America, Black and White, college, life, life lessons

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.

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college, grad school, life, life lessons

Fake it till you make it

A few months in to grad school and the one thing I have found that you are expected to do in most classes is a presentation. Now, coming from India, the land of mugging up and Engineering colleges, I have only given two presentations in my undergraduate career. But now I have the perfect formula for giving presentations. Having written my share of Anna University exams I found that the strategy that I applied to semester exams in under grad works perfectly in this context. So here are my go points while giving any presentation:

ACT LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT

This is the primary strategy with which we answered Anna University exams. Even if you know only the bare minimum, build on it. It might be gibberish to your ears, but believe in it. Have the confidence that you know exactly what you’re saying.

ACT LIKE THE AUDIENCE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT

Those poor people listening to you talk! They are imbeciles! YOU have to educate THEM. That’s the mantra that should go on inside your head.

 

FAKE IT

How you present yourself is important. If you are feeling unconfident, fake yourself in to thinking you’re the best. That sounds like some weird reverse psychology, I know, but listen to this amazing Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy. You will approach things with a new perspective.

 

Now for some practical tips:

  • Bullet points, keywords and flashcards are your friends. Embrace them.
  • Do not hold a piece of paper in your hand and refer to it every chance you get. I used to do that a lot and it was no help.
  • Practice a gazillion times. Preferably in front of the mirror.
  • And the best advice anyone ever gave me: “Act like you own the room  world.” Trust me, it always works.
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America, college, Eww Stuff, random

I’ve Got Sweaty Boots, Not Sexy Boots

I still haven’t typically mastered to ‘dress for the weather’. Today I wore my brown combat boots, leggings and a flannel shirt with a pashmina scarf thinking it would be perfect for a chilly evening. I didn’t leave the house before this so my knowledge on the current meteorology was exactly nada. I stepped out of my house and three minutes later, as I was walking down the street I realized I was dressed wrong. It was warm and people were wearing flip flops and tank tops. My feet were sweating in my boots and I couldn’t walk back home because I was almost at the bus stop. I felt like I would never master this art. Its stupid, if you ask me. In Madras I never had to ‘dress for the weather’. I’d just wear what I liked and would inevitably end up sweating in it. I don’t understand winter, spring and all that jazz. I only know summer. And summer is hot. And summer is sweaty.

I was thinking about this on the bus when one girl got on. I noticed she was wearing a T-shirt and white patialas. That’s what I wear to sleep but this girl made it work. Then I saw she was wearing a fluffy winter hat and I felt better about my boots. If people think wearing a scarf on the head is hot (like sweaty hot, not ooh thats hot!, hot) then wearing a woolen hat is worse. So she passed me to go sit at the back and I noticed that her white patialas were transparent, as most white patialas and pants are, and she was wearing a HOT PINK CHADDI. I wanted to yell at her, “WE CAN ALL SEE YOUR CHADDI!”, but I had to get off.

I may still be sweating inside my boots, but thank God my pants are not see through.

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America, college, Eavesdropping, Uncategorized

Boy 1 : I need to pull an all nighter today.

Tracy : The only time I’ve ever pulled an all nighter was till 4 AM. It happened when I was Italy. (excited) So its

really late in the night and we’re returning from a club and I was chased down the street by a bunch of these

Italian guys! I am not kidding! And I was like, running.. actually for the first time in my life, sprinting down

the streets! It was so weird! Italy sucks.

 

***

I swear I’m not making this up. These are real conversations I overhear on campus.

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America, college, Food, January Blogathon, life

Day 12 – Meals

My college used to have the BEST meals. Rice, sambar, kaara kozhambu, rasam, poriyal and one appalam – bliss. My friends and I used to eat in the canteen almost every other day. Some days the cook would be in a good mood and the kaara kozhambu would taste so good. Also, because it was a Muslim university they would serve biriyani every friday. They would run out of it within the first ten minutes of opening but if you did manage to get a plate then you’d know how tasty it was.
Meals is probably the best thing ever although you’d snooze in class after a good lunch. But here all they have for lunch are pasta, pizza and sandwiches. This never bothered me until now when I’m in a university environment and I’m reminded of my college, the canteen and inevitably the meals. And it doesn’t help that my friend is texting me about some drool worthy ‘fish meals’ she had in Manglore.
Sarvana Bhavan needs to have a spot on this campus.

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America, college, January Blogathon, life

Day 9 – Late

I know, I’m like so many days late for this blogathon. I should have ben more prepared! Scheduled posts or something but this past week, time was not on my side. I was either doing something or was too exhausted to even lift a finger. So now I’m way behind on this blogathon and I need to catch up!

I don’t have access to my computer that has pictures on it so I can’t do a picture post. I can’t think of anything thought provoking or fascinating to write about so I can’t do that either. Instead I’m going to type away on this computer.

So whats up Interwebz? How you been?

I’ve been good. University is pretty amazing. I love every bit of it, even the bits I don’t understand. Knowledge really is a wonderful thing. It makes you act differently, more responsibly, and I love that. I love listening about new things, new ideas, concepts that I’ve seen with my eyes but haven’t comprehended until now. I may be a walking, talking cliche but I love how interesting this week was.

Throughout school and college my mother would be the person to whom I would talk about my day to. I would give her the minute details of my day – what I ate, what my friends wore, what that other girl said, everything. It’s a habit that won’t wear off. Now I’ve replaced my mother with Jay and I force him to listen to what I say. Its lovely, just lovely.

I just ate a poppy seed bagel with granola peanut butter spread. I hope I don’t have bits of it when I smile at people.

Have a great day, people reading this!

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America, college, January Blogathon, life lessons, madras, my crazy days

Day 7 – Stalkers

I had my orientation yesterday. Three hours of talking and getting to know others and another hour of a lecture on campus safety. I couldn’t help but subconsciously make comparisons to my orientation in undergrad which consisted of various heads talking about how great a college we were in, the number of laurels the college has won and why we were lucky to study there.I do not recollect a single word being spoken on how we should protect ourselves and be safe within the campus. This month is Stalker Awareness month at SCU and they gave out leaflets defining harassment and stalkers. They gave help line numbers and introduced us to the student safety organizations.

The flyer defined a stalker as someone who repeatedly approaches you even though you have denied their advances. And instantly my mind flashed to my first year of college where guys would keep calling/texting girls and intimidate them in the name of ‘ragging’. While ragging might actually be a good thing if done in good spirit, the other kind almost bordered harassment. The weird thing about this is I never realized that it was harassment until today.

Creeps would get the phone number of girls and send them anonymous text messages, blank calls, anonymous calls, etc in the hope of either starting a relationship or if that doesn’t work out, a friendship. This has happened to me and to every other friend of mine. We would brush of this kind of menace and not take it too seriously. I have an inbuilt ignoring system where once I feel uncomfortable with someone I just ignore them. This did work for me a few times but there were instances when ignoring them would send a ‘playing hard to get’ vibe.

Why did it take me so long to realize that this was harassment? And why did me and my friends never do anything about it? I thought ok, that was a phase, everyone is weird in college and they’d be done with it but no. This vacation when I was in Madras I met one of my girls who works in a top IT company. She was talking about the same kind of guys. There was a guy who would look up the bus time table and make sure he comes with her everyday even though she kept her distance, he would message her on the company’s messaging system and she would be cryptic. Then, he started calling her and texting her repeatedly although she never picked up or replied to his messages.

I’m really baffled as to why we (me included) take this kind of harassment lightly. In college I knew some girls who were flattered by this kind of attention! Guys really need to learn that there is a fine line between showing interest and harassment.

Colleges should also start some sort of student safety organisation. I always felt that my college/university made things difficult instead of easy for us. Maybe they’d change once the stop treating us like children.

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Bhaarath Mahaan, college, madras, my crazy days

Naan auto kaaaran.

Auto men in Chennai are very famous thanks to the antics they come up with. I have quite a few auto man stories and I was reminded of one that stripped me of my maanam . So during college days my college bus would drop me off at the main road near my house. Walking from bus stop to my house that was inside the streets would take at least ten, fifteen minutes. Some days I would just walk the distance but on lazy days I would take an auto. If I took an auto it would hardly take a couple of minutes to drop me off so I would want to pay ten rupees but some days,  persistent auto guys would ask for fifteen rupees.

So on one of my lazy days I took an auto. When I got down I handed the guy a ten rupee not. He looked at me like I was crazy and said no ten rupees, it’s twenty, lady. I was already on a short fuse that day and I blasted at him, “It hardly took two minutes to get here, indhe route nan daily varuven, twenty rupees too much, blah blah blah”. He listened to me patiently and said, “Ille ma twenty rupees dhan. Government has put new rule that minimum fare is twenty rupees. Nennege inniki paper padiklaya?”. He said that in such a condescending way! Me being the newspaper disciple that I am, that hurt my ego and I was like whoa, is he saying the truth? So I paid him the twenty rupees and ran home to grab The Hindu. I scanned every page for this piece of news. It wasn’t there.

And I was twenty rupees poorer.

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