Thursday, December 20, 2007
PS- You might see some writings other than mine. And no word verification! I guess that's the extent to which I am going to plug this.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
So I had obviously hyped up my resume (best cook, best gossip magnet, best social skills etc) to even get an invitation here. I was also at my best behavior- laughing at everything the host said, commenting on their cooking skills, letting them win in a board game. I could see sparkle of approval in the other people’s eyes and a tinge of pride in the host’s. It was going pretty well and this time even I didn’t see it coming.
We had finished eating (which could be taken as a sign) and Pi went on to inquire about this person’s work, trying to make small talk and look positively interested. The guy just started his monologue with genuine passion and just when he was about to launch into further details, Pi’s eyes glazed over and as we all watched, he went off to sleep.
Not sure if we might have to pack up and leave Pittsburgh or live with bad reputation, but I do know one thing. I am pissed! Let me explain why I seem to be over reacting to something perfectly normal as someone sleeping after a good dinner. If there is one thing I would like to acquire from Pi, it would be his sleeping sickness. In close contention were eating disorder, obsessive controlling disorder and a big nose. I already have the big nose, so there!
I am cursed to be a light sleeper and I have known to wake up with a start if someone coughed in Nigeria. I could drink all the warm milk I wanted, use lavender scented eye patches, read History and listen to Chopin…but after a whole hour I would be agonizing over sleep while Pi would be waking up another light sleeper in Nigeria with his snores. I normally end up getting a headache with all that lavender smell and sound effects. It also takes a very patient benevolent soul like me to ward away any murderous thoughts during these trying times. It would be still fine with me if Pi needed some sort of ambience to drift off to sleep- soothing music, dimly lit room, a rocking bed, nagging wife… something that would validate the act. My hubby can sleep like a baby the minute his head hits something soft like the granite kitchen counter top. His claim to fame is sleeping at a rock concert in IIT (Sarang), next to speakers no less.
So it probably shouldn’t come as a shock when I tell you he drifts off mid-sentence when we have guests at home. Now it wouldn’t worry me under normal circumstances. It definitely seems fair enough to show displeasure when the aforementioned guest happens to be his most annoying friend, who could potentially be the reason why he has developed this trait in the first place. The friend takes this as a sign from Pi and makes himself comfortable, insisting on sharing his escapades with me… all night long (emphasizing the ‘long’).
Obviously last night was not a lone incident. Pi has dozed off in other people’s houses, sometimes in their couch in sitting position (if they are lucky), or sometimes in their master bed in diagonal sleeping position (if they are unlucky). “So, this is your new bed, eh? Let me see if it feels comfor…..zzzzzzz… Snoooooorrrrrreeee… burrrrr… brrrrroooom… vrrrrooom”… and very soon he launches off the alien mating calls.
Here’s one more disturbing fact. None of our friends have shown any concern or disapproval. They are either too polite (remember we are talking about my friends) or pretty pleased to get Pi out of the way. Personally, I shall take that as a compliment, thank you!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I am screwing up so bad that the whites have started to think my FAA is actually the way we Indians normally speak. Then an Indian colleague comes along and confuses them even more by saying this is actually the British Accent because the British taught us how to speak English during their extended stay in our country.
When we first came to USA, we had to repeat words twice and spell out our names. Frustration crept in pretty quick and we changed the way we spoke and shortened our names. ‘Hi, table for two…the name is Sue!’ But there are some of us who are stubborn and stick to our roots (or maybe routes). We continue to spell out the 14 letters of our last name…D as in David, A as in Adam, H as in Jesus…and by the time we are done, we have the all the biblical names covered and the person typing the name gasping for breath. ‘Sorry’, I say (not feeling apologetic at all), 'My parent’s way of teaching me the alphabet.’
It always helps to try and fit in, to enable the majority to comprehend you so that you can be sucessful in half the time it takes for a person repeating words. The intention is to be global, but in the end of the day we get drawn to the people with whom we can converse with ease and poke fun of their FAA. Hence for most part, Indians hang out with Indians, Chinese with Chinese and Mallus with Mallus.
When I am with Indians, I don’t stop talking- all the time thinking that the universe might vanish without hearing what I have to say. But with the Americans, I am unusually tongue tied, busy forming sentences in my mind with the FAA. When I catch myself saying something in my Indian accent, I correct it immediately making it look even more preposterous. I squirm and to cover up, I reach for the cookie and stuff my mouth and keep nodding. So for most of the conversation I stick to -Sure! Awesome! Yeah! Kewwl! and of course, the universal hahaha!. So Americans think I am dumb at the best and psycho at the worst.
I do not impress anyone anyway. So I have made up my mind. I am sticking to what I am comfortable with. I will speak like an Indian, with pride. After all, I need to give the Americans a chance to be global. If they don’t understand my English language, they’ll at least get my body language. *finger shooting up*
Monday, December 03, 2007
Such becoming thoughts enveloped me as I sat in the coffee shop sipping hot fancy-named-awful-tasting latte and stuffing my face with Black forest. That is a part of my training regime to tackle the extreme weathers. No one has seen a skinny Eskimo!
I paid the cashier with a cheery disposition that only a confident winter veteran could muster. And I opened the door and walked out...
I made it!... To the book store which happened to have a door connected from the coffee shop. I tried poking my nose out and had to withdraw inside real quick. Shuddered, thawed, checked my bearings, checked my heart-beat, ran to the nearest fireplace and picked up my cell phone.
Boogles, come pick me up now!
Yeah, the same bookstore you dropped me off at!
I know! It’s just that I forgot to carry the third pair of gloves, the monkey cap and chemical hand-warmers.
Oh just beat it, Kilimanjaro is definitely not this cold!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
We hiked the Buckskin Gulch in Southern Utah this Thanksgiving weekend. The first semi-scary situation came when we were dropped off at the trail head by Susan the shuttle woman. It was godamn cold and after I had oversome the initial shock of freezing in a desert, I wailed, 'Aunty, please come back and take me!' My fellow hikers thought I was being obnoxious (as usual) and paid no heed to my sufferings. I pulled out chemical hand warmers from my backpack (to be used in emergencies only) and tore open the cover in a psychopathic frenzy while jumping up and down violently shaking my frozen fingers. All this before I had even started the hike.We walked into the longest slot canyon in the world, the Buckskin Gulch. I truly believe that claim and I can't tell you how much mental preparation is required to make sure you dont get claustrophic and bury yourself in the canyon out of sheer panic that it might never end. It's tiringly long, achingly deep and extremely narrow. In places we had to remove our backpacks, inhale and squeeze sideways. Its also jawdropping surreal and extremely exquisite. The walls tell tales of erosion, flash floods and beauty. Its almost a spiritual experience. If you look hard, you can spot pertoglyphics (ancient rock art by Anasazi settlers). There are times when you can't see the sky through the 500 feet tall sandstone walls. Like ants carrying their food through long burrows inside the earth, we plodded on as every part of our body ached. Starts off with the calf muscles, moves over to your hips and then to the right shoulder. By the end of it, you are one big vessel of pain and it doesn't matter any more. You might as well get that rock and throw it on your left shoulder so that there is some equilibrium.
I am also convinced that I live for these moments.
Like the moment I got into the car after the hike and said, 'Turn on the heater, quick!'
The moment my hiking buddy says, 'I'll go into the shower first!' and I think of that extra fuel that could be used on him at this point.
The moment we saw a real meal after days of eating above mentioned Luna bars and bellowed at the waitress,' You forgot to add olives on this pizza!'
After hiking relentlessly for miles, the minute we all sat in the car, no one wanted to volunteer to get out and fill gas. It suddenly seemed like the most daunting task ever.
As you can tell, I couldn't have asked for a better vacation. Proof is in my limp.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Thank you for your time (hopefully you gave more than that). Ask me if you have questions like 'Is 400 too little?' Please note, the online option will take minimum of $25, but you can definitely write a check for lower amounts.
Engineers Without Borders helps me realize many of my passions- mentoring, traveling, interacting with community, doing good and of course engineering. No profession unleashes the spirit of innovation like engineering. Few have such a direct and positive effect on people’s everyday lives.
Off on a practice hike in Utah this Thanksgiving and spending the flight time learning on how to breed fish.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Writers Strike has affected alpha-2.blogspot.com. Despair not folks, let's look at all the wonderful alpha moments from the past. (You still around?)
ReRun 1- When Alpha was wronged by short sighted evil parents
ReRun 2- When a particular party went Northeast.
ReRun 3- When Alpha was subject to third degree by people she called her own.
ReRun 4- When Alpha returned unscathed from a wedding that was not her own
ReRun 5- When Alpha's body parts were attacked by a Vietnamese conspiracy
(Didn't see how else to break the news that Andy was a lab mate who spoke to me when he wasn't guzzling diet coke from a 7 liter tank. So in essence I spoke to him twice in my life. I also need to mention that you had to take 140 steps back to not mistake Andy for a department store. He probably was a department store considering how much he could store inside him. He was a white-washed department store that would shine like an EXIT sign every time he came back from the sun panting and puffing with 3 double cheese burgers, huge french fries, 7-liter diet coke and say, 'Duh Alpha, I heard you worship cows in India. I hope you eat em after that!'
Oh well, sorry about the ending. It is bound to build your character.)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
But alas, the desi boys were busy savoring the culture and trying hard to fit in. The same eligible bachelors spent majority of their waking day walking in slow motion, gawking at American couples making out (from a safe distance of 2 feet). Slow motion became motionless when a particular fair lady came bouncing along in what could be construed as a ‘shimmy’ in India. Most of our boys suffered from acute eyeball-to-lowball syndrome. Every endowed female of the Caucasian clan could only avert her gaze so much 'coz wherever she looked, she saw a Desi staring at her popping cleavage. She would have to smile if there was eye-contact, thus pushing our brethren into the deep abyss of sleepless nights and lone activities. Lord was to be praised if even one guy had his window facing the apartment swimming pool. Some brave ones would venture into the pool only to drown in estacy of being in the same body of water as the body of blonde and eventually be saved by his trunks turning into sails. This happened for much of the first semester. As you might have guessed, my jasmine flower strand just withered away in abject despair. I started to question my decision to come to the United States.
By second semester, a few rude shocks shook our men to reality:
1. The girls didn't care much for the 3 inch thick glasses, VIP designer frenchies and open mouths.
2. The girls didn’t make idli-sambar
3. They didn’t smell like their mom
4. They couldn’t integrate or for that matter differentiate
5. They owed a lot of themselves to their surgeon.
6. They weren’t female. (Some guys were lucky not to reach that point of discovery)
(Oh well, other than #1, everything was a manifestation of my imagination combined with natural flair for over-emphasizing.)
Just when the desi guys frantically turned to their mothers for procuring the vendakka curry recipe that would definitely impress me, I met Andy.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Note to Self: Never wish for something when you are hungry. It might just come true.
Before I knew it, hubby gave me a choice. ‘Cleveland or Pittsburgh?’
I like multiple choices that don’t make me go through the actual process of choosing. Apparently Chicago was not an option.
‘Does Cleveland have run down steel mills?’
Thanks to that important criterion, we moved to Pittsburgh. The rolling hills, resort-like apartment, unparalleled greenery, Andy Wharhol, Mount Washington, Oakland, Shadyside, Pamela’s Kitchen, Steelers, Strip District on Saturdays, Falling Water, the sandstones cliffs... everything Pittsburgh, everything that could have normally blown my mind away seemed to turn my nose up till I could feel mucus in my throat. Not even the puliyogre made me warm up to Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh to me would remain forever cold and I had made a steely resolve that nothing would make me love this place, not even my in-laws visit!
But like every relationship that starts with skepticism and hate, there is always a glimmer of hope that the two of you will never have anything to do with each other after a year.
‘My company hasn’t got rid of me yet,’ hubby breaks the news gently while handing me a ‘Things to shop around in Pittsburgh’ book as a peace offering.
But then something did happen that made me fall in love with…hold you breath… Pittsburgh. Fall. (Yes, the new shoes too.)
I was wonderstruck by nature’s partiality to Pittsburgh when it came to performing her greatest show. In Pittsburgh, she uses all her passion coloring the leaves. In Pittsburgh, she enthralls and entices and uses the mountains as her infinite canvas. I was done for, infatuated and giddy… Exclaiming in glee at every tree, gasping for breath at every bend. Almost rear-ended a few cars gaping at the colored hills that would make the driver in front actually forgive me. Glad I didn’t test that theory.
It was a torrid affair and lasted for less than a month for Winter coldly walked into the scene and stole the Pittsburgh I loved.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Dropped the pen to the floor where it bounced across the hall in resounding horror many times till you get the point that nothing good is about to happen.
‘Why mom? You don’t even have to go out of the house to take your long walks. In fact, we could rent the basement for the International Puppets Conference.’
'Check out Google Earth! This place is in the middle of nowhere.’
Cursing myself for teaching mom how to use Google Earth and knowing very well that this place (like every place in Pittsburgh) was exactly in the heart of some obscure forest, I looked at Google Earth.
Holy cow! The woods that we saw from the deck didn’t end in someone else’s backyard in a few hundred yards as we had hoped. This forest stretched all the way to Alaska and beyond. If a Ted Bundy lived in my back yard, I wouldn’t even know. If he brought his family to our forth room, I surely wouldn’t have a clue till I saw their undies in my laundry. Shudder! Did I mention the hidden attic?!
I do like backcountry and forests, but then too much of a good thing is not good, right? Also the dense perspective from where I was coming from needs to be considered. A aerial comparison of the Chicago and Pittsburgh.
In fact, Google Earth saved us the frightening prospect of buying that house and getting stuck with a mortgage. So instead, we now rent in an equally wooded area with no one in sight for million miles. We don’t have four rooms or a laundry chute or a puppet room. We have an escape route. We continue to pay more in rent for that peace of mind.
Friday, September 21, 2007
The parking lot from where I flew off of.
downhill...to park somewhere down there at the edge of a creek.
Many hours later, my car emerged with a few dents. Nissan Altima - a great car for off roading!
Radom guy who witnessed the whole scene of my car charging down the hill was so happy to see me alive that he hugged me with tears of happiness.
Cop: Is that your husband?
I am sticking with the mechnical failure story. The brakes just failed! The things I had to hear after everyone realised I was safe, completly unhurt, wasn't suicidal, drunk or plain insane (last point will be contested in the court)-
Cop: Ma'am, are you sure it was not a human error? *gives me a look that is reserved for blondes*
Cop: You are an aviation engineer, you must know it takes wings to fly.
Cop: No wonder husband travels. He must feel safe that way.
Little girl of five: Wow! That must have been scraier than Atlantis!!(roller coaster ride in Universal)
Me: No sweetheart, it wasn't. *trying to hide the wild heart beats*
Little girl: Can I get a ride?
Me: How much did Atlantis charge? (Parents pull the kid away after telling me Jesus lives)
Good news- I found my lost set of keys that came flying on my face while I was trying every possible way to come to a stop on the steep slope. Good thing I didn't stop on the slope. Would have overturned for sure and my brains would have come flying out. Some lost and found moment that would have been!
All said and done, thankful to be alive! The only scratch I got was from a bush that I walked on while climbing up.
All women drivers, I hope I didn't malign your name further.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
We found a huge mansion that could fit all the homeless of Chicago in the second floor, all the rodents of Karni Mata Temple in the basement and hubby in the laundry room. We had to believe it was the perfect location when we saw a desi family peering intently at us from their dark garage, door half drawn. I ran up to them, squeezed myself inside their garage and bombarded them with a few questions of the neighborhood and specifically the lady’s culinary skills. Husband did a little talking, wife just nodded while the kid wailed. Overall I was thrilled to have neighbors who could lend curry leaves at the crucial time during preparation of aforementioned rasam. Unfortunately they shut their garage door when we were just about to invite ourselves to their house to check if they had a similar granite counter top.
We went back to Chicago and were debating about the new house when I realized that I had another grave question to ask someone who lived in that area. It could make or break the deal. I went into zillow.com, a website that lets serial killers and other antisocial elements find out how much you paid for your house, your full name and general details like your mole locations. All you have to do is type in the address and viola! your whole neighborhood’s horoscope will be on your lap to lap it off. That’s how I found out that Mr. Rao paid 5K less than what we were being quoted for a similar house. ‘They probably don’t have the granite counter top,’ I argued with hubby. Unwanted information was also gathered- He moved in with Pramila Rao in 2005 from Guntur and their kid Gugulu Rao has 5 teeth. I typed his name in google.com (a site where jobless people and nerds spend quality time increasing Google’s stock prices) and got his email id through some other association site (Andravaadus of Pittsburgh who love Chiranjeevi). Overall, I had him nailed.
I emailed him the next day, brushing his memory on my divine intervention into their garage the other day. He surely hadn’t forgotten and confessed I had startled him again as he didn’t remember divulging his name, let alone his email id. I didn’t bother with the details, but asked him the question that was plucking my mind,
’Is there a nice eyebrow place nearby?’
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I make to-do lists during the better part of the day and agonize over efficiently prioritizing my work. Mostly I try to multi-task to be able to perform many such activities in minimal time and achieve pride and contentment.
Shit before brushing or Brush before kissing? Maybe shit-brush-kiss.
Since I simply can’t decide, I just exist in a plane of indecisive dilemma doing practically nothing till it’s almost time to eat. Glad to note I do have some priorities straight.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Opposites attract. Why should you have to choose your freaking life partner based on behavior patterns of magnets?
Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Some conniving Management Consulting Recruiting Staff coined that term so certain dumb wives would fall for that ploy. I don’t.
Speech is silver, silence is golden. Who ever heard of reticent leaders? The fact that we would like some to be quiet is not the point.
Slow and steady wins the race. Apart from the stupid rabbit and the delusional tortoise, I haven’t heard another application of this theory. Just yesterday this lady ran ahead of me and picked up the last sweater off the rack! It was a turtle neck to boot! :(
Early bird gets the worm. This has mom written all over it. What about that worm? Wasn’t he early too?
A penny saved is a penny gained. You are definitely not investing wisely dude!
A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Depends on whose hand and whose bush. Hey birdie, you want company?
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Doesn’t work on PhDs. I tried.
Good things come in small packages. Haha! Good one.
Rats desert a sinking ship. Strange sinking feeling about this one. I think I will follow them rats.
The best things in life are free. Better things come at a premium.
God helps them who help themselves. Heaven Inc. cost cutting measures.
Money isn’t everything. Except Food, Shelter, Clothes and maybe a few private jets.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Jeez..why haven’t I invented a space travel machine or a winter chaser yet?
No pain, no gain. This proverb was probably conceived before Television came into existence.
Practice what you preach. Not everyone has the time and patience for this. Go on, leave comments to boost blogger morale.
All good things must come to an end. Now that is sometimes true…like right now. Adios!
Thursday, July 05, 2007
I replied to a plea on the internet. I will keep you posted on our budding friendship.
I've copied this guy's post and my reply follows:
Looking for friends (Anywhere in Pittsburgh)
Posted on: Friday, 29 June, 2007 12:28
I will probably get a lot of flak for this post but this is really a final ditch effort to find some decent friends in the Pittsburgh region. Over the last few years, my wife and I have had a tough time finding friends who are sophisticated yet warm. We either find people who're too snooty or pretentious or those who are gauche and inflexible to living a life commensurate with the ways of the US.
We're looking for friends who:
1. Are active, fun and sophisticated.
2. Are not parochial.
3. Are perfectly bi-lingual in English and Hindi.
4. Are interested in travelling and learning new activiites.
5. Are between 25-35.
If you know what I mean and are nodding empathetically, you're the kind of person we want to meet. If you're confused or annoyed because you think that friends are not meant to be mail-ordered, I completely understand. Please accept my apologies and disregard this post. My aim was not to offend anyone. It was just an easy way to find friends that share the same tastes.
Look No Further
Dear friendless in Pittsburgh,
My husband and I have moved to Pittsburgh from Chicago and we are on the brink of moving back if we don't find friends in this area soon. I just dropped my packed bags when I saw this post of yours. We nodded so much that we are on tranquilizers now. We are the right people for you and you wife to hang out with. And here’s why-
We have credentials and would qualify for all the points-
1. We are very active. Hubby channel surfs while lying on the couch and drinking beer (actively multitasking) while I am actively thinking on how to throw the TV while he blinks.
Regarding fun, we laugh at appropriate times when one says something that is perceived funny. Like your post.
I am not sure if owning a pair of shoes qualifies for sophistication, but I assure you we wear shoes. Hubby has stopped spitting on the roads ever since Bihar stopped exporting paan. (Of course, this was to also to be flexible to living a life commensurate with the ways of the US)
2. You can be rest assured we are not parochial since we are not entirely sure what it means.
3. Except 'parochial', I think we know all the words in English, even 'bi-lingual'. Sadly, my hubby needs subtitles to watch Hindi movies. Damn it! I knew this trait in him would pose a threat to our social life one day!
4. We love traveling just to eat pretzels offered in airlines. We are mostly constipated from this indulgence. We don't mind learning new activities as long as they are geared towards somehow getting ourselves featured in the Limca Book of World Records. We are in the process of making dinnerware from earwax.
5. For the first time I feel good about my age. Thank Heavens I am not 23 or even 24!
Please consider our application and let us know at the soonest if we made the cut. We are in dire need of friends and I am not kidding this time.
P.S. - You both are invited to dinner anytime. (Hope this brings out our warm personality)
Hubby and I
Friday, May 25, 2007
To top it all, I turned down a few golf outings with the client and a recent one with the CEO. Someone took me aside and hit me with a three-hole punch. ‘Better take Golfing lessons, you nitwit.’
‘That four letter word gives me the heebie-jeebies and hysteria of the worst kind. As you can see, I have a healthy prejudice against golf. I can't imagine myself rolling on atrificial looking patches of green wasting half a day with a bunch of potbellied old men talking about market shares and (shudder) golf! NO WAY! If the clients want to spend time with me, they better take to climbing or kickboxing. That way talking will be at minimum while they concentrate on their immediate safety.’
Colleague looks very happy at prospect of me improving his chances of survival. He enrolls in golf classes and also takes a course in the ‘Art of appreciating beer and steak.’ He even hired a personal trainer to increase his waist line, calls his dog Caddie and uses his golf clubs as pointers in presentations.
This is getting to be too stressful for me. I can’t let XYZ colleague take my promotion. When it comes to abject jealousy, I’ve got my head in the right place. Reluctantly I asked someone where I can find the best golf outfit and shoes. If that works out, I’ll buy the state-of-art set of clubs. Next I might watch a few Hollywood movies like Tin Cup. Hope I'm not forgetting anything. Yes ofcourse, I will need to include Tiger Woods in this agenda somehow.
This whole golf thing better NOT compromise my identity of a golf-hater.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Mikey, the co-worker, offered to help out with this initiative... and help he did. He got in touch with his buddy who happens to be a Math teacher at a High school in the Pittsburgh area and before I could even say ‘holditbuddyweneedtograsptheseriousnessofthis', he got us committed to give 7 presentations one single day! Sigh, another trauma teenagers have to face these days- Two geeks talking about how building roads could lead to salvation. Oh well, why not! It’s a good chance to get out of the office and interact with a bunch of kids and tell them how cool Engineering really is with a straight face.
Engineering in the United States is not as popular a career option as in India or even Bihar. Kids here want to make a career out of American Idol or selling hot dogs in the Soldier Field. Not a bad idea, if you ask me at 2 pm every working day. If you are a fireman or a nurse, the kids go,’ Awesome, that’s totally kewl!’ Engineers rank highly at number 23 only after Farmers and Priests in the “Professions of Very Great Prestige” poll of 2006. I should have taken Circumcision 101 and become a priest instead. The possiblities! (wait, I need to soak it in). Ok yeah, many engineering companies are concerned about the dearth of engineering enrollment in the recent years and the fact that there might be no one to fill my size 10 shoes. Anyway, all this will have to change. Can't let them get away with that smirk!
I laid out the presentation and Mikey deleted a few slides as his contribution! Next we discussed at length on what we ought to be wearing to make a false impression about Engineers. Football jersey and jeans to look cool or Armani suit and Prada Sunglasses to look well paid. Mikey decided to wear thick glasses and a tie. I took my drafter and a drawing board hoping to complement him.
We start our spiel, ‘How many of you want to be Engineers?’
In a Math class of 20, one hand would rise and the guy would feel almost guilty and quickly wave at the guy next to him. I embarked into the various ways we Engineers make life for the rest of the species worth living. They were quiet kids for the most part especially when they slept soundly without snoring. From managing to keep my fake American accent going and remembering what I had to speak, it suddenly seemed like a daunting task. I had to pick the most attentive student and focus all my energy on him to keep my morale high. So the poor kid had to keep nodding and smiling and raising his eyebrows like he was understanding what I meant by perceived social needs and commercial applications. I had given presentations before, but never to school kids, who were enjoying passing notes (probably on my hair style or the lack thereof). Nostalgia of my school days took over and I only felt immense pity for my teachers. Since it was 7 presentations back to back (with a lunch break), every word uttered after Presentation 4 better not be used against me.
Presentation 1: Phew, I remembered to whip out a joke on my last name. At least the Math teacher laughed.
Presentation 2: Did I crack the cheesy butterfly joke in this presentation or the previous one as it seemed quite fresh in my memory of actually saying it and not hearing anyone except Mikey snort. Skip.
Presentation 3: Darn, I finished 10 minutes earlier than the previous time. I must have missed out all the jokes. Shall I tell them all now in one go?
Presentation 4: Holy Macro! What is she wearing?! Oh shucks, it’s a He! I am too tired of repeating stuff. I can’t do this anymore. Mikey, please take over my slides too. I'll teach you how to be hilarious. Trip and fall.
Presentation 5: That joke just sucks. It’s too late. My sense of humor level has already been established and if one of their dad’s owns a Comedy Club in downtown Pittsburgh, I’ve lost my chances of a stand-up debut.
Presentation 6: One more to go. One more to go. I will survive. Teaching is not a career option for me. How monotonous. Teachers get paid only so much? What a pity!
Presentation 7: Oh wow! My bald-eagle joke was a hit. Why did I have to think about it in the last presentation? Oh wow! They laughed at the way I called Mikey a nerd. Should have used that one earlier too. Darn! It’s over just when I was making an impact on young impressionable minds.
Feedback was provided in the form of a few lines of what the students thought about the presentation. Even negative comments were encouraged. Almost every response in the feedback forms were very positive and seemed like our presentation did exactly what we had hoped it would. Like so- ‘After listening to the presentation, I have become more interested in getting a future in Engineering. I had no idea how interesting and rewarding this field could be. The stability and pay benefits are also very appealing.’
Or politely decline like so- It’s not really something I’m interested in, but if it was, I would totally be an Engineer.’
We felt on top of the world. It was like a feeling that every mother gets when her kid is found watching TV instead of doping. But still we were pissed that we didn't get any critisism. Do we look super sensitive or frail?
On our drive back, I was rummaging through the two hundred or odd feedback forms; I came across one that could be taken as constructive criticism. I read it aloud to Mikey- Engineering provides many opportunities and advancement in a wide range of fields for different people. Their presentation was great, but it seemed like they would cut each other off when talking.
Mikey- Did he really say that?
Me- Yes apparently we both like to talk a lot.
Mikey- Come on! It was meant to be like that!!! We wanted it to be informal… like a conversation between two people.
Me- True. Or maybe this kid was in the fourth period when I wasn’t facing you and didn’t know when you were talking. Remember the weird set up.
Mikey- Whatever, but we didn’t cut each other off! That’s ridiculous! I would...
Me (cutting him off)- Here’s this kid’s handwriting. Maybe you could get your buddy to find out who he is. It’s not like they were paying us to do this that we need to get some juvenile rudely lashing out on us like that. Secondly, if we were to...
Mikey (cutting me off)- Ingrates! No appreciation for bailing them out of Math class! Dipshits!
...and so we agonized about that single comment till destination.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Theta starts losing hair (which he promptly picks up and discards) whenever he knows guests are to arrive in his immaculate abode, especially his good friend Alpha. Alpha is careless and absentminded, has no regard for spotless washbasins and leaves colorless fingerprints on the wall below his switch boards. She washes her hands and doesn’t even wipe the basin clean afterwards. She sits on his sofa and doesn’t spray Febreeze at 5 minute intervals. One day she walks in, offers to make Aloo Gobi and while carelessly mixing the vegetables laden with turmeric and masala, she flings a whole dollop of sabzi from the tawa to the carpet in the dining area missing the linoleum floor of the kitchen completely. Mortified Theta managed to keep his calm under circumstances. He was wheeled back from the hospital within a week of surviving a cardiac arrest. Then he promptly ran over to Walmart, bought the best carpet stain remover that claimed it could remove all conceivable stains from beetle nut spit to Dinosaur blood. But there was no mention of turmeric stain. Theta found the out the hard way that Stain removers don’t lie. He then spent a fortune on a kasmiri rug with stain protection to cover up the yellow mark. He has, since then, banned Alpha from cooking in his house, much to the joy of everyone concerned.
The incident was long forgotten and recently Alpha arrived in Chicago to stay over at Theta’s. Alpha was home alone that morning and deciding to show some appreciation for their lasting friendship, she embarked on a cooking spree. Palak Paneer sounded like a great plan. She boiled the spinach, taking utmost care not to spill anything anywhere. She meticulously cleaned up every box of condiments touched so that there is no evidence of her ever cooking there. Nothing could go wrong. She was going to break the myth of her being a cooking disaster when she cooked at Theta’s place. She brought out the mixie to grind the palak. She turned it on…
She didn’t know how it happened, but 2 seconds and a horrifying noise later, there was bits of palak everywhere! Not just in the mixie, but on Alpha’s face, on the floor, on the counter top, on the sofa, on the artificial flower arrangement and on his TV. Old memories came flooding. She also remembered breaking an egg on his cell phone by mistake. How come these things happen only in his house, she worried. Alpha felt she should have tied herself to the corner of the house and stayed there for the whole day licking a bone. Luckily now that he had moved homes, there was no carpet involved. It’s all wooden floor. Easy to clean. So Alpha spent the better part of the afternoon using up all his kitchen towels and cleaning liquids. She felt satisfied at the sparkling result while every muscle in her body ached. She would get allergic reactions at the sight of palak henceforth.
Evening arrived. Small references to depleted paper towels were made and dismissed quickly much to Alpha’s relief. Palak paneer, made out of remains that was lifted off the floor and extracted from Alpha’s nostrils, was immensely enjoyed by Mr. and Mrs. Theta. They licked it all off and asked for more. Alpha sat smug, exonerated from her secret crime.
Suddenly, out of the blue, Theta gasped loudly looking skywards, 'What the F*** are those things on the ceiling? Oh Man! Jeez, I never saw anything like that before! Is my roof getting fungus?!!!’
Alpha looked up and saw it too. Huge chunks of dried-up spinach were suspended like stalactites. Dammit! If only she knew where to look, there would have been sufficient quantity of Palak Paneer.
Now the world talks of their friendship in past tense.
Monday, March 12, 2007
I wholly agree. You eat meat; you might as well eat all and not differentiate.
I asked my friend to let me know when he was planning on cooking his pet dog. Let’s stuff Snoopy with turkey this Thanksgiving and bake him at 400 degrees. Canary sauce with that? He recoiled and shuddered. He balked at the thought of Koreans eating roaches and lizards.
Now I am completely confused. So you’ll eat any animal that is mediocre looking…not as cute as a dog and not as ugly as a cockroach. Plain Jane and you’ll devour it! Trustworthy and intelligent, you’ll pass. Creepy crawly and you’ll recoil. Sure there is the matter of taste, but if you don’t even want to try it, aren’t you being a hypocrite? Where is equal opportunity? When will the minorities make their way into your stomach? When will you tell the doctor who detects worms in your stomach that you ate them happily with Ragu’s pasta sauce?
Sometimes it’s easy being a vegetarian. I can hold my head high, thump my chest and say I eat all my vegetables however ugly or cute.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Pi decided to come with me to the court for moral support and took a day off from work. By adopting my life, I feel it is his way of adding some drama in his. While I was busy preparing the case, he was busy checking out the location of the Garden-of-Eating pizza place. ‘Guess what? It’s on the way to the court. We could get it on our way back!’
‘Get what?’ I asked preoccupied.
On the way, he spotted the pizza joint and jumped up and down with glee. I nodded still wondering if the woman were to show up, I might have to run her over.
No purple cars in the parking lot. So there we were, the Judge, the officer, Pi and I swearing to speak the truth and nothing but the truth.
The officer presented his case. I was surprised that he dragged the part where she followed me to my apartment.
The judge was perplexed. Alpha rear ended her. So how was Ms.Purple following her?
I was squirming now. Jeesus officer, stick to the case man!
Anyway, when my turn came, I performed to the best of my potential and judge was amused with my thorough research and material but still wanted to know why she followed me to my apartment. I explained. He was even more amused.
He asked the cop if she seemed that sort of person when she stormed in with her purple jacket and purple hair band and one look at her the judge passed his verdict.
Ahh, joy! Raptures! Jingilala Jum Jingilala Jum! Hoohaa hoohaa!
A slight smirk and snigger at Ms Purple and we got up to leave. Pi pulled up to the pizza place and ordered the pizza. Take out. He asked me which topping I would like and I said onions.
‘Why the heck she did show up to the court? Hope she didn’t have to travel far and wide. But thank God she came late. Whatever, she deserved it. The look on her face was priceless. Haha! You think the judge took a liking to me? Do you think if I called him ‘your honor’, he would have been happier? You think they might take up my proposal and rebuild that intersection. My office just needs a project like that.’
The pizza was brought into the car and I kept rambling about this all the way home. The pizza was placed on the dining table and the almost drooling Pi dug into the box and was about to sink his grinning teeth into the cheese laden slice.
‘ARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!’ I screeched.
Dropping the piece, he was shocked. ‘What happened sweetie?’
‘What is this pizza doing in the house?!’
‘We just brought it.’
‘What nonsense?! Why did you get it? Look at that cheese. It’ll send the clot waiting near your heart straight to the brain. Aiyooo! It’s so huge; it covers the whole dining table. Keep off from it.’
‘I am eating it. To hell with you!’ he was obviously shaken.
‘Dammit! Eat and Die! I don’t care. I am having dal rice.’ So to prove a point, I did have dal rice while the aroma of the pizza under my nose was too much to bear.
I was so pissed about this pizza appearing from nowhere that I cursed a little more. Pi yelled back saying I had gotten arrogant after winning the case.
‘Bah! I will show you real arrogance!’
So when he went upstairs to take a break, I loaded the rest of the pizza in the car and took off to my office and laid it in the kitchen for my office folks like a kind hearted Annadata (food providing Goddess). Let others get fatter and clog themselves. I have saved my hubby.
I got a phone call. All I heard was abuses that would have put Ms Purple and the whole of Bihar to shame. Taking away food from under Pi’s nose has the worst consequences and I was not prepared for this. There were a lot of deals that had to be made and promises that need to be kept. Basically, I am a goner!
The next day, I opened the fridge in the office kitchen to bring out my lunch of dal rice and reheat it in the microwave oven when I was confronted with a huge familiar cardboard box and demons in my head.
Guilty as charged.
PS- It was yummy.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I am addicted to car bumpers. The minute I see one in a vulnerable position (like parked in front of my car), I make sure I show my excitement by crashing into it. It happened once, twice, thrice before and now I am convinced that God is telling me something in Swahili.
My hubby, Pi, is addicted to any food that can potentially deposit itself in wrong places. The gleam in his eye when he sees a blueberry pie is only matched by the excitement he shows towards nacho cheese. I normally don’t seek such fast means to a heart failure, but have no control over myself when he is munching in front of me. They end up in my stomach without a fuss (the only fuss happens when I try to wrestle a chip out of Pi's hand) and show up later in my weighing scale. So it is in my extreme benefit to make sure Pi doesn’t walk around in the dessert aisle. One of the reasons why I was hiding this 'Free Pizza from Eating-Garden' coupon from him. (I won that coupon during an unlucky draw.)
Yes, these two aspects of my life are related. Read on.
On this rainy day (slippery road and all), I had an accident with the most benevolent soul this hemisphere could produce. She got out of her purple Volvo, with a purple jacket and purple hair band and started hurling the kind of language you’d only hear in remote Bihar or some shady parts of UP. Knowing very well (gauging by the color of her skin and jacket) that she wasn’t from these respectable parts of India, I came to realize that I was being spoken to in English. I said a quick ‘sorry’ and acted the part of innocent-foreigner-not-knowing-why-her-read end-jutted-out-so-much. I examined the situation from my car and my microscopic eyes concluded there was no damage to her car and her exalted self. Much ado about nothing! She stormed around her car and walked in. I assumed things were fine and that she would put her revolver away and maybe use it on migratory birds instead. But no, she was pissed that I wasn’t showing enough remorse, she jumped out of the car again and screamed, ‘Pull over Bitch!’ I felt bad for the amount of stress she was under. Maybe she got some horrid Christmas present from her boyfriend. I do not want to speculate the reason for her trauma, but I sure wished I had created a nice dent on her car. I would rather take abuses for something substantial.
So I followed her like Marry’s little lamb all the time seething in rage about someone with a purple hair band creating a dent in my perfect day. All the while, I was staring at her bumper looking for a scratch of some sort. After making me follow her for a mile, she pulled over in a parking lot near my apartment complex. I decided to spare her more agony of yelling at me and saw an opportunity to put her out of misery. I fled. Don’t ever do this unless you plan on fleeing this country too. I parked my car next to my apartment complex and ran inside only to be confronted with Pi who panicked on the prospect of giving refuge to a convict and he urged me to go find her and exchange information in the rightful way. Bah! Whatever! I hate these plesantaries.
I didn’t have to go far as Ms.Purple was right there, stomping about angrily around my car.
‘Hi’, I said amicably.
‘What is this apartment name?’, she asked not so amicably.
‘Jicamma Muniamma,’ I replied.
‘She lives in Jicamma Muniamma. I see her car parked here. She must have ran into her apartment. We’ll find her.’ she blasted to someone on a phone.
‘I am her,’ I tried to explain.
‘Oh its you!’, dumbfounded at first, she suddenly became indignant. ’Talk to the cops. I don’t want to waste time talking to you.’
I felt like hugging her for not putting me through the torture of talking to her.
It was pouring now. She sat inside her car waiting for the cops to arrive while I sat in my toasty apartment sipping tea wanting to pack and leave to India for good. It's too cold here.
For what took almost an hour, the cops came. She screamed, huffed and puffed, pointing fingers at me.
‘Which intersection was it ma’am?’ the cop asked after having to hold his breath for 10 minutes while she spewed venom.
‘Kalthappa Ave and Muthanna Rd’, she hissed.
‘That will be under Gooseyland Jurisdiction. You may have to call them.’
So after three sets of cops arrived in the scene, they couldn’t still ascertain which jurisdiction that particular intersection would come under.
Needless to say, I was enjoying inefficiency for the first time. Very sadly the right cops came to the scene and were taken by the woman’s story, especially the fact that she was standing in the rain for two and a half hours straight. They asked for my story. They called her the victim and me a criminal. The way I was being talked to, any passer-by (that included three guys in the apartment complex who moved out last week) would think I lopped off a few people and dashed away.
I told them that the so called victim used foul language so I panicked as I wasn’t used to hearing such bad words in the protected world I live in (which isn’t entirely false as I find Tom and Jerry violent). I wanted to deal with such a character in familiar surroundings (actually I didn’t want to deal with her at all. I was hoping she would give up) with my husband by my side (extra brownie points for pativrata stree angle). Who knew, she could have shot me. I didn’t have my cell phone (which was true) to alert the cops.
After much debate and rants, from a criminal offense of fleeing the accident scene, I was given a lesser charge of careless driving. I got my traffic violation ticket by mail.
I contested that.
Stay tuned for ‘Court case and Pizza base'
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Much has happened, no time to pant
I could glorify the times I spent in a haze
Underplay my deeds that set the world ablaze
Whatever I did or whatever I set to do
Would have no meaning at this time to you
My trip to Cancun or my New Year woes
Would hold the same relevance as fungied toes
One day I would be famous as famous as can be
More famous than the Alpha you happen to see
That day you’ll read this poem and wisely infer
Using inane adjectives and some useless metaphor
That I was a tad piqued, maybe euphoric or arguably aseptic
You literary souls will conclude that my life was placidly hectic
You’ll bet that I was running a marathon or mothering five kids
That I might have got gingivitis after eating those squids
You could scrape this manuscript and even take a lick
But you’ll never be able to guess that today I’m deliriously sick