Sunday, December 30, 2007

8th year in the 21st century?

2008 is almost here. We pride ourselves in being in the 21st century. We talk of the 1980's as being the "olden times". Life is different today. We can get information about anything at the touch of a mouse, within seconds. We do not have to yell out loud on long distance calls in order to be audible. We do not have to rely on telegrams to send messages quickly. We do not have to travel by ship for three weeks to travel within one continent.

And yet, some attitudes are still as old as they can be. For specifically, I would like to talk about the superstitious world that we live in.

Last year, I recall having paused for a second when a black cat crossed my path on my way to school for a test. I drove on but nevertheless, I did think about what I should do for that one fleeting second.

My mother will not let me leave the home if I have expressed a need to drink or eat something right before I step out. She will make me drink water to negate that sentence. And without any argument, I do.

More recently, a friend of mine got married. She told us all (at least 20 of us) that she was getting married only a week prior to the wedding. Her defense was "buri nazar". I am surprised she took the risk of telling us a whole week early. If someone wanted to caste a black eye, they could have even in that short period of time, right?

And then finally, I met with several accidents, lost a lot of money, and suffered from poor health all in a span of 6 months. Someone told my mother, that a certain someone, was doing black magic on me!!

As a student of science, I question these superstitions that we have, often ingrained within us since childhood thanks to our moms, grandmoms, and great grandmoms. How true are these? And God forbid, if we defy this, and something bad happens, would that be coincidental or would we actually be facing the negative consequences of being oversmart and modern? And how will we find out?

Oh by the way, please do not clip your nails after dusk!!

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Happy Day..A Happy Birthday!

People say birthdays are about cakes, presents, and parties. I say partially true! I say birthdays are also about friends and about knowing who really cares. They are also about growing older, and hopefully wiser.

Yesterday, was one of those days for me. The day that comes once a year, and makes me wait all year for it. But yesterday was not an ordinary birthday for me. It was a revealing birthday, quite an introspective one. For the first time in XX years, I did not get a birthday present wrapped in colorful paper, with a cute little bow on it. Neither did I get any flowers that would make my jaw drop with awe and my eyes cry like a beauty contest winner. And yet, I remained unperturbed and experienced no shame in answering people when they asked me what I got for my birthday, much to my surprise.

When people asked me what I was doing or what big plans I had, my answer was "walking around in the malls and shopping". I could sense the disguised disappointment in some voices while some appeared nonchalant, unsuccessfully. And yet, I experienced no embarassment. In fact, I was amused. How could this be for I have always made a huge deal out of my birthdays!?

And then I realized that when I was being materialistic in the past, there was something amiss in my life, or so I thought. I had certain expectations of how a birthday "should" be, and how people around me celebrate their birthdays. In a futile attempt to fill that void, I pledged to have "happening" birthdays and wished for expensive presents that I could display with a smug demeanor. But yesterday, I was content. I was content with what I have in life, and content with what is to follow. Expensive presents, fancy restaurants, or apple-picking and wine-tasting activities would not have added to the joy (as it would have last year, and the year before that, and as far behind as I can remember).

Yesterday, I probably realized that I had grown wiser. I had no need to boast of the red silk top that I bought from New York and Company (which I did not) or the Christmas tree that I decorated (which I did not), or the number of birthday wishes I got on orkut within a couple hours of my birthday starting. I had no need to boast about how I am capable of winning the Miss Popularity contest. I had no need to show anything off to people who dont really care.

I was secure being who I am. I knew that the people who had my phone number and actually bothered to call or text message me, truly cared. I knew that the people who did not have my phone number, and actually bothered to write me an email, truly cared. I knew that my blogger friends, who had no access to any reminders, and sent me birthday messages, truly cared. I knew that I was loved. I knew then that my birthday was an eye-opener.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Some Things Never Change

Often times we wish for things that are not. For example, we wish to be thinner, we wish that our next door neighbor was nicer, we wish that our exams were easier, we wish that our paycheck was bigger, and we wish that we were happier.

With the advent of the NEW YEAR, there are lots of people writing blogs on the things that they wish to change in 2008, a few new resolutions, a few old ones never fulfilled, and a few that are in the process of being fulfilled. Anything new brings us hope, revives us, and makes us more optimistic.

But some things never change.

  • Some people will not stop complaining about their bad luck.
  • Some people will not stop fighting for control in their relationships.
  • Some people will not stop valuing money over people.
  • Some people will not stop bitching about others, on the telephone, on orkut, through blogs, through private messages, and in person.
  • Some people will not stop being jealous.
  • Some people will not stand up for themselves or others.
  • Some people will not stop being selfish and vain.
  • Some people will not respect others or their property.
  • Some people will not be appreciative no matter what you do for them.
  • Some people will judge others based on their beauty.
  • Some people will not stop being annoying or irritable.
  • Some people will just not change.

Sometimes, our new year resolutions dont matter if they involve others. Sometimes, it is two-way traffic. Sometimes, no matter how much we wish to change, we cannot because others wont let us. Sometimes, only sometimes.

Merry Christmas. Wish you all good luck with your new year resolutions!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Mommy !

No it is not my mother's birthday today, and not in the next 6 months either. This blog has been born out of the question that people have been asking me very recently, "What plans for your birthday?"

Honestly, I usually make a big deal out of my birthday. I always have something planned out (at the expense of others) and await that morning with great eagerness, my materialistic spirit very evident in my gawking eyes, hunting for wrapped presents. This year, I have nothing planned. Maybe its my graying brain cells or the dwindling bank account. And I have no morose about it. However, my heart ached when my mom (hundreds of miles away) told me on yahoo messenger, "I will call you on your birthday."

And then I began thinking about how selfish I have been all these years. As I have counted the number of days to December 26 each year, making demands to my mom for presents, of things I wanted to eat that day, and making her pay for my parties, I never once thought about how she must have felt on that day so many years ago. The day her first child was born. It must truly have been a joyous moment, a wonderful experience, taking her first step into motherhood holding a 5 lb 6 oz baby in her arms. I have often heard people say that the happiest moment of their lives has been the time their babies were born. Surely then, December 26th must then have been the happiest day in my mother's life.

So this year, I will send my mother a present for my birthday. This year, I will celebrate her joy. This year, I will thank her for bringing me into this world.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Working Woman

We have all heard or known of so many men who have rushed to India during a 4 week (often only a week) break to "see" the lovely maidens that their over eager parents have lined up for them. They pick one and voila! A few days later, they are married and have a "dependent" tagging along with them to the USA.

Some of these women had longed to be in the USA and thought that their only route would be through marriage while some had always wanted to pursue education here but never had the means to. Some of the former women hence are content with staying at home and being a "homemaker", a fancy word replacement for the word "housewife", used more frequently in India.

Before, I continue, would like to make it clear that I have nothing against housewives. We all should be happy doing what we do and if that's what makes them happy so be it. However, I am a little confused here. I often hear from wives (not yet mothers) on H4 visas that they are awfully busy and have absolutely no time to do extra stuff..stuff as in catch up with old friends, attend events such as those held by CRY, and get an oil change on the car (if their new husband decided to buy them one). I wonder, what are they so busy with? Cooking three meals a day would probably take up three hours, I am sure there is not a whole lot of laundry, vaccuming, and bathroom cleaning to be done everyday. Groceries are probably done when the husband is at home (since that car that I am talking about is not there OR the wife is scared to drive alone in the snow). So if we as full-time students and employees study, work, and take care of the home, and write blogs, and IM, and stay in touch with friends, how are we able to do that?

Is there something I do not know about or am missing out on or am I the exception who is super smart in managing my time well? What is truly going on? I often wish that I was an H4 wife. I fantasize waking up at at 7, making tea for my husband, going back to sleep, waking up at 10, cooking lunch, watching TV, playing games on the computer, cooking "nashta", taking a nap, cooking dinner, going out, and sleeping! What a life that would be! But as I have always said, the grass is always greener on the other side. Maybe that life is not as fun and leisurely as I assume it to be. Maybe what these wives say is true??

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A whole new world!

When we were born, we curled up our toes, made cute little fists, and cried our hearts out. We were vulnerable. We felt insecure. We were no longer in the warmth of our mother's womb. We were born into a whole new world. When our mother held us, we sensed comfort again. It was familiar. Her familiar touch.

Today as adults, we are no different. When we come home from work, school, or wherever, we curl into our blankets and turn our laptops on. We feel insecure in the loneliness of our small apartments. It is not a whole new world and yet a sense of something amiss. And then, with the touch of a button, we walk into our safe world. We talk to friends online, some who we have never met, some who live across the street and yet greet us only on the messenger, and some who truly live far away. We build new connections, we try and revive old connections, and we take some connections for granted.

The internet has introduced to us a whole new virtual world. In this world, we write, we cry, we smile, we buzz, we fake expressions, we swear, and we make funny sounds. Ironical that we feel safe in the company of those we have never met, that we form illusions about these people, and we think about these virtual people even when walking in the real world.

There are more and more people walking into this whole new world each day leaving behind the real world that is out least for a few hours. What is missing in the real world that we find the virtual world more interesting? Is the unknown more attractive or does facing people threaten us?

If we can get so addicted to this new world, are we capable of being addicted to the real world and living life to the fullest? What is your opinion, my unattached online friends?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's your number??

About ten years ago, with internet gaining quick popularity in India, people used to boast about the number of active email accounts they had and the variety of chat ids they had on ICQ and what not!

Today, its all about Orkut! Gone are the days when people would make special trips to a studio to have a professional picture taken. With the advent of digital cameras, studio like pictures are only a click away. People click pictures and say, "Yes!! This is an Orkut picture" implying that this picture is worth showing everyone. That's not enough! People specifically click pictures to put up on Orkut. This being the norm, I suppose this fact does not seem ridiculous at this point.

How about fan numbers and friend numbers?? I know that there are some people who are fond of talking about the number of fans and friends they have on Orkut, secretly compete with their rivals in gaining more of these, and even become someone's fan just so that they will return their favor and increase their numbers!! And when the person does not reciprocate, they gather the courage to ask, "When will you become my fan?"Some even have their own fan list memorized and know exactly when someone adds themselves to their list or God forbid, decides to "unfan" themselves. That amazes me! Is that a norm? Or am I outdated?

And hey, what's your number? Yes, I mean your fan number and friend number? Really? How authentic is that number? How many are truly your fans and friends and not people who are seeking to increase their number or have the strong need to be liked by you? How many of these fans and friends can you count on in your times of need? Which fan and friend of yours are you able to call in the middle of the night to ask for help?

My fan number is 45 today and friend number is 245. Maybe, when this blog is published, it may dwindle to 25 out of 200 or something. And that's ok.

PS: Am about to make a list of all my fans this minute. So if you decide to unfan yourself, I will know. Hope that's ok too! :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

My word for your word.

wuo hern ni
Do you know what those words mean?
They mean something in a particular language. Try and say them out loud. Are you afraid you might pronounce them wrong? But who's listening?
What emotion would you experience if someone came and said these to you? Confusion, bewilderment, excitement, hatred? Would you think about it for days or would you let it go? Would you ploy revenge or would you smile to yourself?
I hate you
Do you know now know what those words mean?
What would you do if someone came and said these words to you? Would you experience anger, frustration, sadness, hurt, disappointment, or amusement? How long would these words stick in your mind? What will you do about that?
Words. A mere jumble of letters. They may look funny. May be difficult to pronounce. And may not mean anything. To US. But they could change someone else's life, their mental state. Just three words can alter a person's self-esteem and peace of mind.
Words. They so easily slip out of our mouths. And yet, can be so profound to the listener.
Words. They can change someone's life.
Words. So precious. Use them wisely.

Friday, December 7, 2007

All I want for Christmas..!!

Christmas is 18 days away.

I walk into the malls and smell the unfamiliar scent of money pouring out of wallets, pockets, and purses into cash registers.

I see the same old lanky man standing out in the cold for 8 hours ringing his bell without any enthusiasm, attracting mere glances.

I hear the festive music that fails to escape my attention even while driving, in the gas station, and in grocery stores.

I see people hurrying and scurrying, some with coupons and catalogues, and some with blank tired faces.

And I wonder..I wonder if these people dread buying so many presents or whether they truly are intentionally shopping for the 5-second smile on their loved ones' faces. I wonder how many people will get what they want and how many people will pretend to have gotten what they wanted. I wonder how many letters have been mailed to Santa and how many children will be happy with Santa this Christmas.

And I wonder.....what do people really want? Ipods, Massage Chairs, Wiis, Coach Handbags, Diamond Rings....or contentment with life?

For a second, imagine that Santa does exist and will fulfil your wish this year. What would you ask for? ALL YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS??

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It does not matter...

Yesterday, my client walked in and reported he was suicidal. Told me that he would give me no guarantee that he would not act on it. I had to do my intervention. The right one. There would be no second chances or trials here. After 45 minutes, though not very convinced, I was convinced enough that he would not do anything to himself. At least not that day. He promised to return the next morning to see me.

Today, my client did not show for his appointment, did not return my calls nor my emails. Not in the morning, not in the afternoon. And I panicked. Rightly so. I was not sure if my client was dead or alive.

And at that time, some things just did not matter.

It did not matter that I have put on weight.
It did not matter that I need a haircut.
It did not matter that my back hurts chronically.
It did not matter that my bank account is dwindling.
It did not matter that I dont have a new dress to wear on my birthday.
It did not matter that it took me an hour to drive to work today.
It did not matter my friend is hen-pecked.
It did not matter that my friends ganged up on me.
It did not matter that my friend broke my trust.
It did not matter that I got a B in an easy class.
It did not matter that I live in a boring city.
It did not matter that I dont like my car.
It did not matter that gas prices are so high.
It did not matter that I am going to miss my best friend's wedding.
It did not matter that it was so cold today.
It did not matter..did not matter at all.

All that mattered was my client's life, his safety, his well-being. All that mattered was human life.

My client called late that day. Reported he was alright, that he had only been so tired that he had slept through the day. That mattered. That phone call mattered.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A disclaimer

By no means is this plagiarism.

Should have had a disclaimer a long time ago but stumbled upon one by chance today.

With due respect to Abhinav, am posting one of his blog links here. Very well said. Applicable to all my readers. For a second, just imagine I wrote it..

Thank you, and keep reading (even those who dont want to comment!)!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where does your devil work?

"An idle mind is a devil's workshop"

We have heard that so many times and have often used it to describe and calm our frenzied state of mind during times of frustration, when we have nothing to do, and when the devils crawl through and irritate our brain cells to trigger unwanted thoughts.

So does that mean that these devils avoid busy brains because they feel claustrophobic in there? I dont think so. I believe that these devils are constantly gnawing in these brains, whimpering, and gradually screaming for them to be noticed. When people are busy, they are simply pushing these negative thoughts to the back. Momentarily. And then whether they want it or not, these devils manage to show their power.

And then suddenly, the whole world seems against you. The girls whispering on the bench next to yours are talking about you. The group of students talking in their native language are talking about you. Your professor hates you and is deliberately giving you a bad grade. Your employer does not like your race and is giving you a hard time. The cab driver is out to get you. The poem that your boyfriend's ex-girlfriend wrote has a special meaning for you. Your friend did not return your text message because she does not like you. Even the snow that attacked your town today fell only because you had an important appointment to reach on time to. Because you are so important.

These devils exist in everyone's minds. For some people, they are more in number, for some more powerful, and for others, powerful and numerous but unable to deter the individual with their incessant screeching. What is their key? I don't know. For I dont fall in that category. However, I am assuming that it would mean awareness, the presence of mind, and the ability to remain unperturbed. The awareness these devils exist, the presence of mind to fight them and let them allay, and the ability to be able to ignore the fact that sometimes these devils are not evil and may in fact be telling us the truth. In short, to be calm no matter what you think others are saying.

Thanks, and keep your chin up. You are not that important to others. And because you are important for yourself!

Monday, December 3, 2007

I love my Vicco!

Beauty..the much coveted attribute. Sighs of relief ,when a baby is born fair-skinned in India, are commonalities. Children these days aim to be Miss Universe. Teenagers read Cosmo Girl and persuade their gullible and giving parents to pay green to straighten their hair. Young women live through crash diets and find more to experiment with. And the others ogle at them, reinforce them, and say, "WOW! You are so skinny. I wish I were like you" or "She is so beautiful".

Beauty...the most coveted attribution and perhaps, the least useful for a worldy woman. What use are admiring glances and compliments apart from the momentary sky-rocketing self-esteem and maybe, some unwanted vanity? Heard of derogatory terms such as bimbos? I also take the word "chick" to heart. I do not wish to be a doll for someone to look at until they are bored with it or the object of someone's lustful fantasies.

Beauty..the most coveted attribution and perhaps, also a curse. Your face value remains your only value. People fail to appreciate your intelligence, your hard work, your qualities, and your achievements. And when they do, its usually a "Beauty with Brains" comment...with a topping such as "a rarity".

Is that really true? Do beauties rarely have brains or do we fail to pay attention to their brains because we are so smitten by their beauty, because beauty in our minds is more glamorous, or because beauties are not that common? People often ask me why I dont exercise to enhance my curves, of course in not such an explicit way. They also ask me to go get my hair done or to wear certain shades of lipstick. They are often appalled that I dont like to wear make up to work. I only say, "Thank you very much. I love my Vicco Turmeric. That suffices!"

Thanks, and pay attention to the beauty within.