Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Remembering Bhopal

Remembering the Bhopal Gas Tragedy that left thousands dead and many many more injured. And some of them paying the price even after 24 years!

I was barely two when this disaster happened. But I had chose to write a review paper on it earlier this year for a class I was taking and thats when I knew details about the event. Even just reading papers about the disaster and the effects it had on Bhopal has made my stomach churn. After 14 years, we can only hope the new Dow chemicals plant in Pune is not another Bhopal waiting to happen.

Here is a link to some pictures immediately after the disaster. It also includes Raghu Rai's award winning photograph.

Update: Thanks bollyviewer for the correction. I dont know how 2008-1984 was 14 anyways!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Your God or Mine?

I wish the recent terror attacks are linked to radical muslims trained in Pakistan. Yes, I said it. For all of us who spent Wednesday to Saturday of last week glued to one news channel or the other, it does not seem a very unreasonable wish. After all, the terrorists came to the coast in boats, carried Pakistani IDs and all other such evidence that points to Pakistan. And like any self respecting Indian, I was quick to add that if it is indeed true, then India should attack the terrorist camps and use nuclear weapons if necessary.

Sometime during the course of the 60-hr drama in Mumbai, I checked Al-Jazeera’s website to see what they were saying about the attacks. To my utter disgust, they reported that the attack could be the act of India’s internal terrorist organizations while India blamed Pakistan in a knee jerk reaction. I yelled some at my computer screen, made some expletive noises about how there are no “internal elements” in India and gave up reading news for about an hour. Today, in an email conversation with a friend, in a fit of anger, I declared that all the Muslims in the world should be treated like terrorists unless proven innocent! (I hope you recognize the emotional rhetoric here). My friend immediately asked what makes me so sure that this was perpetrated by “the outsider” Muslims and not our own homegrown rogue elements like Bajrang Dal. I made some noises about how the radical Hindu organizations are not that indiscriminate and immediately changed the topic.

To me and millions like me in India who enjoy the luxury of being in the majority, it is comforting to blame “the outsider” as the enemy. I wonder if the entire terrorist attack episode would have been as sensational if it weren’t for the Pakistani angle in it. Aren’t we all waiting to hear that the FBI and Scotland Yard aided investigations will provide conclusive evidence against ISI?

Once I started reading more about the possibility that the attack might not necessarily be from outside India, I am scared than ever.

Being a Muslim in India is not easy. Most of us who belong to the majority, take this struggle for granted. We never stop to think how it is to live in India as a muslim. I do not have specific examples to cite but we all have heard stories about the muslim family that was refused an apartment in the building or the muslim household that struggled find domestic help etc. I am willing to believe that years of such oppression could have resulted in absolute hatred and intolerance towards the rest of us. That coupled with a country jealous of our progress (?), Kashmir issue, ties with US etc etc could explain the Pakistani trained terrorists’ theory.

But what if it wasn’t the muslims? What if it was our own Bajrang Dal that moved up the terrorism ladder? What excuse do they have apart from sheer intolerance to another faith? That is what scares me.

Like always, someone else has said all of this much better.

PS: Please excuse me if in any way I have conveyed that it is okay for people from one religion to kill. Obviously that is not what I have tried here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

And I am back!

Howdy y’all? Thanks for all the concerned comments and encouragement to write more frequently. Well guess what? I have taken your comments way too seriously. To compensate for the last 3 months or so of zero activity, I have taken up La Vida’s recommendation of a blog marathon. I will make a sincere attempt to post at least once every day whether or not I have something coherent important to say. It will be a challenge given that I commute about an hour and a half to work each way and am left with zero enthu to do anything once I get home. But, you asked for it people! So here we go.

So how have you all been? I have most of you on feed reader and have been reading your blogs stealthily at work while swiftly shifting between windows every time I hear footsteps (Thank God for keyboard shortcuts!). I haven’t been commenting much because I haven’t yet gathered the courage to log in to blogger from work. Any of you have cool tips on how to blog/comment while appearing to be busy at your desk? About us, the husband and I have quit being floating particles and have settled down fairly well in the Bay area (couldn’t resist the PJ). I flew across the country in September to see the husband talk about his work, thank his mentors, parents and parents-in-law, and bottoming-up 6 glasses of Champagne back to back. Needless to say he has no memory of what happened to him after that. Not that anything really happened, except that he was made to wear a really ridiculous looking hat and paraded around the campus in a shopping cart by his group members. And that was how a very innocent looking, baby-faced husband became The Husband Pee Etch Dee. After a week, the husband wrapped up in the University town and moved to California with me. So that was our September.

Most of October was spent trying to figure out what we will need to run an functional house, where to buy such stuff, buying the stuff and setting up the apartment. Now don’t let this simple statement trick you into believing that it is easy to set up an apartment from scratch. Actually buying the essential stuff is easy. You go to a department store and pick up a toaster, a microwave oven, a vacuum cleaner etc. The tough part is furnishing and decoration. In the process of furnishing our apartment, the husband and I became an IKEA couple like Broom once described. We were fighting about the fabric, color, design, pattern, size and you-name-it. If we agreed on everything, the damned thing was out of our budget. After numerous stressful trips to IKEA, Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Linens n Things and such, we managed to put together a decent looking place. At the end of it, the effort seemed worthwhile when we sunk into the couch in our newly furnished living room sipping a glass of wine.

November has been a super fun month. We went to Napa/Sonoma valley to celebrate the husband’s birthday. We stayed at a little spa resort, got couple massages, had great wine and a lot more :) Before we could completely get back to routine, it was Thanksgiving and we had to do something fun again. We spent the weekend in Lake Tahoe and Reno. There wasnt much snow there for skiing but we manged to skate on ice and hike in the snow. Also did I mention that I met a super cool and lovely blogger in November? She is as interesting in person as she is on her blog if not more. She does have a great smile, she does wear her lipstick well, and she does have an amazing sense of humor. It was so much fun to meet her that I forgot about the sucking day I had that day. Wait, since this is a marathon and not a sprint, I will save up the details of that day for another post.

So overall, we have been exploring the Bay area and now let me please pause for a second to eat my words. Bay area is fun!! I did not like it in the first few days of moving here because I was alone, home sick and had to deal with giant humongous lizards which I knew were out there to get me. I have not seen those despicable monsters anywhere else except around the cafeteria at work (maybe they guard all the free food in the cafeteria). Mostly I love the Bay area because of the number of options it has for people to have fun. You like clubbing and night life? You have it. Want some quiet time at the beach? You have it. Want a good hike? You have it. OK you get the drift. That’s pretty much been my September, October and November in a nut shell. Eating good food, going out, having fun and in general having good time in life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Of this,that and award

Guess what Never Mind is up to?

I had an internship offer in the pipeline for a while now but it took so long for me to get over all the irritating hassles to finally get here that I can barely believe this is happening to me. I got the offer in November last year for a scheduled start in June '08. I asked my then PhD adviser if I could take up this offer as a supplement to my work in his lab. He refused to let me go and was of the opinion that industries have nothing new to offer to the academia. I later decided to quit the lab owing to many other reasons and thought I could pursue this internship while I find something else to do. Just about 2 weeks before my start date, I found out that the university did not allow students to go and work and I couldn't work without being a student. Unable to solve the paradox, I postponed my start date to Sept '08. I went through the employment authorization process once again with the hope that this time, I use the correct channel. I was denied authorization again. That was when I decided to chuck everything and move-in with the husband. On hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. We had so much fun living together in our first apartment, it was magical. OK, I digress. Getting back to where we were, I transferred Universities and applied for employment authorization for a third time. A lot of drama, a few tearful goodbyes to my career and several tensed days later, I got my approval and and I finally started working yesterday. This is just an internship position for 4 months but is totally what I wanted to do. Also it pays well enough to have enough money left for those shoes and purses after paying all the bills. So I am super excited. Excited about the work, the money,everything.

I moved to California this Sunday and am slowly getting used to being a Californian. It is not as beautiful as everyone hyped but it seems like a fairly nice place to live in. California lost part of its charm for me because of its lizards. Did I ever mention how much I hate them? Actually, I am terrified of them. Yesterday when I walking back from lunch, I saw three lizards in the walkway for the first time in the US and I was scared beyond wits. Since then, I kept checking my surroundings to make sure there weren't any more of those horrible creatures. And now, the great part, the husband got a job in California as well and he will graduate from school and start here in October. So it looks like we have some fun times coming up. But I promise, no more excuses for not blogging. I will resume regular blogging and update this place as often as possible.

To make the happy times more exciting, the lovely La Vida has honored me with the blogger BFF award. This award is special not just because it is my first but also because it means a lot to be a friend. I have very few BFFs in real life and blogging has introduced me to some great people who I wouldnt have met otherwise. While accepting the award with great pride, I pass it on to my blogger BFFs.

  1. La Vida Loca : It has to come right back to you for the warmth you sent my way and of course your fun posts. Her dry humor and profession remind me so much of Mathew Petry in The Whole Nine Yards.
  2. Dew Drop Dream: She once asked what we thought of her as a person. I never had a chance to write then. But I think she is a lovely lady with a great "Office"-ish sense of humor, treasures her friends, buys great gifts and a truly unique person in that she is loved right back by earthworms!
  3. SnippetsnScribbles: Very simple words that touch your heart, every day happenings that make you laugh and Profound thoughts on love, life and marriage. Thats SnippetsnScribbles for you.
  4. Chandni: Bohemian Rhapsody has been and continues to be a great place for me to hang out. Lots of fun, interesting tidbits from Chandu land, 55s and heartfelt posts make Chandni more than eligible for this award.
Enjoy ladies! You have truly made blogging a lot of fun for me!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How Bollywood achieved gender equality

In an attempt to achieve gender equality in apna filmdom, it has been reported that all our bollywood leading men have been advised of the following fashion guidelines.
  • You will henceforth wax your chest hair and show as much cleavage (if not more) as your heroines. You will of course take full advantage of the one thing you can do in a family movie that your heroines cannot. Go topless! While our Sallu miyan has been the trend setter here, strict warnings have been issued to a certain Kapoor to clean up his act. Here are some illustrative examples.




  • Waxing does not stop with chest hair. You will use the sticky goo until you achieve silky smooth legs comparable to your female leads. Once achieved, those fine legs can be displayed on screen while wearing bottoms of variable lengths.


Better (note: this image also shows how not to cover your legs)


  • You will style your hair to match that of your female co-stars. This will not only help both hero and heroine look alike but also make life so much easier for hair dressers. We understand this will be a difficult rule to follow but have seen boys men who made it happen.

Perfect !

  • You will insist that your director will have at least one song shot on you right after you finish taking a shower and one right after you finish swimming. This has previously been the domain of the lady stars but we have had brave men who have taken up and performed the feats as convincingly as any of those lovely ladies.
  • You will follow a daily cleansing routine comparable to that of the reigning beauty queens. We appreciate his highness Baadshah Khan for setting up a regimen suitable for all you Bollywood stars.
In related news, budding star Riteieiesssh Deshmuuukkkkh has mentioned to a new talk show host that these new fashion rules have helped him get in touch with his feminine side. He was relieved at not having to wear drag ever again.

Happy Rakshabandhan

To the two men...

...who holding my hand walked me through every difficult moment of my life.

...who have answered my phone calls day or night and heard all my rants patiently.

...who always covered up for me when I got myself into silly troubles.

...who kicked my behind when I got complacent.

...who have been a part of all those funny childhood stories.

...who have promised to never make me feel alone.

Happy Raksha bandhan to my two wonderful brothers who mean so much to me!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Two weddings and a lovely couple

First things first. I need to apologize for the disappearing act. I was away from here because of a combination of travel and laziness. Thanks Dew and Snippets for stopping by to check if everything was alright with me. I was away for the past few days to be a part of a very special wedding. Read on for the details.

The Girl: The eldest of the siblings from a sleepy little town in mid western United States. In addition to being good at school, she was very crafty and took up a lot of artsy projects like sewing, glass staining and knitting. She was a great cook and baked the sweetest of the cakes. In essence she was the kind of girl you wanted to take home to your parents.

The Boy: Eldest of the siblings from one of the IIT-ians churning south Indian city. True to his city's fame, he did well in school, went to IIT, got admitted to a good American University and all that jazz. He looked good, had a lovely personality and was quite charming. In short he was our typical Bollywood chocolate boy.

Boy met girl, they started going out pretty soon. Intially they had a lot of fun like every couple does during the honeymoon period. Then their first big test came up. The boy had to meet the girl's family. He went over, met her family and they all seemed to like him. It was then time for her to meet his family. His parents disapproved of her without even meeting her. Obviously, he was ruining their conservative brahmin family values. Knowing about the boy's parents rejection, the girl's parents decided they dont like the boy either. After a lot of persuasion from the boy and the girl, the parents decided to meet each other. Both set of parents met, quarrelled some about whose culture was great, argued about how their grandchildren need to be raised and quarrelled some more about remotely related issues like toilet paper, silk, gold and fastfood. Finally, the parents believed they managed to break off the relationship.

But in true filmy style, after a couple of months of keeping quiet and pretending to have moved on in life, the boy and the girl got back together. They moved to a neutral country in Europe away from both sets of parents and informed them of their decision to get married. The parents had to give in and approve of their relationship. Now, a fresh batch of quarrels broke out about how and where the wedding has to happen. This time, the boy and the girl found an easy way out. They traveled to India and got married in the traditional south Indian Hindu style. The boy's parents were happy. They went back to the US and had a Christian wedding ceremony. The girl's parents were happy too.
I know they are not the first inter-racial couple. I also know their struggles will not end here. Besides the usual hassles of married life, they will have to bear the additional burden of integrating two different cultures in their home, teaching their children about two different religions and living up to the wedding vows they exchanged twice in two different languages. But knowing what I know about them, I think they will do just fine. Please join me to wish my brother and sister-in-law a lifetime of health, happiness, love and courage.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Palace of Illusions

I was introduced to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's Sister of my Heart by one of my guy friends. He did not care too much for that book and mentioned he was in some way related to the author and got an autographed copy of the book from her. It was in fact intriguing to find this book amidst his sci-fi and Michael Crichton collection, which I didn't care too much for. I borrowed (and did not return) the book and I am glad I did. I loved the book and read a lot more of Divakaruni.

Divakaruni's latest, The Palace of Illusions tells the time-tested story of Kauravas and Pandavas, their parents, their siblings, their wives and rest of their kin. Unlike the B R Chopra version narrated by Samay or the original version narrated by Vaishampayana, in this book, the story of Mahabharata is retold by Draupadi or Panchaali as she preferred to be called. Like they say, there are two sides to every story and it is very interesting to hear Draupadi's version, presumably the female lead in a story full of men.

As the narrator, Draupadi takes us along in her journey of life beginning from her father's palace where she grew up feeling lonely except for the friendly conversations with her brother Dhrishtadhyumna and the occasional visit from Krishna that she looked forward to with excitement. She reveals her intimate thoughts before and during her Swayamvara and her life afterwards with the Pandavas. Her struggles as a newly married, that too to five men, her reign as the queen in the palace of illusions built by the best architect, the biggest insult of her life, her life in the forests, everything, narrated by the character herself, remind the readers that despite the eons passed since then, nothing much has really changed for women. We still have the same power struggle with the overly possessive Mother-in-law, we still look up to our men to fight for our honor and we still keep wondering if we picked the right man!

Although the story is nothing new, the author inserted interesting tidbits, making the book a delicious read. The secret love shared by Draupadi and Karna for each other and the way each of the Pandavas loved Draupadi, are such little pieces that don't really alter the story, but justify each of the characters' motivation for behaving the way they did. Despite narrating a story set long before the civilization as we know today existed, the contemporary language with a generous dose of humor and irony makes the characters all very real. Here is an example of Divakaruni's wit as she describes Draupadi's fears of being cursed by sage Durvasa:
Durvasa was known for his creative curses. No doubt Duryodhan had sent him here hoping he would would burden us with some obscure, incurable disease or metamorphose us into exotic fauna.
To reflect the wisdom of her characters, Divakaruni also has some very thought-provoking lines which we sure could use in our current war-ridden world. The irony in Duryodhan's words after being defeated in Kurukshetra made me wonder what the real meaning of winning is!
I am going to heaven to enjoy all its pleasures with my friends. You will rule a kingdom peopled with widows and orphans and wake each morning to the grief of loss. Who is the real winner, then, and who the loser?
Being raised on a weekly dose of Mahabharata on TV, the story is one of my favorites. The book narrates the events in a non-spiritual context, reveals the complexities of their actions and judges the characters to human standards. And this is what made it real interesting to me. Besides, the cynicism in Draupadi's tone is something that I completely identified with. The book forces you to look at all the well-known characters with a new eye. I always liked Duryodhan and Karna much better than the Pandavas and the book reinforced my idea. I declare Karna my favorite character in the story and join Draupadi to wonder what course it would have taken if he wasn't stopped from competing in her Swayamvar.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Characters that live on

I picked up this book tag from La Vida Loca and I need to list my favorite fictional characters. I used to read almost exclusively fiction before I moved on to other stuff very recently. So this is in a way a trip down memory lane for me.
  1. Mr. Darcy: Anyone who read Pride and Prejudice cannot help but fall in love with this man.
  2. Sherlock Holmes: Its elementary my dear Watson.
    For all you folks in London: really? there is no 221 B Baker Street?
  3. Scout Finch: The little girl from Alabama is my hero anyday.
  4. Gretel of Hansel and Gretel: I remember imagining myself as Gretel when my brothers had to study and I was left free to do whatever.
  5. Samwise Gamgee: For the dependable friend he is. Honestly, he is much more a hero than Frodo Baggins.
  6. The Common Man: He is you, he is me, he is every one of us. An Average Indian.
  7. Calvin: I have to agree with LVL. He is much more than a kid. He sounds as philosophical as his namesake if not more. Need I say I believe in destiny?
  8. Moushumi Mazoomdar: I found more to identify with and liked this character much better than that of Ashima Ganguli in Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake.
  9. Rosie: RK Narayan's Guide, beautifully unfolds the story of this strong, independent dancer who overcomes every injustice done to her. Waheeda Rehman did nothing less in her portrayal of this character.
  10. Laila: Of The Thousand Splendid Suns. Her beauty, her courage, her strength and her intelligence is just amazing.
I wish I could write more. But I cannot think of any other characters. So go on. Help me. Who are the characters you loved?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Of daughters, sisters and wives

Pardon me for the cliche but my parents, I always believed, were traditional with a modern outlook. They sent me to an all-girls convent but did not mind that I was friends with boys in our neighborhood and hung out with my brothers' friends playing whatever you play when you are in school. They let me pick engineering that too Civil Engineering although they much rather preferred me joining the software bandwagon. For the most part I got to wear what I wanted to and got my way around most things. To top all of that off, they had no problems in me picking the person I wanted to spent the rest of my life with. Suddenly, after all these years, my mother said something yesterday which made me wonder what I mean to them as a daughter.

To give you a little background here, my brother who is two years older than I am is traveling to the US in a couple of months to take some licensing exams. He is not traveling on business where his employer will pay for his trip. He is funding this entire trip by himself and will be in the US for about 3-4 months to complete the exam and subsequent processes. Ever since we started discussing his trip, it was taken for granted that he would come stay with us and take the exam. Obviously!!! And then yesterday we were discussing the logistics of his trip, when my mother asked my brother to look for another place to stay. At first I wasn't sure what she meant so I had to prod a couple of times before she finally came out with it. Men from a respectable family do not stay in their married sister's and brother-in-law's house for an extended period of time it seems!! What???

Knowing for a fact that my mother does not spend the energy thinking about these kind of Uttam Dave type things, I asked her where it came from. She first denied that anyone helped her with these thoughts before admitting that it was one of her colleagues. My initial reaction was to yell, cry and threaten her that I would never talk to her if she ever entertained such thoughts. After sleeping over it for a day, I called her back to find out what exactly was bothering her and she says it is shameful on her, my father's and my brother's part to accept any kind of help from me, their married daughter. And secondly she is sure I am doing it against the husband's wishes and it will cause me problems with him. And of course she believes the parents-in-law would never approve of such a thing and will promptly disown me when they know my intentions.

It is not like I never discussed my brother's trip with the husband. In fact he was the one that brought up the subject of all the paperwork needed to be done for his travel and he of all has no problems with the whole idea. My parents-in-law are of the sweetest kind. Although I itch real bad to join one of those Bitch9-about-MIL discussion groups, she is sweet enough to leave me with nothing to bitch about. I did mention to them about the trip and they had no problem absolutely (I hope!). My brother who is the subject of the entire discussion has no problems because he gets along well with the husband and honestly, doesnt care. My father had no second thoughts about it either. So really, I think the problem is with people like my mother's colleague who I am guessing are the targets of Uttam Dave's advice and my mother who's thoughts are so easy to manipulate.

And me, well I am left thinking what I mean to my parents after all these years! Was I just the daughter that they spoiled rotten knowing fully well has to be given away to another family and never reclaimed? Have they lost all their rights on me that they cannot let me fulfill my tiniest of responsibilities towards my family? I wonder if this is a question of being traditional. Or if it just not being able to break away from what is expected or rather not expected of you by some moronic society. Either ways, I feel terribly disappointed for having to explain this to my mother!

P.S: When I read reactions to Dave's posts at Chandni's and Mad Momma's I thought maybe the advice is necessary for girls married into Ekta Kapoor kind of K Families. Ok please let me eat my words from their blogs. No, no woman should be given the kind of marital advice where she is asked to forget about her parents, her family and everything about her before she got hitched. Sorry, that doesnt work for me. My mother of all people should have known that!!!

P.P.S: Oh, today is my blog's first birthday. And am I glad I have this place to voice my shouts and murmurs! The activity here is not as much as I would have liked, but at least I get to have my monologues without any opposition so thats good. Happy Birthday Shouts and Murmurs!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is he listening?

People's exhibit 1:
Me: Do you want to stop by at the Temple on the way to B Aunty's house?

Husband (with a genuinely confused expression) : But B aunty will serve Desi food. Why do you want to go to the temple?
People's exhibit 2:
Me: Do you want to stay at N's house after dinner tonight or drive back?

Husband: I don't mind either ways.

Me: I think we should drive back because we have a lot of things to do tomorrow and will be good to get a head start in the morning.

Husband: Right, I will check with N if we need to bring our own sleeping bags.
I rest my case.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Khuda ke liye /Aamir

After reading a lot about Khuda ke Liye and Aamir, I finally got to watch these movies over the weekend. I write about both these movies in the same post because I couldn't help notice the similarity between the two, themes centered around Islam, lesser known actors, debutant directors and great music.

Khuda ke liye is the story of two musician brothers Mansoor and Sarmad and their British cousin Mary. After a brief introduction to the characters, the real story starts when Mary visits her cousins in Pakistan and Mansoor leaves to the US to study music. Since there are reviews and plot outlines everywhere on the web, I will stick to what I thought of the movie here. Shaan, who played Mansoor in the movie, Wikipedia tells me is a popular star in Pakistan. I am guessing his past experience came handy coz he has done an excellent job without at any point appearing to try too hard. He sounds convincing and absolutely lovable even when his tells his American girlfriend that his religion prohibits him from drinking liquor or that women cannot pay when a man is involved (I would have been up in arms against any other man who told me I cannot pay because I was a woman). Iman Ali, again a popular model in Pakistan, looks pretty and plays Mary without appearing too over the top. Apparently Shaan had sneered at Iman saying models cannot act (yeah, I follow Lollywood gossip too) but I am sure he will have to eat his words after this movie. Iman Ali and Shaan were the two actors that stood out for me in the entire cast. The excellent music is yet another reason for me to like Khuda Ke Liye. I am still struggling to pick a favorite between Tiluk Kamud and Bandeya Ho.

Aamir is about a doctor who returns to Bombay from UK to find himself involved a sequence of strange events. Without giving the plot away, lets just say the movie tracks the hours ensuing Aamir's return to Bombay. Rajeev Khandelwal, a first timer on the big screen, plays Aamir and carries the movie almost entirely on his shoulders that too effortlessly. Although the painstakingly slow scenes towards the end help create drama and give Khandelwal immense opportunity to perform, the movie could have done much better with some editing. Towards the ending, more often than not, the audience want the movie to end just so they could go home/go to bed or to do whatever they do after a movie ends. In stead, this film seems like it goes on forever. I am guessing the climax scene was shown in real time which could've definitely used some much needed chopping. What I like best about this movie is the transformation of the main character from your average guy to the man who takes charge all while displaying an entire range of emotions without appearing like the usual macho bollywood hero. The background score was great and Ya raham, my current favorite, is very addictive.

Both movies are likable because they come across as extremely real. No make-up, no gaudy outfits, no stopping in between for a duet in some glamorous location, no melodramatic dialogs, no item numbers, no sir, none of your bollywood stereotypes. These movies instead are armed with a strong story and an intelligent screenplay. Full points to debutant directors Shoaib Mansoor and Raj Kumar Gupta. Also there is good music in both movies but the songs don't distract you from the story. Its like a little respite from hectic storytelling through which you don't want to take a bathroom or ciggy break lest you miss something important.

The husband mentioned how Khuda ke liye is a bold movie to make especially in a country like Pakistan. Even Meetu of withoutgivingthemovieaway was of the same opinion. I fail to understand why. Despite touching upon issues like double standards, violence and abuse against women and racial/cultural prejudices of the west and conservatives in a religion, at no point does the movie speak ill of Islam. It does use the most popular of Islam preachings such as teetotalism, preventing marriages into other faiths etc but at no point does the movie come across as anti-islam. If anything, Naseeruddin Shah's character speaks in defence of the religion. The take home message from the movie according to me was that no religion preaches bad things. Its just the way the religious teachings are interpreted that makes people do good or bad things. And if anything, I was very surprised that a movie like Aamir got away without any trouble. Remember Bombay, Black Friday and many other movies that had a terror plot?

Overall, both movies are a must watch if you like movies that try to break away from the candy floss romance formula.

On an aside, while I love Wikipedia, its annoying that the Aamir movie page has entire scene-by-scene details including the climax. I noticed that I best enjoy a movie when I know absolutely nothing about it. The more reviews I read, the more my expectation of the movie rises.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Home Alone

Staying alone at home while the husband was traveling for work, I have discovered

...that it is not that hard to eat alone at a restaurant. Granted it is a small eatery in a corner where you have to bus your own table. But with a book in hand, it is a piece of cake to order your food, wait for it to be ready and eat it, all without having the company of another soul.

...that it is really hard for me to survive without internet and TV. I need one of the two unless I am sleeping or in the bathroom.

...that watching 8 back to back episodes of Law and Order SVU scares you enough to not be able to go even to the bathroom when it is dark. There such creeps in this world I tell you.

...that I can make a sandwich complete with onions and tomatoes during TV show breaks. It sucks that they dont have breaks in between episodes anymore. Its always after an episode starts but thank god for title music and end credits.

...that you can survive 3days without any in-person human interaction and still manage to stay sane enough to write about it. I couldn't even catchup with people on the phone coz we ran out of minutes on our phones. Oh wait, does ordering food at the restaurant count?

...that a dinner of cereal and brownies is fun.

...that I cannot for my life figure out what Tharoor's point is in his new book the Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone. About 100 pages into the book and I see he uses his favorite metaphorical writing, talks bollywood, politics, families and rants about hindutva. Pardon me but I cannot understand where he is going with all that cliched writing.

On an aside: Tharoor writes that former first lady Mrs. Shankar Dayal Sharma was a big fan of Swabhimaan, one of India's first soaps. Apparently she made sure her entourage recorded every episode of the show to ensure that she did not miss even a single episode in the process of delivering her first-lady duties. I remember running home right after school to catch the show and had a big crush on Rohit Roy. I am dying to watch the show again and cannot find it anywhere online. Does anybody know where Mrs. Sharma lives now? Maybe I can borrow her tapes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

10 ka dum

Chandni has called me bakra and tagged me to reveal 10 of my secrets. So here we go in no particular order.
  1. I act like I am always in control in the kitchen. I believe recipes aren't meant to be taken too seriously. One quick glance at the recipe and I decide how I want to make it my style even if it spells disaster.
  2. I obsess over my footwear. I need to wear shoes that are well co-ordinated with the rest of my outfit otherwise, I feel like everybody is staring at my shoes and shaking their heads in disapproval.
  3. I never wanted to be a child and thought of myself as an adult. As far back as I can remember, I always thought I grew-up enough.Only when I look at myself back in time I realize how childish I was and how much growing up I still need to do.
  4. I think being liberal is fashionable. Somehow being conservative seems so dull and boring.
  5. I cannot win a spelling bee contest even to save my life. I am a terrible speller and can never be thankful enough to spell check!
  6. For the longest time, I believed beauty and brains dont come together. I thought I was a rare exception until I met women who were both more beautiful and more intelligent than I was.
  7. I have a constant fear of obesity. As a child, I remember reading an article about a woman who woke up in the morning and found herself heavier by some insane number of pounds. It haunts me to this day and thankfully keeps me away from most calorie bombs.
  8. I am a hypochondriac.
  9. I spend insane amounts of time window shopping on the internet. And nothing fancy or designer for me. I hangout at the safe Oldnavys and JCPs for the fear that I might fall in love with something I cannot afford.
  10. I hate documents that are not justified. I cannot bring myself to read badly formatted articles either.
Phew!!! That wasnt too hard. Now comes the fun part. I demand to know 10 secrets from
The Mad Momma
Good day Sunshine
Blue Bike
and anyone who feels like confessing some of those secrets!

The Big Move

It finally happened!! The husband and I finally moved in together. I took a break from school to move in with the husband hoping he would be done in school by the end of summer. Well it actually happened two weeks ago. But thats how long it took for me to complete moving, setting up the new place, cleaning up the old place, catching up on my Google Reader and finally moving my ass to write.

Living with the husband has been lots if fun so far. Its like playing Home Sweet Home except with real furniture and a real husband who does not go-to and return-from work in a flash. Deciding on the furnishings (mostly convincing the husband that my ideas are right), setting up the furniture and making the place live-able has been much more fun than I imagined. In the process, I realised how much I want our new home to look like my parents' place. Especially with little things like arranging fridge magnets, books and clothes the way my mother did it. Being the foodies we are, grocery shopping and visits to the local farmers market has been our favorite weekend activity. We have had plenty of cooking adventures and baking disasters. Our kitchen has been learning lots of new languages from around the world mostly with a 'spicy' accent. And booze is flowing freely than ever. The husband used to allow himself a drink only on weekends but now wine and beer have become everyday fair. We are trying to recycle as much as possible (yeah we finally got those reusable shopping bags) along with reducing our electricity consumption as much as possible. To bring on the summer spirit, we even have a few flowering plants, spinach, mint and tomatoes planted in pots.

When we decided on moving in together, we have agreed that the husband would take care of all the money matters while I run the show. But now I am getting a taste of how it is to be dependent on someone even if it is your significant other and I dont like it. Although it is very difficult for me to finish shopping and not take my wallet out to pay, I feel like I have the husband dependent on me as well. I know where most things in the house are and the husband often comes to me asking where to find something. This in some strange way gives me a sadistic pleasure. It is not like the husband cannot or will not find it without me. But just the thought that I make his life easier gives me that much needed boost.

In a nutshell, it has been a lot of fun to set up our own little nest and live in it together. Now all we have to do is finish school, find real jobs and buy a house for ourselves.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Manolos Martinis and Men

Sex and the City is finally out! And did I love it!! The TV series is bigger and better, more fun, more drama and more style.

The movie picks up from where the series ended with a short introduction of all the characters for the uninitiated. Big is still "Carried", Miranda with Steve and Brady, Charlotte with Harry and Samantha moves to LA with Smith. The only new addition is Jennifer Hudson as Louise from St.Louis, Carrie's assistant and an adorable little girl (I dont know her name but I swear she is an angel) as Lily, Charlotte and Harry's adopted daughter. Everyone looking more beautiful and stylish, made the movie look glamorous and sexy. The runway shows, the jewelry auctions and nightlife give you a taste of true upscale New Yorker life.

Sarah Jessica Parker is the anchor for the show and carries the movie well with a little bit of drama, fun and lots of style (she even pulls off the pajamas look effortlessly!). Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis play their usual selves and do not have too much to do in the movie. Actually at times, I found Kristin Davis a little annoying and unintentionally funny. But this round definitely goes to Kim Cattrall. She truly rocks at 50 with her super sexy body and hilarious one-liners. Jennifer Hudson plays her part to perfection as the assistant Carrie always needed to put her life and apartment in order.

What I liked most about the movie was the familiarity, the comfort of knowing the lives of all the characters inside out. It was like meeting old friends who you lost touch with after college. The style and fashion in the movie whets your appetite for designer labels albeit an overdose of Louis Vuitton. The movie did get a little slow at times and could've been at least a good 5-10 minutes shorter. The opulence and money in the movie is a little too much to believe and larger than life for students like me. But on the other hand it feels like a dream come true to be surrounded by designer clothes, shoes and furniture.

Overall a great movie for a girls nightout or a date. Although Roger Friedman of FoxNews says, "Straight guys are likely only to see this film under pain of death from their significant others". It was interesting to notice that most of the viewers were girls or couples. Yeah, so the movie is not for everyone. Not for you if you are cynical and allergic to mush!

P.S. Thanks a bunch to the husband for being a sport and watching the movie with me without appearing like he was pained to death.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My shade of green

It seems like green is the newest color to be seen in! How else do you explain green you-name-it? Everything and everyone wants to go green while I am still stuck trying to figure out what green is.

Now as I understand, going green means sustainability and eco-friendliness. The green revolution started with bio-fuels, using cloth diapers instead of disposables, paper bags instead of plastic grocery bags, so on and so forth. We all saw what happened with the whole bio-fuels thing. I already wrote once about cloth vs disposable diapers. I fail to understand how using paper bags is sustainable compared to plastic ones. Arent the same people also advocating less printing to save paper? How safe really are the white light bulbs? Doesnt the mercury in those bulbs effect us in anyway? The more I read about green revolution, the more it seems like a staged drama. While sounding cynical, I feel like there is really nothing we could do to either damage or save the planet.

Cynicism apart, what happened to the good old way of plain reducing and reusing? Growing up in a developing country like India, it seems like we followed a environmentally sustainable lifestyle without even realizing. There was no wasting of water because of its scarcity. Everyone in the family had a rationed quota of one bucketful of water for bath every morning. During the summer we could use more water if we did not mind pumping it out of the bore well ourselves. Horlicks bottles were washed and reused to store groceries in the kitchen. Newspapers were reused to serve afternoon snack, to line shelves and to wrap sundry grocery items. Even our garbage was rummaged through to recover all the recyclables and reusable.

To make things simple, may be we should just stick to simplest things like turning lights off when not in the room, trying reduce the amount of garbage we generate, reusing as many things as we can. In essence, to me green revolution means reducing my footprint on the planet as much as possible instead of driving my car around with a "Go Green" sticker on it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kind words such as these.....

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
-- Mother Teresa
It has been an overwhelming week for me. I have been written about in really nice words and I am left wondering if I am truly worth all of them. The graphics specialist in my ex-research group figured I would not come back to the lab and wrote this to me.
I just want to say that I'm really going to miss you! I know this is not always the most pleasant working environment, but I sincerely feel that you brought a measure of lightness to the lab. The atmosphere can get so heavy and serious at times - your bright smile and a sense of humor have always been a welcome presence.
At the end of the semester as I turned in my final paper and course evaluation, the professor wrote in saying, are headed for the best grade in the class. I'd be happy to write a recommendation for you at any future time -- you have an excellent grasp of the science and logic of risk assessment. and made many excellent comments in class.
Really? It feels amazing to read such niceties about yourself. But what I really wonder what makes them say these things? Although these are the people I consider good friends and/or great colleagues and I truly admire, I cringed to write nice things when replying. I was convinced they would interpret it as buttering up on my part. In fact, I rarely say nice things to people. Not just people that I meet at work, but even parents or even siblings. I never remember telling my parents how grateful I am for everything they have been to me or how much I love my brothers and how much I look up to them as my heroes. Never have I ever told my best friends what their friendship meant to me.

When I first started this post, I thought I will write nice things about people that matter to me but I now I changed my mind. Although I admit I rarely say nice things, it has been very hard to come around actually saying those things. For now, like they say, the best words are those that are left unsaid. I know I have a lot of growing up to do.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ab Tak Chappan

I will rate this movie as one the best I have seen yet and recommend it to anyone who with interest in movies related to underworld, cops or even Ram Gopal Varma (he appears to be the go-to guy for all first time directors with stories related to the underworld)

The movie allegedly inspired by real-life encounter specialist Daya Nayak, is Shimit Amin's (of Chak De India) directorial debut. A very realistic movie not just because of natural sounds and dialogs but also for the lack of clear black and white characters. As it happens often in real life, all the characters are justified purely by the circumstances encountered without assigning strict good-cop, bad-cop tags.

Nana Patekar is his usual best with straight faced portrayal of an encounter specialist in the Mumbai Crime Branch. Never an extra word, never too dramatic or emotional, he carries the movie almost entirely on his shoulders. He talks about a murder he was ordered to commit by higher ups in the same breath as describing how after that, had a shower and ate drumstick sambar.

The encounter team is portrayed very well complete with jealousies and competitiveness. Despite being employed in the Mumbai Crime Branch, none of the characters preach patriotism or deliver heavy duty dialogs about being responsible citizens. Although it appears that we get to see everyday happenings in the characters' life, the movie has a superb pace thanks to a strict story and screenplay. Attention to subtle details like Revathi's character being a tamilian and how their child refers to his parents as Amma and Appa, how Revathi enquires Hrishita Bhatt about her live-in relationship etc are important in giving you insight into the characters's life without insulting your intelligence with spoon-fed details.

The only loop hole I found in the movie is that it fails to explain why Nana Patekar believes his informer when he calls to give him Feroz's whereabouts. I do not want to give out the movie's most important twist, but it appears that if Nana Patekar knew what he knew, he would have every reason to believe that the informer was lying and that it was a plot to get him. Oh well, a brilliant movie like this does deserves some slack.

On an aside, it is interesting that it takes a super succesful movie like Chak De India for us to sit up and take notice of the director's brilliant debut. On the same note, I wish Ram Gopal Varma sticks with the underworld genre which he does best instead of trying his hand at remaking classics.

Dheemi Dheemi

My pet peeve against the husband is that he is not romantic enough. He is the kind that debates practicality over instinct and romance. So we end up getting flowers only on special occasions, practical gifts like humidifiers and pain relieving heating pads. But the other day, he totally swept me off my feet! No really, practically off my feet and gave me a ride home on his bicycle with me sitting on the front rim and him pedaling it. :) He even sang Dheemi Dheemi probably leaving me hints after reading my favorite songs post. ^_^

I cannot find the video where Rahul Khanna and Nandita Das ride the bike together so here is the song.

PS: The entire experience was complete with the mandatory dirty joke when he asked if I was sure I was sitting on the bike's front rim or his unmentionable :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dear Miss. Manners

Dear Miss. Manners
I keep getting emails from my friends about how Bill Gates has decided to distribute all of his fortune among Internet Explorer and AOL users and how many people have made millions of dollars just by sending the information out to their friends. I wonder why everybody is actually working their asses off when there is so much money waiting to be earned so easily, but lets not get off the track. Usually, these emails used to be descriptions from all the lucky people who made five to six figured dollar amounts and who are more than eager to share the information and the good luck among their friends, their friends and their friends. But the email I received today was one step ahead and actually contained snapshots of bank statements very clearly stating the money transferred to all the lucky people by Microsoft. Here are a few snapshots if you dont believe me.

Now when I see forwarded emails about the wonders of the world, 3-d illusion paintings etc, I know that a polite reply to the sender is as simple as "Wow! really cool". Also, when I see the "I want to share my fortune with you" emails from royalty in never-heard-of-country, I know I have to immediately reply with my contact and passport details to make myself available for the fortune-sharing. But I must say, in the case of Microsoft sharing its fortune and the if-you-dont-forward-you-will-have-bad-luck-for-7-years emails, I am not sure what to do. Is it polite to include the sender among the people I would be forwarding the email to? Will I still get the good luck if I forward the email to the sender 5 times instead of sending it to 5 different people? Will it bring 5 times the good luck to the sender? Will Bill Gates identify me as one the ardent users of Internet explorer if I forward all these emails to my sender from Mozilla Firefox?

Please Miss. Manners, I really want to share a part of Bill Gates' fortune but these questions are eating me away. I want to forward as many forwards as I can but I also want to make sure I do it in the right way without hurting the sender. Could you please let me know the do's and donts of this forwarding "business"? Please please please help me!!

Waiting To get Lucky

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kabhi Geet Aisa Gaaya Karo.......

The sexy Silvara tagged me with my first. I remember when we were kids, we always used to make fun of how my dad's music and movie collection time-froze in the '70s. After doing this tag, I realized music wise, I am still stuck in last century. Not that I am complaining!

Rules of the tag: Various situations are given. You have to come up with a song ( or a couple) that aptly describe those situations in YOUR life.

Opening credits: Chale Jaise Hawayein from Main Hoon Na. I really like the video of this song and wouldnt mind making an entrance dancing like that :)

Waking up: Nindiya se jaagi bahar form Hero. Great music and good lyrics make it one of my favorites along with all other songs in the movie.

Average day: Aa ne wala pal from Golmaal. Average days come and average days go.

First date: Aati Kya Khandala from Ghulam. I like this song solely for Aamir Khan.

Falling in love: Jaan-e-man Jaan-e-man Tere Do Nayan from Choti si Asha and Mitwa from KANK.

Love Scene: Dheemi Dheemi from 1947: Earth. I would have actually loved this song to be couple with the love-making scene in the movie instead of Yeh jo Zindagi hai.

Fight Scene: Khambe jaisi khadi hai from Dil. This is really lame, but I could not think of any other song for a fight scene. Aamir Khan and Madhuri are sort of fighting in this song.

Breaking up: O Sathi Re from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Tanhayee from Dil Chahta Hai. Both very different sounding songs conveying the same lonely feeling in totally different ways.

Getting back together: Tere bina jiya jaaye na and Scientist by Coldplay.

Life’s ok: Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.

Mental Breakdown: I still havent found what I'm looking for by U2 I know this song is not really relevant here but I heart Bono in this song and it gives me the jitters every time I listen to it.

Driving: The super cliched Endrendrum from Alaipayuthe and Dont Matter by Akon. I heard this song for the first time on a bus during our honeymoon in the Caribbean and fell in love with Akon ever since!

Learning a lesson: Tujhse Naraz Nahi Zindagi from Masoom.

Deep thought: I assume this meant songs with profound meaning. Rabbi Shergill's Bulla ki Jaana and Junoon's Khudi ko kar.

Flashback: Purani Jeans by Ali Haider. The lyrics actually has A+R somewhere and the husband and I still blush every time it comes up ^_^ Video Killed the radio star by Buggles for the retro feel.

Partying: Low Low Low by Flo-Rida and Please dont stop the music by Rihana

Happy Dance: Dhagala Lagli Kala Aapparently this song has another not-so-innocuous meaning which I am determined to find out.

Regretting: Socha nahi tha from Kaante

Death Scene: Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan from Mera Naam Joker.

Closing Credits: Kawa Kawa by Sukhwinder Singh in Monsoon Wedding. Actually the death scene songs comes pretty close in this category as well but I definitely like movies with happy endings and fun music playing in the background when the credits roll.

Whew, that was a tough tag! Now that I am done, I tag anyone who wants to take this up. Feel free to do the tag and leave a link to it for me to read.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend in the Seventies

Born in the eighties (I know, I am ashamed of it too), I missed out on the swinging seventies. After Farhan Akhtar's Don: The Chase begins again was released, I wanted to see the original Don to be able to participate in the whole comparison debate. While looking up the movie on IMDB and Wikipedia, I found out about the alleged affair between Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha and Silsila which was based on it. One thing led to another and I ended up watching Don, Silsila, Kabhi Kabhi and Abhimaan in quick succession. Since the movies have been reviewed and beaten to death, I will just write quick notes on what I felt while watching the movies.

Once and for all, I liked Farhan Akhtar's Don much better. May be because I did not see the original movie first or even because I identify SRK, Priyanka Chopra and such more than Zeenie, Pran and Iftekhar. I got the feeling throughout that Farhan Akhtar's version was totally slick and of course I loved the climax much better. The older Don was good too. Zeenie was hot and Helen rocked! Yeh mera dil and Khaike pan banaraswala were priceless in the older version.

I could not stop comparing Silsila, Abhimaan and Kabhi Kabhi because of the similar cast. Silsila and Kabhi Kabhi both directed by Yash Chopra, had that unmistakable PnJabi flavor: the Mehras, the Khannas, the Kapoors and the elaborate punjabi weddings. Both movies had wealthy protagonists and palatial mansions. Both movies had snow-covered locales and the actors in the best of their winter wear. I don't understand Amitabh Bachchan's obsession with closed neck outfits, he was more often than not dressed in Bandh Galas. Turtle necks and suits. Oh actually I do prefer him dressed that way after seeing him and Shashi Kapoor go topless under the shower in Silsila. That was really gross to watch!!

I hated the way they shaped Jaya Bachchan's character and I am surprised that she agreed to play a role like that. She plays the role of a meek woman who cajoles AB to marry her saying, "Amit, mera kya hoga? Kaun mujhe sahara dega? Kaun mujh se shaadi karega? Kya tum mein mujh se shaadi karne ki himmat hai?". I find it very irritating that even when she realizes that her marriage is on the rocks, all she has to say is "mera kya hoga!" Seriously, in real life if I find out that my husband got back together with his ex-flame and is leaving me for her, I would rather walk out of the mess with my dignity in place rather than weeping about how I am going to be alone all over again. But again thats just me. Gathering from the grapevine that the movie was based on their real life, is that how she blackmailed AB to stay married to her when he allegedly had an affair with Rekha? Another thing I did not like is that the movie fails to show what happens to Rekha's character in the end. We are never told if she wanted to go back to Sanjeev Kumar or what. So according to the movie, its always upto to the man to decide if and when he wants to have an affair and when he wants to return to his dharampatni.

As far as I can remember, Kabhi Kabhi is one of the very few older movies that had an English tag line. The movie is actually titled, 'Kabhi Kabhi: Love if Life". I thought the movie was way ahead of its time in many other ways as well. Neetu Singh in shorts and bikinis, Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor going bowling etc (may be I grew up in a village but I did not know anything about bowling until I went to college). I am not sure if it is intentional but the movie tries to portray generation gap as well. AB and Rakhi are in love with each other but they don't even consider letting their parents know about their relationship for the fear of hurting them. Whereas, Rishi Kapoor does not hichkichao-fy even for a minute to declare to his parents that he is in love. Also the movie had glimpses of where Suraj Bharjathya could've gathered inspiration for Maine Pyaar Kiya. The scenes in which Rishi Kapoor works on AB's construction site to stay close to Neetu Singh reminded me too much of Salman Khan in MPK. Despite the multi-star cast, Kabhi Kabhi was Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor's movie all the way. They managed to look beautiful, young and refreshingly real.

Abhimaan had a completely different look and feel to it compared to Silsila and Kabhi Kabhi. It w was suprisingly short (2 hr 3 min) and had crisp editing. There was very little melodrama involved despite the dramatic plot. JB looked super beautiful and her performance won full points for me. Although most of the twists and turns were predictable, the movie sustained my interest for two hours and that is what I call a good cinema. I hear they are planning to remake Abhimaan with Mr and Mrs Bachchan jr, because like in the movie, Aishwarya is more successful than her husband right now. That sure provides ample scope for us to compare the two movies and discuss the Bachchan family at length but then, do we really want the classic to be remade? Do we want it remade with Aishwarya and Abhishek? Don't we all remember what happened with Umrao Jaan?

All the movies had superb music and excellent lyrics. Despite the punjabi look Silsila and Kabhi Kabhi, am I glad there were no Kudis Mundas and Mahiyas in the lyrics!! Overall, the movies completely deserve the classic-status that they achieved and are definitely worth a watch especially if you like to experience the movies your parents watched when they were young.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To be or not to be?

To do or not do? To stay or leave?
How do you make a decision? How do you choose especially when you know the decision might come back to bite you in the future? How do you do it?

I have been trying for about 3 months now to make an important career-related decision which influence my personal life as well. I don't feel like revealing complete details here so lets just say I can either do nothing and live with status quo or choose to grab a new opportunity that came my way. This new opportunity looks like a better option but is short-term and risky while status quo is safe yet frustrating. Also, who knows what price I will have to pay for the change!

It looks like I am very close to making a decision yet I feel terribly jittery. I doubt my rationale and try to talk myself into accepting things as they are. So this is essentially my monologue (I fell in love with this word and have been dying to use it) and sort of my justification for choosing what I chose.

Decision theories and decision analyses say the simplest way to make a decision is to attach a numerical value to each of the expected outcomes and pick the outcome that has the best value. While the algebra involved is simple, how do you attach a numerical value to your outcomes? How do you evaluate the joy of staying close to loved ones? What is the value of the fear of loosing your independence and self-respect? What is the price of knowing that all your friends and family disapprove of your decision? What is the cost of abandoning your safety net and venturing into an unknown? I have been able to attach value to the monetary gains/losses (obviously), but everything else is just driving me crazy. I wish I could hire a consultant who would help me make a "decision with clairvoyance". (I have been learning decision theory in class and its fun to use the jargon here)

Every time I had to pick between conflicting choices, I would think about how I would feel about each of my choice 10 years later. That really helped me look at the bigger picture and make a decision that I will not regret. In this case, I don't know what the bigger picture is. No wait, I know what the bigger picture is. But my idea of it seems very incongruous with the popular belief. My family is appalled at my simple needs and concludes I am some kind of an anti-feminist. (Well, I might not be the bra burning kind, but I do believe in equality and respect)

Why is it anti-feminist to choose to have a cosy little home against making crazy money? Why is it important for us to have a work-life, personal-life and other such segregated lives without having the time to enjoy any of them? When is it a good time for us to take a step back, figure out where you are actually headed? For me, it is right now. I cannot continue like this before realizing it has already been too late.

I know what I will regret the most 10 years from now. I will miss not having a lovely little home, not having warm food on the dinner table and of course not having lovely people who long to come back home and share the food with me. I will miss not having taken vacations, not spending time with loved ones and not being there when they need me the most. I dont mind the luxury of having money but I definitely don't aspire to have disposable cash enough to buy me a Birkin.

Ok there you go, I have made my decision. I will choose the opportunity that came my way. If it turns out to be good, excellent! If it turns out to be a bad choice, I will have something to fill in my regret column. I have an important meeting on Monday and am hoping I will walk out of the meeting more confident of my decision. Now wish me luck and go enjoy the lovely Spring evening.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weekend in the Big Easy

A weekend in New Orleans was full of activity, fun and totally worth all the hype! Although most part of the city has been rebuilt, it was interesting how everyone talks about before and after Katrina.
Aside: Its funny I was having a conversation about how the husband refuses to share pictures of vacations with family and friends and my brother says, "No self-respecting male would want to go back and email pictures to half of this world as if he has conquered it all". Really?!!? Is it a girly thing to share pictures?

Went on a tour on this tiny family-owned swamp about 30 mins away form New Orleans. It was a quiet tour and we got to see loads of gators, a few turtles and a couple of herons. The coolest part was when one if the gators let the tour guide pet him while feeding on Marsh mellows. He also had a restrained baby gator on the boat and let us touch it (er I meant everyone else including a 6 year old. I am too chicken to be any where near creepy crawlies)

Harbor Cruise took us around the waterfront to show a little before and and after effects of Katrina. They also let us take a look at the engine room and the paddle wheel which was really cool. Oh and they sell really strong alcohol on-board *wink*.

I guess for everyone that visits New Orleans, Cafe DuMonde stall on French Street and Gumbo Shop, French Market and Jax Brewery are must go places and are actually pretty fun. We were there for the St.Patrick's day parade as well and did take that mandatory picture with the leprechaun.

Spending a quite afternoon on a beautiful beach in Biloxi, dinner at a cozy little restaurant, getting drunk on Bourbon Street and watching girls flash to get Mardi Gras beads was what we did in the rest of thr trip. Boring..I know I know.