Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A new hobby

For those of you who have been waiting with baited breath (thanks for asking, K! Sniff, and here I thought nobody cared), here it is. In simple words, it is cutting and pasting paper. It started somewhere in the dark ages when I was preparing for job interviews. I don't remember exactly what got me started, but by the time I has a job in hand, I had a phone full of plans on what to make.

The first one -

This one started out very differently in my head. Wool was going to be heavily involved. Thankfully this is where it ended up. I cant draw for nuts, so all these images were printed, traced onto paper and then cut using an x acto knife (as you can seem I can talk the talk!) The dude made me put the leaf at the top of the Ganapati.
The second one -

The one at the top started out from the leftovers of the first one. Then I traced out the Om at the center and, this is what I cannot believe I did - hand drew the final shape of the golden paper!
The one at the bottom was inspired from here. It could have been much better.
The third one -
This one took the longest. I cannot find the original that "inspired" this. This one was probably the toughest - I had to take a picture I liked and stretch it out in MS paint, adding leaves etc to make it big enough. Then trace it on paper, keeping track of what goes where. The dude picked the bird and traced it out. Getting this up on the wall also turned out to be a challenge.
The fourth one -

This one was inspired from here. S is what my son's name starts from :) (Yes, I have become that mother whose wallpaper has her kid's pictures. Whattodo).

I also tried making something with paint (actual paint) but those projects only reinforced how terrible I am at painting.

In spite of a new country, new baby, new job, life somehow still mostly feels like the same old same old. This has helped giving it little bit of new.


Thursday, January 02, 2014

New year and all that

I didn't really expect to be back here. It's been to long, mainly because I have found other outlets for my writing urges - yes, Facebook. Wider audience, instant feedback, it's difficult to resist. Yet, here I am. For many reasons. One, a lot has happened since I was last here. This place has been a more or less faithful record of my life for so long, I thought I owed it this. Second, some things are not for Facebook. Maybe because it is too personal or too controversial or just doesn't go with my "persona" there. 
 So, we had a baby! Bittu, we call him and he is, believe it or not, a US citizen. It felt very weird initially, especially since he used to look like a South Indian village boy. It's still weird, how can my baby not be Indian? 
I got a job! After months of preparing, interviews, rejections, more interviews. They were not good days, studying with a newborn around. Somedays I wouldn't even manage an hours worth. I would be around the baby all day and never actually spend time with him! Quality time is a real thing, I now know :-/ Anyway. I have a job! And my son is a good little boy all day long, and when I get home I get a welcome like no other. He shouts and shouts and shouts, I don't think even he knows why.
Confession time - having a baby hasn't changed my life. I mean, of course it has changed the contents of my life, which never had so much fussing over someone else's food or so much poo, oh so much poo and putting a person to sleep was not even a thing, leave alone the highlight of my day. But it hasn't changed its meaning, whatever that may be. It hasn't made me more patient, it hasn't increased the size of my heart or filled it with anything new. It hasn't made me want to leave the world a better place because my baby will inherit it, at least not anymore than I wanted to before he was born. Having a baby in my life has been a lot of things - overwhelming, fun, tiring, exciting. There is a lot more laughter in the house, and there isn't a day that goes by when one of us don't want to just eat up the bundle of cuteness. But what it isn't - is magical. As of now, he is just yet another person to love.

Okay. Too much baby talk! Next time I shall be back with news about my new hobby! It is almost entirely unlike me, and no one is more surprised than I am that it gives me so much joy. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Notes from a train journey

(From long long ago. This post has been in and out of my head since then, and is finally being put to paper now, when the urge to do something has overwhelmed me. I am tried of consuming - books, TV, food. For a change, i want to produce. This might be also because i just finished the last book i have.)

Have you noticed that the Internet is different things to different people? Everyone uses it to fill up a different need in their life. Me, i mostly use it to feel connected, finding something that resonates with me makes me feel less alone. It could be some unknown blog or a famous joke - anyone sharing my interests or my problems or my sense of humour. It doesn't have to be a two way connection (it usually isn't), just knowing that such people exist is enough to make me love the Internet. The dude and my mom, ironically, use the Internet for very similar reasons - to feel more in control of the world around them, to reduce the unknown. The knowledge gives them security. A few months ago i suddenly developed some kind of a rash around my mouth and the first thing both of them did is look up the Internet to see what it was all about. The Internet arms them to face the world better. My dad also uses the Internet to forage for knowledge - not for security but because that is what he does. He used to use newspapers for that, but the Internet is just so much bigger and better and faster! Bhai uses the Internet to inspire and justify his craziness. He wants to stay off the beaten track but it is not always easy. The Internet is full of people who have done that and done that well, no wonder he is addicted to it.
You can actually think of the Internet as a magic box - you put your hand in and pull out what you need. I am glad it and I are around at the same time.

Have you noticed how much more you have in common with your siblings than with the person you choose you spend your life with? Especially in the way in which you see the world and react to it. I guess it is natural,     after all you and your siblings have been "forged" in the same factory. Childhood influences are the strongest and there is also the matter of common genes. While Bhai and I are very different people, there are a lot of things that get the exact same reaction from us. Same with the dude and his siblings. Sometimes i wonder, what happens when we have kids? With the two of us having such divergent reactions to events, how will we provide the little one with a coherent setting? I suppose it was easier in the old days, the man of the house set the tone. Then i tell myself i am over-thinking this, the little one will pick and choose and reject and adapt and end up with his/her one unique way of coping with the world.

And finally. If i pretend to be something i am not, only because i know you like it, and pretend in such way that you cannot tell i am pretending, am i not being nicer than my natural self? And if someday you find out that i was pretending, shouldn't you be happy and flattered that i cared enough to go through all that pretense? Of course, what i really wish is to be brave enough to be me and be accepted, but since i am not, niceness is the only weapon i have. My world would be a very different place if i didn't have to be nice.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

One week later

- Still jet lagged, although it comes and goes. Today i was up at 5, my mom i am sure will be very happy to hear. Its strange, i am the only one in the house with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and i am up earliest and being generally useless. On the other hand, the past month was crazy busy, there were days when i wouldnt get to sit still till the day ends. And this was after i'd quit work. Guess this is how it balances out.

- Still camped at cousin's place. The plan was to move over the weekend, but that didnt happen, out of more of a feeling of general laziness than anything else, i suppose. TV and kids provide more entertainment than i have time for. The elder one came running to find me over the weekend, and i happened to be brushing my teeth. At 10 in the morning. I cannot remember the last time i got to do that. "Chitti, do you want to eat this thing for breakfast, its a kind of bread but not exactly bread, but it is like bread and it tastes really great with olive oil and salt and would you like to try it, its not bread, but..." and so on. I said sure, what is it called? "Pav", he said, sure that the name would not mean anything to me. I laughed, and felt sorry for kids in the US who dont know what Pav is.

- I saw the pav and it made me want to eat Misal very badly. Apna hi kitchen samajh ke i started making misal. Which i have made only once before, and that was as much as disaster as it could possibly be. But leaning from my mistakes has never been my thing, and i tried again. It turned out okay, although the misal was spicy and the tarri was some kind of mild south Indian chutney. No one who has even been in Maharashtra will ever call it misal. But neither of our husbands have really been in Maharashtra and my cousin kept mum, and we had "misal pav" for lunch.

- While i am camped out at my cousins's place, both our parents are in Kashi performing the last rites for our grandmother. Cant believe its been a year since she passed away. I know it makes no sense, but granny would have been very happy to see all her kids together.

- I kept whining to the dude that i have nothing useful to do and he made a list of mind numbingly boring things to do. So now i spend my days whining about the boring things i have to do. In my head thats all i do all day, but its been more than a week and i have neither an SSN nor a credit card nor a licence nor a car nor a house nor a phone connection nor solid prospects of getting any of these. I didnt have a blog post either, but i'm getting there.

-  Lessons learnt: kids can be exhausting, TV can be a life saver and flexible working hours are a necessity.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Welcome to the United States of America

I cant sleep. Its 5 in the morning and i've been lying around trying for a couple of hours at least. Finally i gave up and am now sitting at the PC at my cousin's place, eating a giant banana. Its been 3 days since we landed here, my jet lag seems to have finally caught up. If you ask me, jet lag should be more about feeling hungry at odd times, rather than feeling sleepy. I dont see how you can expect your tummy to take it lying down if you suddenly start to starve it throughout the day and feed it 3 times a night.

My entry into this country was pretty undramatic. After a 22 hour flight, where the only notable thing that happened was a failed search for vegetarian food at Hong Kong airport (i had to make do with a giant chocolate muffin and most of the dude's fruit salad), we landed at SFO. And rushed to the immigration queue, which, thanks to President's day holiday, was both long and slow. I feel like i've entered a country only after the immigration guy lets me through. This one did, after some questions about whether we were carrying pickles, at which we laughed. A part of my brain was observing which leg of mine first crosses the line. It was the left one.

After that was baggage claim, where we again answered questions about pickles and then a short distance later we ran into my cousin and her elder one. From then on (and even now) US has for me been  her and her family. About her and her husband adjusting their already crazy schedules to chauffeur us around, about her elder one and his boundless energy and TV viewing and the amazing sentences he makes up for homework ("No one will steal a dog just because they have dog food"). About the little one, who forgets my name every morning and makes do with "aunty" until she remembers. And when she does, comes up to me with a big smile and says "tannu thitti" - which i remain for the rest of the day. The dude on the other hand, is always called by his name (her distortion of it, to be precise). You cant have such a big name and expect a 2 year old to add chittapa after it. You just cant. When we landed they were both more comfortable with him, since he had stayed with them on his previous visit just a month ago. They crowded around him on the sofa, and all three of them spent the afternoon watching curious George. I was the stranger, the one they had to be shy of. A state of affairs which lasted less than 3 hours. Thats what i think i like most about kids - this almost magical ability to let people into their world within no time at all, to take them as they are and to get from them whatever they are capable of giving.

Its almost 6. Someone with a written test for learners license scheduled today is supposed to be up and studying. I suppose i better go check.  


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Second homes

At some point in my life at a workplace, it starts to feel like home. There is no formula for when it will happen, but it largely depends on me finding my place and "my" people. At my first job, it happened surprisingly quickly (in about 6 months) - thanks to a bunch of just the right people at just the right stage of life. And the TT table and the badminton court :) At IIT, it took longer, almost a year, which is surprising given i was actually living there. It took me some time to find my place, but once i got there, it turned out the people had been waiting all along. It took much much longer at my second job (almost 2 years). I was in a bad place and not really looking for people, but what do you know, i found them all the same. (I distinctly remember standing by the coffee machine, from where you get a view of the entire floor, sighing to myself and wondering if this will ever feel like home). Most of my gang was made up of "kids" (except for one old man, who if i remember correctly was slightly older than the big bang), but it didnt matter in the least. Here in Bangalore, its only been a year at this job, and i'm not at all surprised it doesnt feel like home. What i am surprised at is that its been a year and i still havent found my place.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


How do you handle the beliefs of those around you, especially ones that you do not share? Do you make them your own, or do you try your best to accommodate them in theory, if not whole hearted in spirit?

For example, i do not believe in Vaastu, but the dude kinda sorta maybe does. When someone asks him his stock answer is - i dont, but my parents do. But i think he'd rather be safe than sorry about the whole thing. It makes me cry to see south facing houses and plots go for much cheaper rates, just because the majority of the population wont touch them. But a house is something both of us will live in for a very long time, so of course we should buy something both are comfortable with. The question is - how far am i ready to go? Will I hire a Vaastu compliant interior designer (ignoring the fact that Bhai will most certainly kill me if i do) and nod along when he says the bedroom door should be on the ceiling?

This is just an example, and a pretty safe one at that. I'm still figuring out how far to take others beliefs. The whole thing would be a lot easier, i think, if i had beliefs of my own that other people would then have to comply with. At least that way there would be some give and take. Maybe i should start believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and forbid the eating of noodles* in my presence. And also all my kids will be pirates. For global warming!

* because i am not very clear on what spaghetti is.   
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