Why of all days I chose today to return to blogging I cannot fathom. May be it’s the twenty-page paper waiting to be written. Perhaps it’s the excitement of going home after a long time this winter. Or may be its the proverbial finger-itching that took its toll.

What I do know is that this is long overdue. So here I am announcing myself:

“Hi.”
“I am back in the blogosphere.”
“I’ll write I promise.”
“Um.. in a few days.”

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We speak of destiny, self-discovery and courage from within. Our ideals are always moral, just and something bigger than us. Any project when we begin, there is zest, zeal and desire for the zenith. Yet how many of us succeed in achieving these lofty goals? In real life, that is. Few; otherwise we’d all be running our STARK enterprises.

Yes, these “ideals” reach their full potential and eventual glory only in our superhero movies. Good always vanquishes evil; the oddball hero always defeats the all-too-powerful villain. So why is the attainment of ultimate success contained to movies? If we aspire to be the heroes of our movies what stops us from getting there in our daily lives?

Watching the movie Avengers and its villain the demi-god Loki gave me an idea. He believes that human beings were created to be lorded over – that, democracy and individual identity is detrimental to humanity. And therefore, he must rule. He screams “KNEEL!!” and everyone falls on bent knee or else… Borrowing his point, not to the extent he devised but, may be all of us humans don’t have to have a purpose, a mission. What is wrong with being one of the many? May be some of us are “created” to be audience to a few. For example, those of us who are called “Mactards”, may be, are here to admire and extol Steve Jobs and his fruit. An entire generation of Indians was Gandhi’s soldiers of peace. American teenage girls are clearly in feverish pursuit of Justin Beiber (perhaps thereby clearly signaling the end of intelligence in our world). Bottom line, 99% of us is pawn to an elite army of eight on the chessboard that is the world.

It looks like Loki got to me, just like he did our fallen hero with the bow.

Then, lightning struck. It’s not about being one of the many. Sure, there might be no real hero but there is some truth to the essence of every heroic story – it is not the end but the journey that matters. So what if you are not Iron Man? You may still have the energy of a different kind in your heart that brings joy to many. What if you don’t have Captain America’s shield? You can still save puppies. What if you don’t turn green (unless with envy), you can’t have Black Widow’s beautifully crafted bum or be a demi-god? You can still control your anger and channel it may be with some yoga, you can still be a temptress; you can be anything you want – in your heart.

So that’s all that matters, really. What are you in your heart? Do you see yourself as hero, pawn, or god forbid, god? Do you have a weapon – a gun, a pen or a tongue that can give a good lashing? Do you want to be one among many, the only one, or the one if only in someone’s heart?

The truth is at the end of any hero’s story there’s one thing in common – being loved for who you are. And as long as you are honest in your heart about who you are – you are a hero, you will be loved.

Avengers the movie, running in theaters worldwide now. It’s fantastic, catch it if you can.

Disclaimer: Still reeling from the potent drug the movie is, consider this article a philosophical ride on the Avengers high.

Recently I made a new friend. Someone that I think given time, can be a friend I have made for life. You know the kind.

While having dinner with her and talking of good ‘ol days I mentioned a story about an old friend, one of my oldest friends. You know the kind. I told my new friend how my old friend showed her middle finger at Yuvi Singh. (Yes! The cricketer!!) She is probably the only girl in India who has given him the finger! Bottom line, I missed her so much that I had to call her up, which I did. We finally talked after two years. We talked for a while. Rather I did most of the talking and she listened, she laughed. It was good. It was great. We promised that the next time we meet we’ll go out by ourselves, just like old times.

Life has changed for the both of us. We are in different continents. We do different things with our lives. We have different friend circles. She is a mother now while I am still trying to grapple with realities of being an adult. We grew up together, we have grown apart in between, gotten close again. Our mothers once agreed that ours is an unconditional friendship. As we grow older I find that to be true.

It seems like only yesterday that we were dissecting seeds and playing scientists with the test tubes & beaker her mother bought for us. We used to trick our younger siblings into doing other things so that we could hang out by ourselves. As teenagers, she was the guru that taught me what a “crush” is, half-mocking me while doing so. From playing investigators to shinning trees and cycling almost all the way to the next district, we did everything together. We possible taught each other to be fearless and to live our lives the way we wanted to, never mind the gossip-mongering neighbors. Our loves, fears, jubilant moments, we told each other almost everything.

Now that I look back, I don’t think I have told her enough what and how much she means to me.

She, is my friend. That one friend that I wish everyone must have – to grow up together, to learn from each other, to get drunk and live together and hopefully grow old together. She is that one person who I know to be stronger than me, more fearless and as crazy. She is that one person who I will go back to every time I need a friend.

Yes, she is my friend. And I’d like to tell her – I love you, my friend. And I am so glad that you are a part of me.

After a complete month and a half of prayers and waiting, lo and behold! Here came what the modern day drum beaters (aka TV people) call The Blizzard of 2011. It howled, gusted, threw snow everywhere and even thundered. Not only did we Evanstonites (Evanston being a north neighbor to the city of Chicago) get a whopping 20.5 inches of snow, we also heard and saw the relatively rear phenomenon of thunder snow! The only trouble was that a blizzard being a blizzard (that too, at the top of its class) wouldn’t let any of us enjoy the falling snow or the snow-filled streets. But finally, after almost 14 hours of relentless snow fall it’s all clear so I went out to get some pictures. And here they are:

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American television leaves me with nothing to watch on TV except news and a few trashy gems born from the current reality TV culture. So I watch them – closely. What can I say? I have too much time on my hands!

  1. Why is Kim Kardashian’s lips forever parted? Is it a) An attempt at being 24×7 raunchy b) A sign of escaping intelligence if any c) An adverse reaction to too much Botulinum Toxin
  2. Why does Giuliana Rancic stand as if her head is about to be ripped apart from her body a la mode Zombie Land v.67?
  3. Why is Ryan Seacrest shrinking?
  4. Why does whoever that person is in that Bitch Stole My Look segment believe that he needs to live up to the name of the segment?
  5. Why is Joan Rivers so funny? (Really, she does not look the part!)
  6. Why is Snookie so orange? Why doesn’t anyone tell her that she looks like a Halloween gift wrap?!
  7. Also, who the F gave Snookie a book deal?!! For what joy?!
  8. Why is Kloe Kardashian pulling down all her sisters from their chairs and slapping their butts? (Seriously, that’s not what sisters do or how sisters fight!)
  9. Who in the world made the show Bridalplasty?? (It’s like watching yourself ram into a truck with morbid fascination.)
  10. Why do they have such an ugly bachelor in the current ‘Bachelor’ show?
  11. Why does E! keep showing trailers of Holly Madison’s bray-like laugh? (Guys, you are not helping her show I am telling ya!)
  12. How come E! likes the movie Knocked Up so much? Is it in-house? (I think Knocked Up at some point played three times in a day, daily!)
  13. Yes, E! plays Sex and the City now. Thanks. But why play it if you cut out all the sex? (It’s like watching an amputated ugly puppy limping across the street, in a city of course.)
  14. What’s this obsession with Glee and the Bieber boy?
  15. Is Mila Kunis and Selena Gomez the same person? (They look so interchangeable.)
  16. Why is the whole world happy that Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett split up? (It’s not like any of us are going to date either of them. EVER!)
  17. Why is Gerard Butler (aka ‘the hottie’) acting in such horrible rom-coms? Dude, you were the 300!!
  18. Don’t you think Natalie Portman looks like she’s about to cry at any given point in time? (Colin Firth can join her too.)
  19. Is John Stewart really a centrist? Or am I mistaken?
  20. Why does everything have to be “3D”?!
  21. Does Oprah realize that she is so photoshop-ed on O covers that she looks like her-reflection-in-a-convex-mirror on TV?
  22. Kathie Lee (I hope that’s her name) never lets Hoda speak. Why?
  23. Why does Giada Lau-something (on Food Network) have so much teeth? And why is Bobby Flay’s eyebrows so golden? (They unnerve me.)
  24. Who are these people who brave the cold to stand outside morning shows studio windows to wave? Have you got nothing better to do?
  25. When will I stop being so jobless?

Now that I have graduated (Praise the Lord!), and a month into virtually searching for employment (can also be called searching for the almost virtual employment), it is time. It is time to get back to blogging, to having a semblance of a life, to being able to eat healthy. It is also time to take measure of <enter title of the blog>.

HIGHS:

  • The two Ps – they really are peas in a pod. My ex-roommates – Puja and Purva.  The most fun people to live and get drunk with, they made Austin the most fun place on the planet. Psst.. Puja, gentlemen, is still single and very much available.
  • Puja’s tryst with the “Tuck-a”. Sorry people, cannot explain it anymore because it just can’t be explained! If you know Puko, ask her!!
  • Jina (@jinadcruz), her fun hubby Sibin (@happygoluckyguy) and Sugaroo (@ksekher) of course! Friends on Twitter I’ve made for life hopefully. They are sweet, completely crazy and loads of fun!!
  • One great friend that I made this fall – Stephie, short of Stephanie Sodeke. Her Nigerian name is Olufumilola. She laughs like a dream and sings Hindi songs with me in studio. Totally made all those hours in studio fun!
  • My chick flick partner – Nivvi. All through 2010, we managed to catch the WORST chick flick movies in theater on the first Fridays they were released. Quite an achievement and hundreds of wasted dollars. I think we finally broke the jinx with Band Baaja Baraat.
  • Of course, my good luck charm – single-handedly got me fantastic grades, TAs and happiness this year. A terrific find and I have only myself to praise!
  • Pranav – the guy who drove me to a Granbury which is in the middle of nowhere for 3.5 hours, waited in the hot, hot, car under a blistering Texas sun until I finished my case study and then drove me back to Austin. If my mom wants to use her favorite phrase, now would be the time. She’d say, “a gem of a man”.
  • Roni, another friend I am keeping for life. After all, she taught me that in Iraqi Arabic, men say “Ach bitch” or something akin to that to a woman to say I love you.
  • Tamanna, aka @frenchmelange on Twitter – totally loved her blog posts and the coffees we shared.
  • Meaow, my mom. She gets the “whiney award of the year” for whining about my sister’s unwed state all the while making our days bright with laughter and joy.
  • My program director Dr. Michael Holleran’s expressions – well worth a watch, especially the fun when he goes “Oh!” with his hands pasted to either side of his well-rounded cheeks in a review session.
  • My thesis supervisor Prof. Carl Matthews – complete “item” as one would say in India! He explained to me the importance of 1/8″ by using “the energy between me and my significant other right before kissing, when our lips are just 1/8th of an inch apart”. Yes, this is exactly what he said, in class!!
  • My two studio-mates Mike and Jake who had the habit of saying, ” I Jai-Ho-ed it!” every time they finished a project. (Yes, they learned that from Slumdog and no, they do not know what Jai Ho means.)
  • Finding an Indian restaurant called “Garage Mahal”. I am not kidding.
  • Canoeing in Town Lake. Rather, Pradeep and I trying to keep our canoe straight while Purva tried her best to steer us diagonally across the lake. She succeeded for the most part!
  • Seeing Obama. Yes, the President. He came to UT Austin to make a speech and the VP’s office that I worked for in the summer was kind enough to give me a pass. So there, I saw and heard President Obama. He was literally 12 feet away!
  • Southwest Airlines – Thank you whoever you are on the Southwest team in charge of service. You guys rock!
  • All those site visits associated with grad work. Especially the one to Menard in West Texas where I sat around a table with men in sombreros discussing the sad state of hunting and eating home-made jerky. I also saw armadillos! And Llamas!
  • Total star power radiated at the NTHP-UT Austin visit. (NOT going to show off any further!)

Lows:

  • The last grade that I got on the last day before graduation. I swear it was most unfair. (Still in resentment.)
  • Time away from home – sucked!
  • The terrible, terrible summer in Austin. If any of you Indians think India is bad in the summers, visit Austin. You’ll change your minds I assure you! (But then, the winter is so beautiful that I’ve completely forgiven the Texas summer.)
  • All the move-ins and move-outs. There was one in January (cross country), one in June (across town), and one in December (cross country again). Then, again, had to also unpack the” family belongings” in January. So that’s a total of 3 move-outs and 4.5 move-ins. I NEVER want to move again.

In-Between[s] – these are the ones that I cannot decide if it’s a high or a low:

  • Being mistaken multiple times as a Spanish-speaking person.
  • Being hit on by a burly cop in 7-11. (Of all places! And all people!)
  • The manager of Einstein Bros. calling me by my first name and placing my order even before I did.
  • Being told that I am too good at space planning. (Did that perversely mean that I am bad at other things architectural?!)

At the end of it, I see that my list of highs is way higher than my list of lows. Good year, you think?? 🙂

Can a writer “resign” from being one? Evidently, I can. And it poses a serious conundrum. Somehow the ability to deliberately stop writing to take care of other matters at hand for months on end unnerves me. You see, writing is something that I think of as a passion. So refocusing my undivided attention on something else entirely makes it feel like writing, may not after all, be my passion!

This way of thinking is dangerous to my psyche itself. Its not about writing anymore. The whole perception of me, by me, changes. Existential questions arise. All because the written word has gone missing. So for like any other semi-clueless chum, denial rushes to the rescue.

I have not not really been not writing you know. I did get that thing get published in that magazine that once, a national mag no less! And, and, a big part of my graduate assistant’s job the last few months included blogging! So it’s not really like I wasn’t writing. Of course, there were also those two papers and a report I wrote for gradschool coursework. See! Miraculously, the world’s back to being normal again.

So with my raison d’etre intact, I begin the umpteenth phase of my blog hoping and praying that this one’s going to be inspired by the longevity of Brett Favre’s career. I may be moving things around, a new tab may be, tagging more stuff, adding more categories. Racy stuff, really!

PS. All this while, a little voice chants away happily, “Lechee how laaangg theez lasttt”.

Oh Well.