Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year



Dear Friends and fellow bloggers,


Wish you all a wonderful and happy new Year! May all your dreams come true and you be blessed with all the happiness in the world.




Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday Photos ...

Finally the lazy me is publishing the promised photos. Well, there are not exactly as many as I would wish. Especially after the Mr. scared me with "Invasion of privacy" being considered too seriously in the USA , I did not want to get into trouble just for a couple of photos. It was mostly houses that were beautifully decorated, and the Mr. was too lazy to drive down to a couple of the downtowns. After many persuasive talks(by me), 2 heroes(ahem 1 was a heroine) all covered up, braving the cold winds and sub-zero temperature went, on one dark shining night, to take these photographs. So here goes ...

This is the house round the corner from our apt complex. It is a beautiful pink house, that the Mr. and me have always liked.

This is the place that we jokingly called "Auburn hills downtown" because of its cobbled streets. Well, the sign-post in between is not exactly "beautiful" but I could not avoid it.

Now this is an interesting snap. When shot at very low shutter speed, the passing cars showed up thus - yup! those streaks are those made from the lights on the passing cars. Would seem as if the cars were zooming past at about 140 MPH right, but there were only ambling at 25 MPH.


This is my favorite snap . We had taken a snap at the same spot 7 months ago in Spring. Just see the difference.






And finally, the Xmas tree set in the Auburn Hills "Downtown". Well for some reason the mid section was "bare" that day.

Entry for Jhiva: Mangai Kootan

The holidays are almost coming to an end, and so is the year. But none of my plans advanced even so much as a millimeter - Gosh! I do so hate myself. The only good thing about this week was watching old episodes of "Friends". We got the 1st season and the 10th season from the library - and it was probably the bestest thing ever - to sit with the Mr. and laugh till our sides split - watching the spontaneous friends ... Awww... why am I not one of the "Friends"?

About the title of the blog, Well I happened to "food-browsing" - when I found that there is going to be a new Jhiva event- and this time it is one of my favorite food ingredients - Coconut. Being born in a palakkad based family, I guess it is really difficult to have grown without having to eat this delicious "fruit"?? every day in some form or the other. In fact it was only after marriage, and due to the stubborn insistent of the "cholestrol" conscious hubby, that I have reduced the usage. But when I saw the blog on Jhiva - for coconut , I could not resist and so decided to blog on one of my most favorite "liquid" dishes - Manga kootaan or Manga kootu.

My mom-in-law makes it with ripe mangoes, but amma would always choose the most sour mangoes for it - only because I love sour mangoes , much to appa's disgust. So, here goes the sour and tangy dish...

Ingredients
1 Big mango - cut into uneven pieces (the uneven pieces give it a nice look )
1 Cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup curd
4-5 green chillies
1 tbsp Jeera
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder
Pinch of red chilli powder
Curry leaves
Mustard and Methi seeds for tempering.



How to cook?

Boil the mango pieces in little water and a pinch of red chillies (Amma - kai kki konjam karam pidikarathukku - for the pieces to get some karam). Grind the coconut, chillies and jeera into a thick paste. Once the mango pieces are slightly soft, add the coconut paste, salt and turmeric to it and bring it all to a boil. Once the mixture starts to boil, add the curry leaves and reduce the heat. Beat the curds with very little water and add it to the warm mixture - make sure the heat is at "Low" else the curd will break into small lumps. In a while a small froth will start to form on the top - switch off the gas. In a small utensil heat oil, add mustard seeds - when the seeds start to splutter add methi seeds (this gives a very good fragrance and taste to the kootan). Add this tempering to the kootan and there you have - one of the best dishes in the world :).

One of the best meals is - Hot rice, ghee, manga kootan and nice deep friend kathrikai (brinjals)... Yummy - my mouth is already watering. Oh! did i forget to mention papadam?


I became quite popular among the bachelor circles of the Mr.'s Friends due to this tasty dish. It was indeed nice to see one big bowl full of manga kootan getting emptied within seconds at one of the lunches at our place. But no matter how well it turned out, it was and will never be half as wonderful as my darling amma makes it.








Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Season begins ...


I don’t want to work . Today is the last working day of 2006 for me. For about a week now there has been practically nothing going on in the work front. The holiday season began pretty early here – almost a week before xmas. All around you see beautifully wrapped gifts, tied up with pretty bows made out of shining paper, candies & cakes, people wearing colorful holiday patterned sweatshirts. All of this week I feel I have been only eating and eating in office holiday lunches – some sponsored and some BYOL (buy your own lunch), each colleagues taking turns to bring in Christmas cookies and today to end it all was the biiiig tri-department lunch. The Dessert section was indeed yummy –aleast 5 varieties of cheesecakes, a huge strawberry cake, a monstrous carrot cake and tons of Belgian chocolates. Boy ! I think my new year resolution is staring right at my face – go to the fitness center every day !!!

I really like the holiday season here. All around the place you feel cheer. Everybody just seems to be so happy – nice big smiles on their faces – wishing people you know and don’t know alike – and of course no work J… Guess working in the Auto industry has this one big advantage of a week’s shut down! I love seeing big boxes packed with glittering paper lying all around, and of course love getting gifts too. One of the ladies in my department “J” made beautiful beaded necklaces for all the other ladies – you would probably pay atleast 100$ of them if they were every available in the market.

The streets are decked to their best. It is dark almost anytime I try to leave home – be it as early as 4:30 or as late as 8:00 and in the night the glittering lights on trees are such a wonder to look at. I have been pestering the Mr. to get his snow boots and coats and move his lazy bum to come out and take some good pictures – but he has avoided it so far. Hopefully if I can make him do it this weekend, I will post them here. People take so much care to decorate their gardens with lights and beautiful blowups. I am told that the malls are also mightily decorated – I must go and catch some of the beauty before it is lost.

Well then again round the next corner (weekend) is that well-known time of the year – to look back and see what you have achieved, what you have not, what went right and wrong, what was happy and sad in the days bygone – and make up resolutions just to be broken the 2nd day of the year J…

Happy Holidays folks!

PS . This picture above is from Google – the best invention ever made by man (as I feel). Have you noticed how google adorns itself on occasions? I always have been amazed by the imagination behind these logos. If you have some time – you can drop a visit

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Doctors...



Hmm… Quite some time since I posted anything here. Was Quite caught up with some work – for once in life huh ? And then there was this really stupid exam that was mandatory as per the new rules laid down by the ‘breadgiver’ – so after almost 6 years I did a “One-day” batting again! And was I glad to manage to scrape thru it J(kudos my brave gal – Pat on my back). Wonder how my father ever manages to write all those exams for insurance even at this age. He really is a “superman” I say!

I was very upset today morning. Amma’s BP shot up recently and she has been having problems with head heaviness, feverishness and all. So, she decided to get a check-up done with Dr. X , who is the doctor that appa regularly does his check up with. Now this X is a very renowned doctor and his diagnosis is very much respected and appreciated. All is well – but just as everything in nature, he has a very bad aspect to him. He does not talk much, will not respond to your questions, not give you any assurances. It is really frustrating – you visit him with a problem – he listens to all you have to say, write down a prescription and ask you to visit him again in some days. Won’t say if your current problem is due to XYZ illness, it will go away in so and so days, nothing of that sort.

I feel more than anything a Doctor has to be compassionate, try to boost the morale of the patient who is so depressed already with his physical problem, give him the right facts and try to re-assure him, instead of just scribbling a prescription and asking him to leave. No doubt his prescription works, but where is that comfort feeling of I-visited-the-doctor-and-he-made-it-all-fine. Accepted that in a day probably he sees about 200-300 patients, but did he did take the profession conscious of this fact right? In my opinion, a doctor has to be as good as empathizing and making the patient “Feel” better as good as he should be in his medicinal abilities. Remember “Munnabhai MBBS” ‘s jadoo ki chappi.

The Personal touch is what is missing. My experience with a doctor here makes me shudder to even think of visiting one. After two visits to him , he can hardly even recognize me and makes me go through my entire case twice before he can even recollect what it is that I came to get cured of? How can I even trust this person to give me the correct medicine?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Birthday Memories





One day in the week that went by was truly blessed – because “I” celebrated my Birthday. GOSH! I am such a humble person hee hee.

My birthday was made one special day – all because of the Mr., Amma, Appa and all the loving friends who remembered this day and called me/emailed me/orkutted me & last but not at all the least, Jai & his sister(one of our newer acquaintances). The day before, my boss gave me a beautiful set of beaded jewellery that she herself made. The Mr. was an absolute sweet – took me shopping the weekend before and also on “the day”, decorated the “birthday corner” (it got its name when we decorated this corner of our living room on the Mr’s bday) with loads of balloons and baked(with my supervision of course) a carrot cake for me. Jai & his sister, Bindu, surprised us with a cake that evening when they came home for dinner. He had bought candles also (he got less number, as he was unsure how old I was , I felt sooo nice that he thought I was just that young hee hee) and after the cake was cut and we all had our share, he shocked me by applying some of the cream of my face – took me back to those days in college! I had not had this “treatment” on my bday since what 7 years? Guess it pays to have somebody young around at times! Over dinner, the topic was all about our college, how the Mr. & I met – the journey to our marriage – which stirred up the old precious memories and long after they had gone, the Mr. & I kept talking of those good old days. 2 days after the D-day when I opened my mail-box to find a gift from ex-colleague, the Mr. remarked in “J” – “Oh! Onnodu bday innum mudiyaliya” (Is your bday still not over?). 3 days later when I came to office, another colleague gifted me a beautiful chain and hand made pendant – when I went home, the look on the Mr.’s face was priceless – “How come the entire world keeps giving gifts and wishing you even after your bday is over?” The color of the week was “Green”

Days after the incident, the fond memories of birthdays in college & before keep coming back to me – so I thought I would jot (ahem! Type) some of them down.

Amma tells me that we had a birthday party for me when I was about 3 or 4, but I can hardly recall this party. That was probably the only birthday in my childhood (school days) when they had got a cake for my birthday. In school days, the most special thing about birthdays was being able to wear “civil dress” to school. I would hate it if my birthday came on a holiday. Then later I devised a new trick – we would celebrate two birthdays – the actual date & the “Nakshatram” (the day on which my star comes in the calendar of that year). So, I later start “choosing” the day I want to celebrate my birthday in school, based on how many of my favorite classes feel on my ‘date’ or ‘star’ birthday. I always liked Friday in school (don’t remember why I did so), so always eagerly hoped that one of the two dates was a Friday.

There was a “ritual” for bdays in my school. Now, I don’t recall if it was the same in all schools in Vizag or just in ours. I would bring a big bag of toffees (75 or 100 count) (my choice – some that I remember having taken are coconaka, coffee break, ├ęclairs, melody – don’t even know how many of these are still available!) to be distributed to the kids in my class and every teacher who would teach on that day. If I had my class teacher’s session that day, I would stand up in that period, everybody would sing for me and then I would distribute the chocolates. If there was no class teacher’s session, I could do it in any of my favorite class. After distributing to the students in my class, I could take one of my best friend and go around, distributing the chocolates to the teachers in the other sections of the same class, teachers in the staff room and the principal. Now this created problems if you had more than one “Beeeest Friend” and you had to pick just one! Remember those kiddie days when the position of a “Best Friend” was the most zealously guarded and coveted one. As we grew vertically and academically this practice was slowly abandoned, maybe because we became more ‘mature’ and conscious and it was kiddish taking chocs to school or wearing ‘Civil Dress’. In fact most of us stopped even wearing non-uniform dresses on our birthdays. Growing up takes off the charm in small events huh?

From school days there is one birthday that I fondly think of. When I was in 9th class, I had a nice trio of friends – Rajani, Sowjanya and Usha. We were the inseparable back benchers in Class 9 and 10. It was when I was in 9th that my grandparents acceded to my father’s long time request and came to stay with us for a couple of months. That was probably what made this birthday all the more special. It is strange how elderly people manage to communicate even when they have a language barrier. My Patti did not know a word of Telugu or English and my friends did not know Tamil, but by the time they left she could tell us almost all about their background! I still remember the white plastic plates (they had been recently purchased) – the ones with partitions for placing different food in each portion, the laddoos that amma had made and the scent of the single rose that Sowji had given me! I would give anything to relive that 1 evening of my life.

In intermediate (ie 11th and 12th), Science students were so busy and lost in their own world of books, that in any college you could distinctly identify them. It was told that if any student had rough, unkempt hair, and oil face and crumpled dress – it was sure to be a science student ; and all students wearing make up , modern dresses, smart shoes were Commerce students! Birthdays were hardly celebrated then. There was one birthday I can recall – Smitha’s. We had the privilege of enjoying this, because it came appropriately after we all had given all sorts of entrance exams and before the results were announced – the right time when we were all in uplifted moods. It was probably the start of the many celebrations we had in the recently opened “Hot Breads” in Siripuram Junction. It became quite a landmark for teenagers for a long time after. 7 of us that day – all decked up well, girlish giggles at seeing some guys that one of us knew approach us, wild teasings and loud conversations.

The wildest of birthday parties I have been to were in the 4 years of engineering hostel. We would celebrate the birthdays at the stroke of 12 with lots of gusto. Money was limited, so the cake was small and each one got only small pieces, but they tasted a whole lot better than huge chunks of cake. Maybe it was the atmosphere and the company. In our room, we always made it a point to decorate the room for the birthday gal. Small gifts were exchanged, the cream from the cake was adorned on the birthday baby’s face, snaps were clicked, the food disappeared seconds after the clock struck 12 and within no time the room was cleared for the dance floor! We would dance to good music for a long time before retiring to sleep. I have loads of snaps of these birthday parties at home and each time I look at them, there rushes through me a warm feeling of mushy memories. One birthday stands out in my memory – for which Lalitha (my room mate) and I did some really crazy and whacky. Two of the girls had their birthdays in the month of May and so we never got to celebrate those (May was off for College). So, in the Final year, we decided to celebrate “Half Birthday” for them in the month of November. For some reason, we wanted to be “different” and so Lalli and me bought weird gifts for them – 2 tender coconuts, 2 Mangoes, 2 Apples and some other stupid eatable stuff. How we laughed after making those purchases.

Hmm… these are just small incidents in my life, but each one holds a special significance. In each of thee incidents itself, I have forgotten the minor details. I fear that someday, with age, I will forget all these incidents and will no longer have the chance to give that half-muse smile thinking of these. The lovely girl in “Rebecca” remarks : “If only memories could be bottled like perfumes and I could remove the stopper to smell them whenever I want to”. Wish this could happen, the moment I smelt the perfume , I could go back into the memory ; or better still wish I had Dumbledore’s Pensieve!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

12 Angry Men



This is what I think I am best at writing – reviews of movies that I have watched. After coming to the US of A, this has been “THE Thing” that we had been doing most of the time. Read up about old movies on the imdb website and place holds for those movies in the public library and spend all free tea-times, lunch/dinner times and weekends watching these movies.

One movie that I accidentally placed hold for was “12 Angry Men”. We were in a comedy spree watching Jack Lemmon’s movies and somehow I misread that this movie featured Jack Lemmon. But, after watching this movie I felt that I was so lucky to have made a “mistake” else we would never have watched this absolutely superb and gripping classic tale.

The whole 1 and 34 minutes of the movie, except for about 3 minutes, has been short in a small, dingy and closed room. The tale begins on a hot and sultry summer evening with the judge requesting the 12 jurors to come up with a unanimous decision based on the proceedings that they had been a part of the past 7 days. The case is about a teen kid of about 18, from the slums beaten, trodden upon and ill-treated all his life, is accused of murdering his tyrant father. All the men come in shuffling into a room, few of them muttering that it should be a quick decision to make. One of the jurors takes up the responsibility of consolidating the decision and suggests that they take a quick vote. The mode of the entire movie sets-in , as 11 men vote the accused “Guilty” and 1 person “Not Guilty”. The other 11 are shocked to find that one of them could even consider the possibility of “Not Guilty”.

Henry Fonda plays the role of this juror who believes that there could be a “Paasibility” (it sounds like this when he keeps repeating the world possibility all thru the movie) that the boy could be “Not Guilty”, with great elegance and absolute conviction. He is not sure if the boy is Guilty and at the same time does not have proof to his innocence, so he requests that the other jurors participate in a discussion by which they can confirm their decision with facts. Reluctantly the others agree and the narration proceeds to show how each single clue presented in the case is analyzed to check its validity. The initial apathy of the jurors changes slowly, as does the audience’s, as each lost point in the trial comes to light in favor of the accused.

What I liked most about the movie is how close it is to real life. The characters of the 12 people are so realistic that you can easily identify yourself or your friends in them. Juror 1 is the calm cool person who acts as a mediator and keeps the group in harmony – a born moderator. Juror 2 is the typical shy type who will give into accepting another person’s opinion instead of standing against a group of bullies to put in his point. Juror 3 is the typical arrogant, loud mouthed person who feels that all he knows is right and that if he pronounces the verdict Guilty it cannot be that others disagree with him. Juror 4 is totally convinced by the facts of the case that prove that the kid is Guilty – he is emotionless and is moved only by the truth of facts. Juror 5 is prejudiced against teen kids because his own turned out to be ungrateful by running off. Juror 6 & 7 are the ‘i-don’t-care-what-is-happening-I-will-just-support-the-majority-group’ type.

The fact that a person’s life is totally dependent on their decision does not sink into the heads of most. After all, they are not related to the person in anyway and he is just one another slum boy, whose race itself is full of murderers and robbers. One or two of them are more concerned about a game ticket that they purchased for the evening or getting home in time for dinner.
The director and script writer have done a great job in bringing these small faucets of characters to light.

I am a sucker for character analysis & suspense, which is why Agatha Christie is one of my favorite writers. For somebody who is like me, and for all others also, this one is a MUST SEE!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shell

It is nearly a month since I blogged. We had been to a “Dream” vacation to the happiest place on Earth – Walt Disney World – Orlando & SeaWorld for about a week (3 weeks ago). After coming back from the vacation, instead of feeling rejuvenated, I started feeling depressed, home-sick, dull and whole lot of other negative things. I guess it was as one of my friends rightly put it – “A Person who is back from vacation is the one who needs a vacation the most”. I went into some kind of a stupid shell and hibernation. There were scores of emails to reply to, dozens of calls to return to, zillions of photos to organize and upload for those eagerly waiting loving friends – but the heart was not set in doing any of these.

Then finally I gave into the persistent inquires of my lovely friends as to why I was not blogging! Thanks dear ones – your inquiries made me feel so much wanted. I felt so happy that here are these darling friends who visit this URL often and want to know more of my thoughts, it touched me a lot. And so here I am, re-inspired, about to embark on another journey of keys & html Pages (aka papers and pens) to ramble about happenings around me and what I feel/think of them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Strangers And "Apne Log"

He drives the big machine in the corridors of the place where I sit and never fails to give me a broad grin and call out “Happy Monday/Tuesday…” (based on which day of the week it is). I don’t know his name; just know that he is a mechanic working in the same area where I sit. He might be an American, Mexican or some other race – I don’t know. There is another “he”, who waves or slightly nods in acknowledgement when he crosses my place and catches my eye. On Days when I am sad / blue / thinking of something bothersome when one of these two smile/wish me – for a moment there I feel so cheerful. I have heard often and got many forwards that say “A Smile can change the course of day / A Smile is a curved line that sets things straight” – it is in these moments of cheer that I feel all that is so true.

And that sets me thinking – there are zillions of Indians working in this place (in fact at lunch you see such a crowd that you wonder if Americans are at a tourist spot in India) – and atleast 10 people in my area whom I cross almost every single day – but not one of them has ever smiled at me or said so much as a Hello. I always thought that belonging to the same race/religion/state/community gave one a feeling of togetherness. When we lived in Vizag, we would often find so much solace in finding a fellow Tamilian. But, coming to the US of A made me realize that it is not so – or atleast from the experiences I had, or my friends shared with me. Why do Indians run away from fellow Indians in this country? Why are they so wary to even share a small courteous smile or “Good Morning”?

For nearly 90 days, I took the same ferry from Newport across to New York and each day I would see this trio of Indian girls – talking and giggling. I am not a person to go out of the way and start a conversation – I am too terrified to do that. But, after a month or so – I decided to take the bold step (especially after hearing snatches of conversation in Telugu from them) and talked to one of them – that too in Telugu. All I could get out of them was a “Yes” or a “No” – close ended answers that were hinting – “why the hell are you still standing here making a stupid conversation?” I was not asking them for money, nor was I threatening them and neither do I look that bad/dull/boring – then why this cold shouldering? Even the other day, here, I tried smiling at 2 girls who walk past my suite for lunch – and then tried to squeeze out a half baked smile before hastily turning away their eyes.

When we trekked in Smokies, every single American/Chinese family that crossed us said “Hi” and few of them would smile and remark – “That is one wonderful trek”/”Boy! You have a long way ahead”/”Hang on – you are half way up already” – something nice, polite and charming. Then comes this Indian group/Couple and the moment their catch us, they either start furiously searching for something they “lost” on the ground or start admiring non-existent flowers high up the trees. Hey! Mister/Miss – why happened suddenly? Don’t I look familiar? Coming from the same mother land as yours? Will smiling at me reduce your bank balance by 1000$? Oh! I give up! A couple of years ago – on my 1st and 2nd trips to this country – this bothered me a lot – but now I guess even I don’t care!

My day started off well today. This German person, Michael was trying to take out something at a Vending machine, close to where I sit, and his Dollar would not work – so he caught me on the way back to my seat to ask if I could exchange my Dollar for his. While walking to my place, he started a conversation – inquiring which part of India I was from. He told me about his visits to India – where he went and how he liked the place. He is never going to meet me again for all that I know – what was the need to talk to me? He could have just taken his dollar and walked off! But that small conversation with him was nice – just humane.

Before I end off – though I have seen this typical behavior of Indians avoiding unacquainted fellow country men, I was pleasantly surprised one day in the Gym – when this elderly Indian person started a casual conversation with me – of this and that. Maybe things are changing .... for good.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My Time Capsule

Usha has written a very beautiful article here about a Time Capsule that has been created by Yahoo. It is a memory Engine kind of thing , where you can post almost anything – photos, scraps, blogs – anything at all about anything and everything you think/feel/know – This Time Capsule will close itself in a couple of days and be lost in the sands of time – to be reopened maybe a decade or so later. The assumption is that things might be changed so much by that time, that the artifacts you are going to store in it now will become relics. And I definitely thing it might be absolutely the truth.
The rate at which life in general is growing, some event/custom/ritual that happened 10 years ago is no longer a part of our lives now. Usha asks – if there were to be a time capsule that would open say 100 years later what would you want to put in the time capsule. Here are some of the things that I would like to write down about for generations a century later to be reading about.

  1. I would give a write-up on what a sample work-day would look like, in different professions – a teacher, an engineer, a software professional, an ad agent, a housewife, a musician and so on.
  2. What are the sports that a Nation loves – eg. Indians are crazy about Cricket, Americans rave about baseball or basketball.
  3. A Write-up on each festival that is celebrated in a given state/society and what is done in on a festive day.
  4. Some pictures about the current trend in fashion – short sleeved salwars, churidars, long skirts, tight muscle t-shirts for guys, off shoulder dresses for little kids.
  5. The menu in a traditional wedding. Well, that I must say has changed quite a lot – no longer do you see “Ela chaapadi” in many wedding receptions – it is all ‘metro chapaddu’.
  6. What are the modes of communication – E-mails/ blogs/phones/cell phones?
  7. What are the most sought after places of travel?
  8. The TV serials that people are most crazy about now.
  9. What hobbies are kids mad about?
  10. The most popular food items in the town – Mexican ? Pav Bhaji? Road-side chatt/puchka?
  11. Current views on UFOs, what kind of governments should we have, robots

Oh! I could go on and on … but for now yup! These are what I can think of for now.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My Puja Room




This is on Usha's request! Some photos of my puja room, with our new idols - Saraswathi and Radha-Krishna.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Autumn in Michigan


The winds of Change are blowing. The trees are shedding all their apparels (leaves). Fall is “falling” off and winter is slowly creeping in.

The first thing I loved about the US of A when I arrived here for my first visit was – Seasons. If you have ever lived in Chennai, you would know of only one season – Summer, though you would read in your text books that there are 5 seasons. It is in this country that I could see the varied differences in these 5 seasons – spring, summer, Monsoon, Fall/Autumn and winter. The two seasons I love most are Spring and Fall.

This Fall Season we decided to put our big $$ investment to some use – our Nikon digital camera (for which we spent quite a buck). When I researched on the best places to visit in USA for Fall colors, I found that almost all of them were very far off from where we stayed, and we could not afford to “fly” at this time. So, we decided to drive to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan state to visit the Tahquamenon Falls.


After some rounds of “Are you interested/will they join us”, finally the participants of this ‘Program’ were decided – it was just two families – ours and Monica-Prasad.

So, on Friday(10/6) we started from here in their Camry(this was the deciding nail in the coffin to buy a camry). About 5 hours of masti filled journey ensued. This was the first time we were going out with them and were really surprised to find just how easily the two of us couples gelled well. Probably since we were in the same age group, faced similar issues during marriage and worked in similar kind of environments – we had plenty of things in common, to discuss, debate, laugh over. The last 100 miles was ruled by the boys’ best topic of discussion – how much their wives trouble them!

We stayed over at Mackinac city. It was 11 by the time we reached our motel and we were pretty tired already, but still we decided to go and see the Mackinac Bridge which we knew was decorated with lights by night. And were we glad that we made that trip. See these photos – what do you say?



After a scrumptious breakfast of golden waffles with maple syrup, boiled eggs, toast, pastries and orange juice we started off for the falls. The breakfast was provided complimentary by the hotel. There was an elderly lady making waffles for everybody and helping out in getting things that got over or anything else we needed. And she was making cheerful conversation with about anybody in the room. I was thinking – for something that was given free, she was doing such a great job. There are places you go where you pay out of your pocket and still hardly get a smile out of the people who serve you.

There are two falls in the Tahquamenon state park – the lower falls and the upper falls, separated only by 4 miles on road. The Tahquamenon state park itself is about 2 hours from the Mackinac City. We were forced to stop on the way to admire the beautiful colors on the trees, golden yellows, bright oranges, and glowing reds. After a while my jaw ached from shouting “Oohs and Aahs”! The Lower falls is a very small fall and can be viewed from a far off distance. One can hike for about an hour to reach to a point that is nearest to the falls (we did not do it). We Monkeyed around the place for a while clicking snaps. The best part of going with another couple on a trip is that you get somebody who can click snaps of both the partners together. This was something which we never had in our earlier trips – so all snaps would either have the Mr. or me, and very few that we were lucky enough to get people to click one of both of us would have either one of hands cut of, or trunks chopped and so on. The upper falls were more interesting and magnificent than the lower falls. It is more like a miniature version of Niagara only that it is pretty dirty. The local guy there explained that dark murky wood color of water was because of the dilution of the pigments of the fallen leaves. There was so much foam coming out of the water. This place is also one of the most famous fishing spots for whitewater fish.

After spending some leisure time there, and having a nearly-good (for vegetarians getting good food in typical American spots is kinda difficult) lunch we left this place and rushed to make it to the “Pictured Rocks” cruise about 2 hours from Tahquamenon – we just had about 2 and half hours in hand.

The “Pictured Rocks” cruise is a 2 hour 20 mins cruise on Lake Superior that takes one around rocks that have been shaped, scrapped and deformed by nature. There are huge caverns scooped off the sides of huge cliffs containing deposits of various minerals causing the walls to glisten with different shades. Some natural formations of the rocks are very beautiful to watch like one shaped like the side profile of an Indian. It was pretty windy and chilly to sit on the top of the boat. While returning back, we returned to the warmth of the inside of the boat and slept off. The end of the cruise is a small fall called ‘Spray Falls’. One amazing thing we saw was this tree, which is standing on the edge of a small cliff and derives its ‘food’ from another cliff by the way of its extended roots. Amazing ways of nature na?



The next day we went to Mackinaw Island. It is a very beautiful place. The only means of transportation on this island are rental bicycles or horse driven carriages. There is an 8 mile road around the island where one can rent bicycles and drive around, stopping at the different vantage points. It was a good exercise as much fun it was. Mackinaw Island is full of fudge shops. Americans usually say that Indian sweets are too sweet for them – then what about their fudge? The Mr. – who has a very very sweet tooth – could hardly eat one half of a fudge stick all by himself!

After a hearty ride of almost 3 hours, filled intermittently with loud Antakshri, we started back on the boat back to Mackinac City and back to the daily grind of life. Ah! What would I not give for a weekend like that again?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Happy Deepawali

I am always a day late in wishing :) , but then I write the post after the day has passed!
Wish you and your family a very happy deepawali. May the year be filled with good news, cheer, good health and hope.

Diwali (or deepawali as it is called at home) for me was always associated with 2 things - the "nalla ennai" bath early in the morning and distrubuting sweets (wearing new clothes) to all neighbours. I am not much of a cracker person - been always scared of even the tiniest vedi and after sometime the smoke starts to bother me much. For Diwali this was the routine - we would wake up early, at about 4 or so, amma would apply the "nalla ennai" (gningely oil) on appa's and my head, take an aarthi of us and shoo us into the bathroom for a nice "head bath". After the bath, appa would hand over the new clothes to amma and me (i always love getting new clothes hee hee) and then we would go down to burst the crackers. In Andhra diwali is celeberated in the evening. So, for all the years that we lived there, in our street we would be the only ones bursting crackers in the morning! It was a competition (unwritten) between us and the other mama living 2 streets away - as to who would be the first to burst the crackers in the morning ! Then would come the best part for me - "showing off my new dress" - as I would go around distributing the sweets and "karam" to all neighbours. Appa was so good at this - arranging all the sweets and savouries in correct proportions in individual bowls (based on the number of family members). After we moved to chennai, there was one more step added to this routine - packing stuff in little plastic covers for the multitude of relatives we would be visiting in the day.

This is probably the first diwali(other than those 4 years of college), that I am away from home. It was so lonesome yesterday morning - both of us missing home and all that. In the evening, we had a couple friend at home - it was the lady (Swathi's bday) - so I invited them over for some snacks. We bought a small cake for her and I made "Bread rolls" (recipe below). We got talking of this and that and our moods lifted up a bit. They insisted that we go out with them for dinner - so we made a quick visit to the temple and then went for dinner. By the time we came back home, we both had nice smiles on our faces and felt it was a good diwali we had had :)....

One of my friends fowarded this to me. It feels so nice to see that Indians are so much honored in this country - why not - they are closed to being the largest non-american population in the USA. At office also, all our non-indian colleagues were eager to know about what diwali was and ensured that they wished us before they left home on Friday evening. It gave such a nice feeling :).

Okay - now for the "Bread Rolls" recipe. This was my first attempt at them and they came out quite well - so I was really pleased :)

Ingredients

2 medium sized potatoes - boiled and mashed well.

Salt, Red chilli powder - to taste

Corriander leaves - finely chopped

garam masala - 1/2 teaspoon.

8 large bread slices

Oil - for frying

Procedure

Add the chopped corriander leaves to the mashed potatoes. Heat a little bit oil in a kadai and add this mixture to it. Sprinkle the red chilli powder and salt and mix well so that the entire mixture gets fried a bit. Just before removing off the stove, add the garam masala and fry for a minute or so.

Keep this mixture aside.

Dip the bread slices in water and squeeze the water out well. Spread them on a tissue so that it would take off the extra water. Place a little bit of the mixture in the centre of one slice and roll it and seal off the edges by pressing them together. Make sure you do this process one by one and not dip all the bread pieces into water at once, as bread absorbs water very quickly and it becomes tough to roll it if it becomes too soggy.

Place these rolls on a plate and refrigerate them atleast for 2 hours. This will harden the rolls slightly so that when you fry them, they don't stick to the sides of the kadai and also don't soak much oil.

Heat oil in a kadai and deep fry the rolls while slightly turning them from time to time.

And voila ! bread rolls are ready. You can prepare them in advance and heat them for a mintue in microwave when you need to serve them.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Our New Car

We bought a new 2007 model Toyota Camry yesterday – fulfilling one of our dreams ever – a long black car!( it all started when I saw the ad of Chevrolet Optra – the karva chauth ad)

The Mr. remarked – there is so much pleasure in materialistic things also :D… Definitely yes! We both were grinning ear to ear all the 13 miles back home from the dealership – for no reason. The Mr. drove in the new car and I followed him in our old Corolla – smiling at the way the bright shade of the Fall colors reflected off the shining black hood.

It was a thought was there in our minds since a long time to own a new car. In India, I would have never even given this wish a thought – because of all that I have seen in India – owning a car is a pain – and that too a shiny black one – it is a crime to own one! Within days of buying it, there will a couple of scratches, blotches of mud everywhere and the car would rattle badly within months (unless you lived in those suburb areas where they have laid road for the first time).

But US is the land of opportunities indeed! Added to that fact is that a car, in the parts where I live, is a necessity and not a luxury. So, when the Mr. had to change his workplace to a place about 40 miles from home, we longer could share the single car we have (I refuse to come early to work and leave late, especially when most of the days I sit swatting the imaginary flies).

The decision to buy such an expensive car and that too entirely on loan is something very scary – for me – somebody who never has taken any expensive decision in life (who took the decision to marry then?? Was that no priceless!). The Mr. did sufficient research, backed up his findings with facts based on real life experiences – I was nearly convinced – and then came the trip to UP(Upper peninsula) in Monica’s camry – and I needed no more convincing that Camry was what we needed!

It has sooooo much space – was my first reaction! We test drove the new Corolla just to see if it had anything different from our ’98 Corolla and the moment we sat in it we were disappointed – it was the same thing, just a bit more power and little elevation. No Sir, I want a Camry. Okay, kya lena hai who tho decide ho gaya, now kahan se laayenge paise? This is where I was amazed at the credit system of the US of A. No Questions asked - no layers of paper work - no down payment!
A simple background check and we got our pre-approved check for the entire amount of the car.

Now came the third and toughest part - bargaining with the dealer for the price. I must say that I really underestimated the Gemini hiding inside the MR. – is he a smooth talker and a tough person to beat in the duel of words? Gosh! There I was sitting open mouthed amazed at his verbal prowess, while the salesperson tried to convince him, coax him, anger him, and insult him to budge from his low price. Finally after 2 hours the salesperson had come down by 1000$ from his initial quote (he even brought the manager in between who even went to say – Sir, I don’t think you can afford this car ,you should be buying a lower end car only – the chit of that guy), we were only 250$ away from our mark. We walked out leaving our number on Saturday. And on Monday, the first thing the Mr. gets is a call from the salesperson to tell that he was agreeing to our price. Oh! What a sweet news that was. In two days, the deal was finalized; we got our car and are happy as can be.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

7 Cup Cake


The past two weekends and the week between have been really hectic, so did not find time to pen down anything. The weekend of Oct 6th we had been for a “Fall Tour” to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan(more on this in next post). The week between Oct 7th and Oct 14th was strangely busy (considering the fact that I am “Vetti” most of the time at work). This weekend was also satisfactorily busy – Saturday was spent at a friend’s house and yesterday we had a couple over at our place ( this was nice because 1) we like the couple a lot and they are good fun to be with 2) I got a chance to experiment on my culinary skills).

So, Friday night Reliance India earned a lot of revenue, when I was on phone with amma trying to get some recipes for “quick” sweets that I could make. I wanted to move away from the “comfort zone” that the easy-to-make MTR Gulab Jamun pack gave. So, I decided to make this very simple-yet-very-tasty sweet that amma would concoct at the shortest notice – this 7-cup cake. I would like to submit this recipe for the “Jhiva for Diwali sweets” held here.


Ingredients

Besan/Kadala Maavu/Senaga pindi – 1 cup
Coconut – grated fine – 1 cup
Ghee melted to room temperature – 1 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Sugar – 3 cups


Method
Mix all the ingredients, except ghee in a kadai. Pour ¼ of the ghee into this mixture. Mix all the ingredients well and cook on medium flame. Keep stirring intermittently for 30 mins or so later (the time is based on the electric coil heater that we have in the apartments in the US). Now the mixture will start frothing and start to come off from the sides of the kadai. Slowly pour the rest of the ghee into the kadai, while stirring continuously. Within few minutes, the entire mixture will harden a bit and become thick. Take it off the stove and pour it onto a flat greased plate/vessel and let it cool for about 15-20 minutes. While it is still hot, draw the lines with a sharp life to make small diamonds/squares. After it is cool, you can take out the pieces and store them in an air-tight container.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lage Raho Munnabhai


I wanted to write about this about 3 weeks ago, when I actually saw the movie, but never got to doing it. Now it is a bit of stale news, but then no harming in jotting what I wanted to say.
In a movie-world that has lost the meaning of comedy, amidst the hotchpotch sex-based comedies that the bollywood industry churns out every two months – comes a breath of fresh air – a neat “family” comedy called “Lage Raho Munnabhai”. Right from the first scene where the unsuspecting no-name character gets trapped in the parking lot, the giggles started in the theatre. The crescendo reached peak when Arshad Warsi so casually remarks – “Abbe Tu andhar aa raha hai ki bahar jaa raha hai”.

I felt that the movie outrightly belonged to Arshad Warsi – his dialogue delivery, timing and facial expressions. Not a single line of his missed the laughter-applause that the audience had to offer. I found his devotion to this “Bhaaai” so endearing. Wish I had a friend like that, who would do anything for me.

Sanjay looks very nice when he does these comedy roles that the action ones like Vaastav or the romantic ones like Saajan. I feel he is bearable in the Munnabhai role. I felt that he had more to do as a hero in Munnabhai MBBS, than in this movie – which has no center character that deserves applause.

Boman Irani IS ONE Good actor huh? Reminds me a lot of Utpal Dutt. He shines, as do his silky jazzy bright fluorescent clothes, as the “Villian” Lucky Singh.

Vidya Balan is like the fresh seaside breeze. Chirpy, bubbly and a wide innocent smile! She makes you heart smile when she fills the screen. Though I personally feel she suited traditional roles like the one in Parineeta more than the modern Jhanvi(that was a nice screen name). I was mercifully thankful that they did not disrobe her like Preity in Salaame Namaste. I also felt that never ending “Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmbai” could have been a bit shorter.

The best surprise package of the movie is “Baapu”. I later came to know that the person who played this role –Dilip Prabhavalkar-is a renowned Marathi theatre artiste. Wonder why nobody made a “Gandhi” movie starring him, I think he fits the bill to the T, more than the “Gandhi”Ben Kingsley.

Another real surprise package was the music – it generally happens that when you have these kinda tapori songs, you seldom remember them after you leave the movie hall. But this one stumped me – why else would I be going “Pal Pal” or “Aane Char Aane” from Morn-Eve and till the Mr. got crazy!
“Lage Raho …” has a very very catchy whistle tune and the casual tone of Rathod is simple superb. You can picture Sanju baba in your mind oh!so easily when you listen to this song.
The latest-craze-in-my-life Shreya is captivating as lyrically waltzes in “Pal Pal”. A friend remarked that this is a lift from an old Engligh song – well I am glad Shantanu decided to “lift” it, for I would have missed such a wonderful tune had he decided otherwise. Sonu indeed tends to become “ronu sonu”(the Mr.’s nick name for Sonu) at certain parts in this song. And sometimes he jumps over the edge when he says “Paaal Paal” rolling his tongue a tad too much.
“Aane Char aane” indeed makes me wish I could wear a hawaiian shirt and run around the sands of some beach. A nice jiggly-jig song with a lot of meaningful lyrics.
“Bande Mein” is a nice ode to MKG.

A very very entertaining movie that comes with a wonderful hidden message. Hats off to the director to have thought of such a unique plot. It is not often that you leave the movie hall smiling and at the same time pondering over what the director implanted in your brain. It brings a feeling into me that, if only we tried – nothing is impossible. I really wish somebody would do the feat in a government office (the one the old man struggling to get his pension does).

And ... oooh! Did I miss the "treat" in the movie ... Jr. Bachchan!!! I almost fell off my seat with surprise when I saw him. The look on the Mr.'s face was priceless. All he could say was "Yeh saala yahan bhi pahaunch gaya ... " hee hee .... Boy! I did love "LRM" ...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy Vijayadasami

Happy Vijayadashami to all of you and your family !

This year’s Navarathri was pretty much inconspicuous – more so because I really have never celebrated one entirely on my own. But it still had some of its special things – like the beginning of the 10day festival – with Kalpana’s Kolu. My boss at office, Kalpana, sets up Kolu every year (or so I am told – for this is the first time I went to see it), so she invited us home on the 1st day of Navarathri. The Mr. was all excited after seeing the Kolu and extracted a promise from me, that we will do something next year. I caught up with a colleague who recently quit our workplace and two-three other ladies also. It was nice seeing all sarees, beautiful bangles, jewellery – took me back home for a second . Kalpana’s home itself was so beautiful – it made the Mr. and me want to set up a house of our own soon – wonder when at all that will be. Well, in order that we don’t disappoint ourselves, we decorate our rented apt quite beautifully.

Yesterday was Saraswathy Pujai. Under amma’s instructions I put some books and tools in front of the Devi and the Mr. and I successfully completed a short pooja, stuttering out the slokams out of a tamil book that amma had given me. I tried my rusted vocal chords a bit and was so disappointed to realize that I hardly remembered any of the musical pieces that I once upon a time could recite at a moment’s notice. It made me want to rush back to Chennai and join music classes once again. Oh! I hate myself for not practicing all these years.

Today is Dasami. Brings back fond memories – every year I would run around applying chandanam and kumkumam to all the appliances in the house – the fridge, washing machine, sewing machine, the almariahs, mixie, grinder, TV, VCR, a couple of our shelves, the doors and wait patiently for the puja to get done, before rushing out to the Cellar to do the pooja to our vehicles (sometimes 3, sometimes 2). As a kid, I would love it when appa would give me a chance to take the scooter off the stand and run it a bit to crush the lemons placed under the tires. When he would start the car, I would love to hear the Squiiiiiish sound of the lemons and would circle around to ensure all 4 lemons were Squished.
In a hurry to come to work, I forgot all about applying chandanam to appliances. I made vella payasam, did small puja and rushed to work.

The Mr. called me to tell that one of his colleagues has given us a Saraswathi idol – how sweet of him. We hope to make it to the temple to close the Dasami on a nice note and to pray for new beginnings filled with nice things.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tring Tring! Hello Moto

This post is “OnDemand” for one of my very dearest and long-term-been-always-there-for-me-friend – Sowmya.
Happy Anniversary to you dear – Sorry for goofing up on the date every single year! This is to make up for that!

We – the Mr. and I got our new “Chell” Phones on Thursday last – Moto Razr the talk of the town(I hope it is still the “TOT” – with electronics items you never know how soon one thing gets outdated). My fascination of owning a flip phone goes back very long. When we got our chance to come to the US of A, I had told the Mr. that one day I would get the 0$ (or money return) deal on a good Flip phone. Till date there was absolutely no need for a Cell phone for me, so my dream just lay there in a corner of my heart – till I started driving. Driving in the USA without a cell phone is sorta dangerous. So, one day we decided and ordered ours-after much debating my the Mr. on whether he wanted a Sony Erricson/Blackberry and so on… I was the loyal one – stuck to my black Moto since the very beginning. Here are our phones! Since they both are the same we stuck these stickers on the back for identification – Piglet for the Mr. and Pooh for the Mrs.

About 5 years ago, I was a cell phone hater- for no particular reason. It was during the times that Mobile phones were starting to become a craze in India. Despite the gadget-loving-Appa’s plea’s I refused to take one. The Mr. and I debated the possibility of taking one, as it would be the only means of us keeping in contact (these are pre-marriage times when the Mr.-n-I were at war with parents), but dropped it like a hot iron when I realized that the bills would come home and the hawk-eyed-wont-miss-a-detail appa would question on why I called a certain number in B’lore always. I also thought it to be a waste of money, and unnecessary sophistication. The will-always-wait-for-a-bus-and-not-be-luxirous-taking-an-auto Amma was also on my side.

Soon things were to change! I was given a mobile by my office as part of “Production Support”, and other than “Supporting” my personal needs there was practically no official use put to that 1/20th Kg instrument.
But that showed me how I could receive calls from the Mr. much more easily. Then there was text messaging and those single-rings-to-say-i-miss-you also. So, when I moved to a different project, I felt like an arm was broken when I had to return the cell back. So, a very sweet-will-always-listen-to-you daughter went to the always-an-yes-to-buy-a-new-gadget Dad and chose a Nokia 2100(though there were other models I chose only this because the Mr. also had the same).

Cell Phones changed the world dramatically, as did Internet. It made communication so much easier. There was a time when for months together we could talk to each other, he could not call at my house number and his home did not have a landline! And then during trainings in office, you did not have a seat number also. And then there came a time – as soon as I got onto the office bus – I gave a single ring and got a call back pronto and the 35 mintues of journey to office just flew by. For almost 2 years I was known as the girl-always-on-phone on Route#10.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I am depressed

I have been depressed about this “issue” for quite some time now, intermittently sometime, and sometimes for a longer period. The “issue” is my job. Ever since I joined my present organization which is about 5 years ago, I have not been satisfied. I know that 5 years is just too much time to put with up with a lot of heartburn, but at every stage I had some personal issue which prevented me from changing my job.

Sometimes I begin to wonder if I have become so dormant that I no longer have the urge to even change my “sick condition”. Slowly, very slowly I can feel my self-confidence slip off, my enthusiasm towards anything new wane. I wallow in self pity almost all the time, which saps all positive energy out of me. I don’t look forward to any of the things that I love to do anymore – books don’t interest me, songs seem toneless, everything seems so bland.

I am so sick of my situation. At times I really wonder if I have a mental problem, and that I should get myself treated. I wish I could drop off everything as it is and run off somewhere else.

Even as I write this, I don’t want to publish this in my blog – because this seems just too personal to write. What would the people reading my blog think of me? Won’t my image fall off in their eyes. They might also think of me as a loser – a grumbling person as this friend of mine refers me as (Ms. Polambal). I don’t want to lose the little friendship and goodwill I gained through my blogs.

But then today I care for nothing. I am too depressed for words.

There is a new opportunity in my organization. The higher ups are planning to get a new person for that, plucking somebody off his current work – but when I requested for the same, they refused. That added all the fuel to my anger and frustration.

Amma says that a job is only something that provides me occupation of mind for 8-9 hours, and a paycheck at the end of the month – If I think of it this way, then I need not be worried. I am not a great career minded person – I work for a living and want to do good in the work I do – earn good respect from my colleagues and sleep with a smile at having done something well , in the night. My current job robs me off all of the above, so I am not even able to apply amma’s advice here.

I crossed the 100 blog mark two days ago. When I was at around 95 or so, I was thinking that my 100th blog should be special. All the blogs I visit, the authors have felt so much happiness in writing their 100th blog. And yesterday when I looked up, I saw I had already crossed 100, without my notice.
I am a person who does not forget these small things. But lately this pre-occupation of “the issue” robbed me of this happiness also.

I don’t know if this post even makes sense, but I do feel a small relief writing it all off.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Meeeeowwww



I am not by nature a very superstitious person. But sometimes when things are going really bad, to get a hold onto something – I can start believing in some stupid things – anything to tide over the bad phase in life I feel. The Mr. does not believe in anything that cannot be scientifically explained. He believes in God and has faith in the fact that if you do well, you will always be taken care of. But what happened on Sunday, make him really smile and think for a second if there was something called superstition which was true.

It was one of those days when I was having a miserable Migraine attack and nothing I did seem to assuage the pain. So, in the evening we decided to go out for a drive for a whiff of fresh air. Just as we were about to leave the apartment complex, a gorgeously black cat ran across the road. I was a bit scared and told that we would better go back. The Mr. consoled me and said a Cat is just another animal – we don’t get scared if a squirrel/beaver/groundhog crosses the road rite? We had driven only for about a mile or so, and were about to get out of a gravel path that was a temporary detour when we heard a metal scrapping noise. I turned and gave a glare to the vehicle behind for making such a bad noise! The Mr. pressed the gas a bit more and the noise persisted – the car behind us was trying to overtake us and glaring at us – and it was then that it dawned on us that it was a problem with our own car!

We pulled over and saw to our dismay that our exhaust cabinet was dangling on the ground. The exhaust is fitted to the body of the vehicle using a metal strip that is fastened on both sides with two screws – one of them had fallen off causing the metal strip to give way and making the exhaust fall almost to the ground. It was our luck that we had taken a AAA membership just 3 weeks ago. AAA is a company that takes care of any such emergency problems with your vehicle for a yearly premium – people say that it is one of the most beneficial things in the US. We called them up and within 10 minutes the tow truck was there. The ‘tow-er’ was a Mexican called Eddy – a very cheerful guy – he looked at the exhaust and said he can fix it temporary for us and that would be helpful to us, instead of just being towed and dropped at home AS-IS. There was however just one issue that we had to go with him to another place where he had got a call about a broke down Mercedes. Well, what did we have to lose? So, he towed our car up – this was the first time I was seeing a car being towed – Boy! Are these machinery sophisticated!! We sat in the front of that huge monster truck while our darling car rode in the back. (I was thinking – if our car could speak like the ones in the animated movie “CARS”, it would squeak and say – please don’t let me go, I won’t break down anymore).

We drove to a sub-division that had really HUGE houses! Guess all the trillionairies (if there is one such word) lived here. Each house had atleast 3 cars and no brand lesser than a Cadillac / Benz / Lexus. Eddy even remembered this house as soon as he heard the complaint and remarked that they even had a boat-car (I had read about these only in Fantasy comics) and here I was seeing one. Now, this Benz car also had to be towed to the garage – so he hooked it to the back (like cars are towed back in good old India) and there we were driving off with 2 cars. Eddy remarked, as he hit 50 Mph – that must be the fastest either of those cars drove without gas! Enroute we collected some nice info – Eddy got a call and apologized saying it was his voice , when my Mr. joked “is she asking you when you are home” – to which the Mexican replied pretty casually – “No we are getting divorced! It was a bad choice – we rushed into marriage. But that’s fine we have been married only for 6 months now”. I found it so strange – here was a guy who was getting divorced, there was no single feeling of remorse about him and he was talking very lovingly to his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Poof! This kind of attitude is just too much for me to handle. I got reminded of “Jhankar Beats” where Rahul bose’s lawyer says “Mujhe mere client ke biscuits wapas chahiye” , instead of asking for “Tapes” (hilarious scene).

Finally 2 hours later, after Eddy had temporarily fixed our exhaust fastening, we crossed the same corner were the “black cat” effect had attacked us. For a long time after we came home, the Mr. could not help smiling about the “Black Cat”.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Chappad Phad Ke

There is a saying in Hindi – Bhagwaan jab kuch deta hai Chappad phaad ke deta hai – When god gives something, he gives in enormous quantities! Remember my “Socialization” – a month prior to that I was complaining almost every alternate day to the Mr. that we don’t have any friends here at all, we are a lonesome twosome and that he did not care and blah and blah …. And now, we are not free a single day! Gone are those glorious days when we basked in the soft blue light of the TV for ages in the evenings, sipping tea and drinking in all the dialogues from the zillion movies that we saw. Aaj yeh halat hai ki we hardly see the movies that we get from the library – and the funniest part is all those movies that I placed “Holds” for about 4 months ago are all getting “Available for pick up” now! No – I am not at all complaining. I am loving this action packed life we are having. After all, getting to see other humans is always something nice – is it not why we all live in societies? And “touchwood” all the company we are having is so nice – none of those “formality sake” types.

I thought it was only the MR. who had extremities of nature and now find that God also is in the same league! Guess God must also be a Gemini!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Problems....

... they never seem to end. Just when I sit back and let out a big "Phew", even before my back reaches for the back-rest of my chair - another problem pops his head out of the ugly hole in the road of life. Problems definitely make you stronger and each time you solve a problem and look back the previous one, you feel "Poof! that was so much simpler to handle". When I talk of this to somebody about 10 years elder to me, she says similingly - "You just wait baby - you ain't seen nuthing!" ... Oh! is there more ???

Well, all that thing about problems making your character strong, preparing you to fight the worst, blah blah is all fine - but for the sweet lord's sake - can I get a small popcorn break atleast??

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Baby Times

These are baby times. Either about babies that I have never met, or babies that are to be born! Of course I am talking of babies of my friends. Recently one of my very close friend, Vindhya, sent me the snap of her nearly 2 year old – Tharun , and in the same week another close friend of mine, Meens – as I call her – sent the latest updates on her daughter Praks. Looking at them, I felt as if I was missing something big in life. These two girls were very much a part of my adult life- sharing daily happenings, consoling me in the darkest times of my pre-marriage life, laughing aloud with me over a funny incident, sharing my indignation about some politics at work, reveling in my happiness when I was getting married – and today each one of us is at a different physical location, busy with our own lives.

This is Tharun. Oh! How much I would have loved to see the rotund belly of the reed-thin Vindhya when she was carrying Tharun – how much I would have loved to be with her and force her to eat every morsel of the food on her plate as I did for so many afternoons in the office canteen! I wish I could see this little bundle of trouble – as she calls him lovingly – pull his cheeks, hold him close and play with him.


This is cutie Prakrathi – aka Praks. Look at her inquisitive eyes – she is an exact carbon copy of her mom. Meens is one darling of a person. She was with me all through my troubled phase before marriage – listening patiently to all my woes, advising me and helping me in taking small decisions. She had her fair share of troubles before lil Praks was born. I am sure she would have been glad to have a friend at hand, and – I was never there for her. Wish I could do something for this dear friend of mine.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rollicking Weekend

Sometimes you know that a particular weekend is going to be good on Friday itself. The one that swept past yesterday was one such for me. Friday was pretty cheerful because it had only 3 working hours :D. We had our department picnic that afternoon – and to our utter happiness, the boss sent a mail in the morn stating that folks can go home after the picnic and need not come back to ensure the 8-hour working time. After an ice-breaking game of finding a person in the group who “Owned a rabbit” or one who “wore toe rings” or one who “did polka” and so on; we had a lunch of Pizza and Salad.
One of committees in our department is called “Morale” – the responsibility of this team being – survey the morale of the department, take inputs from all the employees and come up with suggestions on how to improve the morale of the team.
It was the responsibility of this team to conduct some games/team building activity on that day. They did come up with some good activities and we all went back home smiling.



One of my colleagues was talking about the weather being fine at Cedar Point, an amusement park about 3 hours drive from our city. So, that evening – the Mr. and me made plans, called up one family that we know of and 2 bachelors and were all geared up for an outing the next day. I am not at all one for such sudden trips – but this one I must say will be always remembered as one of our best trips to any place, not only for the fact that we had grrrrreat fun but also because I did my first 3 hour driving trip – Yes! Yours truly drove all the way to Cedar Point and half-way back also! It indeed is some achievement for me, considering that the maximum I have driving on freeway is from home to a mall that is 10 miles away! And the icing on the cake was to be complimented for it, and when the two bachelors – Jai and Amitav, who were in their own car behind us – said that it was tough catching up with me as I drove faster than the Mr. (I was all smiles).

Upon entering the park we were stumped by the gigantic roller coasters and monstrous rides. We were sure we would not even want to step into one. We took one roller coaster ride called Blue Streak, assuming it would be a small one – the first vertical drop of 72ft had us all rattled and searching for our stomach in our throats. Thereupon, we decided to be more cautious and so took the rotating Matterhorn – it was this which gave us the needed boost I think, and also the ambience of the place maybe.

We ventured on a ride called “Iron Dragon”, which I think was the coolest in the whole place. You are seated in a chair like thing and hang from the main line of the ride, and it twists and turns around a pool of water – the view is what makes it all worthwhile I felt. We rode this ride thrice, till we got bored of it! The best part was since it was a normal weekend, there was hardly any queue. This place is reputed to have waiting times that go upto 1 and ½ hour for each ride and all we had to wait was for a max of 10 mins!! After the “Iron Dragon” all the males in the group had become really enthu and were raring to go on all the rides they could lay eyes on. I ventured on most of them and dropped off a couple when I heard that the sheer vertical drop was more than 150 ft or so.

We had a new food item at this place called “Elephant Ears”. It is nothing but our local Bathura – of gigantic size though and with a bit of cinnamon and loads of sugar sprinkled on it. A nice new food item!

This park hosts the ride that is currently the world’s number 1 – Dragster. Folks are strapped to a car that is shot off a track and reaches 120 MPH speed in just 4 seconds and shoots upto a vertical height of 450 ft along a path that is twisted at an angle of 270 en-route and drops back to ground at the same speed. The whole process takes only about 8 seconds and like somebody remarked – even if you scream on this ride by the time the scream is out of you, the ride is done! I could hardly stand next to the place, and wondered what is it that made people even venture for the ride. When I stood just below the contraption, just looking up made me dizzy, and here was a small kid of 8-9 years who was boastfully talking of how he was going to take the ride – I don’t know if the ride had age restrictions.

The last of the rides that we took was the “Raptor”, where the passengers are made to sit with feet dangling on hanging chairs – dropped from a height of nearly 100 ft and rotated 360 degrees, nearly 6 times! It was a mind blowing and thrilling ride, one I am going to remember for ages to come.

Our throats are sore today, with all that screaming – but it was a trip worth remembering. I might never even venture near any roller coasters in my life, but I am glad I had this experience.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thanks & An Apology

My Second class of Swimming yesterday was much better than the first one. We arrived a bit early, so that I could mentally prepare myself. I was able to get inside the water and go in completely without fear and able to float holding the wall/ the instructor's hands/the Mr.'s hands :)... There is one elderly lady who is one of the instructors. She is such a dear (I need to ask her name next time around). She gives me so much encouragement and if I just do a small thing fine - she praises me, gives a good smile and urges me on to try more. Oh! Thanks to god for sending such wonderful people on earth.

Many of you blogger friends and other friends have sent me so many encouraging mails/comments on my post. Thanks to all of you for the support - it makes a world of difference to me to receive those words of support from you.

I would like to write a note of apology - maybe I was a bit harsh on commenting about Ms J in my last post - but then I was miffed by the way she commented on my attire, so I guess being a human I was not entirely wrong in getting angry at her - anyways, I want to mention that she was sweet to me yesterday. She did not laugh at me when she saw that I was not even able to float when she could oh-so easily! And instead offered me her glasses and suggested me some small ways that would help me overcome my fear. She is indeed a dear too! So, this apology goes to you Ms. J for the "Sprinting" joke.

I am a sort of person who has very low confidence on herself. All my life- appa and amma had to keep telling me to do something- they would know I can top an exam, or win in a roller skating competition, or manage on my own in a new country - but I would never have the confidence. After marriage, the Mr. took over that "Job" and is great at it. I was scared to tell about the swimming classes to my in-laws wondering how they would react - and was so happy to see them also urging me to go. I feel I am terrifically lucky to have such good people all around me. I think it is high time - instead of being an idiot - I get some confidence in myself, look upon my past to see how I achieved small things or big and go on to learn swimming well !

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Swimming Classes

After much thought and debating and convincing from the Mr., I finally decided to get over my inhibition of the swim-wear and decided to join swimming lessons. So, with great enthu I went to shop for a swim wear on Monday (classes were to begin on Tue) and was so disappointed to find just a couple of itsy-bitsy bikins. With much great effort(and patience from the Mr.) and spending close to an hour at two shops, I managed to find something that decently covers me up – why in the world can’t they have swim shorts for women also ???? Beats me!

Of all the days, it was only on Tuesday that the Mr. had to come late. After a hurried bite of the Pori that I made, we rushed off to the class at 8:30 PM. Driving in pitch black darkness and in pelting rain, we managed to find the Community center. While the Mr. filled out the forms, I stumbled around trying to find the changing room and was flustered not knowing where to put my stuff and landed near the pool –a towel wrapped around my waist, my winter jacket on me – looking like an absolute idiot. I was glad that all the people enrolled in the class were elderly people and no lechers (And moreover as the Mr. rightly puts it – if there were to ogle they would at all those beautiful American instructors and not us Indian ladies).

I was just about to relax and not let my obsession with my attire work on me, when this other Indian Lady (lets call her J from now on) had to remark – I wonder how you could bring yourself to wear this! And that was it – all the confidence I had went down the pool – she herself was drabbed in an athletic track suit as if she was assuming that we would be sprinting in the pool lanes and not swimming.

And as luck would be, I was not exactly like a fish in water – in fact I was the exact opposite. I could not even get myself to dunk completely into the pool, which was only 4ft deep. After much struggling with trying to float, I gave up and ended up struggling for breath. So much for my wish to be able to swim in 8 classes, I will be glad if I can atleast float at the end of this entire ordeal.

The Mr. was a great support in all this – calmly listening to all my frustrations and urging me to tryin breathing out - inside water, and holding my hands while I tried to float. He even enrolled in the class just to be with me (he swims quite well already). All the way back home, he was there giving me gyan on how to calm myself and boosting me up to think of how I struggled on my first day of driving and how I driving casually with only one hand on the steering wheel today (2 months since that disastorous first day). Oh! What would I do without this sweet angel husband of mine!

Today is the 2nd class – ppl wish me all the luck – I should atleast be able to float holding onto the pool wall.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dependency


I hate living in the United States for this one particular reason - dependency on somebody for transportation! You cannot go to any place without your own car. We have been managing so far with one car, inspite of people warning that you will sooner or later need one each. Guess it is for these kinds of situations that you definitely need one of your own - when your own work is done, and you have browsed all the possible internet sites and are desperate to go home to cook for the evening or do some house work; and are stuck in the office waiting for the MR.

It is all the more tough for me, one who does not have any friends in the area where we live - despite the fact that all of them work in the same firm as mine (just my bad nature that nobody wants to be pals with me - I guess!) - and you have to ping each one and ask if he/she can give you a ride!

I hate these situations and I detest them when they keep coming again and again in my life! Why ME!!! I am going to get the car to work from 'morrow and pick the Mr. at my convinience. He would not mind even if he were to asked to stay in the office 24 hours - 365 days a year.....

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRr.........................

Lures of the Tinselworld

Two of my favourite film stars, in Tamil industry, got married to each other yesterday – Surya and Jyothika. Ever Since I came to know of the “Kissu-Kissu” between them, I was kinda hoping this would be the end. The Mr. says I cannot understand why you are excited about their wedding/ love affair. Well, neither can I explain, but that is that! And, I was so happy to receive umpteen numbers of forwards with their wedding snaps. Somehow they felt RIGHT together. Jo, was looking much beautiful at her wedding, than she ever looked in any of her movies (Oh! I forgot … she was absolutely stunning in Kaakha Kaakha).

I remember having got a forward, or read about it somewhere on the Net – I am not sure, a photo of Ajay Devgan and Kajol. They are also such a nice couple I feel.
Another couple I rooted for was Junior B and Rani. Somewhere in the between there was some gossip about their link up and then it all fizzled out. I was so disappointed when those rumours about Junior B and Aish came up. I wished of all the people he did not marry that snooty, nothing-but-a-pretty-face-yet-world-famous model (can’t bring myself up to call her an actress).

Hmm… Sometimes I find myself being silly about these interests in the Filmdom. But then again, I feel – I am okay. Talking of all these brings back good old memories. While in college, I was made the “Reading Room Representative” of our LH(ladies hostel) in final year. Well, this honorable position had nothing to do in contribution to the improvement of reading abilities of the inmates, not taking care that there was proper and impartial distribution of the magazines that were delivered every month to me – it only had to do with the fact that after about 20 days into the month, I was at liberty to tear up all the posters that I wanted from Filmfare & Stardust and stick it on the walls of my room. And this I did religiously for a year. It was so heart rending when I had to leave the college and that room of mine , my ‘work of art’ – I took off some of my most favorite (believe me it was really tough to choose a few among those treasured clip-arts) clippings and have them still stuck on my scrap book!

The two large posters of Shah Rukh (when in the world did I ever like him – I cannot even recall – I must have been really insane then) and Aamir Khan (my chudli loo favorite actor) ,and the tiny one of Madhu kutty(Madhavan) on the walls of my room at home endured years of abuse from Appa – who would chide me for not growing up at all – and finally had to give in when the room was painted.

Someday, when I settle down in life in a house of my own, I am going to put back those posters up on the wall again. Maybe my kid would give me a helping hand.