Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mountain Alert!!!

The Kilimanjaro blog is up! Witness our highs and lows as we try to climb the highest peak in Africa. Make sure you subscribe to the feeds, check in hourly, comment regularly, give up your normal life, but mostly please come by to cheer us on!

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

Leave the Rest to Pi

Last night we were at a friend’s place for dinner. The friends had invited their other friends to check us out. We were still on probation to secure an extended friendship. If we appealed to the other friends, Pi and I could potentially be invited into their inner circle and could be privy to all the local scoop. We would also be laughing at inside jokes like- ‘He is like an orange juice’ that seemed to take the crowd by storm.

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

Huh, What was that again?

I am convinced that I should have developed into a high-profile, Armani-wearing, Jaguar-driving executive by now. After blaming my high school math teacher, my crooked teeth and my rotten toe nails for not becoming the highly successful person I should have been, I have finally realized where the true problem lay. In my Fake American Accent (FAA). The last time I was giving a presentation, I was more focused in figuring out how to pronounce ‘route’ …rowt or root? By the time the word presented itself in front of me, I was so exhilarated by the possibility of masking my Indian accent that I forgot what point I was trying to make. So with a painful expression, I ended up drawling, 'I just had a Rowt-canal.'

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

Warming up to Global Warming

Boy, I am so glad that I camped in real cold conditions before Pittsburgh winters got extremely obnoxious like today. The winds howl in antagonizing horror, the snowflakes perform their last intoxicated dance before self destructing and the temperatures have frozen my bile juices. But I am unperturbed. I am well conditioned to tackle the worst. After all, I spent quality time in Utah camping out in the cold. I had almost lost my limbs walking in ice-cold water for a whole day and since that didn’t kill me, I have emerged stronger. ‘Pfft!’ and ‘Pah!’ at the weather trying to scare with a measly chill. ‘Haha!’ at freezing temperatures. I have endured the worst 25 miles thinking my limbs might have to be amputated due to frost bite (that too hiking in an obscure desert and not really the Mount Everest). Such risks I have taken. So what is mere two blocks in city winter? My skin has transformed into thick dinosaur hide and all the cracks have been sealed with Vaseline. I am having a real smug feeling about the Kilimanjaro glacier that I might have to spend considerable time on. Should be a piece of cake without the frosting. This year’s winter will be a breeze, a warm one at that!

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!