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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurircane Irene came and went

Hurricane Irene towards the east coast

"But, why?? you are preparing as if its war time" said my husband controlling his laughter when I told him that we would need to add a transistor to our hurricane shopping list. As he hung up the phone, I could snatch a bit of what he was telling his colleague "Man, my wife is freaking out watching CNN...." :)

Hurricane Irene came out of no where and forced us all to be at home last weekend. With 24x7 coverage on several news channels claiming that even the New York Stock Exchange would be closed, I was expecting something in lines of the movie "The Day After Tomorrow". We shopped extensively and am now quite familiar with the hurricane emergency kit: bottled water, torch and batteries, candles, food supplies, some medicines, filling up gas in the car and a transistor (The NJ Governor said we may need to listen to news when there is a power outage - then, of course we need to!). And thank God, we live above ground level. Oh yeah! We were all ready for the vicious Irene to hit us. My husband's only interest (apart from lazing around most of the two days spent at home) was on getting a day off on Monday.  Alas, the vicious category 3 hurricane Irene turned into a wimpy tropical storm as it hit NJ (No no, I am happy about it, really!).

We were fast asleep as it poured its worst rains on us and in the morning we got up to see even some sun shining on us. :). Better luck next time Irene! After resisting this intense urge to get out on Sunday itself, we all left to NYC on Monday (with a more than eager guest who also spent two looooong days watching the rains from our home), hoping that the city would be less crowded this one time. that would ever happen...NYC was as crazy as always.

Hats off to the government though for carrying out such extensive precautionary measures! While a few felt that they overdid it, I think its always better to be safe than sorry. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What it takes to be an Indian

Who is a true Indian? (photo link)

While living abroad one often wonders about their true identity. Initially you feel alien in the foreign land but after some time you begin to feel alien even in your own country, until you get to this middle fuzzy place where one learns to take things as they come. Being originally from quite a conservative city in India, the stark differences between my past and the western world are not lost upon me. But I have come to accept them in a healthy way. 

I have always wondered though, what children of Indian origin, born and  brought up in the western world go through. How do they create their identity and which way would they/their parents prefer to go - the traditional Indian school way or the much modern western way? 
Bharatanatyam - a traditional Indian dance form (photo link)

A few days back we attended an "Arangetram" (graduation from an Indian dance form) in NJ. I am not really a big fan of the dance form as such, but decided to go for some cultural enrichment (plus the free food!). The young girl gave a dance performance for 3 hours! The event was so well organized and the dance so well performed that  for some time I forgot I live in the US. I have seen several Indian kids here who are so much more culturally proficient of the Indian ways that I wouldn't stand a chance in front of them knowledge wise. Ever! 

It leads me to this interesting question though - who is a true Indian (or put your own country here)?

1. One who lives in India (whether he likes it or not) - manages to survive; the common man who is bringing the country forward, or
2. An Indian origin person living anywhere as long as he wants to and tries to identify himself/herself with the country, sometimes much more than a regular citizen (but possibly shall never step into the land of cows), or
3. The blessed people who live in and love the desi (slang for Indian) ishtyle. 

Does your mouth water when you think of samosa or gulab jamun? Do you get into fainting fits when you look at Shahrukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai? Did your blood boil as the Indian cricketers lost against England in the recent test match? Have you changed your facebook profile picture to support Anna Hazare (the man claimed to be the next Gandhi)? Nah! that doesn't really prove anything. I think the answer is much simpler than that. Just ask yourself where you are from. No matter where your were born and raised and where you live currently you know where your heart wishes to be.

If your answer is:

1. India - True Indian (you love/swear/laugh/cry all at once when you think of India) 
2. Ahem well, I love all countries - Hippindian (Hare Krishna Hare Ram! Peace out!)
3. India is great, but I just love it out here/there - People of Indian origin (best of both worlds or confused desi?)
4. Man, this whole planet sucks, I would rather live in Mars - Beware these types. We suspect them to be actual aliens. (Run!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dhokla Idly

This is what a South Indian turns a Dhokla into - Dhokla idly :D

P.S - for anyone who is like W.T.H, let me try to explain a bit. Dhokla is a dish which is supposed to look like a sponge cake, but I turned into these famous southy style dish - idly..which look like small mounds.

P.S2 - sorry if you still din't get the funny side, its an Indian thing I guess.. :) 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank you your honor!

Have you seen Judge Judy's show?

Yup! I guiltily admit I have watched quite a few of Judge Judy's shows. So given a chance to visit a small claims court in New Jersey, a few of those spicy court cases churned around my mind and I didn't want to miss watching a few of them live. No! No! I was not lucky enough to sit through the show. What happened was that hubby & friends' previous landlord decided conveniently to blame them for not getting a new tenant in time, and charged an extra month's rent by framing some interesting stories of his own. Unwilling to even to accept our calls, we had no choice but to drag him to small claim's court.

$3000 is the maximum amount you can claim at such a place, and hiring an attorney can turn out to be super silly cost wise. So we turned lawyers, arranged valid proofs, witnesses, filed a case and got ready for D-day. Now, I was eagerly waiting for this 'larger than life' Judge Judy character to appear and voila! Judge Costello was brilliant! An impressive and majestic lady with sharp wits and cool authority. Don't really know whats with the 'glasses waiting to fall down your nose' style with her as well (maybe its Judge thing), but overall it worked!

It turns out our defendant had 7 cases pending against him since 2004!!! Every defendant and plaintiff has to go through a state authorized mediator initially who helps in discussing the case to resolve it out of court. Our lucky lucky stars, the mediator was so convinced that we would win, that the landlord panicked and agreed to pay up the money, even before we went in front of the judge!! :) From just as a wild thought of going to court, none of us expected the issue to get resolved this way.

We were out of court pretty soon (that is in 3 hours, apparently it takes the whole day). Alas, I watched only a few cases, that too darn boring ones. I was expecting a wild raucous!  Judge Judy, waiting to come to your show! ;) 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meeh! I am back, I guess :)

New home, old memories

Its been well over a year since I last blogged. I really can't believe it! Just been a bit busy with a few itsy bitsy things you know, like - my WEDDING, an internship in Canada, graduation and shifting from the Netherlands to the United States of America! :D

Yup, a lot happened over the last year! But every now and then I would have these itches or to put it more delectably, these incredible cravings to write. Perhaps by writing is how I express my self most clearly. This line by Anne Frank summarizes my feeling the best:

" What I still like best of all is that I can at least write down what I think and feel, otherwise I would just choke"

I simply had an incredible time in the Netherlands and it is no wonder why me and hubby darling chose on this picture to adorn our living room - something to remind me everyday of how lucky I have been...

In terms of the blog, I intend to write stories from past and present, some that I missed to write down and others as they happen on topics as varied as my gray cells allow me to come up with. Hope I will be more disciplined this time around! :)
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