Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is my mom here yet?

Ayush has been a welcome boon to me personally, teaching me things about myself which I never thought about or acknowledged, my pig headedness for one :-)

He has been going to the daycare right from the time he was one, and he's almost 3 now, so quite a while. He loves going there and has a great time with other kids not to mention his day care provider whom he dearly loves. Every evening is a gala time for all kids when each parent comes to pick up their respective brats. Somehow, all of them manage to hover around the front door, and any passerby, say beyond the driveway can hear the furor created by all the howls and the squeals each time the door bell rings. And I, as a parent look forward to seeing the glee in their eyes when I ring the bell each and every evening.

Ofcourse, needless to say, there are good and bad days. Some days are blissful, one is happy and not grabbing anything from the other, then everyone is happy. Else- it's another story. Each one holding onto either the door handles, others t-shirts or the day care provider's leg and crying away to glory. In all those times, I have never failed to wonder what goes on in their minds. Do they ever feel neglected or sad? In a place like the United States where nuclear family is at its best, the one and only recognizable family they have is us, the parents. Maybe they wonder if we will indeed come back for them in the evening.

Come 6 every evening, I take a huge breath thinking what they might be thinking when my finger pushes that bell. The usual furor, and the door opens...and I see all those brilliant smiles again, and feel blessed for children being in our lives. And out comes my tyke from somewhere in there with either a dozen things in his hand trying to explain to me, or with a cartload of complaints against other kids. As I search his face every single day, can't help but wonder if they think about things we do.

And yes, the first thing he does when he sees me is break into an adorable innocent smile and I feel all better, and seems like he does too :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sandwich stalls in Chennai!

Just found this article, very interesting :)

Balaji 'Sandwech' Stall- and that's a literal translation if you see this link !!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Raagaas to Running - 1/2 marathon 'notes'

Been tossing and turning for the last one hour now-- why the hell am I not able to sleep?? Ayushibum is fast asleep and seems to be having one of his good dream days, 'the smile on their face says it all' as one would put it. Manohar is a good sleeper in general-no dumpster trucks noises, other snoring pigs or any such thing seems to wake him-God bless your soul. And here is 'me', wondering why I am just not able to sleep. It's already 4, and my legs are a little sore. Then I hear that unmistakable sound, 'ammmmmaaaaaa' and I open my eyes to see Ayushibum fully awake. I look at the clock, the time reads a little past 4 PM on October 4th, 2009. I had finished my 2nd 1/2 marathon only a little more than 5 1/2 hours ago "smiles smiles"

To share my experiences of the 2nd 1/2 marathon I ran, I should first share a little about my first 1/2. A little late perhaps in sharing, but then you know how life is!?!

My last 1/2 marathon (which was my first incidentally) was more of an experiment. I was looking at ways to lose my pregnancy fat/weight and since running was something that I liked, and had decently experimented with in the last 4/5 years, decided to take up this goal and see if it did the magic. Ran the San Jose Rock N Roll last year and clocked 2.59. I still remember how I made it clear to myself right from the very beginning, that this was not a race for me. I was in it to see how I felt about it, and a couple of my goals were these: To stay injury free, to see if I had the stamina that it took to endure 13.1 miles, and not walk anytime during the course of that 13.1 and lastly, finish it sub 3 hours. I guess this is probably the first time anyone would have heard anyone saying " I want to do a sub 3 hour 1/2 marathon!!" LOL

I successfully managed to do all of the above, and I was pretty thrilled about it. I lost more weight than I could have hoped for. And when asked if I would attempt this running 13.1 or worse still, a full marathon, I vividly remember shaking my head with an emphatic no.

It was almost August by the time I 'decided' to run the San Jose Rock N Roll again. I tried real hard to imagine myself suffering from selective amnesia and not remember those times when I had said no to any good soul on the road who might have asked me about attempting another 1/2. I still remember sitting in my cube one fine Tuesday morning in August, the official site of SJRNR staring me in the face, and being lost in thought. I registered, and then knew that I just had to start running more than my usual 3 that I did about 4 times a week. My training got delayed due to several reasons, and I finally started my training full swing in the last week of August. I pushed my pace this time. A time came when I was able to comfortably maintain a pace of 11.15-11.30/mile. This was a big deal compared to the almost 13.50-14.00/mile pace that I maintained during my last 1/2. So I was thrilled to say the least. And, the best thing of all, I was blessed to have run all this injury free.

When I think back to the training schedule I have had this last 1 month or so, I am real happy to see that I have done my fastest 5, 7 and 10 miles this running season. I diligently did my short/medium runs without compromising on the mileage so my long runs would not suffer and my body would get used to whatever it had to. The medium runs, which varied anywhere between 4-7 miles depending on the long run mileage that week, especially made such a huge difference to the stamina and ability of my body to do it injury free, more importantly.

Morning of the race was good, woke up the rooster at 5 AM, then finished all my duties as one would put it. The banana and my usual cup of tea tasted the same, no different ( still perplexed as to what I expected *LOL*) and I was surprised to find that I had no anxiety this time. I knew what to expect, knew the drill-- water, cytomax, GU gels, salt tabs, and the likes. While Manu wished me good luck at our door, Ashwin and Sunitha, pals of mine dropped me about 1/4 mile from the start line and I heard someone yelling in the microphone. I phased out, and made a beeline to the port a potty, something I rarely do :)

At 7.45AM, the announcer invited someone to sing the national song of America. She had a amazing voice, I thought, and I went off into the singing mode for a bit and started humming Jana Gana Mana, very softly. A runner next to me had that look of confusion on her face, and I, as a proud Indian told her that it was 'my' national song. She mumbled something, by which time I had phased out again.

Time was 7.58 AM, 2 more mins and I thought I should be able to decently predict how this 13.1 might go. I was happy to be there, amidst those 12000 runners all geared up to run that cold morning. I had done two 10 milers this time around, but the tapering down week was not good on me. Had a temporary setback and wasn't sure even until the previous night if I would be able to run 1 mile, leave alone complete the 13.1 or reach my time goal. I stood there thinking...............................................

Before I knew it, everyone started moving, and it took a couple of minutes for corral 9 to reach the start line. Jogging patiently, I followed the "aattu mandhai" (aka goat herd) until the start line mat when I pressed start. "Beep", the watch sounded, it had begun. Mixed emotions in tow, I ran taking in all the sights and thinking about everything under the sun from my life in India, to my life here, my family, my work, my music which has always been a major part of my life and, ofcourse not to mention some mundane things. Allowed all the feelings to pass in front of my eyes as if it were a movie, enjoyed looking at what it had to offer me, left it right there, and knew I had a goal to accomplish.

Mile 1- 4 were okay, not too bad at all. My legs were paining, something that I have never experienced in any of my runs. Leg soreness- yes, but leg pain- no. So, tried to make sure I didn't get paranoid about it. I ran a little slower than my target pace to make sure that I got warmed up. And suddenly the 5th mile came up and I knew Manu, Ayush, Sunitha and Ashwin would be in the 7th mile marker. Down went one salt tab, oh and yes w/t water.... yuck !

Mile 5- 8 were good, my legs were warmed up although a little pain here and there kept me on my toes, literally :) Saw Ashwin first, followed by Sunitha, Ayushibum and Manu. Seeing my family fueled me on. I was a happy girl, but why did I have to run to be happy is something I didn't understand. I let it pass :D

Continued on and the 10 mile marker loomed large in front of me. I had clocked in 10 miles at 1.52, my best until now. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I hoped to push hard in the last 3 miles and see if I could do a 10.15-10.30 pace. Knew it was a tough thing to do, but still wanted to try. The 3 miles were by far the hardest since my body wanted to slow down, while my mind was constantly trying to focus on going fast. Well, apparently I did negative splits in this 1/2 marathon, which I heard is a good thing from trusted veteran marathoners like Suresh aka Mindframesand Manu :P I seemed to have done my fastest in the last couple of miles. Interesting, how your mind perceives things while your body is doing another. I seemed to think that I was running really slow compared to the pace I maintained in the 1st 10 miles, and was surprised to see the published results with the split ups.

Seeing Karthi & Suresh at mile 13 was a huge huge boost for me, it was like a vitamin to see someone you knew. Manu & Ayushibum waved to me a few 100 yards before i finished, and I knew I was there.. well almost :) And, here is my chance to say that I probably missed my manners while huffing and puffing away to glory, but then many thanks to all my pals who came in to encourage me. Seeing you all there, made my day :D

My running chip crossed the finish mat, my watch showed 2.29, and "beep", I clicked the stop button. My legs kept running for about a couple of seconds and I heard them announce my bib number, and that great feeling washed over me again. I turned and looked around me, at the 1000's of odd people who had run, cheered and walked those streets, and bid a silent adieu. I shall be back next year, hopefully will finish it faster, I heard myself whispering. I walked through the maze of people, smiling, while listening to all their excited banter. Grabbed my medal, that yucky tasting cytomax, water and made my way towards the family reunion area.

My smiles still seem to continue, even 2 days past D day, thinking of how it went. From being unsure of being able to run the 1/2, even as late as Saturday, I am happy I decided to, and even happier that I shaved 30 mins off my last years time. Injury free too!!!

I am looking at myself now, wearing the 1/2 marathon finishers dry wick tee, and watching a movie on TV while my legs recuperate from the 13.1 madness. Madness it is, for sure, but will I do this again? The answer is yes, and here's looking forward to another injury free, memorable running season :)

Adios amigos!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A gul[rum]py sequel

My post titled the gulp was written a little too early I guess because the much awaited gulp didn't happen. 

Chitter chatter....

Villain: I am sorry, but you said you are traveling on an advanced parole document back to the US?
Man: Yes, I am
Woman: Why? Is there a problem?
Villain: Actually ma'am, Indian passport holders will have to get a transit visa if transiting through the UK, especially if you do not have a valid visa stamping in your passport
Man & Woman: blink blink
Woman: I am sorry, but I don't think you understood us right. We DON'T have a valid visa stamping and we aren't getting out of Heathrow , we are just transiting through UK for 2 hours. 
Man: An approved nod
Villain: No ma'am, What I mean is, you do need a transit visa even if you are just going to be in the airport. This is a mandatory requirement  because you will be re-entering US on an advance parole document and don't have a valid visa stamping on your passport
Woman: But, this is absolutely ridiculous. I was given to understand from your US BA 1800 number that I was all set to travel on an AP and didn't need a transit visa
Man: Looks at the woman and then at the Villain
Villain: Oh really, I don't think they would have said that
Woman giving a look saying " &*%%#%)(*"
Villain: Just give me a minute ma'am.

Calls someone on his walkie talkie ( oh-- I really love saying these 2 words, long time since I used it). Villain #2 comes, quickly looks at the monitor long and hard and looks at both of us, then goes back to the monitor again.

Villain#2: Okay ma'am I am sure there was some miscommunication on the part of the US BA team when they said you didn't need a transit visa. Unfortunately you do need one.

Man with a look that says " Are (as in Hindi), somebody-isa-gonna-get-a-hurt-u now" (Russell Peters fan that I am, had to use it here :)

Woman: Okay, we need a transit visa but we don't have one. What do we do now?
Villain: I am afraid you will have to go to the UK high commission and get a transit visa. What I could do for you is cancel this existing ticket and then once you get your visa, you can rebook your tickets. 

Passes on one sheet of paper which clearly states what he just said about the UK authorities needing a transit visa and the exceptions doesn't list an AP holder

Great! Now, what do we do??

For all of those with toddlers and are familiar with the cartoon "My friends Tigger and pooh", the most famous line in that is when Darby, the adorable little girl says " now, we have a problem. So, think think think!"

And, I am in the think think think mode while Manohar is seriously stroking his goti while trying to see what other options we have. Oh boy-- men are from mars and women from venus :D

A few hours pass and we are back in our old familiar bed and goti is still being stroked while I am looking at the ceiling while the think think think is happening. 

8.25AM on the 1st of July and we awake from the little less than 3 hours sleep that we have had. 

Make a round of calls and find out that this recent development has been in effect from Dec of 2007. Okay, the transit visa requirement is a fact and I am a little satisfied that the villain and villain #2 murders will not be in my conscience :)

UK high commission informs us that it will take us a minimum of 2 weeks to get a transit visa issued. Ok-- that will not work, so we make another set of calls and try to get 2 tickets arranged through Cathay pacific. Cathay doesn't fly out on Tuesdays. So, Wednesday it is then.

Less than 12 hours to go for the 'hopefully happening flight'

If you don't see another sequel within the next 12 hours, means I have been accepted on the flight. If not-- another blog is in the offing 

Eventful.. at its best

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The gulp

Life has been very mysterious in a lot of ways over the last decade or so. New friends, new places, new experiences galore. For a simple homebound girl like me, from a traditional South Indian family to get uprooted and live in the US of A way back 10 years ago was an exciting thing. Still is, in a weird way ;-)

I still remember the first time I took a flight, a 45 minute one to Coimbatore enroute to Ooty, the most sought after hill station in the whole of South. I was about 2 or so and my brother 10. The roar of the single engine plane was a little too much to my ears I was told, and I was howling all through, much to the chagrin of my brother, who threatened to deplane if I didn't shut up. His threat apparently didn't take effect, since we all landed up in Ooty :)

21 years later, I took a flight again.. this time one way though. Excitement, nervousness, unhappiness at leaving home was at its highest, while the self, was at the lowest ebb considering I was leaving home for good.  When I think about it now, I seem to sport an all knowing smile but then-- it quite was a different story. D-day came and my brave self was undeterred, even with the most cherished person, my Appa being pretty solemn and quiet for a change during the entire drive to the airport. Amma I knew was a rock, or atleast I thought so

The rusted taps gaurding my eye tank finally decided to turn when my brother hugged me and there it was -- the release, felt infinitely better. That was almost 10 years ago on a rather humid February night. Little did I realize then that, that probably was the best one way trip that I would ever take taking me to a land that I have come to love and friends who have become family far away from home.

I leave in less than 48 hours...

and the same old feeling pops up now and then excepting that the rusted tap doesn't turn that very often ;-)  The familiar ache still lurks somewhere though, deep down. The fact that I will get to see my family only maybe after a year or so considerably adds to that woe. More importantly,  I really dread missing out on all my nephews and niece who are growing up a little too fast to my liking :)

There was this little girl who used to hate to go to school, went on to attend college not bunking one single class ( what! really??), then moved continents striving to make a new home, bundling every single tiny cherished memory along the way, and ultimately came back home with an adorable year old tyke 6 weeks ago. The gulp still resurfaces at times, like this very moment. I suppose somethings will always stay no matter how much one changes. 

Life has literally come a full circle these last 6 weeks with constant chatter, flying toys, hugs, kisses and tickles of these kids running around and around the room with my toddler desperately trying to keep up. 

The lull and silence that follow in the weeks to come will be deafening but it is all too familiar and predictable, hashed and rehashed a little too often. And as for the tyke... he might wonder about the sudden silence and I will have to patiently pass onto him my worldly learnings on vacations, the ifs, buts and the lull after the storm in this case :) 

While the logical mind is already working out logistics for the next vacation, the greedy heart is just intent on going tick tock, tick tock. Is it going to be next year, or the year after that!?



Saturday, May 31, 2008

Back home

10 things about Chennai which is a shocker in a good and bad sense :)

-The heat, traffic and just about everything else seems to have intensified. 

-Malls and shopping strips at every nook and corner is a surprise. 

-Most places that I go to seems to be unrecognizable from the last time I visited which was a little over 3 years ago.

-Most common roads have no tree cover just about increasing the heat that emanates from the earth :(

-Clothes shopping is quite a tug of war even for a non-fussy shopper like me :D

-Most youngsters as young as 7-10 years are sporting the latest cell phones in hand with a waiting driver and car at their disposal!! Whatever happened to traveling as a group in buses, occasional milky way icecreams and Gangotri/Vitan chats??

-The sheer amount of people traveling on 2 wheelers is unimaginable.

-The traffic seems to have worsened

-Most motorcyclists wear helmets which is a welcome change

-Roads are bad not to mention the waist deep potholes about 4 feet wide which are dug up not less than 4 feet apart :P So, essentially it's an open hole for the entire length of the road

And, when I landed at Anna international at 4ish in the morning with a small toddler in tow, 48 hours of sleeplessness and a missing suitcase, nostalgia hit big time just breathing in the familiar air. Nostalgia took on a relieved new face when I saw my family waiting outside with the first face being my brothers :)

But, all said and done-- Chennai will always be home and it indeed is nice to be back even if it's only for 6 weeks. Can't believe 2 weeks are already gone and I have to board that long dreading flight back sooner than I realize...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Zest for life

A quick grab of the water bottle, a natural twist of the cap and ice cold water going down my throat was such a pleasure especially in between runs. And today, the same old bottle, the very same cap and the same me-- but the way I felt when I gulped that sip of water this morning during my workout was way different than yesterday, last month or 6 months ago. For some strange reason I felt thankful...

A bunch of people came in through the double doors at about half past 9. Some of them were physically challenged in some way or the other, while most of them were afflicted with down syndrome.  Youth was at its best and in particular there was this young boy, probably the youngest of the lot who was in a wheelchair as well. All of them were dressed in gym clothes, nice and fresh and so excited that it showed on their faces.

There are so many things that we take granted for in life. Talking, touching, waking up, able to brush our teeth on our own and many trivial actions which happen on a day to day basis. The first realization of this hit me was a couple of months after my son was born. A simple task as holding a cloth in your hand-- so easy for an adult was way too difficult for a baby and I watched with amazement as he mastered it with the cloth, ball, spoon & paper in tow. And, this morning I was amazed at just how much zest these people had for life. They were there at the gym trying out each and every possibility and more importantly, were having fun. 

Bless this country  for making living as friendly/easy as possible for physically challenged souls. I did feel really bad when I thought about how India still having to go a long way in making it accessible to physically challenged people. A person I know who's physically challenged still is not able to go to movies back home since it's not disabled friendly. 

My 4 miles was up and on my way out, I saw the youngest of the lot propped on the rowing machine. He was rowing with his hands while his coach/trainer helped him move his legs with her hands. The little fella was grinning from ear to ear, smiling away to glory. I stepped out into the morning sunshine. It wasn't until I saw myself in the rear view mirror did I realize that I too was grinning like a jackass, and actually had been for quite a while.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Green, Grey & Blue

A low rumbling sound at a distance...
Well, I know what that is. Friday morning-- same routine, same rumble?  Is Ayush going to wake up? I wait...........
The baby monitor flickers and makes a whimper, Jr is raising from his beauty sleep. 

Long live the garbage truck *sigh* 

The sounds fades into the distance... all is well again & the baby monitor decides to go into snooze mode again and incidentally so does Jr. Daddy dearest is oblivious to these things, what a blessed soul!? 

This is exactly what happens every Friday morning, week after week, month after month for the last year. When we moved into this neighbourhood last year around April, I quickly learnt that those really giant sized garbage tubs that every house sports is actually to be wheeled out every Thursday night by people living in the home

First week that we were there, we received a small booklet in the mail explaining how things worked with the garbage pick up schedule.
Green bin is for soiled wastes, garden wastes......
Grey bin is for recyclables-- now you should pay attention here. Only recyclables approved by the city code can be dumped into that (Where do we dump this ? Manu asks. "Oh that doesn't fit into the other bins? dump it in the grey" I say!)

Blue bin is for our good old garbage bags with the usual trash in it

Please note: Please place your garbage bins about 5 inches from each other facing outward from your curb.

5", 5", 5", 5" I memorized...


Ok-- that is pretty easy, it's a pain I understood but it's not like NOT doable or something, just wheel them in on
your way out or way in. SIMPLE...

Our neighbours next door are from Philippines, very nice folks. Pretty elderly couple, well atleast compared to Manohar & I. I should admit that the neighbour man is very very handy around the house. A day hasn't passed when I haven't seen him meddling with something or the other. It's either weeding, laying new grass, cleaning his car inside out and the list goes on and on. Apparently the couple are very serious about their garbage collection schedules as well.

Their garbage bins are out in the cold wintry California weather only for a span of 24 hours or so. No more, no less.They are out by the time Ayush goes into his midmorning napThursday morning until Ayush's midmorning nap again onFriday morning. So essentially from 10 AM Thu to 10 AM Friday!!

3 weeks ago:
I saw the friendly neighbour. Waved a hi and went on about my job of see if any weeds had come up in the front lawn. He quite didn't return the "hello, how're you?" as chirpily as I would have liked. But hey.. probably he was having a hard day. He started brushing his dog's hair while I started cutting the extra weed like things that looked downright ugly. Once done,I brought out some trash bags and placed it inside the blue bin standing majestically in our front driveway-- there you go.. I thought and felt immensely proud that I had cleared my house of some trash.

Life was nice, sunny day.. all was well

Sometime between one of those Thursdays and Fridays:
I heard the calling bell and hurried down to open the door. The friendly neighbour was standing there with rather dirty hands. Was that.........? Why was he standing with...............? 

Oh hi...he said
Actually, I wheeled in your carts for you this time since they have been out in the cold for the last week-- probably the longest I have ever seen anyone leave it
Gulp-- oh! that's really sweet of you neighbour-- thanks a ton
You know what-- why don't I do this? Let me wheel the cart in for you every Friday morning once they are done. How about that??
That would be really nice.. I said but I couldn't really impose...
"Nawh nawh.. I like doing stuff like these.... Don't worry, it's my pleasure to help you guys out" he said
I bid him good bye and thought-- Isn't he the nicest man ever??

The same old familiar sound and I woke up. AAhh-- Friday morning it is. My sleep was a goner, so got up and went to one of the bedroom windows to see the world outside. Saw the friendly neighbour outside with his labby doggie. He was just wheeling in his bins. The green went... 2 mins, the grey wheeled in gracefully, that man sure has class-- just, just see the way he wheels in those bins waaah!  2 more minutes and the blue one finally went in. 

My bins are going to be set free next. I waited patiently.. 5, 10, 15 minutes passed. Finally, I came down and went out so I could see what was happening. Neighbour was brushing his dog's hair and didn't smile at me. He looked in the direction of the bins and then again at me, a look of utter contempt

Darn those early morning dreams!

And, my garbage bins complete 15 days of successfully being out in the california cold tomorrow (thank you, thank you!). No cracks, no discolouration, strong like Dalmia cement... 

Again, within how many hours am I supposed to wheel back the bins?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Yet again.....

Huddled in the corner she sat, drenched in sweat
A lone bird on a leafless bark she saw outside
Her heart engulfed her as the lock turned ,
She detected movement, ceasing to exist momentarily
Bird outside scrambled to safety, and she turned
Her nightmare stared her in the face, yet again....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Aaaarrrhh, Hmrrrrph!

The steam cleaners suggested by a good friend of ours were due to arrive any moment. I had called the main guy earlier, worked out the details and we geared up to meet up that afternoon at 3PM. Probably the only downslide to the intended job was this: they wouldn't move furniture.
Wouldn't move furniture? What did it imply?? Does that mean I will have to move apartments or worse hoard all my stuff on the street until they finished cleaning my apartment? What an insane statement?? Practically left with no choice, I agreed. Resigning to my fate, I started moving stuff around the house in ernest, of course with a few arghhhh and ooooo vocal subtleties to go alongwith!

The bathroom became the sole store-room for most stuff. Big boxes, a small stool, lights, school stuff, loose papers, this and that..... Laptops and camera were probably the only few which found an otherwise respectable place on the office table. Everything else was marked to be shoved into the only floored area of the apartment, the loos.

This being meticulously planned out,
the preparations for the great carpet cleaning began and I worked like a queen bee, relentlessly. Finally they arrived, and started with the office room. I took a close look and was delighted to find my carpet's shade lightening. I made sure nothing was in the way of their water tubes lest I spark 'its' anger. As he finished with one room, his eyes fell on the other bedroom. GULP GULP!!! I had set high hopes for this room: move the bed to one side all by myself! Now the time had come to show my mettle, and my muscles. I started inching the heavy wooden plank from side to side and managed to push it all the way to one side. I looked at him eagerly, but a stone face greeted me regrettably with not even the faintest intention of moving even his pinkie. He smiled at me. OK, my face brightened-- the offer for help should be on its way... I longed to hear his offer to rescue! Obscurity at its peak, finally his nod of approval came as a welcome break. I let the bed frame go, sending it crashing to the carpet while I remained rooted to the spot. The steamer was still sans reaction. Another display of the same caliber was performed soon and I strangely comprehended the real essence of what "not moving stuff " actually meant!

Allaying the fear of having to move really heavy stuff, I moved on in life-- understandably to the living room. This room in comparison had far lighter furniture compared to our sleeping habitat. As I started moving around in circles envisaging where to move what, the main 'steamer' offered to help me. Thank U, Thank U, my soul almost screamed.... mentally I uumpaa-d uumpaa-d him like one of the tribals, short of kissing his feet. I gave him a wide smile, making sure he knew how much I appreciated his gesture while my rather 'cold shoulder' directly pointed at the stone-faced steamer. We shifted the dining table, quickly followed by the sofa and the loveseat. A little help with the big bed would have been a welcome blessing but yeah... he helped ultimately right? What more could I ask for??

Probably his heart melted thinking the hardships the female clan goes through & decided to pitch in. Well-- that my friend is really sweet of you, but I still lifted the heaviest piece of furniture myself... alone!

Talk about Woman Power--literally and figuratively!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Rumour has it....

...that I chat incessantly. Arghhhhh!!!

Hosur road being one of the busiest in Bangalore, had all kinds of imaginable sized trucks plying through it almost anytime of the day. Notorious for
its nerve wracking traffic, it will be an understatement to state it a riders, drivers nightmare. More often than not, office goers and some perfectly jobless blokes (Me??) ended up arriving late at their respective jaunts. After many years, one of the first "malls" sprung up, and Bengalooru Mahanagara Palike found the exact place to house it...our good ol' Hosur Road, adding insult to injury!! The structure was huge and living just a stones throw away from the mall didn't do much good either excepting allowing a good 30 minutes to cross the traffic signal.

The mall had all the major chains-- Mcdonalds, Coffee day, Barista, Khadder, Levi's, Lee, Peter England, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and the likes! It had a 10 theatre multiplex coming up (which I heard has upped the wait time to almost 35-45 minutes now) and had a huuuuge food court with lip smacking food tugging at our hearts.

We paid a visit to the mall about once a week or so, and that week-end was no different. Manu & I had no specific agenda in hand and just wanted to be a part of the feverish festive spirit, a year around hallmark. We hopped aboard the escalator and escalated to the 2nd floor, and started walking towards one end of the mall. I was excited that particular morning about some mundane thing that was happening at college, and started talking. I heard some validation from my counter part by way of an occassional hmmm.. right.. totally.. is that so? so on and so forth. After a while, the sounds stopped which of course I hadn't reliased. I kept talking and weirdly didn't turn to look to my side the whole time. After a while, the conversation ceased to sound interesting even to my own ears, and needless to state-- restraint was the keyword. I turned to look around and was startled to find some strange looking creature next to me. Where was Manu, my trusted comrade at all times??

My eyes rested on this person's face. He was about as tall as me, bore no resemblance to my better-half and was differently built. Looking around, I pondered if offering an explanation would be appropriate at this juncture. He broke my thought process "It really was interesting to hear you talk about all that stuff, I am sure the intended recipient missed a wonderful commentary", and he walked away.
My Oh My!! Commentary?? Who was this guy, and what in god's name had he listened to?? I spun around in a swift motion my eyes scanning the crowd, and there he was strolling like he had all the sweet time in the world. I waited impatiently while he came towards me with a contended look on his face.

Where were you?? I yelped.
"I had to go the bathroom, didn't I tell you?
Tell me? What had he been thinking?? My comrade and partner had just left me in the lurch while another guy had come alongside me listening to all my rubbish rants. Manu burst out laughing when he saw what was coming much to my chagrin, while I was literally choking on the possibility of an identity theft! My head in a fuzzy state, ultimately I gave up... convinced of my innocence!

We dawdled the rest of the day away while I kept checking from time to time, and it was indeed "the bathroom escaper" I was talking to.

Rumour has it
that the 'unintended recipient' got an idea or two, and ended up becoming a successful entrepreuner having listened to my unceasing ranter!

*Hmmmpphhh* Me+Incessant Talking=Concealed gains

O! Merciful Lord, please do pardon these ignorant mortals for they discern nothing of the greatness of being blessed with a quick mind, an indefatigable tongue and unrelentless vocal chords!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Danseuse's moves

As we stepped onto a busy road in Jayanagar 6th block, we squinted owing to the bright almost blinding afternoon sun. The nearest Southern Railway booking center was in Banashankari 2nd stage we were told. Booking counters were supposed to be serving the public from 10-1pm everyday, and we were already late.

Weirdly at that point of time, it could have been as far away as Timbuktu and we wouldn't have realised it!

Our first day in Bangalore, and we decided to take a call taxi from the city railway station. We had to go to Sankey road and all we had amidst us was a piece of paper with the hotel name scribbled on it. We were warned that trains stopped at many small stations as the main city of Bangalore neared, but only for a minute or so. So we, the brilliants decided to take no chance and agreed to get off at the last stop-City station. This also meant it gave us extra 1/2 hour of heavenly sleep!

Now that having been said, we stormed out of the station like resident veterans although the little piece of paper and the not so small boxes would have given us away for sure. Our eyes met one of the cabbies, and he came towards us menacingly. We proudly proclaimed the hotels name searching his face for flicker of recognition. We saw something & we decided to take it in the affirmative! He volunteered that the hotel was in Hebbal and the fare was Rs 350. Wow! is this place near Mysore or something...I wondered, hearing the cost to get to the hotel. I gave Manu a puzzled look and his face registered utter shock, perfect corroboration!! We looked at him a little pointedly, and he showed us a printed sheet which had Hebbal- Rs.350 clearly specified. We conceded and 10 minutes later we reached the hotel.
"Hmmm.. that REALLY WAS fast" I thought. Did we really fly or was this Maruti van/taxi been boosted with extra horses??? We got down, stretched & paid the fella. He bolted from the hotel in full gallop before we could thank him. "Must be trying hard to make ends meet, poor fellow! See he's rushing to ferry passengers from the next inbound train..." we commented. "Life must be tough being in such a job given the present standards of living" we empathized.

Reaching the lobby, checked into the room and was relieved to be in what would be our home for the next one month. The maid who came to tend our beds started talking, and we casually asked her what good restaurants were there in Hebbal. She laughed, " you have to travel 20 more kms to get there. Do you have relatives there?? ". Thoroughly outraged to find that the hotel wasn't in Hebbal as the cabbie had suggested, we also realized out that the actual fare was only Rs.150!! We had just tasted the occassional dishonest Banglorean in an otherwise extremely honest, friendly and wonderfully cultured clan. Exceptions, Exceptions... was our final verdict.

I flagged down an auto (it's a wonderful creation which is like having 2 seats set up in the center of a triangle with tires adorning each of the 3 corners). I looked at my watch, it read 12.42PM. The auto came to standstill and auto driver looked at me expectantly. I looked at Manu. This seemed to go on for more than a few seconds when I felt a gentle nudge on my elbow.

I had been anticipating this for a while, but now being faced with that eventuality sent me reeling, feeling dumb & thunderstruck. Where should I start? Should I try talking in Tamizh at all? "Oh.... don't worry, most people in Bangalore understand Tamizh", people had repeatedly drummed into my head the last couple of days. I suddenly shuddered, thinking the irritation I felt when I was thought to be a North Indian and someone started yapping in Hindi. How could I possibly do that to him, our very own ticket to heaven--the railway booking counter ?? I carefully contemplated my next move, the hows and whys of it. My POA (aka plan of action) jumped right out at me.

Most people understood signs well and I was supposed to be pretty good at miming (or so I've been led to believe!). I relied heavily on my miming capabilites and my cerebellum got down to breaking up the words. I needed to convey our dire necessity to go to the southern railway booking center, rumoured somewhere to be in Banashankari, god knew where that was! Now, 3 words crossed my mind. Train, tickets and late. I was deperate to make him understand the destination and nonetheless, emphasize the importance of being late. It was imperative he knew that we were really running behind schedule, and it was real important we reached there in the next 15 minutes.

I took both my hands and set them in appropriate front and back motion mimicking a train motion (meaning the wheels part). The driver looked at me quizzically and I felt sorry for myself more than him. I added a Koo.. Chuk Chuk sound effect to the ensuing hand motion and eagerly waited for his response.
He said, Station??
"No no..... no station, only ticket booking" I hurriedly said.

He nodded and I let out a sigh of relief. We hopped in and colonized the rather small space as the auto sprung into motion. I promptly recalled the remaining 2 of the original 3 words. So, I leaned forward and told him "ticket booking, BSK, 2nd stage??"
"Houdhu, adhae" he responded. "Fast please, 1'o clock counter close", I added in for good measure, my last final straw to the puzzle. I detected a hint of what looked like a smile, and I was in 7th heaven . I was one mighty proud lady ....a strange land, unknown language, and yet I had emerged victorious!!

As Manu & I looked out the streets and drank in the city of gardens, we started chatting, probably the first after a tense 10 minutes! Before we knew it, the auto slowed and he pointed to a building on our right. We got down, paid him the fare and stared at the concrete structure looming large in front of us. It had people swarming all over the place. Unsure which entrance to take, we saw our legs exhibit an indolent attitude. As we crossed the street, we heard the auto driver loudly yell "andha side-ula irrukkunga entrance, adhu vazhiyaa ponaa IInd floor-la irukudhu booking center" and his eyes seemed to twinkle. We had embarrassment written all over us!

We gulped, blushing a little and quickly scampered onto safer grounds. We laughed all the way up to the second floor. In addition to the just bygone fiasco, we also got royally frowned upon by the man behind the counter. We were laughing the entire time, so much so the man had to repeat the question a good 5 times before we could hear it amidst our own chuckles.

What on earth possessed me to subject that poor soul to a modern dance recital in the middle of the road, that too in broad daylight?? Why had it been so hard for me to think clear & easy?? All the hands and sound effects?? A lamentable act indeed...*Blink, Blink*

Moves of the Danseuse.. ha ha!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Does it 'really' matter??

I breathed deep, and after a moments hesitation took the courage to ring the calling bell. The door opened and a pleasant lady greeted me "Swagatham! banni banni..." It was my first day at the rehearsal.

Weighing heavily on my mind for quite sometime now, this concert held more excitement than the regular ones, and being a guest singer for a Kannada concert was going to be very interesting (for you unfamiliar folks out there, Kannada is one of the most musically oriented of the South Indian languages). I could manage a brief few words here & there but there it ended as quickly it started, ususally. It still really is an enigma why they called me but well....

As I stepped into the house, she moved aside, and I suddenly saw a mini industrial fair (akin to ones in India) happening inside those seemingly calm doors. I saw a familiar face in the crowd of people as he came forward and greeted me. Let's call him Mr.Nicey, N for short. N introduced me to the pleasant lady who had banni banni-ed me inside. She had a beautiful smile I noticed, and then she started talking rapidly in Kannada. I stared. Now, do I tell her that I didn't speak the language but was fortunate enough to understand decently enough or do I wait for the opportune moment? I was thoroughly confused. Luckily for me, N whisked me away soon enough, before I made a fool of myself. He thrusted a lunch plate in my hand and requested me to eat. I politely conceded to the request and nibbled on my food while I drank in the happenings around me.

N had emailed me a couple of months ago regarding the concert. I was overjoyed, and needless to say accepted it but only after much deliberation. He effused supreme confidence, regrettably more than me, and I relented ulitmately trusting his judgement. I wielded extra precautions while practising, since performing in totally unchartered territory wasn't an everyday affair. I searched the internet far & wide for the lyrics, compared and contrasted different versions I got, and meticulously prepared for the practice sessions.

I looked around and was relieved to see people re-assembling to their respective places. Took a brief moment to regain my otherwise sangfroid self. By the time everyone gathered, N announced that the guest singer was here, and was pointing at me. Now, that was totally unexpected and I scrambled to my feet sending a few smiles and hi's 360* through. I introduced myself as briefly as possible and got a few smiles in return, more so from the instrumentalists rather than resident singers!

Now, that wasn't abnormal behavior, I thought. Infact it was pretty common in artist circles as far as I knew. It was always 'survival of the fittest' and any potential replacement was looked on with utter contempt, atleast until well established. I could very well associate with that given that I had been part of fabulous music group for almost 4 years now, and knew the way peoples psyches played on them. It was these good natured peoples rightful turn now... and I was on their war path *sigh*

The practice went on great and the subsequent ones taught me a thing or two about group oneness, tolerance and different genre of people. I saw a bunch of talents in the new group and the D-day fast approached. I repeatedly corrected my pronounciation taking tips from any of them who were willing to help me, which was almost everyone. My fellow singers warmed up to me as I to them. I started feeling less conspicuous, and more at ease with each passing session.

I had been fidgety all morning. I had the vaguest of doubts that I was coming down with throat pain or something, dangerously bordering on Hypochondriasis!! I pulled myself together, and waited.

My song was announced and I came on stage amidst claps. I was fortunate enough to have N as my co-singer in both songs of mine. So I didn't foresee any compatibility issues, a key factor to pulling off any song on stage. As I was correcting the surthi (AKA scale or pitch) in my head, I suddenly heard the orchestra opening the song realising that the female humming followed seconds later. Totally taken aback, I opened my mouth and a strange sound enveloped my own ears. I panicked. Whose voice was this?? I waited until the first bit was over and then took a moment of respite while I looked around. I saw a couple of people smile at me from the first row, and I relaxed visibly for the first time. My part arrived not too later and I sang. The program ended, and it was officially declared a success. I was pleased.

I was totally drained. Having 2 programs simultaneously and practising long hours had been totally zonking me out. My body yearned for a good nights sleep. I held on...

As I came down the steps, I momentarily halted to talk to an elderly couple. They started talking in Kannada and effectively stated that I sang very well. I understood the gist of it and thanked them. As they continued belting out sentences in Kannada, I sorely realised that I had just passed up an oppurtunity to let them know my ignorance of the language. I was thoroughly caught between saying "I am sorry, but I don't speak Kannada" or dillydally, smile and respond in the universal language. I gulped! I debated, and said finally "Oh! that's really sweet of you to complement me, but I really am not a Kannadiga." Silence. Their face registered surprise more than shock or insult, and I was earnestly grateful for that. After assuring them (almost coming short of showing my school records indicating my IInd language!!), I saw a little bit of my convincing netting some effect. They applauded me on my diction and thought I really should take singing Kannada songs way more seriously. I nodded implying my intentions to definitely give it a thought. We parted ways on a good note. They went up the stairs while I down (ironic uhn??)

I smiled all the way home reflecting on my dilemma in voicing out my preference of being 'known' as a Tamilian, who incidentally enjoyed singing in different languages. I also breifly pondered if it had made a difference, or mattered when I had pointed that out a few times in the past. Well, I wouldn't know this until a month later during one of my regular programs, this time around in a language that I knew and breathed.

I was still tasting the sweet remains of success when I heard a voice call out my name as I walked out of the green room. I turned and was surprised to be greeted with a "Swagatham". I smiled. Standing there was the elderly couple from the Kannada program. They commented on how good the program was, and expressed their immense gratification at having enjoyed it inspite of not being a Tamilian. I thanked them for their support and exchanged a few more words before I departed, feeling a deep sense of fulfillment.

I went dead to the world at 10 that night, although I do vaguely remember humming the Kannada numbers I had just belted out.

Interestingly, it wasn't until later that it struck me that the couple had conveyed everything to me in Kannada, yet again. Apparently, it didn't seem to matter to them, probably didn't for me either...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cutlets and Rigor Mortis

"Da" Man-Manu, the CEO off from work and I, the to-be psychologist on a brief hiatus, decided to eat well today, for a change. 'No counting calories and fats this evening', we decided and arrived at an unianimous decision to make vegetable cutlets.

All things neatly set out, we finished making it and fabulous results made our day. The time had come to try the much anticipated cutlets... *smack, smack*. On second thoughts, we thought maybe we should take eating deep fried stuff a little more seriously than we had previously thought. So we resolved our inner turmoils by setting the number of cutlets to 3, no no... 4 per person. We sat down with all applicable sauces in the vicinity, gaping achingly at the beautiful cutlets gently set on a plate. Each of us helped ourselves to 2 patties first. Closing our eyes, we ate it savouring each minute morsel of it. For a brief moment of time, it was as if we had been transported to another world. When our fingers found no more promised food on the plate, we opened our eyes. We looked at each other, and our faces conveyed the unspoken agreement to just have 2 more each. So we did, and the heart followed the same protocol all over again, and again...

There had been absolute slience for the last 10 minutes barring an occassional munching now and then. There were just two left, out of the originally made 18, which meant each of us had had about 8 each!!! Was that an acceptable number even if we had managed to live in Ethiopia under the gravest of circumstances? Manu moved away from the table trying to salvage any remaining promises leave alone self-esteem, while I.... sat there strumming my fingers on the table. "Does it really make sense to leave this here, guess we might anyway polish this off in less than an hour"? my scrupulous self blurted out. His eyes gleamed with mischeif while his legs stopped dead in his tracks. He nodded and we dived into the plate again, each helping ourselves generously.

A sumptuous satiated feeling ushered in a sense of pall, while the never ending act of gorging left us both vaguely resembling a pair of large beached whales.

We sat down dully, an almost ominous plop threatening to monopolize each other's space on the sofa. We gazed intently, yet aimlessly at the TV screen which had been running for quite sometime.

I had a very weird feeling that I will have to run to all places including India, the next time I decided to move. I glanced at Manu, who apparently seemed very normal, moving his tiny toes and fingers to keep rigor mortis from setting in. As for me, I diligently opened my laptop and started typing this out....

P.S: I have quite regained mobility of my fingers by this time, 10 minutes into writing this article. Not bad for 9 cutlets at one shot, ehn?? *wink*

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Mere "Lever"age Issue??

The loud knock on the door almost made me jump. At the risk of dropping the laptop firmly perched on my lap, I rushed to the door. My eyes rested on what would normally be the midriff of a human being, this specific one far from being captivating. I adjusted my eyelevel so I could look at the face. Boy! was he tall or what?? A little taller and it would have warranted breaking the ceiling to accomodate his extended self. I never knew our apartment's maintanence department recruited NBA players !

He inquired about the problem on hand and I faithfully pointed to the patio door. The 10 steps that usually ferried me from the front foyer to the patio door was done in just 3 long strides. Being tall does have its gains, I pondered grimly! Pushing these thoughts aside, I almost had to run to keep up with the hulk. He bent down to check the problem and I couldn't believe his occupying almost 3/4 the height of the french door!! Recovering from the unbelievable sight just ahead, I explained as to how the door got stuck and we haven't been able to open it. The man got down to work, a few seconds passed and he asked me to try the door. I did.

It slid back beautifully letting the cool fresh air in, almost like a door leading to heaven! I gaped, surprise evident on my face.
Whooaaa! how did that happen?
I asked fumbling all the way, a thousand questions and situationally right answers flooding my brain.
'It was just the child lock lever', he stated a little too matter of factly!

He showed me how that worked, and I wanted to drown in my own filth that very moment, literally. I openly wallowed in self-pity then, probably trying to elicit some sympathy from the rather large hulk. I muttered some vague defenses as how I never knew such a thing existed, blah blah! Not concealing his surprise as well as he did his laughter, he walked out lecturing me Oh, don't u worry.... Once you have kids, you will know how to fix things more than our whole department puttogether!! I thanked him profusely and uttered a heartfelt apology for placing a work order for nothing at all. He waved at me, and moved on. I closed the door, heavy in thought.

I went back to the patio door and sat down next to it, looking at it intently. Not 1, but 2 of us had contended with it the previous night, but to no avail. We had just not seen the simple lever on the right side of the door.

Post-mortem being useless at that point of time, I threw the reasoning out the same door. 'There will always be a next time for all the alertness to kick in' I firmly decided. What say??

Monday, January 09, 2006

Mysterious machines

What the hell was wrong with this ATM card?? my slowly growing impatient mind thought.

I had checked the card in not one, but two ATM machines just to make sure that I wasn't bungling up the ATM pin. I was growing restless by the second and didn't really make an effort to disguise it. Shoppers at Safeway were nonetheless amused at my huffs, puffs and almost literal bangings to confirm if ATM was indeed working! Each time I got to the point where the required amount was to be disbursed, the machine sported the most nettling noise ever made on the face of the earth!!! At one point I even wondered if this machine had something resembling a 'mute' button, akin to a husband's mouth or a TV remote. I waited, and tried a few more times. Evidently with no luck whatsoever, my patience ran out.

Since the machines did not quite fulfill their job requirement, I decided to do something about it. With an air of nonchalance, I started wandering aimlessly in front of the in-store branch, a rather desperate attempt at catching someone's eye in the process! Ultimately, my aimlessness had its much intended effect, for 'someone' did take notice and asked me "Ma'm, may I help you? Ah! yes.... I volunteered, best explaining the situation. She listened intently while I tried to explain, although her few clandestine glances towards the machines were not lost on me. She assured me that the ATM's were working just fine & I tired to convince her of the machine's almost virtual non-existence at that very moment!! Finally, some appeasement ushered in, and the bank teller offered to help me at her window.

Relieved, I gladly sat and decided to rip open the envelope which contained the cheque to be deposited. Having applied too much crude, instant glue (Ahem, our good ol' Saliva) it proved quite a struggle to un-glue it. Now that I think about it, possibly it was more of the bank teller watching me intently that made me try to rip the already pasted envelope neatly, rather than my own crappy ways!? Enough was enough, I ripped it open with a thousand shreds flying in all directions, forming a soft white carpet at my chair's perimeter. Unminding of the trash around me, I handed over the deposit slip and the cheque to her, a little too gingerly perhaps. She managed to smile and asked me if I was from Tamil Nadu. I looked up and it was then that I caught her name on the lapel pin. Nair it said.... Wow! I thought, a fellow Keralite and my joy knew no bounds!!!

Yes, I answered, creeping out of my joy zone. She nodded, an all knowing smile ornating her lips. She volunteered information about herself and I did too, maybe just a teeny weeny bit, enough to forget my total abysmal failure at the machine earlier! Just as she was finishing up with the transaction, I indicated about a cash withdrawal and she handed me the slip which I started filling out. Unsure of one of my account numbers, I asked her if I could swipe my ATM card inorder for her to pull up my account information. I swiped my card and hung on, but her face registered a blank look indicating her screen was as blank if not more than her! I wondered, what is this? a hatrick or something? Just as I was about to swipe it again, she steered in my direction "Is that what you are using to draw out money?" I gallantly said "yeeesss, this is what I use". She then blurted out amidst giggles "I think you need to use your ATM card and not your CREDIT CARD for this". I looked down and grinned, shame engulfing me!

I made small talk until she handed over the cash, but her face registered immense gratification at having found out the real reason for the mysterious non-response of the ATM.

Well, so many before and after me were successful in having utilized its services, right?

I made sure I had the correct amount in hand, tucked it safely away in the dark corners of my wallet, and said my final good bye's to the lady who broke the da-vinci code. She wished me "Happy New Year", and please come back and see me sometime! I gave her a thumbs up meaning 'you betcha'! As my head turned, I heard a voice saying "Make sure to use your ATM card with these machines the next time you want to use its services!" I smiled, mumbling some vague godforsaken reason for my non-compliance with simple ATM rules and ambled along.

What she probably missed was my smirk in response to her humble request. She just couldn't pass up the opportunity, could she? Atleast she only pointed it out. If I were her, well well......

Well-Done Missy!?! I hollered inside...