Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oru Chinna Romance*

She clutched her books in one hand and caught the railing of the bus with the other. The bus jolted along the many bumps of the uneven road and she had trouble maintaining her balance. Yet she couldn't help returning the looks from the guy in the red shirt hanging on the foot-board. She told herself that she wasn't . Yet she wished she had one hand free to smooth down her frizzy hair. She tried to keep an austere face while inwardly giggling to herself, as she caught him steal a look at her one more time.

He didn't usually travel on the foot-board of buses, much less oogle at college girls inside the bus. But he saw something in her eyes and he couldn't help himself. And then he realized that she was looking at him too and that was all the elixir he needed. He decided to hang around on the foot-board for some more time and added a sly smile to his glances. He caught her eyes once and when she blushed and turned her face away, his heart raced a little.

She walked up the stairs of her apartment giddily, still on a high. She was greeting by her husband carrying their wailing baby. He heaved a sigh of relief and promised her that the next time she wanted to go to the library, he would gladly drive her there as long as she didn't leave him alone with the baby. She bounced and cuddled the baby and saw that her husband hadn't cleaned the house like he promised. But today she didn't mind.

He walked into his son's school and his wife met him at the gate and admonished him about being late for the PTA meeting. He would have usually flared up right then and the situation had "Big Argument in a Public Place" written all over it. But today he surprised her with an apology and a hug.

* - A Tiny Romance

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Public Service Announcement

I have been recently informed that my recent tweet "My cup of happiness overfloweth! :) Sunshine and smiles all around" has caused some unnecessary excitement and people have been assuming a lot of things.

That was a premature message I posted on learning that my darling husband S is now moving to Madison for good (or so we thought). However since then we have come to learn that it might be temporary thing. However it's been all celebrations here, coz you know now I don't have to be alone and all that. Can you believe that I am actually excited to be packing lunch for S, ironing his T shirts and doing other wifey things :) It feels like we are getting married all over again.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Love Letters


She was busy clearing out her late mother's house. She was going through her mother's things to see if there was anything important or valuable and donating the rest to charity. In the attic, she came across a small box of carved wood. She opened it gingerly and came across a bunch of letters tied in a satin ribbon. She broke into a smile and realized that these were the letters that her father had written her mother when they courting. She was amazed that her mother had kept them safely as they moved across multiple cities and houses. She carefully set the box among the things that she was taking back to her home.


She was busy clearing out her late mother's laptop. She was going through her mother's files to see if there was anything important to be saved or deleted and was donating the laptop to a charity. In her D drive, she came across a small folder marked "Personal". She gingerly clicked it open and found a bunch of emails in a zip file. She broke into a smile and realized that these were the emails that her father had written to her mother when they were dating. She was amazed that her mother had saved the mails as she moved to different mail servers and laptops. She carefully copied the folder into her memory stick among the other files she was taking.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Commercials - Does Anyone Love Them?

I often think about what I miss most about India/Madras. Obviously, I miss my immediate family. I also miss my extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins and most recently my darling nephew. And I miss Thamizh - hearing it all around me and seeing it on billboards. I would be amiss if I didn't mention the food - the wholesome goodness filled homemade food and the various restaurants that serve a wide variety of Indian food. I am officially sick of the crap that is served at most Indian restaurants (and yet I keep going back, because sometimes the heart wants what it wants) The movies - there seems to be a slew of good Thamizh/Hindi movies these days and I hate having to drive over 100 miles to see it in a theater.

The above paragraph should not come as a surprise to anyone, coz God knows I have written about this several times in this blog. Lately I have come to realize that I miss something that I never thought I would miss - I miss the ads on TV. I always believe that however long I live in the United States, I would never fit in completely, because a lot of cultural references from their childhood would just go right off my head. And I think advertisements are big part of that. Though I had given up on Indian programming while in India and lived entirely on sitcoms, it feels like I have severed all my ties with Madras. I spend a lot of time hunting for new ads on Youtube. I feel that it might help to have some Tam channels at home. But again, I have no interest in watching any serials, I am not a music lover, I hate star interviews of any kind (except when Kamal Hassan is interviewed) and the lesser said about Indian reality TV the better. So S (rightly) feels that it is not a good idea to pay double of what we pay to Dish Tv to have Sun TV and Vijay TV! Besides S dislikes these channels more than I could ever do and I don't forsee him budging from his stance, unless my parents or V Athai visits. Hmm, maybe it is time for someone to visit. :-)

I know that I always give an impression about missing India and absolutely hating it here. While I do miss India, it's not that I am having a bad time here. I guess it's a case of the grass being greener the other side. I am sure I will have plenty to complain when I do eventually move back. So till that time, lay back and listen to my gentle rants about this topic :-)

Also I would love to hear about your favorite ads. Drop in a comment (with a YouTube link if possible) Thanks everyone - you guys are the best!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Girl - Part II

Read Part I here.

Rukku’s heart stopped and the proverbial thunder and lightning went off in her head. She started having visions about Vatsan bringing home a White American girl clad in skimpy clothes. She cursed the day that she had allowed her darling son to go to the big bad USA and wished that he could have stayed home with her. She screamed for Ananthu and started babbling incoherently on the phone, with tears streaming down her face.

It took a minute for Ananthu to understand what his wife was telling him. All he could make out was words like “church”, “grandkids”, “America”, “Janaki Maami”, interspersed with chants of the Lord’s name and try as he might, he could find nothing in common between all those words. He grabbed the phone from his hysterical wife and tried to find out what had actually happened.

Vatsan repeated the sentence to his father and Ananthu’s heart did a double leap as well. But before his father could react, Vatsan started talking again. “Her name is Sandhya, Sandhya Krishnamachary. She had come to the US to study and is now working in the same place I work.” Ananthu’s face relaxed. And then Vatsan said the golden words “She is also an Iyengar Vadakalai.” Ananthu couldn’t contain his glee and beamed happily at his wife. Rukku stared at Ananthu with dagger eyes, but as Ananthu explained, she heaved a sigh of relief. She started seeing everything in color again and said a silent thanks to Venkatachalapathy.

When the initial rush died down, Rukku diverted her attention to the Krishnamacharis. She pried their phone number out of Vatsan and made plans to contact them immediately. The initial phone call was made and she invited them home.

Rukku liked Mr & Mrs Chary. They had seemed genuinely happy at the alliance. They were impressed with Ananthu’s modest home and said the right things about Rukku’s filter coffee. They even agreed with Rukku that the marriage must be held as soon as possible. When Mrs Chary showed a photo of Sandhya to Rukku, she decided that Sandhya was much prettier than Janaki’s daughter. She reasoned to herself that even though she hadn’t arranged the alliance herself, Sandhya was a very good match for Vatsan. She was also working, which means that Vatsan could buy a flat in T.Nagar in no time. Also Mrs Chary had told her that Sandhya was tall, 5’ 7” to be precise. Since Vatsan was over 6’ tall, they would look good standing on the reception pandal. Rukku decided that she would become modern and accept the love marriage without any fuss. Anyway, since Sandhya was Iyengar too, she could always tell everyone that it was a “love-cum-arranged” marriage.

Saturday finally rolled around, Vatsan informed Rukku that he was planning a vacation to Madras in a couple of weeks and that Sandhya was coming with him. Rukku’s joy knew no bounds.

The days after that passed in a whirlwind with Rukku being busy prepping the house. Dust, cobwebs and dirt were hunted down and cleaned. The bathroom tiles were scrubbed till they started to look like once white. She made visits to various electronics stores and decided on a spilt AC that had to be installed in Vatsan’ room. The big TV that had adorned their drawing for more than a decade was replaced with a thin LCD TV. This was Vatsan’s first visit home and she wanted everything to be perfect. Also she wanted Sandhya to see that they lived in relative luxury and she would face no trouble as the daughter-in-law of the house. They had decided to have a formal engagement ceremony in the next week, and Rukku got out her jewels from the bank locker. She picked out a beautiful diamond necklace that her mother in law had given her during her wedding and decided she would give this to Sandhya during the engagement.

The day dawned bright and clear. Vatsan’s flight was supposed to land at ten in the morning. Rukku was bright and ready at eight and nagged Ananthu to get to the airport in time. They met with Mr and Mrs Chary at the airport and waited with them. After what seemed like an endless wait, it was announced that their flight had landed. Rukku squinted at the crowds and tried to spot Vatsan. Slowly people collected their bags and trickled out to meet with their waiting families. Rukku carefully scanned them and finally saw Vatsan pushing a trolley. And then Rukku she saw Sandhya.

Rukku and Ananthu looked at each other in confusion. The Charys shrugged their shoulders and nodded apologetically at them. If words like “gothic”, “punk” or “emo” had been a part of Rukku’s vocabulary, she would have used them to describe Sandhya. She was wearing tattered jean and a “well fitted” tank top. Her hair was as straight as sticks and was streaked with pink highlights. Her eyes had dark makeup around them and she was leaning on Vatsan casually.

To say that Rukku was taken aback was an understatement. In all her 55 years of existence, Rukku had never seen someone like Sandhya from close quarters. Before meeting Sandhya, Rukku had invited the Chary family home for a quick coffee and brunch and they had accepted. And now they were on their way home.

Rukku felt that she could think better with caffeine streaming through her body and brought out her famous filter coffee. Sandhya refused and said she was vegan. Rukku was perplexed until Vatsan explained that she did not drink milk and as of Jan 2010, neither did him. He went to the kitchen and brewed some watery tea sans milk and they both seemed to enjoy it. Conversation was minimal at the table and Rukku wanted them to pack up and leave.

No sooner than they stepped out of her home, she turned to Vatsan and begged him to reconsider. He was adamant and tried to convince Rukku that Sandhya was a “nice” girl. He refused to listen to any argument and Rukku knew she had lost the battle.

Things didn't go well between Rukku and Sandhya. She did not want to have any engagement ceremony and said that she had already accepted Vatsan’s proposal and was hence engaged. She refused Rukku’s gift of the diamond necklace and said that she didn’t want any “blood” diamonds. She was against silk sarees and gave a spiel about silk worms that Rukku didn’t understand a word of. She told Rukku quite emphatically that she hated all religious ceremonies and had planned to get married by the beach. When Rukku gasped, Sandhya was kind enough to say that they would definitely be invited.

Rukku remembered a wedding that she had attended an year ago. One of Ananthu’s friends' sons had married an American girl. She fell in love with Indian culture and had insisted that they have a traditional Indian wedding and had even worn an Aandal kondai. Rukku stared wistfully at Vatsan and wished he had brought home a nice American girl.