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Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Journey Part 1 - Chennai To Mumbai Train

This write up will be in parts since I have so much to say. It is about a recent trip that I made from Chennai to Mumbai and my take on the Mumbai city and its people. I have never been to Mumbai and I probably would not have visited the city this time around if it was not for the Dutch Visa processing that I had to get done in Mumbai.

I left on the anniversary of the Babri Masjit incident, Dec 6th. The security arrangements in Chennai were at its peak, especially since there were prior warnings given. My dad was not even allowed to enter the railway station to send me off. After living in Canada for two years,and not having travelled by the Indian Railways for a long long time, my parents did warn me, but I decided that a true Indian must travel by the Indian Railways Sleeper Class( True Indian Guide book, Clause 214, Sub Clause 12.4 :D). Honestly speaking, after living in a developed country for more than 2 years, you suddenly find it difficult to handle the crowd and filth. I know this may sound snobbish, but that sadly is the truth. It took me some time to get acclimatised,but I was okie in a while.

Ignoring the dirt around, there is this joy you derive by traveling in a train, sleeper class that will always thrill me - sitting in a window seat, watching the world go by. Just sitting there, you can literally observe a world around you. I was the first to reach my cubicle. I prayed that my seat should be away from the loo. Thankfully it was. Two young workers and a mother and son sat in my cubicle. My mother had packed so much food for me that the entire compartment could have made a meal out of it. I was eating practically all the time. I am not complaining though..:D

The workers were two young boys, shy and quiet most of the time. They looked like rowdies to me first, but they surprised me the most by being really decent. Aunty ji was a really "enthu" personality. She talked to everybody, finding slightest gap, she would squeeze herself on the seat and sleep. The son was most uncharecteristic. He slept through most of the journey ( on hind sight perhaps the best thing to do!!).As the train left the city and moved into the country side, you can see kids waving at the train. I waved back, almost feeling nostalgic of my childhood days. I could see swelling lakes and ponds after the recent cyclones that hit Chennai. As we crossed the borders to reach Andra Pradesh, the train stopped at Renigunta. The first signs that you see on reaching the Telugu speaking state are tonsured heads, several of them, families of them. :D. Its sooo funny. You see young and old, men and women with tonsured heads. No, AP doesnt have a cult following Britney Spears, but it is the land of Tirupati Balaji and oh boy! they are loud. Running and screaming across the train. The last person in our cubicle joined us at this station. He was this strong, bossy, 'don't mess with me else I will screw' you sort of person. Our aunty ji was sprawled out and sleeping in his seat and he put things in order by making everybody sit in their respective places.

Aunty ji was a very enterprising character. She spoke politics, religion, sports and she seemed, bubbly and vivacious. I like such people. I read through an entire book on revolutions and half way through an India Today edition on the Mumbia attacks. I dint speak much and went to sleep early. Now there are a few things one MUST do while travelling by train in India. Dont eat much in the train. You dont want to visit the loo in the train too often. Its simply put - YUCK!!. The other thing is keep your nails as short as possible. They become incredibly dirty while traveling. Aaah!! the kind of things you learn.

My mom and dad were sooooo freaked out that I was traveling alone to a city that was soo recently under the attack of terrorists, they called me every few hours to check on me...again, I am not complaining here...I dont mind their attentions...:D...enjoy while it lasts...:)

The next day morning thinking that I was the smartest one, I got up by 5:00 to avoid the rush to the loo. But desis think alike I guess. I did have to stand in a queue for a while. Auntu ji got up early too and only our cubicle was up by 5:30 itself. Here is when I fell in love with aunty ji. She made us all sit on one side and she started doing Yoga/pranayama/meditation in the train. I just love such characters, she was like a character out of a novel.But I couldnt help giggling along with the boys though when she made some odd noices and strange poses :D.

Watching the sun rise from the train, I took a sip at garam garam masala chai. :). It was heavenly. The boys ate hardly anything during the entire journey. The one meal that they hadwas because the'dont mess with me'uncle made them eat( uncle was a nice man by heart, I think..). They were poor, that much was obvious. But here is where life always brings along its own twists. These two kids, who were barely able to buy food for themselves, donated to almost every single beggar who came by. And gosh! there was one at least every half hour. I was touched. The'dont mess with me'uncle even scolded them caringly for giving away so much money to beggars. I was really moved by their attitude. How can I not mention, the visit made by the eunuchs. The poor guys shelled out Rs 10 to them. I barely looked up when they came. I just freaked out every time I heard a clap sound in the train. I pity them, but they are able bodied people. Begging/bullying people for money is not a way to live.

Just as you can 'see' that you have reached Andra Pradesh, I could 'see' that we had reached Maharashtra. Men with their white colored kurtas (I dont know what they call it) and their white topis and women wearing colorful saris tied up in a different fashion. Having had my carefully packed home made morning break fast, I reached Pune by 9:30 am. My dear 'atthai' had come to pick me up.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cross Roads

I am again at cross roads. My last two years of graduate education has put me in such a comfortable position that I am just unwilling to budge. Oh! Sparing the first year though when I had to go through a psycho landlady, an even more psycho roommate; a few burnt feathers at the end of it, life almost changed after I started living on campus. With a house just five minutes from all good things – lab, Tim Horton’s/Starbucks and all my dear friends, I am nestled with all cozy comforts that university life provides. I am reminded of the cheese story. :)

But, its time to move on now. I am done with my Master’s and I have to move out of campus. I know I am just kidding myself that I will still be able to live the same life but it’s just not going to be the same whether I take up a job or I continue to do further studies in Netherlands. My grad life has been unique to me because I think for the first time in my life I truly had lot of friends and really really enjoyed myself. My undergrad life was very simple. It was about 9 girls in my class and the biggest thing that we did was go together for a movie after each semester exam :). Life was extremely simple. I did enjoy it but never did I really do anything different or unpredictable. In fact I was such a home pigeon that never once have my parents complained about me being out of bounds or typically “ooru suttifying” type of a person. The only “social” activities that I involved myself in were the time to time volleyball matches, social service activities :D and that’s about it. But I guess grad life gave me that living on the edge experience ( Okie now, compared to a looooot of other people this might be peanuts but hey I am my own judge here :)). I have ooru suttified so damn much that I some times feel that I need some time and space of my own. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Every single time I need anything, feel lonely or am simply bored, I have some one to pamper me. It is almost like a family.

Simply put, I am just scared to get out of my comfort zone and start all over again, especially if I am going to Netherlands. I know that the program is good and worse come worse career wise I will be exactly where I am today. I am pretty excited that its “Europe” and I will obviously have a looot of new things to dig in…new culture and come to think of it I would have lived in three continents by then. I will sort of have a work experience by the end of it. And plus its major time recession period now. Its probably the best time to be in Grad school :D. I will be out of this program by 2011 and baam!! the economy is back to normal and the princess lives happily ever after. Sighhhhhhhhh!!! That was a good dream. Well, okie so that’s the supposed good side of it. But the truth is I have got to face two years of loneliness in a totally new place where even the language is unknown to me and I have to come on top of it at the end of it all. Lets face it there is obviously no family there and I would be more than happy to have even a few decent desis around. And more importantly it must all actually help in the fulfillment of my big dreams ( ‘ado anda paravail pola vazhavendum’ look :D ). Haha….I am majorly confused.

Hmmmmmmmmm!!!! I need to focus on trying to get a job here a little bit more. The opportunities are less but I have gotta try. Meanwhile I don’t know where I should live, coz the campus residence people will kick us out in a month, should go to India in December…..arrrghhhh!!! My daddu darling has come out here meanwhile for about a 15 days and I am basically completely caught up with him and totally cribbing about things as such. Gosh I am such a whino! I keep whining all the time. I know, I can see it myself. Sometimes in life I feel that I keep thinking of such small things that are totally in control and normal. I do keep reminding that to myself. For instance, one of grandma has a brain tumor, the size of a tennis ball in her brain!!! My whole family is just freaking out. She is the principal of DAV girl’s school in Chennai and is one of the softest and nicest people I have met. My mom said she is taking the whole situation with calm and dignity. Fate can be cruel. It can present some ugly things that can just throw your entire life into a crazy spin. Where do issues like mine go when some one is dealing with a life and death situation? To the bin…literally.

Things will eventually work out one way or the other for me. At the end of it though I just want to feel that I have given it my best shot. Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy my time with my chella daddu and give him all my enthu. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 hooo: (

I don't fall sick that often and that is something that I love about myself. This time though I almost saw it coming. Well it is the flu season, I happily roamed around without a jacket and the most foolish thing was, the day I fell slightly sick, I completely ignored it, roamed around even more and did not bother to take any medication. Stupid me!!! :(....The next day I got seriously ill....

We had actually planned for a dinner at our place yesterday but had to cancel. I was still thinking that we could some how pull it off but my roomie fell sick too.

I was feeling pretty low on the whole and really wished after a long time that I was home. Most of my friends called and inquired about me and they were all pretty sweet. My bro-in-law came all the way and gave me some food and medicine. That in itself made me feel better..:).Slept for like 12 hours or so...

I will be fine in a day or two....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

pappu goes clubbing!!!:)

I think Vancouver has changed me a lot. From being the ultra conservative, ' people who drink and smoke are bad' attitude, I have turned into quite an open minded person. (At least I think I am :))I still remember my first entry into a pub, a local one within the campus - Koerner's pub. Four of us had gone there not even to drink but to play pool and I was sooooo hesitant initially. It was a fun night actually. On hind sight, I think sometimes we tend to set boundaries without even actually knowing why. One such strong set boundary was going to a club, which got further strong after hearing several weird stories and people suggesting that only extremely well dressed ( less clothed as in!!) are allowed inside and of course my own imagination in full swing.

After two years in Vancouver, the guys convinced us that we must go and see what the whole deal is about. Not too convinced me and my roomie went to a popular club in Vancity - Caprice, with 6 male escorts...haha...I meant our good friends...Well, we were damn lucky to get ticktes to get into the club. And whhooop! we were inside in 5 minutes. The bouncer din't give a damn about how we were dressed. Okie, hey I was well dressed actually....:p we were in and a little early. But we got a pretty good idea of what was going to happen. Slowly people started hitting the dance floor and within minutes we were on too....I felt a little weird intially as I always do when I am dancing. But then I stopped thinking and blended with the music and I felt damn good...( Okie that is my perspective, no idea about people giggling at my dance).

hehe...I did sneak peak into what everybody else was doing though...technically not sneaking becuase they were pretty much going for it right in the middle of the dance floor....well I think this is the basic funda in a club...skimpily clad girls ( well mostly ) and heavily loaded guys get in. Pretty much everybody gets sooper drunk and the guys and girls in the name of dance make out with their boy friends, known person, vauely known person and/or randomly selected person ( desi guys do wish this was similar to the US immigartion clearance ). Basically at that stage of drunkeness I guess a person doesnt even know what they are doing. It was actually funny watching this though. I must admit, girls are more agressive than guys. They dash around and do REally strange things to attract somebody's attention.

Well, the desis trotted around in our own safe circle. Since we were such a big group, nobody really messed with us. Plus we really din't want to prove anything to anybody. The best part was when we all suddenly decided to do a bhangra move for an english song!!! It was hillarious. The people on the dance floor (atleast the slightly sober ones) stared at us. :DD. On my part I had amaazzzing fun. I danced like crazy, watched people around me, completely aware of what was happening and felt in a calm way extremely strong for being so fully in control of myself. :)I don't know why, but it felt good. We danced so much that I actually felt my body ache.

Oh! and I guess, a clubbing night is not complete without atleast 2 fist fights, 1 cat fight and a few bottles smashed around and the security gaurds throwing out a few couples.

hmmm...its a jungle out there...not advisable for girls, actually even for guys to go alone to a club if all they want to do is dance. Careful observers enjoy though...haha!!!

One thing I pondered over is that right now my fundameter tells me that it is okie if guys/girls want to go clubbing once in a while. I mean they would probably drink, stare, venture out a bit and have fun...but I definitely dont have much respect for people completely sloshed and going for it with random people. Hmmm...IT IS a jungle out there....

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I have wondered most of the times of what good is so much of hard work done on my Master's research and I think I have the answer today. Those 2 hours spent in Room 418, McLeod building on October 2nd, 2008 stand testimony to the finest moments of my Master's program. The joy of giving an excellent presentation and answering almost all the questions with ease. Ah! Blisssss!!!! At the end of it I was soooo happy and comfortable.:) I was so confident that I would get a good grade but the committee just blew me away with a 93!!!. haha!! Just the day before we were discussing about Shiva who had also apparently gotten 93 and I was thinking to myself Wooooh!! who the heck gets 93!!!. hahaaha!!!!:D. Dr. Cretu said that everybody was extremely satisfied with my performance and he hoped that I would continue in the research area for a few more years to come. :D....

Gosh undoubtedly the best day of my life - Oct 2nd 2008!!!Thanks God!! You just proved it to me that hard work and persistence pays. At least at the end!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vinayaka Chaturthi

For the first time after coming to Vancouver, I celebrated a festival authentically with fellow desis. It was a sudden plan made by some Indian friends and I was invited too. Contemplated several times on whether I should venture upon making the ever intimidating mango custard ( having successfully burnt the whole thing for 2 times continuously) and make other people go through the pain of eating it..haha...then boldly decided that this time, I will get it right.

The decorations were simple yet elegant and some how most of the people showed up. I suddenly felt really nice..that warm feeling you have at home when amma all dressed up in her red madisar, with flowers in her hair, the mixed smell of agarbatti, sambrani and the naivaithyam...hmm..smells good...

I didn't expect any recitals as such but surprisingly some of the geeky seemed rather good at it. There's something about these mantras. Its hard to explain for me, but even though I really don't understand it, it makes me feel so nostalgic and someting stirs inside me, its a divine connection I guess...;)

The pooja was over, we all offered our prayers, had prashad and left home. oh! my mango custard turned out decently, I forgot to add sugar this time though..:D...

Gymming yeah!!! :)

After proudly announcing that I will not give up on running, I backed out quietly in less than a week. My major problem is that I get bored out of my skin just running ( and yes am not good at it as well :-|)....But but but, I have made a sincere effort towards going to the gym and yes, for the past month I have successfully been at it for 2-3 days a week. I have slowly improved my time in the gym from a pathetic 10 - 15 mts to a decent 45 minutes. And... in my opinion is the best part is...I am beginning to like it....:-)...Hooray for me!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Its Okie...

Its ok to be confused. Its ok to feel insecure, uncertain, lonely, foolish and miserable. Believe it or not every body from time to time feels this way. Some people always do. You have to shake up and move on.

Plan for the future but most importantly live in the moment and count your blessings. Do whatever you do passionately. Put all your heart and soul into it. As Robin Sharma said, even if you are a sweeper, sweep as though you are the Micheal Angelo of your profession.

Have a cheerful disposition. Have a song in your heart. Don't ever ever forget that you go through so much in your life just for one main goal - To be happy. So be happy. When in any kind of stupid, painful, embarrassing, sorrowful time, think of people who are going through worse patches in life. You will feel better. Have nerves made of steel and hearts that never quake. Do not let anybody put you down. No matter who and no matter what!

Don't cheat and don't let anybody cheat you. You don't have to be rude, but there is always a smart way out. There IS..Always!!!Go after what you want in life. If there is something that you truly desire for - TRULY!! nothing can stop you. The only person who sets boundaries is you.

Spend your time wisely and efficiently. Don't ever regret what you did but always aim to go higher, to do more. Laze around a bit too - while you can afford to do it. Your spirit and soul is entirely yours. Let it soar and fly. Let it spread like a colorful rainbow all across the sky.

Don't forget to give back. Give back every day, day after day. In the whole entire world, it is the most fulfilling and gratifying feeling to do something for the people you love and for the society at large. Give back all that you got from this world and much more before you leave.

Life will always be a roller coaster ride. There will be good days and bad days. But years later when you look back, you should see yourself standing tall through the thick and thin. To have walked all through this with poise, dignity and honor. To have left foot prints for the future generation to follow. To have made an impact!

Oh! before I forget, have an amazing sense of humor. Think you are in an episode of 'Friends'. Shit happens! Laugh it off. Life will become so much easier and lighter.

And that is the gyan I have to give today :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Have you ever felt totally confused and chaotic at 23. Well I do. Probably one of those days when everything just seems bad. Sometimes I wonder what the heck am I doing? Why am I doing my Masters in some freaking subject and spending hours on some device that nobody is ever going to use. Ever!!!. Just sick of working like a monkey over and over again on the same shit. Just sick of all people and the million politics, sick of finding jobs, sick of talking to people and explaining why am not getting a job, sick of the school, sick of cleaning the house, sick of cooking, sick of every damn thing. I just feel going on top of a montain and yelling and screming and throwing mud, pulling out grass and just behaving insanely. Feel like boarding a train and just suddenly disappear into some remote place, some place that even I don't know of. Some other world that has nothing to do with this one. Some place where I can stop thinking.

The funniest or perhaps the saddest part is that I don't know what exactly it is that I want. I am just clueless. I am this jack of all trades who has absolutely no idea how exactly I fit in this world. I just don't have a sense of belonging anywhere. I have no idea what my future holds for me. Even to this day I always feel probably I am more artistic than scientific. I should have taken interior designing, fashion designing, journalism, become a TV show host or some shit like that. I can even go as far as a biologist.

Today we took a bunch of high school girls to the cleanroom and at the end of it I was supposed to say what motivated me to take up Engineering. hehe...I did fake a super inspiring speech then but to be honest I don't know. To me it was more like after 12 th , you do Engineering or medical. I din't get into medical so I took up Engineering.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!Okie thats my heavy sighing....:)..I know in a day or two I will be okie. I will be.:) Just doing my usual stuff - Cribbing!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Exorcise for fitness

After successfully convincing myself that I was too busy with research work and dodging the gym and its like for several months I finally decided to make a foray into the world of fitness. Franky the fitness freaks around me cornered me into doing it.

So to motivate myself I have set a target for myself. There is a 5k run on June 19th at my University. And my aim is to run/jog/trot/walk fastly and some how complete the run decently.So today after the sun set ( I cannot absolutely risk running in the light!!!!) I geared up and fully dressed I set about to begin my training session.

9:30pm - Quietest Road on Campus

Frantically look about to check if anybody is around and sighting nobody,began. Now, on hind sight that is perhaps one of the most stupidest thing to do. a) There is mostly nobody in that street in broad day light (Lord bless Canada's population) . b) What the heck, so what if some girl is trotting in some strange manner. Okie, so I set up my timer in the mobile phone and taking a deep breath I started. I begin decently. I told myself that I shouldn't be exerting too much to begin with so jogged slowly. Slowly I started sweating, my hear was pounding and my leg muscles began aching. I pushed myself further and further. I decided not to stop till it was absolutely impossible to take one more step. I run, run, run ( jog, trot, walk rapidly) until I just can't do anymore. I was pretty pleased with myself. Ah! For someone running after err....don't know when I ran last...if running for bus, free food etc counts well, then not so long ago, I had exceeded my expectations.

9:35pm - Same Quietest Road - 200m away from starting point

I proudly wipe a bead off my forehead, take out my mobile phone and look at the timer - Damn it!!!!!!! It was barely 5 minutes since I started.:(.... And I almost had a heart attack!!! Damn it!!! I am 23...and I can hardly run for 5 minutes......I wonder how I will be 20 years from now. Hmmmmmmmm.............................

Am going to make a constant conscious effort towards my fitness.......................................:D...."when u want it the most....there's no easy way out......
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