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The other day, me and some friends went to a restaurant for dinner. It was about closing time and the waitress was sweeping up the room, but greeted us with a smile and a “can I get you something?”. We proceeded to have a normal dinner-out. After dinner, I went to the local theatre to volunteer at the concessions stand for the late night show. Right as the movie was about to begin, the waitress who had earlier served me walked in, and then it was my turn to ask.. “can I get you something”? We both shared a laugh at the zero-ness of life. You know, what goes around comes around :).

Happy 2012 folks.

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Seasonal Denial


Invisible demon
cloaked in leaves,
why do you take them away?
These golden yellow mementos of summer,
are all that we have
to reminisce a summer day.

By who’s bidding
are you so relentless
tossing and turning the leaves around?
with what spite,
with what reasoned glee
do you throw them to the ground?

wearing padded feet
bearing frosty breath
you slyly come to my door.
I hear the knocks
but what if I wont open it
to you anymore?

Chuckling devil
your plans wont work
you think winter will now start.
but all my friends say
haven’t you heard?
It’s always summer in my heart.

Pachydermal Issues


From WikipediaJust in case I had forgotten how life was back home, Kerala welcomed me with these two pieces of news both involving the state’s favourite animal, the elephant.

Now each temple in Kerala typically has at least one elephant to its name. Guruvayoor tops the list with 60 I think.  The said animals are kept nearby, washed and maintained by a mahout  ‘pappan’ and revered and loved by everyone in the town. In fact, we love them so much that in the monsoon season each lucky pachyderm gets an ayurvedic treatment to rest and relax its frayed nerves. After all, being pampered all year round is no joke. (I wonder if domesticated elephants in timber yards have heard about these job perks in temples, and whether they conside a switching careers).

1) So, anyway, back to the news. A temple near the town I’m from was preparing its three elephants for a ceremonial circumnambulation around the town. There was some delay in the start and one of the pachyderms got a lil restless, and gave his friend a poke. Said friend was not in a good mood, fell down and created a big ruckus. Needless to say the restless miscreant was chained up, and the priests tried to calm the upset one. In the meantime, the third pachyderm got fed up with his colleagues behaviour and decides he can do a pradakshina on his own. So this full grown male elephant all decked up in revelry marches out of the temple and into the middle of a bustling town. Did the people run for their lives? Was the police called? Nope. Apparently the pachyderm was so well-mannered in following all traffic rules through the busy streets.. nobody realized he was on his own. The unattended elephant walked 20 mins to his destination and it’s only then that the temple realized, oh look, he’s back!

2) The next piece of news was more entertaining. An elephant snuck out in the middle of the night from one of the temples and went missing. Now this is big news, an elephant is a matter of pride and lot of donations. How did it escape? Why did it run away? And more importantly, where does a 5000 kg, 10 ft tall mammal hide?! The locality around was searched by all but to no avail. Finally, two days later, some kids (in a cliched went-to-retrieve-a-ball story) found the pachyderm sitting in a shady grove of sugarcane fields, contently munching. AThe rumour is that the temple food disagreed with him but that’s the grapevine talking.

And there we have it. I’ve always been amazed at these elephants, especially during the times of the temple festivals (or Ultsavams or Poorams). Why a huge, 4 ton beast with 8 feet tusks allows to be dressed up with pretty nettipattams, bells, necklaces is beyond me. How it doesn’t go mad with the sound of the loud drums (thanks to the marars), with a thousand people all craning to get closer and feed it more bananas is a different matter altogether. Talk about patience! No wonder we love our state animal so much, who else would stand for such stuff.


The chirping of small birds. The cooing of a cuckoo. The splashing of ducks. The ripple of water hitting the bank. The sounds of the breeze through green leaves. The buzzing of flies. Children running. The faint whish of a Frisbee. The turning wheels of a bicycle. The ripple of water across a pond. The reflection of the green grass on it. The humidity of the air. The delayed setting of the sun. The lushness of a lawn. The wavering of a brand new twig. The filtering sunlight through leaves. The slanting evening sun on the grass. The roosting of crows. The satisfied sigh at the end of a long day :).

We Remember: 04/16/07


It’s a dark and rainy day in Blacksburg, with thunder booming above us and sheets of rain falling on the town. (Tomorrow’s forecast however is calm and sunny, go figure). But for today, it’s a dark, stormy day. I’d like to imagine that the weather remembers the madness and cruelty of a day 4 years ago. I didn’t know anyone who died that day, I wasn’t here, I wasn’t a hokie then. My professor lost a student, my labmate lost a colleague, my student lost her boyfriend, my friend lost her friend. This campus is still grieving for its loss. I’m touched by the magnamity of a campus that refuses to forget,  or let the day be any other normal day. 9000 people were ready to run 3.2 miles in remembrance of the lives lost. Those 9000 will turn up for the candle light vigil regardless of the rain and wind. I don’t know why we do it. I don’t know what fuels the stubborness to remember. But we will all still write down and remember this date. I guess, it’s a Hokie thing.


:To all the twenty-somethings who have graduated from college and are not married. (If you’re married, look for advice columns on mid-life crisis. Your life’s half done.)

Quite a few of my friends in graduate school are on the verge of graduating, looking for jobs, filing OPTs and making career decisions. All of them are a little apprehensive, scared and unsure of what will happen once they do graduate.. and some wish they wouldn’t be graduating. Quite a few of my friends in graduate school are not graduating any time soon, looking at all the years they have left to spend in grad school before starting a career. All of them are a little apprehensive, scared and unsure of what will happen until they graduate.. and some wish they would be graduating right away, and moving on to the next stages of their lives.

To all my friends, welcome to your quarter-life crisis. Haven’t heard of this term before? (Lucky you). Check out the blog by Unknown here: http://www.cds.caltech.edu/~shane/text/quarterlifecrisis.html

Back? If the text on that bleak, black screen seemed to talk about you.. you’re on the right page. If it talks exactly what you are going through day in and day out.. get some help. Life isn’t that bad. It’s just swinging very wildly, happy moments and scary moments in succession. While it’s not always easy to be a perpetual monkey-on-crack,  I have phaith that we’ll deal with it and emerge a happier generation. So here goes my cynical, critical and sympathetic comments on surviving this stage of life, compiled from the net, from personal experience, and from being a granny.

  1. Vent out, but don’t whine. Yeah you don’t have a job, or a girlfriend, or a car or a combination of the lack of either of these. It’s ok, these things are a matter of time. Do I really have to listen to it every week??
  2. Don’t neglect health. Get enough sleep, relaxation, french-fries, exercise and alcohol. Well.. maybe you wanna cut down on the alcohol. Dont give up the fried food though!
  3. Live in denial. It keeps you young and immature, that’s what we’re aiming for folks! )I have a friend who recently celebrated his fifth 19th birthday. Be inspired.)
  4. This paper isn’t published yet, but acute quarter-life crisis is actually caused by the bug Growingup toosoonish. Chronic infections are caused by the bug Notgrowingup toosoonish. (I should at least get an Ignoble for this, ne?)
  5.  Blame the times. Apparently, it’s because of this fast-paced, competetive and high-expectation filled society that we’re suffering. Twenty somethings of our parents generation were more liberated, not as much in-debt and with better jobs. I’m not so sure about this one.. but it helps to blame something. Maybe I’ll blame global warming.

If you manage to do either of these self-asserted tips, let me know. If you managed to do something else to survive this stage, let me know. Fact of the matter is that the quarter-life crisis is just a fancy term for a few years of your life. Don’t give it any more thought than needed.. so get out, live your life.

Peace.


Cowtown Skydive, Texas, February 12th 2011.

We all have some crazy things on our list-of-100-things. Mine has more than a fair share of insanity.. but none as famous as wanting to skydive. And along with a bunch of genuinely cool people, that’s exactly what I did last Saturday.

In an old hanger overlooking a triangular runway is Cowtown Skydive, a place that only country roads can access. In fact, we had a slight detour over the runway when the access-road was ‘too muddy’ for delicate tires. Urged by my brother-in-law who had previously done a jump before, I found myself between some very happy people on this bright Saturday morning. Radio blared songs in the background, a picnic table with an assortment of snacks was placed before a hanger filled with brilliant canopies and parachutes. On the runway lay a couple of small microlight planes.. and for some reason the name ‘born to fly’ fit them perfectly.

Was I nervous? No, not in the beginning at least. The people there were so relaxed and nice. Reminded me of unknown bikers you meet on the mountain path who beam at you just because you are there, like them. The comaradarie among the staff there was endearing.. I’d like to be like them. Come away to a peaceful hanger on my free Saturdays and watch flights soar and humans fly. You gotta admit, that’s a cool job profile ;).

A brief lecture on what to do (and what not to) while on board the tiny planes was all that was needed for us to be set on our tandem jumps. It amused me that I got a hot-pink jumpsuit, but hey.. it fit snug so no complaints. At that point I had no idea what was lying ahead of me so I wasn’t nervous at all. Just chatty and happy. We walk over the runway to the tine airplane, and I wave to my brother-in-law.. and for some reason I’m reminded of the scene in Armageddon where the heroes take off for outer space. 10500 ft doesn’t count as outer-space but it was an adventure nevertheless.

As the plane takes off the runway and begins to gain altitude, I can see the ground below take shapes of lil squares and rectangles. The view was amazing! To be in a small plane like that makes you feel the view much more closely than in a passenger plane. I make small talk as the 15 minutes pass by, and we finally reach the 10500 ft mark. And then it starts.

 

Was I nervous? Yes, beyond nervous.. I think my heart stopped beating. When they open that door and ask you to step out on the side, with nothing but air and the ground far away.. I felt my heart rise into my mouth. It was cold, I had forgotten my helmet and my gloves but that’s not what I felt. I felt like I was standing at the edge of a very tall building, dizzied by the depth and about to jump off. Which is exactly what we did. A few tumbles, a sharp gust of wind that knocked my breath away and I felt intensely the fact that I was ‘falling’. In 10 seconds or so we balance ourselves, and I venture to lift my head, look at the horizon and see the videographer smiling at me.. and then there was no looking back. Flying, falling, tumbling, feeling that ground zoom up to you like that. It’s all that you think it will be :).

 

Before you know it (actually, free fall last about 50 secs) the parachute has been deployed and suddenly you’re only floating, not falling towards that round earth. From then on it’s smooth sailing, manouevering to the left and right, admiring the scenery, admiring the brilliant-colored canopy stretched above me and agreeing with David that he does have the most awesome profession. I had the rare luck to see a flight take off from above it, and the humour in that didn’t miss me. The second part was more relaxed, having parasailed before I knew how the feeling of having your feet high up in the air felt. Unreal. Like it’s all a trick with mirrors. More instructions on how to land preceeded a very smooth landing and I was suddenly back on terra firm, my legs still shaking from the ordeal. But I smiled in my pictures, so I guess I had a good time after all :).