Friday, August 14, 2009

500 days of Summer

Last night on impulse my roommate and I went to watch the movie '500 days of Summer'. I usually avoid late nights when I'm working but I dont regret coming in to work sleepy eyed. The movie is refreshing, honest, down to earth and not glossy with beautiful people with perfect hair and nails. It is boy meets girl, but not a love story. Its a relationship story.

Haven't we all been there? Being so in love with the idea of love that you just lose focus on the bigger picture. The want of things to be a fairy tale, the concept of a soul mate that slowly disintegrates when you realize you're going to be 25 and wondering where your life went. As Carrie from Sex and the City says something to the effect of "I'm 40 and waiting. Where is he??"

Where is he!? I don't know! Does he even exist? hmm. not quite sure anymore. Thats the problem! From even before we could read, we have been fed with stories of a handsome prince and living happily ever after. While I don't exactly blame parents and society for trying to instill some faith in us, don't you think its more wrong than right? Girls spend all their time thinking that someone is going to come and rescue them and make all their troubles go away. WRONG. The moment that is expected, its all downhill from there.

The movie for once, is not about the girl.It's not about how in love with the guy she is, and she doesn't know what he thinks blaah blah blah.. only for him to come to the airport just before she boards the flight to kiss away her tears. It is the guy's perspective. It's about how he falls in love with the girl and she is not in love with him. She is unsure.

YES. That does happen to us too! Sometimes, we are not in love with a guy but just like him. Sometimes we want to take things as they go too. But no one likes to acknowledge the fact that we can be confused, and don't really want to plan where its going. We women always have to be portrayed love struck, crying and waiting for the man of her dreams. The stereotype of guys using girls doesn't really exist anymore I'm afraid.

What if we don't believe in love? That statement might just negate a few thousand years of literature, a few hundred years of novels and a hundred years of movies! I'm sorry, but it just might be true :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

physics lab and more

Being a TA is not easy. Uh uh, not easy at all I'm telling you. You have the responsibility to manage a class of rowdy undergrads who ask questions like "ok, now what do I type?" hoping for you to give them the answer. When you know that you're just a couple of years older than them, and when they know that they can get away making cheeky comments by making you laugh its tough.
People who know me won't really call me a strict person. I'm fairly talkative, lots of fun(at least I like to think so), like to go out with friends and party and do all the student-ey stuff.(which makes it weird when I see my students at the bars near school. I just turn away before they see me) So when I have to change my role to an instructor and go into the lab and yell for them to keep quiet, I'm actually secretly marveling at my no nonsense tone and wondering where on earth that voice was hiding all this while. (I sometimes wear my glasses to class for extra effect).
My friends from my college days couldn't believe that I was going to be a TA in the physics lab of all places. My news was met with a lot of "HAHAHAHA! YOU AA?" too "ooh , I wish I had a teacher like you ;-) " and all kinds of comments. I took it in my stride and laughed along. For the first few lab sessions I was a bit nervous wondering how I was going to handle twenty five freshmen college kids a section. And 4 sections at that. It was not so bad after all. There were the geeky kids, the slow ones, the cheeky ones and it was a fun experience.

This took me back to MY 1st semester Physics lab class in college. Where my professor Mr Ponnusamy would refer to everyone - even us girls - as 'thambi' which means 'younger brother in Tamil. I know. Go figure. Needless to say, his yelling across the lab 'thambi thambi lab coat enge pa?' was met with confused faces all around. I was like 'err are you talking to me? from which angle do I look like a thambi to you?'
We would try and manipulate readings which we did not get so that we could leave the lab early, finish pre lab in our observation 5 minutes before the session starts so we would not get thrown out. The usual stuff, nothing the profs dint know we did. And they let it pass.
Maybe it was because of this that I could see through fake readings in my lab and send the student back to complete it properly. Yes. I know. Me. I did that. =) no student was going to fool me. HA.

Why am I blogging about this again? The course Evaluations had come out today and I have to share a few comments by my students.

"Neha was a great instructor. She helped me when I had trouble within the labs."

"The professor would help when the class was having trouble and did not have a problem explaining things step by step on difficult tasks"

"Great TA! She made lab simple and easy to understand.The instructor was good."

So all that grading and teaching lab for 4 hrs and AFTER that attending my own 3 hr lectures seems worth it after all =)

Friday, July 17, 2009

This just happened so the conversation is fresh in my mind.

I was sitting at my desk at work trying read something.I see this guy looking for something and after the usual good morning/how are you we start talking. He pulled up a chair and we started having a conversation. The usual questions come up - how do you like it here? How does it feel to work at a company etc etc. When he learns I'm from India he asks me "So how different is it here from India" I don't really know what to say. He wants to know how different India is culturally.

Ah.Where do I start now? How do I explain to a typical American the love-hate relationship I share with my country? Born and brought up in the city, I don't really know rural India or know how it is to live in a village. I went to an upper middle class English speaking school, I grew up reading Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew. I watch english movies. I talk to my friends in English. I am not a part of a circle that calls each other and says *"enna di enna pannare?" I wear jeans and tee shirts and drink pink lemonade at Anokhi. I never traveled by bus until I went to college which was 40kms from home. I was forced to since there was no other mode of transport. I din't even know that there were local trains in Chennai till I joined college.

At the same time, I am as Indian as they get. People might scoff at me and say "What does she know? She hasn't really undergone any hardship in life.She never had to want of anything material". Is that true? Only few people know really.

Just because I don't talk in tamil/telugu all the time or don't wear mallipoo(jasmine flowers) in my hair doesnt mean I do not understand our culture. I do believe in tradition. I go to the temple, I believe in God the same amount that you do. I just do not wear a saree and do 'Archana' every weekend. I don't have to fast and make 10 varieties of sweets in order for me to get a good husband and pray for his life to last longer than mine.

A culture shock for me was when I started going to college. There were people from all walks of life. From towns/villages to the uber rich NRI kids. I was stuck somewhere In the middle. My middle class english speaking life did not really get along with the giggling girls nor with the partying kind. It took a while for me to fit in and find the crowd I could hang out with. Needless to say, I was branded a snob.

How do I explain something like class system(caste is a bad word these days I hear). "Does your family believe in the class system Ne?Will your parents want you to marry a boy in the same class as you" They ask me. Do we? Or don't we? We don't want to admit that we do and will never talk about it. But deep down inside we do right? Do you blame us? From grade 10 when marks matter the FC/BC* was an issue. I could not dream of going to a public medical college. Why? Because for our 'caste' we need to get 99.8% to make the grade. Is that fair? I will not get admission when I want to go for general seat in any public university. Why? Because I'm FC and I do not have 99% in my exams. "Oh, FCaa neenga?" is what I heard from time to time with a look on their face from the admin people at school offices. We studied as hard as the others. Don't we have a right to choose what we want to study?

I am proud of what I am and my family. I am proud that 90 years back my grandmother's father and brothers shunned the caste system and were one of the first to be a part of the Brahma Samaj(for abolition of the caste system and of the dowry system, emancipation of women, and improving the educational system etc). I am proud that everyone in my family was and is educated and knows the value of it even though we dont have rice fields back home pumping money into our bank accounts.

In the future, I wish my children understand our background, appreciate and be proud of who we are.

"So Ne.. how different is India culturally from America?" I just smile and say "Very different. India is a very old culture".

*Whats up,what are you doing? - Tamil
*Forward class/ Backward class

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ne walks into the living room and sees her dad reading the newspaper and drinking coffee.

Ne : Nanaaaaa? Naaanaaa?

Nana (without blinking or looking up) : How much will it cost?

Ne : :-/

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I've signed in and trying to keep up with my monthly blog post. An eventful month I must say. Everything is so uncertain right now. A month back I had no idea what I'd be doing this summer, I was thinking I might end up teaching(again) for the 3rd semester in a row. And then one day it all happened and the internship came up. A few weeks of nail biting and checking the phone every ten minutes for the HR to call and talk about paperwork followed. Once that was done and everything confirmed on paper, a couple of weeks of searching for a place to stay followed. I don't know what I would have done without google maps, and their street view option. I had fun dragging that little stick figure along the streets of TX to look at the place where I'm going to work.

I'm so used to studying now, I wonder how work life is going to be. I'm guessing its going to be different from India where I was among a bunch of campus recruits and I had people my own age to goof off with during lunch and after work.

I'm excited, nervous, a bit apprehensive since I'm going to a new city and a whole lot of other things. I'm packed and ready, and unable to sleep even though I'm dead tired. I'm supposed to report to work at 8 AM every morning which is going to be a challenge. My day starts at 11,especially the last two semesters, which is like a year. I had lab classes to teach and office hours only post 12 30 pm. I'm guessing I'm going to be asleep at 10 and up at 6 every morning this summer! Wish me luck on that front!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I was studying quietly at school minding my own business when a couple of people come and start talking to me. We were discussing random stuff about course work when one of them made a very rude comment about my team and presentation. When I asked him to explain, he had little to say. I just hope my answer and following silence made him realize he should think before talking.

I find this a lot around Indian guys. I don't mean to sound prejudiced or judgmental,because I'm Indian too. But I feel a lot of them lack basic courtesy in things they say and also when addressing women. The worst part is that they don't realize it and think its cool to act that way. It might be when you're an obnoxious 17 year old but not when you are 25 and in a professional environment.

This makes me wonder if they were taught basic etiquette at a young age. Should it begin at home? or at school? It starts off very early when young boys observe their fathers treat their mothers and other women with more authority than necessary. Right through school and even through college and beyond nothing is done to even imply that such behavior is not right. And when they leave home and go to other countries, this reflects badly on us as people! By voicing these 'concerns' they are not going to listen. And the worst part and what makes me real mad is they get away with being able to say what they want to without realizing it reflects so poorly on them and their character.

What does one do in such situations? Stay away and hope they don't embarrass you in public.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Its exam week and I've been eating extremely unhealthy food. Watched Super Size Me recently.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teamwork and more

I just fail to understand why some people have no teamwork ethics. When you're working in a team its imperative to recognize other people's work and give them due credit for it. Maybe its because we are a part of a class and in school some students don't bother too much. But that's no reason to behave this way. I know I'm ranting but its for a very valid reason! I haven't had a very good experience this semester with some people acting the way they do. Last month, a team member changed the layout of the presentation just 30 minutes before submission time. A very upset colleague confronted her since she spent a lot of time the previous night working on it. And she was given the reply "Oh yeah, I changed it because I dint like the template". Now, this person was angry and without losing her cool explained that this is not correct work ethics and if she had a problem with anything should have brought it to her notice. A lot of explanation later, the incident was put to rest. One would have thought that the person wouldn't do the same thing again. But she did exactly the same thing the second time around.

What do you do with such a person? Do you shout and scream which is obviously not the solution. Do you explain calmly and voice your concerns that this behavior is not right and one will not get away with it in an organization? I just don't understand why some people behave this way? Is it because they don't think? Or is it that they haven't been taught such basic etiquette and manners?

Anyway, this semester is almost over and I'm done with group work for this class. The idea of having such groups and presentations in a business setting was implemented by our professor for a reason and clearly has been lost on some people.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One would think that such a reputed website would conduct a spell check before posting!,curpg-11.cms

Read the last line in the paragraph about the movie 'Bobby'.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Someone who judges you even without knowing you is not worth it..right?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kitne ajeeb rishtey hain yahan pe..
Do pal milte hain saath saath chalte hain

Jab mod aaye toh bach ke nikalte hai
Kitne ajeeb rishtey hai yaha pe

Yaha sabhi apni hi dhun main deewane hain
Kare wahi jo apna dil sahi mane hai
Kaun kisko pooche kaun kisko bole
Kaun kisko pooche kaun kisko bole
Sabke labon par apne tarane hai

Le jaye nasib kisko kahanpe
Kitne ajeeb rishtey hain yahan pe

Khwaabon ki yeh duniya hain khwaaboh main hi rehna hain
Raahen le jaye jahan sang sang chalna hain
Waqt ne hamesha yahan naye khel khele
Waqt ne hamesha yaha naye khel khele
Kuch bhi ho jaye yaha bas khush rehna hai

Manzil lage kareeb sabko yahan pe
Kitne ajeeb rishtey hain yahan pe
Do pal milte hain saath saath chalte hai

Jab mod aaye toh bach ke nikalte hai
Kitne ajeeb rishtey hai yaha pe
Kitne ajeeb rishtey hai yaha pe

These lyrics really hit you don't they? The last year has been full of ups and downs for me. Getting to know new people and whole new different perspective on life. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I don't know if I'd rather be how I am now knowing so much more but not happy about all these realizations, or how I was a few years earlier, happier but unaware.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Food cravings have been a part of my life ever since I remember. I don't eat much as such, but sometimes I feel like having some chocolate,or rice and aavakkai(Andhra mango pickle) with some ghee and pani puri. Sheesh. I'm very picky about the aavakai I like and prefer the homemade variety made with mustard oil. This drives Amma nuts since we dont have the summer aavakai making ritual at home. :) I've always loved to cook and used to hang around when my dad took over the kitchen. He makes the world's best biryani. (I'm having intense biryani cravings right now). I just don't have the motivation to cook lately. The kitchen at our student apartment is pretty small. I'm just waiting to get my own place with a nice large kitchen and big room and light scented candles all over the place. sigh. I guess first I need a real job. Waiting to get done with grad student life as much as I love school.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So we're more than half way through this semester and I have loads of work piling up. It feels like forever since I've been home even though its just a couple of months.

A good friend uploaded a whole bunch of old pictures from our undergrad days on facebook. Brought back a lot of memories. Some good, some not so good. But kinda makes those days seem a lot simpler in retrospect. Also, I seemed to have put on some weight.To think I was that thin at one point. :-(

I've been hooked on to a few silly sites lately. But they are so much fun I just can't seem to help myself! highheelconfidential, failblog,fmylife,engrishfunny and graphjam. No judgements please!

And I'm feeling super guilty for drinking chocolate milkshake before class.

Monday, March 30, 2009

There are some people you come across in life whom you really hit it off with. I'm not talking about the opposite sex m/f chemistry thing. I'm talking about just being friends with people irrespective of age and sex. There are a few people I've come to know recently after moving here.Friends of friends and some others whom I haven't spent too much time with, but really enjoy talking to them. Maybe under different circumstances and maybe if we were all at school together we would have become really good friends. Thank god for google talk :) They're on my messenger list and it feels good to connect with some people who kind of think like me.

The other day I used a zinc based cream on my face which turned my silver nose ring a bronze-ish color.Any ideas on how to turn it silver again? I'm going to try rub some lime on it and see what happens

And so I made peas pulav for dinner today.Hope it turns out well. :)

Also, any ideas on what to get a 17 year old boy for his birthday?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm a year older. :-O

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I know, I know! Please forgive me, ardent followers of my blog, I haven't posted anything in a while. The last month has been quite eventful. I went home for the holidays and came back feeling rejuvenated and energized and happy. I think the trip home did good things to me. And when I thought I wouldn't TA again, I should have known. Its computer science this semester. sigh. Give me strength.

Now, With the Ram sena acting all self righteous and threatening to marry off couples who are dating? Don't you think that couples can actually use that to their advantage? Especially those who are from conservative families who do not approve of their respective boy/girlfriends? Just blame it on the sene! "Oh,well we were FORCED into it" and "um, now that we're married, you might as well approve". Wouldn't that be an easy way out? haww. It's not THAT bad a thing after all. And if you have any of those pink chaddis, post them right now. haha.

In the other news, I read some very nice books lately. Escape by Carolyn Jessop is amazing, a must read. You can Vikram chandra's Sacred Games a miss. I haven't even finished it. Gossip girl and shopaholic was nice light reading. Also The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells was very touching. I finally read the Kite Runner, and I cried three times during the course of the entire book. Currently I'm reading The great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor. I must say its written very well, but equally intense. I have a feeling I'm going to take a while to finish it.

So that was what was happening in my life until.. well.. today!

Friday, January 2, 2009

I am home and things are no more clearer than before. Hmm. Not sure what I was expecting.