Friday, February 29, 2008

And Jill came tumbling after...

I grew up in a place where it would be cold enough in winter but would not snow. I would pray for the temperatures to dip sub zeros so that it could snow. Once it went as low as 1C but no snow. I believe it was happening because everyone else was praying for the temperature to rise up and if God is democratic, then of course my prayers could have never been answered.

As a kid, I used to watch all the thriller series of Old Fox, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Peroit and many others. Since these were European programs, they invariably had a case to solve which would take them to some ski resort, if not Alps. All this would fuel my imagination more and I was determined to learn skiing. Of course, the prerequisite was there has to be a snow slope, which means snow, which means I need to spread my wings as my hometown did not have any snow.

Years later, I did come to a place where it snows and which is close enough to lots of ski resorts that I could go for skiing on weekends. The ease at which I used to see people skiing in the various TV telecasts, I overlooked how the experience would be for the beginners.

Few years back, I, H and his friends decided to go for skiing in Poconos. Seeing the snow slopes, I was so excited that I said to H that we should make it an annual affair to come here. H quietly reminded me that I should first learn skiing, see how this experience goes and then make plans for future. I was very confident. I could sense the same thrill that I experienced when I started to learn driving. I have driven in crowded roads and driving in an empty one is a breeze. With that logic, skiing down a scarcely populated slope should be a breeze, right? Well, we'll see..

We had to take a 45 min ski lessons before heading up to the slopes. The lesson was held near the ground where the slope was not steep. In my class of 10, except me and H, others were all kids with age ranging from 5-8 years. Their parents were either in the near by slope skiing or down the slope enjoying snacks.

We let the kids try the slopes first. All of them skied with such elegance and grace that it was a treat to eyes. Then it was my turn. I was making a mental picture of how gracefully I would be skiing down the small slope to the applause of the kids when the reality stuck. As soon as I stood facing downwards to ski, I could not control myself and went down crashing. Forget the applause, I could not even face the kids. H, having tried it before was more careful and skied down pretty fine.

The lessons were over and it was time for us to go up the slopes. We needed to hold on to an escalator that goes up and when it reached the top, we had to hop off and ski down the slope. I could feel pangs of fear creeping in. As I reached towards the top, I was reluctant to let go of the escalator, till the attendant firmly took my hands and made me land on the snow with my skis. I was fine as long as I was looking up the slope. As soon as I turned around and faced downwards, even before I could push myself forward, I came tumbling down, closely followed by my skies. I tried twice or thrice but all in vain. My dreams of skiing zigzagging down the slope, whistling a tune (I cannot whistle but that's besides the point) , all went in a puff.

Our annual visit was just annual, as in just that year. Whenever I recite the nursery rhyme of "Jack and Jill went up the hill" to my sweeties, I get a vivid recollection of my own tumble down. Maybe next year, I'll give another try of making my dream turn into reality. In the meanwhile, I will get my first aid box ready.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Me, Myself and people dear to me

Thinking Aloud and NM tagged me for revealing myself and my dear ones.

Rules For The TagPost 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5key words given : family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like. Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better.

I realized most of my posts reflect about my family, friends and things dear to me but have not written exclusively on any one of these. I'll try my best to link to the post which relates closest to the keyword.

Family: This post describes an important era of my life. I do have a separate blog, which talks about how my sweet little daughter colors my life.

Friend: I seek for friendship in every relationship I have - spouse, mother, father, brother, sis-in-law, kids and of course friends. I have been fortunate enough to meet wonderful people in life and gain their friendships. Though I have not written any post entirely on any friendship I have cherished, I would link this, this and probably this one too.

Myself: The tags reveal the most in me. So, here you go. Enjoy this.

Love: There is couple of things I love - books, driving. This would probably give you an idea.

Anything I like: Few posts back, I have compiled a list of things I would like to do.

Now for the tagging part, I would like to tag the following for going down the blog lane and reveal themselves one more time:

Ziah: I know wonder blog that you would link in your family key word.

XH: A new acquaintance, I would like to know more about you.

Any other readers are most welcome to take it up.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And the winner is....

Winning is a great feeling. I am not talking about winning a Grand Slam title or a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer award. Err.. I have never won any of these, at least not yet. I am talking about winning tiny-miny prizes on small quizzes.

As a kid, I remember jumping with joy when I won a Rs 2 or Rs 5 raffle on a kids Tambola in a school fest. I guess I ate some chocolates or ice-cream with that money. Now I believe, those currency notes have no value unless 2 zeros are added next to them. I won't be surprised if they don't even exist.

Years later, I used to participate in all the games played in baby showers hosted for my friends and cousins. I would win in each of these showers, the prize invariably being a scented candle. It was not the prize but the idea of participating and winning that used to excite me.
Last year, we had a raffle at my work place where we needed to answer few questions. The first prize, being lunch with the Department Manager(he was a nice, smart guy), two other prizes being books. While submitting my answers, the guy at the desk remarked that all the answers seem fine and I might be a good contender for lunch with the big shot. I told me emphatically that I do not want to win the first prize and would like to win a book. I did win, though a different book. One should not be too choosy about free stuff.

Why all this rambling? Today, I won a CD for answering a question on EBC radio, which I listen to while on my way to work and back home. The question was very simple - Who is considered 20th century best women's tennis player? Who can it be other than Steffi Graf. I am a little more excited as I used to be a huge fan of hers. The CD is just a collection of some dhinchak hindi songs but the satisfaction of winning it, is priceless.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Adieu

In last few weeks, two of Delhi's local attractions - Appu Ghar and Chanakya cinema have been closed down. Appu Ghar will make room for some of Supreme court premises and a new metro station while Chanakya will be converted into some multiplex project.

Though spending my entire childhood in Delhi, I must have visited Appu Ghar only once or twice. Reasons being first, family is not very enthusiastic about rides, second, I am fine with rides - I like them but not crazy about them and third, we thought we can always go, after all it is just half an hour from home. Not any longer though. I guess this just re-iterate the fact that we should not take life and anything for granted. Today, it is here, tomorrow, it might not be. I have visited its neighbor - Pragati Maidan umpteen number of times for various Book Fairs and Trade fairs.

Chanakya cinema, however is different. In my teenage days, it was one of the two theatre halls which would screen English movies - the other being Priya. I remember enjoying the Hollywood movies with popcorn and soda and my friends in these halls. When we were in college couple of years back, me and a friend, while having enough of the class lectures, decided on the spur of the moment that we needed a break and headed to Chanakya cinema, which was 1.5 hours from our college to watch "Disclosure". Speaking of movies, I remember couple of years later, in a different college and different friends, we again had a spur of the moment decision to watch a movie, which I think was "AirForce One". Since there was only 30 minutes for it to start and the theatre hall was 25 minutes away, we somehow managed to go, buy the tickets and seat ourselves a second before the movie started. I had a feeling that the trailer was getting too long and movie is not starting only to realise that in all the flurry, instead of getting tickets for "AirForce One", we got tickets of some cold war movie where US and USSR were at lock horns with each other. Ssomehow the movie did end or maybe I just fell asleep.

I am sure these places must be hosting memories for millions of people who have visited them. Closing them down gives a tiny pang of an era getting over. It also reminds me that I should short list the places I would like to see and start executing it as well. Life changes and many things may not remain as they were before.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weighing more than gold

In my younger days, I was a cherubic( I like this word instead of plump and chubby) kid. I used to be teased by my brother, cousins and friends who were in the lesser side of the weighing scale. I tried my hard to reduce weight. I would play a lot but all in vain. People around me were still thinner than me. I started reducing my food intake, which would annoy my mom as she had never once thought me as a chubby kid. To her I was always a good, healthy child. I wished everyone could see me through my mom's eyes. I even tried fasting once a week but my weight did not come down a pound neither did my size reduce by an inch.

Finally, in college, running behind the University buses so as to reach the class on time, did seemed to work out a little. For whatever reasons, I have always been blessed with slim and trim friends. When we used to read about the Operating Systems ,Win NT,Win 32 and FAT systems, my friends coined a term FAT XX(XX - my weight at that time) for me. Then came the word POF(Percentage of FAT) factor. One thing good was none of my friends had a sweet tooth. So I was never in a position where people around me were consuming sweets and icecreams and I was gaining weight just by ogling at their goodies.

Later when I came to US, by what the average person weighs and looks, my dress size automatically reduced to the lower end of the garment size. My friend, on the other hand have to look in juniors to get something for her.

People, by default now are becoming very weight concisious. I believe with all the nutrition contents listed in each and every thing one buys, it's hard not to be. I had a Chinese collegue, who was very slim and trim and always in control of what she eats. Once, after coming back from her vacation to China, she mentioned she is going on a diet as her size in Chinese outlets have increased to Large. Realising the fact that she was half of me, I noted in my mind that I would never shop in China, that is if I ever visit the place.

Few weeks back, I was window shopping close to my work. I spotted a pretty dress hanging in the window. I went inside to try it out and asked the sales person for my size. She replied that they do not carry such small sizes. I wish I could have recorded this. I did not feel an iota bad of not been able to purchase the dress. She had made my week by saying those words! That's when I understood that problem was never with my fat cells. I just need to be in a place where people weigh more than me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Home Sweet Home

The object of my affection is my home in Delhi, where I grew up. I have been in the same house till I came to New Jersey 7 years back. That house has heard me crying as a baby, seen me taking my first steps, dancing as a teenager, slogging through nights for exams, arguments with my mom, partying with friends, jumping with ecstasy on various achievements and understanding life and becoming more sober as situations demanded. Its walls are the only ones who have seen my true emotions and seen me growing up into what I am today.

We have a beautiful house with a lawn and a kitchen garden. My dad, an engineer himself, was it's architect and my mom decorated it. It is very much their dream house and was built a year before I was born. As a kid, when my dad used to tell me that he built (gave its architecture) the house, I thought he literally built it - as in put in the brick and mortar. I used to assume he built at night since he had to work during the day. It was later I understood what he meant. We have not changed the house much except for rearranging it in the interior. So, on the exterior, it looks the same as it was built three decades back. My brother who was a toddler when it was being constructed used to come in his tri cycle with my parents to see how it was building up and learnt to write the alphabets in its walls.

For our primary (elementary) education, we went to a school close by. Till my brother was in the same school, we went either by cycle or walk. Later I used to take the school bus. Those days, sometimes my mom had to go to the University for her exam invigilation duty in the afternoon. She used to make some nice tempting snacks that we could have after lunch - jelly, custard, papdi chaat. Me and my brother will make these snacks as our lunch and hardly finish up our main course. I remember in various occasions, my brother's friends would accompany us home from school and would share these nice treats. I would pray silently if they could stop coming in the afternoon so that we can devour all these goodies ourselves.

For few years initially, my grandparents lived with us. I remember the day my grandfather passed away. I was 7 years old and could not understand what was happening. My parents were very sober and quiet that day. I mustered up some courage and told my mom that I had a test next day and I had not studied for it. Instead of being angry, she replied calmly that I would not be going to school next day. Even though the situation demanded otherwise and I was pretty confused, I still remember the pang of joy I felt about bunking the school. I remember the fun we had during summers when my cousins visited us. It was literally a gala time. I think it would require a different post to write down all the stupid and fun games we played.

After few months, my brother went to a different high school while I continued in the same one. In the afternoons, it was either my mom or I who returned first. One day when I returned home, I could not get in. When my mom came a little later, we assumed that my brother must have fallen asleep watching a cricket match and bunked the school. All these seemed very unusual and only later we realized that the house was burgled. I still remember those days vividly when the police came up with a dog to do the investigation. I was a little scared but learnt another aspect of life. We rearranged the house and made a different room as the drawing room for security reasons. My dad insisted that I should be brave and come home after school. He had made the home more secure and added an extra door in front of the main door. It was made in a way that there was a small place between the two doors. He said if I felt scared, I can be in that place and enter the home when my mom comes. They also kept few books, comics, biscuits and water for me. Every day I would pray that my mom should reach home first. The days my prayers were answered I would dance with joy.

Years passed and Delhi witnessed riots and human hatred. We rearranged our house as situation demanded to make it more secure and safe. I grew up fine, brave and understanding that life is actually not a fairy tale. Me and my brother played miniature versions of various games of cricket, tennis, table tennis, soccer and 5 stones(a girlish game that I taught my brother) inside the house with modified rules. The house witnessed each of my birthday celebration when my mom would bake a yummy chocolate cake and my friends, without fail, would greet me.

We had to rearrange our house one more time because both I and my brother demanded a room of ourselves. We had two choices - a room, well ventilated and well lit with sunlight and the other which was not that well ventilated but had an attraction - telephone. The first one is a very good room, warm in winters and cool in summers. The second one is exactly opposite. Being a teenager, I ended up choosing the second one. My brother, more than happy, would tease me that I lived either in Sahara or Siberia while he enjoyed the cool Mediterranean.

With all this rearrangement of the house, one of my parent's friend jokingly remarked that when they come to our home, they ring the door bell and stand as they would not know which door is going to open to welcome them in.

I remember myself slogging for my 10th, 12th boards and college exams. That was when I actually became interested in Vaastu shastra. I could see that if my study table was placed east, I got better marks than when it was placed north. Though I knew in my heart it was purely attributed to the way I studied. This room saw me sharing life with my good friends. I remember innumerable occasions when instead of finishing off our projects, we would end up chatting till sunrise.

The home experienced more celebrations of my brother's graduation, his job, his wedding ceremonies, homecoming of his bride and of course, me graduating, getting a job and getting married. I miss my home the same way as I miss my parents - the only difference is that my parents can come and visit me.

Thank you Thinking Aloud for tagging me on "The Object of my Affection". I really enjoyed doing it.

I pass on the tag to Archana, Madhu, Sumana, HHG and who ever is interested in taking it up.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Whose life it is anyways?

Few years back I had seen a movie in which a kid and his pet were trying to save the world which was conquered by some fictional dictator. The dictator had over powered the only one telecasting station in the earth and hence every TV on the earth was showing programs of his choice. He slowly and surely manipulated the whole world to agree with him. Each earthling was hooked on to TV and was controlled robotically by this dictator.

However imaginative it seems like, it is actually the reality. Though we do have numerous TV stations and channels, they all seem to telecast programs of same genre and appear to be controlled by a single authority. Soap Operas, regardless of language are hopeless and describe human relations in one of the most pitiable forms. The reality shows are pathetic and describe anything except what happens in reality.

Festivals are associated with religions and we do not want to be obligated in celebrating each one of them. So, we are coming up with more generic human related celebrations like Friendship week, Earth day, Chocolate day, heart month etc etc. Imagine the kind of marketing and advertising going on for this stuff. If I don't give my friend a card during friendship week, does she seize to be my friend? Don’t all these put a different sort of obligation in our mind? One of the most stupid ones that I have seen is kids as young as 3 years giving valentine cards to each and every classmate of theirs. One can get a valentine kit of set 20 which has a lollipop, sticker and a card to be given to each kid. The lollipop and sticker seems just fine for their age but cards with romantic cartoons and passionate words are crossing the border. I agree we need to foster brotherhood, more to say earthling hood but to what extent?

I think we need the kid from that movie to save us again.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Same pinch.... Ouch.

Assurance is all we need as humans. Not only do we feel good when once in a while someone praises us and lifts up our spirits, but we also look for similarities with a celebrity for a name, birth date or even a birth month.

My friend is a huge fan of Amitabh Bachchan and is very proud to be not only Libran but sharing birthday with Rekha (for obvious reasons). Most of my Libran friends are just happy sharing their birth month with the Big B. Amazing how a single man can actually lift spirits of hundreds of people doing nothing except being born. Similarly there are Leo, Scorpio and Aquarian friends raving about celebrities sharing birthdates and names.

I know 3 people born on Feb 5. I have known them over different time spans and my interaction with them have been in different levels. In fact, one is a celebrity with no interaction expect opinions formed on hearing and reading various interviews. When I realized yesterday that a colleague of mine with whom I used to work years back was also celebrating his birthday, it made me think about how nice these people have been and how I feel good just by knowing them. All three are very matured, calm, compassionate and broad minded. I felt that if I ever meet anyone else in future born on the same date, I would definitely strike a cordial friendship with her/him.

It is just a great feeling to share something as simple as a name or birth date with a celebrity one admires. Hoping to share a great space with a great personality, I searched for people born on my birth date. Maybe next time, I can rave to my friends about the nice celebrity club I belong to. I searched the net for the people I would have loved to share something in common but in vain. Finally, I seached for people born on my birth date, only to be disheartened. I share my date with two people I absolutely detest and have no common ground with them - Bali Brahmabhatt and George Bush. Who cares about sharing a birth date with a celebrity? We are all individuals with unique personalities.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Small is beautiful

Nowadays, Small is beautiful. The smaller and sleeker a gadget is, the more attractive it is. And the exercise we give our eyes in reading the small letter font in these gadgets, nutrition contents on a food can and the umpteen numbers of documents with fine prints, why sometimes I feel if we are really reading or trying to make sense of some cryptic scribbles?

One should walk in an IT department of any firm to see kind of fonts people struggle to read. Configuring a screen on tiny fonts not only gives room for more content to be displayed but also gives us some privacy in reading stuff which we do not want colleagues to glance at.

I used to have a colleague few years back, whose screen was configured in bright green background, yellow foreground and the tiniest fonts I have ever seen. I would struggle to read even if I was just a few inches away from the computer screen. I have seen people who, to save paper and not to read a bulkier document, end up printing the whole document in a font which is close to ant's scribble. But having said all these, I think I should be the one who should take the cake for the ability to read a practically blank document.

When I was in college in India, apart from the curriculum books, we had print outs of the notes of maybe the first student who attended the college. The notes were photo copied so many times that the letters were faded into white. But I could still read all the contents, understand the matter and give exams. With all the training I have given to my eyes, I should be the last one to crib about small fonts.