March 29, 2010

Caught in the act..

I finally "experienced" pick-pocketing first hand. Just that it wasn't my pockets.. It was my rather large  and moderately "heavy" handbag. And it wasn't smooth, suave or subtle. Rather it was brusque and upfront and downright funny if you ask me. You hear tales about the smooth criminals... where the people swindled had absolutely no clue how their wallets vanished or how their cell phones weren't where they were supposed to be. But this wasn't one of them. We were in Metro 1, one of Paris' most popular Metro lines. And it was pretty loosely packed. As I got in, with no reason, given the space around me, this teenage girl threw herself upon me and then as if to steady herself, she grabbed at my handbag. And I saw the whole thing happen as if in slow motion. Customarily I have my hand loosely held on my bag in spite of the fact that the straps remain steady on my shoulder... and good thing too in this case. Because to me what the girl attempted seemed to be a bad rehearsal from a very bad play. And even after she failed once, with me watching on, she tugged at my bag another time. This time I slapped her hand away... and off she jumped from the train, with her 4 companions just as the doors swooshed shut. And here's where the stupid rehearsal would've become the Master plan and the gravity of the situation struck me. Had she succeeded, nothing could have been done to get hold of her in that instant the train departed. The worst part? All she would've gained is some meager amount of cash... but I'd have lost a great deal more, everything from house keys to my IDs, add to that the headache of canceling the credit cards. Whoosh, I survived and now I see reason behind the terribly frequent warnings on trains to be aware of pickpockets. Lesson learned firsthand. And thankfully at a dress rehearsal at that.

March 24, 2010

The how to and Youtube

In the recent past, ever thought of "how to                                " and ended that thought with youtubing it? Now fill in the blank with just about anything... Here are some examples -

1. How to make palak paneer
2. How to start swimming
3. How to punch properly
4. How to exercise more effectively
5. How to sew buttons
If you haven't, you are one of the lucky few who's still using some imagination to try out things the way people used to in the past. By actually trying. Come the era of youtube, everything is revolutionized into the one thought - if you can see it done, why shouldn't you? Fair enough.... especially with recipes and stuff.. where mere words on a book (even with accompanying photographs) can't compete with the experience of watching it done right. Take S for example. Everytime he tries a new recipe, it's youtube version plays on the laptop at least 3 times. Once when he is checking if it is easy or exciting enough... second time as he gets his ingredients ready and third and last which plays with pauses as he follows it step by step (even carrying the laptop into the kitchen at times when the recipe is a bit complicated). Pretty handy, huh? And for someone like me who improvises on the go, I find it smart but very amusing too. 

Like I mentioned though, recipes... sure.. why not? But some of the other things are ridiculous. And though I call them ridiculous, I can't find a singular fault in people seeing how someone else does something first before trying it themselves, except maybe lack of imagination. And that's not a fault. And it's just the luxury afforded to us by the modern world and something we should definitely take advantage of when we can. What's most amazing of all I guess is that there are actual people like you and me who upload videos of themselves, sometimes filming the most mundane activities of life, like sleeping. And I don't know what's worse - them uploading or us watching. Do you know how many videos are there out there to "learn" to walk? Go figure.

March 22, 2010

The lost love affair...

We all have that one special one... something that made us feel special at first and then just got more and more comfortable as time wore on. Something almost perfect. And after as long as it has taken, even though you're not willing to let go, you have to face the fact that the other side has. It's over. I am talking about that love affair with that one favourite pair of jeans of course! :D

Everyone I know of has a favourite pair.. unfortunately though denim as a material can almost last forever, it can't guarantee the non-appearance of some random rips and tears which we obviously carried off in the name of fashion when it was simply holes at the knees or some... but once those rips started appearing, er.. someplace else, it wasn't so much a fashion statement anymore as it was worn out. How many of us have tried to have them fixed or save them somehow? Or at least worn them around the house where "no one" was going to see us anyways? Till finally one day you realize that no matter what you do to try to salvage it... it's time to let go and usher in the new pair. For everyone who has had a random nail end their love story, I have many pairs I have sacrificed to electroplating. Indeed it was almost like a curse I had to break free from. However careful I was,  whatever chemical resistance gown I donned, at least one misguided drop of copper sulfate would stain my jeans at the worst possible place, which when in contact with water would form sulphuric acid, which would then create a sizable hole in it's place. And that marked the birth of the new pair (of course once I figured nothing was salvaging this one). And the old begets the new. A typical life cycle.

March 20, 2010

Terms of endearment

What do you do when someone calls you a term of endearment that you're not comfortable with or you think is inappropriate to your 'relationship'? Do you just call it... ignore it or let it happen a few times more before potentially over-reacting?

Interesting thought isn't it? Do write back with your invaluable comments.

March 18, 2010

True Lies

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”- Mark Twain

Liar liar pants on fire...if only it were that easy... like you mumbled that and the person's pants really would be on fire, something like a Harry Potter spell... problem solved. When we are little, we are taught the most simplistic definition of a lie - something which is not the truth. Ergo, when we were young, if we stated something not exactly as it was, it was a lie. This was very crude and just as easy to fathom. As we grew up, more coordinates got thrown into the picture. We could now not just mis-state the truth, we could replace it with a whole different scenario/event. We could simply choose to defer a truth... and here's where things get dicey. Is a deferred truth a lie? Who decides when something has to be disclosed to someone? And God knows there is a world of difference between technicality and the morality of the issue. And then come the reasons... ranging from absolute frivolity to absolute necessity, with the thinnest of lines dividing them. I have even seen cases of chronic lying.. where they can't even help it.

 Being highly truthful myself, I find it utterly ridiculous when some others want to lie for something silly in the first place, unless it is to spare someone's feelings or something similar. The other thing I hate about lying is the number of details you have to remember. You see, for the truth, all you need to remember is what really happened and our memories are fabulous at that. But for the false, not only does your memory store away what really happened, in addition you have to add the new version which almost always is a burden to recollect later. Oh and add to that, the situations which escalate by the second... one lie piled upon the other till you are seriously piled high n deep in a truckload of them. Seriously, why bother? Almost always, the goal is to avoid unpleasant confrontations... or to hope that the gravity of the deed mellows down in comparison to something else or over time... plain fear or sheer laziness, none of them too credible in the end.

Having been the one to discover many foiled lie attempts over the years, my reaction has varied from utterly amused to utterly pissed off given the gravity of each situation. Sometimes though you just have to accept that some truths are indeed, stranger than fiction.

March 16, 2010

Ringing true...

I just read a whole bunch of posts on Slate's Prudence column about a guy who had some doubts as to whether he had to shell out a lot of cash to get his girlfriend an engagement ring which she demanded be of a certain size. And it set me thinking... about this whole western culture of having to give something, usually a ring, usually expensive, to sort of seal the deal when the guy proposes. And of course I thought of it in the Indian context. These days however, I have heard of more Indian "proposals" (maybe without rings) than foreign ones and this can be attributed to the following facts - (a) I know more Indians, so duh... (b) Indians have modernized, embracing the western culture along the way and (c) Indians are marrying foreigners and hence the twist in the traditional tale.

Traditionally, India being the land of arranged marriages has had lesser opportunity for men and women to truly discover one another before one feels compelled to pop the question. Rather the meeting is arranged in context of an eventual wedding and hence there used to be no proposals of sorts. On the other hand, this whole ring deal is only something we've heard of from the westerners and we either want to mimic it and feel special or just think it's a fair deal... after all we are spending the rest of our lives with them. But pause a second for a reverse-case scenario... if the guy demanded even the least-expensive car (no, not the Tata Nano, something a tad more expensive) from us, we'd be running high and dry complaining about dowry, anti-feminist sentiments and what not. So why is it okay for the woman to be entitled to lets face it, something terribly expensive and not too useful while the men have to buy us that (especially in this day and age of self publicized and demanded gender equality?) Wait.. what was that? For social norms, you say? Ah... here is the crux of so many of our problems. The social norms... what society expects from us and how we are fulfilling those expectations. And it's all unfortunately way too true in the good old Indian society, where the new generation is surging on par with the whole modern theme while the older generations (well, most of them) are comfortably ensconced in their antediluvian beliefs of how things should be.

Social norms. These were made back in the day when the man was the sole breadwinner. And so if he wasn't buying the woman jewelry, no one was. Come this day... women making as much money as men, contributing to household incomes, are fully capable of buying themselves whatever it is that they want. However, while they would splurge on clothes, handbags and other jewelry, they're never going to buy themselves an engagement ring when you propose. And say what to the friends? He proposed and so I went and got myself a ring? Never... that's just not in our DNA, I guess... there's no other explanation for this. And it doesn't even sound right. Does it? 

There are these couples who'd rather put in the money that it costs for an engagement ring into something more meaningful and can be enjoyed by both people - like a trip or a down payment to a home or something like that. That makes most sense, perhaps. And what do you do when the people ask you where your ring is? One great option is to ask them to MTOB but if you were the one for that, you'd have done it a long time ago.. On the other hand, if there are men with money to spare and have all the right romantic bones, go for the ring. You simply can't deny, practical or not, no woman would say "no" to being wooed.

PS: I have more apathy against social norms for sooo many other things in your everyday Indian society. Wait for those posts.

March 12, 2010


Dedicated to all those people whose spellings I have corrected at least once in the past. ;)

Okay, I admit it… I have a big pet peeve when people intentionally misspell words because they're lazy. I understand the concept when it’s a text message or some email to a friend but otherwise, I just find it plain irritating even though it’s none of my business. And this isn't about the "u" or "yr" as much as it is about the "frenz" or "4get". But that’s not what this post is about. Let me brutally honest and shamelessly self-congratulatory about myself. In everyday life, I am as good a speller as anyone out there. I don’t have to think for a split second to spell a word.. I can just rattle it instantly. And if this works verbally, it works even better while writing/typing it. And I am sure there are tonnes of you out there just like me (unless you are one of those people who spells wierd in place of weird). However there are times when I am zoned out thinking about something else while typing  or writing (yes, yes I multi-task regularly), that I find myself completely lost. And no, I don't mean it an ordinary sense.I mean that I would've written a word as plain as "noble" and be staring at it for an entire half-a-minute wondering if the spelling was really right or if it seemed right because I was staring so hard at it. Ever happen to you? For the simplest and least complicated of words. Truly weird. And I attribute it entirely to the fact even the best multi-taskers have to pause for a second on each of their tasks to make sure aal izz well (courtesy: 3 Idiots). :D

March 11, 2010

The emailers..

Sure.. all of us email. I mean in this age of the Internet, who doesn't? But this title, the "emailers" should strictly refer to people who email for everything. And I've come to believe I am one of them. Often I email my professor who is one floor below mine, rather than simply going over and conveying the information. And this has more to do with practicality than laziness. Before you start questioning that line of thought, let me assert that indeed I got into this groove of things 'coz of Dr P back in UC. Often we scheduled meetings in the stairwell or near some classroom only for me to learn later that he'd either forgotten about it or scheduled something else in it's time slot. "Why didn't you just send me a confirmation email" would often be his chagrined response. In his defense, I guess the email helped him directly put it on his Outlook calendar or something similar to schedule a meeting which would then send him a reminder and essentially set the ball rolling. And so it began. Emails for everything... from meeting for coffee to setting the thesis defense date. From friends to professors to colleagues to family to companies to industries and what not. Email. The easy, comfortable, reassured way of reaching people who remained connected. And so I was hooked to it. I have discovered however, that in Paris people prefer the personal touch. More often than not, it's more of you could've just told me rather than email me. Often emails are forgotten, ignored or trashed without being read and people seem to remember personally scheduled meetings rather than impersonally worded emails. It also helps build rapports with people you haven't worked too often with in the past. I've learned to work with this situation though. These days, I send an email as a correspondence-retainer and then follow it up with a phone call or a personal visit to the office of whoever I am contacting just to make sure they read the email. And here it works out even better because while they can certainly understand my written French, with my spoken French (though I presume I have gotten infinitely better at it), it still leaves room for some interpretation and entertaining dumb charades at times. Finally, communication is the key. And who cares if I had to resort to either actions or English to convey the last couple of words to complete a message? And in time, I won't need those either. Fingers crossed.

More to the chicken n egg conundrum

Here's a chicken and egg question when it comes to a lot of people, not even the hypochondriacs necessarily. Which came first - the illness or the symptoms? For those who are wondering what the heck I am talking about, consider this scenario – You’ve always been wary of catching the flu. It makes you indisposed days at a time... and who the hell can sleep well with a clogged nose anyway? And recently your cube-mate caught a mild form of flu and has been sneezing away, further fueling your misgivings. Suddenly your throat starts to feel scratchy, nose runny and eyes watery. Are these for real?  Or did are your fears of catching the flu acting out? The brain being as influential as anything can be has the effect on your body to manifest symptoms which otherwise wouldn’t exist. But wait a second… you didn’t really think that this blog was about health or any of those things, did you? But of course a highly imagination-based extrapolation of the situation is just waiting to happen. 

It’s about how we subconsciously mirror someone’s feelings towards us whether we intend for it to happen, or not. For example, you can’t help but be sweet to that cheery colleague who seems to get up on the right side of the bed everyday. Or keep it concise, short and not necessarily sweet with someone who’s been a bit of a sorehead anyways. Body language is one of the least-credited aspects that influence our behaviour with others. But as subtle as it may seem, it has the most impact on our daily selves and resultant interactions. And more often than not that means our mouths don't match our eyes, our demeanor doesn't match our words and ultimately translate to a sure shot "message received" signal from the opposite end. As if we didn't have enough things to portray upfront. As much as everyone loves to be themselves, a teeny part ends of them up being someone else. Call it diplomacy or the good old plain truth.

March 9, 2010

Test blog

I've always wanted to blog on the go and with my new android based phone, i can do just that. Cheers to MindBlogging

Illusions daily..

Yesterday was one of those days. Something f-ed up the trains and there was a minimum 40 minute wait for the next one. And while plotting my other routes to get home, I came up with the most-suitable bus combo that would do the trick. But the grand difference between waiting 40 minutes and then taking the delayed train and instead taking the bus immediately was, get this, at best 5 minutes. Common sense would dictate that I head back to school, do something for half an hour and come back to take the train 40 minutes later. More productive, right? Not exactly. 'Coz here's where your brain comes up with all the implausible scenarios of the world. What if that train was canceled/delayed? What if you lost track of time and missed the train? So many what ifs with very little credibility. And one glance at the clock that confirming that it was indeed 6:30 pm was enough to eliminate the possibility of going back to school at any rate. And hence to give myself the illusion of having done something in the right direction, I took the bus, the concept being, that even though the final arrival time was much the same, I was still going somewhere. There was some movement, translating to vague momentum translating to an even vaguer sense of work done. Go figure.

Pretty UC!!

UC has been named one of the most beautiful campuses in the world by Forbes magazine! I couldn't be prouder!!

This post is dedicated to all you fantastic people I had the good fortune of meeting at UC. Indeed I have made some of my best friends there and it would by no stretch of imagination be an exaggeration when I say I miss you all a hell lot and that those were some of the best days of our lives. Lets revel in UC's glory and relive those truly golden days. Love y'all! Cheers!


I only just recently wrote a post on the all important no-how.. but this time I am here to talk about something that only sounds similar but is in no way connected to that post. This is about how some people are plain confused between knowing you and knowing of you. And with someone as accessible as me, it's very easy for someone to make that error in judgment and assume they know everything about me while as a matter of fact what they know is only something I've chosen to share with all the world. This whole blog for example... most posts are reflections of daily happenings in most people's lives with a splash of my unwarranted opinions thrown in. And we bloggers are nothing if not opinionated ;). 

Back to the viewpoint in question, it does irk me when someone thinks they've been in touch with me by simply reading what I write on the blog. I contend of course that the blog coupled with all the content on the many networking sites would amount to a fair share of generic information, none too personal though. And I would hardly think it would be weird on my part to consider that it was preposterous that it was supposed to be flattering that they kept in touch by these means. Simply reading a blog... really? Something a bit more would be understandable.. a random text/email or message/chat of some sorts. But being an anonymous reader simply doesn't cut it at being a good friend. A nice follower yes, but friend? Absolutely not.

March 7, 2010

Slumber party..

The difference between a guy’s slumber party and a girls’…

Guys: Many rounds of booze + some spicy food + a bit of yap, a bit of blab = Knockout nice n early.

Girls: Yap yap yap + Yap somemore , attempt to sleep and fail, so yap just a little more = Sleepless night = Perfect sleepover.

March 5, 2010


All of us at some point of time have made this sagely statement – If it has to happen, it will. In these cases of course, we are all referring to fate taking control. And some teeny part of us wants to believe in something like fate... something that would have a say in the whole cosmic picture of our life... something that lets us believe that though things aren’t in our control, they are taken care of by some power, which is hopefully on our side. And it also acknowledges that some things just aren't in our hands and it precedes from the requirement of making a decision. And why am I rambling on now? Destiny once more proved it's existence in my life yesterday, you know, just in case I forgot.

The moment I stepped out of my apartment yesterday, I saw the bus pull over. And so, I got in, swiped my Navigo, found an empty seat and settled in for the 8 minute ride with the right song on the i-pod. While I adjusted my earphone, my left hand brushed my ear lobe only to realize that my earring was missing it's lower dangling part (this was one of those annoying kokki earrings which you looped into your ear and had no back plug). And so I scanned the ground. Fortunately the bus was empty and I probably didn't appear like a complete psycho as I frequently switched seats to look beneath each of them for the missing piece. After scanning about 5 minutes, I decided that it was indeed lost and it was sheer bad luck. Having accepted my fate, I took off what remained of the earrings, put them  away and got zoned out into the rest of the journey. In my office, as I peeled away my layers, and untangled the scarf from my neck, suddenly, there it was, nestled amidst the folds, the missing part of the earring. The luck had all transformed. Delighted by the unexpected find, I attached the pieces together, rammed the minuscule gap between them with a heavy book for good measure and now certain that it wasn't coming off anytime soon, I wore them again.

And so the day wore on, busy as hell. Back home finally and worn out, I went to splash some water on my face. And that's when I noticed it. The earring was gone. This time in whole. And I hadn't a clue where or when. Fate...

March 2, 2010

The Internet addiction

I read this article on msn about signs that you suffer from Internet addiciton. And  in case you noticed, it asked us to step away from the computer once we were done reading, but instead, here I am blogging about it. Well, what did you expect? Of course I am addicted! And just so you know, so are about 90% of all of you in the age group < 35. I mean honestly, we are so connected these days that sometimes a mere Internet slowdown at work or GMail maintenance shutdown renders us completely restless for a while unless we are obviously occupied elsewhere. As for me, when I am traveling to or from work, or if I am out someplace with friends, etc., I am not bothered too much about being "connected". But come the era of the smartphones and with everyone carrying an Iphone or something just as fancy, there's no need to be out of touch even then. And of course it begs the question - aren't we too exposed? Every second of every day, someone somewhere can keep in touch with you by not actually "reaching" you. By not even taking the effort to make a phone call. Simply by checking tweets or buzzes or FB status updates. It's that simple. We're to blame for that. No one really cares what we had for lunch or where, which movie sucked or rocked. And yet we make it our business to express our unsolicited opinions on anything and everything and worse, expose personal details on the worldwide web which transcends all boundaries only to reach the million people you know of and the other billion you don't. Thankfully I try not to do that. You maybe wondering what the heck I am talking about considering I maintain a regular personal blog which you are currently reading. However, there's a fine line between telling too much and just talking about everyday occurrences in most people's lives... something I try hard to tread. (Agree or disagree?)

But all this revelation once more begs the question as to why I have never been me out of touch with some of my priced friends. And yes, I blame them of course. With all that possibility it is obviously their fault to try that hard to stay out of touch. And anyone who knows me the slightest will agree that it's as easy to reach me as it is to reach the nearest Internet-enabled computer. 

But having recognized my own addiction at this stage and for a while now, I have decided to give myself some "unplugged" time. And that means I get to figure out when it'll be convenient for me to remain so. :D. Happy browsing or happy unplugged time, as you may deem necessary!

March 1, 2010

The all important "no"-how

I admit it... I was stuck in a phase a long time ago where I was eager to please others at times. A lot of times it was simply my personality to try to be nice to everyone upfront. Often times I had the problem of simply saying no, much like so many others to different situations or people. And that meant I was stuck with tasks, chores or unpleasant business that I'd simply rather not have done, if only I had expressed the opinion. I've attributed this to being a part of the "immaturity" and the process of growing up, though many many people I still know suffer from the disease of not being able to say no where appropriate.

Recently though, I have become a little more aggressively unconcerned about what opinions I express and what effects they may spawn. This doesn't imply that I have become callous or rude, just that I am not walking on eggshells anymore and well, everyone around me can deal with things just the way I can. Or similarly, at least. Saying no to something can be empowering. Not that you turned someone down and got the upper hand... just that you've gotten your priorities right. And importantly, you know what you should be doing. And if by saying "no" like one time, you feel that you are going to jeopardize the relationship, then it wasn't worth your while at all. 

Here are some pretty obvious tips - 
1. Honesty. Believe it or not, unless you're especially glib, it shines through if you're making something up. If you'd rather not do something for some reason, let it out. People can be more understanding than you give them credit for. And if you'd rather not out the truth itself because it's mean or whatever, practice your lie enough to pass it off (read Sheldon in BBT with his made-up cousin, Leopold who's in a drug intervention. Ok, not that extreme, but you get the point).
2. Sincerity. While being honest, it is possible to still come across as brutally honest. I don't want to go shopping with you because you try on every dress in the store and frankly, I have better things to do. Instead, tone it down with sincerity. I only have an hour of free time. I thought I'd just chill at home with a cup of tea. Is it okay if I take a rain-check?
3. Back-up plan. While refusing someone for something, try to reassure them that you would have done it under different circumstances. And that includes pointing out instances in the past or possibilities in the future. I am pretty caught up right now, but how about we meet up on Saturday? This not only takes the focus off the rejection, but also opens the opportunity for a different rendezvous clarifying the fact that the problem was with the date and time and not the person. But if you do make a back-up plan, please try to stick with it.

If only more people knew how to turn down someone and not make them feel lousy, a lot of generic ill-will between people can be avoided, leading  in fact, to a healthier friendship or otherwise between two people. So please, if you must, go ahead and say no, rather than get stuck with something you don't want to do and worse, impose your grudging self on some unsuspecting person.