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Sunday, July 24, 2011

"There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't because I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and that it fell apart I might not make it. It's easier to be alone because what if you learn that you need love and then you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it, what if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It can go on forever."
I've been a fan of Grey's Anatomy since I can remember. I love the drama, the cases that always tie into the trials and tribulations of being the elite surgeons at SGH and the soundtrack and the romances and the adorably hunky men and the fiercely independent messed up women protagonists that make me look sooo normal.
This quote was how season 7 ended. Season 7 is a game changer. Will MerDer make it? They must. Right? This show wouldn't be what it is without the drama that their romance has brought to it. You root for the messed up girl and her perfect knight in shining armor who 'believed in true love' and waited for her. Lord he waited. He put up with some crazy ass stuff to be with her. Including a Post-It wedding. Whatever that is. Glad that fad didnt catch on. But the point is, after all that romance, after having spent 7 seasons convincing us that they truly are meant to be together, they send you this curve ball that just leaves an ache in you. Why? Because, all of a sudden, in that moment, you realize just how true those words are. Yes they're waaaay more dramatic than anything any real person would say considering that line was written by professional writers on one of TVs most acclaimed dramas, but still. You get the gist.
Its all about making yourself vulnerable in the end. Putting yourself out there demanding what is your due. How much are you willing to trade off there? Vulnerability? Dignity? Pride? Self Preservation? I guess Vulnerability and Self Preservation are the main big trade offs. Meredith put herself out there, finally got married and then the entire marriage crumbled all round her. Derek waited years to be with her, start a family, feel whole at last and just as it all seems within reach, he's left to sleep alone on a wooden plank up on a mountain somewhere within the bare walls of his dreams, of what could have been. Not cool.
I want to believe in my own McDreamy, hanging around on a British estate somewhere, talking to his butler about whatever it is that Marquis' discuss with their butlers but its scary because if even TV drama Patrick Dempseys can't resolve the trade off, what hope do we normal mortals have?
Stupid GA. Every time you make me believe, you also manage to find an Achilles Heel for me to cry about don't you? 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Project Summer


Summers on campus are a time of much leisure and relaxation, the time to take on projects like knitting or cooking or become a project oneself. My friend of hued childhood years has adopted me and I too have adopted myself as a project to work on these halcyonic summer days that approach me. I will learn to cook. And no I don’t mean gourmet cooking. I mean scrambled eggs and tossed vegetables and pasta and other basic fare that will allow me to survive one day in the fast approaching future. I make no pretensions at my talents in the kitchen. They will never be anything but passable but I will not be daunted by the knives and the fires and the smells and the constant need to keep clean and dry. I however, will not kow tow to the kitchen gods. Nope. Not happening. I am of that strain of independent liberated women that feels no shame in knowing that most of the men in her life are more domesticated than her. So? They are coming into their own strengths, much like I am with my own.
Strengths I hear you mock? Why yes. I believe I may cultivate some talents this summer. Knitting is the first such challenge. I’ve put it off far too long. I learnt finger knitting off a youtube video even one summer but actual knitting? Purl, weave, blah? I got it. Knitting’s got nothing on me. Armed with a book, knitting needles and yarn, I got this. I will return this world to the yester years when it was perfectly acceptable for a respected woman to take refuge in her knitting in awkward social situations or discuss knitting patterns to break the ice. Knitting is a beautiful art, with history and culture and the mellowness of all that was beautiful about gently faded old women on porch chairs, knitting their years away. And the feeling of seeing something being constructed, of something taking shape from within all those threads and clashing needles is thrilling. I’ve known the joy of bringing colour and grace to a hitherto bland piece of cloth but to make the cloth now? To make the base itself? Oh lordy. This is going to be fun J
Hmmm… other mundane tasks – learn how to drive. More importantly, get the damn license already. Enough dilly dallying now. Grow up, get behind the wheel and stop wimping out at 40 mph. That’s just lame sauce, Ducky.
Prep for the GREs. Sorta important. Need to get educated, remember? Do your research as well. Figure out where you could go. Funsies!
I am my own project this summer. I’m taking it by the horns and telling it to back the hell down. Summer will not make me over think my life. It’s dark and scary in my mind and I tend to not like hanging out in there. So I won’t. I will learn and fill my brain with useless trivia about knitting and cooking and boxes and television and germs and the marines. Reading lists, challenges, tasks, talents, wish lists and leisure, they mingle in my head already, merge into an intangible, incoherent mess which I will sort into neat little piles by the end of the summer. Project Me Starts Today. Yikes!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

An Ode to Y'all

I came to Jordan a scared and paranoid soul. I was worried no one would like me, I’d be the ‘foreign’ little child who kinda crept along the outskirts of the group. I would not be smart enough to converse intelligently with these exemplary co-students and I would fail at Arabic, especially given my history with languages. Ya. Sometimes I wonder why I even embarked on this trip. How was I to know that my deeply entrenched low self esteem would be knocked straight out of the ball park by this amazing group of students I have been privileged to share this out of the world experience with.

Oh you dearest of friends. You all have made me a better person, someone I’m kinda OK with being. You were my oasis of strength, support, fun and comfort in this absurd, soulful, chaotically colourful and challenging three months. I doubt I’d have loved these months as much without you. Thank you, for teaching me, amongst others that:

  • Texas is actually pretty OK
  • There is a difference between the South, the Deep South and then Texas. What I’m not sure but hey! You got to begin somewhere right?
  • ‘Foreign’ is a term of endearment – who knew that being culturally insensitive/racist/ethnocentric was in fact a show of love???
  • The frattiest bro you’re likely to meet is a sucker for a stuffed toy, a yellow baby chicken to be specific.
  • It is possible to be really good friends with Conservative Republicans. Yes multiple. I’m still a flag burning liberal socialist though, not to worry.
  • Being tossed over someone’s shoulder is a particularly unpleasant experience
  • Glee brings people together. Oh wait… I already knew that!
  • Riding a horse sounds like the scariest thing ever.
  • Your friends are musical geniuses when drunk and tone deaf when sober
  • An abandoned rubble pit on a steep slope is actually a fun place to hang out at when drunk
  • UN parties are fun to crash. As are US Embassy parties. Especially if you’re an Indian dressed as a Texan and your friend is a Texan dressed in your Sari
  • Feathers make for great fashion accessories
  • ‘Sounds like my prom night’ (a friend’s invention) allows for waaaay more versatile usage that ‘that’s what she said’
  • ‘WORD’ is a really popular slang term. Who knew?
  • People will pretend to find law and legal discourse interesting just coz they love you so much
  • It is possible for 23 completely different, polar opposite, disparate people to be really good friends, to get along, genuinely like one another and make a lasting impression on your life
  • Your tribe is forever (well a really long time if nothing else) – the memories, the lessons and most importantly, the people

The Airport Sagas

Airline companies are not my friends. Airport lounges on the other hand, are. I have spent many an hour at various airports globally, sitting right in front of the Check in counter, in the desperate hope that somehow my luck turns, just once. That… is yet to happen.

My freshmen year I had what my family lovingly called ‘the travel jinx’. My university forgot to pick me from the airport for orientation which please note was my introduction to American college life. I got dropped off on the side of a highway that year, spent 80 USD on a cab ride from the airport and then would have done so again had it not been for the generosity of a stray college professor who drove me, in the hope that one day, somewhere, someone would return the favor and look out for her own college-aged daughter. The climax was my return trip home however, when I spent 37 hours at a particularly boring airport due to rain in Chicago and then got held up at London airport because they didn’t like the look of my replacement ticket. The domestic leg of my trip home met with a similar disastrous fate when Cyclone Aila hit Kolkata, my final destination and I got to spend 7 hours on the tarmac of a State which was controlled by separatist militias and then flew back to where I had started from 12 hours earlier. Yes. That was a memorable trip.

Anyhoo, we all assumed that I had broken the junx when I succeeded in crossing both the Atlantic & the Pacific in the same year, without any mishaps. We rejoiced. Especially when I managed to avoid the snow storm of 2009 that descended upon Europe and the East Coast, stranding travelers across all major Western airports. I had ebaten the system and could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

And then of course Gulf Air ‘happened’ as we would have said in school. The Gulf Air roundtrip was a good Rs 10,000 (USD 200) cheaper than the Royal Jordanian flight and allowed me 1.5 times the weight limit. A golden opportunity, yet another airline triumph, I was on a roll. Or so I thought.

My ticket home said my flight left at 1330 hrs. their website was down for the three days preceding my flight. I didn’t think to call up as I assumed they were legally bound to inform me or my travel agent about a change in schedule. Oh but what was I thinking! Is Gulf Air legally bound to anyone but their own inefficiencies?

I reached the airport, close to 3 hrs prior to my departure only to find my flight was boarding. In true Jordanian style, no one at the Check In counters had any idea as to what was going on, partially to blame was the fact that Gulf Air, has no official counter at the airport or even a sort of office where they can pretend to sit and deal with problems. My flight had left at this point so after much running around and tracking down of airport managers who could call Gulf Air employees only to be handed a retinue of excuses, I gave up in sheer frustration and bought the ‘last’ ticket on the Royal Jordanian flight home. I have never bought a ticket this last minute before so maybe I’m overhyping the situation but somehow I find myself, yet again stranded at a rather boring airport for 9 hrs with no viable food options around and my ever cheerful mother 500USD poorer. Hail Airlines!

(Interesting Fact: Airport employees, in three different continents now have seen a sobbing Paromita Sen, which is more than can be said for some of my closest friends even.)

Airlines That So Far Have Tried To Screw Me Over:

Lufthansa

British Airways

American Airlines

Spice Jet

Gulf Air

United Airways

Ones That Haven’t:

AirIndia (Really. No Joke)

Royal Jordanian’s fate is now hanging in the balance

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Wonders

The Wonders

Just thought I’d post the list of the 7 wonders of the World too since it is now my life’s mission to see all. Check off the ones you’ve been to.

This is the newest list, as announced on 07/07/07. So funny they are, I must say.

Each monument is said to stand for something. Once I find that list, I’ll edit this post.

Wonder

Country

Description

Christ The Redeemer

Brazil

Statue of Christ – the beginning shot of multiple apocalyptic movies

Great Wall

China

A Wall – a really long one. Like really really long.

Taj Mahal

India

Marble Mausoleum – built in mourning for a beloved wife

Colosseum

Italy

Guess the West had to have something going for them.

Petra

Jordan

City Carved Into Rock - literally

Chichen Itza

Mexico

Ziggurats – does anyone know what those actually are?

Machu Pichu

Peru

Incan Temples

Honorary Candidate –

Pyramids At Giza

If you don’t know which country these are in, you don’t deserve to exist.

Pyramids – Nuff said.

The Pyramids from now on will be an Honorary Candidate on all revised lists, the 8th Wonder for time eternal.

3 Down 5 to Go

Don’t feel like making this poetic. So I’m not going to.

Petra is a newcomer to the list of wonders of the world. In 2007, due to very active campaigning by Queen Rania, Petra was included in the revised list, and oh thank god it was. How would I describe Petra? Hmmm… Petra is a city carved into rock. Not out of rock, because these rock monuments are literally carved into the stone mountains of the region. The city was built by the Nabataeans supposedly around the last century BCE first century AD. Details are yet to be known as since the 5th Century AD, the city was abandoned, and kept hidden from the rest of the world until about the mid 19th Century when a Swiss traveler heard of the Sacred City of the Bedouin, open only to those of the Badia and thus snuck in with a goat. (Yes goats are that cool, they’ll get you into sacred cities. Please reference previous post about the omniscience of the goat.)

Anyhoo, Petra. The city is reached through a Siq or a natural gorge, the best defense from invading armies. Once you walk down this 2 kilometer long winding, oft narrow gorge you understand why Petra was carved where it was. The gorge tapers off sometimes to allow only maybe one chariot through, and sometimes it is broad enough for a couple of elephants to trundle through. The road itself is paved such that parts are racing horse friendly while other parts will be sure to trip up a wheel unsure of where it is headed. An intricate knowledge of the Siq is therefore important for one’s grand entrance into the city. The Siq itself is beautiful with random carvings in the rock walls that serve no real purpose but just look pretty. Trees and bushes sprout out of the rock interface, thus indicating the presence of multiple water channels that fed the city in its heyday, another reason for the location considering the surrounding desert. You want to climb into some of the rock crevices you see but guides loitering around with their tour groups prevent you from doing so. Beh. Great photo op lost.

The entrance to Petra is framed by the Khazeneh or Treasury. It is an absolutely magnificent rock façade carved into the first mountain of the city. Initially thought to be a temple to one of the patron Nabataean gods, recent excavations found skeletal remains thus indicating that it probably was a tomb, even though the façade implies otherwise. Under the actual tomb structure you see where the doors leading to the underground tombs are. Over 8 bodies are said to have been found under just this tomb.

You can just meander through the city, which would be the best way to see it. Take an entire day, from 8 in the morning till 5 when it gets too dark to see anyway. We however, had 4.5 hours. Fail SIT. But not to be daunted we zoom through. Do not underestimate the speed a group of young adults can explore at.

Nature has been kind to Petra. Some of the carvings have been weathered such it is difficult to state authoritatively if all the crevices we saw were man made. They most probably were but who’s to say for sure? The layers have given away to reveal a kaleidoscope of colours so vivid, they make you stop. They bring to life the sands of the desert, the bleakness of the landscape is let up, even if briefly.

We zoom on, till we reach the Colonnade, a row of pillars where the city centre once was. Surrounding it you see the rubble of the free standing houses that once stood there were destroyed by successive earthquakes. This is the fate of most of the free standing rock structures in Petra, one of the reasons behind why it was abandoned eventually.

The highlight of the exploring however is the trek through the mountain to the Monastery. The Monastery was used by both, the Nabataeans and the succeeding Christians and is reached by trekking up 800 steps through the mountains. It is not easy. I almost began doubting the existence of the Monastery about 45 minutes in. You see, when they say 800 steps, they are counting the physical rock steps cut into the mountain. What they forget to mention are that there are no steps someplace and you just have to walk up the slope which is not really that difficult but the principle of the fib is what hurts. The little shops set up by local Bedouin women make it so much more pleasant though. If you do wish, donkeys are available at relatively affordable rates to carry you up. Coming down could be scary considering the slope but the Monastery is more than worth it. The monastery is yet again a beautiful rock façade which you can clamber into with the help of three of your friends. (There are pictures of my valiant attempt on Facebook.) More importantly, the view of Petra and the surrounding Desert and sand dunes and hills is what is so beautiful. It is an amazing panoramic view of the region and you’re as high up as you can get in this area.

Anyway, darkness descends really early since winter is here. By about 430 the sun has gone to bed and we’re still meandering down. We have a deadline to meet so we decide to spend our last deenars on camel rides through Petra at dusk. Every penny worth it. The streets are abandoned as everyone has packed up and left. You get a really great scenic view of the city as you trot down towards the entrance. The camel man is friendly and a wealth of knowledge and plus he says my Arabic is very good. It is so endear yourself to me, I realise. My friend decides to make her camel start cantering which means mine must too since they are tied together. Let’s just say we are not friends anymore. I’m kidding. Maybe. It’s quite an experience actually. Trotting camels are very very very bumpy. This camel ride was my favorite so far though. Yes it even beat the one at the Pyramids. I would highly recommend a camel trot through the empty streets of Petra to all and sundry. Just don’t canter if you plan on going sand dune crashing/rolling/God Alone Knows what the next day.

Ok that’s all. Made this long and boring enough. You’re welcome!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jazz Cairo Style

Cairo Jazz Club. Don’t let the name fool you. No it’s not a jazz club. Or maybe it is. Just not the night we decided to drop by. A small little club in a not so hip area of Cairo yet overflowing with people. Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike. Egyptians, Lebanese, Spaniards, Americans, the token Indian (yes me), Italians all jamming out to music from the 70s and 80s. Requests for Lady GaGa turned down. Too new. Contemporary is so passé. The DJ spins ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. Three of us know the lyrics. All of them. We sing. All of them. No one else does. Money for Nothing. Talk About a Revolution. It’s My Life. We Will Rock You. Like A Virgin. Black Or White. Jessie's Girl. Losing My Religion. We sing a little too loud, a little too long. We lose our voices. We don’t care. It’s been too long.