Musical Night and visit to the Church

Posted March 31st, 2002 by Deepa and filed in Uncategorized
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I am writing early although the weekend is not technically over. That’s because I am going to be tremendously busy the coming week. This Friday Was Subbu’s birthday. Vrushali had baked a HUGE chocolate cake for him and we celebrated his birthday in true C’Ville Desi style: Cut the cake and while a few of us cut the cake the others take turn in giving birthday bumps. Now these bumps are not casual plonking of the birthday boy( in this case) .It consists of 3 or 4 people (depending on the size of the birthday person) holding him while the others kick him with their foot ,footwear ,knee and in some cases hand too!! Then we smear a generous portion of the cake on his/her face taking care that all pores of the face are covered with cake. Then a bottle of wine to end it all with.
Subbu ‘s birthday even had songs and dances ’cos it was the eve of the “India Day” and Subbu and Vrushali and a few others were performing the rehearsal of the dance medley.
The actual India day bought the realization that C’ville has too many desis and all they know to perform are filmi dances and all the songs the know can be listed as

1) Songs from K3g( they even had a few sharara clad girls miming on the title song! Shava Shava and Soniya was performed many times over)
2) Chaiyya Chaiyya
3) Mehbooba (Fiza)
4) Ayo re maro Dholna
Period!!!

At the end of the 3 hour song and dance routine seeing the same group change their dresses over and over and perform the same steps to almost the same tune I was pretty saturated. To top it all I was hungry because I went there directly from the lab and ddn’t have time to eat anything ( another reason was Ithought there would be free Indian food there…but it wasn’t there

There was Siddharth’s engagement party to look forward to though! His (to be) fiancée and saas and sasur ( or he introduced them as my new set of parents!) were there and we acted as the proper ladke wala people and asked the ladki to show a sample of her cooking skills ,(which she deputized her mother to perform, …there was chicken,beans ,palak dal,jeera rice and mithais!) ,her vocal skills ( she sang ajeeb dastan hai hai, and another song from RHTDM and reasonably well) and then all of us contributed to their future marital harmony by giving her tips on how to treat Siddharth

Next went home to sleep ..there was a long day at office on Sunday and we (Subha , Priya and I) had decided to attend church services for Easter. We wanted to attend a Baptist church (read predominantly Black church) services .Got up early morning ,dressed ( interesting point …don’t have church wearing clothes ..cos jeans are out and formals are too formal!)Ok here is how it was :

We reached there and was greeted at the door by this HUGE woman who gave us a tight hug and wished us sisters a happy Easter. Then we were greeted by another guy who shook hands and wished us a happy easter. Then another lady hugged us and wished us a happy easter and showed us to our seats. Before we could realize where we were the service started with a woman screaming Praise the lord Praise the Lord and a all the others Screaming Halleluiah and Amen. Couldn’t really make out when to yell Halleliuah and when Amen. There was a hymn (wordings were displayed with a help of a projector on the wall ) and the entire church was dancing to the foot tapping music.

There were 3 or 4 hymns and suddenly there were these white ” fairy-like” dress clad young girls who burst on the stage and started dancing to yet another hymn. It was a well choreographed song and she was dancing well and with the entire congregation tapping their foot and clapping their hands. It was very energetic!

The tone changed and yet another female came on the stage and started screaming about the “Lord God” and then every few seconds the people present raised their right hand and acted as though they were patting a person in front of them. This ritual followed for some time before the preacher took his place and started exhorting all non believers to believe,believers to love everybody and the usual stuff like that. What was different was the way he said it. He was yelling at some places stomping all over the stage , becoming emotional and suddenly energetic again and it was pure drama!!( which was the topic of the sermon by the way ..how human being s love drama and all what we do is just a drama and so on!)

What struck me as funny was was last year I attended the Roman Catholic church . Their service was so solemn and so “boring” that I was dozing halfway thru it. Seejo literally had to prod me twice to keep me awake . Their preacher delivered the sermon in clear concise measured tone and all the congregation murmured polite Amens and praise be to god at appropriate moments ,got up when asked ,sat down when indicated and were on their best behavior

Here on the other hand you could sit stand or dance as you wanted, the preacher enjoyed a dramatic oration, another female got hysterical trying to exhort us to praise the lord , the congregations yelled Halleluiah and praise the lord and Amen whenever they could . Raised their right arms and did some sort of waving with that ….

During the sermon there is a point when it comes “Turn to your neighbor and make the sign of peace” In the RC church you shake hands with the person who sits in front/behind/either side of you but here you turn and give that neighbor an BIG hug.

(Note: what do we do in India?? : We fold our hands and do a demure Namaste!!)

I really enjoyed it! (especially cos I know I don’t have to do it again!!)

Current Books

1) Washington DC ( Vidal Gore)
2) Forrest Gump
3) Of Human Bondage (Somerset Maugham) ( third time !!)

Websites

2) http://homepage.mac.com/nutmeghan/wodehouse.html (checking up on the Wodehouse novels I still have to read!)
3) http://www.javedakhtar.com/tarkash/ (re reading Tarkash)

Discovery of the week:

Tapioca Root is the basic raw material for Sabudana . Tapioca (called Kappa or kolli in Malayalam ) is the poor man’s food . and Tapioca pudding tastes good ( thanks to Aparna for that info!)

Duke

Posted March 11th, 2002 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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This weekend was meant to be a relaxing weekend. Sit at home, see a couple of movies, catch up on reading etc. I reached home Friday at an unbelievably early time of 5 pm. Generally the junta reaches my place at around 9 pm which gave me 4 hours of free time to do whatever I want. Relaxing has become synonymous with a bathtub for me nowadays. So I filled in the bath tub ,picked up a book ( currently reading Gore Vidal.. he writes novels based on American history ….)and lay there soaking myself in warm water till Vrushali had an urgent need to answer natures call and banged on the bathroom door till I had no choice but to come out .

After that dressed in a salwar kameez…( a rare ocassion..) and was wondering whether to cook or not when Siddharth and Subha landed up at my place with a suggestion that we go down town. Unusually pleasant weather was the reason offered. Seejo reached from MD around that time and vociferously supported the idea.

Downtown was already lit and tables were placed outside the cafes indicating that spring was around the corner. We went to a small Mexican eatery ,sat outside and yakked away. The topic of discussion was “what would be the first thing to  save and buy if you had a job”. I said books,( ofcourse!) Subbu said ( Bose audio system),Siddharth voted for a projector, Vrushali for a sports car and Subha for a better car! Seejo by mutual consensus was out of the reckoning cos he already booked himself an Audi, furnished his flat and bought his audiovisual needs.

After dinner we headed home, Siddharth and I took a detour to the local Blockbuster to pick up a few video cassettes. Picking up a cassette with Siddharth is a tough task ,cos while I head for the comedy/musical/drama sections he opts for only one section-the martial art section. I must have watched scores of Jackie chan and Bruce Lee movies with him, discovered that Bruce Lee is a different person from Bruce Li and cooked up hundereds of excuses for not watching the latest Jet Li movie. Today however we compromised ..Let us look at the thriller section : Both of us wanted to watch a Hitchcock movie…but problemo..catering to that public waiting back home is difficult..Seejo had warned us “No black and white movies” .So we picked out a Cary Grant movie “To Catch a thief”.

Enjoyed the movie!

By the time we hit our beds it was past 2!

However Seejo got up early next morning….and decided that weekends are meant to be for traveling. I refused the bait saying I prefer to relax! But By the time I could convince him about the “joys of a relaxing weekend” he was already on the phone with Siddharth ( who was only too eager to leave C’ville ) Together they decided to go to West Virginia…I said No..I already was there less than a month ago….Ok then Duke (in North Carolina was the next suggestion). I refused again….its not an interesting enough place but by that time both of them had guilt tripped me into thinking that it would amount to a criminal offence if I wasted one perfectly nice day sitting at home. Then again there was the irresistible lure of driving on the interstate which was offered to me.

By the time we tried to call Atha ( who was already in Duke ( his best friend stays there))Subha, Vrushali, Neelima and Amit Naidu also decided to accompany us. Morning ablutions, sundry chores, and minimal breakfast later we were all set to leave by 1 am. Duke University was around 220 miles from University Of Virginia. Seejo drove for the initial 70 miles and then I drove for the next 70 miles or so. The roads were almost empty so it was not much of a problem. I had great difficulty initially to maintain my speed at a constant 70mph. It kept fluctuating from 60-80 mph and even dropped down to 50 when I had to take turns. But more about driving later…We reached KD (atha’s friend)’s residence at around 7.30. Sat for some time, chatted and since our lunch was negligible went off to an Indian restaurant to have dinner.

Now a little facts and figures about Duke!

Duke Universtiy,University of North Carolina,Chapel hill and NCSU are all situated within 30 miles of each other. All three are high ranked good universities. Together they also form one of the famous tech areas in East coast called Research Triangle Park.

We walked around the area around the main street for the UNC wallahs, went to this place called “international tea center” ,which atha descriped to me as a “non alcoholic pub”. It had a female in salwar kameez yelling( for lack of a better word) an ila Arun song. While people around cross legged around small tables and played games ( carrom, checkers) some were dancing in the aisle, yet others sitting on a mat drinking “chai”. I loved it. Seejo was grinning when we came out of the place. Says” I never thought I’ll see something similar to the Osho ashram in North Carolina!!!”.

Then for the “piyakkads” in our group we went to an alcoholic pub and sat around watching them guzzle 24 ounce glasses of beer!. Reached back at KDs place around midnight. I went upstairs to meet Anjum then ( Anjum is my class mate).We caught up on some old times, exchanged the latest news we knew about everyone…..

Then went down again and saw that the whole junta was watching Filhaal..

Slept at 2 am .Got up around 9. Formed a queue to finish using the bathroom and went for the Duke tour. Duke is famous for two things

the Duke Chapell:

Duke Hospital ( the best med school in America)

We went around the latter and inside the former and it was impressive. The tower of the duke Chapel stands 210 feet tall. It is made of grey stones .The interir has 73 ft tall celings and six stained-glass windows representing women of the Old Testament.

Next stop was Jordan Lake a huge lake 14,000 acres of water. There was a beach kind of place around the lake….and we sat there for some time playing Dumb charades etc ,clicked a few Patel snaps .

We started the drive form around 4 pm with me at the wheels. Driving is definitely not a fun experence especially when you have Seejo sitting next to you shouting instructions. Seejo ‘s idea of a good driver is one who wins the Grand Prix while at the same time setting records for cautious driving. And let us just face it …I am not a world class driver….yet!!

Anyway I did understand the thrill people get in overtaking cars and speeding and zipping through traffic.

The huge truckers which hurtled dowm the free way was scary and even more scarier was the idea that I had to overtake them! But I survived and so did my passengers.

Today is Monday morning

I am back at the lab…..pretending to work!