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.”

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.

An Incomplete Blog

Posted: June 5, 2010 in Life, Personal
Tags: , , , ,

December 12 2009

I am waiting for that first snow flake. It’s past midnight but I am waiting with a cup of cocoa for company. The Christmas lights on the balcony has been lit tonight for only one purpose, their dim light meant to guide that tiny white speckle on to my bare cement porch. Here, behind the glass door I await, for that first flake of snow. Call me absurd but there are not many things more joyous than experiencing something so pure, so fresh, and so precious.

I don’t want to catch that flake with my tongue. Neither do I feel like spreading my hands out to clutch it until it turns to a droplet of water. All I need is to watch that speck of white descend from the pink night sky and meld into the porch in front of me, ushering in the bare beauty of winter.

So what if it isn’t here to stay? So what if tomorrow brings snow plows or messy streets? So what if it doesn’t take away all our sorrows with it?

Through the bare branches of the trees outside, I peer into the darkness outside willing and praying for it to fall. I wander through the hallway misplacing things and cracking knuckles. I curse the weather channel for giving me hope, I ask for forgiveness for my utter impatience.

June 5 2010

And then it came. I can still remember seeing two tiny drops fluttering and waltzing through the opaque gray skies to land right there, in front of me. My cocoa went cold, sleep abandoned as I sat mesmerized craning my neck and seeking more of those tiny specks of joy.

So lost was I that I did not complete this blog post. It has taken me 6 months to get to it. It is summer now, the sun beats down relentlessly and parched river beds have become a common sight. The hot breeze teases me so, whispering promises of an amber sunset and a bejeweled night. It makes me miss the rains & the thunder. It makes me miss home. But it also reminds me of the night that I waited by the fireplace for the first snowfall of a winter that brought with it, a lot of happiness, togetherness and peace.

I Found Me A Lucky Charm

Posted: May 15, 2010 in Life

It was the day after my birthday that there was such an abrupt turn of luck in my favor that had me thinking, “Hmm, what did I do right?!” People, I landed myself a good luck charm. No, not the kind you get hanging on key chains or sits on your desk gathering dust. My good luck charm is a person, a guy. I cannot give you a name. But he is out there living in his humble abode, doing what he does.

With end-of-semesteritis virus in full swing I had hardly gotten any sleep. Life was fine, ordinary – a lot nice, a little tense. Nothing special was really knocking at my front door but I had a lot on my plate. For weeks I had been stalking professors for an assistantship, calling International office to find if my visa would ever come, eating a whole lot of peanuts and generally doing what I had to do.

And then things changed.

It started as an ordinary morning. After only 2 hours of sleep and with half a dozen reports to finish, I sat staring at my laptop screen wishing it would have a will of its own, almost daring it to make my day interesting. I sipped on my coffee that had wilted over the night, going through my daily routine of checking updates on Twitter, Facebook and Gmail (sometimes I reverse the order). I had an interview later that day so though a self-proclaimed agnostic, I looked out into the still darkened skies and grunted (also known among believers as praying).

And then on the corner of my Gmail window, a green button blinked and I found him.

Just like that.

We have known each other for a while now, almost a year in fact. A hi here, a smiley there; a shared joke or just a couple of lines of catching up. Why out of a full list of friends, acquaintances and relatives (some close, some fun and many unwanted), I decided to open his chat window will remain a mystery. But on this particular Tuesday morning I typed “Hi :)”. And things changed. I noticed because everything including the weather that day went on to be perfect. I not only got the position I interviewed for, I got two! My visa which I had applied for months before came through out of the blue. I got “lucky” enough to fiddle around with a 600 year old Latin book hand-painted, covered in goatskin parchment and about as big as a large matchbox – one of the last few of its kind in the world. And on my way back home, I paid a casual visit to my professor only to know that I scored an A for the semester in her class! Things changed and I could only think of one thing that I did differently that day – I had had a conversation with my good luck charm. And, it worked, like a charm!

I chatted with him the next day and the next, same time, at the same little table that I always sit. On Wednesday, I got a confirmation on my position, lost a pound and got free coffee. (Free Starbucks is a big thing by the way; so is losing a pound!) On Thursday though I had not studied as hard as I should have, the exam went well. On Friday, I found a much needed mentor for my summer studio without which I would not have been able to graduate in time. And, though the roads were as my good luck charm would say “traffucked” all day, they mysteriously cleared up for me to catch my flight on time!

But the luckiest thing of all that happened in the last week is that I found a person, a friend. Don’t get me wrong – all my friends are fantastic people but every once in a while you come across a person who you can just talk to. You don’t feel conscious, you don’t feel the need to pretend, you don’t even really want to talk about anything specific. Sometimes, you can even say things that make you look really weird and still feel good about yourself. And when that friend turns out to be your charming good luck charm, you know he is a keeper.

So it’s no wonder that I am addicted. It is easy to be addicted to my charm. If you knew who he was you would agree with me. He flirts, he pokes fun, he laughs, and he does everything that most guys do. But you know he is different. You know he is different because you have observed him politely admonish a man who said something that he should not have in public. My good luck charm is a man with a generous heart. If you knew who he was you would agree with me.

But the problem with good luck charms is that as inert objects they tend to get lost; as alive, vigorously active people with tons of hot dates, they have a life. So when the need arises for a Gtalk ping, what do you do? You again as a faithful agnostic look at the skies outside and grunt. I have been grunting a bit in the past few hours. I had a long flight, an uncomfortable seat and no sleep. I need my good luck charm, since I know he works. If he doesn’t put me to sleep, he will certainly keep me company for a while until the day dawns and my better half awakes.

I don’t know if I will ever meet him. I don’t know if we will stay friends forever. What I do know is that I will remember this week – the week where I found a friend who charmed his way into my heart and brought all the luck there is along with him.

Disclaimer:

If my good luck charm is reading this: Don’t flatter yourself. This is partly fiction. You are not that effective. I am jobless for the first time in six months. And I needed a subject to write about, desperately.

To everyone else reading this and wondering why I have a 1000 words declaration that comes very close to cheesy: I am writing this when the events of one of my luckiest weeks are still fresh on my mind so that, even on a cloudy day when my good luck charm is not around, I remember to look up at the skies and grunt – this time, just to make sure that his good luck charm whoever or whatever that is, is watching over him, just as I think he did, for me.

So I am up again, at four in the morning. I have an unusual reason this time. (And I am not talking about that night when the friendly house spirit dragged me down for a game of peek-a-BOO.) My beloved decided that I kicked him multiple times, shoved him and pulled away the blanket all in an attempt to “spite” him – yes, in the middle of the night. He is, most of the time, a very sane man but I got to tell you, he wasn’t making much sense at three in the morning slamming doors and bellowing about merciless better halves. I don’t think that even for a moment he thought, “Hey! She must be having a nightmare!” After an eventful hour of convincing him that I am not a cookie monster (among other things) and such, sleep obviously became priority number last. So I dragged myself downstairs, washed dirty dishes and cleaned the kitchen while waiting for my snoring sweetheart to wake up.

There I was sitting in my living room sipping a cup of coffee, watching longingly at the man working out at the gym. No silly, I was not lusting, just being envious of a guy who could pick himself up and work out at 4 am on a bitterly cold winter morning! Suddenly, I hear floorboards creaking. Like a little Chihuahua my ears perk up. (At four in the morning even floorboards become interesting.) Wait a minute! Is that a moan? Or is that a grunt? Someone’s grunting! And moaning! Oh! And more moaning! And grunting! Whoa! Whoa! That’s people. People having sex at four in the morning! No. Those are my neighbors having sex at four in the morning! That is Mike – the podgy, father of three, having sex at four in the morning! Funny, I don’t think I have ever seen kids there on weekdays or their mother, ever. For people who have absolutely no intelligence I’ll translate – it means that Mike is not having sex with his ex-wife. He is having sex with a relative stranger. And, this, is none of my business.

But how sex-deprived should you be if you are going at it at four in the morning in the middle of a working week? No doubt, Mike is trying to make the best of it before his kids are handed over by the bitter ex-wife for the holidays. Meanwhile she is on Atkins diet trying to lose 10 more pounds before new year rolls around. New year, may be a new husband, who knows!

American townhomes are terrible. They are not really houses you know, more like a really lavish dormitory. I most definitely can hear what’s happening around the neighborhood. The dry walls as they call it are so thin that I am pretty sure I can see some of my neighbors watching TV if I squint hard at the wall too. I even have a feeling that the slight stink I smell sometimes is from the house next door. (Obviously there is no cleaning happening there at four in the morning.) Floorboards that give away your stealthy late night leftover cake hunting, pipes that gurgle every time someone’s doing disturbing things like potty are not always pleasant experiences. Nevertheless it has its charms. For one thing, where else can I continue to develop my skills of detection at four in the morning!

All is quiet at the house next door. I bet Mike is going to be late for work today. If he is not, then I am leaving my living room and parking myself at the nearby coffee shop. Yeah, it shares a wall with a tanning salon but I’d take that over sex any day. Anyway… Hmm… Wonder what’s happening at Jake’s house right now? Let me see… (As the song goes, “Now, who the f*** is Jake?!!)