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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Commencement 2010

Day 2

At 7 AM, Dad called me up to make sure I got up, even before my alarm set off. It is good to know that you can always count on some people. I buried my face in the pillow, trying to pull myself up, lying to my body clock about the confusion. A cold shower woke me completely and I dabbed some sunscreen on my face and other exposed areas, worked on my eyes with a liner and spread some light gloss on my lips.

I wore a brown, cotton, tube dress and black leggings, but I forgot the shoes. I had to come back for the brown pumps and toss the flip flops just in time to reach the ice rink at 8 AM. I met some graduate students already dressed in robes, but since I had the wrong one, I kept it neatly in the packet. Once I changed the hood from blue (College of Education) to brown (College of Management), I wore it inside the restroom. Every other girl was fussing or was getting fussed about with the cap and gown. I walked into the denoted area and met some former classmates and professors.
I was beginning to feel it in first person already. I was glad I had come over. It was worth it - every bit of it. We greeted each other and queued up behind the flag bearers of CM. The university took care to provide fresh water bottles to the students, and I felt it was very important not to get dehydrated. Last year, I had attended the graduation of a friend and it had rained. I was hoping it wouldn’t during the main ceremony as it took place in the open lawn, by the sea. But it was very warm and the hot sun dried up the insides of us. We kept taking as many pictures as we could.

Chancellor Motley introduced the commencement speaker- Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wife of late Senator Ted Kennedy. She is an attorney and the cofounder and trustee of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate at UMB. She delivered the principal address to 3,366 graduates at the University of Massachusetts Boston's 42nd commencement ceremony, near the site where the institute will break ground this fall.

The John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum is right across the campus. The public wake of Edward Kennedy had taken place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, August 28, 2009 at the library's Smith Center, a maple-paneled room with a striking view of the Boston skyline. I remember watching the live broadcast of the eulogy delivered by President Obama on Saturday at The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston's Mission Hill section, while working out at the HP fitness center.

Senator John McCain shared his thoughts on his late colleague. I particularly remember the incident he recalled about two freshmen Senators getting personal over a political debate. The heat of the argument attracted the attention of senior members like Ted and John. ‘ A fight not joined was a fight not enjoyed’ had me in splits. It was enlightening to see politicians gathering at the funeral by putting aside their ideological differences. I recognized Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts, who had delivered the inaugural speech at Commencement 2009, UMB and 'Governator' Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, where I was planning to head soon.

Chancellor Motley acknowledged the contribution of the Kennedys to UMB, and Victoria insisted that the institute was not going to be a shrine to Ted or to the senate, but a seat of learning, a living, breathing, constantly growing and evolving center.

The 2010 John F. Kennedy Award for Academic Excellence recipient, the university’s highest honor for an undergraduate, was Thao Do, a Vietnamese immigrant whose goal is to devote her life to fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The content of her speech drove me to tears as I envisioned her struggle and the scope education offered to many like her. ‘My name can be mispronounced but as people call my name, they have to acknowledge and accept me as who I am’ struck a chord.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Divorce in India

Irretrievable breakdown of marriage made ground for divorce

NEW DELHI: The cabinet Thursday approved an amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act to make irretrievable breakdown of marriage an additional ground for divorce.

"This would provide safeguards to parties who file petitions for grant of divorce by mutual consent but who wilfully avoid coming to court thus causing harassment to the other party," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

She said the amendment would be effected through the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 which would be tabled in parliament.

-The Economic Times

Historic data suggests that India had the lowest divorce rates in the world 1.1% (11 in every 1,000), significantly lower than countries with 50% divorce rates. (Sadly, the CIA Worldbook also cited the infant mortality rate of India as 64.9 deaths/1,000 live births as opposed to 6.76 deaths/1,000 live births in US.)

Years ago, I saw two donkeys tied at their feet. I couldn't imagine how they grazed and how the waywardness of one couldn't effect the other. I was young, but resolute enough to pledge that I'll never let myself be in a relation like that.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Commencement 2010

Day 1, Thurs, June 3, 2010, Boston, Massachusetts
The cab driver was very enthusiastic to learn that I had flown from CA for my Graduation, and wished me luck with my life ahead. “You are young, you are smart. You might be a VP in 5 years.” ‘I hope so’ I said fondly. A professional degree is not the end; it is the beginning of a life-long commitment to learn. There will be things that I couldn’t have learned in a classroom. My teachers will not always be kind to me like my professors, but I hope I never stop. I long to stay hungry. Always.

It was around 5: 30 AM when I rang the bell of my former apartment, hoping my friends remembered my estimated time of arrival. A very sleepy DJ opened the doors for me and stood straight long enough for me to give him a bear hug. The apartment looked pretty much the same, a little messier, but I knew I had left it in good hands.

I hardly had any sleep on my red-eye flight, so I took out my snooze kit with eye mask and ear plugs, stuffed them on and went to bed in the warm, humid morning. Couple of hours later, I woke up and had some fruit salad for breakfast. One of my seniors was staying home to study for CFA Level 2 exam on Saturday. He offered to lend the apartment keys if I needed to go out.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Commencement 2010

I was not sure I'd take the walk this year for a number of reasons. But then Shweta lent me some of her enthusiasm and I saw the email for my nomination to the valedictorian speech, albeit past the deadline to apply. I called up the Graduate Studies and emailed the Dean, but to no avail. The student was already selected and they couldn't possibly accommodate two speakers. Later, I discovered that by the time the College of Management sub-ceremony started, every one was so hungry and tired, no one really cared what the student speaker was delivering. Yet, I believe I could have done a better job, and it was the best platform I could have voiced my acknowledgments. However, it is only fair, people who don't know what they want shouldn't get it.

Day 0, Wed, June 2, 2010, San Jose, California

SG came over to drop me to San Jose airport. My land lord was at home, so he couldn't say an elaborate goodbye like he had planned. My flight was at 9 PM PT. We started early to avoid the outgoing traffic from offices. When I picked my boarding pass from the kiosk, it was 7 :15 PM. We had some time to kill before I walked through the check-in counter, so we hung around in front of the queuing space. He wanted a coffee, and I wanted something to munch on. Unfortunately, Terminal A, where my Jet Blue was stationed, did not have any options. We kept hugging and kissing each other. He was sad that he wouldn't be there for the ceremony. Suddenly, I didn't feel like leaving him behind. Oh, how I wished I had decided earlier to travel to Boston ! We could have made our plans. His parents are visiting, I could have RSVPed with some guests. It was cheerless to write '0' guests on the invite. But like I believe, uncertainty shouldn't go unpunished.