Screen-time of the month: January

Honestly, this is nothing but another attempt to keep writing… something! So here’s what I watched during the month of January.

Bala – Hotstar

Had been waiting to watch this movie for a long time, so I pounced on this one! I loved it! Right from the writing to the acting to the direction, everything was excellent. But the concept and the sentiment and the message of the film were even better. Ayushman Khurana was amazing as usual! I only wish that they hadn’t blackened Bhumi Pednekar’s face so much because 1) she is a terrific actress and doesn’t need the extra makeup to bring out the pain and determination of her character and 2) girls of much lighter complexion than her still face similar issues.

Ghost stories – Netflix

This one was kind of a bouncer, basically because there were no ghosts in it except in the last story by Karan Johar. Was there horror? There most certainly was, but then they should have called it horror stories,no? However, all the 4 stories managed to capture my full attention. I liked Dibakar Banerjee’s segment the best. A highly chilling, visually captivating allegory with excellent story telling – even though there were no ghosts in it. Anurag Kashyap’s segment was a little gross for my taste and I also think it could have made a bigger impact with a subtler narrative. Sobhita Dhulipala was excellent though! Zoya Akhtar’s story was the least horrifying, even though it was the most haunting. Very surprisingly, I loved Janhvi Kapoor’s acting in that one. Rounding out the anthology was Karan Johar’s segment which actually had multiple ghosts. Unfortunately, it was the weakest of them all – very frilly and silly!

Jeopardy GOAT – ABC

I have been a fan of quiz shows since I was a child and this all-star special was amazingly supercalifragilisticexpialidocius! And even though I am a James Holzhauer fan, I was floored by Ken Jennings’s knowledge, speed, and above all, humility! He totally deserved to win this one.

Uyare (Malyalam movie) – Netflix

Very nice movie! Parvathy was brilliant in this.

Mr. Robot – Amazon Prime

I could finish only 1 season, because the plot, however intriguing it might be, got very irritating because of the constant unreliable narrative caused by drug-induced hallucinations. I have never been a fan of unreliable narrators, but I get that sometimes the narrator is genuinely confused and needs to go through the motions to arrive at a reasonable conclusion while also reiterating that not everything is as it seems. However, using them to purposely confuse the audience again and again is plain gimmicky!

The first season though was mind-blowing. No pun intended. The whole idea of rescuing the world from the claws of capitalism, only to realize that anarchy breeds its own set of numbing problems was shown beautifully. I always question the motive though – had Mr. Robot not died due to the negligence of Evil Corp, would Elliot still be so anti-capitalism?

Splitsvilla X2 – MTV

LOL this is one of my guilty pleasures – a show on top of my list of shows that are utterly ridiculous but I still cannot stop watching!

Masterchef India – Hotstar

This is still ongoing but so far, it has been a great season!

You – Netflix

Whoa! This one was a shocker! Like, every aspect of it, save the ludicrous immunity from law & order that affects all such shows, was very thrilling! Blew through it in a matter of a few days!

Happy New Year 2020!

Hello, everyone! Here’s wishing a happy, happy new year to all my readers, or what’s left of them anyway! (I know I have no one but myself to blame for that, but let’s put that aside for now. )

This year has whizzed past me at astronomical speeds (both literally – the Earth did complete a revolution around the Sun- and figuratively! I had barely gotten used to writing 2019 while writing the date, and now I have to push 2020?!

Of course, what’s a new year without new (and many old) resolutions? I thought long and hard about my resolutions this year. As neither mega nor micro resolutions have worked with me, I needed to focus on what I really wanted out of my life this year. So I categorized my resolutions/goals/ambitions/wants/needs ( you know I love categorizing!) and listed them down. Hopefully I’ll manage to achieve some of them, if not all! There are still things on the work front that I need to do, but there are many paths and options there and I don’t really know for sure what I want, so I’ll just table it until next year. As of now, my resolutions are as follows:

Health & Fitness resolutions

  • Become fitter by: 1) eating healthier and better and 2) working out more (more than more because more in my case can be very little because I don’t work out AT ALL usually. Go figure! 😛 )
  • Go to the gym regularly and be able to swim 2 Olympic sized pool laps (200 meters freestyle) without stopping
  • Eat out less often and cook more often
  • Dance more
  • Sleep early and wake up early

Reading & Writing resolutions

  • “Read” more audio books to save time
  • Inventory all the books I own and their whereabouts
  • Finish reading all the books in my personal library (from the aforementioned inventory) before hogging public library books
  • Buy more books 😀
  • Read more newspaper and current affairs magazine articles (as opposed to Twitter opinions)
  • Read more Marathi books
  • Read at least 1 Hindi and 1 French novel
  • Write more often and more regularly
  • Start a translation project
  • Consolidate all of my blogs into one blog

Miscellaneous resolutions

  • Scream less at my child (same strictness, lower decibels)
  • Snap less at people but stand my ground and keep expressing my opinions fearlessly (even though most people disagree with them)
  • Become more disciplined
  • Make more lists 😀
  • Have more interesting, meaningful, insightful conversations rather than the regular ghar-pati-bachche-office stuff
  • Limit social media “friends” to only those with whom I have/wish to have regular contact

That is all for now. I’m sure I’ll be breaking many of these resolutions and adding some more to the lists. Let’s see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Bye bye, 2019, OR Hello, 2020?

How was your 2019 and what are your resolutions for the year 2020? Do let me know in comments! Happy new year once again, people! Peace Out!

A Nobel project

“Where the mind is without fear, where the head is held high, Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls…”

This amazingly beautiful classic poem from Rabindranath Tagore’s Geetanjali was floating in my head while I was day-dreaming at work today. Everyone who knows me well knows that my mind works in terms of trains of thoughts, it was doing just that! It went to this poem (which was also my school prayer!), then Tagore, then the Nobel prize, then the Nobel prize in literature… Then I began wondering how many books from Nobel prize winners I had read. As it turns out, I have read none! I was surprised, and in that amalgamation of disbelief and excitement, I decided to embark upon an unbelievably exciting (or excitingly unbelievable? we’ll see…) journey of reading at least 1 book by every Nobel laureate in literature!

Ha! Let’s see how far I get on this one, given my track record. Wish me luck!

Book review: Born a Crime (Stories From a South African Childhood)

Author: Trevor Noah

Date of Publication: 15 November 2016
Genre: Autobiography, Social commentary
Legacy:  This is the first book by the author who is a renowned comedian and TV host
Intended Age Group: Any
“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”
This thought embodies the book. I read this one because it was recommended by a very socially aware friend – I usually steer clear of biographies. And I must say I am grateful to her for encouraging me to read it!
This book tells the bitter-sweet coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, the son of a black South African mother and a white German/Swiss father. This pairing made him a “colored” boy – of mixed race, which was a whole different street to navigate when it came to the already jumbled and messed up labyrinth of different races and ethnic groups during the African apartheid and thereafter. Not to mention, it was also “illegal” to be of mixed race, hence the title of the book. Noah writes about his childhood experiences of social/racial/domestic/systemic abuse and prejudice and how he sometimes overcame it and sometimes ‘ran with it’ – pun totally intended (read the book to know more!). To be honest, it was eye-opening for me. It never ceases to amaze me how different and yet how similar all cultures are, and how our circumstances pretty much rule us.
To help us understand the African societal structure and constructs, Noah gives us a bit of history in every chapter – it’s a great dose of history! It’s much different from the textbook history we learn without empathy in schools. It’s human nature to dismiss any suffering except our own, and Noah strikingly demonstrates that with the help of various instances including the ‘Hitler’ incident -I won’t narrate it here to avoid spoilers, but that incident, and that whole idea, really made me stop and think. As kids in India, my friends and I also used the name of Hitler flippantly: you know, labeling anyone who was assertive or steadfast as Hitler, greeting each other with a “Hail” just to show comradeship, and even arguing the merits and demerits of dictatorship. We knew about the atrocities committed by Hitler, of course, it was taught in schools; and yet, it was just a story to us. And it was the same for Noah and his fellow Africans, who were themselves the victims of slavery and genocide, and yet, couldn’t empathize with victims of the holocaust.
Trevor Noah is amazingly gifted at observing people and the world. He introduces a world that is so different from the world we ‘imagine’ – because our imagination, as the introductory quote here states, is pretty stunted at best. When we think of Africa and apartheid, we think of injustice; but we hardly ever scale the depths of the destruction of human rights and worse, spirits.  There are so many things we take for granted and the success of this book is that it hits us hard about our complacency.
While Noah excels in deep understanding and insight, he lacks in fluid writing (I do think that he is a wonderful comic, but that’s immaterial here). Also, non-linear narrative is great when you are working a mystery, but in a biography – especially one which has so many ‘hues’ – no pun intended, it just tends to confuse the reader. In fact, the back and forth narrative and the long descriptions of his childhood routines is what made me take off a star. But despite that, the book is worth reading for everyone who is the least bit interested in cultures, society, and humanity.
Read this book, people! We often resign to the fact that history is written by victors, but that’s just because the vanquished and the survivors choose to or are forced to stay mum. Not anymore. It’s high time we start listening to their voices – especially when they are as insightful as Trevor Noah’s.
Rating: 4 on 5

Movie Review: Dangal

Okay, first things first. Dangal is an excellent movie – entertaining, sensible, inspiring, and, surprise, surprise!, a very clean PG movie!

I had a lot of mixed feelings about going to watch Dangal. I’m not a big fan of Aamir Khan (I do concede that he is an amazing actor, of course. Still, we cannot be fans of each and every amazing talent there is, can we?) and I’m wary of sports biopics. (Mary Kom was good but Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and MS Dhoni were strictly average. Also, the screenplay-ed stories of living people always seem weird to me)

But it got good initial reviews and I was on Christmas vacation, so I thought of giving it a try. It was almost after a year that I was going to be able to see a movie with my husband, after all.

My first thought into the movie revolved around Aamir Khan’s ears – they are so distinct that they’d be his identification even if he got an exhaustive movie-style plastic surgery. But 5 minutes into the movie, they disappeared. So did Aamir Khan himself. From then on, only Mahavir Singh Phogat, his amazing daughters, and their awe-inducing training routine and camaraderie prevailed. We all know the story of the movie by now, so I won’t dwell on it. But I cannot dwell enough on the powerful performances by all the actors. They are so real, so earnest, so natural – minus the melodrama that ensues with films like this. ALL of the actors, including the narrator of the movie – the skinny and ever-faithful cousin, make an impact and help carry the story and the feelings forward.

Also, I think that all these “protests” about Aamir Khan forcing his ambition on his daughters are ridiculous. One often needs a nudge while pursuing an unconventional path. Plus, he did not see a wrestling future for the girls until they beat up boys who were calling them names. He tapped their potential. He did not force a fish to fly, he in fact recognized the flying fish while others were calling them weird. We need more fathers like this!

The music of the movie needs a mention, too. It complements the film. None of the characters mouth the lyrics, which is great. The songs only carry the story forward.

Now, if I had to pinpoint the flaws in the movie, I would have to say that Aamir Khan being locked up in a storage room during his daughter’s Gold medal bout is silly. I mean, come on! So childish. But then, it does not really take away from the fantastic movie!

Kudos!

 

A new project – to improve the old one!

Hey friends!

I have been thinking about revamping my blog for a long time now. Presentation, look-and-feel, colors, and so on. But I have realized that the most important thing I need to revamp is the content. Being a technical writer and an aspiring writer/editor myself, I think I should refresh my old blog of 9 years – by editing and revising the existing posts first.

This WordPress site has seen many locations: apartments, workplaces, buses and rickshaws, even, as I wrote posts on the fly. Especially during my initial years, I wrote from my heart ( You may read that as did not bother to proofread 😛 ).

So this is me, trying to proofread and edit and hopefully make better, all my blog posts to date. I will post on social media the links of posts I think people may have missed earlier.

Wish me luck! 🙂

 

The Hysteria (and atrocity) of Mob Justice

A few days ago, India was shocked to hear the news of a mob of 200-odd people in UP beating to death a man who was rumored to be consuming beef. While there are many different serious issues involved in this situation, including why the beef ban makes no sense, and how the temple was used for entirely ‘un-temple-like’ matters, this post is about the mob and its mentality, and the reasons behind this mentality, if any.

India is no stranger to the concept of a mob. From the time of our struggle for independence from the British, mob demonstrations, protests, meetings, and rallies have been quite common. In fact, these mob gatherings played a very important role in gaining us our independence – Dandi Yatra and Bharat Chhodo Andolan, for instance. However, these were mostly peaceful gatherings, condoning non-violence as a principle. The violent part of our freedom struggle, albeit very important as well, was commandeered by individuals rather than groups.

Thus, it is really strange to see that the mobs of today are far from peaceful. Just a few months ago, an angry mob lynched a rape suspect after breaking him out of a prison in Dimapur. Companies and companies of police forces could not control the mob. The matter lies under investigation while even the guilt of the murdered suspect is not yet established. However, the cruelty with which this suspect was murdered remains for all to be seen.

It saddens me deeply to see how people have stopped believing in the criminal justice system or law enforcement, in general. The humongous number of cases of rape, assault, and abduction; and the general lethargy in prosecuting them has triggered a long-due avalanche of public outrage in our country. People want justice, and they want it right now! But wait! Is any of it really true?

Yes, there is public outrage. But is it over matters that really concern the public? How was it any of those 200 people’s business to prevent the unfortunate man from eating beef? They had a right of opinion, yes; but who in the world gave them the right to enforce their opinion on someone, let alone physically confront them over it? If they had a problem with him eating beef, the most they should have done is filed a report at a police station, if at all that were possible. (I know, the anti-beef law is ridiculous and denying people their staple food while proudly wearing leather shoes and belts is as hypocritical as it can get,  but that merits a different blog post altogether. ) What gives them the right to kill someone? If the cow is sacred, isn’t a human life so too?

We have established that this killing makes no sense logically. Some people said to me that it is not a logical but a moral and sentimental issue. Educated people said this, no less. Again, the issue of how educated people fall prey to herd mentality or pandering merits another blog post. (And here I thought I had no topics to write about!) But for now, let’s see how this is (not) a moral and sentimental issue.

If we as a nation were that moral and sentimental, we would have stood up to the many issues that we face today. Take rape, for example. The Dimapur mob did kill a rape suspect when the outrage over numerous unsolved rape investigations was at its peak; but how many people from that mob regularly protest against inappropriate behavior in public places – the eves-teasing, the molestation, and overall unlawful intimidation? Oh and let’s not even open the can of worms called inappropriate behavior of domestic nature!

Don’t these so-called torch-bearers of moral conduct turn a blind eye towards countless “immoral” incidents that happen everyday around them, even when they are in groups?

I myself have been verbally abused in a crowded public bus, when a man whom I told not to lean on me launched a full-fledged  filthy-worded sledging attack on me. He even threatened me of dire consequences – while the many men and women around me just watched. Verbal abuse is bad enough, but how many of us even actually interfere in what we can clearly see is a physical or sexual attack? Where does this “moral mob” dissolve then?

When Government officials ask hundreds of people for a bribe, why don’t they unite and use the power of the mob to make the officials see the error in their ways? I remember when I was in Engineering college, public buses routinely refused to let us board until all the seats were filled because we, as students, paid concession fares. Hundreds of students hence traveled standing, but none, including me, had the will to collectively negotiate or reason with the individual buses or with the public transport authorities. This same universal set of students was however more than eager to stage a protest at the university against the rule of introducing uniform attire in colleges. The situations I have mentioned are nothing compared to the heinous crimes that are being committed by mobs, but the underlying problems are the same.

Do mobs only act when it is absolutely illegal to do so? Why is it that a large group of people will shut down an entire market on the day of a strike, but they will not be “moral” or “sentimental” about a poor lonesome fruit vendor who can only have enough money for dinner if he sells enough fruit in the day?

Clearly, a different type of sentiment is at play here.  Is it all politically motivated – someone actually pulls the strings and controls the mob after brainwashing them, while letting them believe that they are all in control? Do we as a society need to vent our frustration about the many problems of the world and take any easy route offered to us? Those easy routes mostly happen to be the wrong ones; but we have put out ourselves so much that we cannot retreat? Don’t at least some of us have a crisis of conscience while watching a fellow human being mercilessly beaten and back-off, or try to get others in our ‘united’ group to back off? Do none of these mob members take a moment to think about the consequences of their actions, both short and long term?

So many questions, I know! I am really baffled by all this ominous stuff. The truth is, I refuse to believe that human beings are inherently evil creatures. A few may lose their way, but as a society, we are bound by conscience to behave rationally, compassionately, and justly. At least I hope so. Wake up, fellow human beings! Social interaction or forming groups is what makes us human beings special. It is time to give a good, long thought to how we, as a group, should make each other better, and not worse. Let’s be a solid community,and not just a mob.

The Birthday Blog Post

This was meant to be an actual birthday post, meaning it was supposed to be posted on my birthday, which was yesterday.  However, as most of my activities are these days, it had to be postponed. Thankfully, I can accredit it to my daughter, and not to my usual procrastination. 😀

20141029_004353Anyway, yesterday’s the day I turned 31, finally severing all my ties with my twenties. (No, I can no longer say that I was in my twenties  just until a few days ago! 😛 )

In other (more real) senses, too, this birthday was of quite some importance to me.

For one, I became a mom about 5 months ago, so it is my first birthday as one. My daughter does not understand it yet but years later she will see herself wishing me in photographs. Yes, I posed her to  hug me and pretended she was wishing me a happy birthday, I admit! 😛 😉

My last birthday was pretty disastrous, what with the morning sickness and stuff. So on this birthday, I was happy to actually eat my birthday cake. 😀 Chocolate, of course!

I have always been a big fan of birthdays; and while I agree that we all grow a little everyday, there’s something that changes on our birthdays every year. As a kid, I used to truly believe that what we wished while cutting our birthday cakes really came true.  As I grew up, I transferred my wish-fulfillment tactics to making resolutions. Needless to say, neither of them came to fruition. Well, at least most of the times. Still, I make resolutions on every birthday: most are just repeats of those made about 10 months ago, all still unfulfilled. And some, I try to incorporate based on my age. This year, as I myself have a child, I have resolved to reduce my childish streaks, at least a little. The child-likeness, albeit, I cannot camouflage. But the flashes of temper, the random indiscipline – they sure have to go out the door.

Apart from that, I have resolved to read more, on the new Kindle Paperwhite that hubby dearest gifted me on my birthday. :):) I used to be an ardent supporter of good old-fashioned paper books; but considering how my daughter devours anything that she can tear or wring, I fear for their safety. Hence, Kindle. At least until she finds a way to destroy that, too. 😛

Well, that’s it so far. Let me publish the post before I get interrupted again. Happy birthday to me! 😀 😀

Mesothelioma Awareness

Recently, I was contacted by  Heather Von St. James, a triumphant survivor of mesothelioma. She wanted me to spread a word about this rare form of cancer. I must admit, I had never heard of mesothelioma before.

Mesothelioma is dangerous, yet avoidable. It mainly occurs due to asbestos exposure. It has been cured in rare cases, like that of Heather. It was quite inspiring to read about her victory over it.

For information about Mesothelioma, please visit http://www.mesothelioma.com/

Also, stay away from asbestos!

My childhood rain memories

It is that time of the year, again (In India)! 🙂 Yes, the monsoon season, indeed. As my readers already know from several of my previous posts, I love the rain.

rainRain reminds me the most about treks, chai-pakodas, the ‘terrifying and soothing at the same time’ property of nature, and the romantic breeze, of course; but I have talked about those things previously. Today, as my life currently revolves around my cute little 2 months old daughter, I have decided to write about my childhood rain memories. I think I did have a gala time with the rains during my childhood, too. Doing what? Here’s my top 5!

1. Making paper boats

paper boats

One of the first memories I have of ‘fun in the rain’ is of making paper boats and releasing them in nearby gutters, and seeing how many reach the far end! Of course, most boats used to sink soon; and hence used to begin the competition of seeing ‘whose’ boats among the group of budding ship builders floated the most. As I grew older, I learned to make different types of boats:  those with anchors, those with a mainsail and a jib, and so on. I loved it – what wasn’t to love? Making them was fun, getting wet while putting them in gutters was ‘adventurous’, and watching my parents clean up the mess left behind was even more fun…hahaha! I guess that is why we stop making boats when we get older – we have to clean our own mess, don’t we! 😛

2. Jumping and dodging puddles

I don’t need to see a ‘daag acche hain’ commercial to remember how, despite warnings from my parents about the troubles dirty water could cause, I used to jump into puddles and splash water. (Not just on myself, but on unsuspecting and suspecting people, too) hahaha.Puddle I used to also try to dodge these puddles, but the more I jumped around them, the more I ‘accidentally’ launched myself into them. 😛 😀 Not my fault, no? [Evil Grin] 😀

As children we were really carefree! Now, I wouldn’t even dream of doing such a thing. However, I do remember that I accidentally stepped into a puddle on a Jersey City street while on a trip to New York, and felt happy! 😛 😀 Now whether that was from the nostalgia about Indian roads or about actually stepping in puddles, I do not know.

3. Playing while getting drenched

rain-wallpaper-5This should have been number 1, actually! What can beat the ’kick’ we felt when we played while getting soaked from head to toe, wiping our faces again-n-again to see what’s going on around? Ahhhh, coolness, freshness, adventure – thy name is ‘getting drenched’! 😀 My favorite rain game? Catching Cook, Lagori, and swimming. Funnnn! Oh, and coming home to a hot bath after playing our hearts out while getting drenched – heavenly!

 

 

4. Buying rain coats

rainyday

If you are telling me that you did not obsess over colorful umbrellas and rain coats when you were a child, I’d say you are kidding me! 😀 I remember getting all excited at the end of summer about buying new rain coats. Discussing latest fashions was not about clothes and shoes back then; it was about pencil-boxes, labels, and rain coats. How excited I was when the new skirt-n-top rain coats came in the markets! And when the transparent ones did, too! Mmmm the smell of new rubber and plastic…..mmmmm…

5. Singing ‘Ye re ye re paavsa‘ and ‘paus aala vara aala‘. lol… Did you sing rain songs as a child? Which ones?

What were your favorite childhood activities related to rain? Do let me know. 🙂

A Brand New (Mother of a) Role! :)

DSCF0859

Literally!

Yes, I am happy to announce that exactly a month ago, I assumed one of the most important roles I will ever play in my life. I gave birth to this sweet little girl that you can see in the accompanying photograph, Ananya. Her arrival was nothing short of a mini-tsunami of change in my life, and Mayuresh’s.

From the moment we had a slight doubt that the little present (or future, should I say?) was on its way into our lives, nothing remained same as before.  Lifestyle, pastimes, physical condition, mental state, plans, priorities… you name it and 360 degrees turn it made!

9 months passed with much hullabaloo. Girls, if you are interested in knowing more about those 9 moths, you can read all about them, in detail, in my newest still-under-construction blog The Mommy Diaries. (For those who prefer saving and browsing through the blog later, the URL is http://amrutasmommydiaries.blogspot.com/.) I singled out girls because I am very sure boys will hardly be interested in knowing the nitty-gritties of pregnancy – a phase they will never experience first-hand! 😛 Anyway, the new blog is not yet fine-tuned and ready for public viewing, hence this subtle mention.

But as people had told me earlier, the real adventure was yet to begin. And it now finally has. After experiencing the first few days of overwhelming physical agony and mental ecstasy, my mind now has finally reached a point where there can be emotional upheaval.

And emotions indeed poured like cats and dogs! From what it really means to be a mom, to what I want to be able to teach my daughter… From how I can never be carefree again, to how I can prevent my life from being one-dimensional… So many and Oh so many thoughts have firmed their roots in my mind these days!

The confusion and the musings aside, this new role has also brought in a plethora of new experiences. Ananya is just a month old, and cannot smile purposely – I know; and yet when she coincidentally grins when I’m talking gibberish to her, I feel she is responding already, and we have this special connection. Such a comforting bubble it is! 🙂 Getting worried when she cries and happy when she clings to me, understanding her yells and wails (Oh yeah, it seems they have a different kind for every reason!), treating her like the most delicate thing on the planet, while hoping she will be really strong when she is older… I can ramble on and on about all these new experiences I am having, but then what would I write in later posts, if I do write them, that is!

Wish me luck for bringing up this cute little baby, and also for being able to keep writing this blog in spite of assuming this mother of a role. Well, who knows… it is said that when you are really busy doing something important, you find time to do all the things that you like doing. ‘Cause it is not the lack of time that prevents you from doing what you want to, but it is procrastination! The busier you get, the more efficient you become in handling things that you care about.

We’ll soon know if that is true! 😀

 

Jab Celsius and Fahrenheit met!

fahrenheit_celsiusI had heard about Chicago’s cold winters. I had survived a couple of them. But nothing could have made me imagine the kind of cold that would come in, jab Celsius and Fahrenheit met!

Yes, that’s right. For those of you who did not know (and that includes me, until recently) at -40 degrees Celsius,  the Fahrenheit scale of measurement catches up (or down, whichever way you like it).  I guess the world is so damned frozen by the time the scale hits -40, that Mr. Celsius and Mr. Fahrenheit no longer have the energy to diverge! Hahaha, just kidding! It is all purely mathematical, actually.

This historical event (well, in all of my 30 years of near-cognizance) happened on the 6th of January, a day when by the grace of Murphy, I had an unavoidable appointment outside my house. I have spent months and months sitting at home, and on the one day when I could have been glad for doing that, I had to drag myself out, wearing no less than 7 layers of warm clothing. Needless to say, I looked like a frozen elephant! 😛

To add to the woes, the extreme drop in temperature led to low air pressure in the car tires, forcing husband dearest to queue up at the air filling station and drag the air pipe (or whatever it is called) to all the tires while shivering bitterly.

Thankfully, none of our body parts fell off by the time we got back home. I wonder what the homeless people were doing, though… Poor them! Now the temperatures are slowly but steadily rising, thankfully again.

Here are some pictures of the terrible ‘polar vortex’ed city of Chicago and a few other places. See and enjoy the fact that you weren’t here, then. Those of you who were here, rue the same fact. 🙂

http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-ugc-weather-photos/

Happy New Year 2014!

Hi friends,

Before anything else, let me wish you a very happy new year! May the year bring plenty of health, happiness, success, fun, and laughter in your lives! 🙂Image

I know that a new year is just a statistical tool to help us keep track of time, and the Gregorian calendar (by which the 1st of January becomes the first day of the year) does not even mark the change in a season, but mere mortals (and procrastinating ones at that) like me do like to have landmarks and deadlines in life, to keep us on track. A new year serves that exact purpose. 🙂

So how was the last year for me? Well, bitter-sweet, like most other years. The year started in Orlando (ahh, the lovely, sunny land of Florida) and ended in Chicago (ohh the wretched land of snow). – which actually is poetic justice! 🙂

This time around, the new year celebration was rather subdued, although very comfy and cozy, with just me and my husband sipping sparkling pomegranate juice (yes, seriously) and munching on yummy, home-made Malai Kofta and naan. And thus, we also managed to wake up early in the morning the next day, which has been one of my new year targets and resolutions for many years now.

As for resolutions, this year too, I made the same old ones – lead a healthier lifestyle, read more, write more, obsess less, be less emotional and more practical, and so on. What remains to be seen is how soon and how often I break them! 😀

I am majorly concerned about writing, though. It is after all, my bread and butter. At least it used to be, and after this “break”, it will be so again. Just don’t want to lose my shine (if I had any in the first place; and if I did, then if any of it is left) by the time this break ends. Let us see. Only time will tell! Coincidentally, and on a totally unrelated note, that was the last book I read last year [Only Time Will Tell – John Grisham], and did not like it at all. Why I am writing this here? I don’t know – just want to write something. That’s a good sign, I guess… hehehe.

Anyways, here’s to more good signs, and good omens, and good deeds, and good news; and hopefully see you again soon.

Cheers! 🙂

Racism? How beneath our own race!!!

Here’s a transcript of an interview between a journalist and a typical young, educated, white-collared Indian.

Q: Do you think Indians, especially those of the younger generation, are racist?racism pic
A: No way, man! It is well-known all over the world – We don’t indulge in racism! We are all-embracing…
In fact, the only race we do believe in is the race for betterment, for success – financial, social, traditional, emotional, and cultural! (They don’t call us the Gen-Next for nothing!) Plus, our culture is the greatest of all, re! Look at all those stupid Americans and Australians… harassing not only Indians, but their own country men living there! We are not like them at all. We believe in “Live and Let Live”!

QWhat is racism, according to you?
A: Racism is being biased towards some races and discrimination and stuff.

QSo, you are saying that none of us treat people of other races differently?
A: Yeah, yeah, I know that those roadside boys keep whistling at foreign tourists and trying to pick them up. But they are just appreciating beauty – of what value is beauty if no one appreciates it?
And plus, most of these boys are outsiders – from the neighboring states and all, you know! They don’t stay in their limits sometimes; but they are like that only! We can’t teach them these things, right… yeh cheezein to khandaani hain! They speak their own strange languages, and don’t understand ours. But, however useless they are, they don’t do any real harm at all, so it is okay. And don’t even get me started on those originally from neighboring countries! Unka bhi to kuchh nahi ho sakta!

QSo it is only they who are inclined towards racism?
A: Well I can’t say that directly and be politically incorrect, right? I can tell you for sure that OUR community and state is awesome! We are all modern now! We even write “sub-caste no bar” in our matrimonial ads, for god’s sake!
Also, when my North Indian boss’s daughter wanted to marry a Southie, her family didn’t agree at first. Neither did her boyfriend’s. Different culture, different state, different lifestyle – how to adjust with all that, they both asked? Their point of view was correct in a way. Apne apne samaaj ke sab ladke-ladkiyan mar gaye the kya? But look at both their parents’ generosity and open-mindedness… after she ran away with her boyfriend and got married in court, they graciously welcomed the two of them back. Spent like a crore of rupees on the reception. Totally awesome, right!

Racism pic 2QWhat about our internal problems related to casteism?
A: Oh my God… what world are you living in? I am telling you everything’s changed now… Earlier people used to talk about untouchability and stuff. Now we don’t even get to see it anywhere! Well, may be in remote villages and all, but who lives in those anyways – not even a handful of people, I guess. We in the cities are much more modern now… what’s the harm in interacting with those other caste people, I say? It’s not as though they are going to come and live with us now!


Q
And what about discrimination against the “so-called” upper castes and lower castes, both? 
A: No, no, what upper castes and what lower castes? Everyone is just basically proud of their own caste and want the best for it – doesn’t mean we discriminate right? Sometimes things just happen… It’s India yaar!

QRecently there has been news of certain politicians being violent towards out-of-state vendors and businessmen. Do you approve of such tactics?
A: See, tell me this – India is such a huge country, and a highly developing one at that! Even if we don’t allow people from other states to work in ours, they will surely get jobs in their own. Then why do they want to force the people in our state to seek employment elsewhere by filling up all our jobs? As for violence, it is unfortunate; but again, kya karein, it is inevitable sometimes.

QBut don’t you think India is a free country and we can all live and work wherever we want in India?
A: Yeah, we are a free country; but that’s why we all need to stay happy in our own zones, na! If no one is happy how will our country be united? And we are so liberal now…even the different castes are not constricted about employment and work. Our society allows Brahmins to run a business, Kshatriyas to become professors, Vaishyas to do blue-collared jobs and even Kshudras to enroll in armed forces… all these people are allowed to do things they aren’t supposed to – how much more liberal can we be, man! To maintain a balance, we need to have some boundaries, right. Without those, we will be like those Americans and Hippies and stuff.

Q: Okay, and what do you have to say about name-calling? Like in USA, calling African-American people Negros is considered politically incorrect as well as outright offensive. But here, people often use racially offensive nicknames. You just used the word ‘Southie’ in a previous answer.
AArrey, those Americans create an issue out of everything. We just do the name-calling as a joke, man. Plus, it is the easiest way of referring to them. And don’t victimize them okay, they also have nicknames for our state and community. It’s just tit for tat. Now take the software analogy only… in our own company, we call those who test testers, those who code developers, and so on. Similarly, we have names for those from different states and with small eyes, dark skin, dim wits, tendency to show off, miserly traits, oily hair, gauche accents, country of origin, and so on. What’s racist about that!

QOkay then, any parting thoughts on this whole issue of racism?
A: Well, I just want to say that we are not racists at all. No, no, indulging in racism is far, far beneath our glorious race, dude!

[Also published on TheFrustratedIndian blog]]