I have opinions. Like it or not.

Posts tagged ‘mood’

Missed my blog’s birthday :(

I cannot believe I did that. Sorry, blog. Please know that you are not forgotten.

Did you guys know that I’m a big fan of beading? I make my own bracelets – of late I’ve started making my own earrings too. It’s incredibly fun and keeps your fingers nimble. Let me know what you think!

Here’s the very first one I beaded:

A few of my newer ones:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the ones with earrings:

 

Alai Osai

I just finished reading my very first Tamil novel, Kalki’s Alai Osai. I have never read a full fledged Tamil book before; my reading of the language was limited to reading those bit-jokes in Ananda Vikatan. And now I realize everything I have missed out on all these years.

Kalki’s Alai Osai is an exquisite creation. A magnificent work of art that has no parallels, no comparison, that is quite unlike anything ever written. The free flowing language, the beautiful descriptions of pre-independence India, the little villages of Rajampettai and Devapattinam – all bring forth the magic of the simpler life. And yet set against the stark backdrop of the British Raj, they drive home a harsh truth – one that spanned a  100 year long freedom struggle, causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people who voluntarily or by circumstance laid down their lives to usher in India’s freedom.

Kalki’s characters are sketched with such clarity, that it is difficult to believe that what you are reading is mere fiction. At no point are you made to think that one particular character is good or bad. Everyone has shades of gray and they all make decisions that are only as sensible as the situation permits. Seeta’s vivaciousness, Dharini’s surreal grace, Lalita’s all-too-simple devotion to her friend, Raghavan’s monstrous desires and Surya’s ever steady ideals – all make for a collage of very distinctive and memorable characters that won’t leave your thoughts for a very long time.

Kalki brings alive the cruel reality of human nature, one thought, one action of ours that affects the lives of everyone around us and those of our future generations.  He makes you realize that no matter how noble one’s intentions, the repercussions of one impulsive act can be catastrophic enough to haunt them for the rest of their lives. He depicts the contrasts in his characters by embellishing their similarities. He takes you on a sepia-tinted journey to the far-flung corners of the country, starting from a tiny village post office to the vast streets of Mumbai to the banks of the Hoogly in Kolkata to the buzz of activity in Karachi, all the while making you aware of the unrest in the country and its eventual culmination in the barbaric riots of ’47 and the subsequent partition.

As a story teller he remains completely neutral throughout and never allows his personal opinions to jade the narrative. Hence the events of the time remain in the background, affecting the protagonists but never trying to send out a social message of any sort. He also remains extraordinarily detached from his characters, never once lapsing into pathos-evoking descriptions of Seeta’s hardships. He just narrates. You decide your feelings for her based on what he has told you. He builds up the narrative with such ease and class that before you know it, you are possessed by an insurmountable curiosity to know the climax which is sure to leave you shattered and numb. Not because it comes as a surprise to you, but because you realize how futile it all is. And how realizing your mistakes may just not be enough, and if even a little late in coming, may be too late to really do anything about.

I cannot help falling in love with the book over and over again, with every chapter, with very line. It is indeed a pity that a writer of his caliber is not recognized anywhere outside Tamil Nadu.

14th August 2009

This date marks the 3 year anniversary of my arrival in the US as a wet-behind-the-ears naïve girl with dreams in her eyes. The last 3 years have been an incredible journey. A journey of friendship, heartbreak, love, frustration, success, failure and so much more. A journey of growing up – of flying away from the protective nest that was my home. A journey of the eventual transformation of a girl to a woman. A journey of realization of one’s strengths and weaknesses – leading to some semblance of wisdom. A journey of the quest to learn and acquire knowledge – and the incidental learning of many other things. As I sit and reminisce about the last 3 years, I cannot help but wonder if I truly have a reason to rejoice and celebrate them. Or should I just think of it all as a bittersweet experience, something that had to happen because – such is life.

I guess I would like to begin by thinking about all the things that made me regret having made the decision to leave my country and my home. I still miss my family just as much as I missed them the day I left. I still wish I was there to watch them grow up and old – I wish I was there to watch my little brother cross one milestone after another. I wish I was there when my mom bought something she had always wanted, to see the expression of excitement and the raised pitch of her voice to go with it. I wish I was there to watch my dad punch the air during a cricket game and to get him started on a discussion on politics and stock markets. I wish I was there to help out with the household chores and even to get yelled at for not doing something right.

I truly miss the rush of activity, the sights and sounds of the different times of the day. The smell of the early morning coffee, the sound of the velaikkari washing the utensils, my mom cutting out the weeds in the garden and my dad trying to help and ending up shearing my mom’s beloved flowering plants instead, my dad going into my brother’s room to wake him up (after being yelled at by mom for snipping up her plants), the sounds of the autos and buses, the sight of the dust rising up and settling down in their wake, the cows assuming the world is their toilet – I could go on and on about every single detail that is such a part of India’s myriad personality.

But that is about all I miss and about all the reasons I have to be even if only slightly bummed out today. I think I do have more reasons to be happy about. I cannot even begin to describe the experience I had of living alone, away from home where there was no Mommy to cook food on time, no Daddy to take care of the bills and the finances. There was just me and my measly grad student salary that had to cover the rent, groceries, bills and so on. I cannot believe I managed to even save up a small amount every month. I realized just how well my mother had trained me to be able to run a household independently. I could cook and clean and not let the house be infested by bugs and roaches as I had seen happen with my other counterparts. I realized that I have a keen aesthetic sense and combined with my OCD, I managed to make sure our house was always hospitable – our house was like home.

I learned the hard way that people are not always what they seem. That there are people who will think evil things even if you truly meant them no harm. That there are people who expect the world of you and yet will not move a muscle when it is their turn. And should you so much as refuse them a favor that no sane person would do even for their own kith and kin, you instantly become the bad guy. That the only people who truly make you happy are the ones who have the good sense to understand your every action. No one else is worth it.

I learned that when your need is driven by money, no matter how well you do, you just don’t get the chance to prove yourself. And that quitting when I’m at the top of my game is how I usually operate. I also learned how much I hate loans. And how I have always made sure I repaid mine well in advance of the pay period. I learned how much I love to drive. And how much an inanimate object can mean to me. I discovered that I am not one to skimp on something I really want. And I am also not one to crib about something I don’t have – I am actually one of those people who make the best of what they have and pro-actively seek means to better their situation, if they so wish to.

I realized that going to grad school and getting your doctorate degree is no indicator of how smart you really are. And that smartness also really means nothing – how you treat yourself and others around you is really all that counts. That it’s better to know how lucky you are to be with someone than to wonder how lucky they are to be with you. That confidence is one thing, and arrogance quite another. That realizing the difference between the two is the difference between being smart and being thick.

That high heels actually make me look good. And that tall girls don’t need high heels is a myth. That in a few years I will not look like I do now, so I need to make the most of what I have. Especially since I live in a country where everything goes. And that convincing my mom of this has been some of the toughest convincing I have had to do in a long time. 🙂

Looking back on this post and the last 3 years, I do believe I’m happier than when I started out. And I probably wouldn’t change a thing in these 3 years. But none of them can keep me from going back to where I belong. And if I ever forget that, I have this post to remind me of what is out there, and what will eventually take me back home.

There’s a sad sort of clanging in the air

In all ways 2008 has been a most eventful year for me. 2007 was seen spent as a student, coping with the realities of having chosen a less-trodden path and paying for it. 2008 drove home the realization stronger than ever. Decisions were made, by me and for me. Decisions that shaped my life and my future. Decisions that, for the first time ever, were made based on the people around me. I saw my life peak through tremendous joy in the beginning. Things were looking up and the wheels were being set in motion, amidst much opposition from my closest of kin.

But in my heart of hearts I somehow always knew that this wasn’t my calling. I knew that there was something amiss in the grand scheme of things and the fact that I was planning my life around a somewhat exhaustive and demanding journey that I was about to set on not only scared me, but also made me question everything I had known to believe about myself. Whether I was capable was beyond doubt. A profound analysis of this phase led me to weigh out the cause-and-effect relationship of some of the events over the past 2 years. I went on to question every single decision I had made, taking into consideration every person that was affected by my decisions and the repercussions of any decisions I made now, and how they would all affect the people in my life from now on into the future. Much opinion-taking and giving was indulged in; many friends came in and offered sound advice. I appreciated their involvement and valued each of their opinions. Whether I agreed with them or not, it helped in that it made me see why I needed to go through with this and served to solidify the basis of my current decision. I stood my ground firmly and went ahead to take the plunge. What followed were 4 months of frustration and a forced “sabbatical” from doing many of my favorite things, blogging included.

2008 also heightened my insecurities. My moments of self doubt became longer-lasting. I questioned everything and everyone, hurting people closest to me. But I have slowly learned how to overcome my insecurities and although I may not have gotten rid of them completely, I have definitely managed to successfully push them to the back of my mind where they lie, now dormant. They surface now and then but I know how to deal with them. To this end I have only person to thank for and I think they know I’m talking about them. If you hadn’t been so supportive and understanding, I doubt if I could have made it this far.

I have moved 3 times this year and I am hoping I won’t have to move again in the next year or so. I have a new life here and I am loving it. There is of course a fly in this soup. Something that I have slowly learned to deal with, but each time it only gets progressively harder. Like everything else, I will work around it.

And of course, I have to mention how much blogging has helped. I have made some truly awesome friends here and I wouldn’t change a single thing in 2008 just because of this. Prashanth and I developed quite a bond and he became my support system through my times of frustration. Of course, it helped that we were kinda going through the same thing. DDD is another such friend. I traveled to TX and met Rayshma and her husband. And I had some really good times with them. She is now one of my closest friends and I am looking forward to many more years of such madness with her. Love you babe!

And of course, I have no idea what I’m doing for New Years Eve and I really really want to wear this pretty dress I bought so I need to figure out something real quick. Or maybe I’ll just open a bag of microwave popcorn (97% fat free butter) and watch a movie. Sheesh, I really need a life.

To conclude, I hope you guys had a fantastic 2008 and you will have an even more fantabulous 2009. Please keep updating your blogs regularly and continue to read my randomness with equal vigor. Love you all. Muah!

Umm…

Happiness is a fickle thing. And has extremely unreliable causes. And is indescribably transient.