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Heard these books?

Every single day I wring the telephone cord around my neck and choke myself. I don’t really do that but I do something even worse. I drive everyday to work and back spending net worth of two hours. I have given myself 15 minutes slack time for all the accidents, tickets, gas-burnouts, battery downs, locking-myself-out scenarios that take place (once in a while) to combat monotony. Two hours of my life just passes by mundanely in the traffic with no notable achievements to report. The rest of day (when I am not driving), I have no motivation to achieve anything! I could have found the anti-virus for HIV in those two hours.

So here I am wasting the formative years of my life in a car when radio gets cheesy, music gets repetitive, sceneries don’t exist and I can’t sleep (why would I say that if I haven’t tried?). So to amuse myself, I got hold of Books on CD from my local library. You have got to try out new things, however preposterous. It worked out real well for me as I heard through Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, Passage to India and many other such books that would intimidate me under normal circumstances. The books were classics of course (books that usually are prescribed as a supplement reader in High School), but the narrators are awesome and I didn’t contemplate about the HIV virus even once. Destination would appear sooner than usual as if I had suddenly discovered a shortcut route. To finish the particular chapter that held me in such gripping suspense, I would have to go around my office parking lot a few more times. Taking another long journey back home in the evenings delighted me immensely and I was quickly saddened as home approached. I just couldn't switch the book off. So I'd go back to the library and borrow the same books I was listening to so that I could continue reading from where I had left listening. (erm..complicated sentence that!)

Once I had exhausted the fiction titles (the library needs desperate improvement, darn those rich patrons!), I walked skeptically over to the non-fiction part and picked up some self improvement CD on finances. I knew this would be the end to my CD career and I would have to revert back to making risky phone calls while driving to keep boredom at bay. But no, I was hooked and excited to know that I was putting myself to better use to mankind (only my household) by knowing my finances. It didn’t help me in becoming the millionaire I had set my standards to be, but it did make me less apprehensive about another self-improvement CD. I enthusiastically picked the one on Hinduism. Might as well understand my religion better, especially now that I am in a foreign country.

I have lived to regret that decision. Hinduism, taught by an American professor with a southern accent, was akin to understanding the phonetics of a ‘bray’ from a coyote. It was like a guessing game; ‘kashatriyas’ was the easy one.

‘Jetti’ (underwear in Tamil) had me palpitating by the time I figured it was jati (caste). All the God/Godesses names were a holy mess. Couldn’t tell from Varna and Varuna, Somwar and Soma, Arien and Aryan… till I gave up my quest in seeking the ‘Way of Devotion’ and decided to personally meet up with Professor Mark W. Muesse, and ask him to send some fiction CDs to my library.

Do you do the b-word?


'Do you blog?', emailed my girlfriend out of the blue. Taken aback and thrown out of my coordinates for a single second, I wondered if she knew. How could she have known? That stupid whoever-told-her needs to be pulverized! Freakin hell! My identity is being compromised and I have nowhere to hide. What will I do? What will I do? Frantically, I ran through my blog for blasphemous contents about her (like big-mouth, self-absorbed, bimbo-like, etc etc.) and deleted them in a zest. Randomly pasted some nice comments (like...umm.. some nice ones did come up at that time) all over my blog.

A trap was being laid. Proceed with caution, I told myself.

‘Do you?’ I asked gingerly, trying to be mysterious and vague.

‘Yes, I do and guess what?! I have been at it for a while.’ She responded in obvious delight of a little boy who was displaying his first work of art.

So that’s the whole deal! Shameless plug, I thought.

‘You little rascal’, I breathed, ‘How dare you not tell me? How long has it been?’

‘2 weeks now! Here is my blog. You should blog too.’

Ahem. Oh well.

What can I say, we bonded on a different level. A friend turned blogger- that's a new one.

Blog on, girl! Never believe anything I say here (not that you have ever, anyway). Yeah ok, my blog is kinda lame (no true comments will be appreciated here). By the way, I be your blog senior...if seniority means anything to you. Gratisgab (trust you to come up with obscure names like this), good to know you are putting your brilliant writing to good use (like me, of course).

Committee to Protect Bloggers

Today is supposedly the Free Mojtaba and Arash day. Let your voice be heard too.

(Thanks Fillerman, for pointing it out. If it is a big scam, I'll hunt you down and pulverize you.)

Be mine, Valentine. Now you are mine, what Valentine?

‘He is such a romantic. My man surprised me with candles leading from the doorstep to the dinning table on which the delicious food that he had cooked with his very own hands was laid out so artistically that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Rose petals were strewn from the dining table to the bedroom, which was decorated in red and on the bed was this big box and 2-dozen red roses. I opened the box and it was a huge diamond ring. I burst out crying. While I was crying, I could hear water run in the bathroom. I was touched beyond words to find out that he was making a bath for me complete with rose petals and candles and an oil massage. I was ready to choke.’


So was I… on my pizza! What??!! A single guy did all this for a single girl? The guy ought to be ashamed of bringing other women to tears too! Just the question I was dreading from my obviously smug co-worker, ‘So Alpha, what did Pi get you for Valentine’s day?’


The truth or the lies?


Decided it was Ok to lie just this once, ‘Oh Pi was such a daaaahling…he bought me a single rose from the grocery store and took me out to Mc Donald’s. Then he let me play the music I wanted on the drive back.’ *waiting for rest of girly junta to go "awwww"*


Truth be told, Pi announced that he was boycotting Valentine’s Day without consulting me! ‘I will not endorse any Hallmark holiday. Utter bull crap, stupid marketing gimmick. I don't have to prove that I love you once every year.’


Thus, the 14th day of February came and went and no one in my household winced. We decided to put the saved up money in our grandkid’s Valentine’s day fund.


Mr. Saint Valentine sir, you sacrificed your life for a vain cause. I’m truly sorry for Pi’s despicable behavior. Hope your batakti aathma (restless soul- in case you don't understand) haunts him every year, a week before February 14th.

By Hook or by Cook

I think we both are Tom and Jerry in our cartoon lives, the products of some remnants of the Kurukshetra war. We pick up fights, scheming and plotting against each other at every opportunity nature provides. Even if we are not in the confines of nature, we go scouting elsewhere for issues to disagree upon. His being married to me is just a coincidence.

Take this cooking issue for instance…

Noteworthy points

-My man likes to eat, a lot…and it usually doesn’t come as a surprise when you set your eyes on him.
-He is perpetually hungry.
-He likes fresh (unhealthy) food and would rather eat out than eat yesterday’s sambar rice.
-We can’t afford to eat out everyday, I have sensitive stomach and an even more sensitive bank account.

I took cooking responsibilities way back in our relationship to show off my cooking skills and win the man’s heart through his stomach. Stomach was happy, heart was won over and his mind connived into deciding that I would continue to cook that till I become old and bedridden. At that point, he probably would seek a young nubile maid to take care of his palate.

I like to think I am the smarter species and hence, wouldn’t let him get away that easy. His job was to clean the vessels. I would use 6 spoons to taste and throw them in the sink for him to scrub. I agree it is not an easy job without a dishwasher and dish overuse, but this job still has its perks compared to cooking.

-Washing is not time dependent.
-You could pile up vessels for the whole weekend.
-No need to think about a new recipes everyday and no need to baby sit gajar-ka-halwa for 2 hours.
-Lastly, no freaking skill involved. Ever heard of washing classes? Or the washing network? Or the washing-recipe?

To be frank, it’s a dirty job and Pi was true to his work. Vessels would get cleaned though not in a timely manner. So I cribbed. To counter my cribs, he would come up with stuff like this, ‘ I do so much work in the house like washing all these vessels. All you’ve got to do is whip up some things together and call it food!’

*censored scenes*

That did it! It hit me right where it shouldn’t have! HMPF! I felt I got the raw end of the deal like always and fought tooth and nail to bring a reform in my household. From now on, Pi would have to cook and I would clean. He obviously sucumbed. Any reluctance on his part would have made me go, "AHA!" Nice work Alpha, I thought! *pat on my own back*

That evening, it was nice to just wash a few vessels, lie on the recliner reading magazines and watching ‘Bachelor’ while Pi slaved in the kitchen. Wah wah… what bliss!

2 seconds later,

"Alpha!!!!! Come here quick na… It’s an emergency!" I ran to the kitchen. He looked like he'd been wrestling with a grizzly, "How do you cut these onions without crying? I’m not sure about the mustard seeds spluttering on my face? Do I need protective glasses? What is rawa?"

"Here, let the culinary expert show you the path" I confidently said, deftly picking up the knife and the ladle and before I knew it, I had finished the cooking all by myself while hubby dear was sprawled on the couch chatting with his buddies on international issues such as football.

*censored scenes*

Next day, I came back from work late, but no food was prepared! Very calmly he said that he couldn’t cook as I hadn’t washed the particular vessel he wanted to use! *censored word* I washed it in a huff (took me 30 seconds including the censored word!), went to the recliner to read magazines and watch ‘Apprentice’ while Pi slaved in the kitchen. Wah wah… what bliss!

After three hours, resisting my urge to go to the kitchen lest he would ask me to help, combating with mind-numbing hunger, conjuring up tasty images from the Sanjeev Kapoor recipe book I had handed to him, I couldn’t take it anymore. Finally food!!!

‘Oh wow…beans curry! Yipee! What else, sweety?" I asked with all effusive sweetness I could muster gritting my teeth. Mind you, this was frozen cut beans which he just had to thaw and add spices to.

"Oh, there is frozen parathas to go with it and if you want you could make rice", he states and throws a dozen vessels into the sink, most of them burnt.

*censored scenes*

Third day, I go to the groceries and bring the most exotic kinds of vegetables, vegetables that would require much more effort than just thawing. Fresh Cabbage (cut, dear cut), tinda, colocasia, yam..etc. Serves him right! Till he falls on my feet and begs to reconsider this deal and confesses that cooking is a tough job....*evil bitchy laugh reverberates in the grocery store shaking all the jam bottles*

Hoping to do a pre dinner nagging session with Pi and explain the virtues of fresh produce, I found him nowhere in the house. Tried the cell phone "Alphu baby, Guess what? I am at White Elephant Thai restaurant."

 "Jeez man! How dare you abandon me and start hogging. What about the calocasia you are supposed to make. Get your ass here! People will think we are dysfunctional." I yelled through the phone to make sure those Thai waitresses would know they are not supposed to be serving him Tofu Ma Pao Pad Hak or whatever he was eating.

"What? You forgot!! *sulk* It’s our fifth proposal anniversary day and I was just about to order your favorite Red curry." I could even hear him drool.

Awww...*melt melt* How thoughful! Wait a sec, Proposal Anniversary? What the heck is that? I’m too numb (make that dumb) to even do the math.

S-U-C-K-E-R (M-E).

Rainy and Rainier

‘I hope and pray it is sunny so that you can see the mountains as you guys are such outdoor enthusiasts.’ says our co-passenger who kept us company in the long flight to Seattle.

The next day, we were woken up brutally by my friend who asked us to run out to check out the sun. ‘You lucked out, its bright today. Don’t just sleep there, get going and check out the Cascade range in the horizon’.

Yes indeed! It was the prettiest sight. Just driving out of the parking lot of my brother’s apartment complex, we could witness snowcapped mountains in the distant east and violet shorter mountains all around. What a place!

Before I could say Ahhh!, it fogged up and the mountains just disappeared behind a haze of fog and clouds. ‘That’s where I believe Mount Rainier is’, said my helpful brother pointing to the white horizon. ‘It’s a wonderful sight and most of the road accidents occur because drivers can’t peel their eyes off that mountain. I nodded in agreement imagining the snowcapped volcano I had seen in some breathtaking pictures, standing alone, high above the rest at 14,409 ft.

We drove all the way to Paradise Ranger Station at 5,400 ft after which climbers go on foot to conquer the peak, a difficult feat even for the well prepared. All through the drive, we were amazed at the moss covered forest, the large ferns, the cascading waterfalls, the tall pine trees…but disappointed beyond words that we couldn’t catch a peek of the peak, which certainly did pique my interest no bounds. The fog was like the curtain that is drawn in the temple when the deity gets adorned and decorated for the puja while the starving devotees wait bated breath to catch a glimpse of their Lord.

We were not devoted enough, I guess. Climbing was sure out of question when visibility was close to zero. My brother was wishful in thinking that the day would clear up and recounted his memories of the spectacular sights when he visited last. I had to make do with the scaled down model of Mt Rainier at the Visitor’s center. The postcards made me wonder if the photographers sit all day, 365 days, waiting for the perfect moment to click. They must be the most patient photographers in the world.

I was told to come back some other time of the year and hope and pray that the day is sunny. Like the proverbial fox, we decided this mountain was not appealing enough for us to climb. The gloom outside couldn't match the one I had within.

Though we had a wonderful time in Seattle checking out the nearby Snoqualmie Falls, reconnecting with my brother, walking around the chic Seattle downtown, the regret of not seeing rainier was lurking in the back of my head.

We took off and I glanced out of the window for what may be called the ‘last ditch effort’. I should have realized…white gloom everywhere and cloudy skies galore. We shot through the clouds and reached a clearing above the fluffy clouds. Oh My God! (said very slowly in a whisper, stressing every syllable)

It had to be! The massive peak of Mt Rainier staring at me from really close quarters. I swear I could have died of sheer happiness.

Someday, I will climb Mount Rainier.

Reunion, Awards and Bootleg

I didn’t even realize that I had been away for so long. Somehow, didn’t feel like writing much initially. What could I say when there was so much being said and done already. Nothing intelligent or path breaking was occurring to me anyway. I just watched from sidelines as some people got their act together and worked towards a humane effort. I bow to thee! I thought I’d get back to posting when the lump in my throat got surgically removed. When it finally did, work caught up with me and pinned me down to my seat and that’s where I am doomed to spend my weekends too.

But I kid you not, much has been going on and much has been followed by yours truly. Apart from Brad and Jen getting tired of sleeping with each other (shucks, what hopes do the rest of us have?), I had a ton of high school friends drop by. A reunion after 10 years of leaving my school. It was fun till one of my classmate’s wife told me that her husband had a crush on me. How he desperately wanted to get a photo with me in the blue saree I had worn for the last day of school. How he hated his best friend who was ‘line maroing’ me. How he held on to every little giggle … ok ok! Yikes!Looking for a vantage point to jump to my death and finding none, I just smiled imbibing my new identity, while the onlookers, hubby included, seemed highly amused looking out for rekindling of sparks. Which stupid bum goes and tells his crazy wife stuff like this?

I had to control a massive heart-attack on seeing a tattoo on his arm with my initial. After an aghast look thrown at his direction and after rolling my eyes till centrifugal force took over, it turns out, his dharam patni’s initial is the same as mine. Darn! Embarrassing and disappointing at the same time.

Over to a completely different topic. Previously, it was easy to get noticed in the blog world. Not anymore. Attending blog meets, posting pictures and hooking up with bloggers is passe. These days it's pure hard work and toil. You are a nobody in the blogosphere if you haven’t been nominated for the indibloggies or been rohaned.

This year, I got bumped off of Indibloggies (award ceremony where bloggers nominate each other and award themselves, sorta like the Oscars except you don’t get to dress up in a Valentino and walk on the red carpet and dazzle the paparazzi). Can you feel a tinge of sarcasm and the desperate tone of a sore loser? I am going with the theory that they can not have the same people winning year after year (notice shameless self promo). Even if that is not true (damn you, Tom Hanks), I guess they realized that humor is not a category for us Indians (Sidin is from Dubai somewhere). As much as I stay away from melas and awards myself (seeking popularity was never my virtue), I find them a great source to some awesome blogs and all the nominees and winners seriously deserved it. Do check it out.

Coming back to being ‘rohaned’- it is a term used when you are a popular blogger (A-level or higher) and your posts get ‘copied and pasted’ (spelling mistakes included) in another blog (whose author usually calls himself Rohan) without your permission.

Too bad I wasn’t rohaned. It sucks man, I even lifted off that fake copyright notice I had once. Complete rip off (pun misplaced), I say!

Well, another easier way to get noticed or making yourself ‘visible’, is going the Rohan way. ‘Sir, I copied because I could and I had no clue I couldn’t.’ You must be willing to brave the cyber mobs who will inundate your inbox and hack into your site and expose you by ruining your career, finances and emotional state of mind & not to forget ‘BRAND’ you.

Small tip- Please don’t post your photo, whereabouts, phone number and email id when you do this. That is just plain dumb, even for my standards.

Just remembered before it is too late- ‘Cyber mob’ was a term coined by my friend, Fillerman. If he had an 'evil' blog, I would have 'burnt my energy' to link and attribute him, so please don’t 'Brand' me (with hot irons?)

You know what, this rohan guy is not only dumb, he is annoying too. First he took off all the plagiarized stuff from his site and put up a warped explanation. Now he took that out too just after I wrote all this...grrrr! Now my post will make no sense...But fear not, you can catch it here (payback time, people are copying from his site) and here and here and here and here and..... 

Sorry Rohan, I had noble intentions of linking you. Psst dude... did you, by any chance, come across a good 'tag line' I can use and win the next year's indibloggies?

Maybe I should just cry

I am upset, really upset. Too bad I cannot rush to the site and hold a wailing mother and hug her tight. Too bad I cannot comfort the distraught man who has the task of burying the dead in a mass grave. Too bad I cannot ask God to spare the life of that 9 year old kid making sand castles and take me instead. Why I cannot do this, don’t ask. I guess I am satisfied by just getting upset, really upset.

I only helped monetarily, the least anyone can do. Now I am upset all over again. The guys who rolled up their sleeves, mobilized relief efforts and gave a helping hand in every possible way they could. You are my heroes!

On a slightly trivial note, things that annoyed me (keep in mind I have high expectations of others)-

1. American news coverage.

Prim and proper news reader (nothing wrong in her being prim and proper, just too much lipstick) looking politely grim, ’The deadly Tsumani claims another thousands of lives. Now the death toll has reached a staggering 30,000 and may even exceed 50,000. 12 Americans are known to be missing. We will be talking with their concerned families very shortly just after the breaking news about a Supermodel who was caught in the deadly Tsunami and the heart rendering story on how she survived. Over to the weather.’

Guy standing in front of weather chart actually smiling. Another guy looks at smiling guy and gravely poses a gut-wrenching question, "Scott, what are the chances that America would be hit by a tsunami?"

Smugly Scotty points out, "Mike, the chances are close to zero. If you look at the geographical location of our great country, blah blah……"

End of Tsunami news. More on how people dispose their Christmas decoration.

2. Therefore, it isn’t a wonder how ignorant some of my American colleagues are. Barring one single person, none bothered to ask me about this catastrophe and how it might have affected my folks. Blame it on the holiday spirit and general lack of enthusiasm to get out of it. Considering I am one of the only three desis working in this office, I was expecting a general outpour of concern. Finding none, I wasn’t deterred. I sent out an email:

Hi all,

Some of you expressed concern regarding our families in India with respect to the killer wave that took a toll of 71,000 lives. The numbers are rising as I write this. The coastal area of Madras (my hometown) has been battered from what I hear. It was a bit of a scare to me when I heard about it as my family lives about half a mile from the beach where some of the devastation took place. Thankfully, they were not affected. Nor did the water come anywhere near the house. There were a few close calls, but everyone I know is fine. Thanks so much for keeping our family in your thoughts. I hope all your loved ones are safe too.

Not everyone was as fortunate as me. Thousands of displaced families, entire villages washed away, country populations reduced in half and now the biggest fear of all, outbreak of epidemics like cholera. Most of the victims being the poor, are the ones who need help the most. Any kind of help. The international community is going a big way in collecting for the biggest relief operation the world has seen so far. It is heart warming to see many people coming forward to help. The needs are obviously high.

If you are inclined to help and are wondering how to contribute, here is a link to various organizations that are actively rendering their services-


Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,

There was a sudden outburst of concern via email and people stopped by my cube, "I really didn’t know your family was so close. Glad to know your family is safe and thanks for the link. How is your dad feeling now? " My dad? Oh yeah, That was a year ago. He’s doing great now!

Ok I thought, intrinsically nice people with big hearts and slow brains.

3. At a group discussion, while the Americans were expressing concern, my Indian co-worker felt this urgent need to come up with something funny (He’d better stop impressing me), "I guess I should be going to India for good. Lot of fishermen jobs have opened up for me. Hahaha."

That clinched it for me! I fretted and fumed, but my fury isn’t even close to the Indian Ocean’s. After all, I’ll forgive these people.

Please Help if You can

Tidal Wave Relief Fund 

Little for you, but a world to them. Help restoring their world. Hoping you and your loved ones are safe.

Can we get some privacy here?

Last time I saw it scurry past from behind the TV stand to behind the computer desk, I thought I was hallucinating. The second time I saw it moving across the hallway while I was propped on the toilet seat. I couldn’t abandon my job to see if it was flesh and bones for obvious reasons. So I just let it pass. It got confirmed when I noticed half eaten muruku (oily south Indian snack). Pi is known to eat things fully.

My neighbor and I exchanged notes. She saw many more than I did. Since her mother-in-law was in town, the rats seemed to have taken fancy to her cooking and completely ignored my house. Hmm… sorta insulting.

I tried to complain to the land lady.

‘No, ofcourse not! There are no rats in our building, Miss! You are surely going nuts.’

‘I saw them/it with my own eyes,’ I stressed pointing to my eyes.

"Of course you are mistaken. They are not rats! They are mice, my dear," she said with utter thrill. "Rats are yaay big," she offered dimensions of a cat with her hands.

Shocked at this blatant lack of concern for rodent-hygiene, and not knowing how living with mice is better than having rats eat your ration, I was confused. Then the freaky landlady had the audacity to say that I might have imported them from India.

That did it! In India we pay much less for rent, you you...! I filed a petition along with many others in the building who not only saw rats, but even provided them with maternity wards involuntarily.

The landlady came home with rat traps which were placed strategically in every corner that we humans had to be really careful not run into any.

Don’t know if it was the traps or the chemicals that were sprayed or my body odour; the gourmet rats were finally eliminated. Friends started coming home; carpets, furniture and murukus were saved. Phew! Can postpone our moving-out plans till…recently...

I wanted to exchange a set of wine-glasses that I got for my birthday. The sales girl opened the box in front of other customers to see if the glasses were all there. Out ran a few unexpected guests. Cockroaches!!! I almost fainted in embarrassment, "I’m sorry. If they don’t belong to your store, I’ll take them back. Someone gifted them to me. But the wineglasses are surely from here."

Reaching home, I trained my eyes to notice any more Periplaneta Americana (biological name that stayed in my head from 11th grade). Little tiny ones moving with gleeful abandon on my kitchen and bathroom floor. They started multiplying everyday. Pi and I would exchange gory reports on the kill for the day and revel on the cold-bloodedness of it all. We usually keep our house very clean and don’t live in a ghetto as you might have concluded by now. I was getting nighmares of waking up covered from head to toe with yucky roaches taking me to their chief.

"Wicked lady who stays in our house killed our kith and kin with tissue paper."

"Bring out Rowdy Tanrantula, our hired hitman. He haw haw", roared the Cockroach chief.

So landlady was pressured to call the exterminator before she got sued.  The exterminator guy had an interesting way to do his job.

"Take off that table cloth. Roaches love to hide behind that. Remove all cereal from boxes and put them in airtight containers. Get rid of wicker baskets and make sure you eat out more. Try not to use oil and wash your vessels every 2 minutes. Don’t keep food in the kitchen."

"Sure sir, how about we seal this kitchen and come to your house for food. Cut the sermon and do something." He immediately started spraying so much toxic vapors that it gave me a nice J-Lo like glow. One insect came out of its hiding to take a stroll, enjoying the fog and mist from the spray. While it stopped to smell the dew, our exterminator reached for my chappal and gave it one big blow and knocked the poor thing out of its intestines. I didn't have too much trouble falling asleep after that, thanks to the chemicals.

If you are lucky enough to hit my page at the right sequence, you will notice cockroaches running amok in an ad at the top. That’s quite disturbing, which really makes me want to change my domain just like I want to move into another apartment that will not have any more tenants than required.

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