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!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ouzo and Pernod

I am going Bottom crazy! Rik Mayall is my new God!!!! He shamed even the black-hearted Blackadder into being green with envy. But as the incredibly stupid, effeminate Richie Richard, he’s stolen my heart. :)

Love is blind, they say, and I indeed have followed Rik and Ade into some of the craziest things imaginable. In the second series of Bottom, Rik and Ade try to infuse their sad lives with some culture. Being unable to afford to make sophisticated vodka martinis, they throw together everything alcoholic in their flat – in this case, half a bottle of ouzo, and a wee bit of Pernod. They substitute some marmalade for cherries, and throw in some salt for some added "Hollywood" effect. The result is a shady concoction that they christen the "Esther Rantzen".

They drank it up. And I followed suit. I made the exact same near-deadly cocktail. It is bloody difficult to get any ouzo or Pernod in the US, or at least in Iowa. The people at Hy-Vee looked at me as though I was crazy. And no doubt they would. Imagine me asking some silly college kids who get drunk almost every night about an alcohol that they have never heard of!!!! In any case, after some searching I found the stuff in one of the food aisles, and was finally able to make the "Esther Rantzen". My love for Rik does not however blind me enough to have a repeat performance. So now I am left with a bottle of ouzo, a bottle of Pernod, and a jar of marmalade that I know not what to do with. It was fun though. Rik, ta very much!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Aaj Ki Raat

I recently watched a DVD of old B&W Hindi songs. Anyone who knows me knows how enraptured I am listening to oldies. I think I pretty much know any old song that is out there… especially if it was sung by Mohd. Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor or Talat Mahmood. But I discovered a song that I had never heard before. And it was beautifully melodious. Sung by Mahendra Kapoor, it portrayed an unusually restrained Rehman, whom I have always adored. Added to that were the wonderfully touching lyrics of Sahir Ludhianvi, describing the rapture of the wedding night. I simply had to post the lyrics on here.

Aaj ki raat nahin shikwe, shikayat ke liye
Aaj har lamha, har ek pal hai mohobbat ke liye
Reshmi sej hai, mehki hui tanhaai hai
Aaj ki raat muraadon ki baraat aai hai.

Hur gunaah aaj muqaddas hai farishton ki tarhey
Kaanpte haathon ko mil jaaney do rishton ki tarhey
Aaj milne mein na uljhan hai, na ruswaai hai
Aaj ki raat muraadon ki baraat aai hai.

Apni zulfein mere shaane pe bikhar jaane do
Is haseen raat ko kuch aur nikhar jaane do
Subha ne aaj na aaney ki qasam khaai hai
Aaj ki raat muraadon ki baraat aai hai.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Smattering of Words

Here are a few words that describe my week. I'd describe each word in detail, but that would probably end up being a considerably large novel. And there is always the mystery associated with the words… leaving you, my dear reader wondering what exotic experience I had that prompted that one particular word. Here goes:

Travel, exhaustion, TGI Friday’s, virtual friends, older men (hee hee… wonder away), other blogs, schizophrenia, apartment, romantic movies (yuck!), cell phone, Nature Notes, Deewana Deewana, bed frame, research, a gentleman named Ian, motivation, Dr. Larson, clients, evaluations, search committee, advanced practicum, Bottom, and not to forget my two darlings Chrissy and Lee.

Contrary to what it may seem, my brain is not really a tangled mess right now. It’s working like a remarkably well-oiled machine. And, remembering Virgina Woolf, also very passionate. For what? Again, like Woolf, I am not really sure I know.

"My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery - always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What is this passion for?" ~ Virginia Woolf.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nil Desperandum

I am making some changes to the post I made a few days ago because my trend of narrow escapes continues. All the past two weeks, EVERYTHING has tried to go wrong – research, classes, assignments, teaching, crushing my fingers in the door, relationships, taxes, client paperwork… everything. But every time I have had a narrow escape, and everything turned out beautifully. I started out feeling rather negative about everything. But since then, I have adopted the maxim "Idhar aa gale lagaa loon, tujhe gardish-e-zamaana." (Roughly translated: (lovingly) Come hither, let me embrace thee, you vagrant storms of life!). And life has unfolded itself in a strikingly handsome way since then.

This weekend, I am going to Minneapolis, to help my friends Anand and Aarti move. I have lived in my apartment for three years now, and I think I am in for a brief dose of what it’s going to be like when I move this summer. On a more general note, I’ve made some new friends, listened to a lot of Turkish music, and started watching a new britcom, called "Bottom". It stars Rik Mayall, who is my current sweetheart. I’ve had a very brief brush with Rik in the past, as Lord Flashheart from the "Blackadder" series. On the whole, I have had a wickedly lucky and laid-back week, though not entirely guilt-free. So you see, nil desperandum!

Sunday, April 8, 2007


So much is said about forgiveness. Does forgiveness come from the soul, I wonder? I have heard people say that it is when you forgive, that love encompasses all. To me, it seems that you have to love deeply, in order to even want to forgive. I have hated with passion anyone whom I have ever wanted to forgive. But that passion was rooted in love. And in the moment of absolution, I let go of that love. And with it goes the passion, esteem, and eventually care. It isn’t love, but peace, liberation, and sweet exhaustion that encompass all.

"For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest."
~ Lord Byron.

Friday, April 6, 2007

At World's End

Everybody’s favorite pirate returns in a month and a half!!! Jack Sparrow and his motley crew hit the theaters on May 25th in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. After watching POC: The Curse of the Black Pearl, I was convinced that the sequels would be horrifyingly disappointing. My view was happily disconfirmed when POC: Dead Man’s Chest, was released. And if caliber can be judged by a trailer, the newest POC promises to be the best!

If ever was a man who deserved to be brought back from beyond life, it is he. Captain Jack Sparrow has been taken to the depths of the ocean, but rescue is at hand! In the meantime, "Goodnight, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

Click here to view the trailer.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Shrink

As part of my doctoral program, I have to go on a mandatory year-long psych internship. And the closer I get to graduation, the more real the prospect of leaving the comfortable cocoon of Ames becomes. On Tuesday, we had speakers come to our practicum class to talk about the tedious, nine-month long application and selection process, and this was just another cue that got me thinking about what I want to do. I have always been interested in working at a prison or correctional facility, but this desire is particularly strong right now. The thought is at once scary and exciting. I would get to work with a wonderfully interesting, though potentially dangerous population, on a variety of fascinating issues.

Ahh… but there’s a catch though! I have no experience working with the kind of individuals that I might have to work with on such an internship. Also, these internship sites usually prefer clinical psychologists to counseling psychologists. So what do I do? Well… starting this summer, I am going to do lots of volunteer work at the Assault Care Center. I will also try to work with the Ames and ISU PDs, and hope for the best.

I can’t help but think of B. D. Wong’s character, George Huang on Law and Order: SVU. Apart from being the only completely balanced individual on the SVU team, he is also exactly what I long to be. If I do end up working in a prison or correctional facility, I'll probably be hated, cursed, relentlessly called a "shrink" (a term I particularly hate), abused and maybe even attacked! I can't wait to begin! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hyacinths to Feed the Soul

If of all things thou becomes't bereft,
And naught but two loaves thou hast left;
Sell one; and with the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul.
~ Muslihuddin Sadi.

I was reading poetry last night, and was feeling warm and comfy, when I came upon the above verse. And all of a sudden I was oversome by a terribly strong urge to feed my soul, and went looking for hyacinths. I couldn’t find any. They were not to be had for any price, anywhere. So I bought myself some purple larkspur, which is not quite the same thing, but very pretty too. And it added a beautiful patch of color to my living room, (which is looking larger and roomier now that there is a little less furniture).

I think I am going to buy myself flowers more often. Sadi was right, they do have a wonderful effect on one’s soul. Maxim deWinter in Rebecca, tells his new bride that of all the flowers that grow in Manderley, the only ones he lets be picked are the roses, because he thought that roses were the only flowers that looked better picked than on the plant. I disagree almost entirely with that. Flowers do look beautiful unpicked, but they have a universal charm, and they bring to me in my home, a comfort they could not have done were they growing elsewhere. So purple larkspur it was! But I watched Keeping Up Appearances just to go with the hyacinth theme. And if purple larkspur in conjunction with Hyacinth Bucket doesn’t feed the soul, then I don’t know what does!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Ave Avril

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

Everything around me is beautiful. This is my favorite time of the year. It is still slightly cold, and the evenings are chilly, but the days are temperate, and the mornings dewy. I often wish that the year began with the onset of spring, rather than in dismal, cold January! The Roman year began on the ides of March. The astrological and Persian new years both start on the Spring Equinox. That the new year should coincide with new life seems so much more beautiful and appropriate. I would love to start each year feeling as I do today! Today is the first of April. It is also the third day of the third moon. The Chinese eat azalea cakes on this day. I ate buttered toast and drank tea, but it was just as delightful.