December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

2008. This is undoubtedly going to be one of the most memorable years in my life. And it begins tomorrow. There's been a lot to cheer about 2007- the most memorable being that my nephew was born.. That apart also, 2007 was a predominantly pleasing year.. The defense.. the graduation.. the multiple jobs... the new places, new friends and what not. Of course I wish many things were different. I wish I hadn't lived such a nomadic life. But I found new places, made new friends, made more contacts and gained priceless experience and everything has a positive spin to it. I am not going to complain. For now, its soo good to be home with the family to celebrate yet another new year with the conventional celebrations. The cake.. the TV.. the family.. the 12'o clock wishes and maybe a latenight drive around the city. Exactly as it has always been and probably will be.

Happy New Year 2008!

The French Window

Well finally I am sort of done with collecting the trousseau (this word was reintroduced to me by M - the no. of times she's used it at me!). The trousseau - those price piece of clothes that belong just in my wardrobe and were undeniably created just for me. Ok ok.. enough bragging, I know. But my point is not even the saris, themselves. But moreso, the blouses. It looks like the man (or woman in my case) in the wedding is not the groom but the tailor who makes the seemingly boring 80 cm bits of cloth into fashion statements... something that offsets the traditional drapes of the sari with a sense of style(ing) and indeed is a big headache for all brides-to-be for the blouses can make or entirely break the "look".

After ample research, a few trial blouses and a lot of cribbing later, I did zone in upon a tailor suggested by my SIL-to-be.. And I went over with a bagfull of pattu (zari) blouses. As this is strictly traditional wear, I thought I had to make the blouses reasonably fashionable to make the attire chic, young and trendy. I pored over the many books that the tailor showed me for the back designs which is indeed the only place you'd dare to experiment. And I thought I was being very thoughful in choosing the designs pertinent to the occasion.. like a pooja demanded a simple, traditional, prim n proper blouse... while the nalangu was the ideal time to experiment with the jennal(window), kadhavu (door) so-to-speak of back designs for the blouses. And then I spotted the perfect one... the french window. I suspect there's no need to explain any further.

Having confidently pointed out what designs I wanted for what blouses, 10 days later now, I am a bit wary of what the end result is going to be. Nights have turned into nightmares where the french window is a bit too wide and the knots a bit too many.. Add to that the tension that I should remain the size I was when I last gave the blouses for stitching (it may seem like a weird concern.. For anyone who thinks so, please come home and savor the food that my house serves doused in ghee, accompanied with sweets , et al.) In retrospect I fear that I may have experimented a wee bit too much and blah blah.. Okay, I realize I am hyperventilating.

For now, Happy New Year.

December 23, 2007

Price Check

Chennai has changed. Since I left for the US the first time and even since I came back once. The prices have skyrocketed. And even for a 'US return' like me it's shocking. I am still not at the opposite conversion stage where I can go - Movie Tickets Rs 120 - aww thats cheap, just $3. And I probably will never be. Where movie tickets were Rs 50 for balcony tickets to a stage in a mere 3 years where Rs 120 is considered cheap... Where CCDs (Cafe Coffee Days for the unfamiliar few) peddle measly portioned coffees for a cool 50 bucks (I was tempted to ask if they put gold filings in their coffee mix) Chennai (and I bet all the metros) has changed. Its going to take me a while to digest that a tiffin for 4 at Saravana Bhavan will cost Rs 400 - enough for a sumptuous meal for 5-6, 3 years ago. Chennai has become all savvy... with new new hep shopping malls sprouting all over the place. The mood is young and the theme shows. I think the days when Chennai was famous for the oorghas and madisaars is slowly becoming extinct. The new generation is in and everything's changing. I haven't decided if I am particularly taking to this change. Time will tell.

December 22, 2007

Roach Rundown

I patted down the final 1-rupee stamp of the day on the invitation envelope. I marveled at the work me n my dad had done. Mom asked me to count them up. 76 invites. 1 hour. Not bad at all. My granny handed me the mug of my nightly milk which is a kind of a habit here in India. I stacked all the envelopes to my right and then proceeded to sip my milk. My dad was sitting right opposite me and suddenly I caught the movement and the fear that ensued in his eye. In an instant, I'd jumped up, spilt half the milk - half on the ground and half on the stack of envelopes and fled away to the bedroom and banged the door shut. That movement could only be caused by the flutter of what we called a muchad - the baleful, disgusting flying cockroach. People who know me enough know that I am absolutely terrified of cockroaches of most varieties when they are big and the fear multiplies when they can fly. I stayed in with my ears trained on what was going on outside. My dad who is as petrified as I am had fled some place with a view where he could guide my patti - the only heroine in the story - capable of catching the monster. I heard the shouts of "anga paarungo.. on the curtain.. on the kitchen door, ulla", etc. before I heard the clang of vessels from the kitchen. It was inside there now. A few minutes later I heard Patti's triumphant knock on the bedroom door to announce to me that yet again she had won.

I walked out and surveyed the damage that I had wreaked during my escape from the roach. 5-6 addressed invites completely ruined, 3-4 that required drying and 5 unaddressed new ones completely ruined. Of course they say, don't count your chickens before the eggs hatch.

December 12, 2007

The Lost Memories

Soon after I got home, I set about doing what I didn't have time to do my last trip - Cleaning out my old shelves. My parents who give away my clothes no sooner than I have departed the country have preserved shelves and shelves of my old stuff for posterity. As I sifted through the bottom shelf of my mom's cupboard (which belongs to me), it struck me like she'd preserved reminders of a lost child. Especially below stacks and stacks of neatly piled saris. None of the things I found on that shelf resembled anything I would own now. Colorful, new and unopened love-in-tokyos (for the unfamiliar few, its the old-fashioned hair clips), multicolored pearl necklaces, unused makeup kits (the fancy multi-storeyed drawer type goods with the eye shadows on one segment, the blushes on the other, etc.), plastic bangles, inexpensive stringy handbags, plastic watches, my vanity cases filled with loopy earrings, pearl chains, bizarre pendants, and a purse brimming with notes that we'd passed to one another through Engineering at HCE amongst other insignificant trinkets. My eyes wandered to the other half of the room - my open suitcase strewn with stuff I carried with me this time. Makeup from Dior, perfume from Guerlain, a couple of FastTrack watches, a Liz Clairborne handbag amongst a mixture of western and Indian clothes... all this for a girl who's certainly not brand conscious (anyone will vouch for that). The message between the two extremes was an easy one to read. The girl had grown up.

December 11, 2007

Crass or is it just me?

I came to India via Bahrain. And the Gulf is as most people know a big big Desi hub... much bigger than the US can ever be.. maybe coz of the magnitudes of the countries involved. My dad used to work in the Gulf till about 10 years ago.. I have lived in the Gulf, liked the stay there and even considered a part lost when I had to abruptly return during the Gulf War. Yet today when I came, I was rudely aware of the sheer crassness of the people there. I couldn't find a better word here to describe my feeling even if I wanted to. Seeing the ocean of Indian people around me in the Bahrain-Chennai flight made a twinge... sad. Was it that the US had changed me and my perceptions forever? Or was it that when I lived in and liked the Gulf, I was a little kid and barely knew what I liked. What did I like? Staying as a family there and going out shopping with dad? Buying toys? Watching movies? Pretty basic. But what I saw today awakened to me that I had changed. My expectations, perceptions and feeling towards things had changed. When I saw this ocean of crude Desis, bringing in 5-6 duty-free bags of goods each (where you are allowed 2 at most), drinking to heart's content just coz in-flight drinks are free, pulling the air hostess' arm to get her attention, shoving in 5 passports and the corresponding immigration forms to fill while I have my eyes closed and was attempting to sleep just coz they don't know English, throwing up from excessive drinking, not flushing the toilets- I visually cringed. The Gulf Air airbus was just that - a bus in the air. Filled to capacity, people spraying obviously cheap perfume before disembarking (which engulfs you in unpleasant scent as well) and the icing to the cake - this guy who thought that the front of the plane was my face. He was sitting in front of me (or was supposed to be), but was angled perpendicular - feet on the aisle - directly staring at me... and whenever I caught him, would pretend to look past me down the aisle. Though not the variety at all, I had had enough and complained to the flight attendant. Am I too Americani-ized or is this a bit much for anyone?

On an entirely different note, home sweet home. :)