September 18, 2007

Wishful thinking

I wish I could be fearless. I wish I could be innocent.

I wish I could want to shake hands with a spider and lizard.
I wish I could touch pigeon poop and be amused by it.
I wish I could laugh uncontrollably seeing a dragonfly zoom by.
I wish I could smile at every kid that I see.
I wish I could be amazed by falling rain.
I wish I could pretend to be cooking and feed the world.
I wish I could be honest about everything that I understand.
I wish I could cry out loud every time I don't get what I want.
I wish I could hug and kiss every time that I do.
I wish I could hide in my mother's arms when I don't want to see someone.
I wish I could have my father swing me upside down and pull at his beard.
I wish I could make my little one understand how thankful I am to her for letting me experience all this.

I wish that it would last forever.

September 13, 2007

Lost in translation

Language is funny. It's words, gestures, just raised or arched eyebrows (especially with kids around) sometimes. Every language has its own quirks. People say that the Italians speak with their hands and Indians just by nodding their heads. Whatever it is, learning a new language is quite an exciting and interesting experience. Having learnt a little bit of French and Italian in the past, I've since believed that I have a knack for picking up languages.

India has 28 official languages (I think) and a zillion dialects. The national language is supposedly Hindi but in the south, especially Madras, (Tamil Nadu) where I'm from, one hardly has any exposure to it unless they've been bitten by the Bollywood bug. Never having been a movie buff, I would say that my Hindi has always been worse than 'passable'. Anyhow, it was with apprehension that I came to Hyderabad where the local language is Telugu but most people speak Hindi as well (thanks to the Nizam culture and influence). The going was very tough in the beginning. Most of my daily communication with the household help (maids, chauffeur) was through actions. It was like my day was spent just playing charades. The worst part was that I would lose the game all the time as they had no idea what I was saying and vice versa. Over the months though, I've improved a great deal, not by reading any books, but just by talking a lot to my maids. Today I was very thrilled because my oldest (and most honest) friend, whose mother tongue is Telugu, complimented me on my grasp of the language. "Impressive", she said! How exciting! I'm sure she turned a deaf ear to the grammatical errors and focused on the vocabulary. Whatever it is, a compliment is a compliment!

The only emotion that I still have a great deal of difficulty expressing is anger. There are many instances where I see so many inefficiencies and I just want to rant and rave. Those times, I wish I were back in Madras, speaking good old Tamil (especially cheri Tamil) so I can give someone a piece of my mind without having to think so much! It's so difficult to translate angry thoughts and say them in the local language. I'm sure they would sound just purely stupid. My other worry is that they may sound harsher than I intend them to. End result is that I don't say anything out loud but just curse within.

Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe there is a reason why everything can't be translated.

September 11, 2007

The day that came to be known simply as 9/11

Tuesday 9/11/2001, exactly 6 years ago to the day.

My commute to my office at White Plains, New York (about 20 miles from NYC) was the usual...boring, sleepy. Just one look outside the window on my way to get a coffee and I realized that things were not just the usual that day. Huge amounts of smoke were coming out of one of the towers at the World Trade Center (WTC). I rushed to catch the news and at that point, no one was certain as to what had happened. The initial thoughts were that a small airliner had flown into the tower by accident. The TV cameras were focused on the burning mass and then, all of a sudden, another plane appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and crashed right into the other tower! It was such a strange thing to watch it happen live. Everyone in front of the TV was in total disbelief for a second. It was a little too surreal. Did we actually watch a plane ram into the WTC? Who would be mad enough to do that and why? The probability of 2 accidents on the same day at the same place was pretty low. It was then that it began to hit people that it was indeed some sort of an attack. And then the pandemonium began.

I have interesting memories of the WTC. I first went there in 1998 with a few friends. We partied at the 'Windows of the World' bar that was on the top most floor. The walls were completely made of glass and the place looked fantastic! Any which way you looked, you got a superb view of the city. The drinks and food were obvisouly pricey, but who cares when you're literally on top of the world (in more ways than one)! My next visit was as a 'tourist' when my family visited me in 2003. We went all the way to the top, stood in line to get the customary photograph, had some bagels and coffee, and then came back down. Those were my only trips into the towers. I've seen the NYC skyline dozens of times though; during airport runs, impromptu drives into the city for a meal and while flying over NYC. I can't put into words how I felt everytime I saw the towers. They stood tall and proud, imposed upon everything around them, but with a gentle, subtle beauty.

Since that day, I couldn't bring myself to look to the side as we crossed the bridges to go into NYC. But the day we flew out of America and headed back to India for good, I had to have one last look. At the place that once was.

September 10, 2007

Magician, artist, dare I say God?

I woke up at 3:30 am this morning and was back in bed by 5:00 am. Perfect. Just as I had planned. I knew I didn't have to be awake longer than that to see Roger Federer win his 12th Grand Slam title. It wasn't his best performance by far, but enough to get him within 2 grand slam titles of Pete Sampras' all time record of 14. Sampras was my idol growing up. When he won the U.S Open in 2002 and took his tally to 14 Grand Slam titles in all I remember thinking, like many others did, that it would be a long time before anyone even came close to it. It takes so much dedication, hard work and sacrifice to be able to sustain such high levels of play year in and out. It didn't seem like anyone had what it took. How wrong we all were.

Same time next year, Roger may well have tied the record or even broken it. It's scary that he will be a good 5 years younger than Pete if it happens next year. Makes one wonder how many more he will pile up. With such great talent and so much more time on his hands, there are amazing heights that he could scale.

In the era of hard hitters, double-fisted backhands and oversize racquets, its such a pleasure to watch someone that shows that one needs more than power alone to come out on top constantly. As a die-hard tennis fan, I'm just happy that I'm blessed to be watching him at his peak. Good luck Roger and thanks for making watching tennis a pleasure again.

September 9, 2007

Where is the pulp?

I have to get this out of my system. Minute Maid has launched their "pulpy" orange juice in India now and the ads are driving me crazy! "Where is the pulp"? "Where is the pulp"? sings the TV constantly. I want to say the pulp should only be in the fruit and not in the juice. If you're a pulp freak, go eat the fruit!!!!!! It's healthier for you anyway. Of course, its a fad now, like anything is temporarily; until people realize it and switch back to old fashioned fresh juice, everyone everywhere is going to be drinking pulpy juice (yuck). Why is it bothering me so much?

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, I'm an anti-pulpite! And a proud one, too!

September 6, 2007

Chak de India!

No, this is not a review about the movie. Just what I thought would be a cool title to this particular post. Nothing brings out feelings of patriotism than a team victory in some sport. And when its cricket, and the opponent is England, its nothing short of August 15, 1947 all over again. A dramatic win last night helped by some good batting, some terrible fielding and a lot of luck. We'll take what we get though! Game 7 is on Saturday. It's not very often, in any sport, that a team comes back to win a best-of-7 series after being down 1-3. Dare we hope?

Chak de India!

September 5, 2007

Apartment Rules

  1. Do you have to know all your neighbours?
  2. Do you have to say hi and make polite conversation with whomever you bump into at the lift?
  3. Do you have to listen to the numerous stories your house help will tell you (whether you are interested or not) about your neighbour (whose house she works at also)?
  4. Do you have to request someone, at 9 pm no less, to stop drilling holes and fix their air conditioner in the morning (like normal people would do)?
  5. Do you have to answer your door at 10 pm because your neighbour is out of potatoes????

September 3, 2007

Ode to Phone

Very basic cordless phone, blue in colour, bought at Walmart (Stratford) in 2003 for $7.00. It served us well and we loved it so much that we decided to bring it back to India when we moved in 2005. After weathering innumerable voltage fluctuations and power outages for the last two years (a culture shock for any electronic device coming from America), it died today. Reason? One might think the numerous electricity issues finally got it. Alas, its end came from my dear daughter's hands. Just like that, she flung it down from the balcony and that was that. It's weird how sad I feel about it. Everything material has to go someday but this phone was my connection, no pun intended, to my life in America. I still used it to talk to my friends there and it just felt comfortable. When I see the replacement phone in place of my old one, I feel a strange void. I don't think I can use it for a few days. I need to mourn. Goodbye old phone, I am going to miss you.

September 1, 2007

What's in a name?

After 30 years of being called Rekha Raghunathan, I am now Rekha Sathyanarayanan. Why? Because I wanted a passport for my daughter, that's why. The Indian legal system is such that it cannot issue a passport to an infant whose mother's last name is her fathers and not her husbands. I find it comical because the system is so flawed in almost every other aspect starting from application form to address verification. Showing a marriage certificate to prove that the child is indeed legal is unacceptable. The name has to match.

Reasons? Tradition, culture, its the "done and accepted" Indian thing...? Really, does a last name mean that much? My maiden name means a lot to me because I've had it all my life. That's me! I'm not saying that I don't like my husbands name but is it a part of our marriage vows or cermony to say "I take" rather than "I do"? Maybe it should be. All for a passport, that too!