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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Mentalist

Alain Nu was at the Campus Center ballroom yesterday, demonstrating his ESP(?) skills. I had missed a major chunk of the show owing to my class schedule and managed to watch only the last half an hour or so.

At one occasion, he jumped off the stage and stood on the seat right in front me, and asked a student to hold a stainless steel knife while he bent it. I am not a skeptic usually, but I like to know tricks when there are any. It was fun watching him perform and wonder- 'How does he do that?' I have heard of the usage of chemicals. And the two girls might have a psychological explanation. Any takers?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Long way home

I said to Dj as we walked on Brighton Ave, 'Coming up on my blog, next'
He laughed, ‘Tu kahi meri le to nahi rahi?’ I protested, ‘Come on ! Nahi yaar.’

It is not the first time someone’s car got towed. But it is not about the chain of events. It is about assuming collective responsibility. It was his treat and his car. And I felt bad about that. I wanted to help when we went to pick cash from the ATM but he pushed me away saying ‘Don’t do that. It is my car, my responsibility’ I couldn’t help it, I tried to reason, ‘ …but we were all in it !!’

Given his old age chivalry, I should have known that he wouldn’t take money, not from a girl. A dude who is particular about how you dress when you are out with him, and fusses if someone cusses in front of you, wouldn’t.

Last evening, I was supposed to pick grocery with one of the few good friends I had made at the university. Good friend: someone who is there with you both on your good and bad times. And it is not just the campus life, a quarter century later, I have come across very few people who do that. Anyways, this is going to be long if I digress so much. More terms from my private dictionary later.

Dj asked me if I’d like to go to a temple before we went to Shaw’s to pick the groceries. I agreed. I haven’t been to a temple in a long while. I am not a very religious person, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith. I have great belief in the ability of men to do both good and evil. Since I am a believer of actions, Swami Vivekananda’s discourses have great relevance in my spiritual domain. I didn’t read Gita for religious purposes. I read it when I was in school, before my ICSE exams because I wanted to understand the philosophy of action.

Having said that, I was a bit disappointed about how religion is conducted in most parts of my country. I lived near a Sanatan dharma (literal: the eternal religion) temple in Noida. The richness of the temple was not exemplary, but the priests seemed very obvious about their preference for people who could donate bigger bundles to the ‘bhet’ box. In the house of God, everyone should be equal. From the mendicant, to the filthy rich- that should be the purpose of religion- to preserve the humanness and love and respect for your fellow beings- even if you are a poor man with money. But that is just me. I pray sometimes. I want to feel connected to a source of power bigger than my comprehension. I just don't like mediums, with human flaws.

My mother doesn’t let me take a mid-term test without first offering sweets to the Gods. I have never seen my father enter a temple; he’d rather wait outside while we prayed. But he never imposed his views on any of us. And he let my mother believe whatever she wanted. We had all kinds of religious festivals at home- Laxmi Puja, Saraswati Puja, Durga Puja – I even looked forward to them as a kid. And I still miss being at home when the Autumn Goddesses arrive.

So, I went. It is a Laxmi temple at Framingham. And it is beautiful. There were five of us. We prayed, we got the tika and we had the prasad, before we drove back to Boston hollering out Hindi film songs. DJ requested me to sing first, but I warned: Don’t do that, you know I don’t stop when I start. And I asked one of the other friends to testify. However, he insisted and I dragged one of the other enthusiastic friends who had already started displaying his vocal skills , into a duet. I suggested, ‘Why don’t we all sing?’ There were many moments, but ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ beats them all. You never know how your voice sounds in a chorus. Right from the days of my singing in a choir of the school assembly I realized it. But there are certain songs that you love to shout out in unison. They let me sing a few myself when we started playing Rapid ( the one where you pick words from a previous song and sing another) It was funny because Devansh kept breaking the words into syllables and added another syllable to create a new word which he plugged into his songs, claiming it was a valid way to play. How we played it didn’t matter, the idea was to have fun.

We teased him about replacing ‘kehna’ with ‘karna’ in his songs, and I exclaimed: Tu hamesha karne pe kyu aa jata hai?’ Dj observed: ‘He is desperate’. To which he sang: ‘I am a despo dancer.’ All in a friendly banter. It seemed like good fun, something I hadn’t have since I last saw my cousins together- years ago.

Most of the junta wanted to go to Qdoba, the Mexican grill. We knew one near NEU. But it had just closed down at 10 pm when we arrived. So, we went to ‘Indian Dhaba’. The food was oily, spicy and goooood. Very much like what we get back at home. Dj offered: My treat. It was the occasion of his H1B being approved. If you are an immigrant trying to make a future in another country, your visa status is probably THE most important concern of your life for a long time. Until you decide to marry a citizen and get a green card. We met someone at the restaurant who had done just that. Apparently, he was a senior from my school who had graduated before I joined the program.

I wished my parents on their anniversary and told SG that I am having dinner out, ' Will call back when I reach home.' Another event was- we had banarasi pan when we were done with the dinner. We explained to some other people in the restaurant what it was. The leaves weren’t fresh, but the extra helping of sweet jelly made it lovable. I always asked my father to let me have a pan when we dined out in India. He always obliged. It is a secret indulgence of my own.

We were right across the street when I wondered aloud: Where’s Dj’s car? Someone remarked, ‘Must be behind the van’ I walked around fearing the worst: did someone steal it? When we walked to the parking lot, we saw the signs: 'Parking Limit 1 hour.' There was a contact number of the towing company. We wondered why we hadn’t seen the signs when we had walked out, and then we gathered that we had all walked out of the car and crossed the street while the posts were behind us. So that when we came back we could look like fools.

DJ said that all of us needn’t walk 1 mile. Fortunately, the GPS was still with him and the tow shop was open 24 hrs. One of us accompanied him, while the remaining three waited at a convenience store. Two of them picked ice creams and I picked a Leanin’ Tree card sans occasion.

They rescued the car and it was an hour later than I had expected to be at home. DJ apologized for wasting my study time. I laughed and said: It was quite an adventure.

I was too tired to study for my Marketing Communications test (on Tuesday) anymore. I just crashed on my bed after calling up SG. He said: At least it isn't as bad for your driving license as getting a speeding ticket. That guy always sees the best in things.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thought for the day

The best thing ever is: a cup of tea that you didn't have to make yourself.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


One of the greatest causes of intrigue in my childhood was my father's almirah. He had all sorts of curios stuck up in it- right from a Nepali khukri to his service pistol -to all kinds of neck ties you could possibly imagine. And there was an added attraction, we couldn't access it except on the days he cleaned it.

Once, he let me play with his pistol while he was cleaning it and my mom freaked out thinking it was loaded. Anyways, the point was - I loved the mystery associated with it. And while I could ask for the keys to the other cabinets, I could never ask for that one, and that kept the curiosity alive for a good number of years.

I'd often see him tearing bills and old files into bits before he threw them into a bin. (Now, he uses a paper shredder) I asked him why he did that. He said that you have to get rid of old things to make space for the new. Or else you can't find what is important for you. And he said, the human mind is such - you have to make space for new memories.

I confess - I have the habit of collecting junk. I keep a scrapbook and paste movie tickets, chocolate wrappers and innumerable other bagatelles in it - for purely emotional reasons. But there is a purpose: I had gifted it to SG on our first Valentine's Day and I am trying to fill it up at my own pace.

I often wonder, how strange our memory is. You remember something when you are least expecting it. And I am not sure if I want to delete them or keep them with me. And oh, I just paid to get an upgrade for my Picasa. Talk of the cost of memories. :D

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

My happy ending

I was reading this article in NYTimes, and I was fascinated to think how similar it is to my story.

For three years now, I have kept quiet about it, because sometimes I was not sure. But for every moment of doubt, there always have been innumerable other moments of faith surging in.

Yesterday, I had an exam to take and had to leave for my class, but there was an UPS delivery expected, made as an exception after three failed attempts. My roommates weren't around either, so I asked SG to come over and receive the shipment for me.

When I came back, he had left but I found notes all over my place. One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that someone is so completely and utterly in love with you.

And it all started with his comments on my blog. Almost an year after he had first tried to chat with me (in Summer 2005) and I had rejected his invitation on an online community, we started chatting again (in June 2006).

It was a phase of my life artists call 'blue', when painters can't identify with any other color than the colors of melancholy. I wrote sad posts sometimes, though, trying hard to restrain my emotions. A public display of any kind would have been vulgar. I doubt the same now, but I want to write something about us. Preferably, the truth.

He was in Cambridge, I was in Noida. We talked to each other every day over the phone. We have been doing it ever since. Soccer, Cliff Richard, discourses of Swami Vivekananda, Existentialism and Camus, are a few keywords from our initial conversations. Though I tried hard to avoid talking to him, mostly on the pretext that I am at office and have work - I found myself drawn to him. It took me a while to realize and accept what it really meant to me.

The first day we met (on Dec 11th, 2006), he proposed to me with a ring, saying : 'I take you as my legally wedded wife.' I still tease about not marrying him until he proposes to me formally. (You know- where I have a chance to say ' No' and be a runaway bride)

Last Summer was the toughest. I was certain there could be no 'us'. I was angry and mad at him. But things change. Someone once told me that if he doesn't love you the way you want, it doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't love you. I agree now. In fact, it is better to be laid back sometimes and let them surprise you pleasantly.

I don't know what the future holds for us. But I know one thing for sure - if I can't be happy with him, I can't be happy with anyone else either.