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... :)