Saturday, December 31, 2005

Swades, my country, my homeland

One has to step out of the comfort of one's home to realize what it really meant. Ever since I have been on American soil I have come to appreciate my home country more and more. Its not that I dislike being here. There are good parts to it.
But there is never a sense of belonging, never a sense that I am allowed to be here! I have to carry my passport to prove that I have a right to be here.

Perhaps I have only learnt it the hard way what freedom really means. I have freedom of speech but my right to say things doesn't mean a bit. I am not allowed to vote here. Good or bad, poor or rich I have a say in my home country.
I am not questioned about stepping my foot on any part of the soil. I belong there. I can vote, even if my favourite party will not get elected.

Its not just family that makes home. Its more than that. There is always my loving family to go back to. But the craving to go back is much more than that. Its this deep feeling instilled in me of being on the foreign soil, that I heave a sigh of relief when I enter the Indian soil. I think to myself, they cannot possibly stop me from entering. Its just that single feeling which surpasses anything.

Then I have to remind myself, why does this happen? Is it just the whole buisness of borders, visas, immigrant laws that causes it. Would I enjoy being in a foreign country more if I believed I had a right to be here? What and when did we decide that man, woman or child were bound by birth to a peice of land? Why do we have to pledge our loyality a whole big estate to to use the land covered by our two feet? Would things have been different if there really was such a concept as one world, one mind?

We all have a natural sense of belonging I think, to the place we are born, to our house, to our family, to our immediate community. But is the sense of belonging naturally strong enough to make sense out of us and them, mine and theirs ?
Torn between a desire to go back home and wanting to be at peace with being away from home, my mind ponders and comes up with zilch!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Words Words Words

"You think that I don't even mean a single word I say.
It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart
away." sing The BEEGEES

Words! Words! I'm so sick of words!
I get words all day through;
First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters
can do?

Don't talk of stars Burning above; If you're in love,
Show me!" cries out loud Eliza Doolittle

""A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings
of silver,"

and, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind
word cheers him

up" (Proverbs 12:25; 25:11, NIV).
So tells me a Google Search

What is the big deal? What power does this fourlettered thing
called WORD really have?
Can I really ever pen down exactly what I am thinking?
And can you read this passage and understand what I am
Isn't everything I write garbled by the different speed
of thinking and writing?
And garbled by everything I have written or read before this?

And you, my dear reader? When you read this, you think of
everything you have read before ?
Everything written by me and others before. Of everything you
have thought before!

So how many meanings are we attaching to this poor
letters strung together by a very simple binding force
A THOUGHT, which probably was all contained in the
title anyway?

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I still remember him fairly well. Don't remember completely what we talked about but I know I enjoyed our conversation. Before you start thinking in the lines of an ex-romance tell... I have to tell you I am talking about this guy I met on the plane once. He's married with two children :)

I met him on the plane coming to US. He was returning from Iraq, he was an American soldier. Well not somebody who would be at the front fighting, but somebody in the Army and close to the war anyway.

Strangely enough we didn't talk much about the war. Mostly we talked about our lives. I had an amazingly long interesting conversation with a complete stranger. We are probably same age, but thats about all we might have had in common. He was probably talking to a civilian who spoke English after a long time and I was just bored from travelling alone for the hundreth time. All this speculation still doesn't explain the connection. Especially since I go around saying how reserved I am :) Like all these friendships, we exchanged email addresses, I lost his and am sure he lost mine!

Made me remember all the strangers who turned into friends only to change back to strangers, all in the span of 24 hr journey from Bombay to Bangalore. There were no surprises on the route. Perhaps a rare stop at Monkey Hill. Maybe ate an idli at Vadi. Failed to count the tunnels right inspite of being on that train so many times. Most of those journeys have faded in my memory. The ones I remember are thanks to the people I met on the way.

I remember this Gujju couple who fed me all the way to Bangalore once. The guy was extremely talkative. He was taking his pregnant wife to his in-laws for her delivery. With him was his ever-so shy friend who was going back to meet and probably to bring back his wife to Bangalore with him. This guy kept on and on about everything, he even made a comment on South Indians leaving their daughters unwed for too long. This was much to my amusement, probably 23 then, single and travelling alone. He told me that it was no surprise that they ran with some random guy with all the freedom their parents gave them. As I guessed this would be father was a year younger to me. But all in all they were extremely nice. It was fun to listen to him tease and trouble his giggly wife.

Then there was a Marathi family travelling to Tirupathi. There was this elderly man, his wife and his son. I remember that they were going for their son's wedding or something of that sort.
They taught me to play Judgement, a card game. Sadly for me, they got off much before Bangalore. It was still 'course a whole lotta fun playing cards all the way.

There have been other notable strangers on the way. Some I forget, others I vaguely remember. All made their mark. I have to wonder though if any ever remember me?

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Unattainable

I have just come to realize that there is nothing more attractive than the unattainable.
Isn't it natural that we want the exact thing we cannot have? The brave, or the ambitious will correct me here and tell me there is no such thing as unattainable.
But an average person will answer back saying that there is. There are mountains that cannot be climbed because its just foolhardy. There are people you can never hope to meet, like the ones who shoot up on your screen just because it only happens in fairy tales ( nothing wrong in believing it can happen, but dont be disappointed if it doesnt :) ). There are certain seas you can never cross cause its not feasible in this life to build a boat strong enough.
There are problems you shouldn't attempt as a graduate student for the department will not support you forever. There are lucrative offers which cannot be accepted because of the family you will have to leave behind.

There is a catch to every goal that we seek. Sometimes its in small letters and a very small price to pay. Sometimes its in big bold letters which says You will regret this decision.
A smart person is one who can tell when its in bold and when its all in small letters.
Which brings me back to my point, sometimes present unsatisfaction can bring you peace with inner concience for life.

I write this passage with some thought in mind. Which I don't expect anyone to figure out.
Chances are whatever it is you figured out is probably tangential to what I am thinking. But that is the beauty of words, you put a few together and you have lesson for life which applies to everyone with completely different meanings.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Email Story - Part I

Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2003 7:48:50 +0530
From: "Mythili Rangaswami "
To: "Sumitra Narsmihan "

Hi there,
Got here fine. Those shady Air India people didn't let me get off at London for the hundredth time now.
Really don't think I will travel them again. Yahan pe everyone was thrilled as usual. Bhabi no.1 has gotten slightly more plump now :) Ya, you guessed it, she's three months preganant. And those guys kept it a secret from me!! I made lot of scene about it. Was fun :)
Tera kya chal raha hai? How your boss treating you? you working Christmas kya? Woh to ekdum height hoga.
Was checking out movies on TOI.. now have to con somebody to come with me..
Oye btw guess whom I met on my flight here? Arre you remember Venkataih in from our school?
The jasmine oil dude? Hes become major pseud now.
Chal amma is calling for breakfast...dosas to eat today :)
write back soon.. take care

Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 23:30:00 -0600
From: "Sumitra Narsmihan"
To:"Mythili Rangaswami"
Subject: Re: your mail

Hi Madam,
You keep eating dosas and no man will marry you.. motee ho jayegi :) ( I don't care.. kitna stupid ad tha!) Anyways looks like you are njoying yourself. Me and the gang are planning to do something for Christmas.. probably do a movie night. No yaar, you know we got this forced close down next week. Thank god for that!!
Those stupid folks on my project in India don't want to take a break. Painful people.
Anyway, howz guy search going on? koi mila kya? Arre, what was Venkatiah doing on the flight? How does he look now? Did he tell you " Mythili you are too much only!" haha
Chal, write back and be sure to check out SRKs new movie :)

Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 12:35:20 +0530
From: "Mythili Rangaswami"
To: "Sumitra Narsmihan"
Subject: venkatiah

You won't believe it Sumi, but Venkatiah just called. Btw.. hes called Venky now :) or maybe he was before too.. who knows. He looks ok, still on the plump side but kafi tall hai.
Arre, he's in Seattle. Dude is doing Ph.D. in Pharma.. Not a Software engineer like us for a a change :) Waise, his family is Bombay too! Apparently they are girl-hunting man.
Its so unfair yaar. These guys will come look at girls and then if they agree they just marry them off. Those stupid girls will happily leave their jobs/lives here and got to the US.
Ask a guy to do the same and they look at you like you are mad. Really don't think this arranged marraige thing is for me. Waise bhi I will only get to meet boy's families.. Seriously thinking of ditching the whole plan now!!!
And ya me and my dear would be sis in law no.2, Minnu Manni (how that rhymes !) went shopping. Shes quite cool. And conned her into going to that Munnabhai MBBS thing, which is releasing next week. Now if only my bro can get the tickets. Oye what SRK movie are you talking about?
How was your movie night? Arre ask junta to write. Am actually very lukha here. Strange not to have to go to work etc.. and all the junta here is busy on weekdays :(
myth.. haha.. this is a good nick :)

Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 19:15:07 -0600
From: "Sumitra Narsmihan"
To:"Mythili Rangaswami
Subject: Re: venkatiah

Dear Ms mythology, mythyeous.. what a myth u r !
Yeh Venkatiah ka kya chakkar hai? calling you up now is he? whyd you give him you number? ;)
arre we saw all of Godfather series and some stupid hindi movies.. by the end only me, Nikhil and Mrinal were up :) Pura night out we put!
oye, ask your mom to send some nice namkeen with you.. four more weeks to go.. enjoy it. How the hell did you con your boss to give you five weeks ? He must be real fida on you.
Haan this funda of you not getting to meet guys is a pain.. but come on, I thought you were totally up for the arranged marraige thing. Did you get any rishteys yet or not? What happened to your I am only for Arranged marraige attitude?
BTw why are you not taking Simran bhabhi with you? (waise tera bhai bhi srk fan hai kya? just striked me ddlj etc..!)
PS : I presumed there must be some SRK movie releasing, what with his greatest fan visiting India:) Well its no fun watching Hindi movies here without you. Everyone makes fun and whats the point if you are not here to take all the jokes seriously and feel offended!

Friday, November 18, 2005


Oh my lord, forgive me for I have sinned. I have succumbed to gluttony.
Everytime I crave for that little bit of cheese, the smells throw me into the hollows of Pizza hut.
Everytime I crave for sugar, I am standing in front of that counter at the coffee shop; contemplating whether to buy the apple turnover, the muffin, the fruit danish or the brownie.
Everytime I smell coffee, there I am back again at the counter of my favourite coffee shop.
Forgive me my lord, cause I cannot bring this soul to stop from sinning.

My Red Coloured Love

I guess the moral gurus teach us not to love material things. And yet here I am still in love with my first red bycycle. My uncle bought me my own peice of metal with two wheels when I was 10 and she (he if you prefer!) was my prized possesion. I use the term possesion losely here :) I suppose my uncle driven by the series of comic accidents that I caused with my borrowed cycles was almost forced to get me my own thing.

I was truly and deeply proud (again a virtue which is more of sin I suppose!). Proud of the fact that I could lift her up the stairways quite easily. Proud of the fact that she had the most shiniest steel handles ever. Proud more so that Monsoon after Monsoon left her unrusted!

Its funny how this pair of wheels gave me a feeling of independence. If am late coming home from a friend's place I just say " I'll be fine, I got my cycle today!." Distances or the word far were a thing of the past. In no way am I exagerrating here .

She was my friend for all the best decade of my life !! And then we had to part ways. My parents didn't think she ought to take the journey to Bangalore. So now she, ( I hope she still does) belongs to the Mess worker ( a very sweet young woman) from my hostel. I hope she still runs good and takes her owner places !!!

I tried to relive that life. Bought another cycle just like her. She was quite a beauty. Except how often does it happen that we take our most prized things for granted and one lax of attention leaves us cursing ourselves for lifelong. Having taken supreme care of my new bike (isn't that what Americans call it?) for about a year, I started taking her for granted. Forgot how pretty and shiny she looks and left her out to the mercy of bikenappers :(

I never got a chance to express my remorse and this little piece is to make my peace with her loss. And this blog is to remind me that there is no such thing as too much caution!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A late introduction

I have been writing this stuff up for a while. Wasn't sure where it was going really. Finally all that blog reading kind of got to me. There is nothing I enjoy more than writing and what's the point if no one I know ever reads this :)
So here is a fun blend of fact and fiction. If you can tell which is which, you know more than me!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stolen Childhoods

My blog is turning into a review of documentaries/movies I watch. Not the intention but I have to talk about this one I saw a few weeks back. Mostly cause its making me buy Fair Trade Coffee everywhere.
The above titled documentary is about child labour. Its difficult to watch these documentaries. Mostly cause all I did was sit and watch and thats what I have been doing all my life. So what did I do after watching the documentary. I buy Fair Trade coffee, for its supposed to give the farmers a honest price for their coffee.
A small change. May not make a difference. The intention is there, the action will come. I believe so anyway!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Goodbyes and Farewells

Goodbye is a strange word. Its a word I use everyday and there is so little meaning attached to it. I always say goodbye with the expectation of seeing the person again. Maybe not today, not tomorrow but sometime in future. There is never much thought attached to when that "again" will happen.

Its probably better that way. The concept of saying goodbye to someone expecting never to see them again is alien to me. You might tell me that one never gets disappointed that way. But, I can say the same for my current stratergy. What joy can come out of dwelling into the percentages or probablities of meeting again? I believe its always more than 0 and lets leave it at that!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Constant Gardner

The previous post was orignally written months ago. I was reminded of it because of this movie I saw recently called the Constant Gardner starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weiss ( I think that is her name! ). It reminded me of Born in Brothels. For starters this movie is not really a documentary, its in fact based on a novel by John Le Carre. Its more than 2 hours long and running in the big cinemas and not art theaters.

And yet I have to tell you the similarities. For starters its shot like a documentary. Something that struck me different was about how they used bright colours when the shot the locales in Africa and the little part shot in England/Europe seemed more greyish. Maybe it was deliberate on the part of the director. Or better still it was just the effect of the storyline ! In any case, no point in digressing, its again based in a third world country. And is in fact about the conspiracy of big corporations which are making use of the poverty/lack of awareness in these countries to fulfill their agenda in the name of social work.

The plot of the movie is set in the background of a love story which runs strong all through the movie. Its probably not everyone's cup of tea and you might argue that its not half as great as I potray it here. But thats far from what I want say.

The movie yet again depicts the poverty stricken side of a third world country but it also brings into light how much power of money / colour/ knowledge is being and can be misused.

I worry about these things more because am a part of this world. I am not poor but I have seen poverty around me. It reminds us to do our part in the society. Fix the little things we can fix!

Most of all I will remember this line from the movie "I cannot help them all, but I can help this one!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Born in Brothels :The Documentary

What is it with phlianthropy and controversy? I am writing this in reference with the documentary I saw an hour ago (well this was written a few months ago!). Minutes out of the theater I heard different impressions of the people who saw it. Comments which were cut short of explained implied the need to search the internet. Lo and behold, a whole bag of sour grapes, praises and other points of view are unleashed.
This is piece seems to be more an attempt at being eloquent. Its really an attempt to give vent to anger and frustration of this urge to interpret. I do not know the woman who made the movie, I donot know what happened to the children whose lives she set out to improve. I do not if there were bad repurcursions for the children. I would have hoped the people who made an outcry against the merits of the movie had given me more facts to ponder on. I do not know whether people who cry out that the movie was a third world bashing, an attempt to be noble to win accolades. Of course I feel outraged that it is my country about which this woman is talking. It is the poor and the prostutites there she is talking about. Its the beauracracy there that she is making fun of. But, its nothing I have never been aware of. Why, you probably hear every Indian making fun of the red tape in their homeland, crib about the corruption, the poverty and the lack of sympathy to the poor.
On the other hand, this is all that is being potrayed to the Western World. It is this picture of my country that wins an Academy awards. And like a comment I read on the net, the money need to help them is raised by pictures of their poverty. So of course, the outrage is understandable. What is not clear is what these people who cry against this film really want? Do they want a share of the limelight? Do they wish they had made the movie? I am sure there are hundreds of legal problemswith the movie. And whether the movie not being shown in India is with bad intents or good, I fail to see.
In fact, give me any thoughtline on this movie and I will find some merit in a some part of it to agree with it. Its not a projection of my lack of opinion but the fact that there is only a thin line between good and bad intentions.
All I can say for sure is that it took a brave woman to make that movie. As documentaries go, its well made. Most of all it made me think, rethink what my country is like. Also, as an after thought we that criticize and comment on the movie could never have done anything she did. Good or bad result she tried, something we all fail to do. If this movie makes a few more people try, who knows that academy award will become more than well deserved.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Girly vs Manly!

Here are thoughts of a girl, or perhaps there are guys who feel the same way. Is there really a world of diference between thoughts and needs or a girl and a guy. I don't know, maybe you do!!

What really defines a girl or a guy apart from the obvious physical differences? What do people really mean when they say certain things are girly (is that how it is spelt?) or manly? First thing I can think of (thanks to all the FRIENDS episodes I have seen lately) is watching x-rated films is certainly a guy thing. Or is it? Does it mean that girls dont watch such movies? I don't know any girls who do but does that mean there aren't any who do? My sample set of friends could hardly represent a random sample? (that's the mathematician in me talking!)
Or does it mean that its unmanly (or unguyly?) not to watch such stuff?
How about shopping for a girly thing? For starters I hate to shop and I know several guys (well.. at least two!) who love to shop for clothes. Whatever does that mean? There are several things which are traditionally characterised to be a particular genderlike(?) but doesn't that make everyone an exception. Surely each and everyone of us will not be doing all of those things!
Its really hard to define these differences. One of my best friends is a guy. And we talk a lot and share our views on several topics (didn't try to count these! ). I think (and I really speak for myself cause he is not going read this being a guy and everything!) that we understand each other very well. But clearly if there is a world of difference between guys and girls how can that be true? I wonder if we came up with a questionaire for instance
Do you like to shop?
Do you watch x-rated films?
How often do you visit a parlour?
When was the last time you took a bath?.... you get the idea and wrote up a computer program with it ; how many times out of 100 would the program guess the gender right? 100 out of 100? 90 out of 100? Your guess is as good as mine ;)