own, patented mistake - not some astrologer's. I meant for this post to be a more coherent, meaningful discussion on the truth/falsity of astrology. But I guess what turned it out to be is a confused set of questions...:) Maybe that's exactly what astrology is - a confused set of questionable practices.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

A gift of the gods..

The other day a friend and I were discussing playback singers. Some singers are great because they've honed and literally chiseled their voices over the years with hardwork and practice. Today, their voices are like honey maple syrup over pancakes (Yeah, I made that up. Its breakfast time and I can only think of food)! Example: SPB, Hariharan.

But some people are just born with killer voices. Voices that are just rich in cadence and timbre, that can just hit any high note with ease, that can simply twirl and swirl to the whims of the singer. Just listening to them, you know that this is something they were born with! You just can't achieve that kind of a voice through any amount of practice. Example: Shankar Mahadevan, A.R. Rahman, T.R. Mahalingam, K.B. Sundarambal

I was listening to Shankar Mahadevan sing "Rangola hola.." from Gajini. I simply loved the way he has sung this song. Similarly, I love "Kumari.." from Anniyan and "Merke Merke.." from Kanda Naal Mudhal. I've become a total Shankar Mahadevan convert..:)

A.R. Rahman has come a long way from his "Urvasi.." days. Listening to him in "New York Nagaram.." and "Tere Bina.." (Guru), his range just amazes me. I'd thought earlier that maybe he used some kind of audio pyrotechnics to help his voice sound like it did. But, when he performed live at Dayton in June, he effortlessly sang "Dil Se re..." at exactly the same range as the audio recording. I was blown away..!

I watched "Raja raja chozhan" (Cast: Sivaji, Lakshmi, Sivakumar, Muthuraman et al) last weekend and there's this song "Thanjai periya kovil vaazhga". T.R. Mahalingam simply made my jaw drop in one of the sequences of that song. That dude sure had a voice that could beat even Rahman today! He was probably singing somewhere at 4 kattai (sruthi) and he was doing vocal gymnastics at that scale! I know how much I struggle to sing at 6.5 which is considered ordinary for today's female playback singers. Made me envious..sigh.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Soft corners

I ran into an old Asan Memorial school-mate of mine in Orkut. I had a crush on him while in school ( yeah, yeah, that was a really long time back when I was in 6th grade). It was actually a kind of collective crush. A lot of my friends traveled via the school bus. And he traveled via Pallavan. We used to lean out the window and giggle whenever we passed the busstop where we was waiting for his bus... :-) Our day was made if he turned around and gave us a smile. Thinking back, I think he must've thought - "Oh, what a bunch of cute kids!" - which is really not what we hoped for but then ignorance was bliss.

He was 6 years our senior. We never found out his name until after he graduated from school. We heard that he wasn't exactly, err - pleasant company. None of it mattered. We were just having giggly, girly fun!

The funny thing is I still have a soft corner for him. All these years past and I still giggled when I saw his profile pic in Orkut. He is still cute and I am not in love with him. But I wonder if we always carry around soft corners in our hearts for our past crushes, loves, flames etc... There's nothing like completely erasing these hidden shadows from the past! I find it really weird when I read about stories of intense love turning into intense hate or psycho-like behaviour. How can you ever dislike someone you once liked? Isn't it like disliking a part of yourself?

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Hero's name is "Valluvan" the Vallavan. He becomes "Pallan" because he decides that being ugly, clumsy and annoying will impress Nayantara. Idhu enna logic?? Adhu Simbu-kku mattum dhaan puriyum nu ninaikkiren. He does do a good job of acting like "Kalyanaraman" Kamalhassan including dancing to the remixed number "Aaha Vandhurichu". But why this is essential to the main plot beats me! He spouts a few chauvinistic, pyscho dialogues from time to time and turns around and says:

"Ippadi ellam naan sollalaam..aana naan solla matten yennaa...blah blah.."

Mr. Simbu, ippo dhaane idhellam sonna? Apram enna solla matten-nu oru dialogue? He has some wonderful, logic-less scenes all over the place in the movie.

Reema Sen looks awful without make-up. But she has done an excellent job of acting like a pyscho. I, personally, liked her performance. Nayantara seriously stinks big time! Yuck.

Simbu, for all his self-generated hype, fails to give a hit. I saw one of his press releases where he praised this movie to the skies. Romba dhaan nenappu!

Music stinks. One question for the music director: Why in the world is there a kuttichathan, pisasu type laughter in the background each time Reema Sen is shown? Surely, this is no Vittalacharya movie. To add to the misery, Simbu croons a couple of numbers. He isn't a bad singer but then, his abilities are limited and it shows in the compositions. There's too many finger swishing, whoosh-whoosh sounds.

The cameraman seems to have gone haywire. My head started spinning after watching 30 mins of the movie. Lots of zooming, rotating,back and forth shots etc... Makes the viewer annoyed rather than entertained.

Jillunu oru Kadhal:

Contrary to reviews, I liked this movie. Jo-Surya chemistry sizzles on screen. The acting is natural and flows. A rather improbable plot but I thought it was decently picturized. Bhoomika's transformation from the first to second halves seems rather unreal and startling. The girl who acts as Jo's daughter does an excellent job! Of course, music pathi edhuvume solla was superb!

I thought it was a decent watch.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Overheard in the Restroom...

We, the people, need to talk. Talk, talk, talk. These days, we can't even resist responding to restroom vandalism. Although, I did it find it very amusing..:) Scribbled on a cubicle cube:

Some poor soul in need of help: This is a cry for help!
Some vetti person:                        Not a very good one at that, if you're scribbling in restrooms! :)

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Addendum to my last post...

Well, I've had quite a few people disagreeing with my last post. But just to clarify a few things:

- I am not against singing Telugu or Sanskrit songs. I can and I do sing a lot of Telugu krithis.
- I am not a languaget fundamentalist who is maniacally in favor of the mother tongue..:)
- The legacy of the Trinity needs to be preserved for posterity.
- Tamizh speaks to me more than any other language. But hey, that's just me!
- I believe music is a mix of intricate handling of swarasthanas in a Ragam + bhavam + bhakthi. I am NOT speaking in favour of words alone as opposed to a raga.
- Understanding the lyrics and meaning of a song helps me focus more on the bhakthi underneath it. There are people who can just hang on to the raga bhavam and not worry about lyrics, meaning etc... When you reach that level of devotion, obviously everything is rather trivial! I am one of those that has not reached that level of consciousness yet..:) So the lyrics AND their meaning matter to me to help me be focused.
- And lastly, there's no excuse for people who mangle the sahithyam because of their lack of language skills. You can cry yourself hoarse about how only the ragam, bhavam etc..matter. But hey, there needs to be some respect to the composer.

It is "bhaasura/mukha/ kari/ rajuni /brochina/ vaasudevudavu /neevu/ kaadha"

NOT - "aasura mukhakari rajuni brochina vaasude neevukadha"

Anyways, the opinions expressed are solely as they pertain to I, Me and Myself...! :)

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Friday, November 03, 2006

A musical introspection...

Minister Duraimurugan has made a comment that there should be more Carnatic songs in Tamizh. I agree with him partly.

When I was a kid, my parents put me through Carnatic music lessons. My daily commute from Kodambakkam to my school took me 2-3 hours by schoolbus. The driver used to wander all over town before he reached school and ditto on the return trip. When I reached home around 5.30 PM, I'd find my music teacher waiting for me. To my eyes, she used to be the very devil who prevented me from eating and made me shout at the top of my lungs for 2 hours! I'd have a glass of coffee and start singing.

I don't remember anyone having ever explained to me the meaning behind having sarali varisai, jantai varisai, alankarams ,ragam, thalam etc...Don't get me wrong, my teacher was an excellent one. But I was the rambunctious kid that wanted explanations for everything. So, there I was - singing in some unknown language (Telugu, mostly) sans the meaning, without knowing the raga bhavam or the history behind the song. Besides, I didn't have any peers at school who were learning music. Or let's just say, I didn't know anyone who did and we never talked about music much. Film music was much more catchy and interesting and I understood the meaning of the lyrics (for good or for bad!). We used to discuss it on the schoolbus and the lyrics being in Tamizh did help. I don't find it strange that I gave up carnatic music when the opportunity first presented itself to me! It had no meaning to me.

We moved from Chennai to Madurai and my father kept pushing me to take music lessons,

"Child, you'll regret it later. Learn to sing."

I was reluctant. I didn't want to scream at the top of my lungs on an empty stomach again in some unknown language blah blah blah...

But my parents used to listen to a lot of carnatic music. One fine day, I ended up listening to the Late Maharajapuram Santhanam. It was a collection of "Oothukkadu Venkatasubbaier" kritis on Krishna sung live on Janmashtami. I was mesmerized. The voice, the ragas and the bhavam in his singing held me spellbound. For the first time in my life, I understood the meaning of the songs because they were in Tamizh instead of Telugu. It kindled my interest in music again and I started listening to more and more music. I learnt "Mohana rama" on my own with a vengeance just because Shri Santhanam had rendered it so beautifully! I think my teacher would've been happy if I'd applied myself with half the interest I showed in learning this song. :)

Anyways, many, many years later, I feel that now I have a better sense of appreciation for carnatic music than I did as a kid. I understand certain nuances that I didn't earlier. Its not like I am much more knowledgeable now. Maybe, age tempers you with experiences and stress that you realize the soothing quality of music? I don't know. But I completely agree with Suhasini's Sindhu in "Sindhubhairavi":

"Kavalai edhumilla rasikkum mettukudi
Cherikkum sera venum, adhukkum paattupadi
Enniye paaru, ethanai peru
thangame neeyum tamizh paattum paadu.."

[The rich don't have any worries and they enjoy music. But your music should also reach the poor masses. Think about how many people are out there. Thangame, please sing Tamizh songs also...]

Even today, when I sing a Papanasam Sivan krithi in Tamizh, I enjoy it much more than I do a Tyagaraja krithi. A while back, someone asked me to translate my Tamil blog on "Akhilandeswari" to English. I sincerely tried it for two days but I couldn't find the words in English! But when I thought about the same topic in Tamizh, I felt like I could write 10 more pages about it. Sigh. There's something about the mother tongue. Maybe I'd have continued music lessons if my teacher had taught me more Tamil krithis? :)

Regardless of how many foreign languages one is fluent in, the mother tongue will always rule the roost!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Why, oh, why...

NY carries this article on working moms. The poor things are converting business trips into time to relax and recuperate. I personally know a lot of working moms who have had to compromise on career to have motherhood.

Read an article that said Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disease solely brought about by stress and that women are more susceptible to it. Breast cancer. Periods. Hormonal changes. Pregnancy and associated physical discomforts. Compromises, compromises, compromises.Too many emotions. Too much thinking. Sigh.

Wonder why men have it all easy and why anyone would want to be born a woman again....sigh.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Confessions of a Desi Mem...

I eat with my fingers sitting cross-legged on the floor. I like to mix the food with my own five fingers and feel the food in my hands. And no, I don't think its "yucky". For the record, I intensely dislike eating with forks and knives. Everytime I pick up a fork and put it in my mouth, I have this paranoia that I am going to poke the insides of my mouth or tongue with the sharp edged fork. And for some psychological reason, I hate "cutting" my food with a knife. I've been conditioned by subliminal messages from movies, soaps and media that knives are meant to kill, maim or disfigure. I remember Vivek's remark in some movie, "Sapattula ithanai vanmuraiya?" meaning "Why so much violence in food?". I am not going to pretend that I am at home eating with forks, knives and spoons.

I write this because of a recent remark of a highly successful relative that knowing to eat with forks and knives is "essential to succeeding in your career". I guess he meant well because you can blend well with your international colleagues if you can mimic their culture. I am perfectly ok with westerners eating with forks and with Indians who are comfortable with it. But then, there are some prissy desi gentlemen and women who look down upon those who can't. Its like you've committed some unsophisticated, primitive act if you say, "I eat with my fingers"!

Speaking of which, I can almost feel the peaceful bliss that descends on me when I eat Thayir Sadham (curd rice) and Avakkai pickles with my fingers...Hmm..

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Musings on Desh...

I wonder if this Raga was named "Desh" because of the inherent patriotism (Song: Vande Mataram) it is able to conjure up in the hearts of the listener; Or is it because it speaks to the soul that it is called "Desh"? After all, there's few things that touch a person's heart as his/her motherland. Whoever named it so must be definitely an intellectual.

Some tunes lull the mind into peace and serenity for a few moments. Desh is one such. It conjures up images of moonlight, stars, the Tajmahal in early morning light, an infinite ocean of bliss occassionally surfacing a playful wave to dance to the tunes of a Raaga....Aptly enough, Desh is meant to be sung in the early parts of the night lulling the sleeper deeper into undisturbed slumber.

"Brindavana Saranga" is one Raga that reminds me of monsoon seasons, rain drops dangling on the edge of leaves, rivers dancing on pebbles etc...I don't know what this raga is meant to embody but I am thinking it should be something close to what I imagine..:) Aruna Sairam is my favourite for this Raga. She has given wonderful renditions of "Rangapura Vihara" and "Soundararajam". There may be purists and naysayers who'd cite other musicians who've done more justice to this Ragam. But I feel she gives the Hindustani touch (it is a Hindustani Raga adapted to Carnatic music) perfectly!

There's umpteen movie numbers in this Raga and a lot of re-recording in movies and dramas. The serial "Rudra Veenai" by YG Mahendra has used this raga exclusively for re-recording!

These two Ragas have given me islands of peace in the past week or so amidst stresses.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Please help Aditya...

RS has a post on her blog here about a little 4-year old, Aditya, who has an acute form of leukemia. His parents are trying to raise funds for his bone marrow transplant. This is not a fraud scheme. Please check it out here and kindly do what you can to save a young life.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Of People, Pizzas and Personalities...

Started watching "Omkara" yesterday. My Hindi is pretty limited to a few commonly-heard dialects. I struggled a bit with the dialect in "Lagaan" initially but then I got used to it. But Omkara went over my head. Plus, the audio quality was a bit bad and I could neither make head nor tails of what was being said. It was like watching a deaf and dumb movie. After "Lage Raho Munnabhai", this seemed so dark, sinister and boring. I gave up midway and went off to make "semiya upma".


This week has been "damage vaaram". First, on Saturday, I left Cauliflower to boil on my new, shiny non-stick bowl. I completely forgot about it and went swimming. When I came back, the smoke detector was going crazy and my entire house had a charred, roasted smell. The Cauliflower looked like it'd been put in an incinerator and the non-stick bowl was beyond repair. The teflon coating was totally torn off..:(

The cover of one of my plastic containers was touching the edge of the stove and it got melted. Then, this morning, I took a shower and left the restroom door open. The smoke detector, which is closeby, detected the steam from the restroom and started screaming. Annoyed, I threw a pillow at it to ward away the smoke. Well, guess what, the smoke detector came tumbling down from the ceiling. So I stared at it a bit and then shrugged it off. Good riddance to bad stuff. At least, it won't scream at the slightest provocation!


I was reading an article about how to be "like-able" amongst co-workers, friends, people etc....I have doubts about how a person can become "caring", "good" and "interested in other people" all of a sudden. The article also went on to prescribe a good dose of "compassion" and "helpfulness" to others.

I have always had arguments with a few friends about the basic nature of a person. My friends say that a person can change completely if the right kind of influence is there. Allow me to be a bit nonsensical here. A person is like pizza. The crust, cheese and toppings together make up the personality. Certain traits are like the toppings on a pizza. If they're bad, you can change them and the pizza is good. But the crust of the pizza is not changed easily. A person's intrinsic nature is like the crust of the pizza. You can't change it that easily. And no matter what you do with the toppings, the pizza is going to be bad if the crust is bad! Anyways, that's my opinion.

I have seen a lot of well-liked people here in Lexington and elsewhere. Certain things just come naturally to them - like being friendly and genuinely interested in other people's welfare. I don't think you can "make" yourself be a certain kind of person.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A few weekend thoughts...

Finally found a few contiguous hours to watch a movie last weekend. I ended up watching Lagaan. I had a jinx going with this movie. I'd start watching it, something'd happen and I'd stop. My movietime yesterday was also peppered with phone calls and little errands but at least I finished what I started..:) I liked it. It gave me a feel-good feeling. But after having heard years of talk, reviews about it, I didn't have much surprise left. So I wasn't "wowed" or awed, but I liked it.


Went Garbha dancing on Saturday. I didn't dance much because my poor body gave way to aches and pains mid-way and I sat slumped in a chair watching everyone else. I've decided I should get a chanya choli type dress. All the Gujju aunties/girls wearing colorful clothes and jewelry swirling around with their full skirts gave me this jealousy..:) Gosh, if there was one thing that South Indians miss out on, its dancing! Our culture just doesn't have this woven in. I was just amazed watching all these Northie Aunties - old and young - swaying and dancing with abandon. They weren't worried about who was watching, who was not or whether they were doing it gracefully. They "danced like none was watching" and it was fun!

I was reminded of Gaancase. She sure knew how to twirl to a number..:)


Weekends should have more than 48 hours...:( What with golus, body-aches, dandia etc.., I still haven't cleaned my house. I have a pile of dishes in the sink (that pile never goes away! It is a veritable "amudhasurabhi"), laundry to be done, a closet full of messy clothes that I should arrange, a few calls to make, grocery shopping.....Aaaaaaargh! Grocery shopping and washing dishes are perhaps the bane of every desi in the US. You turn around and you are out of groceries....:( Anyways, now that the work-week has started, I am pretty sure I'll never get anything done until Friday. Then of course, the "extra-curricular" fun starts and I'll not remember all this until next Monday...:)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Maitreem Bhajatha...

I have a deep reverence for Mahaperiyaval Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi. He had composed a song called "Maitreem Bhajatha.." which MS rendered in her golden voice. I've heard that MS always concluded her concerts with this song. It is a song for world peace and harmony. I found an excellent translation here.

Please do read it!

Monday, September 18, 2006

I don't know what to name this post....

People have an image of you in their head. I consider it more like a map. This image is probably a snapshot of "you" at some point in your life - 10, 20, 30, 34 etc... They make a map initially when they get to know you. And they relate to you based on that map. Initially, this is fine. That's the way I do it, you do it, everyone does it!

But people change in all aspects, in all dimensions all the time! You drift away from people - due to physical distances or some other pressures in life. After a while, when they come back into your life, the image that someone has of you in their head might not reflect the real "current" you accurately. I might have changed tremendously - in attitude, likes, behaviour, eccentricities etc...! If they update their mental map and say - "Hey, this is how they are right we update our map", that'd be awesome! This happens many times and you stay in a healthy relationship. But sometimes, people insist on sticking to their old, worn-out mental map and expect me to conform to it. It gets annoying after a while.

How do you tell them that? It seems rude to say, "Hey, wake up! I am not that person anymore!". Personally, its a bit scary for me because it is equivalent to negating the premise- the person I was some 6 years ago- on which we built a relationship. Sometimes I try to verbalize that I've changed but when they ask, "In what way?", I don't have a clear-cut answer. And what's sometimes even more annoying is that they'll brush away my words and say, "Bah! You're still the same...Don't give me crap!". Denial is the worst form of ignorance that blinds people and the hardest to deal with.

This is especially true with people we don't see often. They don't track your progress or transformation that closely to update their mental map of you. So they are stuck with an outdated map and you are not that person anymore. As for me, I've had a suffocating feeling where I am being forced to be the "old" me!

Monday, September 11, 2006

To the brats in my life....

Before you get double-meaning(ed) ideas from the title, let me clarify. This post is dedicated to the spoiled, ill-behaved people a.k.a brats I've met in my life. These people have contributed to ruining my mood a few times and I've had a few moments of hurt/pain because of them. But nonetheless, these people are important to me because they succeed in teaching me a few lessons of life that even my closest relations cannot teach me! :) If you're a brat, please don't read this post since it may contain certain unflattering remarks about you.

The first and biggest brat I've met so far in my life is one of my cousins. I refrain from mentioning her name in the unfortunate event that this person comes across my blog (and also to save the family izzat? :)). To her alone goes the dubious distinction of having the most acerbic tongue, the ability to unswervingly sting people in their weakest areas and attaining satisfaction from their pain.

During my college years, I met a replica of X. By then, I had become experienced enough in dodging such personalities. My association thus was extremely limited with Brat No. 2. Of course, after coming to the US, I've met quite a few more.

One thing I understood while dealing with brats is that its always about you. YOU made them angry. YOU insulted them. YOU annoyed them. YOU are the problem. YOU are dumb/untalented/boring. They are the most perfect, beautiful, smart, talented beings ever created by Brahma (or Christ or Allah).

I've seen parents/friends/relatives condone such behaviour dismissing it as "childish" or "immature" or "Oh he's my only pampered son!" or "You're elder..why don't you adjust?".

My argument:

How can being rude or hurting others ever be "childish"? Isn't a child supposed to be the embodiment of divinity? "Devilish" is more like brats than "childish"..:) How can a child even conceive of hurting others? And haven't these people ever heard of the quote:

ஐந்தில் விளையாதது ஐம்பதில் விளையாது. (What isn't sowed at 5 won't be sowed at 50 either).

The point is - if kids make a mistake, you correct it and teach them the right way. You don't justify it. To my parents or anyone 30 years elder to me, I will be a kid even now. So can I behave any way I want and hope to get away with it?

I guess we all have a brat in us. I have my own likes/dislikes/anger etc...But I know that disliking someone doesn't give me the right to hurt them in private or in public. And even if I did, I'd probably apologize.

Spitefulness is never justifiable. And brats, thank you for teaching me how NOT to live life! :)

That's my rant for now...

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Everyone is obsessed with longevity these days. I am not talking of the longevity of 70 years or 80 years. Its about people wanting to live beyond 90 or 100!

I think I'd be plain bored if I lived upto a 100 years! I mean, what would I do with my time? I probably couldn't go around playing lawn tennis at 95. Most people would find me boring. Employers would no longer want me to work. So what do I do then?

Besides, my grandmother once brought up a very interesting point. She once said that as you age, more than degenerating health, its the loss of your peers - people you can talk to - that actually causes anguish. I think she's right.
So what're all these people who want to live to 112 years going to do with their lives? Maybe they're more purposeful and motivated than I am. Does everyone have SO much stuff to accomplish in their lives? :)I think I'll settle for 75 years.


An afterthought:

After not working out for weeks, I ran like a crazy sprinter yesterday! We were playing a league softball game. I can never hit the ball out of the infield. I don't think its anything to do with lack of strength. Rather, I think its the cricket mentality..:) My batting action most naturally inclines to moving from down upwards in a graceful curve (like you'd loft a cricket ball). But softball requires you to kind of hit the ball flat out, catching the ball at the lower part of your swing as your arm moves from top to bottom of a curve. Anyways, the end result is that I am a pathetic batter. I catch the ball at some weird point of my swing and I make contact but it ain't good enough for a huge hit! So the ball plops down in the infield somewhere and I have to run like mad to make first base without getting out. That's what I did yesterday. And it taught me something.

What, you ask?

Well, I know what muscles in my upper thigh and lower back are used in the sprint action. I can feel their painful groans with every minute move that I make.

But hey, we won! And it was a thrilling 9-run rally in the last 10 minutes of the game! Way to go, team! :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries - Epilogue

This really is the last post! I promise not to bore you any further...

Due to various reasons, I chose not to do my undergraduate in Vancouver and chose to return to India. I was going back alone to India. My parents would follow in 2 years or so. Soon after saying goodbye to BNSS, I said my good-bye to Vancouver also.

My term in Vancouver had tempered me in a lot of ways, made me more tolerant and patient. I traveled a lot during those years and I was better off for that. I'd had the worst disappointments in my short life there, especially with my college dreams. But I'd also learnt something from those experiences. I'd learnt to take disappointment and live with it. I had no idea what India had in store for me. I'd no idea where I was going to do my undergraduate. Everything was uncertain.

In retrospect, I think I've had a fairly interesting life. I haven't liked it many-a-time. I'd have gladly settled for a very normal, Indian life but then, who am I to decide? I didn't know what was awaiting me next either..:) I was thinking one thing but fate had something else planned for me. Looking back, I think Srirangam was in my destiny one way or the other little though I knew it at the moment I waved goodbye to my parents at Vancouver airport.

Now, that is a whole new set of stories! :)

Oh, there are so many stories, so many stories. Which one do I tell you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Random Thought for the Day

"சந்தோஷமோ துக்கமோ, எது என்னை தொட்டாலும் வழிவது வாழ்வின் இசை!"

- Prakash Raj in Ananda Vikatan

I like Prakash Raj as an actor. In the few interviews that I've seen him in, I liked his down-to-earth demeanour and precise answers. Somehow, this quote made me think today...:)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Blog Day is here!

Happy Independence Day, folks!

I am not one for having "days" for certain things. There's "Friendship Day", "Mother's Day", "Father's Day", "Friends Day" etc... I am yet to figure out the difference between "Friendship Day" and "Friends Day". Even if I want to forget all this, Editor Bob unfailingly remembers to send me e-mails about these and many other important days to my Yahoo! mail. Thank you, Editor Bob! :)

The problem with having special days is that I start putting off important things until that one day. I call/e-mail my friend only on "Friendship Day" and feel all self-righteous about it. Its 7.15 AM in the morning, still before breakfast and I am rambling. What I want to say is that: Having special days actually dilutes the importance of certain things rather than enhance it in the long run.

Coming to Blog Day. Blog Day is on Aug 31. Bloggers who participate are requested to select 5 blogs that they recommend and post it on their sites. Of course, this can be done on any day of the year. But then, I am lazy and will never get around to it..:) The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Err..hmm..ok..I can hear your grunts.

I just thought that if some of you can post 5 neat blogs that you came across recently, we can have easy access to some good reads. So Aug 31 is the day, folks!

Let's hope that I remember!

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries – XI

Last few months!

I relegated the SFU fiasco to the back of my mind. There were other important things going on. I got an admit at University of BC with scholarship. I had my final Provincial Exams coming up. And above all, I had prom peeking around the corner!

MJ and I hadn’t planned on going. When I saw some pictures of prom costumes, I was sure I’d not have the courage to wear such ball gowns nor would my father permit it! Besides, everyone was going with a date and I didn’t really want to have a "date" date. So I didn’t sign up for it.

One day, Mr. W, who was my homeroom teacher, called me into his office. He was also my Physics 12 and Calculus 12 teacher. I liked the genial, smiling guy and he had a soft corner for me always.

“Subha, why haven’t you signed up for prom?”

“I don’t know, Mr. W. I don’t feel like it, I guess.”

“May I ask why?”

“Errr…because I don’t want to have a date.”

“Oh. I see. You don’t necessarily have to ask a guy. You can go with your other girl friends.”


“So? Can I put your name down?”

“Errm…I don’t think I can wear those ball gowns. I am not used to them.”

I blabbered in a burst of confidence. I really have no idea what made me confide to him!

He laughed.

“Oh. I see the trouble. Well, I know a place where my sister used to go to get clothes. It has some pretty conservative dresses. Here’s the name of the place in the mall. Try it.”


“Subha, these things happen just once in life. You may go back to your country but you will have some remembrance of us if you attend this. You will carry it with you for life. Ok? Promise you’ll try? I will put your name down for now and also MJ’s.”

I think I am indebted to that kind soul who coaxed me into an experience of a life time!


Dress hunting!

MJ and I went dress hunting to the mall. We browsed through a hundred shops and we didn’t like any. GK was making her own dress. So she didn’t have this problem.

“MJ, you think we should make own clothes?”

“You know sewing?”


“You know to use a machine?”


“So you mean to say that in one month you are going to learn sewing, get a machine and actually make your dress??”

“Hmm..when you put it that way, it does seem difficult.”

She rolled her eyes. And we continued dress hunting.

Too low necked.

Too high.

Too low backed.

Don’t like zippers.

Don’t like halters.

Too expensive.

Ewww…what a color!

Amazing but then it’d stink on me.

I look fat in this.

It was two weeks before prom night and we still didn’t have dresses. So finally, tired of shopping, we settled into Rainforest Café in Metrotown Mall.


The Dress That Found Me

I read Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella sometime back. In that, the wedding planner says,

“You don’t find the dress. The dress finds you.”

I think that might be true. The funny thing is MJ and I found our dresses at the same time.

Mine was a dark blue, satin gown with sequins sewn near the top. Hers was a royal blue, plain gown that suited her creamy complexion perfectly! We both liked it instantly and it was reasonably priced.

Finally, my dress had found me!


Prom Night, Graduation Ceremony etc…

Prom night is a huge cultural statement. Girls spent so many weeks planning what they were going to wear, how they’re going to style their hair, whom they’re going out with etc…It was girlie fun! J We spent endless hours giggling and conspiring.

As for me, I wasn’t going to do my hair or makeup or anything. I’d just wear my gown, add a light choker and I was done. I left my hair loose. 6 of us had rented a limousine together. So we went away in all glory to the Hyatt Regency at the waterfront. There was dinner and dancing. After that, we had a boat ride on the Pacific in the night! It was a magical night!

Graduation ceremony was at the Orpheum Theatre. I wore a red cap and gown and walked across the podium feeling proud and happy!


Goodbye to BNSS!

Thus ended two memorable years. We said our goodbyes to each other, hugged, cried a bit. We signed each others’ yearbooks and hoped we’d see each other somewhere in the future. I took one last look at the Viking mascot in front of our school and walked home in the sunset.


Just one more page and the Diary will end...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries – X

Graduating High School in La-la land

I always thought Canadians put too much dramatics into high school graduation. The "Ooohs" and the "aaahs" and the "big milestone" talks never struck a right chord with me. For me, high school was something everyone had to do and did. I couldn't understand the hoopla and hype about "graduating". But then, it was in the atmosphere so much that I had to go along. We had "Grad bad hair days", "Grad sleepovers", "Grad breakfast", "Grad golf days", "Grad lunch parties", "Grad swim night" , "Grad PJ party" etc...It was everywhere. And it was fun. We had contests on who had the worst bad hair day. We went to school in horrible hairdos and they snapped pictures of it. One day everyone came in PJs to school. I could never bring myself to do that (Blame it on my conservative South Indian upbringing! :)). So I was content to enjoy watching it.

Then, of course, we had the application forms for universities, planning for which career to choose and so on. It was heady stuff but I was uncertain. Should I go to university here? Or back home in India? Would I get funding? I couldn't work on-campus to support myself and dad would leave in 2 years. I had a thousand confusions running through my head. But I wrote SAT, TOEFL etc... in preparation for American universities. I had a very good score in SAT and was hoping to go to the US for my undergrad. But my dad was loathe to leave me alone at the age of 17 in a foreign land.


A name is a name is a name...

I am reminded of two things as I am writing this:

- One of Sayee Santosh’s stand-up comedies in Lexington where he said, “Who names their kid ‘Babu’??? What kind of a name is that??” We were rolling on the floor with laughter! But it kind of highlighted the importance of a name...

- I am reading “Five People You meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom. He says, “There’s nothing in the world that’s disconnected. Everything happens for a reason and our stories intersect.”

Why am I writing this? I realized that one’s name is perhaps the one thing that everyone takes for granted. When I joined school, I had to go through the paper-work. Our school secretary entered my name in the school records.

“What’s your name?”

“Subhashini Srinivasan”

“Huh? How do people call you?”


So, she entered my name in the records as Subha Srinivasan. After one term, I realized that my passport name and school name didn’t match. So I went up to her and told her she had to change my name. So she went ahead and happily entered “Subhashini Srinivasan”. I didn’t even think of that incident much.

A year later, I was applying for universities. We hadn’t decided if I wanted to study here. But I thought I would just apply and see if I got any funding. For various reasons, Simon Fraser University was my choice college. I had excellent grades and I was sure of an admit into CS there. So I dutifully completed my application forms and mailed it in. They’d get transcripts from the school directly.

One month down the line when everyone was getting admits and scholarships, I hadn’t received any notification from them. I was worried. MJ had gotten an admit. So I called them up one fine day and asked them why I hadn’t heard back.

“What’s your name, honey?”

“Subhashini Srinivasan”

“Let me get your record.”

Silence. I was chewing on my lips.

“Hello, I am back. Hmm..let’s see. Oh. This is the weird one we got where you have no record of courses taken at school, no grades and 0 credits! So we just filed it for later perusal.”

The world literally crashed around my ears. I heard a buzzing sound in my ears.

What? How could this happen? I had straight As!

I went straight to my school office and asked the secretary there if my transcript had been requested by any University. She looked through the computer and frowned thoughtfully.

“Oh. I know what happened. I have two names for you – Subha Srinivasan and Subhashini Srinivasan. All your grades are under the first name because that’s what we entered first. The second one doesn’t have any records under it. Sorry, honey. I will correct it and send the transcript right away!”

I gritted my teeth fighting the urge to pound her.

How could she be so flippant? It had cost me one month’s precious time! Everyone had admits.

I cried my eyes out.


A silver lining….

After gut-wrenching weeks, I finally got admits from both UBC (with scholarship) and SFU (no funding). I was upset. People with GPAs less than me had gotten funding at SFU. I wanted to know. So one day, my father and I went to SFU’s computing science department to meet a professor who’d reviewed my application to get the real deal from her.

She was a very nice lady who welcomed us into her office. She looked at my application.

“Oh. A very strong application.”


“Hmm….everything looks excellent! You’re a brilliant candidate! You should’ve gotten funding! Now, let’s see why we missed you.”

I was hopeful. At least, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe it was just an oversight. Maybe they’d rectify it. My heart was pounding.

Her clear voice broke the silence.

“Dear, I know what the trouble was. Your application reached us late. Looks like you had an empty transcript first and then sent the real one. That process took a month nearly. All our scholarships are first come, first serve. I am real sorry that we are not recognizing a wonderful candidate.”

I could see sympathy in her eyes. My own were brimming.

You know what’s the worst thing in life? It is not missing opportunities. It is knowing that you have missed one and that too, due to no fault of your own! Knowing always kills you. Whoever said Ignorance is Bliss was damn right!

Maybe if I’d not bothered to ask why my application was not considered for funding, I’d have been better off? I’d have assumed that I wasn’t smart enough and there rested the case. But knowing that I could’ve gotten it and should’ve gotten it were it not for some secretary who messed up her work was too painful! So, where is the silver lining?

In retrospect, I think it was in knowing that I had enough merit to go to SFU on scholarship. Knowing helps you grow even though it may be painful.


The Diary will flip its last page soon….

Friday, July 28, 2006

Life's Like That!

This morning...

- I wanted to wake up early so I could get some work done and take a long lunch at work. I couldn't get to sleep until 12.30 in the night and woke up at 7.00 AM feeling all puffy-eyed and cranky.

- I poured out a glass of juice that I desperately wanted because I was thirsty. But I forgot to take it with me when I left the house.

- I got in the car and realized my fuel tank was completely empty.

- It starts pouring cats and dogs right when I start driving.

- I have temporary amnesia and go my usual route to work before I realized I had to fuel. (I know that sounds nutty but that's how pre-occupied I was). So I had to take a detour.

- The Speedway gas station which is normally empty is completely full. I mean, so full that you have a car queue! :( I looked at Shell next door and it too was completely jammed. I mean, where's everyone going?!?

- I fueled my car up and returned to find my car keys missing. My keychain had broken open and I had every other key except the car key.

- I spent 20 minutes searching for my key at the gas station before I found it buried deep under the car seat.

- Finally, I thought, I am going to get to work. And I run straight into a traffic jam caused by a car wreck on a side street. The irony is that that street rarely ever sees any traffic much less an accident. Huh!

- My badge reader fails to read at work while I am standing in the pouring rain at the edge of my patience.

Somedays are just not meant to be my day....sigh.

But like they say, there's always a silver lining....

- Yesterday, my car battery failed and I couldn't start my car up. I was in an unfamiliar parking lot and late to work. I asked a couple of drivers but they looked at me really suspiciously and ran away. Then came an old taxi driver who was kind enough to help me jump-start my car. He had to push my car out of the parking lot so we could get the cars close enough to jump-start my car. I couldn't thank him enough.

- Today, as I lost my car keys in the gas station and was sweating like an overworked donkey, a couple of maintenance workers at UK walked up. They'd been seeing my plight for the past 5 minutes and offered to help. They got flashlights and looked around in my car and finally found my key for me! :)

Sometimes, its these little things that really make my day...:)

Have a good weekend!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan

Wanted: A leasing agent at a very nice apartment house who can be snobbish, patronizing and efficient. Duties include being rude and condescending to the new tenant, smiling emptily, ensuring that they realize our worth by acting as hi-fi and snooty as possible. If you don't have these qualities, our training will help you.

It is my opinion that's how apartment houses advertise for positions..:)

Scene 1: I go to a plush, nice apartment house looking for a new house. After initial niceties, I ask about an apartment I am interested in.

Girl: Ah, we don't have that layout for you to look at now. We have another if you'd like.
Me: But I want Layout I.
Girl: I am sorry you can't look at it because we don't have any.
Me: When does it become available?
Girl: Aug 12
Me: Ok, can I have a hold on that apartment but confirm after I've seen it once?
Girl: You can have a hold but it costs $200.
Me: Will I get it back if I don't like it?
Girl: No. That's penalty for changing your mind.
Me: Penalty? But I haven't even seen the apartment. How can I decide if I like it or not?
Girl: I don't know, Ma'am. I am sorry but those are the rules.
Me: So I can't see the apartment until Aug 12 but I have to agree to take it now without seeing it?
Girl: Yes. If not, we will lease it to someone else.
Me: But how will that someone else decide to take it if they've not seen it?
Girl: [smiling patronizingly] They do.
Me: I don't believe this!

Scene 2: We are at an apartment looking at it.

Me: Will the management change all carpets and damaged items in the apartment before I move in?
Girl: Yes.
Me: How can I be guaranteed that I will have a new carpet?
Girl: [smiling icily] You can't.
Me: ????!$#$#$# So it is at the management's disposal? What if I am not happy with it?
Girl: Oh, we can't help it.

Scene 3: Apartment office. Working out details of the rent.

Girl: You have two choices. If you take an apartment with a washer/dryer then its $30 extra per month. Otherwise, it is just $X00.
Me: Hmm ok. So if I take the apartment with the washer/dryer, how much does it amount to? [I know the math but I just wanted to confirm.]
Girl: [looking blank] is $X15.
Me: [confused]. Are you sure?
Girl: Of course. I know.
Me: For washer/dryer, it is $30 more?
Girl: uh-huh
Me: [unakku kanakku podave therlai. Idhula "uh-huh" vera!] Ok, if it is $X15, I will take it.
Girl: Hang on. Let me get a calculator.
[Does calculation]
Oh, I am sorry. It is $X30.
Me: But you just said $X15.
Girl: hehe..I can't do math without a calculator..hehe.
Me: Siri..adhu onnu dhaan kuraichal.

Scene 4: I decide to take an apartment and I am signing the papers.

Girl: We have a 3rd floor apartment and a 1st floor. The 3rd floor comes without washer/dryer.
Me: Hmm..I think I will take the 3rd floor. I plan to buy my own washer/dryer.
Girl: Ok. If you can sign here please....
Girl: I need you to put down your salary.
Me: Why?
Girl: We need to make sure you can pay your rent.
Me: [Offended] If I can't pay my rent, i wouldn't move in here.
Girl: We need to decide that. I also need your paystub.

[Podi. Enga amma appa kooda idhu varaikkum ennai paystub kettadhillai!]

Me: Grumble..grumble...ok..humph.

Girl: I need your manager's number.
Me: What for??
Girl: I need to make sure you work where you say you work!
Me: You will have my paystub, right?
Girl: We don't like to evict our tenants. So we make sure of everything before they move in. Your manager has to fill out a form.
Me: What if he is too busy?
Girl: You can't move in.
Me: $#&&#$^#$&#$&#$&#$^!

Scene 5: I am at work smug and satisfied that finally I finished my house-hunting affair. I am dreaming about having vaulted ceilings and chandeliers and soft lighting....Phone rings.

Me: Hello..
Girl: Hi, this is J here.
Me: Oh, hi!
Girl: You can't have the third floor apartment.
Me: What? Why?
Girl: I was wrong. The tenants don't move out until November.
Me: But you said they would in Aug?
Girl: No. I am sorry. I was wrong.
Me: But I don't want the first floor apartment.
Girl: Sorry, ma'am. That's the only one available.
Me: Are there any other apartments I can look at?
Girl: No.
Me: Can I have my deposit back?
Girl: No. it is non-refundable.
Me: But I put down a deposit hoping I'd get the 3rd floor apartment! This is unfair.
Girl: Hmm..maybe I can take off $20 from the rent?
Me: That's it?
Girl: That's all.
Me: grumble..grumble...ok.

That, my friends, is what you've to go through to get a nice apartment. Sigh..

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries – 9

You rock, mom!

Of us all, my mother was probably the worst hit by the gloomy winters of Vancouver. Sitting alone at home all day long is an extremely boring and painful thing! I never realized how much until now. If, for one day, I don’t go to work and I am left alone at home, I feel like I’d go stark, raving mad! So here’s hats off to my mom for enduring those long, boring, lonely winters!

The Internet was coming of age during that time and she delved right into it. She used to browse Vikatan, Kumudham, Hindu etc… online. There was also an online Tamizh radio program weekly by Suresh Chakravarthy and Subasree Thanigachalam. We used to avidly gather around the computer every Thursday to listen to a few Tamizh songs! That’s how Tamizh-starved we were.


A friend in need…

There are no constant friends or constant enemies. And one who doesn’t realize it is a loser. I learnt that one fine, wintry evening at Burnaby North. I was walking from the North building to the South around late afternoon. I’d stayed back for some extra work and it was pretty dark outside. There’s a walkway from the North building to the South and then there’s the shortcut. The shortcut cut across the lawn and a parking lot and led to a door at the back of the South building. Usually, everyone took the shortcut. Near the parking lot, there was a shady area that was notorious for drug users.

I had noticed some weird looking characters around there quite a few times but I just ignored it and walked on. Well, today was a bit different. I was alone in the parking lot and as I was crossing it, a gang of 4 or 5 people emerged from the shades and started walking toward me. I broke into a sprint. But they caught up to me before I could get to the door. I swallowed once and held my breath.

"Hey, you want to try getting high?"

"NO." I wonder where I mustered the strength to reply boldly.

"It doesn't hurt, you know..just one pinch of the needle and you're done."

"No, thank you. I have to be somewhere."

"Where to?" one of them snickered.

The most convincing excuse I could think of at that time was that I was going to meet my boyfriend. It meant that there was someone waiting for me and expecting me. If I didn't turn up, they'd come here and get me. So I blurted out my best excuse.

Silence. Then a snicker.

"Where is he? You're lying, aren't you, girlie? You don't want to hang out with us?"

I was truly in trouble now. I was maintaining a circle around me because I was afraid one of them would jab me with some needle if I wasn't alert enough. Even in that cold, a sweat broke out on my forehead. The thought of myself being a drug addict for the rest of my life was too scary. Just when I thought I was a goner, I heard a voice say:

"Let her go. She's my girl."

Oh, God! Is that who I think it is? Doesn't that voice sound familiar? Maybe I am just getting desperate now. Is this true? If so, please let me hear the voice again.

Hey guys, you heard me. She's with me."

I turned slowly and saw The Godfather himself standing there. The druggy gang backed off and slinked away murmuring.

We went into the south building. I was shivering uncontrollably.

"Are you okay?" he asked with concern.

"I will be in a few minutes...Thanks!"

He shrugged and said,

"Aw, that's fine. You're lucky I was going home late today. I got detention in Math class."

A lopsided grin swathed his face. I smiled and said,

"Been smashing pies on people's faces in Math class?"

"Wish I could!"

We both laughed aloud.

"Don't ever walk that way alone in the evenings. Take the main walkway."


And we both went our ways! Like I said, you never know who is an enemy and who is a friend.


I discover a passion

I had always enjoyed reading. From Greek mythology to Egyptian lore to History of Civilization to Agatha Christie to anything-you-name, I voraciously devoured anything that came my way. But, in a way, I was limited in my reading repertoire. English Lit class changed all that. I was introduced to alternate genres, off beat writing, short stories, poems etc...Some books I had as schoolwork during that time are memorable: "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque, "The Kitchen God's Wife" - Amy Tan, "A Handmaid's Tale" - Margaret Atwood, "The Color Purple" - Alice Walker.

More than the story/content of each book, I learnt to appreciate writing on a different level. My teachers taught me to look for style, tone, use of words, allusions and how each of them contributed to the storyline. It was writing broken down into little component pieces. Reading books was no more for content alone. Poems were fun too. I learnt about rhythm patterns (Iambic Pentameter etc...), Shakespearean sonnets, Petrarchian sonnets, satire, the meta-physical poets etc...

Homeworks were interesting because they were so different. We had to sometimes review books, review poems, write a sonnet of our own in Shakespearean style, act out a play, do readings etc... English and Literature were heaven for me! As a consequence of all those little homeworks, I discovered writing as a passion. I had never considered putting thoughts down on a piece of paper before. But now I knew the basics - how to write, how to phrase, where to put what etc...Oh, its so hard to explain! But once you know the structure of an essay, its so easy to organize your thoughts accordingly.

We had a small noticeboard outside our classes where teachers would put up their students' best work. I was proud when Mrs. B put up my review of "The Mayor of Casterbridge" on the noticeboard..:) Two months down the line, I had my first article in a newspaper!


The Diary will flip its next page soon…

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Early on a Sunday morning, I read this post and that led me to Anuradha Ramanan's article in Vikatan. I was so incensed on reading that article that I had to write about it in my Tamil blog. After all, there's no better language to spill your guts than the mother tongue, is there? :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Looks Vs. Smarts

Recently, read an article by a very smart person about looks and intelligence. The debate was between Smart & Ugly Vs. Hot and Dumb. The author was against societal biases in judging people based on looks alone. I expected a lot of comments agreeing with the author.

Surprise, suprise. Most of the commenters wanted to be both hot and smart. But everyone emphasized the importance of being handsome/beautiful. Not even a single person said, "Hey, its okay if I am not that great looking. I am smart. That's the way I want it to be." Instead, the responses were more along the line of, "Huh...I want to be both" or "I want to be beautiful in my youth and then I want to be smart."

Articles online also seen to say that the bias towards "attractiveness" is hardwired into our systems. Almost like nature wants the best of the breed! :) But it seems totally unfair too! What about us poor beings who might not be terribly beautiful?? Are we supposed to be left behind in jobs, promotions, education and society?

No wonder there is so much emphasis on beauty these days....

Monday, July 10, 2006

Indian movies and Love

I was reading a bunch of Tamil movie reviews on Indiaglitz. Either its love or violence for our storywriters. In a land where most get married by 30(love or arranged) and most marriages last through life (unlike other countries), why is there so much obsessing about love and marriage??!? Why can't there be some other meaningful themes?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Prada, Elizabethtown and et al...

(Entertainment Weekly) -- As legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland used to say in the era before daunting editor Anna Wintour, who inspired the character of terrifying editor Miranda Priestly, who, in the yummy, carb-lite fashion-world fantasy "The Devil Wears Prada," rules the fictitious magazine Runway like a magnificently cruel empress -- well, as DV used to say, People Are Talking About ... Meryl Streep.

Courtesy: CNN Entertainment Weekly

That is either the worst sentence construct I've read in recent memory or the author's feeble attempt at sarcastic humour is lost on me. I read the entire piece (link above) and I found it rather pompous. Why? Example:

The story is glossy junk begat of just-plain junk anyway


Anyways,I watched "The Devil Wears Prada" last week. I loved Meryl Streep's performance as Miranda Priestly. Anne Hathaway looked much better in "The Princess Diaries" and "Ella Enchanted". Certainly watchable once for Streep's performance. That's all (read in Priestly's style)..:)

Watched 'Elizabethtown' yesterday night. Saddest movie I've seen. No screen chemistry between Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. And Orlando Bloom just deadpans through his character. Kirsten Dunst portrays a highly improbable Claire. Flimsy premise. Dumbest dialogues I've heard in a while. The people in the movie laugh at all the wrong times. The only saving grace in the movie is Susan Sarandon in the last fifteen minutes. The talented actress that she is, she held me spellbound in those few closing minutes.

I know RS, Kay and Venky thought the movie was better than what I have just said...:) Especially, Kay thinks its the best and most romantic movie he has ever seen... :)

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries – VIII

MJ and I became fast friends. She was a Romanian immigrant. Her family had recently moved to Vancouver. Her English was sparse but she was a fast learner! Our lockers were close by and we had lunch together everyday. We used to stand around chatting after school for a long time. She used to tell me horror stories about Romanian life and government. I was thankful I wasn’t fleeing my country.

Soon after that, I befriended GK who was in my English class. She was a Korean girl brought up in Argentina. Soon after, a lot of other kids became friends with me. I was easing into the school system. It wasn't painful anymore to go to school everyday.

My brother had a breeze of a time at school! His assignments included wandering around in the park collecting dried leaves and sticking them in a notebook; Going swimming and writing a report on it; Learning ice skating and then talking about it. Well, you can guess how stressful his life was! He went to Sperling Elementary which was 5 minutes away from our home. While I had to get up at 7 AM and trudge to school, he would wake up around 8.15 and dash from bed to school in 10 minutes. And he had hot lunch waiting for him everyday at home. Lucky Dog! Besides, my brother was popular amongst the ladies. Being popular included getting a lot of phone calls and words of praise about his beautiful eyes etc...


The Revenge of the Midgets

MJ and I were sitting in front of our lockers at lunchtime.

"Oh-Oh! MJ, look over there."

The Mafia was approaching down the hallway laughing out aloud. I had told her my little run-in and found that she’d had her own episode with them. Of course, it wasn’t bad as mine! (Why did I have to get the worst experiences??)

"MJ, let's go"

She grasped my hand firmly and said defiantly, "Subha, why should we go?"

She didn't seem so scared. I was. They had still not noticed me. I was trying to wrench my hands away from her. Her eyes suddenly had mischief in them.

"Subha, put the book in front of your face and hide. I will do the same."

Now, I was giggling.

"When I whisper, stick your feet out in front of you ever so slowly, ok?"

I nodded. As those guys came near, ever so slowly, both of us stuck our feet out in front of us. And down the Godfather went, sprawling on the corridor in front of him! Yaaaaaaay! The entire hallway burst out laughing. And then, we did the most heroic thing we’d ever done so far:

MJ and I ran for our lives still giggling uncontrollably! After all, discretion is the better part of valour, ain’t it?:)



Life abroad makes you think. Not the student life where you are surrounded by desis of your own age like I am here in Lexington. But the kind of life where you get to peek into older first generation immigrants and see a”20-years-down-the-line” you reflected in the eyes of the 50 year old man in front of you.

We met so many Indians who had settled down – for good or bad- in Vancouver for the past 20-30 years. All of them were successful, wealthy and had good lives. They had managed to retain a semblance of their Indian roots and celebrated it in the occasional weekend festival party. But their kids were quintessentially Canadian.

I think most of us see our kids as mirror images of ourselves. We wear a set of colored glasses and see them through that. I will compare my kid’s childhood tomorrow with mine own and happily float along in the thought that he/she is going through what I did.

“Ah, my son is like me. He also likes chapattis!”

“My daughter is like me – very patient and understanding!”

We see them wearing Indian clothes at parties/festivals and think, “Hey, I brought up my kid to be Indian! I used to wear pavadai-sattai at Diwali when I was a kid too”. Little do we know that it is but a costume for them – sans the associated cultural overtones that we relate to in our mind. We keep living in our own imaginary world and suddenly, one day you are given a rude shock!

You see them dating/marrying a non-Indian and you can’t accept it. You fight, flail your arms, shout from treetops but to no avail. You try to get them married to a homegrown Indian boy/girl and you meet with stiff resistance (on both ends kind of like “Pardes”).

Finally, with shoulders slouching, you accept the truth: They are no more Indian than you are American/Canadian. And that disappointment lingers in your heart and tears you limb to limb!

I had a peep of this side of things a long time back when I saw frustrated parents who couldn’t get along with their kids. One man even left his wife and kids and moved back to India. Alone. The wife didn’t want to accompany him because she wanted to be with the children. And the children didn’t want to move to India, of course!

“Subha, how I wish I could turn the clock back 20 years! I was blinded by money! I thought I could still bring up my kids to be Indians! Never thought it’d turn out this way…”

That refrain is common…and it makes me shudder!


A year later....

I know I've been grumbling a lot about Vancouver. But, hey, it was really not that bad! I made a lot of new friends at school. Life became easier. It is one of my axioms that 'Intense growth comes with great pain'. Those 2-2.5 years of my life were the years I really grew - on a personal front as well as academic. After my initial pains with physics, I actually grew to enjoy the subject and the style of teaching followed there. I was amazed at the variety of courses offered in High School ranging from Pottery to Archaeology etc...!

However, true to my South Indian conservative lineage, I couldn't muster enough courage to be adventurous in my choice of courses...:) So I stuck to the beaten path: Science, Computers, Math etc...But thinking back, I think I'd have wanted to take some off-beat courses. MJ pulled me into Math clubs, Science clubs etc... after school hours.

Over the summer, I did a part-time job as a secretary in a company. In the evenings, MJ and I used to pick cherries from our cherry tree in the backyard! :) She really was crazy about it because they used to go berry-picking in her home country of Romania. :) A bunch of us played soccer near the Burnaby Lake over the weekends and then wolfed down our picnic hampers and took long walks. GK, MJ , DO, myself all went to Lynn Valley for a hike. It was raining (true to Vancouver's reputation) and we had a fun time slipping and sliding in the muddy trail giggling all the way. My family went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park. My brother and I loved the suspension bridge! I scared him out of his senses on the swaying suspension bridge!

We went to Grouse Mountain often. I never did understand their motto which was played on all their gondolas:

"No wonder our chefs are inspired. Grouse mountain, the peak of Vancouver."

Huh? Chefs inspired by a mountain? How can food be related to a majestic mountain? Maybe food will be majestic? Whatever. My brother and I came up with a dozen hilarious answers and then gave up! :)


The Diary will flip its next page very soon…

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Last two weeks in brief...

Read this week...

I've been on a reading spree!

- Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach

Very inspirational! Takes around 1.5 hours to finish it and it is available online here. Do read if you have some free time especially if you are a perfectionist or would like to go places. I'd rate it as a 9/10.

- Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

The second book of this author's that I've read recently. The first was "Tuesdays with Morrie". A different look on the concept of "heaven" and how it ties into your life here on earth! But I found it a bit less interesting than Tuesdays with Morrie. I'd give it a rating of 7/10.

- God's Debris - Scott Adams

An excellent book that challenges you to think. It makes you question certain things you have taken for granted and forces you to distinguish between truth and fiction! Not everything the characters say can be taken as truth either! :) Definitely a must-read if you have an inquiring mind and dig philosophy, religion, meaning of life and such. I was enthralled and just wait until you find out what "God's Debris" actually IS! :) It is free and you can get it here.I rate it as a 9.5/10.

- Vaakkapatta Bhoomi - Ganesan (Tamizh)

Excellent read! Takes you on a journey to Tamilnadu's villages and a lifestyle long extinct! Ganesan traces the evolution of culture in our villages to incorporate modernity and how it has affected a few traditions. It is not a book that pans modernity and present day culture. In fact, the villagers themselves support certain improvements in lifestyle. I loved it! Rating: 8/10.

- I, Claudius - Robert Graves

Published in 1934 and a best-seller in its times, I ordered this book yesterday. Ra. Ki. Rangarajan's "Naan Krishnadeva Rayan" (a good read on its own!) is inspired by this classic. In fact, that was primary reason for getting this book. You can read about the book here. I haven't opened the first page yet. Will comment when I am done. I do love holding a fresh, new book with its distinctive book-smell in my hands! Ummm..I foresee a relaxed, comfy evening with this book in my hands and a hot cuppa tea! :))

- On The Ganga Mail: Reflections

In contrast to the others above, this is a blog. I found the blog in itself interesting. But I loved this post! :)

Heard this week....

It has been an Abheri-spree! :) (A random thought popped into my head. Is it right to use "an" in front of "Abheri". It is a Tamizh/Sanskrit word and I am transcribing it in English. Tamil/Sanskrit don't have rules for using "a" or "an" in front of vowels. So which rule do I follow?:))

- Tillana in Raga Dhanasri by MS.

Dhanasri is a.k.a for Abheri. I can't get this beautiful rendition out of my head! :) It is on MIO under M.S Subbulakshmi. I can't get the link to the page because MIO looks like it is down. Let me know if you want the link.

- Kandan Karunai by Madurai Mani Iyer

Raga: Abheri/Bhimplas. First time I am listening to this song. I love Abheri as it is and this song just added more reasons! You will definitely notice a similarity to "Isai Thamizh Nee" from Thiruvilayadal towards the end of this rendition! :) Listen to it here.

- Narayana by Maharajapuram Santhanam
Raga: Suddha Dhanyasi. I've heard this song many times before. But somehow, it struck home this week more powerfully...:) Listen to it here.

Did this week...

- A couple of very embarassing gaffes.. :) But I think I will live through it.
- As if two weren't enough, started another blog! :) I know, I know..I can hear your exasperated sighs!