Sunday, March 28, 2010

Communication breakdown..

Goofy Mumma`s post 'Connected or Stressed?' set me thinking.
A few days back, someone gasped at the lengths of my emails. He said it was unnatural because he had gotten so used to brief, to-the-point messages. My emails made him uncomfortable, as did my thoughts. I couldn't get over it. It bothered me.
How can communicating be a bad thing?
In long ago lifetimes, I remember how I would run out of the girls` hostel, clutching a letter in my hand. I would drive to my favorite spot near college, a lone banyan tree on an abandoned hillock(also called LBT by AFMCites!), curl up underneath and devour the thick wad of paper full of gossip and news! Letters from home, from my sister. I would sit alone with the letter in my hand and weep some. And then I would begin to write..When Dad passed away last April, we had to go through his personal stuff. And there, wrapped up in a plastic bag, now crinkled over time, were all those letters I had written years ago, sitting alone under the tree. He had saved every single one of them.
I still have letters written by some of my closest friends in school. I love to hold them, to read them from time to time. It smells of History; my history and those who were a part of it. I saved each little note, each letter, so I could read them silently to myself on warm summer afternoons or a lonely winter day. I read the letters over and over, so as to remember those who were a part of my life once but not anymore. I read,so as not to let the words slip from my as never to forget.
A piece of paper conveying diverse sentiments, ranging from fear to love to warm hand clasps and big hugs..sometimes even anger, across distant souls. Some are brief. Some are piquant. Some loving. And some plain caustic. But all are heartfelt. All are earnest, unfeigned emotions that I had managed to evoke in someone; emotions strong enough to warrant an unbridled, unchecked expression of thoughts through a letter.
It never ceases to fascinated me.
A few years back when I was in the Army, I used to write long letters back home and to my friends. There was no cell phone connectivity along the LOC and landlines were unreliable. We had to go through 2 army exchanges to connect to a regular PCO. And then wait for days before there was a connection home. And so I wrote. I wrote every single day and like there`s no tomorrow. All that I had was my heart written out in pieces of paper. It was a life line; the only thread that kept me bound to the world outside; the only honest expression that told me I was still in the same world, still under the same sky, still breathed the same air. Everything else was surreal..
I still check my letter box everyday, but no one writes to me anymore. And so,like everyone else, I stick to emails too, though I have never seen it as any different from a letter, hand-written. What better way to put your thoughts and feelings across than by writing. It is gratifying. It pleases me. Satisfies my soul. Yes, Emails definitely help to keep in touch.But communicating? That`s a whole new ball game.
Consider this.
After a couple of long emails discussing Ayn Rand, I got a two-liner reply back from a "friend", stating how we should meet up over elaborate drinking sessions to chat up. I took that seriously. I was excited at the prospect of making a friend(God knows I needed one!). And I wrote back some more.. Only later did I learn it the hard way that sometimes people write two-liners for the heck of it. Yes, emails have made it easier to evade, to palter,to fool..And yet, despite the realization, when I dont get a response,it makes me guilty. It makes me sad. But most of all, it troubles me. Have I just ended up making a fool of myself? Has it been misconstrued as too eager or too desperate or too jobless. Why would someone avoid a coversation by sending back one-liner scraps/replies and sometimes not even that?! How can responding to an email be a bad thing? Or is this simply about not responding to my email?
In a world swamped by technology, everywhere I go, I find my personal space invaded. And it is at such times when I long to receive a letter, all gooey, gushy, maudlin..filled with words carefully chosen and eternal, meant for no one but me.. And yes, I have written such letters too - with no reply, thank you very much! Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic, or just downright old-fashioned.
In today`s world, where sentimentality is ridiculed and friendships have become a matter of convenience rather than need; where there is a growing apathy amongst men and urban alienation continues to take new forms, I cant help wondering..
Has interpersonal communication really gotten easier?
Or has it simply broken down..

"And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more.
People talking without speaking..
People hearing without listening..
People writing songs that voices never shared.
No one dared disturb the sound of silence.."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Insanity...and a lost cat!

"When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being happy and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth!"
- Cynthia Heimel
And so I go about, making a complete F&%%&*%* A%^%*^& of myself.
Each day!
In some way or the other!
People, I have a grad school interview lined up for the 5th of April. It is just so crucial that I do a good job. Because if I don't make it, I will die. No kidding. I can't imagine sitting at home for another year. I feel immense anger at myself for allowing this to mean so much to me. I realize the potential aftermath, if I fail. And yet, instead of working for it, I just while away my time.
Am I delusional? No seriously, am I?
And then yesterday afternoon, the weirdest thing happened!
I walked out to the backyard to find myself being greeted by a cat! He came running towards me to rub against my legs I think. And poor unsuspecting me! I nearly had a fit! You`ll never find a stray animal around where I live. So I realized he must be lost. And terribly scared. And I wondered what to do.
Truth be told, I am not a cat person. In fact I would even go so far as to say that I`m very scared of cats. But I didn't want the poor little thing to die. He would you know, out in the cold(Yes People, even in March! It`s Minnesota!)without food. So I decided to leave the porch door open and wait for him to come inside and sleep. I thought it would be good to wait it out till The G came home. So I left him a bowl of water and the door open. And lo and behold, he came rushing in, even before I had a chance to make an escape. He thought it was his home! But he realized quickly enough(seeing me dart inside) that it wasn't. Nonetheless, he decided to stay for a while. Sniffed around the chairs in the porch, and then settled down on the floor. And then he left, as suddenly as he had appeared.

I cannot begin to tell you how I`m feeling right now.
He`s gone of course. I dont know where. And it`s bothering me. I wish I had some way of knowing that he`s found his way back home.
And as I sit here wondering why he paid me a visit, just like that, I cant help smiling at the momentary truth of the connection we shared, albeit very briefly. It was strange - here we were, Mr Cat and me; loneliness,the sole nexus between us; and each trying in our own ways,to find our way back home..And may be..just may be, we did.

We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.

-Pink Floyd

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tangled up in blue..

My mind is in such a turmoil.
Emotions run rife.Like the rain.
The first drops always refreshing, smooth.Then it gets heavy and cold.By the time I am halfway back home, the wind shrieks through my hair and the rain makes my shirt cling. It batters my bare legs so violent that, for a minute I`m afraid I might never find my way back home..
Emotions are like that. Like the rain.
I sit here alone, typing. It`s the first day of work after the spring break and The G`s coming home late. He has to accompany a visiting faculty to dinner. So I sit here listening to this Spanish song “cucurrucucu paloma” performed by a Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso, in a scene from the movie 'Talk to Her'.
And I wonder how it`ll feel to have dinner alone.
May be I shouldn't listen to it anymore. This song has such a melancholic tinge. It makes me very sad. And yet, I go back again and again to listen. It has a mesmerizing purity about it.
People, I finally got to attend the music club meeting I was talking about. It was awesome; a great change for me. And I will continue to attend the subsequent meetings as well. But I felt like a fool.There were so many great voices there and I ended up so nervous, that I could hardly sing.Gone are those days when I would feel as comfortable jamming with friends in a stuffy ol` room as I would, singing on stage. Gone are the kicks that came from knowing I was one of the best.
Here I was just a new-comer, a nobody. Someone who couldn't get two notes straight. I sat quietly at the corner of a bed and listened to the others sing. I chatted up bull with some nice people. Exchanged phone numbers politely. Smiled some. And laughed some more. I drank up vodka in a plastic cup at 3 in the afternoon. And I realized that life happened when I was busy planning something else. That everything fades away. Eventually everything does.
And here I am, after all these years, flitting around, searching for my lost colors and finding none.
I have nothing.
No career. No job. No money. No friends. Nothing to feel proud of.
Just simple, forbidden desires which seem to have minds of their own and will not play dead, no matter how much I implore.
Yes, that`s all I have.
Wacky desires. Three stories in a book. And this blog to my name.

Have you ever felt the world slipping away from your grasp?
Have you ever felt like a perfect A$%%hole and wished you could disappear?
I wonder why I was delusional enough to think that the world would revolve around it sometimes would.
I know most of you must be tired reading my rants all the time.
I dont know what`s bothering me..
May be it is the fact that it`s almost one whole year that Dad left. And I`m still
aching so bad, I want to die.
May be it is because I suddenly miss hearing his voice on the telephone. Ohh it`s been so,so long..
Or may be..just may be I need to get myself a few friends I can share some laughs with.
May be I really ought to..

P.S - Do listen to the song. It`s beautiful.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Twist of fate..

I haven't replied to the comments on the previous post because I haven't sorted out my own thoughts yet. I`ll get there soon, I hope. Until then, let me leave you with this..

He allures me with a smile.
Or happy.
Stings me with his tears.
Water bubbles.
Or lead pellets.
And unabashed.
Beguiles me with his eyes.
And empty.

A rock.
Or a cloudy maze.
And arcane.
And I,
A marionette.
A cotton fluff.
Or such-like.
I am modeled. Forged. Stashed.
Any which way he wants.
And he skips from one form to the other,

He, My mind..
A two-edged sword, thus.
Rips me apart.
Slashes me in two.
One half kneels by his side. Head bowed down. Arms up in surrender.
The other turns her back and walks.
Blithe. Unruffled. Unconcerned.
Clouds of fate flit around silent prayers for mercy.
While He, My Mind,
sipping silvery, soulful vodka in a white plastic cup,
looks out at those clouds and smirks.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Food for thought..

A question to all my blog buddies. You can answer anonymously, in case you`re uncomfortable. But do answer.

Has marriage killed the girl in you?
Are you more programed, more regulated in your thoughts and deeds?
Or are you simply calmer? Assuaged?
Are you still in love?
Or are you simply loving? Caring, fond and loyal..?

What does marriage do to you?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


There are two announcements here:

1. If anyone wants to write for Chicken Soup, please feel free to contact Raksha Bharadia at

2. Here`s the recipe as promised.

And no, I`m not turning into a food blogger. This is just a stop-gap, for lack of interesting topics to blog about! So here goes!

Ingredients for the crust:
-2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs(just grind the cookies to a fine powder, in a grinder).
-2 tablespoons butter, melted
-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the filling:
- semi dark chocolate(I used Lindt 60% because that`s my favorite)
- 2 pounds cream cheese, softened( I used 4 8oz packs of Philadelphia cream cheese)
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs
- 16 ounces sour cream(one pack roughly)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine 2 cups cookie crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; firmly press mixture evenly onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 5 minutes; set aside.

# I used more than 2 cups because the thicker the crust, the more stable it is to handle the cake after it is done - or so I thought. It tastes good too.

2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually mix in 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/3 cup whipping cream, flour, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

3. Melt 8 ounces semisweet chocolate with 2 tablespoons whipping cream in a pan or bowl set over boiling water, stir until smooth. Add chocolate mixture to cream cheese mixture and blend well.

4. Pour 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Top with chocolate chips thrown in evenly; pour in remaining batter.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 minutes. Remove cake from oven. Combine sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla; spread evenly on cheesecake. Continue baking for 7 minutes. Turn oven off and leave in oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

# I used very little sour cream on top. You can infact skip it altogether. Especially if you use a 9inch pan instead of 10, you`ll not have enough space to pour the sour cream anyway.

6. Topping: Combine 1 cup whipping cream and chocolate chips in a saucepan; stir over low heat until chocolate melts, and then stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour mixture over cheesecake while still warm. Refrigerate until serving time. Should be at least 8 hours for refrigerator time, remove about 1/2 hour to 1 hour before serving, remove ring from springform pan, decorate to choice and get out your fork!

That`s the recipe, People. May be I should start a food blog after all! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Think Chocolate!

This isn't a regular post. That I shall do tomorrow. But I just wanted to share a couple of photographs with you guys.
The other day we had some guests over for dinner, to celebrate the beginning of this year`s spring break. And so I spent two whole days cooking up a feast. It all went great, I`m so relieved to say, what with the near hysterical planning and cooking that I did! But the clincher was the chocolate cheesecake I made from SCRATCH! Yes, no exaggerations really! So get your Oohs and Aahs out and check this out!


If anyone wants the recipe, I`ll be happy to oblidge! :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chimes of Freedom..

For the longest time, British filmmaker Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman tried to help several children born into the brothels of Sonagachi,just as several other NGOs did/do - placing children in group homes, enrolling them in schools, fighting byzantine bureaucracies, and parents(who saw their children as meal tickets) and helped them in their fight to survive. For a while, it made news. A Cinderella fairy tale wherein little girls(and boys) born into brothels are allowed a chance to get out of the muck and study in the USA; a chance to breathe free again.
What happened next?
Puja, now 18, ribbons in her well-oiled hair and grey ashes of burnt dreams smudged over her face, is back where she started. Her mother took her out of school.
Kochi, a quiet 17 year old now, got married to a pimp at 14, broke free and came to the USA, accepting Zana`s offer. She joined high school in Utah, opened a facebook account with over 500 friends, and decided to wrench the pain and transform in into something beautiful. Then she went back home again, back to where she started. Why, you ask? Because her grandmother passed away and her mother 'wanted her back to look after her', she said.
The only one who survived the cudgels of fate was a boy, now 20, who is a friend of mine now at New York and so shall remain unnamed.
"Didi," he says, "If Kochi was a boy, she wouldnt go back."
I dont know how much truth that statement carries, but I`m inclined to think there must be something to it really.

Quoting Nick Kristof:
"A girls’ education may be the single most cost-effective kind of aid work. It’s cheap, it opens minds, it gives girls new career opportunities and ways to generate cash, it leads them to have fewer children and invest more in those children, and it tends to bring women from the shadows into the formal economy and society."

A girl child`s education might not be a comprehensive panacea of course. But this is where we have to begin. Is this that difficult to understand really? Why then, is a girl child`s education not given its due importance?
I don’t need to go over the statistics,do I? In India alone, the numbers are unnerving. Despite a major improvement in literacy rates over the past decade, significant gender disparities in education persist. The national literacy rate of girls over 7 years of age is a staggering 33 - 50%(differing from state to state), as against 75% for boys. The self proclaimed moral custodians of our medieval society continue to propagate snow job theories under the garb of ancient traditions and culture. Impoverished parents actually believe that they are saving their honor as well as that of their daughters by marrying them off early (sometimes even at pre-menstrual ages). There is a clear preference for sons for continuation of clan and as bread earners.

I am not here to lecture you on glaring social issues. But it is necessary to point out the facts. So that someone, somewhere reading this might think of making a difference somehow.

For the last two months I have been obsessed with Anne Frank. I reread her diary 5 times. Absorbed every little bit written on the Holocaust ever!Watched all the movies I could on WW2. I tend to have these transient 'Anne Frank' phases often.
But what came as a startling revelation for the first time ever, is that there is an Anne Frank hidden in all the 'Kochis' and 'Pujas' of the world. We just dont care enough to see. Or understand. And even when we do, we rave and we rant. And then we do it some more. But in the end, we walk away, thanking our stars we werent born as one of them. Or simply brushing the thought under the bed so we never have to think of it again.
But hey, stop a moment, will you? It is important.
We are content to celebrate Womens' day today. Hold contests. Write blogs.
But is it helping any?
Now is when we should pause and recalibrate.
Am I doing my bit to make this a beautiful world? A free world?
Am I really?
Yes, as women we celebrate our independence today. But when will we be free?

"Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing."

- Bob Dylan(Who else?!!)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Staying awake..or alive

There was something intriguing about the poster I saw at the coffee shop today. It made me stop and think. It read ' What do you stay awake for?'
People had pretty diverse things to say.
Five said Jared Stevens(whoever he is!)
Seven said Adam Weber(football quarterback of the Univ of Minnesota Gopher`s team)
One said - For my son Duncan(incidentally, he is one of the cutest kids I`ve seen in a while. He plays with me while his Dad works at the coffee shop!)
One said Love.
Three said - for class! Huh!
And One said something that would put a sailor to shame!
It set me thinking. What do I stay awake for?
Let`s see..
A warm hug, a good book, soulful music, a hot cup of coffee in the morning, the monsoons, some friends, a warm hand clasp, chocolates, a walk in the snow, the smile of a two-year old, psychic highs that arise from distant possibilities(or impossibilities!) and The G. Not necessarily in that order though.

I wonder what you stay awake for..