Sunday, December 25, 2011

A little part of me

That's IT! I'm imposing a self-imposed ban on me watching romantic movies. After careful consideration and analysis of all case facts [ i.e. how involved I get and how I cry, no matter how BAD the movie ] I have concluded that I, am EXACTLY the kind of SUCKER these movies target. No really, You know those calm, smart, otherwise assertive, independent women who CRY at rainy kissing scenes? YEP. those stupid kinds. Where do my brains go to graze during these mindless movies? and WHY do I like them so much?

Case in point : The Backup plan - Starring Jennifer freaking Lopez and some really cute guy who I dont know but in 30 mins decided I have a huge crush on. Just like ALL the other romantic movies I watch by the end of which I'm undoubtedly in love with the arrogant but adorable, macho but sensitive, asshol-ish but misunderstood man. GAH! I mean COME ON! Now this movie is STRICTLY OK. now that the TV is OFF, i can say it. its a stupid movie. but while I was watching it? I was a whole different person! I was engulfed in the pain and agony of being pregnant and meeting the right guy, I was humming the music and nodding my head and getting angry at JLO for leaving this guy and PINING for that kiss to happen and hoping that the pennies all turn up heads and all that other nonsense.

Case 2: Made of Honour another TERRIBLE movie which I have watched THRICE for the love of my life Patrick Dempsey [ Dr. McDreamy ] That movie is just one cliche after the other but I endure it time and time again ugh im so angry at myself now!

But most importantly, Im angry cause these movies set expectations. They make things seem prettier and more charming than they ever really are. They play music and bells when there aren't really any in real life, there are proposals in horse carriages and hot air balloons and snow capped mountain lodges which are one in a zillion in life and they show men who know exactly where to hold a womans face while kissing her and exactly how sweep her off her feet and woo her and insist she dates them and make your tummy knotty with that sweet and short but long and lingering kiss.. That doesn't really happen in real life and fools like me who wait for those 'butterflies' and that grand gesture and for the heavens to come together and send a sign should just learn to get a grip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Choosing my religion

I'm here. Home. Mumbai i.e. It was necessary to specify because just a few days ago I was looking for something in my suitcase and said that I had forgotten it at home (i.e. America) - My mom's face changed colors and dropped her smile when she realized what I had said. "HOME?" she said with that scary arched eyebrow.

It feels weird though, I dint just fit back in like nothing had changed. I dint just pick up from where I left off. Mumbai has moved on without me, its swelling burgeoning population and traffic woes and me-first attitude has left me behind a little bit. My friends are the same in some regards, I see the same light hearted attitude, the same childish jokes and taking each others cases, albeit with a slightly somber vein - everyone's looking to get hitched. The one's who are seeing someone are getting married (I'm attending two weddings this month) and the one's who are not are really really wired up about finding someone. I feel slightly disconnected from them too, in a way. Last night at a dinner party, I was the ONLY single person in a room of 6 couples. [ Dear Bridget Jones, I NOW understand your pain ]

But most of all, I feel like I've drifted away from me. Gone is that girl who woke up bubbling with conversation and ready to get going to meet a ton of people that day, and here is a girl who wakes up and wants to have her tea quietly reading the newspaper for the first hour of the day. I didn't realize how used to myself I had gotten, and while I'm still a very people's person my definition of 'space' has altered significantly. While a few years ago it would be those few minutes in the day when I'd steal some time off, now its my mornings and my evenings before I wake up and before I get into bed. Here is a person who is still as big as extrovert as she used to be, maybe more, but who now gets her energy from intraversion. That time when I get back home everyday to my big clean room and just space out? That's recharging time. Which I dont get here AT ALL.

Watching TV, Surfing the internet, reading the paper are all activities which are freely interrupted by people and questions and phone calls and mom and dad and I've realized I need that space. It scares me a little.. the implications of this. How will this translate into married life? What if I ever have to move home?

At the dinner party on tuesday, one couple living and working in Seattle has been plagued with the 'should we move home' question. They want to start a family and think living around grandparents instills values in children which nothing can compensate. ALL of the people in the room that night have studied in the US, (save for me who is still doing so) and have moved back, begrudgingly. Naturally the conversation erupted into a cacophony of protests (NO, DONT even think of moving back), dismay (ARE U SERIOUS! u want to move back to this hellhole?), advice, and pros and cons. I kept quiet - I dint know this couple well enough to impose my opinion and also wanted to see the discussion evolve from the point of view of people who've seen both worlds, and moved back and adjusted to life here. The result was unanimous : except for one girl, everyone else (sample size 11 people) was of the opinion that given a choice, they'd live away. Be it the moral bankruptcy, corruption, breakdown of infrastructure, traffic, pollution or the bureaucracy - there was a reason why everyone hated Mumbai. Resigned to their destinies of having moved back and now left with no choice almost. When did this happen? When did Mumbai become a place of resignation and so much subdued angst? It is pertinent to say that this conversation took place on the 10th floor of a very posh flat in Breach Candy in South Mumbai, the most luxurious part of Mumbai, and each couple in the room lived in the stretch of land between Cuffe Parade - Breach Candy with Mercs and BMW's for cars. Point being - this is the opinion of people living in the lap of luxury - I shudder to think of the Aunty getting on the Churchgate - Virar local everyday.

In the last decade, Mumbai (or India as a whole?) has slowly gone through a process of degrading its quality of life, confidence in politicians and systems, a slowing down (and eventual breakdown) of infrastructure, an exponential increase in pollution and decrease in civic sense.. something I was blind to when I was madly in love with this city. I still love it dearly, but now there's a certain wistfulness in my gaze when I look out at marine drive and long for the clear skies and the sun kissed horizon, and am instead met with a blanket of smog. I look for that occasional interesting conversation with the cab driver and am instead met with a bitter fight over one rupee of change.

I've changed... Mumbai's changed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ball of Twine ...

If the world was going to end
and only one thing could be mine,
I would go around the bend
and buy a ball of twine...

A ball of twine is all I need to tie you to my dreams,
to tie the laughter, tie the tears and tie up all the screams

and tie up all the songs we heard and all the pretty tunes
and tie up your description of the moon on the sand dunes

tie up shampoo, tie up letters written during class
tie up being in line together for the season pass

tie up going home together though we lived so far
tie up rickshaws, tie up trains and not having a car

tie up chatting through the night, tie up the phone calls
tie up all the truth we had and tie up all the false

tie up lying in bed all day and tie up being nude
tie up watching tv taking turns to cook the food

tie up playing games and tie up leaving you a mark
tie up holding you when you were scared of the dark

tie up seventh, tie up six, tie up fifty five
tie up never dancing with you when you want to jive

tie up when the world conspired against the two of us
tie up being stuck in traffic in the AC bus

tie up 5 stars, tie up vada breakfast at satkar
tie up rum and coke and tie up singing and guitar

tie up how we prayed together when we went to bed
tie up everything we'd done and everything we'd said

tie up how you left me once and tie up getting back
tie up everything we had and everything we lack

tie up till eternity, tie up no matter what
tie up being happy, tie up sometimes being not

It may take forever or it may take a while
but i won't stop till i've tied up
every single smile

And when i'm done collecting us, this is what I'll do -
I'll label them "what could have been"
and send them home to you.

~Anon [ not me ]

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I was driving to the airport to pick up a friend last night and thought about my impending visit home. I realized since the last few days I'm going over the moment of first sight - the second my eyes see my mom, and dad, and friends at the airport.. I obsess over the details of what I'll be wearing and what my mom and dad will look like- will they have more grey hair, will my dad be wearing his 1986 corduroys which he's been obsessing about getting into since the past year? As I turned into a lane leading to the airport I actually turned towards my house in Mumbai, all the visuals replaced by familiar shadows of the trees and buildings dotting the skyline... I snapped out of it a few seconds later when my phone reminded me that I was still here.. far far away..

Its amazing how significant that moment is to me .. its been 1.5 years away from home for me, the longest I've ever lived apart from family. It is certainly true that I've molded into being more 'single' and independent than I ever was - but yet, I cant wait to get back to being that girl in her house, in that comfort bubble where she doesn't have to fret about bills and laundry and the next months rent. Where she can just lay back and have tea ready and transcend into that mini escape from reality called moms lap.

Much as I await my trip, I am also antsy about how these past 1.5 years will play out in the month that Im home. Being OVER COMMITTED in extracurricular student activities, as well as working off campus 20 hours a day, PLUS school work (which an at MBA level here is dizzying) means I am paralyzed if i don't check my email 36 times a day (if not more). My first instinct after I turn off my alarm is to check email to see if anything earth shattering happened in the 6 hours that I slept. I shudder that much as I look forward to a month at home having nothing to do, I might yearn for the frenetic pace of my life here.

I worry that I have become too 'business ish'. The other day in conversation with a really close friend whose married and pregnant, I was surprised how bored I was talking about the same ol group of friends back home - gossip that was meaningless, redundant and a waste of time. I remember these same conversations two years ago which would be fun, chatty, tingling with scandal - and how indulging in it would be as interesting as a conversation on the economic proliferation of China. Not anymore!

How different getting into that plane on the way back is going to be - last year when i got into the flight here, i was throwing myself into uncertainty, (i didnt know i then, but also misery) I dint have a house rented, only 2 bags of stuff to my name. I was nervous and excited and till date i cannot reconcile which was the predominant feeling. This time though, ill come back to a nice house with a new roomate, my car which i think spend 30% of my time in.. an established circle of friends, and the last semester of the MBA. where has the time gone, and how did I grow up so soon?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Those things..

I realized today how there are some things in life that we just take for granted - or rather I do. For instance - getting and keeping a job, humor, age, good friends, family.. the list actually is longer than I expected. I assume that I am entitled to all of the above, and maybe so - but thats not always the case, and having some or all of them isnt a right, but a privilege.

I am working part time as i study right now at the company where I interned over the summer.. today this company laid off a sizeable chunk of its global workforce. I was at work when it happened and was completely shaken up. The atmosphere was gloomy, there were guards everywhere, cubes looked empty - all in all, it was eerie as hell.
Thats when I thought of the 50 year old man with the wife and two kids whose going home to tell his family that after 25 years at a company doing what he did best, or doing the only thing he knew - he no longer had a job. That too, in this economy with even fewer jobs in the market - even fewer for older recruits who havent been nimble in their career...

I thought of my own education loan and how important it is for me to earn in $$ - how vital it is to my career to get a job from my graduation to make it economically a viable investment of the two years of my life -and then I think about how easily i signed my offer letter, and how in my mind I assumed it was coming.. What if it had'nt? What if that 50 year old man was me? I am a huge proponent of not second guessing oneself and I am rarely the one to do so.. but today was a wake up call - one to be thankful for what I have and who I have.. to be aware of my privileges and cognizant of my luxuries..

The two people from my team who got laid off, i dont even know, but as I heard about them, I had tears in my eyes.. on a conference call with our VP he was telling us about the marketing department that has 40% of the team gone.. and to be sensitive to them and I had goosebumps.

These past 1.5 years in a new country have just been all kinds of experiences... learning to cope has been a challenge, but i hope to look back at these times and have become a better stonger person then..

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Personal Ethical Dilemna?

This is a dilemma I faced just before coming to Business school in the US. For sake of context, I lived in Mumbai, India before school and this is where my story took place.

Not being funded by a scholarship for school, I applied for a bank loan to cover the first year tuition bill. My second year will be funded by my father – that’s how we decided it will be since the Indian government stipulates a maximum loan amount that may be granted and that would only cover my first year fee. Being an international student, with no scholarship it’s easy to imagine the monetary implications of attending school. I knew I really needed that loan for the first year. We applied to the State bank of India for a loan and began the extremely tedious and bureaucratic process of getting out papers together, making a million trips between the bank, home and other offices. To put time in perspective, we began this process 3 months before I was to start school.

It was a month before we had all the paperwork they needed – as a collateral for the loan, it wasn’t enough that we had enough cash, securities and other investments to more than cover the loan, they needed a property mortgage. We then got all the papers required to mortgage the house we lived in as collateral – there was only one problem. From when we bought the house to when we moved in, the builder re-numbered all the houses and consequently even though our sale deed said we lived in apartment 502, we actually lived in 503. This was of course, an issue with the bank since they go through a rigorous validation process and this wasn’t acceptable.

We did everything else we could: register for a new sale deed, get a notarized letter from a lawyer stating that we have applied for a new deed and that this was the fault of the builder, and is being rectified – to no avail. The bank loan from SBI fell through. We approached a few other banks to the same result – no loan until this was sorted out.

India is a bureaucratic society and any legal paperwork takes months, years to process. As the clock was ticking and I was a month away from moving to school and still no loan, one last option presented itself to us – pay a bribe of 75,000 Rs. And get the sale deed accelerated in time to apply and be approved for the loan.

While this is an easy solution to many India – which explains the heart of the deep rooted corruption, it was no easy decision for us. My father served the Indian Navy for 24 years, and is a man of great honor and respect. He holds himself accountable to higher standards of ethics than Indian society dictates. Being his daughter, I live by his principles as well. This was a real quandary. Just to quantify the magnitude – the loan would cover 2,000,000 Rs. Worth of my first year fees while my father would pay the second year AS WELL AS my living expenses for the first year. Its not a small sum of money – not getting the loan would mean borrowing more than 5Million Rs. from my dad at an age where he needs to retire and lead a stress free life. That was unacceptable to me. On the other hand, paying a bribe was letting down myself in my own standards, wasting hard earned money, supporting corruption and giving that man more incentive to continue doing so AND hating the society even more. That was also unacceptable to me.

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. We now had about 3 weeks – JUST enough time to make it work. A few days later, and the loan would not be approved in time. At the time, all the options I was weighing were looking gloomy – I had no family in the US, no one to co-sign a US loan, taking 5Million rupees from my dad was not a solution either.

This was an ethical personal dilemma at its very excruciating best. I could see my father torn between doing the right thing and what wasn’t. Funnily enough, talking to friends and family about this evoked the same reaction “Why is this issue? Of course you need to pay him, and get it done with – everyone does it. No work gets done around here if you don’t pay”. And we did.

I regret that that’s the route we had to go – I could see my dad and I both regretting the fact that we let our moral compass waver, we oiled the squeaky wheel of corruption and did what we both abhor – sway with the direction society swayed in.

It’s easy to be judgmental about being good – and to assume that bad people do bad things. Until then, I assumed people who gave bribes are most definitely people who took them too. Until I did it. I assumed society is spoiled by illiterate, criminals, crooks, corrupt politicians or people who simply dint know better – but that’s not the case either. Bad people aren't the only ones making bad decisions... clearly.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes"

Now this is what a great film is all about. Stealing you away from yourself, filling your mind with delicious poetry and leaving you with a half nostalgic half melancholy tingle. Making you come home and linger. Zindagi na mile dobara turned out to be the fantastic film I dint expect it to be.

After reading RAVE reviews about Delhi Belly i was sorely disappointed with inane jokes, misplaced humor and juvenile shit related innuendos. God save Bollywood if this was the future. Which explains my apprehension for ZNMD. I was so, so wrong.

Zindagi.. is a film which takes three friends on a trip, only to find themselves, and face their greatest fears. Its an ambitious movie at that - I wonder if Zoya wanted us to leave the theatre thinking about our own unfulfilled destinies, unanswered questions and about the what could have been's. The poetry threading the movie along, neatly weaving a web around silences, and injecting meaning in pregnant pauses did exactly what it was meant to - create a song of melancholy around the frames, adding the rhythmn to voices and thoughts and intertwining them in soulful words.

How many of us have courage to face our own fears I wonder? I vascillate between a realist and an escapist often. There are times when I'm forthright about what Im facing and wishing I oculd avoid, and there have been times when I've blocked out something from my mind- and even from those of my friends, neatly concealing thoughts and flutters in my heartbeat lest they let out a clue, methodically leaving out traces of it from even this blog. And then again, one fine day ill lay my heart bare. Between the what is, what could have been and what I really want, my mind sometimes is a mishmash of wishes and wants, of longs and desires, of moments hidden away unlocked time and again, of a secret memory beknowest only to me and the other keeper, of parallel futures and alternate endings. I've made a LOT of mistakes along the way and sometimes my greatest fear is the one thing I've lived my life by - being true to myself. The fine line between being true to yourself and being fooled by your own thoughts, your own being drifting to the outside of you, urging you to do something radical - call off a wedding, move countries, break up with someone.. what if the true inner self is just a big joke? a mockery of rationale? a cruel incarnation of a reason to justify your actions? What if?

Friday, July 22, 2011

My home

Last week, when I was at work - I opened google to look for some competitive info on Apple and the first news link I saw was Mumbai attacked - 3 serial blasts... I dint even bother to open the link and read the story and immediately dialed home. Panic ensued as I saw Zaveri Bazar, Dadar west, Opera House -- places where a lot of my friends live, work or could be. I couldnt get through to anyone, and that moment everything dulled into motionless silence. My fingers were trembling as I dialed mom repeatedly, cursing the calling card lenghty procedures, and thinking of the worst case scenarios.. Even after I got through to mom, dad remained out of contact as he was travelling in from out of town that day and we spent 4 hours out of contact with him, many of which had me sitting at work, trembling at my blurry screen with my phone buzzing with friends in the US asking about my family. I felt numb.

I wrote to a friend of mine who lives in Mumbai if his family was ok -and was enraged to see his response -- " Yep, my friends and family are fine :)" SMILEY FACE. i wrote back a nasty one liner saying im glad, but Mumbai was bombed - thrice, there was nothing to smile about. I feel bad at having judged him, but I have no tolerance for people whose lives are focused only around their frinds and family.. life's much bigger than that. even when my dad came home after 26/11 safe and sound after such an experience, we did not celebrate, it was a small respite. We mourned for the people who left us, for the wounds of the attack and for the attack on our souls.

Whats different this time and what ALL the media is writing about is 'indifference' -- has mumbai's spirit has been misunderstood all along? I want to say no, but circumstances prove otherwise. When i spoke to my mom i was sobbing, far far away from home, helpless and frustrated and angry and sad for my city -- while my mom calmed me saying 'what are you doing crying? nothing can be done about this. we had 3 years of peace, now a days even thats a lot'. I was angry. I messaged a friend back home who was at a bar whol told me people continued to be at the bar even post this incident. All the newspaper articles, media interviews, seem like reruns - still fresh in my ears from 26/11. The angry cliches, the frustrated citizens, each network hoping and trying to depict a facet of the attacks which no other networks would. Each channel 'BREAKING NEWS' again and again.

And then i think of resilience. I dont have the patience, naivete, or will to listen to empty promises, finger pointing and more of the same ol same ol. I think of my city after the train blasts. after 26/11 blasts. after blasts in Pune, after blasts last week. seems routine now, more mundane. These blasts were apparently of 'medium' intensity since ONLY '22' people died.
Apparently the cost of a life goes up every few years - the government thinks a sizeable compensation is its only duty. Funny, how the safest man in Mumbai is probably one who was a part of kiling 250 of us - Kasab. each day he lives, its a mockery of our system. India needs to be more aggresive before people take us seriously. and that can happen only when it makes it clear to the rest of the world that it means business when it comes to its citizens. I dont feel like my government does - why would anyone else??

Monday, July 11, 2011


Lately I've been noticing very keenly the behavior of other Indians in my surroundings, particularly since I realized there are certain traits which are a very recurrent, and specific habit. Let me name a few.

  • At the gym at work, there was an elliptical which was not working and would make LOUD disturbing sounds if you stepped on it and worked it. I once got on, and got off a minute later realizing its not working. HOWEVER, 5 minutes later another guy (Indian) got on, and used it for 45 mins basically making enough noise to overpower the gym music and create a nuisance for everyone around. The next day, there was another guy (also Indian) using the same noisy machine and the next and the next until finally the management put up a board saying it does not work. It is beyond me how 4 grown men can ignore loud noisy rattles from a machine for prolonged periods and not notice what a racket they were making. EVERYONE else seemed to realize the machine was not working, save for these (all Indian) I keep trying to tell myself its a coincidence, but how?

  • Another gym related incident, C and I work out together and were on two side by side ellipticals watching Seinfeld on the television RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. A guy (Indian) came up on the elliptical next to C, walked over to the television and switched channels without asking us. I was shocked - i could understand if he did so if C and I were chatting, or on our headphones and not watching, but we clearly were. Was'nt this basic courtesy?

  • Today at our world cast, the webcast done by our CFO and interim CEO - we had a host of C level executives address a crowd which was full of employees, online viewers, academia, consultants, bankers and such. Our CFO, CTO and other executives were well turned out in either a suit jacket with a nice chirt and pants or a nice formal shirt and pants. HOWEVER, our CORPORATE VP, is an Indian and he got up to address the audience (of over 250 people) in a shirt that looked unironed and with HUGE sweat marks on his arms and stomach, the shirt was untucked. Now Im usually NOT the one to judge on appearances, but this time, YES. I think i wasnt the only one who winced at the size of those sweat baubles on his shirt. You wouldve thought that if your addressing a crowd this big, with stakeholders involved, you'd make somewhat of an effort? Now I understand sweating is a problem for many, specially Asians. I m prone to sweat like a man sometimes as well BUT when i know i am going to be at an important event and If i know I am goign to be out in the sun / somwhere sweaty I will carry a change. the result was that of all the executives who stood on stage and spoke, the Corp VP, Indian - looked the LEAST professional - to the point where it was awkward. WHY?!!!!

  • I knew this had to happen at some point. workign with an Indian vendor - given the level of outsourcing. I was definitely not prepared for this - when i wrote in for a simple request, the agency wrote back to me doubling over backwards in apologies and sorry's and thank you's. I remember my time at the agency - while we were client servicing - i dont remember being subservient to the point that my emails contained 100's of apologies.

I'm not sure what exactly the point im making here is. I just wish that with the amount of talent my country has, we'd just learn to carry ourselves a little better in society, and COMMAND respect.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One of those weeks

When I overslept my alarm, ran out of bed on tuesday and spent the rest of the day cranky.

The wednesday event was my car battery running out and me freaking out for a while not knowign what it was. This is my first time owning a car and therefore anything unusual is scary. specially in America where everything costs $$$ to fix. Anyway, the good thing is, a (girl)friend came over with jumper cables and we jumped the battery together! New experiences rock!

Thursday started with my manager scheduling two meetings with me, AT MIDNIGHT (for the next day afternoon) and I woke up with my iphone beeping with my meeting invites. I of course dint sleep well wondering what I did and all sorts of scary thoughts of me having made a HUGE mistake and what not. I woke up today and as usual, packed my lunch and a snack and promptly forgot it at home. argh. See what I mean about one of those weeks?

On the other hand, one of my (ex?)best friends back home is getting married. We used to be inseparable. Like one of those movie best friendships which werent meant to last. And of course ours dint. I went and fell in love with him and dint accept it to myself, or to him, complete in the illusion that my love was platonic. A complete breakdown of conversation later and a whole lot of nasty exchange of words later I ended the line of communication. There are numerous versions of why we stopped talking floating in my circle of friends - but the truth is that at one point there was no respect. He was rude and insensitive in many of the things he did before and after we stopped talking - and I am a woman of pride.

The funny thing is there were so many windows - for us to get back to being close, being cordial, friendly and then finally formal. But one way or the other we both missed those windows - and things were left as is.

Today as he gets married I think back to those naive conversations we had where we spoke of each others weddings and being the lead dance practice person, the main go to person at the wedding, the head honcho if you will - and those silly little dreams of always being friends. I think one reason why I can never forgive him is not for what he said and did, I probably said equally mean things - but for how he treated the friendship and me, after it was over.

I respect any and every person who meant something to me and value the impact they had on my life once upon a time... but what he did is subject it to public scrutiny and ridicule. Something which hurt more than I can ever tell anyone. He knowingly got extremely close to my best friend and hung out with her every weekend (and now they're still really really) close - a phase which was difficult for me to deal with. Still, I refused to be the smaller person and ask my best friend not to talk to him. (it would have been easier to deal with things, but I couldnt get myself to let him know how much he hurt me)

STILL, at the end of the day, we were best friends for 4 years and what years those were! And for that, I will always cherish those memories and I couldnt be happier that he found love in a beautiful, wonderful girl who truly keeps him happy. I wish I was a part of his wedding and even his life, but neither are possible and I have no regrets.

Its just funny when you think some friends are there to stay - but they really arent. Or when you think something will last forever - but it really wont.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Long weekend

Today was my first 4th of July in the US. Pity Texas is so dry they cancelled the fireworks so I couldnt really celebrate US style - since of course I am also not eating the SUPER pretty red blue and white cupcakes, pies and what nots in grocery stores. I am such a sucker for sweet things, I literally crawl pas the desert aisle at HEB looking like a homeless hungry poor person who deserves to eat a cupcake, or a red velvet cake. ARGH. clearly losing weight is going to take more willpower than I imagined.

This was also my first long weekend holiday - in school a long weekend basically meant getting beat up with more project work and/or more time to study so I never really got the feeling of having time 'off' but this really felt good. I spent saturday shopping at an outlet mall with admirable constraint on my expenditures and then went to the San Antonio riverwalk for dinner. Its such a cute, quaint place, i love it! of course the 500 degree heat adds to the charm (not)

Sunday was spent eating at what has become my sunday brunch favorite - Madras Pavillion -- the dosas, idlis and wadas there are so authentic - its like being at a kamat right in Mumbai. of course paying $15 for the buffet takes away from the Rs. 25 dosa feeling, but what the heck. What was interesting was the chaos this place was in. One manager, 2 cleaning ladies were the only staff managing about 70 people and a buffet line. of course, it was SHEER pandemonium.
There was a line of people waiting to be seated at empty tables that still needed to be cleaned and there were people who needed to pay and there were people seated who couldnt eat since the buffet line had run out of dishes. As MBA students of course, the 3 of us, Shobit, Ro and I delved into a conversation of 'bottlenecks' and 'operational inefficiency' and almost designed a business plan for reshaping the way the situation was being handled. MBA's I tell you.

I also watched Transformers 3D. Now while I am a great fan of the franchise, I fail to understand how Megan Fox in T2 and Rosie huntingdon whitley in T3 can run around in grave risk of dying around decepticons and what not LOOKING SPOTLESS and in HIGH heels. Rosie at least had a (somewhat) pivotal conversation with a decepticon but I could never understand why Megan Fox spent so much time and effort promoting her blinknmiss it role in T2. OR why she needed to be so scantily dressed. OR why she needed to be puckered up ALL the time.
Cars2 was definitely awesome, never mind the fact that I dragged Ro convincing him that there will be adults there as well.. only to find out later that all the other adults came with THEIR KIDS. still, i loved it. Mater was the star of the movie, not lightning Mcqueen, anyday. Next up, Harry Potter7! Cant wait!

Also, will be moving homes again - this time to the next years lease. NOT looking forward to the packing/unpacking mess ESPECIALLY with work and not having any time to do both and settle in. PLUS the new house will feel lonelier since it will be a 2b/2b and my roomie will move in only once school starts.. since this was a 1b/1b it felt cosy. Doing the whole routine again is so not cool.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Airport day

Next week it will have been a year since I moved countries. This morning on my way to work as I spoke to my mom, I brought up the subject of how, this time last year I was beginning to pack and the farewell parties had begun and what not. It was also when I started 'feeling' things more.. sleeping on my own bed, luxurious hugs from mom and dad and my brother, the pitter patter of rain on my window, the friend from out of town (Scarlett) who came over who I wasnt sure when I'd see again, home cooked food - it all had an expiry date of two weeks since I left home July 17th 2010.
It was today that mom told me how she felt those first 24 hours when I was travelling and out of contact and I was teary eyed just relivign that farewell. It was my first time moving away from home and that too, to the other end of the world. My mom and I are very close and she means the world to me. I spent 3 months at home having quit my job well in advance and knowing I wanted to savour the last 3 debt free months of my life. She told me about how empty and lifeless the house felt, how some things of mine strewed around the house upset her and reminded me of her absence. It's funny how I feel as though my mom is half of me.. she completes me, she is really, my best friend. The first few months when I was here, she would ask what I was eating and when I would say junk like cereal for dinner she'd be upset - its now that she knows im cooking and eating good food that she feels truly settled and comfortable with me being so far away.
That last bye at the airport -- i remember how hard we all tried not to cry. In true Indian fashion, I had my whole group of friends of them, my mom dad, bro, and a friends mom who is very close to me... that last hug, its funny how rationale takes a side seat as holding on to a person wishing the moment dint end actually feels like it might happen if u hug hard enough. I think I hugged my mom a million times. My dad came with me till the security check since he has an airport pass... that was the hardest. When I kneeled down to touch his feet for blessings right before I left, I just couldnt hold it in, and cried as I am now, thinking of that moment, forever engraved. Dad's try to be so macho, mine more so from his defence background. That day, not so much. He was angry at me for being overweight with the bags and kept trying to use it as an excuse but couldnt manage when I said that final bye.
My mom gave me a note to read in the plane from all of them and it was a letter with a few lines from mom, dad and my brother. All wishing me luck and success and do them proud. I hope I do.
For all that I gave up, and they did, I hope I never forget what I'm here for.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The ARGHHHH files

How to fail a driving test 6 times in the USA (while havign driven 6 years in the rest of the world).

  • rolling stop at stop signs

  • taking a right turn from a not-so-rightmost lane

  • not yielding to vehicle on main road

  • even though the right turn is FREE, STOP COMPLETELY and then turn

  • hit a curb while parallel parking

  • not stop for 'long enough' at the stop sign according to the instructor
LIKE SERIOUSLY? Is this really happening?

And to top if off, How NOT to get paid 3 weeks in a row.

  • Forget to fill your timesheet in before the hardstop Monday 11am deadline. For this I AM PISSED OFF. Hello, Im an intern, please TELL me when Im supposed to do these things SPECIALLY if i wont get paid for it.

  • Have your manager forget to approve it. PLEASE HR, inform our full time managers who dont fill time sheets that they're important to us measly Interns.
I fail to understand why Im running up against all these administrative hurdles. EVERYONE else seems to be doing ok! A friend of mine, who I DRAGGED to the DMV got his license at the first try, and he dint even study for the written!! I TALKED him through all the important things and he's done! I JUST WANT MY LICENSE AND I JUST WANT TO GET PAID.
Too much to ask for? And also, its that time of month. why not just make sure my week tumbles to the secret compartment below the bottom of the barrel of shit, right?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Consultant type

With NO apologies for typecasting and acknowledging that exceptions DO exist, my MAJOR peeves with consultant (ex or present) colleagues and or bosses.

  • Talk at the speed of light as though being billed for each word

  • A-N-A-L about font colors, size and format. I'm a stickler for neatness and clean classic slides as well but I wont make someone 'do-over' an entire ppt over the header color.

  • Backtrack like its free. Mycurrent boss, an ex consultant has backtracked on so many things she's wanted me to do. Luckily I write. and draw. each thing during our meeting. which means I can pull out 'remember u had said this' which ends with a 'err, ok ya well no lets not do it like that' and take away a day of my work. thanks.

  • Assume taking a day off is wrong and life is ALL ABOUT WORK. my boss has been coming to work sick as a horse since the last two days and apologized (to me) about not being at work on Monday. I was like hellno, u shoulda stayed home today and tomorrow as well. She seemed guilty for havign had 8 hours of sleep on sunday :-/

  • UNREALISTIC. no wait, RIDICULOUSLY UNREALISTIC time expectations. Apparently everything can get done in an hour or day. MAX.

  • No Hi hello how are you doing today. The minute you start talking to them, it better be business.

Like CHILL people. Work gets done and life is about having fun. and working too but fun basically. I am SO glad I decided against recruiting for consulting. while i could do with the extra bucks, im glad I have a life.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I cant believe after 4 years of working and a year of being a student later, I still hate monday mornings. I genuinely loathe them. I wake up feeling cranky and sunday evenings are generally sulking. Yes good info to have in order to date me.

This weekend was great though - saturday was run errands day - I finally got my license plates for the new car (of course putting them on will happen only next week), got an oil change and the tires rotated for $40 which in India would cost 200Rs or so? like $4 gah. AND watched a movie - Bad teacher. the other half of the name of this movie is Bad teacher, Mediocre movie. It's like one of those Hindi film movies where the extremely obvious things happen, the good guy gets the girl and alls well that ends well. It was overall fun, I was in the mood for a light chick flick and being at the Alamo Drafthouse where you can order wine, beer or even cocktails and a full menu of food during the movie, was great.

Saturday night was girls night and we got wine, cheese, garlic bread, roast asparagus, potatoes, roast chicken and cheesecake and had a chat-athon! Since we were all from different cohorts and to ease the bitching process we pulled out the facebook (the BOOK, not the Site) for reference. It's strange though. out of the 3 married women that night, 2 are getting divorced. In fact, we were at Michelles house for dinner and her (ex) husband had just moved out the week before. One of my closest friends S is leaving her husband too. Both are under 35 and S has a beautiful 4 year old son who I just wan to run away with and call my own. My Indian conservative mentality makes me feel bad at the word 'divorce' but I'm happy for both having had the courage to make the decision.

I dont see any real reason for S's unhappiness - her husband (Was) nice, caring, a great father (ofcourse now he's a wounded lion and behaves it). She feels 'meh' about him now. I feel as though she's in the MBA program with a bunch of younger women, who're mostly single, hooking up with boys here and there and keeping their own time, and she feels weighed down. I've seen that shift in her from a devoted wife to someone who suddenly felt shackled by her marriage. Nothing changed in that equation except her.. I support her decision to move on 100% .. since she seems happier now that she's made up her mind. At the same time, I only hope it isnt a decision based on a transient phase... yes we're all young, fun, single, with no responsibilities and therefore we act that way - carefree and self focused. School is also a place where you can lose yourself, sink or swim. There are some who find themselves, and others who lose who they are. Either way, these 2 years are not represent of the rest of our lives.

This chaos, tumult and insane life is fun for these years but real life hits you when you get to work. The routine sets into place, mindspace too... Im worried S is just in a place where she wants to be 25 again (which AGAIN, i am not saying is wrong) but she's giving up her marriage to be it. I hope its the right decision for her since its a big sacrifice - and there's an adorable little kid involved.

Not known to keep my thoughts to myself I've had a conversation with her about this yielding no results as expected. I guess what worries me more is her relationship with another guy at this point. Another guy who has already told her this isnt going anywhere and things wont work. Another guy with whom she has no future, but is continuing to pursue. Another guy, while being married to her husband. I'll support her through whatever she needs me for, but there's a part of this I dont like, and I dont want to see her hurt.

Makes me wonder. I recently read a Shobhaa De article where she spoke about the right to lave a marriage because it got 'boring' - I agree with her, at the same time, how do you know you've tried your best? This is also one of my greatest fears.. getting bored of the monotony of the husband, same sexual partner and seeing these instances just cements it. I can only imagine how Indian parents would take to a marriage ending because 'it got boring'.

Either way -I'm all for the idea of individuals taking control of their lives - with happiness being the key driver. After all, everyone deserves it - but leave me to wonder. Without the societal pressure to work harder and do everything in your will to work on your marriage or life and following an individualistic approach, will there be a breakdown in the institution of 'togetherness'? Will 'Just because I dont feel like it anymore' be the new 'Irreconcilable differences'?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Work and other scary things

Internships are stressful jobs. In 3 months or less one is expected to show off your best and come out with a full time offer, or a pre placement as they’re called in some places. They’re a source of judgement as not getting a full time could be considered a sign of a bad job. There are times though that the team doesn’t have the budget to support you, or you were not the best fit, but did a good job anyway. That doesnt matter. You dint get a full time.

When it comes to me, going by my job title, Global pricing strategy and planning, it’s an exciting, new role and something Ive never done before. And also something that makes me worry. I love data, and interpreting it (after 4 years of consumer insights) and would say im pretty good analytically as in, I can interpret data well and spot trends and make a story and link disjoint events. But I’m no genius at crunching numbers – at working on complex piece of valuations or formulae. I’m terrible at Finance, averaging a B- in the first semester. I’m even WORSE at accounting. (way worse) Which leads to me thinking – I hope I can manage to do a good enough job to get a full time out of this. While I’m not sure where when what I want to do and be, I like the company so far and am having a good experience. I am out of my comfort zone staring at millions of excel numbers, but at the same time excited to see sell in, sell out and supremely confidential numbers. I’ve had to suck it up and learn to love pivots (which are as awesome as people say they are) as well as troll through investor relations presentations and pick up market intelligence. Having said that, I am super tense and have no idea how this will pan out. Will my weak area be really obvious or will I be able to prove my worth as an overall employee?

I was telling an old colleague today whose seemed lost and distant since his last job shift how sometimes a place change can make a world of a difference. Sometimes when things are like this, and dont feel right for a long time - a change of scenery works, or starting afresh...I found my old self in moving 100,000 miles away from home. I found my carefree spirit, I found that ring in my laughter, I found that excitement to waking up everyday and doing new things and being surrounded by new places and faces. I found a reason to work hard and confidence that I had so much to work towards ... just by moving here.

So often, far far too many times we hear of others or even ourselves saying ‘I’m in a rut’ or ‘I feel as though Im stagnating’. The ONLY thing that can ever help you out is acceptance of the situation and a severe change in something – routines, job, home, country. Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you look at things anew.
When I moved to the US I had to learn how to do laundry, drive on the other side of the street, self check out grocery and a million other mundane things but which were fun, and exciting. I learnt to cook and discovered I’m a pretty good at it. If it hadn’t been for the courage to do this, I would’ve missed out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Among other things

There are times when you miss a man around the house. To summarize -

  • To life something heavy OR

  • To open a jar

Yesterday was one of those days. An attempt to make pasta was annoyingly sprinkled with a fistfight with the jar of olives and when that battle was won 20 mins later, another one ensued with the pasta sauce jar. Of course, at that time none of my neighbours were home so I was lef to fend for myself. Now my usual well worked out self wayyy back in the day wouldve scoffed at not being able to open a jar, but 10 pounds later its a different story.

My mom has picked up me not having sent her any new photos of me since a few months. "Beta, why are you not in any of these photos?" she asked - "oh, no reason, the scenery was so nice I dint want to take away from it" I said which is the same as saying I've put on weight and you will kill me if you knew. Now the plan is to lose it before my India trip in december and what they dont know cant hurt, right? :-/

While it took me some time and apprehension, living alone is kindof nice. I curled up last night under the comforter with my laptop and book with just the tablelamp on, working a little and reading. The last two Sunday evenings have seen a pattern fall into place with the time from 6 p.m onwards dedicated to cleaning the house, doing the dishes, ironing the clothes for the week, cooking 2-3 things for dinner for the week and such chores. I had a drink while doing these chores as well, felt strange. Call it good bringing up or some such, but even having moved away from home I havent abused this liberty ever since I moved to America. Not one drunk night, not one mindless regrettable act, no fling, (wait, this sentence is depressing me!) - I was a good girl even in Vegas. Heck, we fell asleep at 12 on a saturday night when we went since we all were out all day! All in all, Guess im just not the kind to lose my inhibitions and be a wildcat although id like to be a little bit of it ;)

It's also scary that everyone around me is in relationships and engaged or married. Will I be that girl whose old and unmarried and who has only married friends? Will I be that girl whose parents are desperately looking out for when all the 'good ones are gone'? Much as I want to marry on my own terms and for love and happiness, this scares me. After the last experience where I almost got married to my best friend of 4years but then didnt, I'm phobic. Im scared of the 'M' word when it comes to my relationships and im scared of not having control. I'll be scared stiff if my in laws dont like me cause they can make or break your relationship (and i WILL ATTEST to that) SPECIALLY if the guy isnt strong enough to stick up for you. I'm scared of making the wrong decision, of hurting my parents and putting them through what I did a few years back. I'm scared of losing this liberty, this ambition with my life aspirations and I'm scared of holding on too tight. I'm scared I wont know where the middle ground is... I'm scared ill fall out of love or get bored. Mindjob? Yes please.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Absentmindedness of the week

  • Walked into a mens restroom at work, and told the guy who entered that he was in the ladies

  • Transferred my clothes from the washer to ANOTHER washer thinking it was a dryer starting a wash cycle, and then an hour later starting the WASH cycle AGAIN thinking the dryer wasnt working. Also, this was entered in the complaint book stating non compliance of dryer - and I ran 3 wash cycles before realizing it was A BLOODY washer.

  • At work - A colleague BOUGHT lunch because I thought the meeting we were headed to was brown bag. It was catered.

I cant deny it ANYMORE. I am absent minded as HELL.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A full circle

Intern Global Pricing Strategy and Planning CM Optimization

You know you’ve come a full circle when you reach this designation. It feel strange being an intern all over again, specially after havign workd for 4 years. Although I wonder what it must be like for a lot of my classmates with twice my work experience. Looking back at my first year of MBA and this internship and contrasting it with Indian education, I know we’ve got a long way to go.
First and foremost this concept of doing an MBA or any masters right after undergrad needs rethinking. I have not a single 22 year old in my class, the youngest being 26 years old with 3 years of work ex. Working brings so much perspective to ones thought process and orients your mind to thinking like senior management unlike the fresh faced almost kids graduating as MBA’s.
Being an intern here is serious business with all of us working on high impact projects – a little unnerving but also a great challenge, and you’re expected to build off from your work experience as well as the education youre getting in B school to be able to handle it. In short the MBA focuses on making you a manager, a leader and a businessman – not someone who can read textbooks and regurgitate information on a written test. In fact, most of my classes in the second half were not even written tests - they were case analyses, projects, presentations etc.
Which brings me to the second thing – testing. Indian MBA’s have to move away from the written test format as well. I had a few friends go to Bschool in Mumbai and saw them cram from textbooks the night before the exams much in the same fashion I studied for engineering – textbook rote. That takes away from application altogether.
Thing is, we all come to the US for higher education for many of the same reasons – its just a richer quality here. Which does make a case for brain drain. Its not just engineers and PHD students the US is luring away now, its also business professionals, future leaders. Funny thing is the US is under flak for giving jobs to so many Indians so ideally they wouldn’t want us here, whereas India would, but there arent enough opportunities anymore.

Its almost surreal how if I was back in India everythings changed with my circle of friends – we’re in the 27-28 age band now, and everyone back home is married/engaged/formally announced marriage. I was in for a HUGE shocker when I found out my best friend is pregnant after her marriage last year. It was GREAT news, but unexpected. She’s extremely excited about it, and so am I but it was strange nonetheless. Here I am being a student and my bestest friend, the closest thing to a sister is pregnant! Thing is, we’ve lived 5 mins from each others house since the last 20 years, gone to the same school, college, moved to the states together so her life is very synonymous with mine.. except the marriage of course. So when she called to tell me shes pregnant for the first ten mins of that phone conversation I dint believe her! I of course had to make up for that by sending her red velvet cake. I cant imagine her being a mommy – we’re such kids ourselves. I LOVE animated movies, rides, lollipops, am scared of scary movies, I LOVE Dave and Busters and Universal studios and disneyland and my idea of parenting is cuddling up to a baby. So is hers!

Speaking of friends – the other best friend from Mumbai finally had the time to write me an email last night. It gives me no explanation as to why she never had even 5 minutes to write back, or wish me, or reply to my calls, or facebook messages. She dint even reply to a thread I had posted on her facebook wall asking how she’s doing. She’s quitting her job next month and will be taking a break and I feel like she wrote to me because her time opened up, which hurt. I don’t think I will reply to this email, simply because I think she doesn’t deserve a reply from me. Guess ill see her when I go home in december. I feel bad, but enough of this being there for someone to walk on and then be there again when they need you.
In other news, I got a car! Im now a full fledged working girl living alone (temporarily) driving to work, cooking over the weekend and wait, I sound 45.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A careless whisper...

It was the kind of moment dreams of made of. Those strange stomach turning, heartbeat hastening moments. The only cherry on the cake would’ve been that kiss in the rain…that would have made it too intoxicating to handle maybe. Make that For sure. The wild breeze, free flowing hair, that hand on her back. That feel of the form next to hers… that almost physical presence. That intense long for being held, and wanted. Its almost as though the distance had created this electrifying chemistry. And the wind rain and waves came together in perfect harmony to play their parts in the symphony which was building up to a grand finale.
It’s a strange feeling - of being inside a dream. An eerie sense of Déjà vu coupled with the tingle of the reality of the happening. It was actually happening, she was actually in the pouring rain, with wild unruly winds and the agitated waves. There were a few infinite seconds - when they were almost wrapped around each other shielding themselves from the pouring rain under an umbrella which wouldn’t stay still. The wind played havoc with her hair and wouldn’t let them be - that was the beauty of it - the fluidity of the moment, the constant shuffle, the tickle from being so close… yet so far. She was thinking of whipping that darn umbrella away, letting it be carried away with the thundering wind and rain, and press up closer to him… until they were face to face, neck to neck and goosebump to goosebump. That Elusive kiss….
The other time, stars came into play. Her Favorite thing. Stars! The open air, that romance in the wind and the tussle of her hair. Wildly they were flung about the curve of her face, round and round she went with her hair having a mind of its own, she having succumbed to it. And she turned, and faced him. That was mistake no 1. Mistake number 2 was the intense eye contact that shut out all else, and though it lasted for a fraction of a second it was, in fact the kind of eye contact that can overpower the strongest of minds. Mistake no 3. She kissed him. In her mind and through her eyes, she kissed him.
Theres something about this combination of the sea and wind and tussled hair that makes her want to feel somebody else next to her, that shes not by herself, that there’s a hand on her waist or a person in her shadow, or a shoulder beneath her head, Blame it on the movies?

Friday, June 3, 2011

The 1-2-3 of buying a car in America

There are a few things in America that are very painful. Paying for medical emergencies, renting an apartment, breaking your leg and on the same lines - buying a car. A naive first timer can easily get duped into thinking they just bought the best deal ever and walk out with that all knowing smirk on their face, but little do they know.

As a first timer myself, my saving grace is a few friends who've lived here since a long time and who have taken it upon themselves to make sure no one makes an ass out of me. Here is a quick guide on how to approach buying a pre owned car, for any budget.

  • NEVER buy a salvage/rebuilt title. This is often the most important question you must ask the party you're buying the car from, and often the detail missing in advertisements, for obvious reasons. (In the United States, a salvage title is a form of vehicle title branding, which notes that the vehicle has been severely damaged and/or deemed a total loss by an insurance company that paid a claim on it) These are the cheapest kinds of cars, but the most dangerous to buy. At this point (2011) there are a lot from the Katrina wreckage.
  • ALWAYS check the Kelly Blue Book price: So when someone quotes a figure, you should know whether its a fair price. The KBB takes into account model, make, miles and condition and give you three prices - good condition, excellent and fair condition. So you should know that while buying a car, depending on the variables mentioned above, you know what to expect. It also gives you bargaining power, and the seller knows your not the average joe but a seasoned buyer who knows whats what.
  • Craigslist is where to start: and its overwhelming, and confusing and has a crapload of junk, but there are those occasional deals. It is imperative to scour and stalk and make calls and visits and narrow down the cars you want to bargain for. Private party cars tend to be cheaper but dealer cars are shinier - choose your poison.
  • If you think you find a great car and a good price and you think you're done, your NOT. the last thing to do is to get a lemonbuster to check out the car. Don't know what a lemonbuster is? Not a good sign if youre looking out seriously. A lemon is a car which is neither good nor bad and can swing either way. A lemon buster will look under the hood and let you know about big ticket expenses that you may incur. Refer to autopi or other mechanics in your area.
A car passing ALL the filters above is finally waiting to be bought! I'm still looking for my baby.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Wine phase

Has now begun. Ive graduated into the 'wine lover' zone. Although Im a novice - sticking to the sweeter Reisling and Merlot varieties. Although this move doesnt seem of significant importance by itself, it signals a life changing event.. a move into maturity if I can say so. Let me put it this way - wine parties used to be those boring old events when people are fussing over a bit of fungii and which decayed bit of cheese would break down more with a slight sip of the wine or which combination of a half cracker, mini berry and wine would set off a symphony on your tongue. (I was clearly very amused.) I remember being at a fairly expensive wine bar in the first few months of me reaching the US and texting a friend about an exit strategy from under the table. Seriously, my patience for moth eaten smelly cheese and elaborating on the fermentation of a grape into an aromatic teasing drink was very very low. The people at the party were all married, me and my friend being the only single (and bored) ones there. I distinctly remember the duration of my sigh (of relief) when we actually left, i think it spanned a few minutes.

Therefore this graduation into liking wine, is significant not to say the least. Its an acceptance of the changing conversation and an evolution of taste. A glorious move towards turning older (dammit) You know, there was a time not so long ago that everyone around me was getting married. Now everyone and their neighbors are making babies! Seriously, there are close to 6 pregnant women in my life right now. I'ma have a hard time catching up!

I'm now living alone - its funny that its 27 years of my life later. Better late than never - I'm alone for the 2 months of my summer internship before I move into a new house with a new roommate. Its not so bad at all, I have me a bottle of wine while eating dinner and this walking about the house naked thing is not overrated at all. I celebrated the move in with a luxurious bubble bath and then dinner. After my experience with my previous house where the ac dint work in the summer and the heat dint in the winter and sharing a bathroom with one girl, I deserve royal treatment and thats what I'm gonna get me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The one year gyaan

It's been almost a year since I moved here - and its been a whirlwind of new experiences, people, emotions, chaos and what not. As I look back at the year that went past - here are the few things I learnt the hard way or otherwise...
  • I do not like Accounting.
  • Accounting does not like me.
  • I failed the damn driving test. stupid rules. This DOES NOT mean I dont know how to drive, it just means Im generating more revenue for cash strapped US. (gah)
  • I am GREAT cook (if I may say so myself?) Therefore my lifelong wish of having my kids tell other kids that their mom cooks the best food is not so distant. (of course marriage and kids come first, but what the hell, i cleared the important hurdle, right?)
  • People are not as nice as they seem. SPECIALLY in another country. ESPECIALLY in an MBA. blame it on "the curve" which Indians take WAYY too seriously when they move into an uber competitive environment.
  • Life in a small college town in America is not as 'simple' as it is cut out to be. Gunmen are real. I remember being very freaked out, and very shaken up...
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS do groceries separately with a roommate. Never live with someone you cannot 'figure out' the first time you meet. Never be 'too nice' or 'too accomodating' unless the other person reciprocates. NEVER do the dishes and chores more than thrice in a row unless the roommate does her bit.
  • The best advice I came to America with was given to me by my ex boss - he said 'Never be surprised by people' He was right. What with seeing married friends hook up, to friends acting ridiculously competitive, the roommate acting 6 years old to acting like a complete bitch, I'm not surprised.
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans - I took to beer after years of being a mojito girl.. 'Brief and Meets', 'Meet and Greets', 'Think and Drinks' all fancy words for 'networking' basically entail beer and or wine and an empty class is rude. Lowering inhibitions is KEY. Growing up in India means we're already equipped with some pre conceived notions, lines, limits which is GREAT, but stands in the way of a lot of fun. The most fun thing I did this year was a scavenger hunt the contents of which I cannot describe here since this is a PG13 blog. Point being, I would've never, ever, ever done this before- but I did, and its the best story Ill never tell my grandkids.
  • I learnt that even as 27 year olds, some people still behave 12. no 8. no wait, 6.
  • I learnt how important those little things mom and dad teach you are tools they equip you in facing life - and how the difference in those little things taught to different people makes them petty, or selfish, or angry, or nice... thanks ma and pa for teaching me to always always being the bigger person.
  • Drifting away from some friends back home is not only inevitable, its ok. I drifted away from one of my best friends back home just because she just had NO time for me this past year, and is so caught up in her own life that she hasnt replied to my emails, fb messages and phone calls! While that hurt initially, now - its ok. I've accepted it, and moved on too...
  • In America, a sandwich is a burger.
  • If you ask an American for a 'tissue' or where the 'dustbin is' or 'loo' is - they WONT KNOW. its napkin, trashcan, or restroom. :-/
  • Americans think India is a big village where we learnt to speak English after we move to the US. (14 people asked me if I knew English before I moved here, by the end of which I actually said sarcastically that I took a crash course for 3 months before moving. funny thing is, i think some of them believe me)
  • The ground floor here is actually the first and the first is the second and so on. Which makes NO sense. Ground level = Ground floor, right?
  • The 'on' state for switches in India is the 'off' state here.
  • Other than a few cities like New York / SF u NEED a car in the US, else your just immobile.
  • My Metric system has gone for a toss. WTF is a gallon (I do litres, please), Miles (Kms?), pounds.. really why does America INSIST on having things the other way round from the rest of the world.
  • One year later, I still look the wrong way while crossing the street! Seriously whats with the left hand side driving when the world is on right?!!
  • It is acceptable to go for dinner at 6 (what?)
Need to go look at cars now, Internship starts June 6 and need to nail one down before that!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day # 3 NYC!

Much as I love the rain, and it has been well documented on this blog, and MUCH as I miss it in Texas, this was one trip I could have done without. It rained all day, I was soaked to the bone, which basically meant i bought a whole new set, right down to innerwear just to stop being cranky. I missed the ferry to Ellis island, couldnt see the statue of liberty OR go to the observation deck atop rockefeller center. GAH.

I did go to the WTC memorial site - a collection of stories and memorabilia from 9/11... I am not American, neither do I belong here, but I was overcome with emotion as I saw little postcards and notes and photos of moms and dads pasted by little kids on the memorial wall - the wall of hugs, the flag of honor with everyones names, the wall of photos... even after having witnessed 26/11 so up close, I cannot begin to imagine what this city went heart goes out to victims, survivors and the affected...

Thats the beauty of a city - of being able to pick up the pieces, rebuild, renew and move strong, undaunted by foolish people who think they're following the will of god... a city that can come to grips with a tragedy like this, mourn together, move on, and never, ever forget. My Mumbai too, is a strong survivor, resilient against repeated attacks - vulnerable, but undaunted. NYC - always on the move, pulsating with throngs of people from all over the world, with a life underground as electric and vibrant as that above is a fantastic city with a soul, I love it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The streets of New York

I'm here just a day, and in LOVE. I realize coming from a city like Mumbai where everything's always on the move, with the hustle bustle of people and life, a slow smaller city could at max, entertain me for a while. So compared to where im studying, which is a city i LOVE, but is a smaller student town nonetheless, NY is like home.

I did a lot of the usual touristy things today, walked 45 hours (just kidding, i mean 10) took a subway, rode a tram, went to central park. A familiar feeling overcame me when I was at the subway station and in the train - when I saw an old impoverished, beggar in the train everyone was staying away from. America, and the city I live in had sheltered me from this feeling which plagued me in Mumbai - the feeling of helplessness, of wanting to reach out and help someone, and not being in a position to. Texas is a rich state and the homeless probably lead a better life at this point than I do, as a student. However, NY is a reality check, the same ol cutthroat do or die, survival of the fittest, home to the richest and streets to the poorest - just like Mumbai. when I saw this man, knowing I had not the money or the resources to do ANYTHING and my dollar is meaningless - it was a ride back to the familiar feeling in Mumbai when the streets riddled with people who could use my help, and yet I couldnt. I remember spending a substantial part of my pay on beggars, homeless and other such - i even remember my ex boyfriend and I having numerous arguments over my methods of helping and how upset I would get. but. this. feeling. wont. go. i guess in a lot of ways ill have to learn to live with it.

there are so many things similar between these two cities. both throb with the humdrum of daily lives, of rush and haste and no time to waste, both have a life and soul which transcends the concrete jungle they are engulfed in, both make you fall in love with the lights and sounds and hopes and dreams they allow you to dream. Little wonder it is then, that people try SO HARD to make a life happen in these cities- they allow people to dream that dream of a hope ..
friends who moved here from smaller towns in India to big schools like NYU, Columbia, saddled with the expenses of staying here lived 6 people to a 2 bed for 2 years to get a fantastic job to pay it off in a year. surprised?
New york isnt as plastic and sterilized as some other cities in America, it isn't squeaky clean, it isnt free of hand carts and pedestrian painters and homeless people who sing and play for you in the subway, of bands too poor to have an album but talented enough to make you tear up as you wait for your train (true story) - but new york feels real.

I realize its been AGES since ive been on my beloved blog when my fingers flew a the speed of lightning as I wrote this, no time for even spellchecks. I missed this! anyone who i used to read / read me still around? holla! better yet, anyone in NYC?!