Friday, December 29, 2006

The Year That Was

The Guy and I discussed the changes that the past year brought to our lives. It has been - and probably will be - the most eventful year for us, the year that made the most changes to our lives, in more than one way.

Mercenary girl that I am, I am glad of the big change this year has brought in our financial status. Last year, we both just about managed to meet expenses (actually, I rarely did and was often in debt) and would always be broke at the end of the month. Towards the end of the year, things were uncertain. I wasn't sure yet if I had got the new job, we had huge (no person who's never been in a long-distance relationship can imagine how huge) phone bills to pay, my sister's marriage was looming up and I didn't know if how I could even manage the travel expenses. We weren't even sure how we would manage the expenses of my moving cities if I did get the job.

And now? No, we haven't got oodles of cash stashed away. But we have pretty nearly furnished our house, got all important appliances, got a laptop (!), bought jewellery, got married (completely on our own expense), vacationed in Assam and Gujarat, weekended in Hyderabad - and now, with the current month's salaries deposited in our accounts, are planning to do some savings (to save on taxes, if nothing else). At the moment, I feel rich. Most of all, I feel thankful that we have come so far, that from being financially independent bachelor and bachelorette we have become a financially stable family. This is when most people would look upwards and pray. The Guy and I gave a gift to CRY and bought ourselves gifts from its online store. What better way to celebrate our good luck than to think of those more unfortunate than ourselves?

Goodbye, 2006. When you came in, we were unsure, apart, but hopeful. You leave us a family, happy and confident. May this be the foundation of many wonderful years ahead.

Happy New Year to you all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Progress

I've done a lot since the last post. Let me report my progress:

  1. I made chhole last week. Not a great experiment, but it's a start. And I cooked up a large dinner on Saturday.
  2. The Guy and I danced in a group at our annual office party two weeks ago. If that isn't doing something new, what is? I thought my dancing on stage days were long over. And the Guy, dance! But we did. What's more, we practised for weeks, spending even longer hours at office and having our unused-to-exercise bodies ache and creak all the time... And we managed a passable performance at the end of it. What's more, I even participated (read "was coerced into participating") in the Ms. "Company" contest. As I'd expected, I didn't win, but I surprised myself by lauding the Guy to the skies on stage. (The Guy was so flabbergasted he forgot to photograph/videorecord the momentous occasion.)
  3. We went to a Jagjit Singh concert and a 'Jim Morrison and John Lennon' night. Jagjit Singh was disappoininting (especially considering the bomb we paid to hear him) and the rock concert was awesome. We were totally floored by the music, even the Guy, who's even less a rock fan than I am. The band sounded very professional and well-trained - very commendable, considering the fact that they don't do it full-time. (I know because one of the guys is in my office.) We mean to go to more of their shows. Watch out for the Purple Patch - with some luck, they'll do good, if not great, things.
  4. We have had more than one long leisurely dinner out, plus spent many hours sitting up in bed late and talking... Marriage hasn't changed us much, after all!
  5. We went shopping last weekend. Saturday was "household" shopping, and was a relief to have got done at last. Sunday was shopping of the more fun kind, and we enjoyed picking up stuff for ourselves (mostly me - but don't blame me, I've needed that stuff for ages) and a few dear people.
  6. I read through a giant book of Ruskin Bond's stories - and enjoyed them thoroughly, though they began to get to me towards the end. It was nice to discover that my grown-up self enjoys Ruskin Bond as much as my childhood self did. I also started Emma again, and am enjoying it more than ever. (I keep looking up and telling the Guy how good the book is and that he must read it - rich, considering that he had started it when I took it away from him to read it myself!)
  7. We had a lovely dinner at home (lovely time - the food was simple soup and pasta), eating off the lovely little dinner set gifted by our friend, with candles, flowers and incense on the table. And sat and talked for hours afterwards.

No, we still haven't gone sight-seeing, or for a walk. We haven't invited friends for dinner. And I haven't managed to get my haircut yet. But I think all this is quite satisfactory progress in a month!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Things I Want to Do...

but haven't been able to find time for:
  1. Cook something new: With my mom- and sis-in-law visiting, I have hardly done any cooking lately. While I am enjoying this 'sitting back and watching with the Guy enjoying Momma's cooking' phase, I miss the pleasure of cooking for us.
  2. Go out and do something new: I'd like to go sight-seeing, visit some historical site, climb some hill, go to some museum - basically do something we haven't done together before.
  3. Go for walks: I don't think we've walked any distance since our vacation last month.
  4. Go for a long leisurely dinner out.
  5. Go shopping - without feeling too tired to try something on or having to rush because we have to go on to the next thing.
  6. Get a haircut: This one's been pending for weeks.
  7. Read: We bought some books on Monday and I haven't had time to read even the jackets! Plus there are a few old ones I've been wanting to reread. Not to speak of all the management and economics books I have been telling myself I should read...
  8. Go for a really long bike ride.
  9. Invite friends over for dinner.
  10. Have a quiet homecooked dinner at home, complete with candles and flowers on the table.

Guess I have to wait some more time... Life's really busy at present.

(And yeah, you guessed right - the Guy reads this space.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Beliefs

What makes me different? What makes me me?

Let me explain two things today that are part of who I am, two things that appear conflicting to others but stem from my beliefs, my mind - my vegetarianism and my atheism.

I am from a part of the country where vegetarianism is an anomaly, where a vegetarian meal is considered frugal. Always irreverent towards custom, I even indulged in beef, that holy cow of the Hindus (unfortunately, failing to shock my liberal parents, which took away most of the fun of the experiment). While I laughed or argued vehemently at disparaging remarks of acquaintances, my love for meat - while never interfering with my spiritual well-being - always troubled my animal-loving nature. (Have you ever gone to buy chicken for your dinner? Have you seen the cramped poor conditions the birds are kept in, and the inhuman painful way they are slaughtered? I cringed each time I saw it - yet, hypocritically, still enjoyed my chicken curry dinner.) I first experimented with vegetarianism not out of the best intentions - more out of spite, of the stubbornness that does not turn down a dare. I switched back to non-vegetarianism after a couple of years, but never took to it with the same gusto. Now I am back to being a vegetarian and - surprise - never miss non-vegetarian food.

Let me recount another about-turn in my personality. People who know me now for the confirmed atheist I am may be surprised to learn that I was once a devout believer, if not overtly religious. I believed worship is personal and hated loud/intruding forms of religion. But I was also rational, and sometimes I felt my religious beliefs did not seem logical. I pushed those doubts aside because I did not feel strong enough to face the world without a benevolent 'Heavenly Father' to make everything come right in the end.

A few years ago, my dad was in the hospital in another city battling cancer, and I was at home praying hard for him. At first, my faith helped - it gave me strength. But then, doubts began to creep in. I asked myself, will this help? Is there really someone out there who’s got no other business but to make things right for me? It did not seem to ring true. I had thought, earlier too, that God doesn’t really exist – people had made him up to feel stronger, to feel safe in the belief that nothing could go really wrong as he was there to fix everything. I wanted that belief, that strength. I felt lost without it. But all of a sudden, I couldn’t believe any more - much as I needed that belief in my moment of trial. Once I had looked myself in the eye and acknowledged what my mind was saying to me, I could not continue to fool myself. I realized that belief in God was a weakness, and I could do without it. I could be mature enough to look at the world and realize that this is all we have, no perfect heaven exists, no all-powerful maker who would make things right for you. Only you can change things for yourself…

My belief made me weaker – because I had no faith, and little hope – but it made me stronger too, because I was strong enough to deal with it all. I have not yet broken down. And it has not made me any less moral. My values, my principles, are not in the least weaker – they may even have got stronger, because the only reason I have for following them is my own conviction, and that is all the reason anyone should have.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mist

Why is it that mist suddenly makes everything seem more mysterious and beautiful?
Why is it that the sun seems milder and more inviting through that winter veil?
Why is it that hills look lovelier, the grass a more beautiful green?
Why does even my dull house take on new dimensions?

Why do we think more fondly of friends not with us?
Why do we remember with longing moments that are past?
Why does love lost seem so much more desirable?
Why are chances not taken so much more regretted?

Do I only like the mist because it veils reality?
Do I only like poetry because it is not as stark as prose?
Do I like fiction because it is not fact?
Do I like dreaming because it keeps me from life?

Or is it because reality behind the mist seems much more meaningful,
Because the destination seems worth the journey,
Because the meeting seems worth the waiting,
And life is so much more worth living when it has a sprinkle of romance...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

I had written this a year ago, and was reminded of it when we rode home some nights ago... While winter is Delhi is a different experience altogether - the biting winds, the thicker-than-soup fog, and the days at post-graduate school it reminds me of - the mist that has appeared and the cold wind that has been blowing the last few nights seem to promise that winter is descending on Pune...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Romantic Guys?

Some guys will notice your dress and appearance and never fail to compliment.
Others don’t notice if you’re wearing eyeliner because they’re looking into your eyes.

Some guys will surprise you with a candlelit dinner and a lavish gift on your birthday – but will not remember how you like your coffee.
Others will give you a modest bouquet on your birthday but will wash the dishes after dinner.

Some guys will offer to pay for all your dates but will be unfailingly late showing up.
Others will graciously accept your offer to share, willingly lend you money when you need it, and call when they can’t make it on time.

Some guys will get jealous when you talk to an attractive man at work.
Others will laugh with you when you tell them you find that new guy in office attractive, but dumb.

Some guys will cook a lavish lunch for you once a month – and leave a princely mess in the kitchen.
Others will sit by you while you cook and help you clear up.

Some guys will tell you each day that they love you.
Others will show it by picking up all the things you drop so that your backache doesn’t get worse, by laughing and kissing you on the forehead when you’ve misplaced something of his worth 2000 bucks, by sitting by your bed on an uncomfortable chair and holding your hand all night when cramps keep you from sleeping.
And some guys do both.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Week in Review

We finally saw Lage Raho Munnabhai on Wednesday. We left office with less than half hour to go before show-time, and with a sudden shower of rain dampening our spirits. We walked out and took a rickshaw (neither of us felt enthusiastic about a bike ride in the rain). The streets were full of puddles, and my bare legs were splashed (so much for wearing a skirt). We came to a stop before some construction blocking the road, and walked a hundred metres dodging traffic and puddles before we reached the shelter of the movie theater. With no time for a snack, we picked up a (totally un-delicious) sandwich from the food counter. The movie had already started when we walked in.

But it was all worth it. All the waiting, the hesitation, the reluctance to see the movie (what if it, too, turns out disappointing, like all others we've seen in recent times?) culminated in two and a half hours of laughter, emotion, and respect (for the moviemakers? or for the man referred to as Bapu?)

Having a generally low opinion of sequels, I had expected to see some repetitive humour, some boring patriotic drivel, some holier-than-thou preaching. The humour was rib-tickling, but what I really liked about the movie was the portrayal of the Mahatma as a sensible, concerned fatherly figure. You feel he would have approved.

It wasn't as logical or "real"as I like movies to be. But definitely worth a watch (and some muddy splashes on my high-heeled legs).

Cut to yesterday. The Guy's mentor (who works in the US office) is on a visit here. Her husband, who also works in our company, was also here too for a week ending yesterday, and we had invited them to lunch for a homecooked vegetarian Indian meal.

Unfortunately, a party Friday night disagreed with him and he didn't feel well enough to come. Disappointing, considering that I was busy cooking when her phone call came. (Not to speak of the fact that the Guy had tidied up the house - but then, that's a good thing.) She did come over last night, however, after her husband left to catch his flight, and we had a lovely evening. We had our first guest over as a couple, and I cooked my first meal for guests - with success. Let me pat myself on the back.

Another pat on the back - we haven't had any meals out this entire week (except for the snacks during the movie). We seem to be turning into an ideal couple - isn't that a scary thought?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm Back!

Nearly four weeks have gone by since I got married. The days went by in a whirl - celebrating, meeting relatives, travelling - and now we are back in our home. On the surface, not much has changed. We go to work together every morning as usual, and I take a rickshaw home in the evening if the Guy's going to be late. But something is different - something that cannot be defined by the fact that I can now wear a red mark on my forehead when it suits me or wear a saree to work if I feel like it. With the dust settled down, I feel not any different from what I was a month ago - celebrations, sindoor, jewellery notwithstanding. But those few words I spoke at the registrar's office made me legally bound to the Guy whom I now call my husband. And while nothing has changed between us, in the eyes of the world we now stand together.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Going Home!

The Guy and I leave for Guwahati in some minutes. Thinking of Assam - my beautiful homeland - always leaves me with feelings of serenity and longing. Always, when I used to travel to the state on vacations, I had this exhilirating feeling of coming home.

But 'home' for me now isn't in that lovely land of my childhood, but in this cosmopolitan town that I live in, the nest that we have built for ourselves. I am terribly excited about going, but it I am less overcome by waves of nostalgia than eager to show the Guy the places and people I have spent so many moments with.

This is my first visit after my sister's wedding: now I am married myself and am going to my parents' home with my husband. It feels wonderful, exciting, and a bit surreal, like I have wandered into a novel.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Being a Bride

How is a bride supposed to feel? Excited, nervous, ecstatic? I was asked "How are you feeling now?" countless times on the big day and afterwards, and I could not figure out the 'expected' answer.

"Much the same as earlier," I said at first. After all, the Guy and I have been a couple for what seems like a long time. Our feelings for each other haven't changed - we only gained legal and societal acceptance as a family. But this answer was met with surprise and scepticism. (Was there a tinge of disapproval, a suspicion that I didn't deserve to be a bride, seeing that I took the responsibility so lightly?)

So I changed my answer to "Great. Wonderful." To my surprise, that brought surprised reactions too. "Really?" "Great?"

"What do they want to hear?" I asked the Guy. Like a good Indian bride, I wanted to be pleasing to everyone, so I wanted to give people the answer they expected. "Probably that you are uncomfortable, nervous, that you'll take time to get used to it, that you're finding it difficult to handle it..."


"Oh," I said, trying to imagine what it would have been like if he'd lived together with all his family. "But even then, I doubt I'd be uncomfortable. Your people are so nice, they'd make a fuss of me and pamper me." But as the Guy says, that's not what people want to hear. And I'm not probably not feeling the way they expect me to. Not that that's a bad thing.

Also, I assume not everyone expects to hear the same thing - probably I goofed up by saying I'm not feeling special to the people who expected me to feel great. There goes my ambition of pleasing everyone.

So how do I feel? Ecstatic? No, wrong word. Euphoric, maybe. Happy that my dream has come true. Content that I now have everything I wanted. Complete.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Birthday to...

Today is the birthday of one of my dearest friends. If I think about it, he's rather an unlikely person to be my friend - and wouldn't have been except for certain circumstances.

Let me explain. We were classmates at b-school. Same class, same section, a few common electives. So we met each other every day. We even had common friends - two of my best friends were friends of his. Yet, while we had a healthy respect for each other, we never really touched base. One reason being, that we were both busy with other (now inconsequential) things to have much time for fraternising.

He was one of the early birds to get a job (or the worm, if you want to put it that way). I got one too, eventually. It was time to move out. And I did, without meeting any of those three friends, without saying a proper goodbye.

Strangely however, the friendships persisted. Maybe true friends are like that. He came to visit me once, with one of our common friends. After that, we didn't keep very well in touch.

Then I got back in touch with the other close friend. This friendship went too deep for distance to fade it. It took only a few days to become better friends than we had ever been, only a few conversations to bare our souls to each other. Maybe the distance helped. It was like talking to God, or to oneself: talking to a listener who does not exist.

This friend is my Guy, and we are getting married in a week. But I began by talking of my other friend, whose birthday it is today. He and the Guy have been the best of friends for years. So my relationship with the Guy brought me closer to him too. So much so that now I probably talk to him more than the Guy does. Yes, the Guy will always come first for him. But when he comes to our wedding next week, I'll know he'll be there for me too.

We might disagree (often), fight (rarely, I hope), and meet but once a year (or less - who knows?), yet this is one friendship that I hope will last. I need him in my life, need him to be the rock he's been. He is the only person before whom I might contemplate cribbing to about the Guy - simply because I know the esteem and affection he has for him, which would not make my act the disloyalty it would be with anyone else. To put it simply, I need him because he's a genuine friend - and experience has taught me these are hard to find.


So, on his birthday, I wish him happiness to fill his life.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My Birthday

One of my dearest friends wished on my birthday that this be my best birthday ever. Well, it was.

It started out by being rather ordinary. On second thoughts, maybe not quite. Hopping around on a bike on bumpy roads trying to find a cake before midnight is (thankfully) not very common with me. Fortunately, we found one bakery that closes late.

The best part about this birthday was that I had my dearest people with me. Mom and the Guy were both present when I cut my cake. Though not a novel way to celebrate a birthday, it was a very satisfying one for me.

And of course, the wishes of friends always makes a birthday special.

But what was most special, this time, was the way it ended. The Guy and I spent a great evening at a discotheque - for the first time. Yes, in spite of our having been together for most of eight months, we had never done that before. I fulfilled a long-standing fantasy - of dancing with my love.

As we rode back home, the silence of the night with the stars twinkling down contrasted perfectly with the loud vibrating music and dancing lights at the nightclub, and made for just the right ending to a wonderful evening.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stars in My Hand

I recently realised why I like diamonds. And why I like them small and few, not huge and flashy. They remind me of stars. Like the unattainable stars twinkling in the night sky, they wink at you from a ear or neck.

So I have five tiny stars on my finger, twinkling to celebrate our love.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I like...

…riding on a bike with the wind blowing in my face.

…going for a walk on a cold evening.

…sitting in a cafĂ© sipping strong hot coffee – better still, letting the coffee grow cold while the Guy and I are engaged in an animated discussion.

…getting up early in the morning – on a holiday.

… reading a book on a quiet afternoon while the Guy is sleeping with his head on my lap.

…sitting outside on a clear night, looking at the stars or the moon


.…cooking a simple meal for the Guy and me to share.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I Do Not Understand…

why women two-wheeler drivers in Pune cover their heads and faces with scarves but do not bother to wear helmets. Are their skin and hair more precious than their heads?

why drivers zip across even when the traffic light is red. I may even understand someone being callous of other’s lives, but of one’s own…?

why so many men are quite incapable of treating women with respect… why so many even educated men look at a woman and see not a person but a body…

why so many women willingly consent to, even propagate, the idea of a woman as more a body than a mind…

why people who are never there for me when I need someone expect me to be there for them – always… (as if that is my sole purpose in life!)

why people go through privations for religious reasons but are unwilling to put up with the slightest inconvenience for humane considerations. For instance, a non-vegetarian will boast of eating lamb or fawn, but will observe a strictly vegetarian diet during a religious festival!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

By Invitation Only

I do not understand why the concept of a 'small, family wedding' is so difficult for people to understand. I have got unpleasant, even (usually?) rude responses to news about my impending marriage. The most vehement, perhaps, was from an old school friend (we have never been intimate, and we've been in and - mostly - out of touch since then) who claimed that I probably didn't remember his name, that there was no reason why I should invite him to my wedding (I agree with him on that) but he would come anyway! (Need I mention how furious I was at this? I did not trust myself to draft a civil reply, so the mail went unanswered.)

Another school 'friend' (for the record, she didn't bother to reply to any of the last few mails I sent her) asked if I wouldn't invite her to the wedding, and asked me to 'at least' let her know the date! (I wonder where she got the news from - and how come her informant was unaware of the date.)

I have told those whom I consider my friends what kind of a wedding it is going to be - a fuss-less, simple one, with a registration in the presence of family (which I consider to include our best friends). I did not even need to explain to them why I wanted a wedding like that - they know me well enough to understand. It might be the custom to have lots of guests at a wedding, but my wedding is a personal event for me, and I do not want it on display. The Guy and I both feel that the significance of a wedding lies in the event itself, in the commitment the couple make to each other, not in the magnificence of the decor, the richness of the food or the weight of the bride's jewellery! More than that, we feel that it is the presence of loved ones that will make this event truly wonderful - and so we wanted to be sure not to have anyone that we did not want, anything that would trivialize the occasion. And yes, it makes us feel good to think that we're not spending our parents' money.

I can understand people automatically assuming - without bothering to ask - that it will be a 'normal' traditional wedding. What I consider rude is when they do not bother to congratulate me, or ask who I'm marrying, but only flaunt their offended ego at not being invited. These are precisely the kind of people we do not want at our wedding. We want people who'll be happy for us and wish us well, not people who'll count the number of rupees we spent and smirk at our miserliness.

And remember, these are people who have never remembered me in all these years, who did not bother to get in touch with me when my dad died (I did not need you then, and I need you now?), who have never done the slightest thing for me yet feel entitled to a slice of my life.

This is MY wedding. And you so-called friends who don't care a hoot for me are not invited. Is that so hard to understand?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My First Wedding Gift!

The Guy and I got our first wedding gift yesterday. It came to us all the way from the US, from a very dear friend. And it is adorable. A dining set for two, it seems meant to bring us closer. I could visualize cosy romantic dinners with candles and incense on the table (yes, she very thoughtfully provided incense sticks and stand). Homemade pasta would be perfect for the menu. (You guessed it - the focus will be romance, not the food.)

Now I actually feel like I'm getting married!

Thanks, Swati!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Growing up!

I will be 25 soon - a quarter century old! My friends remind me that I am growing old. I beg to differ - I am only growing older. I'm still a kid - I'm only grown up enough to be independent, not grown out of being pampered or throwing tantrums!

I am happy to be turning 25! Well, yeah, 25 seems old - ten years ago a woman of 25 would have seemed to me to have grown past all fun - but I don't feel old. I feel young, happy, content - in a way I have never been.

Ten years ago - even three years ago - I also longed to start earning, be independent, be in love with Mr. Right - and of course, all this would make me truly happy. Now I am earning (enough to not have to worry too much about money), am independent, am in love with the perfect (for me) guy, and am really happy! What more could I ask for?

I believe in myself as I never did before, I have faith not only in my abilities but also in my beliefs, my hopes... I have people to love me and whom I can love back without being afraid of getting betrayed... My friends now are people I know well and know what to expect from them - unlike many friends in the years past who betrayed my trust and affection. I have a life to look forward to, to plan and hope for. I have dreams to realize...

I have spent many of the last 25 years making mistakes, ignoring opportunities, shutting myself out from the light - but it is those mistakes that have made me stronger and wiser, and will keep me (I hope) from mistakes in the future. I was never as happy, as carefree, when I was a teenager. I am grown up now, and in control of my life - and it has not brought more worries, it has made me stronger in every way (emotionally, financially!) and brought people to my life who make me stronger, happier. Why should I then regret anything, even growing old(er)?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sonnet

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

- Elizabeth Barett Browning


Why Do I Love You? Let Me Count the Reasons…

Why do I love you? Let me count the reasons…
That were responsible for bringing us closer
And within the space of but a few seasons
Linked our lives inexorably together.
I liked you for the wit that arouses my laughter
And more, for the mind that illuminates my own;
For the intellect that is as sharp as a razor,
For the words that take me into a world all our own.

I love you for the gentleness you show towards everyone;
I love you for the honesty that stands as firm as my own:
From the depths of hell I saw your faith shining like a beacon,
For you had faith in me even when I had none of my own.
I love you for the joy, the hope I have since being with you, known;
I love you for loving me so… Is that not enough reason?


- Unmana

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thoughts

There's so much I think - so many varied thoughts that pop around in my head. The one thing that settles me is writing all that down - which is why this blog is such a blessing. (Not only for me, but also for the Guy, I guess - else I'd bug him with more thoughts than a busy guy can reasonably handle.)

These days for instance, things at work are a bit unsettled, so I'm trying to keep myself occupied and enthusiastic through other things. One is orkut - I have lost count of the number of old friends I met through the site. And the count just keeps increasing. Last night I picked up my old economics textbook (one I actually haven't read before), and didn't find it too boring to put down again immediately. So I've decided to take up reading Eco again, for my own edification and satisfaction. I had taken admission into MA by correspondence ages ago, then gave it up because I saw no chance of completing the course. But I'm not really looking for a formal degree - it's just that learning seems to give you a sense of purpose... There's so much I want to do in life - among my varied (often conflicting) aims are travelling, becoming a full-time writer, teaching, working with a non-profit... And yet none of these seem attractive enough for me to give up the steady pay and stability of a job...

But as I said earlier (in a different way) dreams are what keep us going... And I hope I'll do some, if not all, of the above some day...

Amen to that!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On Forwards

I considered titling this "In Hate of Forwards". But it might be misleading. I don't hate all forwards. Some are witty, funny. But the majority are tasteless and worse, offensive. Also, I consider them an invasion of my privacy, especially if sent by someone I a) don't know, b) am not and would not normally be in touch with - I mean, you never mail me a "Hi, how are you?" but you feel yourself entitled to send me boring forwards?

But worse than all this, perhaps is all the wrong "information" they spread. You see it often, some forward soliciting for aid because someone is ill - often with ghastly photographs - and you send it on in good faith, to find later that it has been doing the round for ages. Then there was one some time ago about petrol/diesel prices and how the government is doing nothing about it. Anyone who has any knowledge of the economy would know that the government subsidises petroleum products heavily - if this had been a free economy, we'd have been paying through our noses for fuel. Do those people sending those forwards have any idea about the real price of LPG? Why don't they find out, before clicking on that 'forward' button?

Then there's one I got today, about Tommy Hilfiger supposedly having made 'racist' comments on Oprah Winfrey's show, and pleading for a boycott of his products. My first reaction was gratification - someone actually thinks I can afford designer labels! My first search on Google took me to an Urban Legends article refuting the whole thing. It seems Oprah and Tommy Hilfiger have never met. I am as anti-racist as anyone can get - but why not check your facts first?

Then there are those which warn of dire consequences if you do not forward them. I love deleting those. I sometimes wish I'd kept count of the number I've deleted.

I think I'll send out one of my own. "If you have ever sent on a forward without reading it, you will lose your job within 15 days. If you have ever sent a forward to a person who did not know you, you will remain single all your life - if you are attached, your partner will soon leave you. If you have ever forwarded any 'information' without verifying it, all your hair will fall out within a week."

I wonder how many times I would get that one back!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Here I am!

I know, I've neglected my blog shamefully in recent times. In my defense - I haven't been well for a couple of weeks now. I would never willingly neglect my blog.

I finally dragged mom and the Guy down to watch Omkara yesterday. And then wished I hadn't. I mean, we spent around 400 bucks on the tickets (not to speak of auto-fare), and I think so carefully before buying a top priced at 400! As we walked out of the movie, I solemnly resolved not to watch another movie a)for six months, b)until I can watch it without thinking about the ticket price, whichever is earlier.

I know, I know. You watched Omkara, probably loved it. Everyone seems to have - even critics are raving about it. And I have been waiting for the damn movie for almost a year, since it was first announced that Vishal Bharadwaj was making a version of Othello. That's why I feel let down.

I had watched Makdee and loved it. Maqbool was mind-blowing. I just sat there, experiencing it all, trying not to miss all the nuances, and getting completely bowled away by the subtle power of it all. I remember feeling, "This is art. Shakespeare would have liked it."

Well, I didn't expect quite as much from Omkara. For one, it had too many stars and not enough actors. The presence of Kareena Kapoor in itself was enough to tone down my expectations. And much as I like Ajay Devgan, he is just too much of a star - unlike Irrfan, who comes across as earthy and human (albeit sexy).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hurrah! Blogspot is back!!!

I was sure it would be, soon. How can you keep down something which has so many opinions and feelings behind it?

What is music without anyone to hear it? What is a sunset with no one to look at it? And what is a writer without readers?

I have been writing since childhood, often privately, mostly for myself. If there was no one to read, I might still write. But oh, so much sweeter to have someone read and praise!So this space is dedicated to my (very few) regular readers, without whose encouragement and praise I might have forgotten long ago that I even had a blog!

First, Maitreyee. She reminded me in the very beginning that I had not entered much in my blog. She made me realize she was waiting to read what I wrote – a powerful stimulus for me to write. Since then, she’s always been reading, sometimes silently (this is a hint for Maitreyee to put in more comments), sometimes responding with nice comments. In these busy days, this blog has also served as a way for her to know what’s going on in my life… Maitreyee's interest in my writing is however, not new. I remember her, years ago, encouraging me to keep writing regardless of whether my work gets published.

Second, Masood. I don’t know what I’d have done without him. He reads every entry religiously and rarely fails to comment. He makes me feel I’m not speaking in a void. Thanks, buddy!

Keep reading – I hope I keep writing well enough for you guys to keep wanting to come back!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Of Shopping and Other Things

I haven't entered anything in this log for a long time... There has been so much happening in life that I have been too busy to write any of it down. Thankfully, mostly good things. Life is great just now.

The weekend was awesome. The weather was charming - the sun would peep out from a blanket of clouds and we would hope for a sunny day. Soon however, the rain god would turn on the shower again. The lightest drizzle - heavenly to walk in.

I treated mom to a Chinese lunch on Saturday that turned out to be a total disaster. It was so hot we choked on it - we were too brave to give up, but not brave enough to finish it.

Later, we went shopping . Nice normal event of a girl's life - going shopping with mom. Not that usual for me, though, and I was looking forward to it. Of course, it started to rain as soon as we left home - but we didnt let that dampen our determination.


We had intended for window-shopping. I wanted to check out saris - not having much experience in sari-shopping, I wanted to get an idea of things so that I could imagine what kind of bridal sari I wanted. I had thought of silk, nothing too traditional or elaborate, nothing too expensive.

The first sari store we walked into had a sale. After looking at a few frayed or otherwise blemished pieces, we walked inside for healthier specimens. The poor sales guy unfolded sari after sari in an effort to please me - but nothing seemed good enough. My mom, who liked a few, got quite exasperated with my pickiness and sat at a distance from my choosy self. But - well, after all, a gal only gets married once. With thanks to the shop guy, we departed.

We walked along the street for a while (well, it is a 'walking plaza' on weekend evenings), then caught a rickshaw to a mall, hoping to window shop undisturbed by eager salespeople.

We got our wish. Though we found only a tiny sari counter in the mall (crowded by screaming youngsters cheering on dancers in some kind of competition in the middle of the mall - Have I grown too old? Or was I never young enough for that, I wonder.) the salesperson happily ignored us, believing us to be aimless window-shoppers.

And, wonder of wonders! I found my perfect sari. I had found a similar one on the internet, but had despaired of finding anything like it. This was, if anything, better - and wonderfully inexpensive. I unfolded it and draped it over myself and looked at it carefully, afraid to believe it really was it.

But it was. And we brought it home. I waited to show it to the Guy the next day - he had particularly asked to come with me when I would choose my sari. But he liked it too.

The flipside is - now that I have done the most important thing I needed to do for the wedding, what do I do all these weeks? But then, I guess I'm saved a load of tension and trouble.

Wait - the weekend isn't over yet. The Guy came back on Sunday. We had a nice day at home, mostly watching TV, eating and chatting. There was a scare in the morning, as Shiv Sainiks went on a rampage all over Mumbai, and it spread to Pune and other parts of Maharashtra too. (I really think they should outlaw the organization - they are as bad as terrorists.) We watched a movie on TV in the evening. When the Guy finally went out to go home, there was not an auto to be found. He came back, rather shame-facedly. I gather he and mom had a companionable time watching the World Cup final - I, of course, had turned in to sleep. I lay awake till later than either of them, though - life was too exciting just then to fall asleep easily.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dreams

We all dream dreams when we are young.
But somewhere on the path of growing up, the dreams seem to get lost
or lie untouched in the attic, gathering a layer of dust.
We face real life. And think it has no room for dreams.
Only cynicism.
And yet, whenever I have let go of a dream,
and tried to tell myself to be happy with what I have,
I have found myself unhappy, unfulfilled.
Because even if a dream never comes true, holding on to it gives you hope.

We think that life is not perfect - which is true.
and we think that justifies giving up on our dreams, and settling for what we have.

Settling for being unsatisfied, unhappy.
Settling for less than what we want.
and being less than what we are.
but it is only when you have a dream
that you have something to look forward to,
you have something to improve, something to realise.
You may never have something perfect,
but with each step, you are closer.

Keep dreaming.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Happiness

I have been happy these last few months - mostly quietly, sometimes deliriously. But now I have the only thing needed to make my life complete. My mom has come home to me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Love My Boss!

It must be frustrating to work under a boss you don't like, to take orders from someone you don't respect. I am grateful I've been lucky in this regard. My first full-time job was as an analyst at a business research firm. With great luck, my first project was in the very domain I'd have chosen if I'd been given a choice - consumer goods. In that very first project, I also found a senior who would become my best friend at work, a girl with whom I not only shared many moments of chatting and girl-talk, but from I also learnt a great deal, whom I not only cared for as a friend but also - perhaps more importantly - respected as a good worker, colleague and senior.

But also, the leader of my first team at work was a woman whom I will simply name as V. In my first team meeting (an informal affair in which we perched on desks around V's seat) I - the newest member of the team - argued vehemently against something I did not agree with, and hardly noticed when everyone else shut up and listened to me. In the next meeting too, I was free with my ideas. I seemed to impress V, for she took the ideas seriously and asked me and my friend to work on them.

Not much later, V was made my career manager. And she was the best I could have had. Not only was she a mentor to me, advising me on personal and career decisions, concerned about my future in the company and eager to help me improve, but she was also an enthusiastic advocate, arguing my case before management during appraisals. (How do I know? Well, word gets around.) I loved working with her - not least because she had extremely high standards and expected the best out of her subordinates - and learnt a lot from her example and guidance. Even today, V is an ideal I look up to and follow.

We also became friends, having not only meetings but also coffee breaks and lunches together. By a strange quirk of fate, I moved into a flat near hers, and she often gave me a ride home from work. She was pregnant: the first person I had seen through that state at close range. She won my everlasting admiration by the way she carried herself through her pregnancy, refusing to be confined, working till the night before her baby was born. Yes, she cribbed - royally - but only to me, and that did not reduce my respect for her. And she did not shirk any of her responsibilities, being as meticulous a manager as she had ever been.

Ah, but the birth of V junior required that my friend V stay at home for a few months. My other friend had already left the company - and the country - and I felt strangely friendless and headless. There was no one any more to ask advice from, to go to with problems, to share girly talk with. It was during this time that I began thinking of leaving - because even apart from the absence of my two friends, there was little that I was enjoying at work.

My luck held more true than I could have hoped. I got a dream job - in my boyfriend's city. I jumped at the offer.

The first time I talked to my new boss was when he interviewed me over the phone. He is based in the USA, so we would never meet, only communicate through email, telephone, and videoconference. It was a novel arrangement, but I looked forward to the freedom it entailed.

My first day at work seemed ominous - I was warned about my boss and informed that he might not be easy to get along with. Importantly, he was also my mentor - and so responsible for my evaluations as well.

So I was surprised to see the way he chatted with me - within a couple of days of my joining, he was regaling me with long funny stories about himself. This was not a flash in the pan - we got more chummy as the days passed, and after getting past reporting (on my side) and assigning work (on his), we would often chat about our personal lives.

So much so that I look forward to these chats with him - look forward to his funny and clever comments and to laughing with him (across those thousands of miles!) at the end of my day (and the beginning of his).

But that is not all. I also deeply respect his abilities, his intelligence, and his knowledge. I have to constantly live up to his standards, and I learn from him - both of which make my work challenging and interesting. He is twice my age, has ample experience, and sometimes comes across as a kindly father-figure - and yet he always treats me with the utmost politeness and respect.

How wonderful it is to do work I love under a boss like that!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Monsoon Shower

Sitting at my desk, looking out of the huge unopenable windows at the rain flowing down outside. The world outside is a blur, viewed through innumerable layers of falling raindrops. The sky is an opaque, slightly luminous, uneven white.

It was sunny when I left home, just a couple of hours ago, and I decided against bringing a raincoat. The streets will be awash with muddy water, jammed with honking vehicles, and I am sure to get splashed on my newly-washed clothes on my way home. So the sight of the rain beating down should depress me. Strangely, it doesn't.

The shower beats down upon the walls and the windowns and invades the quiet of the office. I can hear, as from a far distance, the peal of thunder. Nature's display of her power seems glorious. It fills me with a strange zest for life. Buoyed up by my small act of creation, I will go back to work with enthusiasm.

Happy Monsoons!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Midnight Rambles

It is around midnight, when we are thoroughly tired out and our bodies are longing for bed, that the Guy and I venture out for a walk. I make an unholy noise opening the iron door, and pray I haven't woken up any early-to-bed neighbours. The Guy (who, unlike me, is not a klutz) shuts and bolts it quietly. We walk down the stairs in single file (the stairs not being wide enough for us to go down hand-in-hand). When I take the last step down out of the arcade and feel the cool night air envelop me, the sensation I have is that of having escaped. The Guy catches up. I look around - it is too late for curious neighbours. We walk down the lane, hand in hand. He makes an inane comment, I laugh out too loud, try to check myself, and end up laughing louder. As we walk out of the gates, the guard shouts a greeting. I smile and reply, and walk on.

A few people are on the street - in large cars with blaring music, astride roaring bikes, on softly sliding bicycles, and a few - like us - on foot. The moon is a glowing disc on top and a little ahead of us. Everything is bathed in moonlight. We stop before a large house - a villa - we pass often but never notice. The moonlight on its white and green and red facade make it look like a fairytale castle. We stop for a moment and wish it was ours.

We keep walking. The Guy keeps coming up with more of his absurd remarks, reminding me of the friend he was a couple of years ago, when that was his overruling characteristic. I laugh, but wish aloud that I could exchange this version of him with the perhaps rarer more serious, romantic version. He acts offended, but refuses to change. I resign myself to the present company and decide it is quite pleasant after all.

We find the coffee shop closed - as we expected. But it was our finish line, and we turn back. The moon is behind us now, but the romance is still heavy in the air. Tired, I drag my steps, and the Guy slows down his steps to match mine. We pass the fairytale castle again. This time, we do not stop to covet it. They may have the castle, but we have the fairy tale.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Guy and me!

This time, I'll leave this picture to do all the talking... Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 05, 2006

Weekend Update

Another lazy, quiet weekend. But this time, there were a number of small achievements.

Have made my way through most of 'Atlas Shrugged'. Very disappointing, after the mindblowing 'Fountainhead' - but I can't let it go, and so I want to put it through quickly. It disturbs me, though - while I don't agree with Ayn Rand's idea of hell, the idea of selfish (my definition of 'selfish', not Rand's) stupid people leading a country to ruin seems all too well played out in India right now.

With the Guy's active encouragement and help, I made pakoras yesterday. Quite a success, for an initial venture.

AND we used the new washing machine - after growing tired of the company guy to come around and deciding to take back control of our life!

We also went for a nice walk and had a quiet dinner - and then a ride with the breeze cooling our faces. Lovely!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Here Come the Rains!

Drip, drip, drip. Not the intrusive sound of water dripping from a tap, but a quiet incessant murmur that you can hear if you hold your breath. It is only when you venture outside that you see the amount of damage - wet everywhere, dirty pools in the middle of the road, and not a spare rickshaw to be found. Welcome to the monsoons.

I had been cursing people who had sung eulogies of Pune's weather to me before I moved here: I had been waiting eagerly for the rains that would bring respite for the heat. A native of rain-infested Guwahati, I had overlooked the train of inconveniences that faithfully follow the rain god - dirty and water-logged roads, damp washing set out in the balcony, muddy footsteps on the stairs... Even worse in big cities like Delhi and Pune which appear surprised each time the rain god decides to unleash his fury. Combined with the fact that my washing machine still lies untouched in its cardboard box, the monsoons do not seem an inviting prospect.

I long to get hold of those 'friends' who had praised the city's weather.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Success!

Every day at work is fraught with problems, challenges, decisions. Every day tests us in new ways, makes us reveal and realise our strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. We struggle with the challenges as well as we can, trying to live up to expectations – our own as well as those of others.

So recognition at the work place seems like an affirmation of success. Even a word of appreciation from a colleague serves to bolster our sense of self-worth. It makes work bearable, even rewarding. It makes it seem worthwhile. It inspires us to new heights.

What else, after all, is success? It is doing well at what we do. It is being what we are, and what we are meant to be. And rewards, while not synonymous to success, seem to make success tangible.

Success is an occasion for celebration, for congratulation. A vindication of our belief in ourselves.

May you have many such successes.




Yeah, I know, I've posted this earlier. But nothing seemed more apt, after the events that have taken place since my last post. The Guy got promoted last week!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Come Home with Me

Come home with me…
We will breathe the fresh air of the hills
Turn our eyes up to where they meet the sky.

We will stand by the lake and hold hands
The breeze will sweep my hair away from my face
And I will look at you and smile.
We will walk down the road
Feeling beauty awaken the love inside us.
We will stop at every flower
And let its colour cast a reflection on our lives.
We will stand under a tree
And let the sunlight and shadows play on our faces.
We will sit on the grass
Feel the dew beneath our feet
And the gentle sun caressing our faces.
And we will talk of things that were
And our life that stretches endlessly before us.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Update

I had promised to write about the weekend celebrations. Nothing exciting, actually. My mom got the flowers on Sunday noon. She was very happy about it - so, so was I. Lovely start to the day (I was hardly out of bed then). I tried to rev up my lazy weekend by washing clothes, and ended up with a bad backache that still hasn't left me. I had a sudden whim of watching a movie, and the Guy and I went to Poseidon on Saturday afternoon. The movie was not at all engaging though: within 20 minutes I wanted to leave. So we went out and sat around for a while before going home. Watched the last of the Back to the Future trilogy at home and ate junk - if you ask me, best way to spend the weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Celebrations

Today is my mom's birthday. She is one of the two most important people in the universe to me. In fact, I'm more emotional about her than I am about the Guy. I am yet to send her her gift, and I had to postpone the delivery of flowers I'd ordered for her because she's not at home today. But Sunday is Mother's Day, so I thought that would do as well.

Today is also six months since the Guy and I met again after a long interval. After being good friends, then not talking to each other for months, and then rediscovering our friendship and opening our hearts to each other on the phone - he finally came all the way over to my town to meet me six months ago. I remember how shy I was, and how hard he tried to cover his embarrassment and put me at my ease! That was just the beginning of a magical weekend. In a way, it was the beginning of a new life...

So, how are we going to celebrate? Wait till the next update!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Reservations for Education

Last evening, I saw a rally taken out by students protesting against the central government's proposed increase in reservations. Every thinking person I know is opposed to this - which is why I had not written about this earlier - it seemed unnecessary. But yesterday, I got thinking. For a year and a half, I went to school in a small town called Diphu in a hill district of Assam. That area is now torn apart by strife and bloodshed between tribes. Then, though there were rare incidents of violence (where is there not?), it was a sleepy town, beautiful, serene. I went to the best school in town - even so, most of my classmates were first-generation literates. I easily topped the class in every exam - a fact due more to my superior early education, given the fact that I spent most of my time exploring my new surroundings and making mischief. Though many of my classmates had started off with very few advantages in life, and though the convent-school education they were receiving was aimed at giving them a better chance - very few of them seemed disposed to make much of it. The reason was palpable - due to the quota system, almost anyone who graduated from school was guaranteed a place in the town's only college (a government college of which my dad was then the principal - which explains why I was there in the first place). Anyone who passed out of college (no matter in how many years) and came from the right race (i.e., belonged to a hill tribe) could have a government job for the asking - again due to reservations and the fact that so few had the qualifications to avail of them. The result being, none of my friends or acquaintances actually felt the need to work hard in order to make a good life for themselves. This attitude was contagious, infecting the non-hill tribe students as well - I barely escaped from it. My escape was facilitated by the fact that I graduated from school well enough to go back to Guwahati to attend college - where I was pitted against the best in the state and had to run as fast as I could just to stay in the race.

I now realize what an injustice it was to the children of those tribes - the feeling of entitlement that they had, the opportunities and laudation heaped on them for small achievements that diffused the urge to aim for more, the feeling that this was their lot in life and they could not make it any better or different. And yet, they were not devoid of talent or intelligence - they just never felt the need to stretch themselves. Compare them with me, brought up in much more priveleged surroundings, but always aware of the fact that I would have to fend for myself when I grew up, and my life would be only what I made of it.

Even if we grant it the best intentions (which are in grave doubt), the government needs to stop acting like an over-indulgent parent and allow these children to grow up and claim their place in the world, instead of coccooning themselves in the ensnaring silk the state willingly provides.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Have a Wicked Weekend!

Friday is a transition - a workday that leads to fun, a weekday in which strict officewear rules (for those of us who have them!) are relaxed, a day in which imagination and excitement overtake staidness and care. It promises tantalizing possibilities. This weekend, break the rules. Do something different, something exciting. Something that will bring a private smile to your face throughout the coming long work week.

Have a fabulous Friday and a wicked weekend!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Last night

Last evening, the Guy suddenly remembered that it was a monthly-versary (what do you call it?) of the day he'd gone down on his knees and proposed to me. It was five months. Unfortunately, he couldn't leave office early for a good dinner, so we decided to just go down to MacDonald's for a quick one before I went home. Coincidentally, I was wearing jewelry he'd gifted me (a lovely gold pendant and earrings). So we went to McD and filled up on junk, then I caught the cab home. I'd forgotten my phone at home too, so the Guy gave me his. After some time, when I hadn't heard from him, I decided to call up his desk phone and tell him I'd reached home safe (and maybe give him a flea in hte ear for not bothering to find out). I couldn't reach the phone, so I called up a friend in his team, who told me there was a power cut so they'd all left work. Which was why it wasn't a surprise (or shock) when I heard the key turn in the front door and heard the rustle of cellphane that told me he'd got flowers for me.

We ended the evening by watching Ice Age (the first one) on his ancient PC. This morning, the mail sitting in my inbox told me that the power was back on by 9.05 PM, just minutes after the Guy left office. What luck!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In Bad Company

On the whole, I favour globalisation and liberalisation of the Indian economy, something which has literally transformed our lives within the last decade or so. I am even, to an extent, on the side of multinationals, given the jobs, professionalism, and work ethic they bring with them. I mean, where would most of us be without them? Stuck in our hometowns, trying to wheedle some mandarin into giving out a low-paying but cushy government job, spending leisure time reading, cooking, watching TV, visiting relatives and waiting to get married... You get the picture.

But lately, I have found myself surprised, more than once, at how
dumb modern companies can be. Pizza Hut, for instance. After experiencing a surprisingly gender-discriminating treatment at the hands of one of their employees which I had written about for my friends on Women's Day (and which I am reproducing below for the sake of readers here), the Guy and I had another unpleasant meal at the place some time ago. For one thing, it was so crowded we had to sit at this small table for two (which actually wasn't big enough for more than one.) This time, the waiter seemed biased in the opposite direction, placing a knife and a fork in front of me while ignoring the Guy completely, until I pointedly asked him to give the poor Guy something to eat with as well. (Completely unnecessary, as both of us used our hands - but I had to make my point!) The pizza finally arrived after an inordinately long period during which we entertained ourselves by making wild guesses as to what was taking them so long. Failing to find a bottle of mustard on the table (they used to have them earlier - must have removed them out of fear of unscrupulous customers who might carry some mustard home in their pockets.) I asked the waiter - a different one - for mustard. (For me, pizza is incomplete without mustard: it's like toast without butter.) He seemed quite surprised at my wanting something so unreasonable, but was kind enough to go off immediately to find some. He came back in a while, with a tiny paper receptacle (no, it was not a cup: those of you who have used them at MacDonald's to get ketchup out of the dispenser will know what I mean) filled nearly to the brim with mustard kassundi (a kind of Indian chutney made mostly with mustard, which is however not what I would want to have with pizza). Accustomed to splashing huge quantities of mustard over my pizza, I said to the man, "Can I have some more?" (Note: the use of 'can' instead of 'may' here is deliberate.) He raised a very sarcastic eyebrow, said, "Sure, ma'am", and got two more toy-paper-plates of the stuff.

On the whole, a very unpleasant dinner, and the Guy and I vowed not to repeat it. Our next experience at Pizza Hut was quite as bad, however. We were at a friend's, and there being no provisions in the kitchen, decided to order pizza. Two phone calls and an hour and a quarter later, it finally arrived. They promised to give us a 50% discount on our next purchase, but we haven't mustered (no pun intended) up the courage to do that yet.

Last weekend, we had tickets for Ice Age 2 on Sunday. On Saturday, having spent most of the day lazing at home, we decided to see if we could get them exchanged for that evening's show. The young man at the counter told me that they had tickets for the show, but I could not exchange mine: I could buy new ones and come the next day to sell mine. That was a bit too much for me to grasp, so I turned to the Guy for help. He found out that Inox (the multiplex company) has a policy of not exchanging tickets, but if we came the next day
in time for the show, they would help us sell them to customers. The Guy was so annoyed by this that he asked to speak to the manager, who very kindly repeated the statement - without being able to inform us why we could not watch the show tomorrow if we were capable of coming to 'sell' the tickets. (Which idea, by the way, brings to my mind unpleasant childhood memories of horrible men and women brazenly selling movie tickets in black - before the arrival of the multiplex.)

Worked up by this encounter, we dropped in at the nearby Barista to calm down over a cup of coffee. The Guy doesn't like coffee much, and I was hot and thirsty, so I asked for a cold mocha (or something). The young man at the counter promptly asked, "With chocolate or vanila ice-cream?" The Guy politely turned to me. I said, "I don't want ice-cream." The Guy was a bit harried - he wanted to please me, but he wasn't sure if this (my demand, not his wish) was possible. The man at the counter obligingly said that it was. On being pushed, he admitted that ice-cream would cost an extra 20 bucks - something that he had neglected to mention and was not on the menu hung up behind him. Already annoyed from the previous 'brand encounter', the Guy got enraged and gave the Barista man a piece of his mind. (A small piece, mind you - the Guy is normally mild and soft-spoken.) I, for my part, had been fooled in similar ways earlier, so this piece of jugglery did not much astonish me. But seeing the Guy all worked up and righteous was a sight much more delicious than the overpriced concoction they served me.

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My Women's Day Mail:

A few days ago I had gone to Pizza Hut with a guy friend. Every time the waitress came to our table, she would talk only to (the Guy). Ask him for the order, ask if he wanted anything more, and give him the bill. Trifling incident. But for me, it was rather annoying. I do not know why she did that. It might be some unwritten code at Pizza Hut, but I doubt it. It might be because of some old-fashioned chivalry, or because the man is expected to have the money power. (In our case, definitely not true.) in either case, I resented it, for if nothing else, it was rude.

I engaged my friend in a debate. He felt I was getting too vehement. The issue was trifling, definitely. But it is because we allow such issues to pass that we end up being treated the way we are. It is because we ignore the lewd comment of a colleague (we do not want to cause trouble or seem ill-natured) that such remarks become commonplace. It is because we do not speak out enough that we, and others probably more vulnerable and weaker than us, are subject to such harassment.

I just wanted to remind you today, to speak out. To stand up for what’s right. It may be for yourself or for someone else, but do not let it pass. You are harming yourself. We deserve to be treated with respect.

There will be no instant results. Attitudes do not change in a moment, and are not subject to reason. It will be a long and hard fight. But if we fight hard enough, maybe our daughters will not have to go through what we have.

Happy Women’s Day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Success

Every day at work is fraught with problems, challenges, decisions. Every day tests us in new ways, makes us reveal and realise our strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. We struggle with the challenges as well as we can, trying to live up to expectations – our own as well as those of others.

So recognition at the work place seems like an affirmation of success. Even a word of appreciation from a colleague serves to bolster our sense of self-worth. It makes work bearable, even rewarding. It makes it seem worthwhile. It inspires us to new heights.

What else, after all, is success? It is doing well at what we do. It is being what we are, and what we are meant to be. And rewards, while not synonymous to success, seem to make success tangible.


Success is an occasion for celebration, for congratulation. A vindication of our belief in ourselves.

May you have many such successes.

Monday, April 24, 2006

End of the Weekend

Good bye to another weekend. It was more ordinary than most. I spent a lot of time sleeping (which has become common now), did the usual cooking, less than the usual cleaning and tidying, watched a good movie, had a fabulous dinner last evening, and went to sleep early, exhausted (from all the sleeping!?), so that I got up early (in comparison) to give an early start to the workweek (with fewer grumbles about the end of the weekend and the re-start of work).

The Guy and I went to Crossword - the bookstore - last evening. Found a few treasures. I had a grand time at the children's section - children's books fascinate me. I could even use my bf's niece as an excuse to buy a couple. I had been wanting to read "My Experiments with Truth" - I had started on an Assamese version many years ago, but it was too difficult to get through - and the Guy asked the store assistant for help: "Do you have Gandhi's autobiography?" She replied politely, "No, but we have the other book," and pointed it out on the shelf. On the cover was printed, in bold letters, "An Autobiography - My Experiments with Truth". We were both aghast at her knowledge(!?). I mean, she works at a bookstore!
People's ignorance never ceases to amaze me. I remember classmates at my B-school not being able to say where London is (No, this is not a trick question - I mean the London on the Thames - and they were management students!). To top it all, I'm reading a book by the famous journalist Thomas Friedman in which he extols the knowledge and intellectual power in India. I feel like starting a non-profit group which would educate people about general issues - say, that's a good idea. When (if) my (future) husband earns enough for me not to need a job, I might give it a good think.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday again!

Another Friday - a day of fun and frolic (as I would like to hope!). Friday is a transition - a workday that leads to fun, a weekday in which strict officewear rules (for those of us who have them!) are relaxed, a day in which imagination and excitement overtake staidness and care. It promises tantalizing possibilities. This weekend, break the rules. Do something different, something exciting. Something that will bring a private smile to your face throughout the coming long work week.

Have a fabulous Friday and a wicked weekend!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Three Months in Pune!

The Guy and I find something to celebrate at least once a week - it adds some excitement to life. Today, we plan to celebrate the completion of my first three months in Pune.

How did I feel three months ago, as I was leaving my old life behind and getting on a plane to Pune, with just a couple of bags in hand (I'd sent across the rest of my belongings earlier)? How did it feel going to a new job and a new life, a boyfriend who had been 'friend' a couple of months ago? How did it feel leaving the first job I'd ever had, and all the reputation and respect I'd built up for myself?

Actually, I was not as nervous as you might think. I did not have much to leave behind - only a couple of friends found over the past 10 months, a roommate who would soon leave herself to get married. What awaited me in Pune were, to be sure, just promises - the promise of a dream job, of a perfect love - but it was enough to lure me here, and enough for me to get on that flight with more anticipation than apprehension.

Impossible promises, you say? But till now, I have not been disappointed. My only complaint with my job is that I have too little to do, but that is one of its attractions. About my love - well, no complaints. There is a little rough that goes with the smooth, but on the whole, the journey has been far more pleasurable than I had even hoped. Well, let's just hope it remains so!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Caught in the Middle...

It's the middle of the week, and near the middle of the month. No beginnings, no anticipation of pay, not a time for planning the weekend or a shopping splurge to get rid of some of that salary. A boring, busy, normal day?Nothing exciting, different, new - unless you choose to make it so.

So what did I do today that was different? Nothing, as yet. But yet it is different for me.

A friend I discovered not long ago is leaving forever - going on to better things, to a different country - in fact, to what was perhaps till not so long back the land of dreams, America. I regret not having had more time to spend with her, I regret not getting to know her better. But I am thankful that I have known her, that she touched my life, if briefly. I do not know if I will see her again, but I know I shall always think of her with fondness.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

In anticipation of a long weekend!

What pleasures does a three-day weekend hold? If nothing else, the pleasure of anticipation, of having all the fun and lazing around that seems too little for a normal weekend. Best, of course, is the prospect of getting away to a different place and having a small but exciting holiday. But my health is indifferent at the moment, and I am not brave enough to face the prospect of a weekend away from home. No movies I want to watch either, and no TV in my apartment. So I am looking forward to lazing around, lots of food, cool drinks and ice-cream, and games of chess and scrabble - it being too hot and too crowded to go shopping. I finally got a cooking gas connection today - after shelling out an astronomical amount - so I can also look forward to honing my cooking skills. The prospect of home-cooked food after so long is alluring - even though it be my own cooking!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday

Tuesday is my favourite day of the week. More than Monday, which signals beginnings; more than Friday, which symbolises the end of work and the beginning of fun.
Tuesday holds immense possibilities. You can build on Monday’s hard work and further the opportunities it offered. You can create new opportunities. There is still enough of the week left to correct Monday’s mistakes. Enough to make up for lost time.

Tuesday, to me, sounds like fun, like mischief. A little sparkling spirit introduced into a boring week.

Have a tantalising Tuesday.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weekend!

Nothing great last weekend. No trips, no great reunion with friends.

Watched 'Crash' on Saturday - the guy had got a gift voucher for two tickets for his birthday. Good movie. But the long ride home in the hot sun made me feel quite ill. So I had a lazy day after that.

Had a big fight with the guy on Sunday afternoon. But as usual, it didn't last long. We went shopping after that. I met an old friend - only for a few mins, though.

Had good fun shopping, though I didn't get anything for myself. Got a lovely bracelet for a friend who's leaving and going all the way to Canada. We visited her later in the evening, and had a nice time with her, her mom, and two other colleagues. The best part was, she's selling off some of her furniture cheap, and I'm picking it up. That will go a bit towards making my house furnished (rather, less unfurnished), though we still have a long way to go.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fridays

Fridays are supposed to be unlucky.

But for most of us, Friday is the best day of the week. It signals the end of work and the beginning of pleasure.

Ideally, Fridays should entail less work pressure. But even those of us who have a tough day ahead, who are going to be in office till late at night meeting the deadline, still have the satisfaction of knowing they don’t have to get up early in the morning.

Fridays are a celebration. Of our work, our leisure, our ability to have fun even in this bleak hard world. Of our lives.I hope you work with doubled energy and finish your week with a flourish!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Weekend

I had a really great weekend. Recently, I'd got in touch with an old friend. It was completely unexpected, we'd both been wanting to get in touch for so long. We had become friends eight years ago, and hadn't met for at least five. When we got back in touch, we were both overjoyed. But she was in Germany, and it seemed unlikely that we would meet in the near future.

But she was back in Chennai for a couple of weeks, and I tried to persuade her fly down to Mumbai so we could meet. She did not need much persuading - she had other friends to meet as well, and was trying her best already. Unexpectedly, Friday evening, she called up to say she had a flight to Mumbai later on. Was I overjoyed! I booked tickets to Mumbai immediately - for me and my guy. Within a few minutes, she called back to say the flight had been cancelled, and there was no other flight that night.

We could not cancel our tickets, so we decided to go anyway. We had been wanting to visit Mumbai together, but there was so much to do back here that we hadn't even begun to plan it. Now, unexpectedly, we were going. We planned places to visit.

We had a fun morning. Left home at some minutes to six to catch the 6.30 bus, had a lovely morning ride... In Mumbai, we took a bus and then a taxi to the Gateway of India. We were on the way there when my friend called to say she was coming after all, and would be there by afternoon.

We got to the airport ahead of time and waited for her. I was so excited! We were so happy to meet again!

We went to an eatery and ate and talked for hours. Time just flew by. It was as good as - maybe better than - old times.

Our bus back to Pune was a bit late, but we were glad - it gave us all more time to spend with old and new friends - for later, we met her boyfriend too. On the way back, we were both so tired that we hardly realized it when we reached our destination.

Sunday, obviously, was lazy. A large part of the day was spent sleeping. We also played Scrabble. My man beat me in his first ever game! I didn't know whether to be ashamed of myself, or proud of him! We played again at night, when I won by a small margin.

Monday morning. I'm rather grouchy because we didn't get any of our tasks done. The flat is still in a mess, we didn't do the much-needed shopping, the kitchen still doesn't have a gas cylinder, and the clothes I've been piling up for ages are still in the laundry bag. But looking back, I guess the weekend was well-spent.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Beginning

Hello friends,

Isn't this a great way to keep in touch? Now instead of sending you mails every morning, I can post them on the site.

Unmana