16 July 2010

31 and counting ...

It's the time of the year again - when the phone doesn't stop ringing and another year has been attached to my age.

I go through ups and downs about my feelings on how to celebrate my birthday. For some years I didn't think that a big deal need be made of it but on others, I would like it to be an event. Some of the best birthdays in fact was while I was in Stony Brook; there was a lab celebration, a home celebration with L & E, celebration with N in New York and then a celebration in NJ. It was a week along affair.

And this birthday I wanted to have some drama so I informed my partner that I expected to be given a present every single day for a week preceding my Birthday. And what did I get: seed packets! Everyday I got a different seed pack, mainly Basils with a lone oregano to break the routine. I was quite impressed with the gifts actually but to give myself credit I had requested these seeds; they just arrived one day at a time.

Otherwise, life is good. As I did last year, I am writing a letter to myself just to keep track of how I am growing. I read the letter I wrote last year and it's interesting that events that I expected to have resolution about have indeed occurred.

Happy Birthday to me.

5 July 2010


I think its a foregone conclusion that Rahul Gandhi is going to one day lead the nation in the position of the biggest cheese aka Prime Minister of the Republic of India.

So as someone who considers (ahem) her tax contributions seriously – I really want to know what the deal is with this gentleman.

Scholar (ahem, ahem) that I am I started at what I consider the backbone of character: Education. I am not much of a detective so I went to wikipedia to look up on these facts. Doon school (snob), Harvard (would he have made it if he was a middle class chokra from vile parle (E)?), then Rollins College (never heard of it) and finally, Cambridge (M Phil in Dev. Studies). At some point it would interesting to read his thesis work for the Masters.

Although he finished studying in 1995 and worked for 3 years after that, he only came back to India in 2002. So what happened in those intervening years? A lot of speculation is possible here so I'll come to a point that is really dear to me:

What exactly are his politics?

What does he think of GM foods? The Bhopal tragedy? The bofors scandal? Homosexuality? Sex education in Schools? RTI & RTE? Ration cards? Free electricity for farmers? The “Maoist” insurgency? Of Indians killing Indians? On Kashmir? On Tibet? On his Grandmother' brilliant idea to declare Emergency?

Which side of the line is he on – left, right, ambivalent or what I fear the most: without the intellect to have an informed opinion.

One thing I constantly hear in the media is that RG is all about young people joining politics. Good show – I agree. But what's the point of signing up – do good for the country? Now if that really was a reason to be in politics then I am St Megha, sign me up. He seems to be able to get the vote out – what is he selling these people – his grandmother's dream of roti, kapada aur makan?

RG seems to be a classic case of a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Pathetically, I too am going to lament his lack of a partner. Simply because that would have been an opportunity to discern his taste.

In the weekend section of The Hindu there is a game (if you figured that the game is called guessWHO then you win a mugful of ready-to-use organic kitchen compost) : A fuzzy image of a well known person is presented and you are supposed to guess the name. I feel Rahul Gandhi is much like that for me right now. And as a young person (Ok, I am going to be 31, so not that young) and as a tax payer, I would like to know why I should be voting him to the hot seat.

4 July 2010

An unsuitable comparison

Its Sunday afternoon and the weather is compelling me to be contemplative. I actually reached back to my time in Seattle and thought about how I spent my time on weekends there vs here. When I moved to Seattle it was the first time that I was living by myself in a new city, much like right now. So, there is one element of similarity between the two periods : Alone-ness. I thought about that word because I wasn't and am not lonely; I wasn't and am not single. I was just by myself. I read somewhere that the ability to be by yourself is a strength, not a weakness. Certainly in Seattle if I wanted company I had to seek; not so much here in India because someone's always ringing the bell. Without more ramble let me recount a Saturday here vs what I did in Seattle.

Seattle: July 2006

6:00 AM catch bus to Green Lake. Run around with the Miles for Smiles gang - the Asha Seattle Marathon training unit.

9:00 AM Back home. Tea and a large eggy breakfast.

10:00 AM scrub Bathroom, kitchen. Write checks to cover utility and other bills. New Jersey Family catch up on Phone.

12:00 AM Walk down to neighbourhood cafe for a cappucino. Hurrah! I have had 10 stamps and this is the 11th so its free. Make list of things I need from grocery store.

1:00 AM make plans to watch Football with friends.

1:30 AM Very frustrated, as have no car and getting to Friend's place involves two buses. Wish had bike at least. Meanwhile, match is ticking away...

2:15 PM Reach Eastlake. Watch some of the match; eat lunch.

4:00PM Post match and hang out. While here best to finish grocery shopping; step into store but do not like shopping in grocery store where I don't know layout: this means taking more to get the things I want due to lack of orientation.

5:00 PM done with shopping. Bags heavy but must go to a hippie spice shop that makes best garam masala in town.

7:00 PM finally home. Hamstrings sore from running. Organize dinner from left overs; heat things up and open a book I got from the Library.

8:00 PM Dessert, fruits and a cup of tea. Talk to mom, dad and sister as it is suitable time in India for chat.

10:00 PM Bed

Hyderabad: July 2010

7:00 AM Milkman. He had forgotten that I had asked him not to give me milk for 2 days as I have been unable to get through the week's supply and my fridge was resembling a storage unit at a dairy plant.

Back to bed.

9:00 AM Remove dosa batter from fridge. Organize Coffee.

10:00 AM Bell rings. Its A, my maid. We gossip over Dosa and Coffee. She chides me for not eating well - she knows from the type and number of dishes in the sink whether my meal from last night was appropriate. Talk to Mom

10:10 AM Am out of gas. Frantic phone call to gas agency. I will get a delivery today. Hurrah! Continue phone talk with mom.

12:30 PM after countless chase phonecalls, many in my poor Telugu, the gas man arrives. Talk to sister.

1:00 PM Put water out to heat because the water supply to my water heater runs out after 10 AM and if I want hot water for a bath I have to do it the old-fashioned way: Boil water on the stove!

1:30 PM Exit Buckingham Block. Negotiate Auto ride. Off to Crossword to pick up Steig Larsson's Millennium II.

2:00 PM Arrive at Ruchi and Doni, upscale grocery store and Bistro with book in hand. Settle down to a read and supplied self with delicious pasta, banana crepe and Arabian Tea.

4:00 PM Head home. Continue reading. Nap a bit. Drool all over couch pillow.

6:30 PM walk to the market: veggies, fruits and other sundry items. Berate fruit chap about poor quality of mangoes I purchased last time. Quizzed him about Mango situation in country. He gave me the stink eye for refusing to put mangoes in plastic bag and instead ,in my cloth bag. We settled on compromise. I will place mangoes on top and not dump any more things in to the bag. Luckily I had two bags. Up the road is Veggie chap; chides me for dumping all veggies into one bag. I retort that everything goes into the same stomach.

7:30 PM settle to watch FIFA football Match. Eat Khichdi. Talk to Dad. Talk to sister.

10:00 PM fighting to keep eyes open; have to finish book. Did not; instead sleep on top of book.


Life is good. It was good even back then. The differences in lifestyle are obvious and so are the similar threads of routine. However, did you notice how in India I talk a lot more? I used to find this community business quite overrated but after having experienced the western concept of space and the Indian concept of distance, I personally prefer the latter. There is a lot of energy we exchange when engage in conversation and I see myself benefiting from that enormously. May not work for all, but does wonders for me.

Hope you are having a good weekend.