Friday, January 25, 2008


I was chatting with a colleague at work about a problem in our code. When I mentioned it, his immediate reaction was,

"So, what's the workaround?"

It surprised me because I was expecting more like, "So how do we solve this?"

I guess it is indicative of the times we live in. We are the generation that always wants "workarounds" instead of figuring out why something is happening. This seems to be especially true with health concerns. An acquaintance of mine has severe stomach ulcers. During a phone conversation, I asked him why he'd ended up like this. He just chuckled and said:

"Who cares why? I just want to know how to deal with it!"

Sometimes, I wish God had just made our body transparent; you know, like glass, so you can see through to the internal systems. That way, we'd be more aware of how smoking chokes our lungs in soot; Or how that pizza we're wolfing down is lining our arteries with fat; Or how that sweet donut we reach for every morning is just tiring out our pancreas; Or how our refusal to exercise is just over-working our heart.

I succumb to some unhealthy temptations too (my sweet tooth is one such) but I try to keep it balanced by working out and eating right most of the time. The human body is just an amazing piece of engineering and aesthetics. It is time some of us realized to give it some respect and admiration instead of working around it.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Don't Blink..It is Pink, Pink, Pink All the Way!

You know how, when you commit to something publicly, you're made to bite the dust immediately? Like the time you turned down dinner invites from friends proclaiming that you're going to the gym that evening and wouldn't miss working out for the world. Then, it turned out that you had a very bad day at work and all you want to do is sit moping on the couch. Of course, it would so happen that the friend in question would call and snicker,

"Hey, I thought you were at the gym??! What're you doing at home? So much for your resolution! You missed a good dinner! Ha!"

It is indeed true, dears, that the Universe loves to mess with your head. It loves embarassing you in front of other people.

I've shouted to the world from rooftops that I don't like the color
pink. When my mother-in-law asked me what color
sarees I would like for the wedding, I had just one condition: No hot
pink or nearby shades. Anything else is fine. I was doing just fine until hubby dear got so attracted to a pink saree with kundan work at Pothy's. While I gulped and swallowed looking for alternatives, my mom and MIL swooped down with admiring cries of "Ooohs" and "aaahs". Umm..err. And so it was, dears, that I added the first-est, pink attire to my wardrobe. Anyways, I think that was an omen -- a sign from the Gods -- to mend my pink-hating ways. By the time I returned to the US after the wedding, I had added 3 more items in pink --

1. 1 gorgeous lehnga in pink courtesy Mum.
2. Kundan set to match the lehnga, also in pink courtesy Mum.
3. One more pink saree courtesy MIL.

Sigh. Honestly, I can't really say I hate those dresses. I mean, they're so gorgeous despite the color! Like I said, these were all signs of what was about to happen to me.

Anyways, not to bore you with all my personal make-over stories. I started off writing this post because I just finished reading "Can you keep a secret?" by Sophie Kinsella. And, dears, I am simply hooked! The story, like the cover, is a hot pink, cutesy, girly-girly plot. I never thought I'd become addicted to chick-lit but I am. The protagonist is simply too funny and preposterous. She gets into all sorts of weird situations but manages to wriggle out in the end! All-in-all, too good to pass up and I had to finish the book in one sitting (4 hours)!

Oh, dears, this doesn't mean that only girls should read this book. If you just want some mindless fun served with a sprinkling of human drama, you should read it! :) And umm..if you want some more of this, you should read the Shopaholic series by the same author. I did. And although I might never, ever get to the point where I love hot pink clothes, I think I've grown to appreciate those who wear it..:)

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Monday, January 14, 2008

I think Gunpun was my first "best friend". Whatever "best friend" means these days. Sometimes you find yourself confiding personal things to colleagues, neighbors or just acquaintances because they're available to listen! S, one of my closest friends, is in India and I hardly get to talk to her these days. So last week, my colleague poured out his kids' illness woes to me and I found myself telling him about my visa problems, green card etc...Anyways, but I do think that Gunpun & I would've grown up together as fast friends if we'd been in the same town.

He moved to Stuart school a few kilometers away from home since Bhagavanlu school was only a nursery school with classes only till Preparatory. I was disconsolate for a week and even cried in class. Besides, I was in Preparatory now (next to UKG) and I had a horrible class monitor called Likki. She was a really thin girl and kept calling me "moti" in class. I even believe she secretly made fun of my plump cheeks. To make things worse, she always made first rank beating me by a couple of marks. Suffice to say, we didn't see eye to eye.

But serendipitously, I got double promoted as well after a couple of months in Prep! So I got to skip 1st grade and go to the 2nd grade. And I was to join Gunpun at Stuart school. Yippeee! I threw tantrums and got into the same section as he was in. I think he was also elated to see me. Mrs. Das, the class teacher, made me sit next to some weird girl. I got all upset because I wanted to sit next to Gunpun. My father told me to be a "good girl" and articulate my request to Mrs. Das myself. But I was terrified of being denied. So I complained loudly to my parents and cried so much that my Dad came down to school one day and told Mrs. Das that I had to sit next to Gunpun. I think he was very annoyed at having to leave work and rush to school mid-day because of his temperamental kid. But it turned out that Mrs. Das was my father's colleague's wife and they had a nice chit-chat about me and everything else under the sun.

Everything turned out OK. Gunpun and I remained best friends. I spent a lot of time at their house. His younger brother, Tathu, was a particularly fun kid to be around with! For a change, Gunpun & I could boss him around because he was younger to us by 2 years. Hehe. He was eager to please us both and he'd do anything we asked him to. Apart from all that, Tathu & I had a bond. I felt all protective about him and he was very affectionate to me (called me his elder sister and all that!). He was a bit naughty though and used to get in trouble with the colony dog -- Balu.

Balu Dog was none's dog in particular but everyone in the colony loved him. He was kinda common property and ate at whosever place he wished to. He was also the protector of the colony. He'd bark and chase down any strangers at night and I think, once, he even caught a thief. Tathu, being the boisterous kid he was, would throw stones at Balu or tie tin cans to his tail. Balu was a very, very patient dog and put up with troublesome kids better than most. Once, my brother put one of his building blocks into Balu's mouth and stuck his hand in to retrieve it. Poor Balu still had his mouth wide open when my Mom rushed out to find my brother happily fishing in his mouth. But Tathu drove Balu nuts. He'd harangue the poor thing so much that Balu would bark loudly and chase him madly down the street. Anyways, none would believe Tathu when he complained against Balu. Such was Balu Dog's standing in Acharya Vihar!

The night before we left Bhubaneswar for good, Balu came to our house and slept in our verandah with a sad face. Somehow, he knew we were leaving. My dad gave him food but he refused to eat. He stayed with us until the last minute when we got in a car to leave. As hard as this is to believe, my parents thought he had tears in his eyes as he watched us go..:(

I don't know if Gunpun & I would've been good friends if we'd grown up together. One never knows about these things. But I'd definitely love to at least know where he is and what he's doing right now. So, Devidutta Panda, if you ever land up on this blog and remember me, do drop me a line! I'd love to catch up on life with you!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Gunpun, Tathu And Balu Dog

'Tis the cold,miserable weather outside that's making me turn to warm memories for comfort. Hence this nostalgic post.

As a child, I'd like to think I was quite independently minded although, Lily Madam -- my LKG teacher -- phrased it a bit unflatteringly as "stubborn and sometimes moody". I don't think I liked my initial school years very much. Mom had taught me alphabets, numbers, colors, animals, nursery rhymes and what-not even before I went to school. And I found it very boring to sing "A B C D" all day in LKG when I knew how to do it quite well. And what was with all the classwork and homework stuff?

"Write A B CD 10 times"
"Write 1 to 100 10 times"

If I could write 1 to 100 correctly 1 time, what sense does it make to write it 10 times? So I refused to do this absolutely boring homework. I was very logical even when I was 3 and my teacher didn't see my genius. She made us write our homework in the calendar book so parents could monitor them. Because I was refusing to note it down in my calendar, Lily Madam did it herself. The next morning when my Dad came to drop me off at school, she promptly complained to him:

"Your daughter refuses to write her homework down in the calendar. So I do it for her now. And if I ask her to write the alphabets 5 times, she does it just one time! Please check her calendar at home and make sure she does it right."

Hmph. None listens to a 3 year old, anyway. So I was forced to actually do my homework with my mom watching me while I did it. She wouldn't let me play if I didn't finish HW right after school. So, I came up with an ingenious plan. If I had to write numbers from 1 to 100, I'd write 1 to 50 correctly. Then, I'd skip numbers in between. Like, I'd skip 53-59 and 71 to 75 etc...This way, no one could find out and everyone would be happy with their stupid homeworks. Hehehehe. Mom and Lily Madam would scan through the first few rows of numbers and the last few rows (I wouldn't blame them. It must be sooo boring to look at the same numbers in 30 different notebooks). And I'd make sure I wrote them perfectly. In between, I had my freedom to do as I choose!

This actually worked for sometime. But then, one day, mom got suspicious about how fast I was completing my homework and she started scanning everything. She was furious when she found out my little scheme of cheating! I whined to her that she knew I knew how to write 1 to 100 but to no avail. She notified Lily Madam of this trick the next day. Of course, I was out of sorts and hated Lily Madam for the rest of the day. I was sulking, didn't pay attention to her and I kept asking for bathroom breaks. So she unfairly commented that I was a "moody child". Duh.

Here's where Gunpun came in. His real name is Devidutta Panda and he lived down the street from us in Acharya Vihar. My mom decided she needed someone to monitor me at school. She made Gunpun sit next to me in class. I didn't like him at first. After all, what kid likes an overseer? I kept pinching or scratching him so he'd go away to some other desk. But he just put his metal, school box in between us so I couldn't do anything without making a lot of noise and the teacher noticing.

I've forgotten the details of how we came to be best friends or how he managed to win my heart. But I do remember that we'd both do our homeworks in the free period at school. We made it a game -- whoever finished last would have to be the seeker in Hide-n-seek that evening. So both of us would scramble to finish first. And then, he would arrange my notebooks neatly in my school box, sharpen my pencils, make sure I'd not forgotten anything in my desk and escort me to my mom or dad after school. I just loved him! :)

After a point, it became so that I'd listen only to him. If Lily Madam wanted me to practice cursive writing between the 2 lines of the 4 line notebook, she'd tell him. And if he promised to write along with me, I'd do it. We would play in the evenings on the street with his little brother. So it was all wonderful until he got double promoted and moved to a different school.

To Be Continued...

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Who has the charisma?

I've been following the US Presidential race. I've been interested in the race just because of two people -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary, if she wins the Democractic nomination, will be the first female candidate for presidence. Obama, if he wins, will be the first colored presidential candidate. Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses last week in a major setback to Mrs. Clinton. Now she's on the aggressive determined to win New Hampshire this week.

I favor Obama because he also has that indefinable charisma that Bill Clinton effortlessly exudes. When Obama talks, you feel that he's speaking to you personally straight from his heart. There's a very tantalizing honesty to his body language too. I think that being more aggressive, Hillary will reinforce the legend of the cold, calculating, ruthless woman bent on limitless power. As much as I am a supporter of feminist ideals, I do feel the coldness in Hillary's demeanour when she meets people. It's like she's somehow holding back a part of her; Like she's talking to people because she has to but not because she enjoys it.

Anyways, I tip Obama to win the ticket and I like him too! We'll see what happens in New Hampshire.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

On the topic of New Year celebrations...

We threw a huge party for my brother's first birthday. I really cannot include myself in the "we" as in "We threw the party" because I was only 5 years old back then. My parents did most of the work. All I had to do was flaunt my baby brother to everyone and smile for pictures. I have a very misty recollection about it but I do think it was a grand bash. We were in Bhubaneshwar then and all the kids in Acharya Vihar were invited. We even had gifts for all my friends like crayons, pencils, pencil cases, balloons etc...I used to love pencil boxes back then! My mom used to get me one with various Disney characters each time we went to the local superstore.

Of course, people tell me that my first birthday party was an even grander affair because I was the first child and all and Dad had invited all his office colleagues. Fancy that. I hope all of them got me nice presents but since I can't remember any of it, I am willing to forgive them even if they didn't.

Anyways, that is the only party I can recall that our family threw for a birthday. We were never a party family, you know. No cake-cutting or shouts of "Surprise" at midnight or gifts wrapped with shiny silver paper or parents fawning over how wonderful we were or any of those things. In fact, my dad hates to blow out candles on birthdays. He thinks that it should be a day when we light candles, not snuff them out. I agree with him on that point. Birthdays meant that Mom would cook an awesome meal and make nice payasam or some other exotic sweet (This year, when I happened to be in India for my birthday, she made badam cake and pakoras). We would wear our new clothes, go to a nearby temple and perform archanai. And that was that.

The logic extended to New Year also. As kids, I don't think my brother and I were ever awake till midnight on New Year's eve. It was just like any other day. But we'd visit family and friends, watch some special programs on TV, go to a fair or a movie and maybe eat out. But nothing compared to the hoopla we see these days about the "New Year". S & I spent the last moments of 2007 at a friend's place. We played "Sequence" until midnight, broke the bubbly, wished each other with lots of hand pumping et al, ate amazing home-made layered chocolate cake and posed for funny pictures. It was good fun because hanging out with friends is fun. But I wouldn't ascribe any of my joyfulness or levity to the fact that it was New Year's eve. I sometimes don't know what all the fuss is about.

Do people party on New Year's eve because they are celebrating the end of a strenuous year? Or are they celebrating a psychological watershed and decide to grow as a person in the coming year? Or is New Year's just an empty excuse to party? It really does make me wonder because I get these calls on January 1st and everyone asks me, "Soooooooo what did you do yesterday?Please don't tell me you spent it at someone's home? Come on, girl, didn't you hit the clubs?" Personally, I think that it is great to spend New Year's at home or at a friend's place celebrating the things that are important -- companionship, friends and of course, good food..:) I don't think its my cup of tea to go clubbing on New Year's eve with the mad, mad crowds and dance to wild music. I might try it once in a while but certainly not every year.

All that said, Happy New Year to all of you! Hope this year turns out to be a great year for all of you. As far as this blog goes, I think I have to make two solemn promises for this year:

1. I'll try to post more frequently.
2. I'll reply to all comments..:) I know I've been a laggard as far as this goes. I'll promise to be a good girl. There.

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