Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I shouldn't be blogging! I should be working. So why am I here.
Simply put, I miss this space. But since my current, rather long lasting, writer's block does not allow me to process long sentences I am compelled to keep this short.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gosh blogger has come a long way! And I didn't even know! So it warranted a little tinkering and playing around with designs, fonts and backgrounds till I managed a combination that satisfied me temporarily.
Only temporarily.
This blog has been neglected  - yes, forgotten - no! I will update, if only to continue recording my life here. But right now life itself beckons.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

So I've changed templates again. In keeping with the theme of life right now. If there was an accompanying sound track it would be 'Leaving on  Jet Plane'.
Smooth take off is the name of the game. And the hope.

Friday, September 21, 2012

It is that time of the year again. The time to hail the remover of obstacles. Ganpati. 
I had reminisced on this blog of the days spent with Ajji and Tata. Of the pooja feeling and how it will stay with me forever. Well this year, instead of moaning about it I decided to bring in the pooja feeling myself. The husband was duly instructed to clean the house and himself early on the day and I too managed to wake up, shower and even put together a make-shift payasam for naivedya. Silver diyas were taken out of paper wrappings and given a polish, cotton wool diyas were made. Prayers were said, incense lit and soon the house smelled of sweet payasa and agarbatti
There is plenty to thank the Lord for. Plenty more that needs his divine intervention. But, omnipotent and omniscient that he is, he knows this. 
On this day, more than ever, I missed those that have passed on. Some untimely. But I know they bless us. And the show must go on...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

And finally a book review

So I realise that it has been aeons since this blog saw a book post. This belies the fact that I have been voraciously reading in the last few months.
On this very blog I had expressed my disdain for the Kindle and rued the fact that the generation to come might cease to recognise bound books for what they are. Those reservoirs of fact and fiction that have kept me sane through the worst of times, made me laugh till I cried and cry till I laughed. And most of all I questioned whether reading of the Kindle could really give one the satisfaction of reading. Of smelling the scent of a new book, turning the pages, and, once done, hurriedly check the spine for creases (maybe this is just me!) and then lie back and sigh in contentment. Yes, I questioned.
Well as fate would have it we were gifted the Kindle by kind relatives and I ignored it for the first few months, much like one might ignore the vestigial organ. And while I managed to tell myself that I really could wait for the next trip to an English speaking country or for the annual book fair, it seemed to mock me from its corner, dust-ridden, sitting in its grey shell saying -"one click, one click and it can be yours now!".
Then for Valentine's day this year the husband gifted me my annual Amazon gift card.  When we were still Kindle virgins, this gift card was used to buy actual books.
It all began with a harmless 'sample' Kindle book. And before I knew it I had read my way through the entire gift amount. One click. In that very fact lies its appeal and my downfall.
I will still say that it is difficult to hold the Kindle because over years of reading I have worked the art of reading comfortably in bed. And now I need to re-learn the process for the Kindle.
So now that that long, but necessary, digression has been duly brought to your attention I will talk about books.
One book in particular that I finished on the train to work this morning. 'January First'. I guess I was one of the few Oprah watchers that didn't know about Janni. The 5 year old who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, making her one of the youngest persons to be diagnosed with the incurable disorder.
The book is written by her father. And in writing the book, the man has bared his soul in the most matter-of-fact manner that I have ever read.
It has been years since a book disturbed me. When I read, the book plays out like a movie in my head, which I suspect might be the case for many others. For those hours or days I am in the world of the book and what happens, happens around me, sometimes to me. Especially when I read about pain.
With January first, for the first time, I felt uneasy. So much so that I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue reading. After all, it is not everyday that a father can write about his five year old trying to commit suicide.
Yes you read that right.
The book is a harrowing account of the life of the family. And it is cold, hard fact. Which is what makes it chilling. It left me with an inexplicable feeling of distress, sorrow and helplessness.
I cannot pretend to understand the extent of their everyday struggles but I will say this. I have experienced this, albeit on a much lower level. My sister and I were sickly children. Her more than I. And I have seen my parents, in hospital, sitting at her bedside wondering if and when we will go home. Wondering if ever things will be the same. I have seen them become robotic just to get the tasks done and keep their emotions at bay lest they succumb. I have seen them go through the gamut of emotions during and after and it is bloody scary.
I cannot imagine what level of endurance, spirit and mental strength is needed if your child were handed the life sentence. Which is what schizophrenia is.
But the book ends with hope that is always good. The family is still here, still dealing and, like millions of others in this world, taking it one day at a time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

 This blog has much catching up to do. On re-reading the last post I realised that I left off just before the Leuven Food Festival or 'Hapje Tapje' which translates to something very strange when you put it into Google translate (try it!). So much international fare was consumed and ooh'd and aah'd at. A token beer glass purchased and since this is an annual event I will try to make it a collection!
But this was already over two weeks ago. The weekend following saw me on a 16+hour journey to sunny San Diego. Going to the USA has always proved a tad anti climatic. I go with the notions of being able to cart back suitcase full of bargains (which explains the massive, half empty) suitcase that I take along. But shopping in the US has, thus far, been less than exciting. My visits to the 'land of all dreams' as it were, began in 2007 and as Indians will tell you, if you go to the US for work, you've arrived! I've been there pretty much every year since for short stints. This time too I expected to be underwhelmed but suffice to say I was sufficiently whelmed. The conference was great, albeit small (in scientific circles this statement will be understood!) and the food at said conference left much to be desired but all in all - fruitful.
And most importantly, events which shall not be discussed, pulled me out of my rapidly south heading mental state.
For now it is back to Belgium, back home and hopefully back to stay - for a while - before the travel bug starts nagging again!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

What's that you say Mrs. Robinson? Jokin Joe has left and gone away

So current state of mind can be best described as dull. Not dreary, just dull. Going through the motions. Really the title sums it up but it seems to go against the natural order to have bodiless posts. Much like if you bought a book with only the titles of chapters. Even if the book was entitled 'titles' one runs the risk of a disgruntled audience. And I doubt one will get away with playing logic after all one is getting what one was promised.
Anyway so I hope that this bout of the blues can be shooed away with food. Which shall be duly run off at the gym. Wy is it that I chose to move, ok maybe chose is a misrepresentation of facts, why is it that once I moved to the land of sugar in spice and all things nice ( duly washed down by caffeine) that I must be faced with this dilemma day in and day out. To binge or not to binge that is the question. It does not help that the aroma of freshly baked goods covered in chocolate wafts into the nostrils as one walks to work. I guess I could run!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Watched Amadeus again last night. Riveting, moving, sublime it is. Has always been.Watching it as a teenager I could only appreciate the music, if that. A few years later it was the acting, the description of the music. A few years on and the sense of humour made me laugh and last night the I felt the frustration. Salieri's frustration. That line at the end where he pronounces himself patron saint of mediocres rung out loud and clear. Here was a man of unquestionable morals, not lacking in hard work or sincerity but still found lacking. A man who knew that the music he was reading, composed by that "creature" Mozart, was the voice of God. A man who could not comprehend why God would choose to speak through such a fiend and not through him - a man who had dedicated his life and talent to serving God. It is a strange frustration. And has a stranger element to it. You see, in life, Salieri had it all. Naam, izzat, shohrat. Everything that Mozart did not have.
But Salieri was no fool and realised that he did not have the gift. In that one thing and one thing alone Salieri explains the conundrum in its totality - it is a curse to know better and not have the ability to be better.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

So the mother stopped by my blog again and this time, with just one read, she pointed out what was wrong with it. For months I have been struggling to put my finger on why my writing is not what it used to be. I have blamed everything from summer heat to living in a non-English speaking country. But today she told me 'you are losing your wit and sarcasm' and just like that the ton of bricks that had been hanging over the head came crashing down! You see, to anyone else this might not sound like a cause for concern, in fact it might warrant a wee bit o' celebration. However, this wit and sarcasm were my refuge, my solace. They won me friends, helped me keep said friends, pulled me out of the depths of despair and made me smile with the dialogue in my head. I don't see any sharpening tools looming on the horizon so I guess I must be patient and pray to the sarcasm Gods to show mercy. While I, as a mere mortal shall drown myself in Wodehouse - that elixir of wit afforded to us by the Gods!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It is strange how the simple act of getting out of bed, getting dressed and coming to an office an increase one's sense of self worth. It is another matter that the offices are empty because everybody is away on holiday and you are the only loser working. Still, we shall dwell on the self worth angle and not on the loser. I never thought of myself as an 'office goer', work as I do, as a 'corporate' at a university which is to say I can pretend for longer than others and can talk the hind leg off the proverbial donkey. Yet, donning the garb and footing it to work straightens the posture, clears the head (I am convincing myself it is the atmosphere and not the coffee!) and urges, rather than forces, one to get to work. A far cry from rolling out of bed, onto the chair, cup of tea in hand and spending the day in front of the laptop in pajamas. A far cry really.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

And I turned 29. It says something about the life I lead when I've spent my I birthday in a different country every year for the last 4 years. 29 was ushured in with friends in a villa south of Tuscany. Complete with good food, wine and tons of laughter. Much deserved even if I do say so myself. in other life observations, I've noticed that the coffee of a place reflects its people. Italian coffee is smooth, very smooth, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. French coffee is sharp, striking and strong, you like it in spite of yourself. Belgian coffee when good is very good but when bad makes you want to hurl it at the nearest croissant and pack your bags and you can never say which one you will get. German coffee - they won't serve it any other way, take it or leave it.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Amidst the turmoil that has been the last few months, the move out of Brussels went off rather quietly. And while the commute has doubled, this one affords us idyllic views of green farmlands and serene lakes and cottages as opposed to endless rows of concrete, stained from years of neglect and misuse. Oh! What I wouldn't give for a house by a lake. Still, it is nice to live in a small Belgian town that is taken over by partying students every Thursday night. One can even make peace with the goods train that passes by under one's bedroom bedroom window, unceremoniously shaking one out of a very deserved slumber. Yes, one can make peace given that that alternative is so much worse. And just because the emotional duress, physical strain and sleeplessness were not enough and I am nothing if not a sucker for pain - I head to Italy this weekend. Bologna to be exact. The city that has just been struck by an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, second quake in 2 weeks, the earlier one measured six and caused that much more damage. To a country still reeling from the shock.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Of all the eulogies that I thought I might write, I never imagined that I would be writing this one, for this man, now. I guess the mortality of family is not something one can comprehend. Even more so when it is untimely. Today we mourn the passing away of Shyamu Kaka, just when would like to be celebrating our lives with him. What do I write about someone who has taken me from crayons to perfumes. The words and thoughts are disjointed and those that eventually surface sound hollow and shallow. I know I will write, I want to and I need to. But for now it is Goodbye for good to a man who towered over us both literally and figuratively. A giant of man. A man of excellent taste and razor sharp wit. A gentle man. In all senses of the word. Our Santa Claus, the Consigliere to our Don Corleone. A man with joy in his heart, calm in his countenance and a one-liner at his lips! A patient man, a kind man. We were enriched, for you were our family and we are that much poorer for having you no more. I can feel you pat me on the back, like you always did and said 'eh! come on!' and share a one-liner with the Almighty up there. I know you are smiling down on us like you always did. Things will never be the same. They shouldn't be. R.I.P Kaka. See you on the other side!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It is here again. This strange unsettled feeling. The tasks for the day even the week, are done and elation should slowly be taking over instead it isn't. Quite the opposite really. As an aside, typing out blogposts on an iPad is mighty inconvenient. That's all folks. Really that is all.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Once again as the to do list runs away from me and I make attempts to swat at it, I come back to write. It has been a triumphant week. A week which makes the sleepless nights, grey hair and aching bones worth it. But I am not at peace. I am not feeling my heart and brain pump its fit in joy and scream 'I did it'! Take that all you sceptics!'. I feel mellow, solemn. Not in the Zen way that I would like to feel. Rather in a beaten way, with a dash of anxiety thrown it. I guess one can attribute it to the uncertainties looming on the horizon. Which could turn into a sunny patch or a raging storm - only time will tell.
Anyhow, one is literally trying to keep the proverbial chin up and smile. Smile at all the uncertainties and proceed to bash them in the head. Then, maybe then I will be able to do the cheer and make a song and dance about it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lately I have been yearning. Not for home as I usually do. Not so much for company either. It is a strange yearning, a pull almost.
I am on standing on the edge of a cliff (titanic style, arms spread out) with a 'slightly stronger than a breeze but not a full blown gale' wind blowing through me. Yes through me. There is green vastness around. And water. Large, unhindered expanse of blue water. No one inhabits this land. No one around for miles.
I do not know how I got there. I do not care how I will get back. All I know is this is where I want to be. It calls to me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mango people

kisi ko muqammal jahan nahin milta
kisi ko zameen aasmaan nahin milta

But I do not ask for the sky and the earth
I do not even ask for my worth
I simply ask for my due

I do not ask for food but sustenance
not for life but existence
Maybe a bed to lay down at night

I do not ask for the earth and the sky
but when I am no more
maybe a place to light the funeral pyre

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It is strange that I tend to revive this space when I am weighed down by tons of work. Is it the most guilt free procrastination? Maybe. I shall not question. I shall only type.
My laptop has gone for a rehaul, hit as it was by a virus of monstrous proportions. One possesses enough gadgets to entertain oneself but the laptop is irreplaceable. Even the, ancient but trustworthy, temporary replacement that now graces my desk does not push me to work the way my laptop did. I just pray that it makes a complete recovery by tomorrow.
I know a lot of people that need cheering up. Self included. There are uncertainties to battle, scars of battle to overcome and problems that are beyond one's control. But as a family we are not good at letting go. We fret specifically over things that are beyond our control because the things that are in our control are solved.
And the worst part is that work is no longer serving to take my mind off things. The last time I felt so bluesy was during the fag end of the PhD.
I guess I just need to chant the mantra 'I love my job, I love my job' and hope that the To-Do list rapidly becomes the Done list or else I'm in for it.
I long for friends in close proximity. I long for someone not to tell me that it will be ok but to agree that it is sh*t and that they hate it too. I long for companionship of the self pitying kind. If only for a while.
I sometimes wonder at the saying 'Everything will be ok in the end. So if it is not OK it is not the end'. I don't want it to be the end. The end might not be the fairy tale that I'm hoping for.
For now things are strange. Feelings are odd. Life is in a state of flux. Only hope reigns supreme - but only in fits and bursts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Almighty works in mysterious ways. Just as I had made peace with the fact that I might not go home this year, an opportunity created itself. Albeit in non ideal circumstances. There is nothing I want more right now than to see the folks and hand over my cares in the world to them. It is true, we never grow up.
I have been hanging onto my sanity by a thread the last few weeks, not thinking beyond the immediate lest I lose it and throw in the towel. Doing what needs to be done and becoming rather mechanical in the process. The occasional outburst is exactly that an outburst, rather an outpouring of emotion and then I stop, afraid to let it bubble over.
I cannot close my eyes anymore without thinking, fearing, worrying. It is difficult this aimless restlessness that does not let you see why it is. Does not let you delve deeper to find the roots and cut them off. Instead it festers, lingers feeding off your exhaustion and working off your routine till it becomes so much a part of you, you do not realise it is there. Until you have time for introspection. Time to sit with a cup of tea on a cold day without a email message popping up, the phone ringing or something else needing immediate attention.
Then it hits you like a ton of bricks, and you know something needs to be done. Something needs to snap you out before you are sucked in too far. This something for me, is heading to my parents. Lucky for me they are closer than home is. But for now home is where they are.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The time between posts is getting shorter, relatively speaking. When did we start needing technology to spell 'speaking' for us!
The last few months have been ... Interesting. While it might have been worthwhile to fill this space with a bullet point analysis of the recent trip to the US of A and the lessons learned from the first of the first world, Life has taken over and such indulgences will be left for when life permits. Reality sucks. There I've done what I never thought I would, at least not in writing, I've gone and used a meaningless colloquialism to express myself. That sucks. But when Life decides to play unfair then you have to play unfair right back at it.
This might all be cryptic but I write for consolation and refuge. More often than not I find myself returning to this space to vent cryptically since this is still a public domain- and vanish into oblivion once again. And it seems this state shall continue until Life quits misbehaving and puts things right. That's right Life it's Amrita, and you know what I'm talking about. Now get a move on it or else...