Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Of six degrees of seperation and the Kumbh quotient

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than four intermediaries.

Kumb quotient is something, I'd like to believe, I came up with. However in this connected world, I am sure many people have felt that they were twins seperated at birth, based on the number of things or nuances or quirks they have in common. Kumbh mela is a huge fair held at Prayag in India, every 12 yrs. Most bollywood movies in the 60s and 70s had twins or siblings seperate in the kumbh mela and re unite yrs later owing to some common tattoo or piece of jewelry. So the higher the number of common factors between two unrelated individuals , the higher is the kumbh quotient or KQ.

I have come across the six degree phenomenon way too many times. I thought it was restricted to just my line of work , when, one day I realised otherwise. I 'd been talking to an online blogger buddy and just asked him his name. His name was similar to another guy I had talked to once upon a time. I told my blogger buddy that and he goes , "yeah, I have a classmate with that name. He is now faculty in the U.S." Turns out, we were both talking about the same guy. It sure is a small world and getting smaller.

I first came across the KQ phenomenon when I started talking to another blogger buddy. We interacted online for a while first and then took it off line and on the phone. Man did we have things in common. From the coffee we drank to favourite songs to the laptops we owned and even the books we were then reading. One of us had to say something and the other went me too. It was freaky. I started pulling his leg asking him to ask his mom if she had found him somewhere. We are more or less the same age so the whole kumbh idea seemed more and more likely then.

Thankfully, after that, I havent come across ppl with that high a KQ. Yes, we have things in common but not that many and not to that extent. Phew. It is very nice to come across people who have somethings in common with you. Whats nicer though or the icing on this cake is when you share ideas and ideologies and principles. It could be something as simple as respecting the other person's space or minding one's manners and maintaining a decorum in the interaction, but it sure is nice to meet people like these.

I started blogging a year back, and have been online for quiet a while now. And in all this time, I've made a lot of friends. These are people I can share my thoughts with. These are people I am comfortable with. And though, I haven't met all these people, I am beginning to meet some and will hopefully meet them all one day. At least, I'd like to do so.

I started talking to wbix on the yahoo messenger sometime back and in a lot of respects, we think so much alike. Its a pleasure to talk to her and since she hinted that we might meet some day, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Another blogger, I met just this sunday , is Apy. When I like a blog, I read all the posts on it, digging into the archives and then I go to the comments on the latest posts. Thats what I did to the posts on wbix's blog and came across Apy. Read his blogs and since he just started blogging, there aren't a lot of posts.

I liked his posts. They are candid and refreshing and bursting with an exuberant sense of humor. I looked at his profile and was pleasantly surprised to see that he is based in Japan. His yahoo ID was also on the profile, so I thought, "what the heck," and IMed him. I am glad I did. Even in our first conversation, we got along like a house on fire and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him . Within a few days of talking to each other, it was decided, that he was coming over. Much leg pulling ensued over who was cooking and many change of plans were threatened. Finally sun(D)day arrived and so did Apy. We had a really good time , and drum roll please. Apy did cook. He made chapati and then he was brave enough to make aloo paratha. I hope the gals out there are reading this. I can vouch for most of his seven tag. He does say all those things again and again. Another thing, I'd like to add, is that this guy listens and not just zone out what one says. Proof are the tulips you see in the pic . He claims to know nothing about flowers and yet could pick these out. I'd mentioned on friday that I was hoping to buy yellow flowers. And Santa Apy had been listening.

And, has been listening. The tulips were just buds when he gave them to me , but have been opening up bit by bit. I've been updating him on the progress, and, by now, I am sure, he is wishing I'd shut up about them.

Hoping to meeting all the people on my blogger circle and enjoying these two phenomena even more.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

White Day in Japan

Today, on 14th march, We in Japan, are celebrating White Day. This to me, is something new. Having mostly been single on Valentine's Day ( Feb 14) , I've never celebrated this festival the traditional way. Yes, the diehard free spirit that I am , I've always celebrated it. with friends. First in India, I celebrated it with a friend from College. Her B'day was around the day so we took this opportunity to combine the two days and generally pig out. Not that we needed a reason to do so , but this was twice the fun.
So, coming back to white day. On feb 14, the gals in Japan , buy chocolates for the guys and then the guys return the favor a month later. So, for me , it was twice the fun. The techinician gals in the lab brought in chocolates for the entire lab. I did not trust myself to remember bringing them something a month later. Add to that, I am not really a guy to do so :P . So the next day , I brought in flowers for the gals. My good deed of the day done. And, today , our Korean Post doc brought in chocolates for all us gals. Yay. I got chocolates on both days.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Things that need to be said

Thanks, sorry and I miss you. In no particular order, to not one person. Different people that have come into my life when I've needed them. They've done their part and moved on. And I am left with these words.
No matter how eloquent my poems sound, how forceful my debates become, when it comes to real life, my vocabulary is inadequate and my speech incoherent.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Project Blank noise

At work today, every free moment I got, I spent reading the blogs participating in the Blank Noise blogathon. By the end of the day, I was physically sick. I had a pounding headache. I was nauseous and all I wanted to do, was to come home and puke my guts out. I could identify with most of what these bloggers had gone through and there’s nothing, I can say that has not been said before. I guess, I am still posting my blog to stand in solidarity with these people who spoke up. I am hoping that any one reading these posts, feels, the angst of those who have spoken up and the helplessness of those that continue to suffer in silence. I also hope that we can take steps towards a better tomorrow and a safer environment.

You can take a gal out of Delhi, but you can never take Delhi out of her. Delhi stays with her, in her mind, in her heart and in her psyche.

She remembers Jan path and the black oxidized jewelry. She remembers Aga Khan Hall and the silver filigree ear studs she had picked up. She remembers Dilli Haat and the momos she consumed there with so much relish, with her friends. How does she forget the lucknavi dupatta she picked up at Dilli haat at bargain price. That dupatta that still surrounds her with the warm memories of a cold night spent at Parthasarthy Rock, waiting for the sun to come up.

She also remembers the hand that grabbed her chest when she was barely 12. She hadn’t realized by then, that, she had breasts and those could be grabbed and pinched and stuff like that happens with an alarming regularity. Quite an eye opener for a young gal. She was suddenly in a strange new world. A world, where, uncles weren’t nice anymore. Where she never knew what would rub against her when and where. Older bhaiyyas couldn’t be trusted anymore. She could no longer walk anywhere and anytime. From passes made by rickshwallahs to weird noises, from groping and fingering to lewd gestures. All part and parcel of daily life in Delhi. Yes, one learns to dress to cover up, to walk without looking like an invitation (what is that supposed to mean anyways). Yet, in spite of how one dresses or how one acts, one cannot escape. The filth is not on a female body; it’s in the mind. If you are a female, you are a maal. And there will be comments. “Dekh, aisa lag raha hai, jaise nangi chali aa rahi hai.” (Look, it seems like she is walking naked) This comment loud enough to be heard, on an outfit that consisted of a salwar suit in peach, with the kurta buttoned to the neck, a sweator in almond color and a peach shawl wrapped on top of all this. In other words, dressed for a women’s convention in Saudi Arabia and yet a piece of naked flesh to those psychos on the road. Did she react? No. Although, if looks could kill, most of the Delhi men would be dead. Did she care? Yes. Because she still remembers after 7-8 yrs as she sits and types this out.

Take this Delhi gal out of Delhi,and, put her in streets of New York City. She still dresses conservatively. The scowl she picked up on Delhi streets is still in place and remains there. She does not know the people yet. She walks alone but does not smile. It takes a tall African American guy walking towards her to lean in and say, “smile for me, will ya?” In spite of herself, she smiles and has been smiling. This gal has walked alone in the night in Manhattan for 22 blocks before her friend could come and pick her up. She was not teased once. Yes, a gentleman offered her his cell phone to use. She did not fear being touched or cat called at that night. Yes, she feared being mugged.

Lets follow this Delhi Gal to Tokyo. You can see her on the roads, with her tiny earplugs. You can see her; She might see you, or she might not. She is lost in her own world, in her music and her thoughts. She is smiling to herself and humming some tune, occasionally breaking out in a song at full volume. So, If you ever hear piya teri bawari se raha jaye na on a Tokyo road, Smile at this Delhi gal. She is happy. She is safe. She no longer frowns and no longer carries sharpened pencils in her pockets. She is not in Delhi anymore. Of course, she still dresses conservatively. You can’t really take Delhi out of her.

I’ve mainly written about Delhi, as that's where I attended undergrad and masters and commuted and therefore suffered the most eve teasing. There have been incidents earlier and that brings one to the issue of sex Ed and protecting kids who are just too young to understand what’s happening to them. The very first incident I can think of happened when we were at Doha and I was around 11-12. This UNCLE who visited often enough did this funny thing every time he could get me alone. Then it felt funny, but still by the second time, it had become clear to me that something was not right and I simply should not be alone with him. Only much later did I realize that he was trying to feel me up.

And then the breast-grabbing incident in Delhi happened. At that time it was a one off thing, as I did not commute much.
Zoom forward to a few years later. We were at Abu Dhabi then. Mom, an aunt and I were in the souk. Mom and aunt were busy looking at something and I was just looking around when I caught site of this tall Arab guy. He had raised his gown and he had his member in his hand. That gave me nightmares for years to come.

And then we were back in Delhi. College came with its paraphernalia of commuting and guys high on hormones and not enough sense. Though, why just blame the hormone guys, it felt like every one was doing it. Every day was a different nightmare on the same theme.

That's why the contrast with New York and Tokyo. These places aren’t without their harrasment problems. But it isn’t as rampant as in Delhi. I am sure, things happen here too. Just that I have not experienced anything unsavory, except for one Japanese gentleman taking me for something else and asking if he could have a good time with me. He ambled away once I replied in the negative. This, despite the Tokyo subway, having the reputation of being the grope capital.

Makes me wonder about the cultural differences between different places and what one can do to make a positive difference.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Come take a walk with me

I moved to my current residence around mid december, and I thought, I'll take pics of the area and post them . Its taken me this long to actually do it . Lends more credence to the urdu/hindi idiom that translates to "everything in its own time". I finally got around to it today. I guess something one expects to happen, does happen once everything comes together nicely. I was home, weather was nice , pleasant to walk in and for once the camera had batteries that were not about to die anytime soon.
This is shiokaze koen . It starts right after I get out of my complex, and, I am guessing , once the spring/summer rolls around, I could take some more walks around here.

Since I particularly wanted to take pics of the sunset, I started around 4:30 in the evening. The sun was still out then and I got to take pics of two kind. The sunset kind when I took the pic on my left side and a sunny day pic when I turned to the right . What fun. Here's one to the left.

And here's one to my right. This couple was flying a kite which can be seen a little above them . Unfortunately they lost the kite as it dipped in the water. The last I saw them , they were trying to fish it out. The kite was the plastic kind , so I am hoping they were able to do so. I did not hang around to see if they actually did.

The Shiokaze park leads to the Odiaba maritime park and as I entered it, some bushes caught my attention. This is the picture of a hydrangea bush. These are flowers that bloom all over Tokyo, during the rainy season. The flowers die on the bush , drying away into wispy thin fragments. This particular bunch has dried away to twigs. And somehow, its beautiful even when bare.

As I walked away a little further, I came across this bush. Another hydrangea bush . Spring is beginning to touch it while winter is still trying to maintain its cold hold on it. As a result you see the bunch that had bloomed last summer and the leaves that herald the bloom of another summer. Past and present locked in a continuum.

And some more left right shots. The setting sun, seemingly setting the water on fire to my left, and

The rainbow bridge on my right.

And then I arrived to my own little joke. Any one who has asked me, If I miss Newyork, I ask , whatever for? I have my own statue of liberty. :) Those phallic projections are anchors that lie on the beach here.

As does this one. Only, it has found a proper resting place. This is the first time, I've seen this anchor though. It was low tide when I was taking my walk and that could have something to do with it.

And, at the end of my walk, another shot of the sunset. I guess, if I want the quintessential sun setting into the water kind of sunset on the beach shot, I am going to have to look for better vantage points. Hope you'll walk me with me then too.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Watch this space

We've all come across it at some or the place. We've all reacted against it in some or the other way. It goes away then.
Not all the time, though. Sometimes , it stays. Stays till it kills us, or our spirit or till we decide to say NO to it.
Sexual harrasment is just one such harrasment. We have to speak out against it.
I'll be doing my part on the 7th . Will you, too. ?