Events, life lessons, madras, Marriage, Travel

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.

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life, Travel

That Parisian Life

If you were wondering where I’ve been these past couple of weeks well, I was prancing around Europe, seeing beautiful things and eating scrumptious food. We visited Paris and Rome for a week. While we did not manage to see EVERYTHING in Paris and Rome this trip was by no means a vacation. I was exhausted from walking on the first day so we took it easy for the rest of the trip.

Paris is a charming city. There are tiny cafes serving overpriced coffee at every turn, tourists as far as the eye can see, freshly baked baguettes and croissants. I consumed an insane amount of carbs in that four day period. While I did try some French food, it was not made for my Indian palate.

I love to people watch, and Parisian women are now my favorite. None of them brush their hair. They’ve all managed to perfect the just-got-out-of-bed look while still looking like a million bucks. They don’t wear a jeans and t shirt with sneakers like how Americans do. They either wear dresses or knee length skirts. Most of them wear practical, yet chic flats, blazers and no make up. How is it physically possible for you to look so perfect?! I think fifteen minutes is all a Parisian woman takes to get ready in the morning.

Note to self: Master the art of looking put together in fifteen minutes.

It took less than a day to feel like Paris owned me. At the end of four days I did not want to go back to my seemingly monotonous life. There were too many places that I hadn’t explored yet. The Parisian life of hanging out in cafes on a Monday morning, smoking and drinking espressos called out to me.

 

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America, grad school, life, madras, my crazy days, random

Notes from the water

Every summer holidays my mother would enroll me in some class or the other. So, I have done a little bit of everything – dancing, painting, drawing, playing tennis and swimming. The only activity I did for a longer period of time was swimming. Apart from the holidays I started going even on weekends and I enjoyed it. The lady who taught me swimming was a character. The pool we swam in was indoors and pretty small. There were around fifteen kids, one female coach and one male coach. The female coach, I never saw her in normal clothes but while inside the pool she would wear her thaali, one thick gold chain and three chunky gold bangles on either hand. She would shout at us every chance she got. But somehow I managed to swim quite decently, and by the time I got better it was 10th standard and all extra curricular activities had to stop because I had to concentrate on Board Exams because OH MY GOD the world will end if I don’t get in to a good college.

Now that my Board Exam days are behind me, I decided for the benefit of my overall health, I should get back in to swimming. But I cringed at the thought of wearing a traditional “swimsuit” in public. Yeah, I love my body and all that jazz but I am not going to risk a swimsuit riding up my butt in public. During my trip to Dubai last year I managed to find a “modest” swimsuit that a) did not cost a million dollars and b) did not make me look like a clown. The suit I got was very similar to a wet suit. It ticked all my boxes and I was thrilled.

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My University has a huge Olympic sized pool and I’ve been swimming there for the past few weeks and I love it! It took me a while to get used to the water and I still can’t breathe while I swim and I hang out only in the shallow 4 feet end of the pool BUT I feel amazing! My back pain which was one of the main reasons why I wanted to swim hasn’t bothered me as much, I don’t feel like I am lugging around a few extra pounds and I smell like chlorine. The only disadvantage is that since it is an open pool and the sun is crazy harsh in California I have tanned like crazy. I’m not tan like golden brown tan. For some reason I tan in an awful grey color. So unappealing. I tried using sunscreen but it was a fail. My arms are black and my face always looks dirty no matter how much I exfoliate. I could only think of this one relative who used to say, “You shouldn’t play in the sun too much. You will get tan and your “color” will go off. Then who will marry you?”

Lady, I’m multicolor now.

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America, Eating Out, Travel

Welcome To My Life

I was struck with writers block for the past few days. I felt like I hit a mental dead end. I couldn’t think anymore and nothing seemed to inspire me. I’m not claustrophobic but at the time it sure as hell did feel like it. I needed sights, sounds and open spaces. So in the search for some air and much needed inspiration I took myself out to the city. Public transport has finally become my friend so taking a train to San Francisco and back wasn’t that bad.

It started raining the moment I reached the city but I didn’t let that deter me. I walked around Union Square. The main reason I love going to this touristy place is for the tourists – people watching, which is my favorite activity. Another thing I love about Union Square are the luxury stores, not that I can afford anything from there, yet, but the window displays are beautiful. I then walked in to Zara where cheerful yellow is the new Spring color. Feeling a uplifted and a little enthusiastic I took an armload of clothes to the dressing room. I then realized that I under estimated how much weight I had put on and I left feeling depressed.

After a spot of lunch and frolicking in the rain a little more I decided to call it a day. I took the train back and an hour later I was exactly where I had started – uninspired and claustrophobic.

In order to get rid of this awful mental state I was in, I dragged Jay to the beach a few days later.  We drove to Carmel, a tiny seaside village. North California beaches can NOT hold up to Chennai beaches. It was a pleasant day but the sea was grey and dreary with just a tiny bit of sunlight. The vacation homes that dotted the shore were adorable, right out of an Enid Blyton novel. Tiny cafes, Parisian themed bakeries, beautiful spring time flowers but no sundal or roasted corn in sight. Nonsense.

I felt like yelling to these people, “You think this is beach??? Come to Chennai and see the original beach.” Okay you cannot wear a bikini and lay on the sand (why would you when the sad could go places it is not supposed to) in Chennai but you can totally get wet in the warm water without worrying about “Aiyo I will feel cold because the wind, water, sand is all cold.”

Anyways we had coffee, one yummy quiche and okay tasting coffee cake and drove back home. I miss tasting the sea on my lips and carrying back the sand in my slippers. I have so many good memories of rolling in the beach with my friends. Like literally rolling. That is how a trip to the beach is supposed to be.

But I did have a nice time looking at all the perfect little houses and the perfect little white people who lived in them with their perfect golden haired kids and their perfect friendly dogs.

 

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Claustrophobia – 1

Zarine – 0

 

 

 

 

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America, Bhaarath Mahaan, Eating Out, Food, life, madras, Travel

A Tale of Three Cities

I just finished making dinner (stir fry from left over rice). I have my steaming cup of lemon grass green tea and I’m listening to Frank Sinatra on loud. I haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks. I just returned from a month long trip back to the mother ship and to the flashy city of Dubai. That’s the first word that comes in to my head when I think Dubai – flashy.

My Madras vacation was amazing but it went by far too quickly it was almost like it never happened. I ate some delicious comfort food, caught up with my extra large family and met my beautiful girls. I did some shopping too although it was very restrictive because of airline rules regarding baggage (annoying!).

Madras was gorgeous, not the same as I left her but that’s a post for another day.

Dubai was flashy. I ate unhealthy amounts of food. Like really unhealthy I’m so ashamed of myself when I think about it now. I did all the usual touristy things there is to do. The one thing that always gets me about Dubai is that while its fancy and modern it has no charm to it. Maybe its just me cause I have really strong “feelings” about certain things and that’s what drives me.

California is as gorgeous as ever. Cold and windy but I love it. I love the nature and the beautiful skies that I get to see here everyday. Every time I look up at the beautiful blue sky it never fails to remind me to send a little note of thanks to Him. I love how the small things around remind me of a greater presence. I’m so thankful I live here, eat good food and have everything I need and more. We don’t need to look too far to search for the blessings in our life. Blessings are all around us.

Now that I’m done with the ‘Thought for the Day’ can we all take a moment to appreciate how friggin’ amazing Frank Sinatra sounds? Every time I listen to his deep voice I get goosebumps! If only singers are as classy now. Take a note, Justin Beibers of the world.

I will be back with more stories. Don’t miss me too much, Interwebz!

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