Saturday, December 11, 2010

Old Friends

The inspiration to write this post came from some old friends who were over for a housewarming dinner last night. Now here is the thing...I am rather old. So old friends to me always meant really old friends i.e. from school and Dakshina park days, basically childhood friends.

I never ever thought I that would have a different set of ‘old friends’. And here I must add- old is referring to the amount of time I have known these friends and not a dig at anyone’s age. But last nite got me wondering about the different sets of ‘old friends’ I have now gathered. The ones in Singapore are still relatively ‘new’ compared to the ones in Bombay- but after a decade plus of being here, well they have reserved their spot in the ‘old friends’ club as well.

OK, so what is the point of this? Actually am not sure myself! This is so going to be one of those rambling posts (even more so than the others!). So brace yourself (if you are still with me that is.)

This morning I woke up and the first instinct was to thank God for all my wonderful friends. It was almost of a reflex prayer and something I do not do enough of- thank God, rather than just ask for more. And that is the reason why I started writing this post. Am still not quite sure where I am going with this...but I shall make it up as I go along...

Friends are God's way of taking care of us. So starting from the oldest to the newest, here are my forever friends:

1) My Cousins- I am extremely lucky as my family counts as my closest friends. My brothers and sisters are the very best! Jyoti, Deepu, Kamal, Bunty, Heena and Vinky- without you childhood would have never been half as much fun!

2) Dakshina Park friends- They are the oldest friends I have ever had. I am a very different person now from what I was when they knew me. My good nature ;) and bad temper is consistent- which frankly my each set of friends will vouch ( for especially the bad temper part- they all will have at least one story each about when I have completely lost it). I used to be a very shy child, did not make friends very easily, was rather chup-chup. You had to get to know me to see my friendly and talkative side.

And here’s is a big thanks to ones who thought it was worth spending that time. Special mention to Anubha, Rashika, Monika, Bijili/Nikki, Chaitali and Sadhvie. Many of the others have gone different way, some still live on Facebook and others I meet every year when I go back home in Dec (which is in a week’s time!). My first old friends are my DP friends.

3) School friends- Now here is the thing- I had a hand few of close school friends. Goes back to me being terribly shy. And those close ones- I can’t find them on FB! And one of my regrets is that I did not try hard enough to keep in touch after we left school. So Shakuntala, Jaspreet and Ujju- wherever you are, hope you are healthy and happy.

4) College friends- Life kinda went into top gear when I was 16 and started ‘college’. FYJC and SYJC (first year junior college and second year junior college) were the most fun years of my life. And the friends I made there have stayed with me since.
From ‘do you think he likes me?’ to ‘do you think I should marry him’. From crushes to crashes. From miniskirts to halter neck sari blouses. From sitting next to each other in class room (or Ladies Common Room) then to brunches now. From sharing our first drink (and smoke) then to finishing bottles of wine now. We have grown up together and seen each other through many ups and downs. Unni, Sash, Daisy, Rash, Janu, Mich, Geeta- the best girl friend gang EVER.

I read somewhere "A good girl friend is a sister that destiny forgot to give you." And this rings true for you Unnati!

5) MBA friends- This was supposed to be the time I got serious in life- about growing up, planning for the future, choosing a good career path. Yeah. I never did any of the above. I had more nonsensical type of fun in my MBA days than I had in ungrad. And planning for the future...well I could not choose my major until the absolute last minute. I actually had to pull my application out of majoring in HR into Marketing just the evening before. And finally I ended up in advertising! For which you don’t even need a graduation degree let alone an MBA.

But it was all worth it! Pallavi, Nikhil, Tewari, Meenal, Apruv, Sumi, Aps, Sree, Deepak, Pat- thanks for making the 2 years super fun!

6) Ambience friends- Ok once I stepped out of the ‘education’ phase (and I use that in quotes) to the “career” phase (and I use that in quotes too- double ones), I thought I would never make real friends anymore. I would meet new people and like some of them and have a good time in office. But that would stay within the confines of office. My friend Divya shared the same sentiments. But to both our surprise, life had different plans for us. 13 years later and we are still close friends- Divya, Sonul (yes it’s Sonal with a ‘u’) and Monisha. And all our kids are almost the same age- which makes us even closer.

From here onwards starts my journey in making and finding friends in Singapore (are you seriously still with me? If so, kudos to you!)

7) First office friends (Lacek and ICLP)- And the friends who inspired this post. My newest bunch of ‘old friends’. I met them in my first job in Singapore and the rest as they say is history. Here is to Kevin, KC, Mas, Christina, Adeline, Neeta, David and Goldie. From old T&T jokes that actually never get old ;) to new experiences that we continue sharing with each other (ideally over my fabulous mojitos).

8) Tanjong Ria friends- These set of friends made family life so pleasurable. From potluck lunches to Diwali card parties. From Tanjong Rhu walks to ECP holi celebrations. I have enjoyed my motherhood and family years in their company tremendously! Alpna, Rashi, Isha, Purnima, Nimisha, Sona, Nidhi, Vijaya, Manjusha, Pamela and Priya. Even though we are not in Tanjong Ria anymore, its lovely to know you all are still a part of my life.

9) The boys- Andrew, Neel and Nadim. Sorry was not sure where to fit you guys. Under “McCann” friends seemed rather lame, as we have been friends much after those McCann days are over. So here is to the best guy friends a girl can ever have!

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."

I read this quote somewhere and it stuck with me. Last 2 years have not been the easiest ones in my seemingly long life. And these friends entered my life at the point when I needed new friends the most. And they stayed. When many other old ‘friends’ chose not to.

Archana, Riva, Manisha, Ashu, Kaushal, Arjun, Aarti-1, Aarti-2, Vidya, Amit, Anushka, Bharti, Rach, Dibyo, Kaylin and Cherylene. The last 2 years would have been almost impossible to bear had it not been for you all. (BTW C, Rach- I don't have any pix with you guys so there is no photographic evidence of us being friends. May be screen grabs of daily IM chats?)

Well I am getting to the end of the post (yes it is ending soon. I now can understand how Ashutosh Gowariker feels. It’s difficult to edit when there is so much to say).

Now that I have so many sets of old friends and new entrants who I sincerely hope will be old friends too some day, is the friendship journey is complete? The way friends have popped into my life- many times when least expected- I think not.

Again to borrow a quote: "Strangers are just friends waiting to happen." So am looking forward to making a new set of friends. And if one of them can be a charming, good humoured, tall, handsome guy with a 6 pack and biceps and intellectual and cultural sensitivities, then life would be kinda perfect. Well...a girl can a dream ;)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Out of my comfort zone

I am a creature of habit. I like things a certain way (yes yes roll your eyes and think ‘anal control freak'), I like familiarity, I like a sense of routine. I will flirt with new stores (Ice at PP strongly recommended) but I seek solace in Zara. I will try new restaurants (Don Quijote in Dempsey- must visit) but I still crave for my idli and filter coffee at Murugan’s. And I am not ashamed of any of this.

I do enjoy spontaneity and impromptu plans and doing things out of the blue- but overall I take comfort in a structure of sorts.

So yeah I am a creature of habit. I don’t like not knowing about things. I don’t take part in activities that I am not good that. I need to be in the know. It’s all a part of being able to control things as much as possible. Though at this point I must add, I never worry about things that are obviously not in my control. Death, earthquakes, stock market crashes, train delays, terrorist’s attacks- these never faze me. As I can’t control them. So why bother wasting time and energy worrying about them? I have Krishna to look out for me on these fronts.

But the mortal aspects of life- yes I like to control them. And that’s why over the years I have built and pretty much lived in my comfort zone. This comfort zone is sometimes an actual physical zone. Like my friend used to incessantly tease me about my never having any desire or inclination to leave Juhu (let alone Bombay). Some of my comfort zones are mental like Jagjit Singh ghazals, Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies, my classic novels. MANY are food related- Maggi masala (only the one from India), mom's dal chawal, Awfully Chocolate's chocolate cake- well this lits can just go on and on. And some are more surreal ones like the ocean. So I have many of these varied comfort zones.

Hence at the beginning of this year I made a resolution to do things that are out of my comfort zone. And here is what I accomplished this year. Some big ones, some small ones and some completely trivial and meaningless but out of my comfort zone nonetheless.

1) Non beach holiday: In March I took a trip to Siem Reap by myself. Instead of the usual beach resort holiday- which would be, well comfortable. Siem Reap also marked my 2nd holiday all alone. First being Lagkawi (yes a beach resort).

2) Taking charge of my finances: From someone who did not know (and sometimes still struggles with) balancing a cheque book, try comparing home loans and insurance policies! But with help of some very sweet friends, I succeeded in this too.

3) Running the marathon: And I use the word ‘running’ loosely here. I 'run' slower than most people walk. But for me to run 20 mins on a treadmill was one of the biggest achievements ever! I have never been- and still am not- an athletic person. I do not enjoy sports and PE (or PT as we called it) was my worse period in school. No, actually that would be needle work! PE came a close- very close- second. So to start running on a treadmill, progressing to a cross trainer and then running on the streets was a triumph!

And running the 10K marathon was a dream! I never thought I had it in me. But I did it! The first 2 km were tough as I could see people who started 15 mins after me, racing ahead and I thought to myself “I can never complete this!” But I stuck with it and did pretty good till the 8th kilometre. And then came the F1 pit stretch with the scorching heat, and I was about to stop, sit, take a nap and then continue after an hour or so. But once again, I pushed myself. And reaching the finish line was one of the most fulfilling moments ever!

4) Sushi time: I had never had sushi until last Sunday. There I have said it. It’s in the open now. I am not a fan of Japanese food. The only Asian food I absolutely love is Thai. (India per me is not part of Asia, so Indian food is not Asian food). And the thought of eating raw fish never seemed appealing and it looked so bland! But I had decided at the beginning of 2010, I would eat sushi. And I have delayed it time after time. Fish curry, paella, tapas, red curry chicken, chole bature, paneer chilly, pizza- there are so many much much much tastier things to eat than sushi. So I did what I do whenever I need to get out of my comfort zone- I procrastinated.

Then finally I did it! A celebratory lunch post the marathon was required and it was Sushi! Thanks again Riva and Kaushal :)

The other smaller out-of-comfort-zone activities included:

• Cutting my hair shot (and getting highlights)

• Starting to learn a language. (I have a terrible ear for languages and only know Hindi and English, of which can read and write English only). Trying to add Spanish to my language repertoire now. Olla!

• Not crying every time Sanil is away from me

• Making a mean gajjar halwa (I am a chocolate cake, hazelnut mousse kinda girl)

• Reading motivational books (I am a Jane Austen girl who likes a dash of thrillers)

So it was a rather eventful year. Good things happened as did many bad things. But I survived another year and grew up a little too (and yes grew older also in the process).

But there are many more personal mountains to scale.My biggest one will be to try my hand (or rather mind) at meditation. That will be a toughie! My friend in college used to bet me 10 bucks if I could sit still in class for 5 mins without fidgeting or moving. It could be an easy 10 bucks every time! Except I never got it, as being still for 5 mins is an unaccomplished feat for me!

Another thing I want to attempt doing which will be COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone is learning art of patience and not losing my temper. That battle will be my personal Kurukshetra.

There are many fears to overcome and a lot of courage to build to step out of more comfort zones. But hopefully by end of 2011 I shall be writing a post longer than this one on my out-of-comfort-zone achievements.

Now I am off to my couch to watch back to back episodes of Gossip Girl. Now that is a comfort zone I would never want to leave ;)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Little India Adventure and some discoveries....

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not particularly like Little India. Actually scratch that. I LIKE Little India what I don’t like is visiting Mustafa (though selfishly am very happy for its existence. Where else can I get my Indian Maggi Masala and Bru coffee?). So Little India sans Mustafa is perfectly fine. After all that’s where I get my ‘soul food’- butter dosa, idly and filter coffee at Murugans and my ‘nostalgia food’- chaat and Bombay styled sandwiches at Kailash Parbat.

But once a year Diwali shopping in Little India is a must. And if I were a pretentious Indian writer living overseas, I would go at length describing how much I look forward this wondrous occasion of Diwali shopping in Little India, to see the blend of culture and modernity, to view the streets adorned with beautiful lights, and the reflection of the those lights on the glow of people’s faces, the colors, textures, fabrics, blah blah blah.

But I am not one of those pretentious writers, so all I saw is a prettily lit street indeed but with zillions of men, women, kids and shops selling everything from fire crackers and diyas to mithais and flowers and shiny kurtis and loud DVDs. And the distance between me and my dream destination- Kailash Parbat- felt very long indeed. Sigh! It kinda felt like scaling Mount Kailash!

So I took a deep breath and started:

Stop 1: Fire crackers- with the limited variety in Singapore, this was done in under 5 mins.

Stop 2: Lights- maybe it was the whole atmosphere of being in a giant disco ball of colors and shiny lights, but I had a sudden urge to buy those multi color lights to adorn my balcony. But pity I could not find anything I liked.

Stop 3-10: Readymade dhoti for Sanil- Sanil played the lead role in his school Diwali play as Ram (Yes, am super thrilled and oh-so proud). Small hitch. No one in school knew how to tie a dhoti. So I gallantly came to rescue and promised I would buy one from Little India. Little did I know what I was getting myself into! I walked all over Little India from one small shop to another to look for this elusive readymade dhoti. I must say all the shop owners were extremely helpful in pointing me to the next store/next lane, and sympathetic too- looking at me tugging around bags of diyas and firecrackers finding the dhoti for her precious child. (Come on! Even Khaushalya had it easier. I did remind Sanil that he owed me BIG time for this and he said ‘would 100 kishies suffice?’ Awwwwww! Yes, yes, yes I know he knows how to make me melt. He has had practice! He has been doing it for 7 and half years now!)

Back to the search...still searching...and everyone (including Sanil’s Hindi teacher) kept telling me to go to ‘Hanifa’. So now I went about in search for Hanifa...thinking if I find her, I will find the dhoti.

And finally I found a Hanifa- a smallish looking store tucked in the back streets of Little India, but seemed immensely popular. You had give your bags to the attendant outside (just like in Mustafa), was super crowded (just like Mustafa), had Cheena girls selling cheap perfumes to Bangladeshi workers (like Mustafa from that 70s perhaps). The resemblance was uncanny! It felt like entering back in time...before Mustafa became what it is now.

I could not help but wonder...could it be that Hanifa was Mustafa’s childhood sweetheart? But Mustafa’s dad did not want him to marry her because he had his eyes set higher for his son? OR Hanifa was Mustafa’s dad’s illegitimate child and he paid her off with this small store? Ok my mind was fried by that point of time, hence these crazy thoughts...though come on... it is intriguing no?

Finally when I was just about to give up, I saw this small nondescript store called ‘Dakshinee Silks’. Last ditch attempt...and yes!! They had readymade dhotis!! For S$18 only with the kurta! Mission accomplished.

Stop 11 and 12- I headed toward my dream destination of Kailash Parbat- after stopping at the temple to thank the Gods.

And then I was in heaven. I ate more that day for dinner than what I eat usually in a day.

Started off with yummy pani puri. Then ate chole batura- and when the waiter got the plate with those two gigantic baturas, I kept one batura on the side, away from me, reminding myself that one was enough. But no sooner than I had taken the first bite, I knew, that second batura would not be spared. I also drank some refreshing lime soda. And kulfi falooda for sweet endings. The poor manager just kept looking on, as he had probably not seen a single woman eat so much all by herself in such a short time. But it was all worth it!

And thus ended my Little India adventure. And it was not so bad after all.

Wish you all a very Happy Diwali! Have a wonderful time and go head and indulge!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Don't miss out on the real life....

A little more face to face,
a little less

A little more real conversation,
a little less IM chat

A little more meet,
a little less tweet

A little more on life,
a little less on line

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taking compliments graciously…

…has never been my forte. I simply am at loss to respond courteously when I get a compliment.

“Seema these kebabs are delicious! How did you ever make them? Seems so time consuming”

Regular people’s response: “Thank you. So glad you enjoying them”

The Seema response: “It’s damn simple. Nothing to it. And I think the salt could be lesser”

“Your dress is simply gorgeous”

Regular people’s response: “Thanks!”

The Seema response: “Thanks but it’s really old”/ “Thanks. But it only cost 25$”/ “Thanks but it’s not mine. Borrowed from my friend” (at least I say "Thanks")

“Very good presentation. Well done!”

Regular people’s response: “Thank you.”

The Gloater response: “Thanks. I was working till 2 am on it.”

The Kiss-ass response: “I learn from best. I have observed how you all talented people present, and I can only but try and emulate..blah blah blah...”

The Seema response: “It was easy. No biggie.”

“You have lost weight!”

Regular people’s response: “Thanks! I am working out.”

The Seema response: “Really? No ways! Weighing machine does not say so. Also I have been eating a lot!!”

When I responded to a weight loss compliment like this last week, my friend just replied “May be the last time I saw you, you were way too bloated”. OMG! I complained that he was mean. And he advised that when anyone compliments, one should smile sweetly and say thanks. Rather than disagreeing with the complimentee. (Yeah yeah, Microsoft spell checker has already highlighted that that’s not a word)

The worst one was when a college friend commented on my photo and said “You look just the same as you did back then”. And I turned around and blurted “So I looked this old in college?!”

Sigh! You get the drift….

I think taking compliments is an art. (As is giving them. And here is how NOT to give compliment).

Taking a compliment the Seema-way does one of the following:

1) Makes the complimentee feel you are not gracious/grateful/courteous

2) Gives the impression you are arrogant/too full of yourself

3) Give people another chance to think “why is she so weird?”

So my plan is now to grin and enjoy it…so keep those compliments flooding in ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What’s in a name? That which we call an iPhone, by any other name would still be a touchscreen

This evening I finally bought a new phone. And the only reason I did so, was my last phone was stolen (which in Singapore context means left behind in a cab). Before that I changed my age-old Nokia for a not-as-age-old-Nokia for a 2-fold reason

Reason no 1: Sanil said “Mama, you have had this phone since I was a baby. Since then Rose has got 3 new phones”

Reason no 2: Location- Asia Pacific conference in Bangkok. And I casually put my phone on the table. The Business Director from Korea very innocently asked “Is that a phone?” Yes the ground should have opened up and swallowed me.

When I first came to Singapore, I was a part of a conversation between 2 locals.

Local 1: “Wow. You spent 700$ on a new phone?!”
Local 2: “Yes it’s the coolest, blah blah technology, blah blah features, blah blah...”
Local 1: “There are so many better things you can spend 700$ SHOES!”

As an Account Exec, with a princely sum of 2300$ per month to my name, I did not really have much to offer to that conversation.

Cut-to recent phone loss. EVERYONE (including my mum) asked me if I was going to get an iPhone. Many assumed that I naturally would. And most others were most amazed to know that I would not be getting one. People sneered, sniggered, rolled eyes (all except call out a witch hunt against me). And none could decipher my motive...and yes I had a few:

a) I have zero hand eye coordination. And using the slide-unslide function coupled with the touch screen pad to write SMS...too traumatic

b) I don’t see the fuss

c) Sanil wud use it more than I would
d) I always have and always will be on the side of the underdog (in this case Nokia)

e) The most popular choice is never mine (case in point Shahrukh Khan, KJo movies and Titanic- for me its Aamir Khan, Anurag Kashyap movies and Shawshank Redemption)

f) Even my plumber has an iPhone- where is the damn cool factor that everyone raves about? How can something so mass, still be so cool?

g) I am the most untech savvy person I know. I use a phone to talk (gasp!) and SMS (I do embrace useful technology) and sometimes to take pix of Sanil

h) And frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

And I really hoped less people would care about the phone they owned, the car they drove, the house they lived, the school their kids went to and the number of zeros in their annual income.

Why do we use objects to define ourselves?

• An iPhone makes you cool

• A BMW car makes you hot

• An Armani suit makes you popular

• A LV bag makes you glamorous

Is that what it’s all come down to? I am not being philosophical or spiritual. And I am guilty of object-affection too. I don’t define myself through objects, but I let objects rule my life. Besides Sanil, what I love most in my house are my books (and my sofa). I am a location snob and can’t imagine myself living in parts of Singapore (or Bombay) besides a select few locations and I am prejudiced against people who don’t read. I use objects to evaluate my state of happiness and my opinion of others too.

One of the definitions of object is: something material that may be perceived by the senses.

It is material and it is simply perceived by our senses. We attach labels to something inanimate and then we further assign a value to it. And then we extend that value to the person owning (or in my case, it’s usually not owning) the said object.

Let’s try and break free from these shackles. It’s time to focus on the subject i.e. us, and give lesser importance to the objects.

So next time you meet your friend compliment her on her smile (instead of her dress), get impressed by your boy friend’s witty remarks and charming personality (instead of his new watch/bike/car), praise your neighbours cooking skills (instead of eyeing her new furniture).

Objects will always be there and it’s important to acknowledge, appreciate and be grateful for their existence. But when they take centre stage in our life, it’s time to re-write the script.

p.s. for the ones who simply HAVE to know, I got myself a shiny new Nokia C6 or is its C5- well what's in a name, right? ;)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

20 tips on becoming an Indian gangster’s moll

1) You should be aware of the existence of the term ‘moll’

2) You should have lived the 70s

3) You should know how to tie saris below the waist line

4) And looking stunning in ‘western clothes’ too

5) You should understand Ajit and Mona Darling jokes

6) Know who Ajit is in the first place

7) Carry off ‘the cigarette holder’ look with style

8) Use red lipstick

9) Wear high heels

10) And plunging necklines

11) Laugh knowingly

12) Smile seductively

13) Know the ins-and-outs of gold smuggling

14) But drug smuggling is strictly a no-no*

15) Learn a Helen dance routine**

16) Be haughty

17) And flirty

18) Have ability to recognize the mole in the gang

19) Keep your day job in case the underworld politics turns against you

20) Don’t fall for the honest police officer no matter how charming and good looking he is***

* The principle borrowed from Don Corleone aka God Father and repeatedly used by all the ‘scrupulous’ Mumbai Dons

**I recommend “yeh mera dil” from Don- the original Don. Kareena only managed to do semi-justice to the song in the new-crappy-Don (what was the talented Farhan thinking? Not about Kareena; about the movie in general)

*** like Shashi Kapoor in Deewar

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bhaiya mere…

Rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana, bhaiya mere, choti bahen ko na rulana….a song that made its way to our 14 inch TV set every August through the marvelous program of Chayageet. It acted as an announcer for the upcoming festival of Raksha Bandhan.

Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival for brothers and sisters. A sister ties the ‘holy thread’ (Wikipedia described the Rakhi as that) on her brothers wrist and the brother is then bound to protect his sister against all of life’s perils. Brother also has to get a gift (or the ever-welcome cash) for the sister, who in turns gives him sweets. Rule of thumb- no Indian festival is complete without exchange of sweets.

So that in a nutshell is Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi. My 2nd favorite festival after Holi (which is by far my favouritest! And yes I know that’s not a word). Diwali stands at no. 3.

Growing up with 3 brothers makes one naturally inclined towards Rakhi. Lifetime protection AND fab gifts or cash every year. It’s a no brainer on why Rakhi ranks high on my popularity charts!

On a less frivolous note…

A relationship between a brother and sister mirrors a roller coaster ride- ups and downs, lows and highs, screams (tons of them!), laughs, smiles, scares- but ultimately a fabulous fun experience!

Younger brothers can be a pain in the a$%$. No question.
  • They hoard the bathrooms (and my bros are notorious for that)
  • Never let you borrow their stuff
  • Capture and never release the TV remote
  • Are secretive and mysterious (when actually their lives are really not that glamorous)
  • And mums tend to have a soft corner for them
But they make life super fun….

• If you want to get out of a boring family wedding, use them. They will come up with a devious plan and you will not only get out of the wedding, but also get cash from parents to go eat out.

• They are great buffet companions. Especially for me- as I can eat (and usually do eat) more than most boys I know. And going for an all-you-can-eat session with girls- is a bloody waste and makes you feel like a glutton. But go with your brothers- and you will never be out of place.

• Inane conversations are easy and can lead to hour long debates about random and inconsequential topics like ‘where can you get the best bread and butter pudding?’

• They are great chauffeurs- growing up in Bombay, even though I was the older sister, was always in need to be picked up and dropped off- and they are always there (sometimes even when I did not need/want the ride :)

• Their crazy antics and banters keeps the atmosphere light and spirits high

On a more serious note…

My brothers are the best! I would not trade them for anything in the world (yes, not even a pot of gold, or a 10 carat diamond. Ok….a 10 carat diamond may sway the deal). They are funny, smart, cool and very very loving.

They never take themselves or me too seriously, but take our relationship very seriously.

And they have always been there for me- whether I voiced the need or not. They have been my support and have enabled me to make tough decisions because I knew that they would be there if I fall.

They never judge, they always praise and they tease me consistently- which keeps me grounded and helps me retain my sanity.

And they make the most wonderful maamas ever! Sanil is a big fan of all 3 of them and takes their word as the gospel.

“Pu maama said it’s the weekend, so I can do whatever I want”

"B said there is no need to do poetry homework because poets don’t make any money"

"Is Kamil maama the best cricketer in the world?”

My brothers make my life complete. And without them, I would be so much less off!

Sweet endings…

I wish no matter where I am in life, and no matter where life takes them, this bond never breaks. They have long ago fulfilled their vow of protection, but still it’s reassuring that every Rakhi this bond is further strengthened.

In a recent post I read about brothers and sisters, the writer very aptly said that “As married adults, the relationship you have with your siblings depends on your spouses. If they will it, your relationship will flourish. If not, it will flounder. As simple as that”. And for my existing relationship with my bros which continues to grow and flourush, I do have my 2 amazing sister-in-laws to thank!

My hope is that Sanil will be as great a brother to his cousin sisters as my brothers are to me.

Will end on another popular Raksha Bandhan song "Phoolon ka taaron ka, sab ka kahna hai... ek hazaaron mein, meri behna hai.". Ok my brothers wud NEVER sing this song for me (primarily becoz none of them can sing), but I know they believe its true ;)

p.s. remember to wear your rakhi for at least one day! Someone will do chugli and I will know if you did not! And yes,I will vasoolofy the kharchi when I see you next!

Thinking of you all a lot today! Lots of love, Seema

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So what was your excuse this Independence Day?

The day has come to an end. Another day in another month in another year to most people all over the globe. But it’s not! This very day 63 years ago, India got Independence from the British Rule after years of struggle. It is a special day. It should be a special day. A day when you remember all the sacrifices made by so many great men and women, thanks to who, you and I live the kind of life we do today.

My guess would be most of urban Indians living in the India ‘metros’ take 15th Aug as another public holiday (and this year they would whinge how it falls on a Sunday and hence they ‘lost’ a holiday). And most people living outside India, well it’s just another day...if it’s a weekday, you get dressed, drop kids to school, go to work, come back home, sleep, the usual humdrum. And if it falls on a weekend like it did today, well then there is no need to get early out of bed is it?

But that’s not true right?

We get up early on weekends for various different reasons:

- Morning run

- Morning sex

- Biking

- Brunch with eggs Benedict and Mimosas

- Or simply because kids don’t let us sleep in

- Etc, etc

So why could you not have got up today and gone to the Indian Embassy in Singapore for flag hoisting?

It started at 9.00 am and lasted less than 10 mins. The flag is hoisted and you sing the National Anthem. If you don’t the words, you just stand still, and sink that amazing patriotic feel in the air. After which you need to stay only if your kids were performing on stage, or if you simply feel like it.

10 minutes. That’s all. And in Singapore travel time cannot exceed more than 20 mins in cab at that time.

So what was your excuse?

- Lazy?
- Boring?
- Lame?
- Not worth getting out of bed for?
- Or worse of all- it’s just not something professional expat Indians do?

In all the years I have lived here, I cannot help but notice that the majority of the audience are young students and people in the diplomatic circles. From all my expat Indian friends, only a handful (think I need only one of my hands to count) attend the flag hoisting.

Why is that so? I simply cannot fathom!

1) Are you ashamed of your country? Then f&**ing give up your nationality! The Indian passport does not come with very many privileges in the first place. Give it up. Don’t bother being an Indian any more.

2) Or are you ashamed of yourself? How can an educated, rich, professional, expat be seen with the riff-raff of students, workers and government babus? What would it do to your reputation amongst your colleagues and friends? Won’t they laugh at you? Poke fun? (I know! It happens to me all the time. But it never fazes me)

3) Or you simply don’t care? The thought just does not cross your mind perhaps? But yet, you never forget to watch the latest SRK blockbuster do you? Or trying out the latest Indian restaurant in Singapore? Then why can’t you remember this day?

4) Or is it just that you don’t think it’s important enough? You feel you love your country and are proud of it, so why do you need to attend a flag hoisting of Independence Day? I think many of you would probably fall in this category. (Though I personally know many people who fall in the category 1 and 2 as well). I would like just to remind you that expression of an emotion is almost as important as an emotion itself. Doesn’t your spouse get angry with you when you don’t tell her enough that you love her? You know and she knows that you do. But she needs and desires that expression. Don’t you express your admiration for children’s smallest successes? Don’t you call long distance to wish your parents on their birthdays and anniversaries? Don’t you leave funny and caring posts on friends Facebook profiles?

Then why can’t you express your love and gratitude to your Motherland? Is attending flag hoisting the only way to do it? Of course not! But is it a symbolic expression of patriotism? Yes it sure is!

 And it will do wonders for your own soul. To be with your fellow countrymen, singing (or humming) Jan-gan-man, seeing the tiranga flying and knowing however far you may be, you always have home to return to- there is not a calmer feeling in the world.

And after those 10 minutes are over, go lead your regular life. (I went for a breakfast at Jones, read Life! and then headed home)

But the feeling of pride in my heart of where India has reached today, makes my heart bigger, my smile wider and my courage stronger. Coz if we survived the colonial rule and started with next to nothing just a generation ago, we can pretty much do anything.

Today India is the largest democracy which has elected a women and a minority Prime Minister (USA has never had a woman President till now, and elected its first minority President only last year). It is slated to be the 3rd largest economy in next 40 years (after USA and China). Is home to the great invention of our times- the cheapest car in the world, Tata Nano. And has given the world visionaries like Narayan Murthy, creative geniuses like Tagore and legends like Gandhi (amongst the trivial though commercially viable Ms. Universes and Ms. Worlds).

As Indians we not only survive the odds, we excel.

So let’s please just give due to the country that makes it all possible.

Jai Hind!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Many Worlds Theory- A Seema Interpretation

Who are we? Why are we here? What is beyond Earth? Are there aliens? Will they invade Earth? Why can’t we invade their planets first? Why are aliens depicted as green? Are there any cute n eligible ones? These are not merely philosophical questions; they are also scientific ones (barring the last one of course- that was just added in so you would stay with me in the post). Even as a child when I debated about such questions or tried to find answers- I reached only one conclusion. “We don’t know”. It’s as simple as that. We don’t know. And by ‘we’ I mean a collective of physicists, scientists, Nobel Prize winners, doctors, inventors, all over the globe. No one knows these answers. For every theory, there are an equal number of ones than refute it, and an equal number that support it.

So what exactly happens outside the galaxy we inhabit? Is there another galaxy far, far away?

I love the quote from the ‘97 science fiction thriller ‘Contact’ (one of Jodie Foster’s best films), where as a young girl she asks her dad “Dad, do you think there are people on other planets?” And he looks up to the sky and replies “I don't know. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space”.

Exactly. “I don’t know” was his answer. (And yes it would be awful waste of space).

A related theory to this is the Multiple Worlds Theory or the Many Worlds Theory (MWT). As explained by the “dummies” website: “The multiverse is a theory in which our universe is not the only one, but states that many universes exist parallel to each other”.

MWT is an interpretation of quantum physics (a term I love using whenever I can after it was popularized by Flash Forward). It was developed originally by American physicist Hugh Everett in 1957. It was further propagated by other eminent physicists and researchers, but not all physicists really believe in MWT.

So why am writing about MWT? I am so not a sci-fi lover. In fact I detested science even as a subject in school. This is all due to a recent obsession of mine called “Flash Forward”. It’s one of the best shows on TV in recent times. And am still devastated that Season 2 was cancelled. (Why o why? Is it not enough for ABC that I am a true lover and an ardent fan?? Yes, yes I know. ABC will not spend millions of dollars to air a show just because I love it so much- though am sure there are many others like who would have been very disappointed too).

Okie. So back to Flash Forward. The show in a nutshell- there was a global blackout- every human on the planet lost consciousness for 2 mins and 17 seconds. And they all saw their future 6 months hence. A married woman who loves her husband and has a happy marriage sees herself sleeping with another man. A young America doctor living in San Francisco sees himself in love with a Japanese girl living in Kyoto. And she sees the exact same thing too. My darling Agent Noh (John Cho) sees nothing- leading to believe that he won’t have a future 6 months hence, i.e. he dies.

So what now?
• If we have seen the future, can we change it?
• Can we avoid it?
• Can it change us?
• Is our fate determined by the Almighty?
• Or do we as humans have the power to mould our future and change our ending?
• Do we have a choice?
• If not and if our destiny is decided, then why the charade of choice?

The show grapples with many such questions (amongst solving the mystery on how and why the Flash Forwards occurred, criminal intents, love triangles and many other interesting sub plots). But it does raise very valid questions. 2 specific ones actually:

1) Is our fate is sealed? Whatever decision we take or choices we make, will ultimately lead us to that fate. But the paths we take, the experiences we experience, the relationships we grow, will all be different depending on our choices. But our fate is pre-decided.


2) Destiny is in our hands. Our choices will lead us to a destiny- which is not specified by anyone. Depending on our choices, our destiny will change.

So is life like a Hindi love story where the end is decided (boy-girl live happily ever after)? But the story line and plot is different for every story (think a Yash Chopra film vs. an Anurag Kashyap one).

Or is life like a blank canvas and every human being can paint it with the colors of his choice? And thus making the end product completely dependent on the taste, skill and imagination of the painter i.e. the human being himself. Meaning there is no pre-decided ending.

I will say it again “We don’t know”. But what did hit me was a mention on MWT in Flash Forward. Where Simcoe tells Olivia (Olivia is the married woman who saw herself sleeping with another man- Simcoe- in her flash forward, who she had never met before that day). He explains to her that all our choices are actually being played out in a parallel universe somewhere. So a part of “me” is living out my other choice in a universe somewhere. But I can never meet my “other me” so I don’t know how her life is and she does not know mine.

At every major fork in the roads of our lives we usually have 2 big choices e.g. you are 21 and graduating from college. You have 2 big choices-pursuing your education further or taking up a job. In this life, here on Earth, you have gone to college. BUT the road forked, and your “other me” went to work. She had different experiences from you. Her life is playing out in a Universe somewhere while you are living your life here on Earth. You both probably think “what if” many times- she thinks “what if I had gone studied further?” And you think “what if I would have gone to work”.

This is just a simple example of two probable decisions at one point of time. But many times the number of decisions is not restricted to two. And after that one decision is made, there are so many other choices that follow e.g. you have decided to study further, but what do you major in? Which country do you study in? How long do you study for? All these roads come with their own forks.

These parallel universes* apparently take place in the same space and time as our own universe, but you still have no way to access them. Every moment of your life, every decision you make, is causing a split of your “now self" into an infinite number of "future selves", all of which are unaware of each other.
* A simple portrayal of MWT was in the 1999 Gwyneth Paltrow starrer ‘Sliding Doors’

I like the MWT Theory. Its existence simply means that no decision of mine is wrong. Because if it is, then the right decision is being played out in the parallel universal. And somewhere my other me is living the life I think is perfect- loving husband who is an architect, 2 kids- Sanil and a baby girl, nice house, decent career, enough money and a walk-in-closet with many many clothes. And while I reciting my fantasies, I would like to add that my other me is a size 3, has long hair with gorgeous curls, a flat tummy and thin waist line, a pretty face and yes a metabolism that allows her to gorge on chocolate cake with no impact on that thin waist line.

But then again...who is to say that my other me got the right end of the stick? She could be the one living out the wrong decision.

The parallel universe need not be the desirable one after all!

So I take solace in the fact that if I have not got something I long for, my other me is enjoying it- right now, in the parallel universe. And any pain that I have to go through is me shielding her from that pain.

So as long as my other me is happy, I will always be happy too ;)