My Four Letter Word of the Season

Profanities aside, it’s time for profundities. The past couple months have been some of the worst times I’ve ever had. The unexpected events that happened pushed me out of my zone and into a realm of disappointment and pain that I never knew existed. I wish I could go into details but the lack of anonymity on this blog forces me to refrain. Besides, it is just too hurtful to express the anguish I have gone through. Yea, it really  was that bad. And no, I’m not talking about a broken nail or the avalanche of white hair that’s sprouted up on my hair (it’s no surprise with stress being the best fodder there is). Well, maybe someday I will be able to talk about it a lot better, not just anonymously but right on this very blog. It is pretty sensational stuff, it is. Or atleast that is what my friends tell me – that I have to share my experiences because they are eye-openers. I don’t know about that because thinking of it just makes my eyes close. And wince.

That said, I’ve rediscovered the silver lining on the clouds – my friends & family and ice cream, in that order. People who’ve stuck by me no matter what. No matter if I call them at 3 am and bawl my heart out. No matter if I scare them by begging them to come get me and take me away. No.Matter.What. I thank my stars every, single day for giving them to me. Good people do exist after all. Oh and ice cream? Well, I thank it simply for being the delicious goodness that it is.

I’m pretty proud of how I’ve handled things. Ofcourse, I’ve let go of myself many a times but I’ve still held together pretty good.  Unity in adversity, you can say. With every fall, I’ve picked myself up. Sound familiar? Apart from it being used to no end for a long while now it’s no wonder then that when the line “Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up” came up in the movie, I sat clutching my heart, tears rolling down, shaking my head so vigorously I almost went dizzy. And it’s been my motto ever since.

I may have not moved on but I definitely moved forward, looking out for the next thing to do. “Ok, so this failed, now what?” And that’s when I realized that the one thing that always, always has remained (since time immemorial and all that) and will continue to remain is Hope. It’s what made Japan get up after Hiroshima-Nagasaki, keeps resilient stock brokers going, makes us still vote for the Congress and DMK /AIADMK despite their repertoire for bankrupting, made my Chintu look up expectantly for crumbs that would fall when we were eating biscuits…….you get the drift.  I didn’t really think it was so earlier. When Dolly got the word tattooed, I wasn’t all too impressed. I felt she could’ve gotten something more….I don’t know, something with a lot more depth. To me, strength meant more than hope because I believed that it’s what keeps me going. I reveled in my strength. But you know what? I’m tired of being strong. It’s almost like the stronger you are, the more the world is out to test you. And through all that, the only beacon of light was hope. The hope that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel and that even if right now is messed up, it’s all going to be A-ok.

And that, folks, is my four letter word of the season. In fact, it’s why I’m digging into this tub of peanut butter ice cream with the hope that the pounds aren’t going to pile on.

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Global Warming or Climate Change?

So, 2011 went by pretty much in the blink of an eye. It’s funny how life seems to just pass by, don’t you think? Especially when you take everyday as it comes. Which is what I did the entire last year. Coming to the US away from family was a decision I took for a multitude of reasons that I don’t want to discuss again. I never realized what I missed till I went back for the ‘annual vacation’. For those of you who I’m friends with on facebook, my dramatic exclamations of vacation hangover is but obvious. Well, it’s all over my profile! Ever since I’ve gotten back though, things with me have been different. I guess maybe everyone goes through it? That home sickness hitting you all over again, the moping, the crying etc etc. But for me somehow it’s been more. It’s almost as if my eyes have been opened up.

Though I did not come to the US craving for the ‘luxuries’ it has to offer (trust me, being a student here doesn’t even warrant using the word luxury in the same sentence – not even by a trillion miles), I did come here craving for something else – freedom. Or rather, just to be away from a lot of things like, say, society snacking on my brains with the whole marriage talk. I got here, got a bit of that ‘ah-it-feels-so-good’ thing for exactly 22 milliseconds. And then it hit me – this country is way over rated. But I managed to get through the year cribbing about its idiosyncrasies and keeping myself super busy with monitoring the price of tomatoes at Kroger. Apparently I’ve changed – that’s what my parents felt when I went back. And thankfully they meant it in the positive way. For example, they were shocked /elated/disapprovingly approving of the fact that a) I lost quite a bit of weight (imagine someone actually said,”Ava US poitu elaipa nu terinjirnda minadiye anupirkalame” which basically means if they knew I would lose weight on coming to the US then my parents should’ve sent me earlier! I mean seriously, ok? What gives!) b) I’m, by quite a significant degree, more responsible, aka less of a spendthrift. I actually managed to save a decent amount of money being a student and my Dad was super impressed while Mom kept flaunting it around.

I was equally, if not more, shocked to realize that I have changed. Double-taking became my only reaction to everything around me. No, no – not the usual US-return reaction of ohmygodIndiaissooodirty but at the bloody inflation rate! So, this amazingly yum milkshake that I used to drink in that juice shop in Citi Centre for Rs. 45 EXACTLY a year ago was now Rs. 106! Can you believe that?!  Palmolive Mineral etcetc body wash went from Rs. 90 to Rs. 125. Even the Besant Nagar korathis know about recession and inflation albeit in their ‘velai vaasi yeri pochu ma‘ (I think that means prices have gone up) way. And I found it even harder to accept that people have just accepted it. My sister has credit card bills in the 40-50k range every month. My parents don’t even flinch when they see grocery bills of 7-8k per month. And well, don’t even get my started on petrol! Rs. 73!  And when I’d complain, people would just look at me amused and say, but yet not say, shutup and get over it!

That is when I realized that maybe I should just move back to India. I’m 92.835% there already. The remaining, uhm, do-the-math% is only considering the money power I have here which is, if anything, only attributed to the damned currency conversions. I know I can save more being here – by ofcourse living like a mini- pichaikari in the process. But yet, it is a pretty fulfilling thing to know that you have saved and given back. It feels really, really, really good. But then again, I don’t wanna be one of those kids who merely send xxx$ to parents per month, do one visit per year and then say amma I love you. While I’m not saying that is wrong – I don’t want to do that. I may be forced to resort to it for certain reasons, but it’s not going to be for too long.

And suddenly after getting back here, I feel suffocated by the vastness around me – in all its oxy-moronish wisdom. Hearing the high pitched it’slikeit’slikeohmygaad voice of American teenagers brings out the inner mami in me by making me want to say something really mean and inappropriate to shut them up. One more minute of hip-hop blaring in my ears and I can throw up. This is thanks to my undergrad ABCD housemate who thinks that she’s being one big fat blob of coolness by playing songs that are basically expletive-stringed-shlokas. Infact, oddly my room mate and I were considering playing Suprabhatham at 6 am just for the kicks 😛 Suddenly, the very freedom I wanted is making me so claustrophobic that I need closure. I want amma, appa, Dolly and the whole package deal with me all the time. Every time I velaku-ethify (light the lamp. Yes, I may have tattoos and all but I’m pious ok?) Kabaleeshwar Koil nostalgia hits me so hard it makes me cry.

It is all like global warming and climate change. A couple of decades ago, global warming was cult. It was feared akin to the Devas fearing the Asuras. Homams were conducted in Parthasarathy koil to nullify the effect of greenhouse gases trapping sun’s incident rays and increasing the earth’s temperature thus causing polar icecaps to melt and increasing global sea levels leading to flooding etc. It was the most love-to-hate thing there was. Then came the decade of the skeptics who claimed temperatures are increasing but not increasing, it exists but does not exist kind of stuff. Soon, people got bored and continued eating idlis or pancakes or whatever for breakfast and going on with life. Now, the term has been rechristened climate change. Too many skeptics have shaken the foundation of scientists enough to just let it be. No warming and all, just – change.

In that sense, I feel – if something as big as the Earth can change, then why not me?

Promises are meant to be broken

I’ve been playing around with the title on this one for quite a while now. I don’t know why but to me, I need to have a good title to my posts for me to actually continue writing. And usually when inspiration to write strikes, it does in the form of a title. That said, the reason why I think this one is apt is pretty obvious I guess, if you read the previous post. I had decided to break my silence on this page and had taken a solemn oath to write everyday. But I failed. Pretty miserably considering I did it just once 🙂 In my defense, my laptop crashed and I did not have internet for more than 2 weeks after that. And well, sanctity of promises apart, walking down to the library to write  a post when I haven’t stepped in there to borrow a book in a long while is a little…over. I assure you my conscience is successfully punctured (not just pricked).

So, things have been busy. Studies are tough, days just fly by. I live homework-to-homework, class-t0-class. Exam week just went by and I’m definitely not too happy with the way I’ve done. There were things I’ve not dealt with earlier and the fact that my background is totally different doesn’t help. I’m trying hard not to do the retrospective introspection that would only add a little lime and chilli powder to that punctured spot I mentioned earlier. I chose to be here for my own reasons and I must live with it. I think it’s something to be proud of if you can actually take a decision that most people are against (including yourself) and stick by it. Unfortunately the cribber in me would be proud yet crib 🙂

I had a good good summer in terms of activity. I got my weight down significantly which is something I’ve been battling for a while. Training for a half marathon (that I never completed – both the training and the run itself) got me running quite a bit. Maybe not too fast, maybe  not the entire distance but I did get up to doing 6miles and am quite proud of that. For someone who couldn’t jog for a whole 2 minutes, that’s quite an achievement. And all those muscles were an added bonus 🙂 At the expense of sounding vain, I must tell you I spent quite a bit of time admiring myself and my newly acquired muscles. BUT, and how I hate these buts, the start of school kind of put a stop to my I-can-run-from-USA-to-India-if-I-want dreams. I now sit on this one spot on my bed, sprawled as I am, laptop in hand and books, calculator and other paraphernalia around me. How I crave physical activity – the high it gives to complete a run! I’m hoping for some semblance of a schedule to arise soon (I know I need to work on it).

Anyway, I’ve got nothing much to say now. Not that what I’ve written till now made sense but yet 🙂 Until next!

Day 0

Aaaah! I could do with a Cleopatra-range copper tub full of goat’s milk and rose petals type of bath right now! I’m learning the art of independence and god, it’s tough stuff! For someone who’s been protected silly by a super protective, tad-bit chauvinistic yet awesomeness personified Dad all her life, lifting carton, furniture etc and loading them into trucks is no mean task. That is something I’m definitely thankful to the U.S of A for. I’ve kind of become a self sufficient person – emotionally and monetarily. And ofcourse in ‘ household’ matters  too – cooking, cleaning etc etc. Infact, you know what I think? Hyper Indian Moms should most certainly send their ‘of marriageable-age daughters’ here a year before the D-Day. All that responsibility thingie will be taken care of. The downside, though, is that we women will become a little too independent and wouldn’t need men then 😀 Anyway, been a productive day. I realize if not for anything else, I have an excellent career opportunity as ‘domestic help’ considering the basin is almost mirror-like right now 😀

Until tomorrow 🙂

One a day?

Ok, so I haven’t written in close to a million years. 45 million to be exact. If you’re going huh? Well, I have no ida why I have an obsession with the number 45, I seem to use it when I use numbers to exaggerate.Ok, digression.Oh, actually not, I wasn’t talking about anything specific. Anyway, my current state of mind is kinda grey, or is it blue? Maybe greyish blue then because not only am I mellow but I’m constantly in a state of confusion etc etc. I really wanna resort to writing to purge my soul. I know I just killed the remaining 2 readers I had with my declaration of participation in the sob-story competition. But well, like I said, I really need this. And so, as random as I may sound, I’m going to write everyday! (ok, please shut the door as you leave, thank you).

See you everyday!

I miss you baby

February 29th 2004: Me, Dad, Dolly and Mom walked into Adam’s pet clinic, Adambakkam, responding to an ad in the local daily. We heard scuffing in the corner and spotted two tiny fur balls going at a newspaper like it was a piece of bone. In a couple of minutes, there were bits of paper strewn all over and 2 very contended, panting babies. As we moved closer, the tinier of the 2 came rolling to us, jumping furiously at our heel. Dolly picked it up and suddenly a tiny pink tongue came sticking out and licked her on her nose. We were taken. We took the little Lhasa Apso to Dad and said we’ve found the one. He wasn’t too happy because he felt it was too cute to be a guard dog and was very particular we get a German Shepherd. And so, dejectedly, we handed over the cuteness to the attender there and went back for the other pup. She was in the same corner where we spotted her first, playing with the scraps of paper. She heard us and  hid behind a stool and peered at us with scared yet inquisitive eyes. Dad whistled lightly to call her out but she refused to budge. She cowered slightly and we noticed her legs were trembling. It was such a heart-wrenching sight. I went closer and slowly, tenderly carried her into my arms. We don’t know why, but the first thing that struck me and Dolly on seeing her was “Chintu” (and the name stuck, a misnomer that). Her heart was beating so fast that we had to constantly coo to let her calm down. With that, she was ours. After 20 long years of me being the youngest, we finally had a new baby in our house.

Ever since then, our daily talks with anyone and everyone would be peppered with Chintu’s antics. For the 6 years that she was with us, we spoke about her everyday, like every little thing meant everything to us. No matter if she did the same things each day, we would talk about it with the same enthusiasm because it meant so much. We admired every move she made – the way she would flop down by our feet and listen to our talks, the way she would rub her eyes when my mom would tell her “kanna thodachuko” (wipe your eyes), the crazy stalker looks she would give every peanut that would drop from our hands, oh I could go on. She was, simply put, not just the apple – but the whole damn fruit salad of our lives, with the cherry on top.

She was a kind girl – with a docile personality, unlike others of her kind. She sat mutely through baths, didn’t as much as whimper for her injections and never complained even when she was in pain. She wasn’t friendly with other dogs really, but she was quite the human magnet. Being vegetarian, she was a lot tinier than the average adult German Shepherd, and was often mistaken for a pup. I’ve seen her laugh and I’ve seen her cry. She’s comforted me when I’ve cried and gone crazy with anxiety when my mom wasn’t well one day. She was our agony aunt, our comedy show and our stress buster all rolled in one.

We still cannot believe that the little girl is no longer with us. That fateful Halloween day of 2010 when God decided he needed her up there to show the other doggies how it is to be a good girl and ofcourse, increase the cuteness quotient up there a notch. I miss her – every time a mutt runs towards me on the roads here, the memory avalanche sets in. I’m even silly enough to believe that every friendly dog I meet is my Chintu, sending her message from up there that she loves me still. It takes a whole lot of effort not to focus on the sad parts because, honestly, I can’t get myself to accept it. It hurts so bloody much just to go over that day’s events and I really,really don’t want to remember her the way she was that day.

We miss you Chinnu. Truly, madly, deeply. We wish you were here with us, like we took for granted you always will. We never imagined you would go so soon, leaving us bereft. Actually, we never imagined you would go at all. You were like the, what do I say, proverbial brick in the wall, that would always be around. We were stupid enough to never imagine life without you, maybe it would have prepared us better? I don’t know. All I do know is we love you silly. Come back now, will you?