Friday, December 28, 2007

The Miracle

Last Saturday, Nisha and I went to Minneapolis to spend the day with her friends at MOA. We woke up and set off early in order to avoid the predicted snowstorm. About 18 miles into Minnesota, a few miles past Albert Lea on Interstate-35, I began to feel the strong wind and wanted to slow down. I did, and simultaneously moved to the right lane. There was a truck about a hundred feet ahead of me, and a few cars the same distance behind me. As I shifted lanes, I felt the car sway… a little at first, and then suddenly… I lost control. I pressed down on the brake and tried in vain to maneuver the steering wheel as I helplessly watched my front windshield blur as the car swung dangerously back and forth between lanes a few times before suddenly careening off the road and into the median. I think I must have ceased to breathe for what seemed like a very long time before the car suddenly stopped.

A quick look showed me that Nisha was fine, and I felt no pain myself. It did not seem like we had struck anything. How pitiable it is, as I think about it now, that my very next thought was: ”Dear God! How much is this going to cost me?” As the car flew off the road, I remember seeing the truck ahead of me, and a post in the median. I was sure I would hit one of the two, but I hadn’t. It is nothing short of a miracle that there was no damage to anyone or anything. How the car managed to not hit anything God alone knows! I got out of the car… and walked around it, there wasn’t any body damage - we just were stuck in a foot of snow. In the 17F cold, Nisha and I tried digging the car out. But eventually we sobered up and called roadside assistance. I was scared out of my wits the half hour we were in the median that another vehicle would spin off the road and hit our stationary car and that we would not be able to do anything about it. I even made Nisha get out and sit in the back of the car. She tried to protest, but I would have my way! Anyway, no such catastrophe occurred. We went to Minneapolis and returned without any further untoward happening. Thank God!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Sweet Smell of Success

I have finally, finally done it! Two and a half years after I first began it, I have today completed my Master's thesis. I defended this morning. My committee recommended a few minor changes for the thesis and a multitude of suggestions for the proposed journal article. So barring some routine paperwork, I am in possession of my second Master's degree!!!! Today ends my three-week long run of marathon night-and-day manuscript-writing sessions, and is the consummation of a semester's worth of nights working away at statistical analyses. Success comes at last!

Amat victoria curam!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Le Preux Chevalier

Who says chivalry is dead? Yesterday, as I was exiting one of the university buildings, a man opened a door for me. I smiled my acknowledgement to him, and he quietly said, "Thank you, Miss." To my amazement, he wasn't going through those doors at all - he walked down a second flight of stairs a couple of paces ahead of me. "Ah!" I thought, "He is leaving the building, just as I am". Reaching the outer doors before me, he swung them open for me. As I passed him, I paused, smiled, and thanked him. A second time, he smiled and said, "Thank you, Miss." Stepping out into the cold air, I half-turned to nod my goodbye to him, but watched in astonishment as he smiled and turned back into the building. I blushed. He had opened two doors for me though he had to go through neither. In being so chivalrous and calling me "Miss", he had made me feel incredibly young and girly. And all evening, the thought of him made me smile and blush again.

I haven't been doing anything that even borders on fun lately. I have finished reading the Kenneth Williams Diaries, and have been feverishly working on my manuscript. My thesis dominates my life now. But I happened to come across an interesting item that I thought I would like to share here. It is about George de Hevesy who won the 1943 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for developing the tracer method. "When Germany invaded Denmark during the second World War, he dissolved the gold Nobel Prizes of Max von Laue and James Franck into aqua regia to prevent the Nazis from stealing them. He placed the resulting solution on a shelf in his laboratory at the Niels Bohr Institute. It was subsequently ignored by the invading Nazis who thought the jar — one of perhaps hundreds on the shelving — contained common chemicals. After the war, de Hevesy returned to find the solution undisturbed and precipitated the gold out of the acid, and returned it to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Nobel Society then recast the two Nobel Prizes using the original gold."

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Yesterday was the first time this winter season when it snowed all day. No matter how much I try to deny the fact, winter has really begun. I resisted going out all day yesterday, though I had so much to do at school, just because it was snowing and I did not want to be outside. Instead, I spent almost the whole day lazing around, watching the classic mystery videos: Lord Peter Wimsey, Poirot, A Most Mysterious Murder, Campion… I was all bundled up wearing the soft and warm lavender colored socks that my friends Anand and Aarti gave me last Christmas; and wrapped up in a pretty olive-green throw that my sister gave me when I moved this summer. I sat half-sunk in my huge, comfy wing back chair, my feet resting on the hideous but comfortable mustard-colored ottoman that doesn’t really fit the rest of my apartment. Scattered around me in close proximity, so I wouldn’t have to even get up, were the TV and DVD remote controls, a box of tissues, several plush cushions, the phone, and numerous other exemplars of luxurious, indulgent, hedonism. On the piano stool (which became a makeshift table for the day), lay a half-open, half-read volume of the complete works of Conan Doyle. Balanced atop this was a cup of hot drink. I alternated all day between drinking mulled apple cider, and Brooke Bond Red Label. I had lit scented candles all over the apartment and soon my senses swam in the autumnal fragrances of apple, cinnamon, vanilla and hazelnut. All I needed now was a crackling fire, and a warm hearth, but one can’t have everything. I was supremely happy… who wouldn’t be? And I willfully pushed all thoughts about the impending doom (thesis defense) from my mind.

If I had lots and lots of money, I would give up work and relive yesterday all over again, every day. But unfortunately that day is not yet come. Today I had to come to school to get on with research. I was greeted when I got out by the sight of a snowed-in car. There had been a good quantity of sleet yesterday, and the road was icy. I was engaged in de-crusting the ice off my car and digging the wheels out, when my neighbor and his friend (whose giant four-wheel drive truck and come undone in about two seconds, and who persisted in smirking at my neighbor and me like a benevolent father would at the scrapes of silly children) came by and helped me. I always have luck in having wonderful young men help me dig out my cars (re: my post The Sweet Shovelers from last winter). Anyway, we eventually got my car out and onto the icy treads in the middle of the road, and I was able to drive to school. Oh! Would that it were yesterday again!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I meant to take this week off, but it looks as though I won't have a long enough holiday. About a week and a half ago, I set my master's defense date: the 12th of December. I am working day and night... harder than I have ever done to get my manuscript comepleted in time... it looks as though it might not be. But I am trying. I haven't slept for longer than five hours in a whole week now, and my fingers are tired of typing... my eyes are tired of looking at statistical outputs for significant relationships... my faculties are tired of working... I am exhausted. :(

Monday, November 12, 2007

On Being Claustral

On Friday night, a friend and I went out to the bars. The object of the expedition being overtly to have fun, and covertly to stake out the scene associated most commonly with society, or the meeting of individuals, with an intention of taking stock of the possible entertainment or felicity that such company might bring. I am not a bar-goer. When I do once in a blue moon go, I have exactly the same reaction to the experience that I did the time before. One of complete apathy, and of instant boredom. Oh, I am content enough in the company of the persons I go there with. But a quick survey of what surrounds me reveals time and time again, only one thing: bars are filled not only with smoke, but also with a load of stupid, idiotic people. The fact that I live in a college town possibly only exacerbates such a situation, because the people in the Ames bars tend to be possessed of all the arrogance of youth, and none of the worldly experience which serves to temper said arrogance. All I am reduced to doing at venues such as these is to making a few desultory remarks and to trying as hard as I can to appear engaged. I would gladly focus on the person I am there with, but focusing on anything beyond a two foot radius is pure torture! I daresay that all this might make me appear incredibly pompous, but there it is... I can't help how I feel!

What makes it such a terrible pity is that the few people I would dearly love to meet in such bars are unrecognizably lost in the massive crowd of intellectual vacuums that surround them. What is an even greater pity is that since such public stomping grounds are virtually the only avenues where people get to meet other people, I have been forced into choosing a claustral life. The ablative of accompaniment is well-nigh absent from my life as it is today. I don't regret it... no. Au contraire, I revel in it. I am amused... and I quote bits of one of my favorite poems by Dyer, which I should probably adopt as an anthem…

“My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave…

Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice;
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring…”
~Sir Edward Dyer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


On Friday, which is technically the day that I put aside for research, but which often ends up being my “off-day”, I woke up earlier than usual, and by 10 o’clock I was done with all the chores I had to do and was faced with the prospect – research or something more pleasurable? I opted for more pleasurable. I haven’t been out in nature much over the past month; mostly because it has been too cold. So, I decided to drive to Ledges State Park – in another month, the roads and trails at the park will be closed. There is a one-minute drive through the park where the ledges rise almost vertically off the ground from the road that is absolutely breathtaking! It makes the 20 minute drive there worth it! So off I went, taking Lord Emsworth with me. The park seemed practically deserted. A pity - because it was such a lovely, mild day. As I reached the last half-mile of the drive, I looked up to admire the rise of the bluffs, and the beautiful trees, yellowing, reddening and starting to grow bare rising vertically with the cliffs. I also noticed the railings on the upper sandstone ledges and was besieged by an urge, almost a yearning, to climb up to them. And I did… I climbed the steps leading to the upper ledges, and when I got there, I was out of breath and dizzy. I sat down for a bit to recover my breath, and then walked horizontally across the cliff. The valley looked beautiful, and I was glad I had gone. There is something very humbling about the fact that these were created by glacial meltwater tens of thousands of years ago. I like canyons, bluffs, cliffs, valleys, gorges – anything that has to do with heights and water. I want one day to walk on the Scandinavian and New Zealand fjords – pure delight! I took pictures on my cell phone… will probably post them someday. I also settled on a bench up there and read some Wodehouse. Now isn’t that the perfect Friday afternoon? Beats research any day!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Beginning

"Some day I shall rise and leave my friends
And seek you again through the world's far ends,
You whom I found so fair
(Touch of your hands and smell of your hair!),
My only god in the days that were.
My eager feet shall find you again,
Though the sullen years and the mark of pain
Have changed you wholly; for I shall know
(How could I forget having loved you so?),
In the sad half-light of evening,
The face that was all my sunrising.
So then at the ends of the earth I'll stand
And hold you fiercely by either hand,
And seeing your age and ashen hair
I'll curse the thing that once you were,
Because it is changed and pale and old
(Lips that were scarlet, hair that was gold!),
And I loved you before you were old and wise,
When the flame of youth was strong in your eyes,
-- And my heart is sick with memories." ~ Rupert Brooke.

This is quite the most beautiful poem I have read all of the last month. I read it last night in the ancient book of poems I bought from The Dusty Bookshelf. Do people write like this anymore? Forget writing... do people even think like this anymore? What I consider to be true romance seems to be an anachronism today. Even romantic movies are intolerably melodramatic and embrace a vulgar sort of humor. Self-expression and art is angry and violent... self-obsessed. It is stark, not mellow. The crystal spring is forgotten. The nightingales never sing anymore in any poetry. I am an anachronism too. "-- And my heart is sick with memories."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I have started to keep a diary again. When I was much younger, I kept a diary very religiously. I must have begun when I was in the 6th or 7th class when I read Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl”. Influenced by Frank, I was terribly eager to begin chronicling the events of my own life and Mummy gave me a resin-bound LIC diary so I could start writing. And though my very first diary was wrought with printed quotations from famous freedom fighters, and sepia LIC adverts were manifold in its pages, I thought it was the most beautiful and precious book in the world. It held a record of my thoughts and the manifestoes of my plans for my life when I grew up. An adolescent diary is something sacred. It holds secrets that adults might scoff at or dismiss as childishness, but to the adolescent writer, those very secrets are the planks with which is built the drawbridge that helps her cross the moat of teenage into the seemingly perfect lands and castles of an independent adulthood. Daddy still has my first few LIC diaries packed along with other relics of the same early adolescence, in a cardboard box which lies gathering dust on one of the top shelves of the back bedroom in Hyderabad. I like to open the box when I visit home, and read my cherished diaries. The pathos of those simple chronicles is quite overwhelming and evokes memories and emotions so raw that it sometimes is difficult for me to believe that so many years have passed since I wrote them.

My diary-keeping after the first few years was very sporadic and underwent a great metamorphosis. By the time I went off to Kasaragod to college, I started writing only when I felt terribly sad, or terribly inspired and poetic. For the four years I spent in Kasaragod, I journalled only in one book. It is a very melodramatic volume. In it are the stories of homesickness, lovesickness, impassioned letters to imaginary lovers, desperate rantings against the futility of my life, confessions about crushes, poems I had written, scraps of poetry or prose that touched my heart, spiritual exploration, novenas, pictures of myself and other such things that seemed to arise from the union of a Gothic heroine and a tragic Shakespearian hero. This was also the time when I first began writing to Yvon, my phantasmal alter-ego. Everything I wrote was a confession to him. I still have that diary with me. I rarely ever reread it now, but it saddens me when I do.

After I came to the US, my diary writing grew more and more abstract and intellectual. It also grew increasingly sporadic. By the time I arrived in Ames, it was practically non-existent. This blog of mine is an extension of my diaries, but it isn’t quite the same thing. I began reading “The Kenneth Williams Diaries” a couple of weeks ago, and was struck by how open and honest his diaries were – just like my first childish ones were. He chronicles not thoughts, but events. And it is a refreshing change. Inspired once again, I started on Sunday to keep a new diary. It tells the tale of who I am and what I do. It is remarkably candid. When I read it ten years from now, I wonder what I shall feel…

Monday, October 22, 2007

Project Blueberry Scone

Last night, I discovered a rather exiguous packet of blueberries languishing in my freezer. (I am not at all sure that frozen blueberries can languish. Still…). In the summer, my instinct would be to whip out a banana, some yogurt and ice, and frappe it all into a smoothie. But it was cold outside last night, and I did not want my insides to be cold as well. It took only a moment before I decided that I wanted to bake blueberry scones. Now, I am a famous baker. I like anything that is baked, or part-baked, so long as it is not too sugary – pies, pastry, vegetables, puffs, cakes, trifles, tarts, cookies, pizza, casseroles, pasticcio… If it can be popped into the oven, I will do it! But I have never experimented with scones before. I think the fact that my erstwhile scone consumption has been only at Starbucks and similarly overpriced coffee shops has prevented me from trying to bake them thus far. What hope had I of competing with Mr. Starbucks???

But in any case, I assured myself that I could do it, and out came the flour. I had no butter, so I used some light margarine trying desperately not to be deterred by the rather ominous label on the packet: “Not recommended for baking or frying”. I wasn’t sure if it was baking powder or baking soda that I needed to add, so I popped in a little of each. I added some sugar, though nearly not as much as I ought to have done. In went an egg, some milk and the blueberries. Now I am sensible enough to know that for making scones, the dough needs to be pliable, like it would be for making a chapatti. But unfortunately what I had was a large sticky mess! Also, the blueberries had insisted on lending their indomitable hue the gooey mixture. So, I ended up with large blue blobs on my baking sheet instead of beautiful triangular pieces of dough. I knew then that my scones would not be perfect.

After about fifteen minutes of baking, I discovered that my project had yielded eight wonderfully fluffy part-muffin, part-biscuit, part-bagel like objects. They also were enormous, so I cut each one in half. They weren’t the perfect scones at all! I have concluded that next time I need graham flour, fewer blueberries, more sugar, real butter and maybe a dash of nutmeg. Be that as it may, I now have a week’s worth of “blueberry breakfast things” in my fridge. I had the first installment this morning with tea. It was delicious. :)

Here are some pictures:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


A friend of mine sent me an offline message: “Why do you get drunk and announce it to the whole world?” I assume he is referring to my post, Nachtgold. Contrast this with another friend who consults me on what wine he ought to pair with what food, and tells me that he thinks it is brilliant that I am an authority on wine (FYI- I am not! He just thinks I am because I know a bit more about wine than he does). Another friend actually called me “a woman of culture”, not purely based on my knowledge of wines… other things as well, and I was most immensely flattered. What a world of conflicting messages we live in! But in any case, I was thinking as I wondered how to respond to this person: what do I say to someone who doesn't understand drinking which is not extreme? That drinking can be a means of exquisite pleasure and not merely a method of entering rather expediently into oblivion? That women might drink too and enjoy it, and that alcohol isn't an accessory that only helps enhance and display machismo? That temperance is possible when one raises a glass to one's mouth? In the end, I decided not to justify, since I had no need to. I merely told Jacob that I did not get "drunk", I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner, that I wasn't apologetic or ashamed and that I had no need to be.

Anyone who knows me, knows fairly well enough that provoking me in any such way only leads to rebellion. Ergo, I have decided to start a new section on my blog called "Wine of the Week". I consume about a bottle of wine a week, about a glass of it every alternate day. My preference tends to be for full-bodied sweet wines, but I will take recommendations if anyone has any. I intend to describe the wine I am currently drinking and post my opinion of it. Please do not go by the comments I post - I don't know as much about wine and wine drinking as I would like to, and am hardly a wine connoisseur. Also, since I am only an impoverished grad student, the wines I showcase will tend to be representative of the "cheap" or "clearance" aisles. I might splurge once in a while and decide to treat myself, but that will probably be the exception and not the rule. So, enjoy vicariously through me!

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Boring Sunday Afternoon

I wrote this Sunday afternoon, and thought I’d post it today:

It is raining. And cold. And very reminiscent of the fist lines of Jane Eyre, one of my favorite Victorian romances. “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. …The cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.” I long to be out of doors, but the rain prevents it. Much as I love the sensations of the rain: watching the glittering raindrops, listening to the pitter-patter sound, and smelling the newly wet earth, it does have the infernal disadvantage of preventing any outdoor activity. There isn’t much outdoor activity going on in Ames over the weekend, but I should have liked to take a walk or go for a drive and be able to look on nature’s beauties unhindered by the grey shroud of rain and mist.

I have nothing very special going on this weekend. I usually have something going on… but all my friends seem to be very preoccupied this weekend. I went to a talk and book reading by an Indian author, Kaveri Nambisan. The lady is terribly multi-talented and is a rural surgeon as well as being an author. Truth be told, I was dreading the affair and wished most sincerely that I could get out of it. But she happens to be a relative of a friend, and Jose uncle, who has read some of her books, was most enthusiastic in campaigning for her. So out of loyalty to these dear friends I agreed to go. I was fully prepared for a boring afternoon listening to an author I had never read and never intended to. But I was very pleasantly surprised at the simplicity of the lady, and her completely unassuming presentation. I actually enjoyed myself immensely, and was glad that I had decided to go. So much for the silly assumptions I make!

But once I came back home wet and cold, there wasn’t much else to do other than read and watch telly. I don’t venture out half as often as I would like to, but I simply cannot understand why I feel the compelling urge to burst out onto nature’s glories when doing so simply isn’t a very feasible option. I am bored out of my wits. I wonder if things might have been different had I lived in a larger city. I expect the rain would have made things most awfully dirty, rather than pretty as it does Ames; but there might have been the advantage of having more things to do, and more people to do it with. But I shall strive and be the optimist. And watch some more telly…

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Open Wednesdays

I have been neglecting my darling blog, and myself too, these past few weeks. Once mid-semester rolls around, things tend to get hectic. I was grading... and finishing up research. Things to do... things to do...

In any case, I have two interesting updates re: me to report. Firstly, I have FINALLY finished every last scrap of statistical analysis that I need to do for my thesis. I am resolved never again to do any Structural Equation Modeling, which is a relief in a way, but also a terrible pity because I think I have become fairly proficient with it now. In any case, it is a very bothersome statistical procedure and I am glad to be rid of it. Now I will write my paper, make my tables and defend it in November. On less thing to worry about on Wednesday mornings. YAHOOO!!!! The second update is that last night I finally finished co-facilitating my first ever group of individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. I will continue to do my two Thursday BPD groups, but the end of the STEPPS group means that my Wednesday evenings will be free too. Twenty weeks of harrowingly long Wednesdays are ended in the same week! It is absolute bliss. :-)

My sister sent me a link to this rather cute website.
Check it out
. My song is Anita Ward's "Ring My Bell". I had never heard of it before. Personally, I think it is a rather silly song. But I shall never forget it now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Resolution

For the first time in several years, I have held on to and achieved a New Year's resolution. Though I know very well that I am lazy and not disposed at all to adhere to any resolutions I have ever made (shape up, act more lady-like, keep in touch with friends, make new friends, learn a new language, learn to play an instrument... the list is endless), I persist every New Year's Eve in creating a long list of virtues I must adopt, talents I must polish, tasks I must accomplish and so on. Year after year I have tried in earnest to stick to these resolutions, and year after year I have found myself wanting in the will-power and drive it takes to take any of these resolutions to fruition.

True to form, this New Year's Eve I sat down and resolved to be the epitome of perfection. The subtle and charming woman I have always wanted to be. The woman whose intelligence shines forth with such brilliance that the rest of the world looks incredibly like a confrerie of idiots. The supermodel. The kind, giving, unassuming Madonna. The woman of infinite variety. Charming plans all, but ones that I had no hope of ever living to see come true. One resolution that I made, that I have been making for the last ten years without fail, and without doubt of absolute failure was that I would read at least one book a month... twelve books in the whole year. This was one resolution that I always bitterly regretted having to give up because reading is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I just had not gotten around to reading as much either because I was too busy or because I was too lazy, and very probably both.

I set out this year, like the rest of the decade resolving to read, and not doubting that I would not. On New Year's Day, I began the year's reading with Kamala Das' My Story. And I haven't stopped. I haven't read nearly as much as I would have liked to, but I have crossed the target I set for myself. I've read thirteen books this year and am simultaneously reading two more. I hope to get at least seventeen done by New Year's Eve this year. It might not seem much to anyone else, but to me this is momentous. 'Tis the set of the soul, that determines the goal...

"One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife."

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back from Minneapolis

Over the last weekend, I went to visit friends in Minneapolis. It was a full, fun weekend. Saturday was the most amazing day of all. We slept in late, and left the apartment only at 1:00pm, but between then and midnight, we managed to experience, and even indulge in as many fun activities as it is humanly possible. We even agreed that it seemed more like a weekday than the weekend. Aarti and Anand ought to be event-planners. They'd give anyone a bang for their buck and manage to pack in as much punch in a day of fun than most mortals experience in a week-long vacation.

We also watched two movies, quite diametrically the opposite of each other. Ratatouille was a delightful movie and I was enraptured by it. Add to that the fact that we watched it in a quaint little theater that was quite unique and done up in a very retro style. It was a scrumptious experience altogether. The other one was Ram Gopal Varma's Darling. I wasn't expecting anything even approaching cinéma vérité, but this movie managed to make me lower my standards of what I think a bad movie might be by at least about two score points. Consequently, we had to watch the movie in three installments. We simply hadn't the energy to take it all in in one sitting. The saving grace of the whole experience was the three of us being sarcastic and wry and witty about our criticisms of it.

All in all, I had great fun. Aarti, I know you'll check in on my blog sometime. Thanks a bunch to both of you for helping me have so much fun!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Luciano Pavarotti is dead. He died twelve days ago on September the 6th. I love Pavarotti. However, you can tell how little I have been following news about him, or any news in general, by how many days after he died I came to know about it. I actually happened to read about it not even in a newspaper, but on someone else's blog (Thank you Mr. Skidmore). But in any case, I loved him and I am rather sorry that he is dead.

I love the opera, but being very ignorant about it, I immerse myself only in the auditory pleasure I feel while listening to it. I know nothing about the intricate technicalities that people who know more than I pay attention to. I have heard people expound on how Pavarotti, despite having a wonderful voice, is rubbish. It makes no sense to me. I enjoy listening to Pavarotti, and that is enough for me. His rendition of Schubert's "Ave Maria" made #1 on my "Top Ten Songs I Would Listen To While I Am Pregnant" list several posts ago. I post a video of it here in memory of this wonderfully gifted man.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I have been cataloging the non-academic books I own. I have discovered that I have ninety-two novels and six books of verse. I actually possess more books than these, but am going to exchange them for store credit at the second hand store. Leaving the books of poetry aside, ninety-two books! I had no idea I owned so many! They don’t look nearly as numerous as they sit on my bookshelves. None of the books I own, excepting War and Peace, are abridged. And indeed, I don’t think I would ever be able to read an unabridged version of that tome. I have read nearly half the books I own in their unabridged entirety, thirty-four to be precise, and am in the process of reading a thirty-fifth - Silas Marner. I also have read several (thirteen) when I was younger in their abridged versions, buying the unabridged versions as an adult hoping to read them in all their glory. And I am yet to read about another half (forty-four) of the books I own.

The last category was the one that surprised me the most. When I was younger, I had a desire to own only those books that I had read and reveled in. Consequently, I never read the books I owned, I only kept them as mementoes of the parts of my identity that had been shaped by them. But now, I think I am insatiable in my conquest of editions of literary work, my purse permitting of course. In any case, eight more books to go before I score a century! My hundredth would have to be especially special.

P. S. Interesting bit of history: This day in the year 1875, the very first newspaper cartoon slip was published! My favorite bit of the newspaper really, following close at the heels of the crossword, jumble and the sudoku puzzles.


I spent most of the weekend in a semi-intoxicated state. I have discovered a delightful new wine: “Nachtgold”. It is the very first ice-wine that I have ever tasted. I bought it mainly because
the bottle looked pretty
and because the description of it on the display case sounded exotic. I was with people when I bought it, and they all admired the prettiness of the bottle. I could barely wait for it to chill before I opened the bottle, and was all impatience until I finally did on Friday night. And as I sipped it, I realized it was the sweetest wine I have ever tasted. Reading the description at the store, I had expected a bouquet of orange blossom, but as I sipped it, it seemed more reminiscent of peaches or figs. Technically, once a bottle of wine is opened, it starts to sour. I could not afford to have such a delicious wine doomed to such a pitiable state. But neither could I drink the whole bottle at one sitting, or I might have passed out! So, spacing myself out, I drank the entire contents of the bottle over the whole weekend, hence my state of semi-intoxication for the last two days.

I think I might have developed an affinity for ice-wines now. I want to try as many of them that are out there. Here is a description of Nachtgold from the Eiswein website:

In the darkness of the early morning hours, when the night frost has taken the temperature in the vineyards down to below 19°F (hard freeze), work starts on picking and crushing the frozen grapes. The water inside the grape skins has been frozen to ice so that the grape juice is concentrated to a golden-colored liquid, often called "Nachtgold" or "gold of the night".

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

September Begins

I am back from a long, beautiful weekend spent with my sister. Four days, and so much done. And indeed so much more to do. When, oh when will I have time enough to do everything that needs to get done?

I took my car on his (I have decided that my car is a boy) maiden voyage out of Iowa. He held up beautifully and we drove all the way to Kansas, where my sister and I decided to embark on an impromptu visit to Colorado, and then he carried us there and back, and then me back home. In any case, I am glad he isn't spitting and sputtering and running up huge mechanic's bills for me.

Nisha and I had a lovely time. We decided on the spur of the moment to go to Denver, and changed our minds halfway there and decided to go to Colorado Springs instead. We did a bunch of wonderful things that I would love to write about, but I haven't the time or energy to. We did visit the "Garden of the Gods", and the "Cave of the Winds", of which we took a lantern tour with no electricity and actual kerosene lanterns stuck in metal buckets, and our guide told us ghost stories, and so on. We wanted to also go to "Pike's Peak", but were late and the road up there had closed for the day. But, on the whole, it was a thrilling experience.

Once I get used to being around my sister, it always is rather difficult to get un-used to it. We fight sometimes (it's all her fault), but are best of friends too. And she hero-worships me, and that helps a great deal. Today she won an award for being a wonderful listener and an ideal employee. I'm posting her certificate here. :) CLICK

I have finally finished reading The Way of All Flesh. The book could quite easily pass for my biography and chronicle of thoughts. I am the Salieri to Butler's Mozart. Except not jealous at all... but rather admiring. So I think a better analogy would be that I am the Mike Jackson to Butler's Psmith. No, that isn't it either. In any case I am Ernest Pontifex! I thought that the end of the book was very rushed, but it managed to capture the essence of my belief. Nothing else seemed to matter.

While in Manhattan, I went again to The Dusty Bookshelf and this time discovered a beautiful leather bound edition of The Oxford Book of English Verse. It was quite a find, and I plunged right in. I even persuaded Nisha who hates reading poetry to read me some while I was driving. I discovered a new love poem in it. It was written by Thomas Moore who also wrote one of my other favorites: "Believe Me... " I think this poem is beautiful!!!

"Come, rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer,
Though the herd have fled from thee, thy home is still here;
Here still is the smile, that no cloud can o'ercast,
And a heart and a hand all thy own to the last.

Oh! what was love made for, if 'tis not the same
Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame?
I know not, I ask not, if guilt's in that heart?
I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art.

Thou hast call'd me thy angel in moments of bliss,
And thy Angel I'd be, 'mid the horrors of this,
Through the furnace, unshrinking, thy steps to pursue,
And shield thee, and save thee, - or perish there too!"

~ Thomas Moore

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Am Nobody

A friend of mine who seems to be rather amused at how private a person I am, sent me one of Emily Dickinson's poems that he thought fits me. I was amused at first that he would think me as reclusive as the narrator of the poem appears to be. But on reflection, I think my friend was right. I am nobody. Who are you?

"I am nobody. Who are you?
Are you nobody too?
Then there's a pair of us.
Don't tell - they'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody,
How public - like a frog -
To tell your name the livelong June
To an admiring bog." ~Emily Dickinson

P.S. Am off to Kansas for the long weekend. :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Car - Finally!

I have at long last purchased a new car. In fact, the purchase was made some days ago, but I am only just posting it because I have only just finished all the required paperwork and documentation, got my registration plates, and the rest of the whole rigmarole.

After spending three tedious months of a car-free life, which was often very inconvenient, I have finally become the proud owner of a rather hardy, beautiful red 2002 Nissan Altima. I regret to say that it wasn't really love at first sight for me. The car is neither flashy nor handsome, and does not scream "sexy stallion". It looks and behaves very much like a faithful, dependable, strong, "sturdy steed". But the more I ride it, the more my love for it grows. And, I am finally mobile again. :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It Rains...

At 8:50 this morning, I left home to walk to the bus stop, where I would board a bus which would take me to campus to do my work for the day. It had rained a lot last night, and I expected the sky to be clear of clouds, the sun to be shining and the humidity to rise. But I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the weather was actually far more clement than I had expected it to be. It was what most people call a "dreary, gloomy day". But those are the days I love the most. My idea of fabulous weather is a cloudy, cold-ish, wet and windy day. Iowa does not very often have such beautiful weather. And when it does happen, it does not last long. It didn't today, and the sun is shining bright now, but this morning was glorious. I seriously considered calling in sick and taking the morning off to walk through the wet grass and feel the wind on my face.

Years ago, when I still lived at home in Hyderabad, if you got up really really early in the morning during the Monsoon, you could experience weather very similar to the weather this morning in Ames. It would have to be before six o'clock in the morning, before the sunlight has started to directly fall on the earth. I rarely got up that early, but when I did, I would sneak off to the terrace, which for some reason, my mother did not encourage. I think she might have been afraid that I would catch a chill, and she preferred me to drink my hot cup of Horlicks and get down to the business of ploughing through my books, for she is a great believer in the power of early morning study. But as often as I could in the months of July and early August, I would sneak off to the terrace. I would walk barefoot on the damp concrete, and imagine I was treading on damp sand on some faraway seashore. Here and there on the terrace where there were tiny depressions, water from the night's rain would collect, and I would splash my feet in this water, feeling how cold it was. Since our terrace was much more open then, and not surrounded by larger buildings, the wind used to move freely, and I used to close my eyes and walk around the terrace relishing the blowing of the gentle breeze on my damp feet. I would let my hair out and let the wind blow in it and feel it also on my arms and my cheeks.

And I always stopped to look at the four tall Ashoka trees that the people who lived across the street from us had growing in their front yard. I love Ashoka trees... there is something romantic about them. I think it might be the memory of my childhood... there were so many of them growing on my school premises, alongside the silvery-green Eucalyptus, the enormous, rooty Banyans, the completely foul prickly Ber shrubs and a lone giant of a Mango tree that never ever in my memory yielded any mangoes. I felt bonded to my neighbors' Ashoka trees. I would also circle the terrace stopping religiously every time to smell the curry-leaf tree that daddy had tended since its infancy, to look at the Tulsi growing in Raju uncle's backyard, see if the roses had bloomed in the backyard of the mean-spirited lady who lived behind our house, and to survey the asbestos that roofed the little preschool that stood behind our house, because some little scamps always managed to throw things high enough to land on the roof... it was a water-bottle sometimes, or a damp origami airplane, or a flower, some half-eaten fruit, or a handkerchief... it was different each time, and grippingly interesting to me. I would stay then for another twenty minutes or so before the sun really rose and the day showed all indications of bending to his will and growing hot. Then I would return reluctantly to my cup of Horlicks and my books.

There is an age right at the onset of adolescence when every such tangible sensation seems hopelessly and completely absolute. When one is a child, one feels and learns so much, but it is done, I think, in the spirit of learning about the world. As a young adolescent, one experiences the same things, but feels anew because one does so in the spirit of rediscovering a new, budding, lovely person within oneself. It is during such a beautiful era in my life that I woke to the pleasures of wet, windy, cloudy mornings. And I believe that it is because I experienced such mornings in such tremendously absolute glory, that I still long and yearn for weather like that. I think I could be an old old woman, and I would still feel young, and fresh and joyful on mornings such as these. That is such a delicious thought!

I remember a poem by Longfellow that tells of rainy days, in quite a different context, but nevertheless calls them dreary.

"The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary."

But I think such a day is beautiful!

Monday, August 20, 2007

School Has Begun

It is Monday morning, 10:26am. The Fall semester of 2007 has begin. I already am too exhausted and ticked off to even write about it. I look out of the window, and the campus seems to be overflowing with students, many of whom hold little maps in their hands and are busy trying to navigate their course through central campus. I envy them their enthusiasm and excitement, but am also irritated at them for the same reasons and my inability to understand how I don't seem to be experiencing any of that joy. I'm rather crabby this morning!

However, I had an extremely excellent weekend. The annual Iowa Malayalee Onam celebration was this Saturday. It was fun, and the dinner afterward is always smashing. But all that aside, I feel like I am growing stagnant. I don't mean to, it is just happening. I sound so cynical... I blame it on the starting of the semester. But all life death does end and each day dies with sleep. So maybe I'll wake up tomorrow, and be grinning like the Cheshire cat. We'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Half-Year Ago...

My baby is six months old!!!! I began this blog on Valentines' Day this year. I meant to have posted a congratulatory message to myself on its half-year anniversary, but have been too caught up with other things to do so. Since it is only a message to myself, I can forgive myself for the belatedness of it, and all is well. I have two other blogs, which did not make it past their infancy. One of them have two posts, which I still believe are my most beautiful. The other has about five. But my baby blog has 48 posts, and I intend to keep writing. It has a happy name, and a doting creator. It shall survive, and indeed thrive!!!

Another gruesome semester has begun. It doesn't start until Monday really, but I have either been getting trained or training others 8-4 every day since last Thursday, and have a pretty good feel of what the semester is going to be like. I can't decide if I am happy or sad, but thankfully those are not the only two emotions that I am able to experience. I am sure that what I feel is going to hover between those two extremes. But I am very very optimistic, and I am sure that it will be a wonderfully enjoyable semester.

This past week I attended two training workshops. One on seeing clients with substance abuse issues, and the other one on clients struggling with eating disorders. I must say that though I had anticipated these to be intense, deep issues, I was not prepared for how intense and sad they would be. One activity especially cut right through me and I couldn't stop sobbing (yes... sobbing, not just crying tears). Those of you who know me know that I rarely weep. It was so very powerful an activity that I amazed myself by being almost unable to participate in the discussion afterwards. I learnt a lot about myself even though I don't think I have either substance abuse or eating disorder issues. That is what I love about this profession... I get paid to understand and learn about myself. What other job will give you that? I must remember this when I am angry about how long my thesis is taking to get completed.

I haven't been reading much because I am too busy to do so. But I have been making a little time to read a few poems when I can. I bought a book of Yeats' poetry at a garage sale, and am working my way through it now. I read a sweet little poem in it the other day. It's called To a Child Dancing in the Wind.

"Dance there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
For wind or water’s roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool’s triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of wind?" ~ Yeats

The poem is reminiscent of my sweet, carefree childhood, and indeed of all the monstrous horrors of the onset of adulthood. I feel like that now, you know. Not entirely carefree... I think by the time you enter teenage, that blind faith in life is lost. But there are flashes in time when everyone returns to a more innocent place. I return there sometimes... it cannot be controlled; and you cannot will yourself to return. It happens suddenly, and just as soon is past. But when it does, I want to dance in the wind too!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mandana Jones

I have started to watch a new series: Bad Girls. It is exactly like watching Oz: except the prison is located in the UK, the characters have British accents, it is a women’s prison, and everyone is catty, not violent. Oz, was of course a much better produced show, most characters were better developed and the whole thing had a much more finished feel. But just like there was incredible chemistry on Oz between Toby and my Chrissy, this show has a sideline love story between one of the prisoners Nikki, and the wing governor Helen, played brilliantly by Mandana Jones and Simone Lahbib. A beautiful, sweet, terribly heart wrenching love story. Unfortunately, only the first series of this show is available in the US. It’s a terrible pity because there are six more seasons which I have no idea when I will get to watch.

But today’s post is about Mandana Jones who plays Nikki - the beautiful, strong prisoner with a heart of gold, and unshakable loyalty to those she loves. Mandana Jones’ character Nikki is possibly the most beautiful woman I have ever seen on the screen. While my Chrissy’s love on Oz was laced with cruelty, hers is love that is nothing but beautiful. Here’s a picture of Nikki looking at Helen lovingly.

I’ve joined her fan following. She’s also going to be my first female blog sweetheart. :-) She is beautiful!! See her here in a video from YouTube.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Flattered and Outraged

I don't know whether to be flattered or enraged. Somebody has claimed my blog as their homepage on their profile. Click here to view the profile.

He or she has not directly claimed that the blog is his or hers though it seems like the obvious implication. Neither has he or she asked me for my permission, which is what my first instinct would be to do. I don't even know if this infringes any copyright laws. It most probably doesn't. My first reaction was shock and disbelief laced with anger. On second thoughts, I was quite flattered. If someone wants to claim my blog as their homepage, they must think it rather good. I am still swinging back and forth between these two extremes. So if you are this person, "How dare you??? And thank you very much!"

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Two Weeks

I can tell that this is going to be a painfully long post. I have to catch up for the past few weeks when I have been either busy or away. I went to help Nisha move apartments and settle in. School starts in two weeks’ time, and starting next week, I have a million demands on my time. I have decided not to see individual clients next semester, and will probably know two weeks into the semester that this was a miserably stupid decision, but it will be too late by then. It breaks my heart to think that I have actually decided this. My clients are a huge chunk of the reason why I am happy. But my mind is made up. This will give me more time to work on my infernal thesis. In a week’s time, Ames will be filled to the brim with new blood. All the young collegiates will start filing in. When my friends Anand and Aarti visited me last year the weekend before classes started, we happened to drive through Welch Avenue at 2:00am. They were still reeling from the shock of seeing the sheer number of people out on the street days later (or so they told me). In any case, there will be tens of thousands of people returning to town in a week’s time. That should be fun. Ames looks miserably deserted at the moment.

And sad news: I am completely and utterly broke!!!! A whole summer of no pay, compounded by moving and traveling costs, has left me on the verge of bankruptcy. But nil desperandum!!! I am learning to husband my resources very very carefully. I was amazed at the amount of supplies I had in my pantry. I have resolved to eat at home for a whole month. And since my wholehearted horror for engaging in anything culinary probably lays the biggest claim on my purse, this should see me through to the end of September. I actually am a very good cook (modestly blush), I just am lazy. Also, no more travel for the next month. Come October, I hope my coffers will start filling again.

While I was in Manhattan, Nisha who knows how much I love books, took me to a second-hand bookstore rather endearingly christened “The Dusty Bookshelf”. I, cannot begin to describe what an absolutely amazing experience the place was. I of course was charmed, and confined myself to the classic literature and poetry sections which spanned all of four shelves in an aisle and a half, but which nevertheless afforded me about five or six hours of absolute delight. I was particularly fascinated by the really old books, some of which were printed in the early 1900’s. Nisha, who would much rather have spent the time shopping at the mall, in her usual selfless way resigned herself to being satisfied in my happiness and resolved to help me choose my books. In a few minutes time, she had deciphered that my preference seemed to be for the older books, and she proceeded to interrupt my blissful browsing with recommendations of tattered hardcovers that she called “pre-historic books”. She kept this up for over an hour, because it clearly amused her to see me try to stifle my impatience, when I finally lost my composure, and calling her a complete and utter nuisance packed her off to her beloved crime and fantasy section with a strict decree that she not return to disturb me unless she wished to be lynched.

In any case, I ended up buying five beautiful pre-owned books, two of which are of particular note. One was a beautiful copy of FitzGerald’s “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”, which was put out circa 1920 (the internet gave varying dates: 1910 – 1934, the book gives no date). It is a very ornate book, with mounted pictures and gilt designs all over, in salmon and gold hardcover with a gold and black dust jacket. The book looks valuable. I checked up on it, and different sources on the internet price it varying between $22 and $650, both of which are more than I paid for it, so I am happy. But I plan on keeping, and not selling it. I’ll take pictures of it and upload them when I get the chance. The second book is a collection of the works of Rupert Brooke. The book was published in 1915, the year Brooke died in the Aegean on his way to Gallipoli. There was a small note-card, yellowed with age, placed in the book written beautifully in black ink. It read, “Hope Brooke is still your favorite. ~ John.” I have built beautiful fantasies surrounding the note, none of which are probably even remotely true. But it adds to the romance of the whole thing. Reading poetry from a book that is almost a hundred years old is more touching and beautiful than reading the same verses from a mass market paperback. The books also smell divine – old and musty. I told Nisha that the books smelt like our old library at school. She smelt them and agreed. The old library will have to be a topic for another day, save to say that there were two aisles at the very back of the library which were my own personal domain, and indeed I never saw anyone else other than the librarian even venture in that direction. These two aisles held books that I loved to read. And they were very ancient, and smelt and felt exactly like all old books do, like my copy of Brooke does.

Now to a more philosophical line of thought: I strongly believe that when one reads a book, one projects oneself onto the book. One lives through the hero or heroine, mentally speaks the dialogues, imagines the ambience of the scenes, feels everything that the characters feel. One turns the book into a very vivid and personal experience. This, in my opinion, is why people who read a book and then watch a film adaptation of the book, often find the visual lacking – because it is someone’s else’s imagination, someone else’s experience. But I digress – people project themselves onto the book. And every person has one or a few books which define his own being – authors who think, feel and believe what the person himself does. For me until now, these books have been the Katy trilogy (the boon of my childhood), and Rebecca (my adolescent fantasy). And now, I can say with absolute certainty and without a shadow of doubt, that even more than these dear books, the book that defines my adult thought and set of beliefs is Samuel Butler’s “The Way of All Flesh”. Mr. Butler is me! Me, a few centuries ago. I think everything he thinks. I believe everything he believes. If I were to write an epistle on what I think a life should and should not be, it would look like a rather shameless copy of his beautiful novel. He even jokes in the wry, sarcastic way that I think is hilarious. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but I know that this is what I am. Even if this makes me sound like a rather soi-disant Mr. Butler, I still revel in the stinging insult. There is so much more I want to say, but this post is long enough, and I will do so later.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Little Tippler

Though I was very happy when I wrote my last blog post, I noticed that for the remainder of the day I remained restive and vaguely melancholy. At night, hoping to raise my spirits, I began reading some of Emily Dickinson's poetry again. I also read the book's foreword about the reclusive poet and her life. I learnt something I never knew. All of Dickinson's work, save seven anonymous verses, were published only posthumously. There is indication in some of her later poems of the recognition of this as a fact, and indeed resignation to it. I cannot begin to imagine how she must have felt. So much for my restlessness!!!

But I continue in the vein of sanguinity...

"I taste a liquor never brewed
From tankards scooped in Pearl
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!
Inebriate of Air-am I
And Debauchee of Dew
Reeling-thro endless summer days
From inns of Molten Blue.

When "Landlords" turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove's door
When butterflies-renounce their "drams"
I shall but drink the more!
Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats
And saints-to windows run
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the Sun."
~ Emily Dickinson.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oh Frabjous Day!

I find more and more, as I write these blog posts of mine, that they stray from what should be their sole purpose, namely to chronicle the incidents that I am fated to experience and enunciate the thoughts that chance upon my mind, almost exclusively into the realm of limning my literary absorptions, and my experience of them. Every time I sit down to type one of these blog updates, I find myself trying to imagine how I could concisely convey what I feel, and the manner in which I feel it. I have tried at times to describe in detail such feelings, and failing miserably at doing so, comforted myself in the thought that my blog is after all an account that I keep for my sake alone, and while it is gratifying to know that people read it, however strong the desire to describe to my reader the precise emotion I feel when I write, what remains paramount is that I am able to say exactly what I want to say regardless of whether it makes any sense to anyone else or not. When I read today the posts I wrote a few months ago, I am struck by how many tiny, but moving sensations are awoken in me at the remembrance of an incident I described which might seem commonplace to a chance reader, but which are not without a multitude of arcane memories for me. And when I do so, I am overcome by a very confounding, and almost paralyzing sense of wanting to grab hold of the first passer-by I come across, sit him down and not caring how many months or years of torment it takes, to make him understand exactly how I felt, and how I continue to feel every second of every day. I feel so agonizingly alive and animated, that I cannot bear the notion that I will live my life out, and not be able to profess in any way remotely capable of making anyone ever understand how much I feel, and how acutely I feel it.

This, as you might have guessed is one such attempt. And reading what I have just typed, I realize the unqualified and absolute futility of it. Which brings me back to the matter of writing about what I read: upon further deliberation, it seems to me that the reason I enjoy works of literature so much is that I feel, to however limited an extent, what the writer felt as he wrote. And the reason I write about them so often in my blog is because I want to experience the delight of saying: "I know how you felt!", even if I never experience recompense. I perceive in the books I read fragments of the very same animation that I feel, but am not able to express. I read, and walk with the writer. I read, and sense with my mind, what the writer sensed with his faculties. I do not flatter myself that I do so in any way that is more or less different from that which others do. Mr. Butler, through his wonderfully satirical alter ego, Edward Overton, describes the foolish and pompous presumption of Mr. George Pontifex that he, when in the presence of works of artistic genius, was clever enough to realize his limited capabilities, and feel in its entirety the humility which seemed properly due the masters. Perhaps, for all my scoffing at the absurdity and snobbish ostentatiousness of Mr. Pontifex, I am no different, no better than him. I do feel humbled when I read the books I read. Every time I read a book, I am exhilarated, but the sense of inadequacy grows. I am never resentful, but rather like the starry-eyed schoolboy du Maurier described who regards his prefect with a fawning admiration, I too admire, and realize that I am incapable of something of such sheer magnitude. No one a few centuries later will read me, and feel what I feel. No one even today will feel what I feel unless I fuse our two selves in one. Those are perhaps lofty goals. But failing those possibly unattainable goals, no one will even know how much I feel what I feel every single day. I feel happy. And I quote Lewis Carroll, who so much more than me, and without having to write as much as I just did, was able to just say: “Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick Updates

I was as good as my word... I got a very very comfy lawn chair that's cushioned and spreads back, almost like a pool chair. I'm done reading "Bachelors Anonymous". Instead of reading "Under the Greenwood Tree", I watched a TV version, which was probably not quite as good. I think I'll replace that on my list with "Captains Courageous". Nisha is here to stay for a week before we both go back to Manhattan to move her into her new apartment. OA, Nisha and I went garage sale shopping this morning, and Nisha went overboard and bought a lot of stuff. I bought another book, and the lawn chair, of course! Still no sign of any good car anywhere on the horizon. Life will be easier with N here... she's so terribly maternal that I can forget about any household chores that I need to do for the next couple of weeks while I am with her.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I had the opportunity yesterday to be like Uma Thurman on "Pulp Fiction". I had a shot of adrenaline. It wasn't as glamorous as in the movie, and I didn't get shot in my heart, but rather unglamorously on my left arm. I have suddenly and very inexplicably developed an allergy to something. I broke out in hives all over and have for the past two days been in a state of extreme discomfiture. I finally decided to go to the doctor. She decided to give me a shot of adrenaline, and follow up later with a shot of Benadryl. I knew already that adrenaline would make me jittery and nervous, but I think I underestimated how much. My knees went shaky. So did my hands, legs and even my voice. I tried to tell myself that this was very psychosomatic, and that I was feeling the jitters only because I knew that is what it was supposed to make me do. But even trying as hard as I could, I couldn't stop being nervous. I felt very very silly, but remembering "Pulp Fiction", also felt very very glamorous.

I read some poetry last night. I was in the mood for nature poetry, so I read Emily Dickinson who writes a lot of it. One poem struck me as being very beautiful. This is summer, and the poem was about autumn, but I thought I'd post it here anyway:

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

So I wore a trinket to bed last night - a brown bracelet. Felt very silly wearing a bracelet to bed, but it was beautiful, and in the moment.

P.S. Update about reading: I am halfway through "Bachelors Anonymous". It being one of Wodehouse's later books, was not as great as his earlier work, but very enjoyable all the same. Today I shopped for second hand books. Picked up four classic paperbacks for a dollar!! What a steal!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Read" on McDuff

I have made up my mind to read one book a week. Now how long I will be able to faithfully stick to my resolution remains to be seen, but for the past couple of days I have been blissfully happy lost in "The Mysterious Mr. Quin". I was at the Public Library today and walked past a shelf of books when I saw out of the corner of my eye, Ballantyne's "The Coral Island". I spent years of my childhood reading that book again and again and again, and being wonderfully happy. So I have decided to continue to be happy and read read read....

In order to keep things interesting, I have decided to create a multi-genre list, (which in my case ought to be called multi-author list because most of what I read really falls under only one of four different genres: Wodehouse, Bronte-esque, late 18th - early 20th century crime, and drama of the same era), and stick to it. Here is my July reading list:

* Bachelors Anonymous - Wodehouse
* The Tailor of Panama - le Carre
* Under the Greenwood Tree - Hardy

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Room

This post has all the appearances of being influenced by my reading Christie yesterday. I don’t think it entirely is. But you, my dear readers, are of course entitled to draw any conclusions that you choose to.

I was feeling sick-ish last night, and went to bed early. And I had a singularly odd and terrifying dream. I woke from it with a start at exactly 11:19pm. The dream made no sense to me, and it remained unfinished. It had all the elements of a nightmare: a strange, dark room, a scary passageway, a mysterious man pursuing me, racing heartbeat etc., etc. But what was the strangest about the dream was the room that I finally ran into in order to hide from the man. Contrary to all expectations that one associates with a hiding place, this was a large, bright, cheerful room with a huge comfortable bed and giant glass windows. It had curtains not on the windows, but on one wall, covering it in its entirety. On the floor was a clump of elegant, paper shopping bags full of clothes. There also was a bunch of odd keys that seemed to fit nowhere. There was something very familiar about this room. I have a strong feeling that I have in my waking hours, been in that room before.

I awoke with a start, and the first thing that struck me was the wondering thought about when or where I had seen that room before. I propped myself up in the bed and sat in the darkness for a long time. I looked through to my living room and could see shadows of my bamboo plants magnified against the moonlight filtering in through the blinds. I sat and thought about it for a long time. The only way I could describe it was this – it was (or is) the most “comfortable” room I have ever experienced in a dream or in reality. It also had an extraordinarily calming effect on me; as though it were the only place I ever would be safe. But I was not satisfied. I got up, got myself out of bed, sat myself down at the kitchen table, and drew the layout of the mysterious room, the dark room, and the forbidding passageway through which the man followed me. I have looked at the figure long and hard, but I still cannot place where this singular room was.

The room was remarkable not just in its comfort, but also in several other ways which I could detail, but wouldn’t make any sense unless I explained my dream as well. I will not, here or now. But I will hold on to the map that I drew. I sometimes dream in pairs, and sometimes with several years between the halves. Maybe I will finish the dream someday. I hope so, because if I ever uncover where that room is, I will make my way to it and never leave.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

He Reminds Me of Timmy

I know who he reminds me of. He reminds me of Timmy. He looks nothing like him, but he has the same air of oppressed earnestness, the same restrained manner, and the same streak of misunderstood, suppressed idealism that shines forth from behind a wary, skeptical exterior. I am in love again - this time with William Hurt. I saw him last month in “Mr. Brooks”, and knew that there was something strange about him that appealed to me. I racked my brain trying to decipher what it was, but couldn’t. I knew it was love, but I couldn’t place at first what it is about him I was in love with. And then I went on a spree of watching his movies until I finally figured it out. He reminds me of Timmy.

I am sick. I have a terrible, terrible cold. I hate having to deal with the common cold. I am congested, have a hoarse voice, and know that the cold is only going to worsen before it gets any better. And that is not a prospect that I am thrilled about. This morning, I woke up early, took a shower and since my guest was not up yet, settled back in bed with a book: Agatha Christie’s “The Mysterious Mr. Quin”. It is a collection of twelve short stories of twelve inscrutable cases solved completely through conversations between the observant Mr. Satterthwaite and the mysterious Mr.Quin. No searching for clues, no questioning of suspects, not even venturing away from their comfortable armchairs. And yet, they solve what seem to be baffling cases in such a believable manner. If I could meet anyone from times past, the two people I should like to meet the most would be Christie and Doyle. I was exhausted after reading three short stories, and slept again for a few hours. I was so happy as I closed my eyes. When I know for a fact that I am happiest when I read, why in the world do I even attempt to do anything else with my spare time??? Tomorrow I shall buy a lawn chair and install myself in the backyard under the shade of the elm. Balmy summer evenings are after all meant to be spent drinking cold iced tea, and treating myself to a ride in the frugal chariot!

Monday, July 9, 2007

An Existential Question

I have just discovered something. I am terrified. I am not sure what I am terrified of. But right this moment, I am afraid. I was browsing some websites online, and I caught a small glimpse of the kind of difference some people make in the world. It is a terrifying and scary experience. I feel completely humbled by the enormity of what some people do. I can barely stop my tears from flowing when I consider what a completely selfish and futile life I am leading right now. I look back at all I did today. This morning, I was struck by a sudden urge to go to Ledges State Park, and because I still had the rental car until noon, I did that. Then I came home, found it cold, and called my apartment manager to turn the air down. I took a nap, returned the car, went to school, goofed around a little, went back home, took another nap, went to my gym class, came back to school, and browsed the internet again. Not one single thing have I done today that has not been about me. Not a single thing. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to do anything spectacular. I just want to do something small, but selfless.

Nearly a year ago, I was talking with someone on the phone and trying to list all the places I wanted to travel to, and all the things I want to experience. It was a never ending list. About halfway through a sentence, I had to stop because I realized that I was going to have a panic attack. I had just become aware that I wanted to experience so much, but that I had so little time in my life, and such limited means. I knew I would grow to be old, and not have done even a fraction of the things that I wanted to do. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I think I must have cried for nearly an hour. And all the while, only one single thought reverberated in my mind: “What is the point of it all?” Is it really enough to do just as much as one can even if one knows that one can never do all one wants to do? A few days later I talked about this with a friend. She told me that all she aspired for in this world was to live comfortably and enjoy her family. I wished then that I could be satisfied with that. I wished I could not want everything that I want. I wished to not be a human being. I wished I was just a mute animal who went about its life only trying to gather food and procreate. But I can’t do that. I can’t stop feeling, and wanting, and desiring all the things that I do.

That was nearly a year ago, but I feel exactly that way today. I cried and was frustrated and found no answers. I go from day to day seeking nothing more than sustenance and self-gratification. The need to make a difference, or even live a life that is not entirely about me, doesn’t occur to me. It makes me feel small, insignificant and closed. I wonder when I will find out what it is that I want and how I can get there. It is the uncertainty and vagueness of not knowing that rends my soul.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


This is the first time I have returned to my new home after a weekend-long vacation. I feel excited to be back home. I feel like I have returned to a sweet resting place. I feel giddy and excited. Not sure that all of it is because of the apartment. My apartment is cold... and I shiver. I wonder if it is the cold, or if it is excitement. The weather outside is balmy, and in the afternoons is stifling. Aarti told me that it was raining in Minneapolis. I wonder if the rain will move towards Ames. I hope it does. I feel this moment like jumping in puddles.

I have hardly been out in the Ames parks all summer. I think I will go tomorrow. I should probably go back and visit the Gateway Hills Park. I miss the place so much. I think I'll take a sheet and a book along. I remember the first time I saw the park. It was nearly a year after I had lived in that apartment. I remember kicking myself really hard for not ever venturing in that direction. I'll go there tomorrow.

I am smiling... I have just discovered I am in love with Sonu Nigam. I never thought I would utter those words. Nisha would laugh at me if she could hear me say that. But he does have the most gorgeous, lovely voice.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Darling Buds of July

July has begun beautifully. I find it hard to believe that one half of this year is now past. But I am convinced that what remains of it is going to be lovely. June was an interesting month. Not easy all the time, but interesting. My car stopped working (again). I was a witness at a wedding and honored to be asked. Other things... good and not so good. Interesting.

It was my birthday a few days ago. I was astonished at how many people wished me a happy birthday and a happy year. I had no idea that I was so loved. I actually feel quite silly because I assumed that I was not. Nisha sent me a lovely HUGE coffee icecream cake. She is the sweetest darling sister in the world. And no one can ever be as sweet and kind and lovely as she is. All the malayalees here at Ames made it a beautiful and memorable day for me. I love OA, and Gisha and Robin. I think they are the sweetest friends anyone could ask for. Daddy and Mummy were lovely too. The world suddenly seems such a beautiful place and I love everyone in it. I went and watched the fireworks on the fourth with Gisha, Saju and the kids. I love Gisha's kids. I wish I had some kids of my own, but I think I would make a terrible mother. All in all, I love July. I wish Shakespeare had written about the "Darling buds of July" instead of May.

I had a conversation today which made me realize how much more I need to talk with my parents. Daddy especially. I have been positively selfish and must try not to be. I am going to Chicago tomorrow and will meet Arun. I saw him last in October. When I saw him last, I never thought that he would become such a good friend. I wish I could be as good a friend to him as he has been to me. He is so absolutely giving, and positive. Sometimes I think he's a little too positive and strong to be true. I like flaws in people. But that might only be because I am scared that I am very flawed myself. I am flawed.

I'm humming an old tune...
"We'll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learned to sing again"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Listmania Begins

And I thought that this month would mark more frequent posts!! Anyway, ever since my last post, I have created several other lists. I thought I might make it a "regular feature" of my blog. The first list I came up with is called "The Top Ten Songs I Would Hear While I Am Pregnant". That's just a long way of saying these are the songs, or genres, or singers that I love the best. Apparently one is supposed to hear/read/watch/do things that make one happy while one is pregnant. Hence the name. Anyway, here is the list:

1. Pavarotti singing "Ave Maria"
2. Pavarotti singing anything else
3. Ivor Novello singing "Keep the Home Fires Burning"
4. Carreras singing anything
5. Ronald Pearsall singing "Goodnight Vienna"
6. Andrew-Lloyd Weber's title song from POTO
7. Jeremy Brett singing "Love Unspoken"
8. Anyone singing "Cruising Down the River"
9. Assorted songs from the 1920s-1940s
10. Hugh Laurie singing anything (just for laughs)

I have separate lists with Indian songs, and music. Mohd Rafi and Bach tops the list on those. Well, that is that! In passing, let me detail one particularly beautiful movie/series that I watched recently: "The Singing Detective". It is arcane, obscure, related through a strange combination of reality, dreams and hallucinations, and is a beautiful psychological masterpiece. I have always liked Michael Gambon, but I adore him now. I have always adored Patrick Malahide, and that adoration grows.

What else? I want to go on a wild adventure. But have not done so yet. Maybe will do so sometime next week. :) I'll start with my "Spooky Bridge", and then go from there.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Love Poems

Although I read as much poetry as I can, and like especially to read love poems; this past year I have not had the time to indulge myself as much as I would like to. Last week I had a gentle reminder that I was missing out on one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I watched a movie of one of my most beloved actors, Anthony Hopkins: "84 Charing Cross Road" a few days ago. Every time I hear his smooth, mellow, clear voice, I want to swoon. In the movie he quotes Yeats' beautiful "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven". Until now, in my hierarchy of the sweetest love poems of all time, Yeats' gem had had second place, outranked only by Moore's beautiful "Believe Me". However, hearing my sweet Anthony Hopkins recite Yeats, was so heavenly that I now love "He Wishes..." the best. I programmed the DVD for repeat, closed my eyes, and for nearly a half-hour I heard it over and over again. I now repeat it to myself all the time.

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams." ~ Yeats

I decided to add to my original post and list my favorite love poems of all time in order. There are a lot more, but I decided to restrict myself to ten:

* He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven – Yeats
* Believe Me – Moore
* She Walks in Beauty – Byron
* Sonnet 116 – Shakespeare
* The Wife’s Will – Bronte
* Sonnet 18 – Shakespeare
* At Last – Allen
* Beautiful Dreamer - Foster
* The Song of Wandering Aengus – Yeats
* The Definition of Love – Marvell

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Grotto of the Redemption

Ah! The blandness of a summer that aspires to be the fall!!! I am constantly busy still… and this is a time that I anticipated would be relatively free! I was talking with mummy yesterday and told her how each day seems to be busier than the one before. She said that I was growing up, and that that is what life is like. I don’t want life to be like that. I want to stop and have some R&R time for myself. But I don’t see any such thing happening. Maybe doing practicum and three groups in the summer was not such a good idea after all. This week Omana auntie’s best friend was in town. So I have not had to bother about cooking all week. We did a lot of things and that kept me busy. I think this must be the fourth post in the last two months about how busy I am. I am beginning to sound like a broken record playing complaints and rants all the time.

Everything outside is delightfully beautiful. This is the most clement summer I have ever experienced. And yet, I cannot enjoy it because every day and every evening, I have something or the other going on. But on Monday I went to the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, IA. It is a delightful little grotto built by a priest who started work on it in the 1930’s, I think. The work is not completed yet. The grotto, comprising of 9 smaller grottoes, is built entirely out of rocks and minerals from places around the world. I had seen pictures before I went, and it looked quaint but hardly impressive. But up close, the rocks, and consequently the grotto, are breathtaking. One little man made it possible. I wish I could bequeath something like that to the world. I doubt it. I had a lot of fun, though. So you see, even though I complain, I do have a few instances when I take time off for myself. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Cat Who Loved Me

(Or so I think!) Gisha and I went for a morning walk today. My car was at the mechanic’s, so we couldn’t walk at Ada Hayden. So she said she’d drive to my place, and we’d walk randomly around the area. As I was waiting for her, I saw the ginger cat belonging to the people upstairs sitting on the grass. I am terrified of cats. I think I must have been scarred psychologically by a cat who scratched me when I was a kid. So scarred actually, that I remember no such incident! And in general, the little felines dislike me and never fail to show their displeasure by growling at me almost without exception. So this morning, when I saw her, I ignored her. As Gisha was pulling in, I saw the cat standing much closer to me. It let out an incredibly soft mew. So I spoke to her, “What a tiny noise you make, you poor thing! Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.” I paid no more attention to it, and G. and I went for our walk.

When we returned, the cat was still there, and it showed an incredible interest in me, and quite unafraid, started to walk towards me. This made me terribly uncomfortable, and I got scared. It kept letting out those soft mews. I tried to dodge the cat, but it kept walking quite straight at me. I panicked and hid behind Gisha’s SUV. The cat settled down. I reappeared, and it got up again and tried to follow me. By this time, I was completely freaked out. I don’t want strange cats to start taking a fancy to me. It looked too gentle to do me any harm, and purred quite lovingly at me. But what spooked me was that it paid all this attention to me, and not to Gisha. Anyway, I got into the SUV, and G. drove around the block. I was biding my time, and hoping the cat would disappear. But it didn't. In the end, Gisha dropped me off. I picked up a stick, and kept it between me and the cat. It stood up again, and followed me with its eyes, purring away. I was terrified out of my wits, and once I turned the corner, made a mad dash for my door hoping that the cat wouldn’t follow. I called Gisha, and she was laughing as she drove away. “What perfume were you wearing?” she asked. I have no idea what it was that made this poor creature so drawn to me in particular. I wish I had the guts to pet her, she looked so sweet. But I have a feeling I’m not going to ever do that. So for the next couple of years, my main task is going to be avoiding the cat every time I enter or leave the driveway. My nerves will be shot!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I Dined in the Park...

I dined in the park last night. I was on my way home, and it was such a beautiful night. Cool, windy, fragrant even. It reminded me of summer evenings in Hyderabad, when I spent every single evening on the terrace. I wouldn’t come down even when Mummy had gone hoarse calling out to me to come down to dinner. I would walk up and down, sing, look at the trees, watch little scraggly kids play cricket in the streets, and imagine that I was far far away, usually sailing on the high seas. Yesterday reminded me of that so much that I absolutely had to be out of doors at least until the sunlight faded away into the night.

So I got an order of delightful spring rolls, and meandered into the park. At first I couldn’t see any benches, and vaguely considered stretching myself out on the grass. But then one lone bench caught my eye. It was already starting to be dark, and the park was nearly empty. So was the bench, and I made my way to it. I had a heavenly fifteen minutes, eating my little dinner, and feeling the wind on my face and arms. I wanted so much to talk to Nisha, and called her, but she didn’t answer. She would have enjoyed being there with me. In fact, last week, when Nisha was here, she and I lunched in the park. Not this little one, but one next to Elwood. And we talked, and laughed and watched the cars zoom past in the distance.

When we were children, we’d plan elaborate picnics on the terrace. No one was invited, but the two of us, and if Daddy or Mummy dared to show up, they would promptly be shooed away. They were only welcome if they were delivering us something delightful to eat or drink. So we would save our goodies for a whole week, and shiver with excitement every time we thought of the picnic. And Mummy would make us something nice, usually lemon rice with oodles of groundnuts in it, since we both loved that. So some Saturday evenings, or if it was a second Saturday, in the afternoons, Nisha and I would pile our green and pink picnic basket full of goodies, ask Daddy to bring us iced drinks and march off to the terrace. We’d lay our sheet out in the shade of the water tank, and lay out our delightful fare. I think in retrospect that feasting our eyes upon the goodies was more fun than actually feasting upon them. We’d take great pride in assuring ourselves that this was the best picnic that ever was, and Daddy when he brought us something to drink would echo that sentiment. After the last scrap of food was devoured, Nisha and I would lie on the sheet and look at the sky. The sky used to be more open then, and none of the houses around ours had grown so tall yet. Now I think ours is the only house that has stayed the same size for the last fifteen years. And as we lay there gazing at the sky, I would tell her about the phases of the moon, and the stars, the constellations and supernovas. Nisha was fascinated by supernovas, and I remember her being very disappointed that we would never have one in our solar system. And I would always tell her a story. It would be with great sadness and only when Mummy forcefully commanded us to come down that we descended from the terrace.

Nothing compared to those picnics of Nisha’s and mine. Last week when we lunched in the park, it reminded us of them, and the picnics that we used to have at the zoo. And last night, I wished she had been there. She wasn’t, but I think she enjoyed it just as much when I told her about it later. I stayed until it was quite dark. And I remember, I was very very happy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Verbal Diarrhea

I have realized that I am an idiot. And that no matter how highly I think of myself, I am in reality a complete and utter bore. I dined last night with a very sweet, nice gentleman. And I did everything in my ability to go and make it memorable for him as the most boring dinner he has ever had. He was very sweet, and I was quite flustered and started to feel tongue-tied. And what else should I do when that happens, but go and blabber on about anything and everything. I started off by talking about my favorite vegetable for goodness’ sake!!! When I told Nisha about this later, she told me I was an idiot. And I agree completely and whole-heartedly with that sensible statement. I felt at the end of the day about twenty times as stupid as Bridget Jones, and about a hundred times less charming. Two words frame it best: Verbal Diarrhea.

Why do I find it so hard to believe that while I might find it fun to be imaginative and wonder what kind of dinosaur I might be if I could be one, no one else wants to think about such ridiculously silly stuff? I want to shake myself and tell myself to grow up. In any case, the gentleman that he was, he pretended very well to enjoy my lousy company (sigh) and indulged all my silly ideas. To me, the dinner was delightful, and a couple of notable things happened. One: I asked him what his favorite question was, and he said it was “Why”. This is interesting re: my last but one blog entry. Two: I am inspired by him to be more spontaneous. Three: I have resolved to shut up and be the personification of composure and sophistication. Goodness! I am doomed!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

My Weak Hero

Hmm… I haven’t posted in a while. In fact, I haven’t done anything worthwhile in a while. Nisha and I drove down to Kansas last weekend. I am back now, and alone for the first time in my new apartment. Everything is in boxes, and is an utter mess. The lazy part of me tries to ignore the clutter, but it is all in vain… so bit by bit, or rather box by box, I am trying to piece together my living space again. I anticipate this taking one week, but maybe that is very optimistic of me. :(

I was watching SVU last night, eagerly anticipating my first alone-time with Chrissy in more than a month. But as he came on screen, I realized that he seemed terribly weak and watery, and I seemed to mentally draw away from him. This was an utter shock to me, since I have loved every fiber of this man since I first laid eyes on him. As I watched on, I realized that it wasn’t Chrissy himself, but rather Elliot Stabler who seemed watery and weak to me. This was the first episode of SVU I had watched in more than three months. Up until a month ago, when I had weaned myself off my daily dose of him, I had been watching Chrissy on Oz. And watching my Chrissy as Chris Keller is comparable to watching Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. On Oz, his character is so passionately strong, that I cannot bear to see him as anyone else. No wonder I thought that on SVU he appeared a little strange. I tried to concentrate on the actor, not the character, but that did not work either. I think I should watch Oz again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Last night I was in my kitchen when my sister called out to me and asked me to bring her a sheet of tissue. I popped my head into the living room and asked her why she needed it. She looked at me rather quizzically and burst out into an amused and somewhat exasperated laughter.

“You never do anything without knowing why, do you?” she said.

And that made me think. She was right. I don’t. “Why?” is my favorite question. And “Just because.” is my least favorite answer. I have to know the reason for everything that I do or feel or think. It doesn’t make sense to me to act on any request, order or impulse without knowing the reason or consequences of it. I cannot blindly follow and be satisfied. And I struggle very hard to understand how anyone could.

I have in the past had some very painful discussions about why I need to know. And I have thought about it long and hard. At first the reason eluded me. But then I realized that I did know the answer, but that it was so ingrained in me that I made the assumption that everyone else thinks or feels about it the same way that I do. It seemed so natural to me that I had never processed it. But when I did, this is what I realized: Everything that I do, think, feel or say has a consequence, no matter how insignificant. And I hold myself responsible for that consequence. I would never let myself not be held answerable for the tiniest decision that I make. I feel that what would disgust me the most about myself would be the inability to assume accountability for what I do. Even if that only involved bringing a piece of tissue to a different room.

Unlike how this might sound, this feeling is not oppressing. Au contraire, it is the most liberating feeling of all. The sense of being in complete power over oneself. The contentment one feels when one knows everything about oneself. To be able to explain and rationalize everything that one experiences. What could be more satisfying or liberating than that? “Why?” is also the question that generates logic. And who would want to live a life that was not guided by something as safe and concrete as that?

So what do you think my response to my sister was? I smiled at her and asked, “Why do you think that that’s unusual?” And I think she smiled back.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Mad Rush

I haven’t made an update in quite some time. That is a testimony to how busy I have been. When Finals week ended, I thought that I could sink into sweet oblivion, but it seems that no such delight is anywhere in sight. The horror of Finals week may be past, but I still have to do research, see clients, facilitate three groups (yahoo!!!), serve on the search committee, and do some TA-ing. But before that starts, I need to finish grading and wrap up end-of-semester stuff. Sometimes I wish I were super-woman so I could get this done, but then I think, hang on!! I am super-woman already to be able to juggle so many things.

Saturday, Nisha is coming to spend 3 whole weeks with me. That is the longest time we have spent with each other since she came to the US. Now comes the stress of planning that goes into packing in as much fun as we can into those three weeks! Anyhow, come this Friday, I will be done with the bulkiest chunk of what needs to be done. Thank goodness, and then I will have some time to write about something of substance, not just write updates.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pleasure Palace

In one of the shadowy alleyways of Ames, very close to a railway crossing, is a nondescript shop with darkened windows and dusty, grimy doors. All form of suspicious characters emerge from these doors, clutching black plastic bags and glancing furtively to each side. The sign above the door is crusted with dirt, and proclaims its name rather warily: "Pleasure Palace". I knew it was a sex shop (whatever that means). And I think I looked down my nose, in pompous self-righteousness at the people whom I saw materialize through those doors. And yet they held for me a sort of morbid fascination, and I was drawn to those doors by dark forces seemingly beyond my control.

Feeling like the sacrificial virgin, I gave in to the will of fate (or intense inquisitiveness, in this case), and decided to enter the "palace", expecting to chance upon an orgy of monsters who would instantly tear me limb from limb. I took a deep breath and finally mustered enough courage to walk through those doors. And in that instant, my rather ostentatious fantasies of being attacked and molested by perverts of every description were ruthlessly dashed to pieces! Rather than descend into a swarthy, atramentous, pseudo hell, I entered and was greeted by a cheery, bright shop! Holding fort was a cheery shop assistant. And the radio played cheery music. Needless to say I felt rather stupid, especially when the young clerk cheerily informed me that students got fifteen percent off everything! Having so cruelly doused my excitement, the shop no longer held any fascination for me. And so I returned, disillusioned, but wiser!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


There comes a time in the life of every human being, when he or she feels an incredible urge to gloat! For me, that time comes once every twenty minutes. Given the extremely high frequency of the aforementioned urge, I have learnt in true Darwinian fashion, that in order not to get beaten to a pulp by the fervid masses and perish, I had better keep my trap shut! However, at this particular instant in time, the survival of my particular strain of the species seems inconsequential compared to the satisfaction I would glean from a good gloat. So here goes:

I have been asked to be the student member of a search committee for the positions of two senior psychologists on the SCS staff! With me on the committee are the assistant director, clinical director, and coordinators of the SA, ED and group programs at SCS. It is an incredible honor to be a mere student and be asked to serve on the committee. It is also nerve-wrecking to think that I will be reviewing files of, and interviewing candidates who are so much more experienced than I. And beyond doubt, it is a wonderful affirmation of how highly the counseling center staff think of my work, skills and judgment. I accepted, of course! And with much eclat for myself!

And now... enough of my rodomontade! I intend to resume my staunch adherence to the Darwinian principle. Having discovered that I am in a way the "fittest", I am going to shut up and concentrate on the "survival" bit... which in this case appears to be not to overdo it, and perhaps getting on with a paper I was writing before I began gloating!