Protected by Copyscape Duplicate Content Software You will copy with risks to penalties and criminal procedures.

Monday, March 31, 2008


I'm going to learn to play this instrument. Not in the immediate future maybe.
But someday...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Relationships: respecting differences

Bud and bristle

The potential for a conflict lies in differences between two individual entities. This is what makes life sweet and sour, and of course, different.(Yeah, I was thinking of the Maggi tomato ketchup ad) Imagine an extreme alternative: you have a constant companion who agrees to everything you say, wears the same kind of clothes, likes the same food, reads the same books, does the same job and so on and so forth. How predictable and how boring!

Even identical twins develop their own tastes. I have been fortunate enough to befriend a pair in my high school. I could also tell them apart- which was almost an impossible task for others. When I started noting the subtle differences they had- like their voice modulation, or their choice of spectacle frames, it was a piece of cake. Of course, I didn't divulge my little secret to the rest of my classmates then; I let myself bask in the reflected glory of their marvel.

When you start acknowledging the differences you have, you begin to learn to avoid unnecessary conflicts, and save a lot of unpleasantness. Though it is difficult sometimes: an aberrant behavior in your books might outrightly disgust you- like a child being rude to his/her parents, or pedophilia. But when you analyze, even though you might not accept it, you might see the reason why.

I believe that when you begin to value one relationship, you begin to respect other relations too. A near one might have been brought up with a different value system than you were. And that can influence his/her behavioral patterns considerably- if not solely. We see ourselves changing in a relation to accommodate the other. The other one undergoes changes too, we just don't observe them closely as we do ourselves and hence miss them out partially or completely.

Sometimes the changes are not even tangible, visible change. How do you map a thought process? I believe that I have become a lot more positive about my general outlook towards life and a lot more understanding, a little less aggressive and quick to show my temper. The outward manifestation (the later two) are more perceptible than the former two, which I believe are the causes. Not necessarily it has been imposed upon me by someone else, nor is it an improved version of Aparna Kar in every aspect. It is because I choose to be different. In my current lifestyle, aggression amounts to unprofessionalism. And I don't want to confuse it with assertiveness.

There are numerous other factors that can make you a different human being than you started with. Life acquaints you with some. Others you acquire by observation. Does it mean you can love your previous self more or less than your current self? I don't think so. When I look back and read the old pages of my blog sometimes, I get back in touch with the kind of person I was. Sometimes I feel jealous of my own self and covet the naivety. At others, I simply feel amused or even reverent. Whatever the difference lies : you with your own self or with an external being, it's best to acknowledge it. And work on it where it's necessary.

Quote of the day:
A beautiful relationship does not depend upon how good we understand someone but on how well we avoid misunderstandings.

Plus, something from Mark Gungor to understand differences better, with a little chortle if you may.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"I can understand"

I was unlocking the main entrance of my building when I saw another girl struggling with her keys and grocery bags and trying to get in from the opposite end through another entryway. I sped towards her and opened the door (just needed a push from my end once I was inside) and held it so that she could board the elevator with me. It was nothing unique, it had been done to me quite a few times when I had tried to get in with shopping bags and had been fortunate to have somebody empathetic enough around. However, she smiled at me and kept thanking me for my time, and related how the heavy bags made her feel that her arms would get torn from the weight. I simply nodded, smiled, and said, "I can understand".

Last night, I got home after a long day and called back in reply to a voice mail of a person who is pursuing her MS and needs some point of contact to get an internship in a Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical company. Since I had an undergraduate degree in the same, she thought that I might know someone who knows someone who could be of some help. It was around 9:30 pm and I had just got back from my classes. It was evidently her need more than mine, and yet when I returned her call and asked if it's a good time to talk, she appeared to be in a pissed-off mood. I was at my politest best and said honestly that I would try to talk to someone, though I couldn't commit anything. I observed that "Everybody seems so tensed nowadays. Maybe it has something to do with the job market." (The alleged recession et al. For more details, follow The Wall Street Journal religiously. And no, they don't pay me a commission for all the advertisement I do for them on my blog ) US had economic recessions in the past decades, but it never took more than 7-8 months to recover , historically at least.

It was evident in the career fair in the university, where I seemed to miss a few names I had expected to see, specially in the Finance industry. I came across a Sales and Marketing professional who seemed like the dream boss to me, but unfortunately her firm didn't have any openings for a marketing intern. I had browsed through the company website before attending the fair and there seemed mostly Accounting and R&D positions. However, I took some time to talk to her and as you would willingly believe, she had a lot to contribute to my perception about how a firm works and why sometimes it can be a good idea to have practical experience (read:internship) in other fields than your business major. There was another lady whom I seemed to chat with like we were long lost friends while her boss, the internship coordinator, was busy explaining things to one of my batchmates, and I was waiting for my turn to talk to her at the counter. Some people are so easy to talk to. Maybe even have an effective communication with.

I came across a few seniors who seemed to have discovered my blog and they generously offered their compliments, laced with adjectives like "Awesome", "Cool" etc. And when they asked to have a look at my blook, I invited them over to have a look at it sometime. It feels so great to be appreciated, even for a small effort. If you are reading this, and you have said to me recently that you really like what I scribble- a BIG thanks.

Coming back to where I left, I think that one of the most difficult things to say today is not " I love you", but "I can understand". Empathy seems scarcer to find than love or admiration. So, when the person I had called up last night seemed to talk to me weirdly, I casually referred to the prevalent tension nowadays. She seemed to catch on the hint, and asked: "Did you have your dinner?" in a softer tone, almost apologetically. I replied " No, I have just got back from class, I'll arrange for it soon. Don't worry :)" - it was my way of saying that " I can understand you had a long day too."

And I remembered what I had heard someone say to me on the elevator once, when I had stated,"It has been a long day". She said it with an impish smile, a twinkle in her eyes, and almost with a joyous melody : " But it's over !!!" Tired as I was, I couldn't help smiling when I bade her goodnight, reflected some of her joy, and said "Yeah" with almost a sense of triumph. Strangers remind you what your near ones seem to forget to tell you sometimes.

Things that look the worst can only get better. Who said it'll never stop raining? It always does.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Emotional Hara-kiri

First, a little rambling about my own life. I had my mid-semester last week and that kept me fairly busy. We have our Spring break this week, but I have continued to update my task-list. Reading WSJ everyday tops the lineup, as usual. There are several other things I need to take care of, but let me spare you the pain of having to delve into the many woes and ecstasies of a Graduate student, and share with you the sense of déjà vu I experienced as a passive observer.

Last Sunday, I had dozed off in the afternoon still holding my Economics textbook in my hand, when I woke up suddenly with my room mate's cell phone's incessant ringing. She picked up and said "Hell...o" drowsily. Apparently, she too had fallen asleep while studying for the exams.

I knew instinctively who had called and what it was all about. It was a friend of hers I had met some days ago. Mentioning the names or describing the situation is superfluous here and it should more than suffice to say that she had a break up recently.

Heart-aches. How many of us are really fortunate or wise enough not to let those happen to us? And how many of us can really own up to the fact that we had said "forever" a little too soon? For most people, it is easier to admit that they are in a wrong job than it is to admit that they are in a wrong relation. Why do we shy away from the fact that we have been mistaken?

In Economics, there is a term 'sunken cost' - a cost that has already been paid and cannot be recovered; the failure to ignore which causes people to make irrational decisions. Is it then the sunken cost, the time and emotion we have invested in a certain relation, that manacles us from letting go? Even when we know it is time to?

I am not advocating aggressive egocentrism where you tend to believe that you are the center of the universe and the sun goes around to please your senses and bow to your existence. But I think it is important to have a nominal sense of dignity. You should know when the other person is treating you like a piece of shit (Excuse my French) and have the courage to admit it to yourself.

On occasions such as these, thinking is a waste of time. Excessive contemplation does nothing to protect your self-esteem. On the contrary, it spirals you down to the dungeons of depression. You can't always know why the other person is behaving so strangely. (lack of more socially acceptable word) You might, at the most, ask for a rational explanation. If he or she is verbally challenged and has an emotional quotient in negative integers, then he/she might not oblige. But then why should you care for someone who doesn't give a twopence worth damn to your feelings?

I agree that it is very difficult to let go. And more often than not, it is owing to the silly superstition that you secretly nurture: you will never find someone better/ bigger/richer.. whatever. Nonsense! Nothing is sillier than having self-imposed limitations. Not only your deserve a better companion but you deserve a better 'you' too. Why exist as an emotional wreck? Why live to die every day?

It's time to rediscover yourself after a break-up. More so, if the fault lies in you. Life is too short for happiness and love. No point wasting it being sad about the indifference served to you by someone. And now, I will say the much clichéd one-liner: What you seek might be just around the corner. Just give yourself a chance to live a better life. Stop the emotional hara-kiri. Trust me, life gives you what you want from it.

The Broken Heart Syndrome is a real clinical condition, also known as stress cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome.

First described by Japanese doctors in 1991, the condition was originally called takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Takotsubo is a type of pot used by Japanese fishermen to capture octopuses. When doctors take images of a person who’s experiencing broken heart syndrome, part of his or her heart resembles the pot, and hence the name.

There is a sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). Because this weakening can be triggered by emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one, the condition is also known as broken heart syndrome.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Being Mrs. Shome

This is my first attempt at writing a (not so) short story. I have some more ideas lined up next. Long back, I had read somewhere that the basic difference between a novel and a short story is that the later ends abruptly, and hence, leaves a lot of things unsaid, and 'shesh hoyeo jeno shesh hoy na', id est, doesn't end even after the end. Whatever. Here's for you to judge. I'll really appreciate your objective criticism.


306. She looked at the apartment number impatiently. Some things didn't come naturally to her. Waiting was the last thing she would learn she thought. She rang the bell again.

The highlights on her coiffure blended well with her persona. Tossed back carelessly- not so carelessly actually- she had the habit of brushing her hair as often as she could. She hated unruly things other than herself. Her make-up was minimal: just a thin black eyeliner and semi-nude lip gloss to accentuate her features. The expensive French perfume had a subtle lingering fragrance. But she wore the expression of a woman who knew that she was gorgeous and that people noticed her. She always let her smile appear lightly on her lips first, reach her eyes next and then broaden on her face. They called it the "billion dollar smile of the Iron Maiden" in the industry.

And yet, she knew that she was not always that attractive. Everything had been practiced to perfection throughout the years- even her smile. Worldly achievements had contributed to her overall sense of well-being and her pulchritude. Success is salubrious- she thought with a smile. And it was exactly then she realized that the door had been left ajar. She pushed it lightly with her French-manicured hands and walked in. And before she could turn back to close the entrance, someone pounced on her from her back.


Three hours later, she was lying beside him. She wanted more but she had to leave. Her husband Siddharth would be awaiting her and she didn't like to keep him awake till late. She looked sideways at the man sleeping in her arms. He had adonistic looks but didn't have much use for his brains. Nevertheless, she liked his tendency to give her surprises. Just like a little while ago when he was waiting for her, stark-naked in his apartment. As soon as she had walked in, he had pounced on her like a hungry animal and had carried her in his arms to the near-by sofa where they made love, and then on the carpet and then finally they ended up in the bathroom. He was always so eager to make love -almost like a prurient teenager. Eager to please, eager to touch, eager not to let her go. He could have been at least twelve years her junior. She didn't know exactly. She had never given it a serious thought.

She lit a cigarette while she walked towards the parking lot. It was dark and there was hardly another soul in the suburban residential complex. Perfect for her. She giggled at the thought of the media digging out this scoop. She could even imagine the headlines: Businesswoman of the year caught red-handed cheating on her husband. Iron Maiden's ironic turn of fate. Eyewitnesses confirm the existence of the much rumored love-nest of Geetanjali Roy... From here, it only got sleazier. She tossed the half burned cigarette and the entertaining thoughts out of the window and drove out towards a place she called home.


It had been fifteen years' since they had been married; Siddharth would still wait for her for dinner. He was told that she had late night meetings every third Thursday of the month to ascertain that every one in the organization was on the same page. He was very proud of her. He had known her six years before their marriage, and had seen her transform from a naive, young girl to a confident, complete woman that she was today.

He didn't mind being the Prince Consort though. All the page-3 parties they attended together evinced the fact that she had a colossal social presence. Reporters would herd up to her to have her opinion on the latest budget or some new tax law and its effect on the economy of the country. Sometimes, they would use words he didn't even understand. He was out and out a Literature guy. Business bored him. But she was an exponent in her field. How she managed the firm's differentiation even with its ceaseless expansion, how it resulted in acquiring the major chunk of market shares in industrial sales, and how she aggressively marketed the products was almost a folk-lore in the world of consumer goods. She always said to him: You have got to keep adding attributes to a product line Sidd. Don't let the customers wink or look away. They should always feel dazed by your innovation.

She followed the same principle in her personal life too- he knew. She was always rediscovering herself or adding attributes. She could speak five different languages fluently. She could play the violin and drive anyone to tears. Her oratory skills were veneered and her advice on business matters was one of the most precious things that money couldn't buy. A rival firm had tried to persuade her to leave her first employer once, even with the non-compete policies between them. She had refused those green bucks when she was only a young thing. Yes, he was proud of her.


She walked stealthily into the living room, hoping against hope that he had gone to sleep. It wasn't really guilt. Repentance is a redundant emotion she always believed. She just didn't like him waiting for her, hungry. He would often cook something for her and she could always discern it among an assortment of other dishes. Even the most professional cook couldn't add the most important ingredient that Sidd always lavishly poured into a concoction: love.

It was eleven years ago when she had the miscarriage. They had married when she was twenty-seven and Sidd was thirty but she didn't want a baby until they were 'settled' in life. Sidd was a struggling writer back then, and he still was. She had tried to convince him to use her contacts to get his maiden novel published. But her negotiation skills faced paucity when it came to him. It is difficult to reason with someone who doesn't work for his own interest. He was adamant, he never resorted to recommendations. Not even from the 'love of his life', as he called her- 'the one' for him. He had scribbled a few poems here and there and got them published in newspapers, magazines and as coffee-table books. But he was waiting for a masterpiece - a novel he believed that would be a chef d'oeuvre, a tour de force that would make him immortal in the literary world. Unfortunately, the spark never kindled. 'Money is nothing but an impediment to creativity. And Geetu is doing so well. Maybe I need to face hardship for a while to provide impetus to my drying pen. I will ask her if she thinks it is a good idea to be away from her for a while' he thought to himself.

She saw him on his favorite reclining chair. They had it since the Adams. It looked horribly out of sync with the living room decor. But she knew that he loved it so much that he would never let go of it. She had tried to put the idea in his mind a few times, but he would simply say: "But I love it" as if it were justification enough. And he would make his face like a kid explaining something to his mother. That is what she adored about him. He was so simple, so unworldly, so child-like in his manners. She knew that he abhorred crowds, but he always accompanied her to parties and social gatherings loyally. The perfect couple. Essential for her public image and a source of frustration for the yellow page journalists who had been trying to get a loose end leading to a delicious scandal concerning her. He was her talisman. As long as he was around, nothing could touch her she felt. She was usually not superstitious, but her belief in him was almost blind and primal.

He addressed her without turning his head: 'You knew I'd be waiting for you love. You needn't have tip-toed.' He was so predictable. And he always knew it when she was in close proximity, almost like an ultra-sensitive radar. She smiled and walked towards him, held his head in her arms and kissed his ruffled hair. Then she stepped into their bedroom to change and get ready for dinner.


Post-dinner, Siddharth told Geetanjali about his new found idea. She disliked the very thought of it. She was so used to having him around that she could not think of life without him. It was almost a habit. Was it ever love? Or passion? It seemed like a long, long, long time ago when he had been on his knees and had proposed her for marriage. She was only a young girl then and she had felt like the happiest person in the world. She was so ecstatic that she had wept. Maybe the last time she had tears in her eyes. After that, life had been a whirlwind of activities : innumerable names, business contacts, launch of new products, strategic planning, business trips, meetings, meetings and more meetings ... She had lost count of the variety of professional duties she had most efficiently executed to reach where she was.

She had seen the market change; even the most loyal connections could turn hostile for trifle business reasons. But she had always thought a step ahead of her competition and a breach of trust meant death in the books of Geetanjali Roy. People knew her by her maiden name. She was earning the royalties on her several published works under the same title. Somehow, she didn't want to part with the name she was born with and had begun to love fiercely. Siddharth was very understanding in this matter. He never tried to impose his last name on her. Only when they were young and he'd get super-romantic, he'd call her "Mrs. Shome" and kiss her. She liked it that way. It was his exclusive right.

Siddharth pressed on the matter again before going to sleep, but she suggested: 'We'll talk about it tomorrow', hoping that he'd forget all about it the following day. In the morning, however, he kept urging her like a child keen on an idee fixe and she started wondering what to say. She stated , "Okay, we'll have to arrange for your stay first. I will let you know in the evening when I get back from work." Gleefully he bade her goodbye.

Sometimes, she had that odd feeling that he knew everything. He could always read her mind before, speak aloud what she was thinking. But over the years she had learned to keep a passive countenance. It was essential for her everyday dealings. Siddharth had given up trying long back. Or had he?


Her cell phone beeped once and flashed Siddharth's number. She picked it in the middle of a presentation from a young chap she prided upon recruiting herself personally. She knew a winner when she saw one, and schooled properly, he could take her place when she finally retired.

A quivering voice gave a message in fragments which sounded like : Siddharth saab.. accident.. hospital She listened intently and suddenly her calm, composed attitude changed. In years, she felt a panic attack and feared that she might pass out. She excused herself from the meeting and asked someone else to preside over it and give her the reports later in the evening.

On reaching the hospital that Siddharth's driver had mentioned over the phone, she inquired about him at the help desk. Suddenly, a sense of loss was overshadowing her thought processes, "It's all too sudden.. all too unanticipated" and then she kept saying to herself: This isn't a time to feel weak Geetanjali Roy. .. Buck up Geetu.. buck up Mrs. Shome... and she felt surprised at having used the appellative. When was the last time she had thought herself to be the wife of Mr. Siddharth Shome? Not that she could remember.

However, things weren't as bad as she had feared and in a few days' time Siddharth was back home; though the doctors said that his broken bones would need some time to recover fully. Geetanjali had been working mostly from home lately and taken up to cooking one or two of his favorite dishes. She was making porridge today. Milk, sugar, vermicelli, walnuts, raisins, cardamom .. what was she missing? Saffron. He liked the tint it gave to the milk when she used to cook for him years ago. Hope he still liked it.

He was sitting upright on the bed, browsing through a poetry book he used to read to her sometimes when they had just married. She asked him to recite a piece for her, and he acceded with a smile. When he had finished , he asked: "Don't you have your Thursday meeting tonight?"
"Not anymore" she replied.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

GISA event: Parichay

I had no accurate idea about the number of Indian students enrolled at University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Boston until I attended the Graduate Indian Students' Association(GISA) event yesterday. My social life had reached an all-time low last semester, where I contented myself with the route: home-class-home.(Not counting the team meetings :D ) Nevertheless, with the increased intensity of reading assignments and consequent need for a break, coupled with my roommate's enthusiasm, I found myself heading towards the campus on a Saturday evening.
Aerial view: UMass, Boston. Photo

Campus Map. Photo
(click here for wikimapia view of University of Massachusetts,Boston campus)

We took a detour to Campus Center and discovered a new elevator on our way to the ballroom A on the third floor. The agendas for the evening included :
-formal introduction of the attending students, (where people you want the phone numbers of don't say it, and those who are eager to disseminate the information are the ones you don't want of :P)
-fish pond, (an indoor game where you get to write anything anonymously on small chits which are read aloud later)
-a treasure hunt, (you know this if you are an Agatha Christie fan; one clue leads to another and the game continues until you find the treasure. Obviously, the first to reach the treasure wins.)
-and dinner followed by two short and sweet dance programs by the students.

The fish pond yielded some hilarious results where one of the chits read : X has verbal diarrhea, and a few others read: Vote X for the president of GISA. It was repeated such a ridiculous number of times that appeared absurdly funny. A third one was addressed to a girl and went something like: Itna kyu akaadti ho, Khudko Miss UMass samajhti ho, Hum desi ladke mar gaye they kya- Jo firango k saath ghumti ho. A Romanian classmate was attending the fish pond, and I sure had a tough time translating this one for him. :D

The treasure hunt made us run like there was no tomorrow and by the time I reached home, my feet were hurting big time. But I enjoyed it so much that I went jogging by the bay today just to feel the thrill again.( Hope I continue with the habit - need to shed quite a few pounds before Summer- those Abercombie and Fitch numbers deserve some justice.)

Anyways, back to my books and assignments, but definitely a good change of tasks and a scope to meet seniors, freshers(Spring'08), batchmates (Fall'07) from College of Management and even students of other departments whom I hardly get to interact with otherwise.

Photo courtesy extended to Kaushik Prakash and Puja Raut for the last two pics in the ballroom.

Humor Highlights:
# Blame it on the language: A girl told the guy who was performing the door-keeping duties by striking off names from a list, "You have entered me...". I kept biting my lips to check my laughing out loud.

# Partners in crime : A chap put his chair on my foot while shifting his seat and called up my roommate later to make sure that I was okay. I convinced her to say to him that I was bleeding profusely. Only when he was repentant enough, we laughed it off. Well, I am an innocuous girl...most of the times :P

# Mrs. Hercule Poirot? : One of the clues in the treasure hunt required us to find a GISA property. Believe it or not, I picked up a worn-out mitten, thinking 'This could be it' :D