Weep and Weep Alone

Posted May 27th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Books
Tags: ,
Comments Off

I am not the type of person who gets teary eyed while seeing a movie. But while reading a book is totally another matter.

Right now I can think of the following books that had me reaching for my pillow ( to sob into!)

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot:
I had a hard time stopping my tears all throughout the book but at the end when Maggie and Tom Tulliver die, I just could not restrain myself and I had to let myself go. The character of Maggie Tulliver and her love for her brother was sketched very well that despite the fact that the story was set about a century ago, the characters seemed very realistic to me.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” Sydney Carton’s speech at the end of the book. Very very touching.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
I defy anyone to read this entire book with a dry eye.

Princess by Jean Sassoon
Sometime tears spring out of your eyes when you are sad and sometimes when you are really really angry. While reading this book, I had both kinds of tears in my eyes.

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
This is an unusual book to make you cry. But there is a particular scene in which after Katy has her accident and is bed ridden and Elsie (Katy’s younger sister) approaches her hesitantly…there was something in the way that scene was written that made me weep buckets!!

Cry the beloved country by Alan Paton
I think the title says it all. …I felt my eyelids moistening when Stephen Kumalo goes to the mountains after his son has been condemned to death. Very poignant and very very sad.

Love Story by Erich Segal
Despite the fact that the first line of the book reveals the end of the book…, the very first time I read it I could not resist a lump on my throat when Oliver Barrett hugs his father after Jenny dies.

Long Weekend

Posted May 26th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Personal
Comments Off

Saturday…

No alarm clock in the morning
Browse in a quaint country market….
Comfortable conversations
Slight drizzle
Hot banana fritters…
Cold creamy chocolate éclairs …
Elaichi chai…
Old episodes of Friends.
Saturday spent comfortably lazing…..

Sunday….

Spring cleaning
Lost items unearthed…
Music hoarded on PC sorted
Into appropriate mood compilations….
Check up on finances.
Call Amma…Visit a friend
Chaat at the Indian store..
Bhelpuri ,Pani puri and lots of imli chutney…
Wodehouse and cocktail time
Productive feeling!
Sleep late….Monday is a holiday!!

Monday….

Wake up with a smile…at 11 am.
Watermelon for breakfast…
And a movie with it…
Long soak in the bathtub
Evening drive…a beautiful sunset
Kababs for dinner
And another movie…
Visit from an old friend…
Get my clothes ready
For another working Tuesday.

On a Rainy Evening

Posted May 19th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Personal
Comments Off

I stay on the first floor of a rather old apartment complex. Just behind my apartment is an abandoned railway track. The track must have been laid a long time ago because there is only one set of rails. There is no movement along the tracks except a few cats that have adopted the tracks as their evening walk route. Beyond the tracks is a wooded area. A few weeks ago, the trees were bare and I could see deep into the woods and see more tall trees. Now the trees have fresh leaves. The woods look thick and deep and mysterious. Long after it stops raining, water droplets still fall from the trees and it sounds as though it is drizzling slightly. Somehow there is something romantic about the railway track that curves along the end of the wood and divides the area into the houses on one side and the deep woods on the other side.

Rail Yatra

While we are talking of rail tracks let me go completely on a tangent and relate this incident which was emailed by a cousin .

Okhil Babu’s letter to the Railway Department in early 1900’s in Bengal

“I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with ‘lotah’ in one hand and ‘dhoti’ in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station.

This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers.”

Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in 1909. It is on display at the Railway Museum in New Delhi.

It was also reproduced under the caption “Travellers’ Tales” in the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Any guesses why this letter was of historic value?

It apparently led to the introduction of toilets on trains.

Cousins and then some more

Posted May 12th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Personal
Tags:
Comments Off

Apparently there is a Mallu “tough question” joke that goes something like
Question: Name a place that has no Malayalees at all
Answer: Heaven!!!
Change that to a place that has no cousins and you will find me nodding my assent fervently.

I have several cousins in US. One in almost every state….Add to the fact that most of them keep changing their residence make it seem like I have in EVERY state. When I was planning to do my MS I tried hard to get into a University that had no cousin around a 200 mile radius. For that I was ready to brave even the arctic climes of Minnesota. However destiny willed it otherwise and I found myself at University of Virginia with my first cousin (father’s sisters daughter) in Herndon,Va. A few visits to her place unearthed some more distant cousins and relatives all in the neighboring vicinity.

To get away from invitations to visit her place and meet relatives on the few rare weekends that I used to get off , I started making trips to far and away states. But of course I could not avoid meeting my relatives there as well…my companions on these trips were willy nilly dragged by me to meet these cousins of mine. To be fair I must confess, there were several advantages as well….it saves putting up at hotels, gives you more options at home-cooked food, and at time I can even wrangle a free sight seeing trip from some of them ;-) !.

Don’t get me wrong, I like most of my cousins …and at times even enjoy spending time with them. But one of the advantages of coming to US in my mind was something, which I nebulously called “freedom” and the prospect of cousins who periodically checked up on my “well being” was not I had bargained for. If you think, “well can’t you avoid them??”, then I can only say that you probably don’t have as many cousins as you do. For despite the seven seas that separate us , my strings are firmly in the hands of my mother who insists that I observe all the “civilities” that I should lest the parents of these cousins (who themselves are in another continent) feel hurt!!

Now I have moved to Philadelphia, which very very surprisingly does not have any of my cousins. But alas my “freedom” lasted for just 5 months when yet another cousin of mine, landed up here with poora khandaan( wife, parents and six month daughter).

But i wonder why…..somehow I am really looking forward to going to their place after work today!!

DISCLAIMER: all my cousins reading this….I am just kidding…Of-course you know that ;-) !!

Books

A woman’s life by Guy de Maupasant : Some books are easy to read and a woman’s life is just that. It is the story of frustration and the sad life of a Norman woman set in19 century. The book has no sudden twists or extra characters added to the plot but still the slow exploration of the main protagonist’s feelings holds your attention.
What Looks Like Crazy (on an ordinary day) : Whenever I go to Barnes and Nobles, I browse almost all the aisles till the unfortunate person who has accompanied me realizes that the only way to get me out of the store is to drag me. Most of the times, my wallet cannot afford the long list of books I intend to buy and its rare that I pick up books at random especially at full price. However I gave in to an impulse and picked up What Looks Like Crazy (on an ordinary day) by Pearl Cleage just because the blurb seemed interesting and I liked the colorful cover!!
Was a good decision. A story about a HIV infected hairdresser coming back to her hometown might sound maudlin and sentimental but the book was full of humor and optimism. Read it if you can lay your hands on it.

Movies

Mr and Mrs Iyer : The movie definitely has its moments. Konkana Sensharma’s potrayal of a Tam Brahm is pretty authentic.
Identity : Half “Ten Little Niggers” and half “Sybil”. Disappointing
Bandini : Nutan is my all time favourite actress. Her potrayal of Bandini is restrained yet the simmering emotions beneath the calm facade is almost palpable. And as a bonus Dharmendra who looks simply wow!!

Websites

Check out this photo-blog for some amazing pictures especially some great ones of Philly. Now you know I live in a great city!!
Some more pictures, this time its my favourite city ,Bombay.
Urdu poetry anybody?? , some mazakiya shayri maybe? Enjoy!!!

Feminism, Atheism and Me

Posted May 9th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Personal
Comments Off

What is Feminism…??
I am not even going to attempt to answer THAT question….It means different things for everybody. What I am going to write down here is what feminism is feminism for ME..
For me:
Feminism is not trivial things like saying chairman instead of chair person ( these might be important but hell….there is a whole lot of things to change that’s more important!)
Feminism is not earning more than a man
Feminism is not “ not wearing bras”
Feminism is not being a lesbian
Feminism is not being a man hater
Feminism is not having cropped hair, unwaxed legs or unbleached face

Feminism is personal
It just means wanting to be free. Being free itself is a funny word. In a society no person can be really “free” You have to co-exist. But being a feminist for me means being an individual in the midst of society.
It means having your own thoughts and convictions and more importantly ability to believe in them in spite of other people
It is trying to be free from the mindless conditioning that society inflicts on you.
It means ability to understand that I am a woman and be proud of that fact.
It means resisting stereotyping that I have to do something or not to something just because I am a female. I may do something that is considered “feminine” but it will be because I WANT to do it.
It means the confidence to take your own decision and having done that to stand by it. If your decision eventually turns out to be wrong, it means the strength to realize that it was a mistake and to own up to it despite the “I told you so” looks of others.

Feminism is a firm belief that I am EQUAL to men.  But  then again there is a quote by Timothy Leary who said “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”

Read some other people’s take on being a feminist

Atheism

First of all I do not believe in GOD and I do not believe in RELIGION either.  I strongly believe that they are different topics in itself. I believe that there are people who are religious…. that is they believe in the concept of a personal god and the customs and traditions that govern their religion. Then there are people believe in god as a “supernatural” force and do not ascribe to any outward manifestation of religion. Dictionary tells me that people who do not believe in the former are called atheists and the latter are infidels.

To sum it up there are people who believe in god and then there are those who are religious and both are not mutually exclusive. Both kinds of people puzzle me. And I am sure I am a puzzle to many as well. Whenever I mention that I do not believe in GOD , there are a few questions ,I am always asked. So here is presenting an FAQ on this topic

”Ok then tell me who created you?”.
I credit those people with enough intelligence to assume that they are not expecting a biology lecture filled with those X and Y’s. And here is my response to this. It has been repeated enough number of times by far more wiser people than I have but it doesn’t matter. Years ago when people believed earth was flat, and then slowly researchers proved that earth was not flat but round. The people then must have thought it blasphemous to even think otherwise. So similarly years afterwards researchers will prove how exactly life originated. It is something that is not proved precisely till now although there are several excellent theories. Till it is proved I prefer to think that there must be a scientific explanation for it and you think that it is GOD.

“You are saying that just to appear fashionable”
Now, that one makes me laugh. Ofcourse I am proud of the fact that I am an atheist..but it is more like being proud of your personal convictions. I am not putting on an act and I do not pray in the privacy of the bathroom. That’s the way I am

“You don’t realize how much peace of mind you get by praying”
Possibly true, but I am at peace with myself most of the time. I suffer all the qualms, fears, anxieties, terrors felt by most people my age. If they resort to prayers for their peace of mind , Its up to them, I think it is praiseworthy that I do not need such a support system and I assume I eventually get the same peace of mind as them in about probably the same timeframe as well ,without resort to prayers or divine intervention.

“You cannot see the wind or see atoms”, still you believe in that don’t you?
That’s another famous question… And one which I find to very difficult to explain. I could explain in detail about seeing the effects of winds or feeling the wind or the fact that atoms have been broken down by researchers and that they could channelise atoms to behave in a certain manner. I do not have to personally see every single object in the world before I believe in it. I know I am contradicting myself but I also pointed out earlier that this was the toughest question to answer. As long as the explanation is consistent, rational and logical — I can believe in it. And the idea on believing in a God you can’t see is just not that.

“God tells you the right path to live”
Well no …religious books do and I admit they talk sense sometimes, But I got most of my code of ethics from Enid Blyton!!! And that was not far off either. If I am an honest individual and live a reasonably blameless life WITHOUT fearing the wrath of god or hell…am I not supposed to be commended for being “good” for doing it just cos I want to and not cos religion or god compel me to do so.

Religion is another matter.  And that is a topic for another mail….