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“If there was one thing I feared as I was growing up . . . 
No, that’s stupid. I feared hundreds of things: the dark, the death of my father, the possibility that I might rejoice the death of my mother, sums involving vernier calipers, groups of schoolboys with nothing much to do, death by drowning. 

But of all these, I feared the most the possibility that I might go mad too.”

– Jerry Pinto, Em and The Big Hoom

Questions & Answers

I’ve been away from my blog for a month because I’ve been traveling, moving and recovering from jet lag. Towards the end of 2014 I was in Madras for my brothers wedding. I was there to provide my brother with moral support and a steady stream of fart jokes. The wedding and reception were on the 30th and 31st which meant everyone was on a year end holiday so were free to attend the wedding.

My grandmother arrived a week before in order to spend some time with us. Now my grandma is a rockstar. She only ever travels with her entourage. Its like she is the honey and the entourage are the bees around it. Wherever she goes, they go. One of the ladies from her entourage, lets call her Jan, is considered to be her hand maiden. Jan is a character. Her voice has a particular pitch which is indescribable. She is loud, demanding and always wants to be the centre of attention. She is also extremely helpful and makes the best ginger tea. Jan is from Tirunelveli, just like my family. She isn’t educated, so her only mode of “learning” is the television.

Ever since both, my grandma and Jan laid their eyes on me, the only question they asked me was “Are you pregnant?”. Not “When do you intend to have a child?”, but straight up “Are you pregnant?”. I think, I THINK, I might have put on some weight since my wedding two years ago.

I am used to evading this question. I’ve had two years of experience tackling it. So this time around it didn’t bother me much. I just smiled and said “God willing”. I didn’t even bat an eyelid when on the eve of her return back to Tirunelveli Jan said, “The next time you come you should have a boy baby!”. I just attributed her need to stress on the sex of the child to her education which was nil and to her exposure to the outside world which again, is through the idiot box. I also ignored my grandma nodding in agreement to her. My grandma is over 90 years old, has ten children and so many grandchildren and great grandchildren that she can’t be bothered to count. I am just next on her list to procreate.

Once the wedding was over we had a stream of relatives come by our house to see the new bride and groom. This gave me a chance to meet all of them again before I left and also gave me the practice to hit the “When are you going to have a baby” questions outside the park. One of the women who came to visit us was a lady who I liked a lot. She is in the education field and I held her in high regard. After chit chatting and drinking adequate cups of tea it was time for her to leave. She hugged me and said in my ear, “God willing, the next time you come, you should come with a baby boy.”

Now this lady is educated. Her profession was in the field of education. She is smart, enterprising and SO BACKWARD. I do not understand her need to stress on the gender of the child. And what is this obsession with having a boy?! Did people not understand the biology they taught in school? There is a 50-50 chance of the fetus turning out any which way. No matter what we say or do isn’t going to control the sex of the fetus! We can hope, wish and pray for a boy but whoopsie when there’s a girl at the end of nine months nobody can be held responsible.

It honestly amazes me that this lady with all her education could say something like that. I didn’t bother when Jan said it, because Jan and her world are very small. But if both minds work this way then what use is education when people fail to grasp the basic concepts of life? And when is this pride of having a son going to fade? People should be thrilled at the prospects of having a girl. They should concentrate on bringing up an educated and strong woman, instead of “When you were born, we thought you would be a boy.”

The most worrying part of having a girl, at least from my observation, is what the parents will “give” her at the time of the wedding. This problem can be solved if everyone “gives” their a child, boy or girl, education and sound moral character. In this utopia both the sexes are strong enough that they don’t posses the need to compensate for their gender by bringing in money and material things into the relationship.

Clearly this utopia can only be a dream because for some people, no amount of education can rectify their basic thinking.

Also, no, I’m no pregnant.

I’m a nice person, I swear!

Yesterday I was on a  long haul flight (15 hours) from San Francisco to Dubai. I booked the tickets a month before and made sure to select my seat on the plane – aisle – because I have a bladder the size of a lemon and while I don’t mind getting up a million times for people on the inside, I do not want to be the one to shake the sleeping person next to me.

had this experience before where I selected the aisle seat and was asked to switch for the window seat because the obese lady said she wanted to be able to move freely. I had to prod awake her and the lady traveling with her every couple of hours and lets just say it was the LONGEST FLIGHT OF MY LIFE.

Like any other day, yesterdays flight was filled with babies and I was bang in the centre of it all. There was a kid behind me, twin baby boys in front of me and the couple next to me had a toddler. Half hour into flying the lady beside me asked me if I could switch seat with her because her son liked to walk “up and down”. I thought for a minute and politely declined. I said I don’t mind getting up for you any number of times because I am alight sleeper but no, I do not want to switch seats. She was nice enough to understand and the gentleman on the other side gave up his aisle seat. That is when my conscious hit me hard and I FELT SO GUILTY.

I spent the remainder of the flight wondering if I had invited karma to come bite me in the rear years later when I travel with a child. But I also do not understand some passengers. If your really do prefer a particular seat then its super easy to select it while you book tickets (at least in most flights). And especially if you are traveling with a child wouldn’t you make sure of that as much as you can, rather than leaving it up to chance and God forbid if you sit next to a meanie like me?!

I honestly hope karma is kind to me and doesn’t return the favor.

Pros of traveling with me:

1) I bring snacks.

2) Will engage you in good conversation.

3) I don’t snore.

Cons of traveling with me:

1) I won’t switch seats.

 

 

Serial

The past few days I haven’t been doing much because of Serial – the crime thriller podcast that has taken over my life. I love radio dramas. Audiobooks, I hate but radio dramas are my thing. I noticed the Internet obsessing over it but I brushed it off as some new-age, hipster-ish vortex that I did want to be sucked in to. But a few weeks in and I couldn’t contain my curiosity any longer. And, OHMYGOD its the best decision I’ve made all year.

Serial follows the real life murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school girl. Adnan Syed, her ex boyfriend was convicted for her murder. Sarah Koeing (the narrator) explores the possibility that maybe Adnan is innocent, maybe someone else killed Hae or maybe Adnan is just an A-class sociopath.

I love Sarah Koenig. Her voice, the way she narrates the story, the question she asks without coming across as harsh is just.. everything. I managed to listen to all the episodes (there are nine so far) in 48 hours. It helped that I was working on something that required 10% of my concentration and I was free to donate the rest of my energy to Serial.

I was obsessed with the story. I perused Twitter looking at reviews, trolled websites that listed the possible theories and then.. it hit me. This was someone’s real life I found interesting. Hae’s family live this reality every day, Adnan is strongly pursuing his innocence and I.. was on Twitter reading theories and memes, scanning articles that displayed web-like pictorials trying to find the missing link (but lets just agree that “Mail.. Krimp?”, is probably the best thing that’s been said on the internet).

 Sometimes these stories are cloaked in so much sensationalism that we forget they are real life. Sarah Koenig delves deep in to the narration and she repeats off and on that she isn’t a detective. So maybe its okay for us to have our opinions about the “characters” but its equally important that we remember they are real people and not take the show out of context.

That being said, I am so psyched for December 6th. Like, I’m literally crossing the dates off on my calendar.

Cappuccino Tales

A few days back I was running late in the morning and decided to forego my customary cup of tea. BIG MISTAKE. I suffered a killer headache the entire day. I couldn’t wait to get to my bed and lay there forever.

This headache got me craving the smooth cappuccinos I used to drink on the daily when we visited Rome. We stayed in a tiny, charming hotel near Piazza Navona. The area was surrounded by Italian coffee shops, situated away from the touristy areas. There was this one small shop that was part grocery/part cafe where the barista made the most perfect cups of cappuccino for 1.25 euros. Most places in Europe charge extra for a “sit-down” cup of coffee. But if you stand at the bar, its considerably lesser. Every morning we’d walk down to this cafe to get our shot for the morning and bask in that caffeine glory.

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This coffee was on my mind throughout the week. I HAD to get a similar cup in to my system. So I dragged Jay to Chromatic Coffee in . And I finally had my luscious cappuccino, Although it wasn’t close to the Italian counterpart,  it did the job it was meant for.

I create my own, personal brand of excitement

Late last year when I visited Madras I was unable to stuff everything I wanted to in my suitcase. Hello, baggage restrictions, I hate you. Added to this, my tailor stitched my clothes in time so I left with a promise from my mother that she would send the remaining items through courier? Post? I don’t know whats the difference, but through one of them.

A few weeks later she messaged me saying she had sent the package. I was to expect it in three days – Monday, and I was super thrilled. Monday, Tuesday… Thursday and my package still had not arrived. I panicked (of course) and tracked my package online only to see that tracking showed that someone named ‘Fred’ had received and signed for it!

Immediately, my mind (I have an over active imagination) went wild. I had visions of Fred- a thirty something, portly, brown haired American wearing my precious salwars prancing around his home, amused at how “exotic” he looked. I was palpitating while I called customer service. A nice lady calmed me down and helped me through the process, promising me that they would “investigate” and retrieve my package. I just prayed that Fred would return my clothes without any arm pit stains on them.

A week went by and I got a message saying there was an issue with the address but I should expect my package soon. Again, I decided to track it online and saw that ‘Vega’ had received and signed for it! Vega that Russian lady with the bad dye job! She had her scrawny fingers around my clothes. I had to call customer service again and tell them that no, I’m not Vega; no, I don’t know anyone called Vega and yes, I’m sure she isn’t my neighbor. Are you 100% sure? I live in an apartment complex where humans barely acknowledge the presence of each other. I’ve seen my neighbor walk the dog a few times and I still don’t know whether she/he is a man or a woman (the neighbor, not the dog), so yes, I am sure they didn’t take my package.

So, after further “investigation” I got my package, three weeks after it was sent.

No, Fred din’t leave any pit stains. He must have used clinical strength deodorant.

Stories

My workload for this semester is pretty hectic. A few months back all I used to do was watch terrible TV shows. But now, I do not have time for such things (sob). One of the projects we are doing requires us to interview patients with a terminal or chronic disease. So yesterday at 9 AM I found myself chatting with a fifty year old man – M who has been HIV+ for twenty one years.

We spoke about our project and about different support groups for people with HIV for a good hour. Slowly he started opening up and telling us his story. As he told us his story of how he found out about the infection, how seemingly dark his days seemed, how he came out of that depression, decided to take matters in his hands and help the HIV community, my life and my problems felt so pointless.

He talked a lot about forgiveness and letting go. All I could do was list the times I’ve been hurt and brood on it. He said the more you keep that hurt in your heart, the heavier your journey becomes. If you want to feel light, just say I forgive, wish the person the best and let go.

Next to M, my problems seemed so fickle. I am such a procrastinator. Every time I’m given a task I sit on it for a while before I get to it. I don’t know why I do that but I just do. M said he never leaves anything for the next day, because he never knows if he will get to live it. And then I realized the only difference between M and me is that although we are both going to die eventually, he knows that his time is, possibly, closer than mine. Shouldn’t I live the same way then? I am alive today but I don’t know what my tomorrow brings so why do I keep putting things away? This whole interview might have been for a school project but it made me look deeper in to my life.

I love listening to peoples stories. Because once I hear something as heartbreaking as this, I realize that my story is just a tiny speck in this universe. People go through so much, and most of the things I take for granted are of extreme importance in their lives. This helps me reevaluate mine and see things from a better perspective.

And maybe this passing of knowledge is one of the purposes of life.