Monday, December 31, 2007

ME-me 2007

Main manta hoon
Main is baat se poori tarah se sehmat hoon
Jab tum kehti ho
Ki, " Shayar na hote, to bahut jhoote insaan hote tum"

( I admit, I fully agree with you , when , you say, that, If I hadn't been a poet, I'd have been a liar)

started this meme and I picked it up at Parikrama's. It's easy. All one has to do is post a pic one has snapped in the year 2007 and also a short write up on why that pic.

I snapped this pic in may this year. I've come a long way with the camera. While I've always loved to take photographs of people, I love it even more when my subjects or victims (if you want to put it this way) enjoy being in front of the camera. The pics come out better if I know the person well and have a nice conversation going. They come out even better when I am drunk :P.

Anyhoo, I love this particular pic because after I got done taking it, the great man himself smiled and said, " she looks happy, looks like she got some good shots."
So while people have liked their portraits after they've seen them, this is the first time some one could make out how the shot would turn out from reading the photographer's expression.

I did take a few prints of the photographs and showed them to the gentleman in question and after that as they say, "apun ki toh nikal padi." I got requests for this pic and the others I had taken, this one has also been published and I was introduced to the other people present as a very good photographer.

For those who are trying to guess the subject, it is the great man of hindi/urdu poetry , Sampooran Singh Gulzar

This pic is special to me as it is taken at a time when I was really struggling. Sometimes, a morale boost in one area , helps one in others as well. We all need the reinforcement of the belief that we can do a good job. This pic was just that for me.

The year 2007 brought with it a lot of special moments like these and is ending on another moment. Hopefully 2008 would do the same.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I am trying to use my soapbox

Hi guys,

Finally peeking to scream for some ice cream.

If you think I am nuts, ah well, PhD does expand to Pagal Ho gay(a/i) Dekho.

For those who want to know ( my two readers that is), the thesis is on schedule and in a couple of wks I should know if I finally get to be called Dr. Baggins.

till then , keep me in your prayers .

And now for the soapbox part. My blogger buddy entered his pic in a contest. Pliss to vote for him here.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

8 and 3

I've been tagged yet again , this time by lalouve and nazi for the 8 and 3 tag. The number 8 reminded me of Thomas Jefferson and his obsession with the octagon. I visited the UVA campus in Charlottesville, Virginia in the christmas vacation of '02, and thats when , I had the opportunity of visiting Monticello and Bourboursville vineyard. The octagon was ubiquitous. We did get sick of it eventually.

Today I am back to the number 8 and it does not make feel too well. You see, I don't like tags. I definitely don't like tags that involve me talking about myself. As Nazi said, I am full of myself. I do like myself that way, and don't really wanna share. The fact that I blank out completely and can't think of anything to write is just another reason for not liking tags. The number of things only seems to increase. Earlier it was 7 and now 8. uggghhhhh

Now lets see. How many random things about myself can I come up with
1 I pass a few homeless ppl on my commute to work and back , every day. Wkends I spend in Roppongi, and again, on our walks, we come across some more homeless ppl . Some of them sleep in pedestrian underpasses. Some of them sleep on stairs leading to shrines and gardens. Tokyo is an expensive place to live in . Roppongi, the heart of Tokyo, more so. I often wonder, If I can cope with a life of that kind. No roof over my head, no walls around me to keep me safe and away from prying eyes, no one to call my own, no one to wait for me, or care for me when I am sick. No one and nothing except a few of my essentials in a plastic bag. While I walk past these ppl, I can experience a whole gamut of emotions. Its not a pleasant sight and it isn't a good life. It isn't a life I can imagine...

2 My dreams are real enough to scare me and sometimes surreal enough to know that they are just dreams. I often see really rich colors in my dreams and when I still lived at home, I often dragged my mom to shop for colors I'd seen.

3 Talking of colors, I have a tendency to get hooked on a particular color. It was yellow one year, till mom put her foot down and refused to pay for another outfit in yellow. After that it was shades of peach and cream. Now , I am stuck to grey and brown.

4 Since I mentioned peach and cream, here's another view into that obsessive compulsive mind of mine. Mom has always encouraged us to do our own work as much as possible. So she washed our clothes, but we had to iron them ourselves. Something, I took care of during the wkends. I'd iron all my clothes and then hang em on hangers with a color as close to the color of the outfit. Then each outfit would hang in order so you could go from dark to light. When I was in my peach -cream phase, the clothes would hang with the peach outfit first, the cream outfit last and all the intervening shades in the middle. One day, when mom and I were arguing about getting more color in my wardrobe, she opened the door of my closet and then asked, " Where do u see color?" You go , mom , you really know how to drive a point home.

5 Home is where mom is . Always. We've lived in a lot of places and for the last decade and almost half, our family of 5 has been in 4 different geographical locations. So when we go home for a vacation, its wherever mom is . Delhi, Tokyo, Saigon, Delhi. Life comes a full circle.

6 Circle reminds me of the old oft repeated joke- I am in shape, round is a shape. Man that is scary shit that seems to be hell bent on being my near future.

7 My immediate future though is scarier. The roller coaster that a PhD is , is nearing one of its steepest slopes and it ends in a free fall. As they say, its the light at the end of the tunnel. I am simply praying that isn't an incoming train.

8 The last time I was on a train was in 98. We'd gone to a Bombay-Goa "educational" trip. Nuff said.

Whoa, I got done with the 8 part of it. Am not going to do the 3 part of it for now atleast. I am not enough of a sadist to really torture any one else. so not tagging anyone.

P.S Nazi, I am an INTP too. Now who'da thunk?

Friday, May 18, 2007

The sleep of innocence

This happened almost a life time back. I was back in India, Delhi to be precise and was enrolled in a bachelor's degree program and commuted back and forth between west Delhi and Cannought Place. ( I still can't bring myself to call it Rajiv Chauk)

I was on my way home and had my bag with a gazillion texts inside it sitting on my lap, when a young couple got in with a toddler and infant and the assorted baby paraphernalia. To say that they had their hands full would be an understatement. While the husband sat in another seat, with all the gazillion bags, the wife sat down beside me with the infant in her lap. The toddler stood between her and me.

To this day , I don't know what I was thinking , but I plonked my bag down on the floor and asked a very willing toddler to hop on . Before you could say lap, he was sitting in it. What he did next is something I remember even now. He put his tiny hands against me, snuggled and promptly went to sleep. While I felt envious of his innocent sleep, I could not help feeling a sense of warmth because of the implicit trust this little thing seemed to have put in me. ( Cynical me thinks that trust has nothing to do with it-but with my own sleep problems, I think trust is a big part of it.)

I don't remember if I got off the bus first or if they did. What I do remember is the feel of that child snuggled against me and the slow rhythm of its breathing.

Life is wonderful with its little moments that stow away in our minds, to be relived and reminisced later.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Friends for a reason

April 04. I was at school at NYC and had decided to quit the program I was in, cold turkey and come back home to my parents in Tokyo. It took me all of 12 days to decide, get the visa, buy the air ticket, pack up a home I’d built over the last 2 and a half yrs and leave, knowing fully well I would have next to no social life once I moved. To add to all that, I had no clue of what I’d be doing. I’d visited Tokyo earlier and it did not strike me as an English zone. It isn’t one yet.

But let me not get ahead of myself here.

I wasn’t blogging then. I did write but wasn’t really posting anywhere. I did lurk on a few blogging sites, thus coming in touch with a few ppl. I’d usually interact with them online for a bit and then if we struck a chord, take it off line. I made quite a few friends in this process.

Beanie too was one such friend. He wrote poems that weren’t traditional rhymes and followed no rules. Just the same, they expressed whatever he was feeling at that moment. I still carry one of it in my wallet. I'd told him I was printing it out and putting it there.

Those were carefree conversations. About poems and feelings and life in general and the online world and the people that inhabited it and how close some came to their real beings even when they were running away from them. Online world offers an anonymity that makes it so easy for one to be just that – one.

So when I decided to move, I got quite a mixed bag of reactions, most of them not too good. In the midst of that, his words, to just go and learn about another culture and to see how I could imbibe it best, stood out. When the going got tough, this toughie (yours truly), did try to get going and on some days, failed miserably. As I did on the day, I had set aside for my packing. Instead of going to the lab to wind up all my stuff and tidy up the desk and all, I sat in my studio and organized my clothes into piles. One pile that was coming with me to Nippon also needed to be ironed. That's what I tackled that day and that's what got me crying eventually.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a homebody. While I do have chores around the house and I love to muck around in the kitchen, these are things I do interspersed with my life of school and lab and I am hoping one day, work. So quitting a program not knowing what next was never part of a well thought out plan. Impulsive I am and I had gone a few steps too far this time as I realized, ironing shirt after shirt.

So, when in the evening I sat talking to him, something in my voice gave away and I just sat and bawled on the phone. I’ve yet to repeat that stunt and I hope I never do. Trooper that he is, he waited for me to calm down and when I showed no signs of it, he just let me have a good cry and then asked me to breath. Whadya know, I don't know how to breathe to relax. I still don't know, though that day I did get a clue. With him counting on the other end of the line, we kind of did the whole deep inhale count exhale count thing and it worked to calm me down a bit.

He was the last person I spoke to before I flew out and we kept in touch for a little while after I moved. Soon after coming to Tokyo, I started volunteering in the lab I am in now. I applied to the graduate program I am in and got accepted and also got on the Japanese govt. fellowship. Around this time I also lost touch with my friend. I guess my need for him was over. He made sure I made the transition, got settled and then left.

Though I would not say that I miss him, every once in a while, I do take that poem out of my wallet and read it again. I've never made the attempt to memorize it. I guess I need that touch of paper to make that memory a bit more tangible. Sometimes, when I’ve tucked myself in for the night, and I am lying there not yet ready for slumber, I can hear him count…

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Am I weird or am I weird ???

Posting here a conversation I had with a friend .

A: hello!
B: hey dude
A: how are you?
B : long time no see.
A: I guess weekend no see!
B: I guess so
A: so whassup with you?
B: me wondering if I should stop being a grammar Nazi
A: why?
A: what happened?
B: turns out almost no one speaks grammatically correct English anymore
B: and bad grammar is a pet peeve
A :)
B: any guy I talk to in the matrimonial context does some grammar hara-kiri and that’s it for him
B: cya
B: I mean I find it really hard to go on talking after that
A: lady: you have lot of misplaced priorities!
B: ya think
A: yup
B: okie how
B: am all ears
A: grammar is not something you test ppl on a matrimony site
B: see it from my view
A: ok
A: whats your view??
B: u agree its ok for guys to check for chemistry
B: so looks matter to them
B: say yes or no so I can proceed
A: yes
B: similarly for gals, and since we are talking abt me, nothing's gonna happen down south, if its not happening up in the mind
B: and bad grammar is the equivalent of a cold shower
A: ahh!
B: in fact worse
A: I guess ... my statement should have been you have your own priorities which might not m ach with a lot of guys out there
B: I don’t have to match priorities with the general riff raff
B: one guy who is for me
B: that’s pretty much it
B: just wondering if two straight sentences in flawless grammar is too much to ask for
B: I just told this dude we'd talk later, he made the same darn mistake the third time
A: :))
B: I told him it was way too much to handle
A: on messenger no one really cares about grammar!
B: I frikkin do
B: and a mistake once is a typo
B: the same mistake three times in a row
B: please
B: that’s a problem
B: I should move back to NYC and date the flirt guy
B: he is beginning to sound more attractive: D
A: what’s this mistake btw?
B: was u able to see
A: uggh
B: using was every time were is supposed to be used
B: my reaction exactly
A: that’s not a slip or a typo or a messenger thing
B: I tolya
A: the guy doesn’t know English! ;)
B: most of em don’t
B: I am telling ya
A: must have been traumatic to type it out! ;)
B: it was
B: can u imagine me being married to that?
B: I’d hang myself
B: the other day I mentioned sedentary to another guy and he asked me what it meant
B: I asked him what his masters was in again
B: he told me comps
B: and I was like and u dunn know the meaning, what was the medium of instruction?
B: he proceeded to tell me that it was in comps and so was technical and he wasn’t a writer
A: I think you scare off guys! :))
B: better scare em off now
A: you are bad news to most guys’ egos!
B: then to be looking for a good divorce lawyer
B: I mean what would I tell a judge
A: :))
B: I am trying to imagine it now and cracking up
B: I mean I don’t even know how to tell my folks why
I have trouble meeting guys
B: ?
A: that’s definitely a difficult task!
B: tell me abt it
B: and I can’t even tell her the down south reason
B: middle class unmarried Indian gals aren’t supposed to talk like that
B: heck I don’t suppose they talk like to their moms even after marriage
B: that
A: hmm!
A: thats outta scope for me ;)
B: me too
B: actually
[B: and long distance calls aren’t the way to do it

Monday, February 12, 2007

Of faith or something like it

I’ve moved every three yrs more or less till now. New places, new people and new things… Yet there are some things that aren’t so new. These are the things that I’ve carried with me from one place to another, at times across countries. And, each time I start doing up my room, the collection only looks bigger. Lets take a peak into what this magpie has refused to throw, come moving time

I am not an atheist. But, I never warmed up to the idea of praying rituals and idol worship. In my defense all I can say is that being born a Hindu, there’s a plethora of deities to choose from and I refuse to play favorites with gods. So I pick none. My friends however don't suffer from scruples like mine and they do have their particular gods for particular occasions. Take ganesh for example. The long trunked, modak eating, mouse riding elephant god (oh the irony of an elephant riding a mouse) is the god for auspicious beginnings.

So, in my collection I have three ganesha’s and an elephant that was probably picked because it was an elephant and ganesha statues weren’t available. Lets look at them in the order I acquired them.

This ganesha idol was chosen by yours truly in consultation with two more of my classmates to be presented to the out going class. Our reasons for doing so- they were available in bulk, looked really good and were in our budget. What am I doing with one almost 7 yrs hence? Simple, some seniors never bothered to get their parting gift and we got our own keepsake. I still have mine. Really wonder about the other two.

This little statuette fits into the palm of my hand. And that's exactly how it was given to me. A friend at the hostel, walked into our room, asked me to close my eyes and pressed this into my hand. It’s made of some kind of stone and feels cool to touch. Had it been otherwise, Id have thought it was some kind of life form and I would have shrieked and thrown it away. I really had to open my eyes to know that it was an idol and deserved some respect, if only to not hurt the said friends sentiment. She’d already given it to roomy. I have mine and yes I do sometimes wonder if the roomie has hers.

This little bauble is again something that fits into the palm of the hand. Given to me by a really old friend, on my birthday I’ve known her for the last 17 yrs. (Darn, that makes me feel so old)

And It makes me feel warm to have her friendship for this long a time. She is so different a person from me, that it's a very unlikely but a very successful relationship. The only similarity- she still has little things I’ve given her over the years.

This little elephant was a parting gift to our entire class from a leaving fellow classmate. A very quiet girl who only smiled in response to most things. I lost touch with her after she left. Exchanged a few emails and then that stopped too. I guess some interactions go that way .

This dreamcatcher was given to me by the polish technician in my lab in NYC. She did a mean imitation of the accent of an Indian from Delhi. Pity it never matched mine but then I'm known to be an accent chameleon anyways. It hung over my head while I slept in my studio in Bronx and it does so here in Nihon.

How can I forget these emperor and empress dolls. They are known as ohinasama and mom gave them to me as a welcome home gift, my first couple of days in Tokyo.

This red statuette here is called a Daruma. Given to me by a japanese guest at our place, it is a constant reminder for me to think about my priority list. What do I really want from my life. Once I know the answer, I can wish it and this little article of faith would grant it . Now I only need to know. Can life be any easier?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Horoscope for resolutions

Says the MSN astrology page

what does mine say

1) Fun has never been a problem. During August and September, resolve to show the higher-ups the brains behind that humor everyone loves.
2) Get even more serious about your short-term goals by fall.
3) Don't deny yourself that new experience you've been craving, be it a trip or a class.
4) Make nice-nice with your family. March might be best. (No faces, now.)
5) Aim to make yourself happy by becoming really, truly intimate with someone.

With Fall being the expected date of graduation, I would be needing those grey cells out in their full glory. Hope they don't object to the exhibition.

Yep, with a trip expected in march-april, I better suck it up and just go meet my folks.

Now that was easy, wasn't it.

Did some one say, we read into the horoscopes, what we really want to see? I guess so.