Thursday, December 27, 2007
February: One of my close friends moves to the US of A. Yippeee!
March: S moves to Lexington. Start having loooong phone conversations with parents in India about wedding plans. It was a bit tense at first because Dad wasn't getting any mandapams in Chennai. One night, I was on the phone with Dad and we were discussing wedding dates. Started bawling on the phone all of a sudden that I wanted my Dad here in the US right away, right now. S was totally confused by my sudden tears and tried to assuage me. Meanwhile, Dad on the phone totally panicked..:)
April: Engaged to S! Party Time! RS & PH devised a jodi porutham type of game for S & I. We scored above 50%! Whew!
May: Nothing much happened here. I just had these umpteen conversations with mom and dad about wedding planning, shopping etc..!
June: RT, N, S & I started practicing Carnatic songs for "Glimpses of India" to be performed at the Univ of KY. This was major fun! :)A good friend in Lex gets married!
July: "Glimpses of India" on Jul 28th! Had a ball of a time performing in a huge auditorium. S&I broke into a major fight soon after that...:) Another friend gets married..!
August: Moved apartments again! Sigh. S made me an amazing necklace for my birthday. India trip again! Whopeee!
September: Married S without PMJs or any other incidents..:) Chennai had a Tsunami alert on the evening of maplai azhaippu. Entire trip was so hectic that we were both looking pretty worn out in our wedding pictures.
October: Friends sent us on a honeymoon to the Great Smoky mountains. Priya was the architect of this trip. Hats off! Started formal Carnatic music lessons again.
November: In-laws were here. Thalai Diwali. New place. A-mazing Thanksgiving party with lotsa jamming, friends and food. This was a rocking month..!
December: So December has rolled around yet again. I think I've fulfilled one resolution from last year -- staying in touch with Carnatic music. I learnt a lot of new krithis and Dinesh told me I've improved vastly! I have not really blogged that much this year compared to previous years' averages. Hopefully, I'll reverse that in 2008. For starters, I personalized this blog a little bit.
Farewell, 2007! I think you've been a good year for me.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Unless you're this die-hard fan of Vince Vaughn, please don't see this movie. I don't know who thought up Vince's character in the movie. He seems to be delivering dialogues without commas, punctuations or pauses. Just like the annoying train noise that you hear when you live close to the tracks. And if anyone ever courted me the pushy way he courts Jen Aniston, I think I'd be downright annoyed.
Apart from Vince Vaughn, the story itself seems quite silly. So please don't see it.
Music & Lyrics:
The movie was kinda cutesy in a pink way. But the songs got stuck in my head. Especially the "Way Back Into Love" number. Hugh Grant's role as the funny, lost bachelor is being reprised again. But it is quite passable.
We've watched one half the movie. So far it has been quite funny and interesting. Sathyaraj, as the girl's dad, is very convincing..:) Very clean comedy too! I am eager to finish watching the movie.
Chak De India:
Best Hindi movie I've seen in recent times. I was observing to S that if a male coaches a female sports team in India, there's usually a scene where the blameless hero gets entangled in sexual harassment allegations and goes home in disgrace. Thankfully, the movie didn't have such cheesy scenes and everyone had acted well! I loved it.
Azhagiya Tamizh Magan:
I've probably seen 20 mins of the movie seeing as I fell asleep after a very sumptuous dinner. So far, its been all Vijay's gyrations & masala. Others who managed to stay awake say that it was passable. Of course, everyone's watched just half the movie. I don't know when I am going to see the rest! :)
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007
It was fun to have the camaraderie of practicing together;of laughing together at some good and some dead-end jokes; of just just giggling away to glory for the most trivial of things; of just having friends over for the holidays.
Later in the night, after wolfing down pizza, we had a Carnatic music session. It went on and on and on until 2.30 AM in the morning..! :) Finally, exhausted but thoroughly entertained after a long evening, we settled down to just "talk" into the wee hours of the morning..
Here's a song we recorded with our miscues and all..:)
Singers: Subha & RT
Drums: Sujan & Dinesh
Monday, November 26, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Last weekend, S and I went to K's house in Cincinnati for Dikshithar Day. A bunch of very talented musicians get together every year on Muthuswami Dikshithar's anniversary and sing his compositions. There was a veena player, a flutist, two mridangists (S being one of them) and lots and lots of singers. A 12-year old kid captured everyone's hearts with her beautiful renditions of some ghana ragas: Todi, Gowlai etc..In addition to singing flawlessly, she also played the violin! I was dreading being asked to sing in front of all these super-knowledgeable, super-talented people. S, dutifully, called out my name. He, of course, was scintillating on the mridangam and rarely ever worries about being not-talented. I think I managed to acquit myself fairly decently. Chitra Visveswaran's niece was there to demonstrate Mamava Pattabhirama & Rangapura Vihara through abhinayas. She wowed people with her performance and also her looks..:)
So what's my point? That it is extremely hard to be an "average" person and get through life. It is like you don't have any identity at all and it is unfair of God to distribute talent so unevenly. Hmph. Maybe I should try to be a bit eccentric. That way, people will remember me at least as that "weird, eccentric lady who kept pulling funny faces whenever someone tried to talk to her."
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Sunday, November 04, 2007
We are moving. Again. Between S & I, we've managed 5 moves in one year. This will be our 6th. The thing about frequent moves is that you can never, ever find what you want. You will have forgotten half the things that you own so that when an old boondhi ladle springs out of a cardboard box, you squeal with the delight of ownership: "Ooh..that's so cool!" But the things you do have a memory of will be nowhere to find.
Where's the big tea filter that mum gave me when I came to the US for the first time? I remember it was in the big, grayish-white cardboard box when I moved the first time. Then, it got transferred to the big suitcase with all the vessels? Maybe it is in the topmost shelf above the refrigerator in the kitchen? Hmm..maybe in the cardboard box.
So, you can understand if I am a bit addled in my head right now..:) Anyhoo, the good thing about all this moving is that you get to relive memories of the past. In the name of cleaning, I dig out my college photographs, autograph books, letters that my friends wrote to me while I was in Canada, greeting cards from all previous birthdays etc... It is quite fun and makes you remember how young you once were and what others thought of you then.
So in my current digging spree, I came across this dirty bit of folded, creased paper lodged between some inland postal covers (the blue postal ones in India, you know! Before e-mail, this is how people communicated) and my old autograph book. As I opened it, my frown turned into a smile and then a grin! :)
Flashback. Tortoise rotates..
In my college second year, a guy called GS took a fancy to me. I never did like him much because the only way he showed his liking for me was by passing comments about my eyes and clothes in crowded corridors. But he was exceptionally good at Tamil and I'd heard that he wrote poems. So one day, during a very boring Microprocessor lesson, the professor was droning on and on about interrupts. On a very hot Trichy afternoon with the temperature in the 40s, if you've had heavenly curd rice for lunch, it is very difficult to keep the Goddess of Sleep away especially in the first hour right after lunch.
I was half asleep and doodling on my notes. A sound like suppressed coughing came from my right and I avoided looking in that direction. I did not want to hear any comment from anyone about my eyes. So I kept staring straight ahead when my friend painfully nudged me and thrust a piece of paper in my hands. I turned around and sure enough, I found GS grinning at me annoyingly.
Naan maskable interrupt- aaga irundhaal
Unnai kettu pin kathalithiruppen
Naano non-maskable interrupt
Aagave un utharavinri unnaiye ninaikkinren!
Even though I never did end up liking GS, I liked the the wit and the timeliness in the poem very much. It still brings a smile to my face when I read it.
Friday, October 26, 2007
1. Victim marries rapist because the town tells her that's the right thing to do and he's technically her husband.
2. Bride's father commits suicide because some idiot stopped the wedding right before the muhurtham. Usually, he claims to be the ex-boyfriend and the groom becomes all righteous and decides not to marry a "tainted" girl.
3. Wife commits suicide because her husband leaves her and she's "vaazha vetti".
4. Marriage is a one-time thing for a woman. And if it fails, God forbid, there's no life for the woman after that!
5. Polygamy amongst males is acceptable.
#1 is extremely ridiculous and re-inforced by movies like "Nattamai" and countless serials. How can a woman live with an insensitive guy who doesn't care about her wishes/feelings?
I don't even want to talk about #2. There's still intense societal pressure about honor. Though it is a humiliating thing to happen, I don't see why the bride's father has to die. Societal recognition is not worth dying! People are fickle and they're often wrong.
#3 -- I've seen it almost happen in real-life. Tamizh women are obsessed with this "vaazha vetti" thing. They let go of their body & mind and become obese, stupid creatures. Their excuse: "I am vaazha vetti". Whatever!
#4 -- Indians have an obsession with the "one-time-only" concept in almost anything. There are no second chances, no second life etc..Unfortunately for women, they suffer the worst. There's this article in Vikatan about a guy who cheated and married 100 women through an online matrimony site! 100. And what happens to these poor women? Their marriages are void legally . Is re-marriage even an option for them? I bet their own families wouldn't agree to it!
Serials are the worst culprits here. By broadcasting something repeatedly, they re-inforce these notions and make them acceptable currency. Bah!
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Thursday, October 18, 2007
"Hi, I was wondering if we could just drop by this evening.."
"Oh, then why not make it dinner?"
"Come on. We haven't seen you in a while. Let's do dinner."
Okay. So the next time you want to meet them, you'd have to ask them over for lunch/dinner/breakfast or whatever. This being golu season, your golu invite is usually clubbed with dinner/lunch. There's no just dropping by someone acquaintance's place in the evening around 6-ish, having sundal, chit-chatting and just leaving. I guess people are just trying to be hospitable and take care of the guests. But is there such a thing as over-hospitality?
This time in India, I was plied sumptuously with coffee/snacks each time I visited someone's house no matter what the time of day! Morning, evening or night, you're supposed to have something.
"Have some coffee.."
"No..I just had some at Kripa Aunty's house. We stopped there before coming here.."
"Oh, you should taste the wonderful new coffee powder we got at Andal Cafe! Just a little bit.."
"No, please. I'll have some water.."
"Then have some juice. Mango ok?"
Usually, by the time I got home I'd feel like an over-stuffed party bag with all sorts of food items sloshing around in my tummy.
Besides, I think Indians have this special niche for coming up with creative dishes. For almost any festival/function in the house, we have sumptuous meals served on banana leafs. I like eating on banana leafs but then, you lose track of your portion size on them..:) So the cook plies you with liberal servings of sojji appams, 2-3 kosmalli varieties, vazhapoo vadais, sambar, morkuzhambu, rasam, 3-4 poriyals and koottus, payasam and you're left panting just looking at your banana leaf! People don't take "No. Enough" for an answer when they serve. They think it means we're being shy to ask. So they ply you with even more food.
"Tsk..these days kids have shrunk their stomachs in the US. See, she's struggling to finish her lunch and I've just finished two servings of each dish! Tell your daughter to eat well!"
Besides all this, there are those working lunches, working dinners etc..If you want to meet a colleague outside of work, you do it over dinner. If you want to talk to your realtor about something, you go to the nearest Starbucks or Krispy Kreme and down 2 donuts before you leave. Why can't we just meet anyone somewhere in the park or the library or the nearest museum? Why is food the central point of all congregations?
I have nothing against all those people who feed me good food..:) But personally, If I want to meet a friend to just talk, then I'd like to be able to do that without scheduling a mealtime for it! Besides, hasn't mommy said that talking while eating is bad for your health? :)
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Anyone who's gotten married in true Tamil Brahmin tradition or attended a close relative's wedding will know that marriage is all about "banthathis". For the uninitiated, "Bandhadhi" is a style of doing things associated with a place. Eg. Tanjavur bandhadhi, Palakkad bandhadhi, blah, blah, blah. Most of these bandhadhis enunciate very, very,very essential,important things to a marriage:
1. The size and ingredient(cashew, kadalai paruppu or thengai) of the 3rd paruppu thengai in the nth seer varisai being presented to the groom's side.
This assumes paramount importance because some old maami from the groom's side who's married off 5 daughters will be watching it. She will also promptly come and tell your mom:
"Yendi, ennadhu idhu unga aathula mundhiri paruppu paruppu thengai vekkaradhu dhaan pazhakkama? Enga bandhadhi-la idhellam kidaiyaadhuppa. Hmmm.."
2. The shape of the vessel that maamis use to carry the vilakku during the oonjal. For the ignorant: Mamis circumambulate the bride & the groom on the oonjal with a vilakku in a vessel.
Mami1: "Enga bandhadhi la ellam bosi dhaan.."
Mami2: "Ille ille, enga bandhadhi la adukku dhaan..enna pesarel!"
3. The exact sequence of relative maamis when doing the paruppu pudi ritual during oonjal.
I cannot stress the importance of this. Not only does each bandhadhi have its special way of suthifying paruppu pudi, the hierarchy of the maamis is also very important. If you ask a younger person to do it before an older maami (who incidentally would've disappeared somewhere at that exact time and cannot be found), you have a crisis on your hands.
4. The exact count & identity of persons who should be present in the room when the bride has to tie her nine yards saree.
The first rule is that none should care about the sentiments of the bride. If tradition dictates that your maami paatti's daughter-in-law's nathanaar has to be present, then it HAS to be that way. Doesn't matter if the concerned person knows to tie the nine-yards saree.
5. The menu of the wedding.
If you don't get the menu right for your banthathi, you will be ostracized and castigated by your banthathi clan.
6. The shape and variety of betel leaves that is given as tamboolam.
"Enga Tanjavur-la ellam kumbakonam vethalai dhaan kudupaa! Idhai paaru, edho vathalagundu vethalaiya kondu vandhu vechirukaa! Hmm..ivaloda pazhakkame veraya irukku!"
Knowing your "banthathi" will also make you Supreme Counselor of Unwritten Marriage (SCUM for short) rules for ALL weddings that you attend in your lifetime! Seeing how important all these above listed things are very important to our marital bliss and peacefulness, S and I have decided to initiate our own, special banthathi: the Lexington Banthathi. This will ensure that we will be lifetime presidents of this new banthathi clan and none will have the courage to overrule us. Maamis, watch out! Here we come!
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Tuesday, October 09, 2007
I don't know when gyaan descended on me (You must agree that it is a sure sign of enlightenment that I can't pinpoint the moment the lightbulb went off in my head! :)) but things are not so black-and-white to me these days. Recently, I found that a relative hadn't shared some important family events, albeit sorrowful, with us. It was a shock to the entire family to find out about it. Some were angry, some outraged, some unconcerned. I just felt sympathy. There's so much involved in sharing personal things -- a bit of ego, fear of judgement, fear of disapproval, fear of being seen as a loser, fear of consequences and fear of the pity that'd be brought on by sharing. And sometimes, its just the plain burden of having to pick up the phone and talk to people than face-to-face interaction. The list could go on!
I've stopped basing relationships on what other people share with me. Sure, I feel good if they trust me enough to tell me something. If not, well, I'll be a bit hurt but they'll still be good friends! :) Besides, some secrets are best left in the dark.
The friend I fought with during college is still one of my good friends. He came to India from the US for my wedding and though I didn't get to talk to him much, I was happy to just have him around. I've realized that I can't let go of some relationships no matter what -- secrets or not!
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
The entire wedding seems like a happy and exciting blur -- shopping, relatives, excitement, rituals, mantras, temple trips, good food & good times! I confess I was too wound up (about just getting the 9-yards saree tied in proper fashion before people started banging on the Bride's door -- "Neramaachu..Ponnai vara sollungoo!" ) to have the "Omigosh-I-am-getting-married-eeeeks" feeling..:) Everything went in fast-forward mode in India and now I am savouring each moment through photos/videos. Long live technology! :)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The 20-20 match between India & Australia was being displayed on the new LCD screens at the airport. Around 300-400 people in the lounge were all glued to the TV screens. A collective groan rose as Dhoni misfielded and let the ball through for a run. And then, a wicket -- Gilchrist gone! And the entire lounge erupted in claps and cheers. Even the security folks stopped their screening for a minute and applauded.
The height of all this drama was the following incident. IA was boarding their flight to Singapore. They were issuing the final boarding call for all passengers while there were still 20 balls left in the match. And a whole set of people on that flight were glued to the TV screens and didn't budge!
IA Official: Final boarding call for Singapore flight. Sir, Singapore poravanga ellam flight-la erunga sir!
Passenger: Sir, oru two minutes..
IA Official: Everyone on IA flight to Singapore, please kindly board...[pleading]
IA Official: Sir, dhayavu senju erunga..flight edukkanum...[literally begging]
Still none budged. Everyone watched India's victory and then boarded the IA flight with a satisfied smile on their faces. :) It can only happen in India!
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Monday, September 24, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
I like to look behind a success story and figure out how/why it happened. This is true of both people and products. Lots of times, people only see the finished end product and go, "Oh, they had it easy" or "Oh, that's intuitive enough. Nothing new". I think the real interesting success story lies in the making of a product/person. And if you look closely enough, you'll find a piece of the person in the products that they create.
I was curious about Steve Jobs. So I picked up "iCon: The Second Greatest Act in The History of Business", a biography of Steve Jobs and started reading it.
First off, this was a good read unlike some other biographies. It doesn't bore you with unrelated stories and vague statements. It is simple, straightforward and dishes out criticism as well as credit. It amazed me that for someone who talks a lot about karma & philosophy, Jobs sometimes can be ridiculously silly! :) Goes to show that genius in one field doesn't mean any kind of maturity in general. Sure enough, when you read through Jobs' life story, you see some elements of his character in Apple products -- for instance, the austere simplicity of Apple applications or the easy aesthetics of the UI.
Whether you love Apple or not, it is definitely an inspiring read about a man who changed three industries -- computers, music and movies. In the book, Jobs makes it clear that his final ambition would be to overtake and defeat his main competitor -- Bill Gates. Almost all his moves in the computer market have been toward making Apple a viable alternative to Windows boxes. And I have to say that he's getting closer.
I am a hardcore Windows user and I don't have many complaints against it. But I was simply blown away by the Mac recently. I got a HD camcorder recently. It came with Sony's crappy bundled software, Picture Motion Browser. Windows MP doesn't support the AVCHD format for HD movies and I had to use PMB. And by golly, was it crappy! Frames were dropped, the picture was grainy and Windows kept crashing with some strange error. On the other hand, I plugged in the Camcorder on a Mac and the experience was a lot different. Mac automatically opened up iMovie, imported the movies and played it back impeccably! The quality and user experience were simply too smooth. I loved it and am seriously considering buying a Mac for various other reasons.
Anyways, I just had to rant about this on a Friday..:) And this is my response to RS' book tag a while back. Go read iCon.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I never go to beauty parlors. I think the people who run most beauty institutions are really snooty. At long last, last month I mustered up the courage to call a parlor for an appointment.
"Hi, this is blah."
"I was looking for an appointment --"
"Would next week --"
"Listen. I gotta go now. ok? If you can, call back."
And then she cut me off mid-sentence and hung up! What in the world? No courteous "Excuse me" or "call back please". Anyways, she lost my business.
Next comes my Apartment office dunderheads. I never had any respect for their intelligence at any time. But today took the cake! This annoying, idiot lady called me at work. I am already overaging 100 minutes on my phone plan.
"Hi..can I speak to Sabshuni Sppriineewasan." (For the love of God!)
"This is she."
"Ok. You've got a late fee on your rent."
"Err..ok. I was only a day late. Could you please consider waiving it?"
"This is just the first time, right?"
"How much is ---?"
Click. She'd hung up. What in the blue blistering barnacles? If I don't know how much the late fee is, how can I pay it?
And then it was this Aunty who called me out of the blue about something she wanted out of me. I was midway explaining about it. And then she decided she'd had enough of me and said,
"I'll talk later."
Click. No waiting for response. Nothing. Why call me if you don't have the time to talk?
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Friday, July 13, 2007
That said, I don't think this measure would solve the issue of female foeticide. Why do people in the village of Usilampatti kill female infants? Because --
-- Dowry. It costs lots of money to get a girl married off.
-- A woman is technically lost to the house she was born in after marriage. She is "owned" by her husband's family. Therefore, there's no point in educating her or depending on her earnings.
-- Shame that follows when a woman is unmarried after a certain age.
-- Vulnerability a woman faces when she's unmarried -- roving eyes, an unhelpful police system that sometimes aids in rapes/murder and of course, the burden of carrying the "family honor"!
We place a great deal of worth on a woman's "honour" or chastity. I've sometimes felt that it is exaggerated to a ridiculous extent, partly by our maudlin movies and bloated emotional sensibilities. In fact, it is so ridiclously blown-up that a rape-victim is forced to die rather than face societal castigation, shame and cruelty. First, defiled for no fault of her own and then humiliated for that! And men abuse it even more because they know that this is the ultimate bargaining weapon. There's no second chance for women.
Female foeticide will vanish when the men of India learn to respect women and their choices. This proposed measure will do nothing to help any of the problems above.
And if you ask me, it serves everyone right that the female:male ratio is dwindling. Maybe, that'll teach people a little more respect.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Early mornings and hot coffee are a ritual with me. They go together hand-in-hand. And as I so often keep telling S, who gulps his coffee down and rushes out the house, coffee is meant to be savoured. One sip at a time. Slowly.
Early mornings are my quiet time. They're my time to meditate, reflect, read and take life easy. I take my coffee to the patio and watch the world wake up. After sleeping in artificial air-conditioning over the night, the cool, crisp air of the morning is a welcome relief! The grass, awash with dew, seems fresher and greener. And I love the feeling of the sun's first, golden rays falling on my face as I sip coffee! I am at peace with myself and the world. Ahh, bliss!
The little birds are a lesson in energy -- hopping, skipping, flying and waking up to another day. I've become friends with one little fella, especially. I have a coir, window box with marigold plants in the patio. And this little bird has steadfastly torn out most of the coir from the box to build his little nest. At first, I was indignant and annoyed that my little window box was ruined. I was cursing myself for opting coir over plastic. I changed my mind when I saw his little nest in the tree outside my apartment..:) Somehow, I've never been able to capture the same peaceful, quiet feeling later in the day. I guess this is why I am partial to waking up early.
Anyways, I started writing this blog three years back on exactly the same note. I am not going to give you the usual of how I started blogging, how it has changed my life, the wonderful journey that it has been and how many friends I've made online etc...After reading so many well-written such pieces of blog birthdays, I feel at a loss to say anything new!
I've lasted three years. Pat on my back and thanks to loyal readers. And to you, "Doodles", I say:
Friday, June 29, 2007
1. I am a Tamizh fanatic and I seriously support the TN State Government's initiative to force Tamizh on all students upto a particular grade. I dislike it when TN born natives give me reasons like, "It's too hard" or "None ever taught me" for not learning Tamizh. I believe that the mother tongue should be second nature and not a choice.
2. When I drive, I stay in the exact center of the lane I am in. It drives me nuts when someone else is driving and they keep drifting within the lane.
3. Due to circumstances/environment etc.., I think I was older than my years as a kid. That has carried over to my adulthood and I've always been the sober, mature type. It is my secret desire to be wild, rambunctious and unruly..:)
4. I'd like to say witty, cutting things to people when they hurl an insult at me. But I've sucked at it so far and expect to continue :(
5. I've secretly fallen in love with Vandiyathevan of "Ponniyin Selvan" yore. Each time I go to Srirangam, I like to go on temple tours nearby. Whenever I pass Vallam, where SASTRA now resides, my father and I share a "Vandiyathevan" moment. :) And unfailingly, I wonder about past lives, rebirths and serendipity.
6. I am more philosophical than I care to reveal. At times, when going to a movie or eating at an expensive restaurant or indulging myself in luxury, a discomfiting voice pops up in my head,
"And to what end does this activity lead you? Who does it help?"
I am confronted with "nothing" as the answer and it scares me. Not sure if any of you have the same kind of thoughts but I often do. It leaves me confused! :)
7. I cannot hate anyone for a prolonged period of time. Although the statement of "I-once-hated-this-person" is there and I express it, the feeling behind the statement would've vanished a long time back (usually within a week). And I am not averse to extending a hand of friendship again. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing.
8. I often have this recurring dream where I am walking on the Marina beach. Suddenly, the waves start becoming higher and I run toward land. There's a huge wave -- about 100 feet or so -- that rises and chases me. I keep running and running and running...And then I wake up. Even though I've had this dream hundreds of times, I've never known the way it ends. I am sure there's some deep Freudian meaning to this dream but I don't want to find out.. :)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
If a person smiles ear to ear, runs personal errands for colleagues but doesn't get any work done in the office, would that merit a promotion? Even if it did, I don't think the person would be ready for it. Besides, once you get into the subjective "likeability" game, I think a person stands to lose self-respect after some point. A lot of things in this world are earned -- slowly, surely and with experience. And going through those ups and downs makes a person more mature, capable and worthy. Taking shortcuts by being "likeable" seems juvenile!
Even in the social domain, I think likeability is over-rated. I know people who are quite artificial in their efforts to be considered "sweet" or "likeable". And no matter what they try, I know that I don't like them because of their efforts to be too caring/sweet/likeable! If a person is honest, interesting, friendly and straight-forward, people will naturally gravitate toward them. There's too many complications in this world already. People don't need another complex, emotionally mixed-up, confusing personality in their lives -- whether at work or outside of it!
Friday, June 01, 2007
My paternal family is quite big. When I was a kid and my grandma was alive, we used to have those annual familial gatherings. All my grandma's sons, daughters, in-laws, grandchildren used to get together under one roof. I used to look forward to those meets as it gave me a sense of family. But as I grew up, I realized that these gatherings were turning out to be less and less about family and more about personal egos. Politics was rife in the air and there was always tension. There were always a few members who couldn't stop gloating, taunting, insulting etc...And the rest of the family usually put up with this due to a myriad reasons, chief among them being my grandmother. I think that in a lot of ways, she was the glue that held the family together and when she passed away, everything disintegrated.
Almost all South Indian families I know are fraught with politics. This might sound like a sweeping generalization but this has been my experience. The relatives barely want to see each other and there's no love lost. Like I said, I'd taken this to be the norm until I saw HAHK. It seemed utopia to me! Later on, I found that most of my North Indian friends really did have loving extended families.
What is it about South Indian families that make them so rife with politics? Why do we not get along? Is it our upbringing? Is it our competitive culture? Is it because we're too formal and take offense at the slightest instance? I am not sure but I guess the child in me will always keep yearning for the utopian HAHK family.. :)
Friday, May 25, 2007
So, researchers are turning to fish as inspiration for automotive design, Geckos' feet to design new-age non-sticky adhesives, termite mounds for a lesson in natural, ventilated building architecture, and the swirling motion of water and storms to design energy-efficient turbines.
While this is very interesting for purposes of environment conservation and energy efficiency, I do have my doubts about how far we can mimic nature. I am not sure that human engineers can ever excel Nature's engineering. Just reading about the design of our eyes will blow away any of your doubts on that score..:) (I did a little research on this recently. I've got dry-eye syndrome which just gives me nasty headaches, neck aches, eye-aches and makes me plain cranky. That also accounts for my non-blogging of late.)
I've become obsessed with environment conservation lately. We, humans, have become adept at ruining ourselves and nature in a quixotian quest for "improvement". Maybe we can each do our part in also reversing some of that damage to Mother Earth.
I might be a "global citizen" vis-a-vis the environment but I am still a Dravidian at heart and I can't resist a bit of Dravidian rhetoric a la Tamil politicians. When I first read this article on biomimicry, the words of Kavichakravarthy Kannadasan were the first that popped into my head:
"பறவையை கண்டான் விமானம் படைத்தான்
பாயும் மீன்களில் படகினை கண்டான்
எதிரொலி கேட்டான் வானொலி படைத்தான்
எதனை கண்டான் பணம்தனை படைத்தான்?"
அன்றே சொன்னார் கண்ணதாசன்...
Monday, May 07, 2007
Here's some of the things I've started doing after I saw this documentary -
1. Stopped using paper towels at home for household cleaning. I went back to the good old, Indian-style wash cloths. I am sure most of us in the US can do this.
2. Stopped using hot water in the washing machine to wash clothes. Except for really soiled clothes, I find that this works just as well.
3. Recycle! Switched to using paper bags for grocery wherever possible.
4. I am thinking of carrying a hand kerchief with me at all times. We use a lot of paper towels/facial tissues in public restrooms. It is horrifying how much paper I consume in one day to just wipe my hands! If we can just be disciplined enough to carry a hanky, it might save all the wastage of paper.
5. Switched to energy saving bulbs at home. They're not that expensive (in the US).
Looking back, I find that most things I followed in India seem to be eco-friendly - carrying hand kerchiefs, not buying too many canned products etc..
The good thing is that there are some simple things that you and I can do that will reduce global warming. I'd highly recommend that every conscientous citizen of the world watch this documentary! Spread the word wherever possible - amongst friends, family and those who care to listen. It could be as simple as writing a blog post or sending out an e-mail. The more people are aware, the more we can get some action out of them.
It is our Earth. Let's save it!
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
No. that actually saw the light of the WWW: 1 (V.V.Bad)
I don't seem to have a writer's block. Its more like a writer's bottleneck. Ideas form in my mind and words come gushing out. But somewhere in the neuronal pathways between the brain and the fingers, everything fizzles out and what reaches my fingers is a pitiful trickle of incompetent, half-completed thoughts. Bah!
So what have I been upto? I wish I could say something really adventurous, glamorous and bedazzling. Sigh. The only exciting thing that happened was that I attended the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana to hear Aruna Sairam/TNS sing. I never thought I'd listen to a Ragam Tanam Pallavi and actually appreciate it. :-) But TNS held me spellbound with his RTP in Bagesri. Aruna Sairam scintillated but sang only for 2 hours.. :( Her Abhang in Hindolam was the best piece of the evening!
And after a period of 3 years, I drew a kolam in my patio on Saturday! Hurray to that! :)
I am trying to come up with cool "labels" for my posts in Blogger. And I fail miserably. And as you can see, I have a splattering of all sorts of weird categories. The list seems to be growing instead of making the blog more organized. Sigh.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
There's a bit of insanity in everyone. There have been moments of blinding range when I've felt like throwing things at the first person I saw. There have been moments of depression when I've felt like an island in this sea of humanity. I've also been known to ruminate on quite unnecessary things like conjuring up imaginary hurts/insults offered me (Oh, what if she thinks I am stupid? Oh, what if he thinks I am clumsy? Is that why he said that word at --------'s party?) and worrying about them.
I still consider myself sane (for the most part). I've recovered from these occasional fits of frustration, depression, loneliness, hallucinations to look back and laugh about it. And I am sure most people go through these phases once in a while.
The line between sanity and insanity is quite thin. I still don't know where that shadow exactly falls. I know a lot of utterly lonely, angry people, talking to oneself out of sheer frustration and imagining the world's against them. I've known quite a few characters who have grand hallucinations and think that the universe revolves around them. Most of these people are extremely intelligent.
But are they mad? Or are they just eccentric? Should I just report such characters to the authorities in the fear that they are potential candidates to turn completely mad? When do people go over the edge? Why is it that of two people who go through excruciating hardships, one turns into a seasoned, mellow person whilst the other becomes a psycho? I still don't know. I am still contemplating it as I read the aftermath of the Virginia tech murders.
P.S: I stole the beautiful picture from Arun's photoblog. He captured the essence of it when he titled it "The thin line between Good and Evil". Thanks, Arun!
Monday, April 02, 2007
I happened to witness this wonderful sight last week as I was locking my door. Aha! I was indignant. I wasn't going to have to clean up someone's spit ??! But when stuff happens on one's premises with none claiming responsibility, there's nothing much one can do except clean up the mess. Never mind that it is someone else's mess. That evening, I dutifully took a cleaner and scrubbed the offending sight from my door. I sprayed some disinfectant for added effect.
Next morning, I step out the door and there it is again: the same old splotch on a different spot on the door! I had my suspicion on the two wild things in my opposite apartment. So, what did I do? Did I go and knock boldly on their door and deliver a stinging slap for their unmannerly behavior? Unfortunately, no. I decided to do Gandhi-giri.
I dutifully took the cleaner and went to work again. The next day, I was relieved to see no spit on my door but when I inserted my key into the lock, it didn't go in. After several seconds of jiggling the key around, I finally locked the door. And now, the key refused to come out! I had to pull with all my strength until I tottered over backwards. Someone seemed to have tampered with the door lock. Sigh.
After putting up with more of this nonsense for a week, I figured I'd to do something. So I went to the apartment office this morning and lodged a complaint to fix the lock. The apartment guy urged me to go ahead and file a complaint against the suspects. But I've desisted for the time being.
Lest some of you might think that I am some enlightened soul, I did it out of sheer helplessness..:) There's no way that puny me is going to stand up to two strapping, drunken men. And if tomorrow, these guys decide to vomit on my door, its me that has to clean that up too!
It is at epiphanic moments like these that you realize why Gandhi chose "ahimsa". At times, there's just no other way! Oh and by the way, I am halfway through Gandhi's "My Experiments with Truth". Serendipity? Gandhiji, if you're watching this, I'd like some brownie points please!:)
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Each time I hear his clear voice intone "Chera Ravathey.." in Reethi Gowlai, I wish this talented singer would be heard again. What happened to him? Why did he stop singing? Does anyone know?
Well, if he ever does return to singing again, he can count on me as a devoted fan! :)
Thursday, March 15, 2007
What sharply bought it into focus was watching Kajol in "Coffee with Karan". Yes, yes, I am referring to that famous episode with Shahrukh, Kajol and Rani. The show was an eye-opener to the chauvinist in me in terms of how brainy some movie stars actually are. All three seemed quite witty and down-to-earth. And we had Kajol mentioning in every other line, "Oh, I don't like 99 of the 100 people I meet. I am hard to get along with. I am quite a wild person. blah blah blah.." The first time she said it, I thought it was cute. The second time, I appreciated her honesty. But the nth time she chirped that line parrot-like, it soured on me. Come on, Kajol, you're not such a big humbug after all and have you considered the possibility that none might give a darn about whether you're hard to get along with or not? And perhaps, that's not such a glorious attribute that you proclaim it on national TV?!
And 10-year-old kids gush, "Oh, Kajol is sooooo coooooooool na?!" And like kids picked up smoking in the 80s emulating then-heroes, today's kids are going to emulate being "nasty" or "rude".
Err..I think tomorrow, we are going to hear "cool" things like these from our kids:
"Oh, you know, I have a temper and I usually just bonk the first person I see with an iron poker."
"I am a chain-smoker and I smoke umpteen cigarettes a day. I don't care that my son sees me everyday and that he may follow my example. But I am uber-cool, na?"
"Oh, I am such a nasty person that I throw hot water on anyone else's face if they disagree with me."
See what I mean?:)
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
It made me wistful to think that I'd missed so many happenings in his life. It used to be that we once shared the most mundane, trivial things of our daily life. And yet, time constraints and other pressures make it impossible for me to do that now. After a day at work , gym, cooking, cleaning etc..it seems a gargantuan task to pick up the phone and talk to people on a daily basis.
Am I missing being a part of so many people's lives - friends and family? Does anyone (at least occassionally) notice my absence during important events? Does anyone want me in their lives? I wonder if some of my friends or relatives stop to think of me once in a while. I know I do. Or perhaps I am just another pebble in the riverbed and the river of life never stops flowing for anyone. It makes no difference to the river if one pebble is present or not. If all human bonds are so effervescent, why do we even try to be social? Perhaps its an evolutionary safeguard to maintain pack unity.
There are people who leave an indelible mark on society for at least the next few years or centuries. And then there are the commoners like me who'd not be missed or mourned. I don't aspire to be a celebrity. But I'd like to strive to be remembered amongst people I know.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Search for "National Geographic" in the podcasts section of iTunes and look for a video titled "Octopus Vs. Shark". Man, is that an awesome footage or what! A Pacific Octopus, defending itself against a Shark, eliminates the Shark and drags the carcass along with it! I never thought Octopi could be this powerful. And all this happens in an aquarium! I am not sure how to post a link to an iTunes podcast. So please do use good old, manual searching in iTunes! :)
Terrific video and I had to gush about it. Err..I should get back to work now.
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Thursday, February 22, 2007
Now, if you want to talk to a customer service representative about your inability to download their software from their website due to technical faults of their database admins/programmers, you have to pay them $39.99 per phone call. Note the fact that I am not trying to call them because I don't know how to install their software or use it. But even if its their problem, hey, its $39.99 per phone call.
So I turned to their Live Chat option. I interrupted my dinner for 20 minutes to talk to a rep. As fate would have it, I got someone from India.
Rep: Hello, Ma'am
Me: Hi, I've got a problem with downloading Antivirus.
Rep: [cleanly ignoring my response] My name is xxxxx and I am here to help you today. What can I do for you today?
Me: I have an issue with downloading Antivirus software. It pops up a window with the following exception. [Pasted exception]. Can you help me?
[Silence for 5 minutes]
Rep: So you're saying you have some issue with Antivirus?
Rep: So, what's the problem?
Me: [$%##%%#%..Blue blistering barnacles, I just told you, you numskull] I purchased Antivirus software from your site. I have trouble downloading it. I get an exception as follows...
Rep: Did you buy the software?
Me: Of course! [Why do you think I am chatting with you?For your cerebral charm? I paid 40 bucks for that software!]
Rep: Can you give me your order number?
Me: Yes. xxxxxxxxx.
[Silence for a looooooooooong time]
Rep: Yes. You can download the Antivirus software for FREE in this link. [Gives link]
Me: For free? You mean I have to buy the subscription key, right?
Rep: No. Its completely free. Its a new offer.
Me: But what do I do with my existing purchase? I paid $39.99 for it!
Me: I have puchased it already and I just need to download it.
Rep: You can download it for free on this link I sent you.
Me: But that's for Vista. I am a XP user.
I got so irritated with this guy that I just closed the chat session unceremoniously. Now, that's wonderful customer service for you. This has been my experience with lots of customer service representatives from India working for American Express cards, Dell, Symantec, Citicards etc... Perhaps, they're trained to read from a script and don't know what's happening. Or perhaps they are told to ignore customer responses. Who knows?
And I tried to download the software from the link the guy sent me. Whaddaya know? It asked me for a subscription key when I tried to install it..:) Grrrrrrr. And I still don't know why I have to pay Symantec to talk about a problem of theirs!
Perhaps, Symantec should pay me $ 1000 as damages for my interrupted dinner and the psychological trauma I suffered from chatting to their representative.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
1. Thirukkadayur Abhirami - Amirdhakadeswarar Temple tower
2. "Kamalalayam" - Tiruvarur temple tank
3. Tiruvarur Temple tank again
4. Madurai South tower
5. Mayavaram Mayuranathaswamy - Abhayambika temple tower
6. En route to Thirunallaru
7. Utharavahini Kaveri in Sivaramapuram, near Mayavaram
8. Beloved Kaveri again...
9. A peaceful twilight amongst coconut groves
10. Thiruvarur Temple tower
11 & 12. The dilapidated state of the ancient Utharakosamangai temple near Rameswaram.
Friday, February 09, 2007
I visited the Kutch Handicrafts Fair in Kala Ghoda. They were showcasing a whole bunch of hand-made, hand-painted crafts ranging from pillow cases, bags, patchwork quilts and bedsheets, dresses, paintings, decorations etc...The colors used were brilliantly and uniquely Indian and the workmanship was refreshingly all-human (as opposed to machine-made stuff is what I mean).
The Mumbai Food Festival, for all its hype, doesn't really deliver. I took a brief glance at the stalls but was turned off by the lack of anything innovative. Bhel puri, chaat, pizza, pasta etc..lined the stalls and sure enough, crowds were milling around each of them. Recovering as I was from flight food, my taste buds were just craving regular, delicious, home-made jeeraga rasam and I was able to safely skip the food fest with zero temptation..:)
The Pottery Mela in Colaba perhaps took the cake of them all. It really blew my mind to see what could be made out of plain clay - beautiful, sturdy wind chimes, hand-painted and glazed dolls depicting various scenes of village life, key hangers, wall decorations, Ganeshas in different poses and much, much more. I'd never realized that wind-chimes could be made out of clay. The villagers were indulging in direct selling themselves. And truly, its worth every rupee spent to encourage such cottage industries!
I fell in love with a village couple doll-set they'd showcased. The man, clad in a simple white dhoti, kurta and turban was enraptured in playing the dholak. The Rajasthani woman,sitting beside her husband, had her head downcast, the colorful pallu draped around her head modestly. Only the lower part of her face was visible. Her mouth curved upwards in a coy smile, she was playing a coconut violin (Kottangachi Vathiyam, in Tamil). The colors used in the dolls, the expressions on the faces and the beautiful workmanship still dance before my mind's eye as I write this. I desperately wanted to buy it but refrained just because I couldn't cart them to the US safely!
Hindu dharma says that a man/woman who allows the destruction of their country,culture or language in their own lifetime carries the burden of that sin through multiple lifetimes. Far be it from the Indian populace to destroy our own, wonderful rural cottage industries in the quest of all things foreign!
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is on from Feb 3- Feb 11. If one of you has a chance to visit Mumbai in this period, do check out this wonderful effort!
I wish Chennai had its own "Chennai Festival" where we could showcase the wealth of our region's culture! :)
P.S 1: In a case of misplaced enthusiasm (the "misplaced" qualifier arose later as you will discover in the following sentences), inspired by all I'd seen, I figured I should also look for arts from our own TN. I'd heard of famous Chozha Bronzes. So I marched into the Cottage Arts Emporium in Mumbai. I took a look at a particularly beautiful bronze of an elephant. It was about a foot high and definitely perfect as far as my untrained eyes could tell. Then I took a look at the price tag - Rs. 92,000! Gulp. Then, I realized that most of the bronzes came with a minimum price tag of Rs. 70,000. Another gulp. Thence ended my quest for Chozha bronzes (for now).
P.S 2: A week after this episode, I visited the Mayavaram temple. In front of the Abhyambikai Amman Sannidhi, there's a beautiful Chozha bronze of a "Paavai Vilakku". One has to see it to be amazed. I can't describe the beauty of it enough. So, I've given you a to-do next time you hit Mayavaram..:) The one on the left (Courtesy: http://www.globaladjustments.com/nlnov02.html) is just an example.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I've been gone 20 days to India. I spent 10 days deep in the heart of Tamilnadu visiting ancient temples in the green, peaceful countryside of the Tanjore district. I've not felt so rejuvenated and relaxed in a long time! Visited my grandmother's village right by the Cauvery which she so fondly remembers even now. Met a lot of people whose lifestyles and priorities are so different from mine. Their lives revolve around fertile paddy fields, managing the harvests, milking the cows at home, tending to dogs, cats and birds that wander in from the lush coconut groves surrounding their house. They're educated and knowledgeable but they've chosen this rustic, laid-back, relaxed life. And more than me or my parents, they do look healthy, relaxed and happy!
Did we make a mistake by shunning this lifestyle and running to cities in search of money? Did we trade our peace and happiness by opting for hectic lifestyles? Or is this a case of grass on the other side always being greener? I am still introspecting...:)
Whatever it is, I know I belong in that land.
Oh, in case you're wondering what the title of the post means, its Latin for "Time flies, but not memory".
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
- VFS' website - the website India goes to book its US visa appointments - doesn't work on Firefox. After entering a few details like name, date of birth etc.., I hit the "Submit" button. A "Date Format Exception" stared me in the face. I thought that perhaps the word verification had gone wrong. But alas, it took me a whole 1 hour to figure out that the website wasn't designed to work with Firefox. Duh. Some careless developer has broken the cardinal rule of them all: Always Handle Exceptions.
- I felt sorry for Saddam as I watched his final moments. Being taunted by other men before dying is not a pleasant sensation. And to make his humiliation public is even worse. No matter what his deeds were, he deserved a quiet, peaceful death...:(
-I think its time for me to stand up for a few, good movies. "Thiruvilayadal Arambam" (Dhanush, Shriya, Prakashraj) is not a great movie. Yet it is a super-duper hit. "Sivapathigaram" is a sensible, watchable movie. Yet it fails at the box-office. I really don't understand the taste of our junta anymore. I also liked Vettaiyadu Vilayadu and Jillunu or Kadhal. But they're failures at the B.O? What in the world is happening? Don't decent movies have a chance anymore in TN?
- Two recent cases shocked me to the core: the child murders of Noida and the Saligramam murder of a young boy by three other teenagers. Somehow, child murders in India have more shock value for me than hearing about those in the US. Talk about prejudice! How can men live with murdering children? Is their sexual appetite so insatiable that kids are not exempt? Why is it that men are so much more infinitely capable of cruelty than women? Or am I just being biased? From the rapes of Darfur to these murders in India, men seem to occupy centerstage when it comes to violating the dignity of human life..:( I am saddened.
- I have no New Year's resolutions! :) Yipppeeee!
- And I am going to be home for Pongal which makes me infinitely happy! :) Back to the festive colors, the rangolis, the sumptuous food and the comfort of parents....sigh! :)