Friday, December 18, 2009

I must write, I must write - I have been telling myself for weeks. I vowed to write once I was back home, more relaxed and able to think.
The thesis has been submitted, at long last one might say. I hope that apart from the agony of reading the 150 odd pages, the markers also sense my agony in writing it.
The events post submission are now blurred. There was a wonderful and wild farewell party, well into it not many could remember what they were there for!
There was packing and travel and plans and bookings and more packing and buying and sorting.
But now I'm home, one of them anyway. It would be unfair to say that after 4.5 years, Canberra was not home. It was. In fact it was my first home away from home. A home I made myself, filled it with things, events and memories completely my own.
Learned, re-learned and un-learned several things along the way and I'm the wiser for the experience.
Brussels is next - post holiday in NZ and engagement. Yes those are my priorities, in that order. It promises to be new and promises to be cold.
For the handful of people that read this blog - come visit me.
Happy holidays everyone!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

And things start looking up...

and she wants to write about that too!
The sun is out in all its glory, basmati rice, daal, aloo and capsicum sabjee have been made and I have the house to myself after a very hectic week.
It is late evening and as twilight sets in and the wooden floors creak under my steps, it is unnaturally quiet outside.
It is still light, with a soft breeze that has not blown hard all day. Windows open to let in the sun. A cool mango juice in hand, sitting on the balcony and soaking it all in - just peaceful, just resting, just I in this foreign land - that is starting to seem like it could be home someday.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Something about Belgium just does not agree with me! While I won't claim to be the healthiest person around, barring minor (constant!) ailments I'm mostly OK. Ever since landing in this country I have been stricken!!
- Day two: Minor cold and cough
- Day four: Major cold and cough
- Day eight: Stomach virus
- Day ten: Allergic inflamation of the eye
- Day twelve: Stomach virus seems gone, severe allergy begun, constant sneezing

New day new ailment!! I couldn't help but laugh when the allergy came on in all its glory! Just when I started feeling better
dammit dammit dammit is the anthem!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I have had several 'opening lines' over the last few weeks. I began writing and then changed my mind, hit delete and the words were lost forever.
I'm half way through my stay in Brussels, half way through work and half way through the introduction to what my life will be like for the next three years.
It is interesting, to say the least. Things that I thought I could take for granted, I cannot. Things that I thought I would never want to do, turns out I do!
It is a different way of life here, one that is far removed from Australia or New Zealand, the only two places I have lived in. It is so different , the European vacation, from trying to make a life here. One has to overcome the language barrier, the right-handed traffic, the food. Yes the food. While fries dipped in chocolate are alright for a week, they can have a rather unpleasant effect on the stomach! The history and 'culture' also takes getting used to. The transition is not easy, is not going to be easy.
There are of course the positives, work and well its Europe for Godsakes! A 'whole new world' at my feet waiting to be explored and the like. And while I am looking forward to it, every once in a while, late and night when I'm in that semi-conscious state between sleep and wakefulness I feel a weak longing. A tugging, a feeling - that says 'I dont want change, I dont want to change' . I dont want to leave family and friends so far behind.
'Tis unfortunate and downright unfair that one cannot have everything ! Because that is what I want, not a whole new world - but the best of both worlds - together - at once!!
God - are you listening? It's Amrita.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It has been a very long hiatus indeed! The thesis is getting there but I am not 'there' anymore. I'm in sunny Brussels (does not have the same ring to it as sunny Mexico, but we take what we can get). Feels good to see the sun again and be away from the routine that has been mine for over a year now: wake up, get to work, write thesis, listen to underhanded remarks, write more, give up and go home. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So Brussels, work beckons, a job that needs me and I it. A job that I think I can do and do well. Something that combines my talents and passions. An opportunity.
I am scared - yes, I am also excited - a feeling I have not had in a very long time.
So if you are in and around - look me up.
I will put an end to disjointed thoughts now - until next time!

Monday, July 20, 2009

So it has been a while - a long while. No, the PhD is not finished. Yes it looks like it will be done. No, I cannot be sure.
Plans for after the PhD have been made and are in motion already and i sincerely hope that it is not a case of counting chickens before the eggs have hatched. The finish line is out there, within sight, it just so happens that the highest damn mountain comes first!
Anyway such is life and one has to do what one has to do and I guess there's nothing left 'but to do or die'.
Marriage is on the cards too. Please make contact via email or phone call for further details.
Until then - may the force be with all of you!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It really seems like yesterday that I was writing about my 25th birthday. A year has passed me by and it is that time again. 26 - I could well overreact about the fact that I have not 'a shirt on my back' nor 'a penny to my name' (figuratively). The future is uncertain and the past ... rather bleak. But instead, in keeping with... something.. positivity, stupidity - I''m not sure which - I will think about the good things the nice things.

- How my day started with a lovely breakfast.
- How I have a wonderful, strong and fiercely loving family.
- How I have lost two grandparents in the last six months yet I am keeping alive their legacy.
- How it rained today, just as it has for 20 years of my life, every birthday.
- How my friends are fantastic, cheerful and humorous.
- How the last four years have been worth something: good times.
And of course there are the smaller, materialistic pleasures that make birthdays what they are.
Thank you to everyone that has wished me or thought about me today. Amidst my own issues I may not have had time to talk but I am glad for every ounce of support that I get.
I have no wishes to make, just plans to put into action.
And for those of you that read this blog - read 'Its not about the bike' and 'Every second counts' both biographies of Lance Armstrong. For a Texan, he sure can tell it like it is!
I want to write, I really do
but the words don't form, in a familiar way
thoughts do not gather a meaningful hue
on this 'ominously auspicious day'

I want to write, I truly do
about trial and error, hard work and play
new lessons learned and much ado
about nothing at all, yet so much to say

I want to write, lest I forget
the pleasure and the pain, the heartache and glory
the losses immeasurable, a life without regret
I need to write, to tell the story

I want to write, so I can survive.
Relive and experience, revisit and think
of feelings. Feel alive,
correct wrongs, collect rights and think.

I have written, so it remains
etched forever in memory and in words.
Mine forever to claim
as experience, done, seen and heard.

Monday, June 01, 2009

For my grandfather...

My grandfather passed away on Saturday. It is truly the end of an era for my family as we come to terms with the loss of my maternal grandparents, as we somehow make peace with the fact that Daddy is no more and learn to celebrate his life, instead of mourning his death. He will rest in peace, just as he lived, in peace with himself and with those around him. With heavy hearts we bid farewell to a man who was not only a dutiful son, faithful husband and loving father but above all an exemplary human being - Daddy, we can never do justice to your legacy but we will keep it alive.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I have been MIA and with good darned reason too. I should NOT be blogging I should be thesising. But I am not.
I could provide a blow by blow analysis of my loss of sanity or I could just suck it up... and I've chosen the latter.
Last update, providing valuable information for those who care and for those who may follow, is that I have one chapter left. It seems to have become the slogan 'One chapter left'
My mom is here, God bless her soul, and she has taken over everything. So there are really no moe excuses.
Ok I'm off people.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An open letter...

to the person that wrote the paper on optical nonlinearities that is now being read like a Bible by all and sundry.

Saying things like 'the coefficient can now be easily calculated' and then sticking one with 3500 equations all of which have some unsolvable integral in them that goes from 0 to infinity, infinite times along with variables that all have the same letter to denote them as well as extensive use of the words 'easily, simply and unambiguously' will slowly but surely kill a PhD student.
Do you really wish to be the cause of mass suicide?


Thursday, February 26, 2009

The mandatory slumdog rant

It has been a long hiatus indeed and what better way to make a comeback then with a rant about Slumdog Millionaire, the movie that nearly got canned post production, had its producers back out and nearly landed in the 'straight to DVD' pile before being rescued and going on to win 8 oscars. Now that is the feelgood story of the year!
I read Q&A by Vikas Swarup a few months after the book was released and came away with mixed feelings (maybe I reviewed the book on this blog, I cannot remember). However, after watching the movie I am compelled to say that the storyline in the book was far superior to that of the movie - in that the book actually had a storyline. The movie on the other hand is, technically, everything a movie should be. Fast paced, gut wrenching, emotion evoking and ends on a high note where you leaving feeling that all is well with the world.
Now, to the debate that is raging throught the blogosphere and the media.
'How dare this white man, Irishman no less, come to India, film our slums, call us slumdogs and win Oscars!' (Im not sure if the conclusion to this statement is 'where is our share?'!)
First off, slumdog is not an insulting term. It is a colloquial term for an 'underdog from the slums' - as Jamal Malik, the protagonist, was. Secondly, I don't remember reading or hearing the makers of this movie state anywhere that it was a documentary meant to reflect the state of slum dwellers in India.
Which brings me nicely to my point - this is a movie, a work of fiction and should be seen as one. Technically the movie has few flaws, if any. Just as the public is happy to watch something as far fetched as Amitabh Bachchan get off a helicopter and walk into his office (in K3G) so also they should accept a child jumping into shit to get ABs autograph. Just like a 'Lakshya' depicts Indian soldiers winning the Kargil war, so also does Slumdog depict the( highly unlikely) story of a chaiwalla making it to the hot seat of 'Who wants to be a millionaire'.
This is not exploitation. What is exploitation is expecting the movie-makers to provide for the future of the acting children and their families and the entire slum! If the same movie had been made in the UK these child actors would have signed contracts for a certain sum of money and that would be it. It would not matter if the movie won a hundred oscars or was canned!
Such behaviour begs the question - 'If the book Q&A had won the booker, would the entire nation be up in arms about it?' - No, because the book did not show things, it left them to your imagination.
Personally, I think that the movie was a soppy love story, which the book is not and herein lay its lack of appeal to me. People in general and people in the lower socio economic group who are struggling to survive in particular, seldom have the time or the inclination to firstly recognise 'love and destiny' at the age of 5 (was it?) and later pursue it relentlessly for 10 years!
The book was believable, the movie is not and this again should reiterate that it is nothing but a work of fiction. Making it out to be anything more would be insulting to the intelligence of Indians who consider Bollywood an integral part of their 'culture'.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

V-Day = D-Day

This is a very relevant article written by my aunt. She was a Supreme court lawyer and has worked for years with NGO's.


Laws of Manu ( Manusmriti) is the basic foundation of Hindu law and his laws governed the ancient Hindu society.

Manusmriti belongs to period later than that of Vedas, written any time between 200BCE and 200CE. Manu was a man. His laws govern the status of women in Hindu society in all aspects, from her birth up to her death.

Under Manu's laws women were like chattel with not rights whatsoever.From time of her birth, she was considered 'paraya dhan' that is someone else's property. She had no place in the family of her birth.

As a girl, she was controlled by her father and brother. After marriage she was under the control of her husband and in-laws.

So a Hindu female was never born free. Even in her death she depended on man to light her funeral pyre without which she would be unable to attend 'Moksha', liberation of her soul.

Thus in India it is mandatory that women's relationship with men are expressed only through religious, ritualistic rites as per ancient Hindu law.

For example 'Bhaidooj,' Karwachouth', 'Vatsavitri' etc. are religious occasions where women worship and idolize their brothers and husbands as their protectors. These rites are intended to pump up male chauvinism. Also this religious rigidity is a pointer to the suspicious nature of our men folk vis-à-vis women and also other men. Result is men-women relationship tends to be frigid.

Since women are chattel, men are protective about their herd and any outside women is treated as an object of sex. This is so because in the world I would rank Indian men as most hyperactive sexually. Our ever-growing population explosion is a clear proof of it.

Where the religion sanctions such hypocritical, prudish attitude and double standards towards sex , there can only breed a society where there is no room for a healthy, friendly relationship between the opposite sexes.

Valentines's day is celebrated in memory of St. Valentine, an early Italian priest regarded as the patron of lovers. Feast day is 14th February.

Going by dictionary meaning, 'Love' is an intense feeling of deep affection or fondness. Love also means sexual passion or excitement. The Manuvadis understand only the later part of the meaning. If they wider their horizons, they will understand that sentiment of love has depth and purity and if treated with respect, it can only grow and spread.

Since last few years , in India the youngsters have started celebrating this benign festival of the West. In fact it gives a pleasant opportunity to young people to express their love and affection to the opposite sex. Taken in the right spirit, It should be considered as an harmless outlet of feelings which are otherwise suppressed and tabooed in our orthodox society.

One is amazed at the vicious reaction of groups like VHP, Bajrang Dal etc towards this innocuous revellery of youngsters.

In Bhopal, probably six years ago, a brother murdered his sister for giving a Valentine's card to her boyfriend The murderer was made into a hero by VHP and Bajrang Dal.

As reported by Times of India( 13th Feb.2004)In Gujrath, Bijal Joshi was made Vishva Hindu Parishad's poster girl for Valentine's day.

Bijal Joshi was raped and murdered by her lover. The members of Dura Vahini, women's wing of VHP decided to use the case of Joshi to create awareness and induce fear among V-Day revellers and to stop children from "corrupting influence of western culture which is manifesting itself in gang rapes"

Have these rabid ranters any idea about the rapes committed everyday in India inside bedrooms between married couples, mass rapes on dalit women, who are so poor that their huts do not have doors. Rapes committed on minor girls.

Does VHP, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini know how many women and minor girls are forced into flesh trade and repeatedly raped in a single day. Has VHP or Bajrang Dal done any constructive study in this field?

Another reason given by VHP etc. to oppose V-Day is " vulgarity depicted on V-cards"

Thus one can conclude that VHP et al will protect India from vulgarity, obscenity, rapes and murders of Western culture only on 14th February. It also follows that 'love' is a dirty word for them only

on 14th Feb. What happens rest of the time is not their concern.

It is unfortunate that depraved depiction of love in films, TV channels, pornographic website and literature etc is truly corrupting the minds of youth which is the real issue which should be addressed on a national level. In a male dominated society like ours, projection of women as sex symbols by mass communication systems , are making Indian women more vulnerable to the lust of sexually hyperactive but socially suppressed Indian males.

There are sporadic violent reactions by some bigots on non-issues only adding injury to our already fractured society.

Goddesses are worshipped only in temples. In real life Indian women by and large do not have any civil rights and liberties. In India where fifty percent population (women)is treated without equality, any respect, any care and who are under perpetual fear of abuse, is a pathetic blemish on the world's largest democracy.

No political party considers this as a very serious issue which needs to be considered on priority basis if India has to become a civil and just society.

Only those societies are strong and confident in whose social fabric liberties- civil and religious have been developed side by side with the growth of individual character in all classes of the nation.

Ranjana Bobde


Friday, January 09, 2009

I have been wanting to write for a long time now and I know why I haven't. It is over a week into 2009 and I don't feel different. I don't feel rejuvenated and new. I don't feel cleansed and refreshed. 1st of January 2009 did not take away with it all the remnants of 2008. I did not begin the year feeling light hearted and unburdened. Actually I spent it waiting for four hours at the Emergency Department of the hospital, waiting to have a piece of my contact lens removed from the eye.
On the other hand, let us be light hearted even if everything is telling us otherwise. Here are some silver linings:

1. Waited at ED for four hours bright and early on 1st Jan - at least I had my dad with me and we got to talk!

2. Missed mom as she was in India - lost weight from having to eat own cooking.

3. 2009 does not feel like the new year - at least I am tackling known evils.

Other epiphanies include realising that 2009 is probably the worst year to be job hunting. Also re-reading PG Wodehouse has made me realise that I do not have an Aunt Agatha - I have two Aunt Dahlias. Also, everything feels prosaic. There is much to be said about my physical well being if the only time I feel fully normal is when I am running to nowhere on the treadmill. The sinuses are open, breath is free and not hindered by umpteen blockages, muscle fatigue feels better than unsolicited muscular pain, the mind feels a sense of pseudo-achivement and concedes to forget the fact that no work of actual importance has been done. There is something spiritual about running, something that transcends race, religion, waise size and hip girth.
More good news was ushered in in the form of the much awaited blood test results - low iron and high cholesterol, nothing one did not expect. Once again, known evils.
I sometimes feel that I drew the short straw, genetically. Weak eyesight, broad manly shoulders, size 10 upper body and size 8 lower body, crow feet and strange toes. And these are just the external. I boast a wide variety of ailments internally too. Basically I am 25 going on 85.
So, resolutions? you ask. 'Eh?' I say.
Eat more fish, finish the blasted thesis and then - go away, somewhere. Where no one knows my name....