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.