Monday, July 31, 2006

The Inevitable Conversation

Realizing how much similar is the way any relationship works in this world. Last week, I went out to lunch with a colleague, his wife and their two young kids - 18 months and 6 weeks old. So, you can imagine how interesting the lunch would have been - the 6-week baby crying on and off in her sleep, the 18-month old trying not to eat vegetables and so the parents coaxing her about it and trying to bribe her with cheese cake and chocolates for dessert, the couple sharing the lunch and just conversing with me about the general nothings - the weather, traffic, Bush and Middle-East and you know, the usual trivia.

Amidst all this, all of a sudden, with a bewildered face, the wife said "You know what I found today - my first grey hair". The husband started laughing and teasing her about it. I felt like Kabab-Mein-Haddi for a little bit. But then, they recovered from the moment and my colleague started talking about how its just women who worry about grey hair, wrinkles and dark eyes. So, with two ladies around - his wife and me, we launched an argument that successfully took out the rest of the lunch conversation and the rest of the day of work. Ofcourse, you can imagine how it would have gone!

This also rewound my thoughts to the year 1994 when almost a similar conversation took place at home in Chennai. My mom is the worrier in my family. Not so much a worrier, but the most caring person ever and hence tends to worry a little. Although she worked full-time, she used to worry about me, my schooling, basically everything around me. So, once when she was asking some serious questions about school and stuff, I was too engrossed in the cricket match going on then, Kumble and his bowling antics and didn't reply to her with much heed. She got upset and it took a lot of time and energy to make things right again. I was usually a very good kid and was never a lot of trouble - at home and school. Anyhow, after that, she started talking how worried she is about me and my future (just like any other parent). My dad started calming her down and said that if she didn't lessen the worries about me, by the time I started working (after school and college), she would have her head full of grey hair. For a second then, everything almost stopped. She retorted.

Skipping what happened at home after that, trying to come back to the original point - some conversations across the globe are almost the same, irrespective of all the differences that actually exist. And this one, hair turning to grey, is an inevitable one in everyone's life. Concur?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Airline Bewilderment..

After a number of flights - long and short hauls.. I still wonder.. what makes the air hostess decide if to offer a cup of soda or the entire can?

I tried to come up with a base over which this decision is what happens in the air hostess mind when she comes near where you are seated... "how much is he in need of a drink, was he courteous enough when I wished him as he boarded the plane, is he going to say thanks after I offer him a whole can or is he going to sufficiently happy with a cup", etc....

I still dont understand.. any thoughts?

Friday, July 28, 2006

After a royal roast...

After getting royally roasted in Texas, slightly warmed up in Atlanta, drenched in North-East, all for a few days I am back - cribbing and whining. Nothing better than to come home...well, not 'home' home, but.... Anyhow, coming back home, the fridge empty, dusty furniture, month end and so bills to be paid, what not?

It is during these times that I wonder if I should get a roommate. But with the wrong roommate, all these troubles will still exist. So, I pat myselves on the back and go on to do the things that need to be done!

After restless sleep, came to work today and got dismayed seeing my colleague (who was also getting roasted) all cherub and fresh for the day's work. Even with two young kids and a family to take care of, seemed to me that his life was going better than mine at that wee hour of the morning. I pride myself of being a strong, level-headed person. But at times like this I wonder if I should weaken a little and let go of some of my responsibilities and just take up things in a stride.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Intolerable Embarrassment

There were a very few times in the past when I have been really embarrassed. Any day, this incident tops!!

It was in 1996. After a long time, my parents along with my cousins and grandma went to a Hindi movie, in the theater. My cousins were older than I was, barely by a year. We couldn't get continuous seats and so we split in groups of two. My parents sat in one end of a row and I sat with my grandma and cousins at the other end of the same row. My cousins were a riot. Both were born and brought up in Bombay and had come to Chennai just a few years back. So, one of the them was the official translator for my grandma. The movie started. Everything was fine until this particular scene comes onscreen - Karishma and Aamir standing under a tree in the rain and you know what happens next. I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT since my grandma just shoved her hands to my face and closed my eyes. Reason - I was too young to see a couple kissing on the movie screen. My cousins were roaring with laughter. Considering the typical crowd on a Friday in a Hindi movie theater in Chennai (all youngsters..), I felt everyone around me who wasn't really into the movie was laughing at me. Probably not. But my two cousins loud laughter were enough to get enough attention. I turned red with anger and embarrassment. To top it, I was really upset with my grandma and asked her about it when I got home. She just brushed me off saying that unlike my cousins I was naive and innocent to see or know about some stuff!!! I wanted to scream out loud - innocent, naive, me - What am image have I created in my grandma's head? I never thought that I was an innocent kid, definitely not after high school.

Anyhow, till this day, I cannot forget what my grandma did!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Come Dec, off to Sankara Hall

I probably needn't give an intro to the place. Every music lover/freak/critic probably knows what I am going to write about. Right, the December season and sale of cassettes and CD's at Sankara Hall.

My father and I had a tradition - a marathon deal. From when I became serious (to say the least, understood a little bit about Carnatic) about music, probably sometime in school, my father used to take me to the sale at Sankara Hall during Dec/Jan every year. As soon as we were ready to take off for the marathon, we used to get a word of advise from my mother and grandma. Both of them used to warn my father not to buy everything I ask for and warn me not to let my father overdo anything. So, after all this ado, we took off.

After tricky parking, the marathon started. My dad used was a big fan of the oldies like Ariyakudi, Semmangudi, GNB, Mani Iyer, MBK and so on. I got my dabs on USrinivas,Kadri, Sudha, Soumya, LalgudiJ and so on. So, we each picked a huge stack. Ofcourse the common ones which we both agreed on like MS, Maharajapuram, Nithyashree, Jayashree were bought instantly. The rest we had to delegate. For every GNB and Semmangudi that my dad gave up, I gave up a Soumya or a Sudha. So, finally after a lot of haggling, we settled and paid.

To make things easier at home, we got my mom a collection of MS cassettes(She is one of the biggest MS fans.. she cried for days and weeks when MS passed away and even skipped work for a day or two to watch the live programs on MS; She didn't skip work even when I had exams or was not too-sick ... just to show how big of a fan she was/is) and some kind of bhajans or slokas (like by Soolamangalam sisters or Bombay sisters) for grandma.

Coming to US broke the tradition. But this year, when I went to India in Jan, we did the marathon after a 6 yr gap and it still has its glitter and gleam. Although now, there is less delegation because of two reasons - I am officially an adult and am allowed to choose whatever and since paying is in credit card and it doesn't seem to be a lot of money after all conversions. So, growing up, staying in US and earning in dollars atleast had one sure-shot advantage. :-))

Friday, July 07, 2006

Men with/without the right women...

Just to tally with yesterday's post...

After being married 25 years, one day a fella took a look at his wife and said, "Honey, do you realize 25 years ago, I had a cheap apartment, a cheap car, slept on a sofa bed and watched a 10 inch black and white TV, wore the same jeans/shirt for weeks, but . . . .. . I got to be with a hot-looking, 25 year old, sweet thing. A sweetheart of an arrangement. Now, we have a nice house, nice car, big bed and plasma screen TV, but I'm with a 50 year old, slightly pudgy, graying woman. It seems to me that you are not holding up your side of things."

Now the man's wife is apparently a very reasonable woman. She told him " Honey, go out and find a hot 25 year old sweet thing. I will make sure of the following - you will be living in a cheap apartment, driving a cheap car, sleeping on a sofa bed and watching a 10 inch black and white TV...wearing the same old jeans/shirt for years...."

Speechless he was, but very clear on his situation...

Is that right?? :-)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

How to react?

Two people that I knew (not too-well though) from grad school got married recently. I met the happy couple and wished them a happy married life at a gathering in my friend's place. I was stuck with small-talking to the bride for a few minutes by myself. I had framed a few questions in my mind if such a thing was to occur but was just not prepared well enough. I ask her the usual first question.

"So, how's the married life treating you?"

She replies - " Its great! I don't have to drive anywhere anymore."

Are you kidding me? After this answer I didn't know how to proceed with my other questions. It was a love marriage and so I had expected the bride to be all happy and excited. But this is what I got from her. Of all the things in a married life, the first thing that came to her mind was driving a car? People...

Just when you pride yourself on being able to understand the psyche of a person, you meet a relative stranger and get baffled!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why I had to learn?

Little did I realize when I graduated from undergrad that I was going to do more learning, later in life than what I had done till then. Like for instance, about cars.

I never meddled a lot with cars or bikes. As long as I can reach my destination with minimal effort I was alright. Theoretically, just the basics that everyone learns in school were my extent of knowledge on cars too. When I started working that just wasn't enough. Other than just another girl, all engineers in my office were men. Which meant - all the conversations were at some point focused upon nothing but cars - engines, balancing, size of cylinders, wheels shafts, torques, make and model, European parts for American cars and what not? Initially I just used to listen and not chip in. But then, things got interesting once when someone asked about indigenous Indian cars and their manufacturers. I drew a blank!! That night, I started learning.

So now I know why its comparatively difficult to balance an odd-numbered engine-cylinder like in Maruti 800 series ( three cylindered), can visualize (well, most of the time...) the power of an engine when someone states its hp or watt, effect of V-6/V-8 engines, torques on bikes and their associated weight factor, etc.

But now, things have changed slightly...blame it on gas prices and other inflation.... The major topic of discussion nowadays is investments, equities, assets, property ownership, funds, etc. Although I know the basic terminology and can probably hold my fort for about 10-15 minutes, after that, its back to blank. So, time to start my new lessons on finance and investments!!