Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Rashtra Baasha

Like most Indians I can speak more than one language and identify with more than a single culture in India. I am Tamil girl brought up in Delhi have been able to speak up to the three languages (Hindi, Tamil and English) with relative ease. Needless to say this was not easy. With my parents bombarding me in Tamil and the rest of Delhi in Hindi, English was my safe haven. Hindi and Tamil came to be neglected a bit in my childhood and teen years. After 4 years in Pondicherry where I went to college and the endless jokes about my Tamil (that is another blog), my Tamil speaking skills have improved and is in relatively good shape. I am especially proud of this since I can not read or write in Tamil and the only way to I can improve my spoken Tamil is by constant use. My spoken Hindi however is another story.

I did not realize how much my already sub par language skills had deteriorated till recently when husband and I went visiting a couple from UP. I have now realized that the only time the onus of conversation is placed on my husband is when the language of conversation is Hindi else I am loudly expressing myself about whatever the topic of discussion is. This was one of those times. What with thinking in either Tamil or English and then having to translate it in my head into Hindi, the moments almost always gone and everybody is now talking about something else. On this occasion I resorted to listening, nodding and saying "haan haan barabar". Every once in a while I tried to contribute my 2 cents.

After M served us tea - thanks M ye chai bahuth achcha hai (acchi hai?)

Ling in Hindi!!! Cannot for the life of me remember whether a river is a she and a mountain a he. Not to digress but what would /should I do with say a toaster? I have entertained crowds with my total ignorance of the "lings" in Hindi.

And then

Thought in English - This wall hanging is really nice. It goes very well with what you have.

In Hindi - Ye (pointing now cos suddenly its a charade game) bahuth accha hain. Sab ke saath jaatha hain (the traveling wall painting).

Though I was not always this inept my struggle with the rashtra basha started early. In my eight class I had mixed fortune of having a Hindi teacher with a sense of humour. I am sure people with agree with me that this is a very rare breed. I have had/ heard of stylish English, art, sculpture teachers, passionate history teachers but the Hindi teachers were always a particularly bitter lot. They were without fail tough, unsmiling, strict graders and one of those few teachers who still believed in corporal punishment. Now Mrs Sikha was breath of fresh air. She was a middle aged lady with bright red hair as a result of ( or so I think) rather sporadic henna applications. Mrs Sikha would pick a pupil from class to read the passages and while most hindi teachers ignored my presence in class ( as they should) Mrs Sikha would always single me out for reading the passage. And while I struggled with some aid from a helpful fellow who whispered corrections to me Mrs Sikha would stare into space with a smile on her face and allow herself a small giggle only for my more ridiculous mistakes.

Most people I meet now are too polite to snicker at me and generally switch to either English or Tamil to make me feel more comfortable. This act of kindness has left me without any practice at all. But after my recent bolt of lightning type realization that I really cant speak the language well at all I have decided to practice up on my husband and all hapless Hindi speakers. Let this blog be fair warning. 

Very soon I might even be blogging in Hindi :).

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Notes To Self

Now that I am three blogs old I am looking at things I can change/improve. Continuous improvement ( 2 years in a software company :) ) and all that.

1. Avoid really really long sentences.
2. Stop resorting to parenthesis to complete a sentence.
3. Run spell check.
4. Do NOT let the DABA girls and ilk get you started on serious stuff( you are not good with serious stuff).
5. Avoid the parenthesis really!!!
6. Stop stalking your blog with silly template updates.
7. Stop nagging your friends and family to read your blog.
8. Stop writing blogs in points. Must overcome presentation hangover.
9. Avoid going "AHA" and wagging your finger at family/friends (ex friends?) after asking them trick blog related question.

OK so I am giving up on the parenthesis thing seems I can't express myself without them.

Feminist ?

I came across this blog yesterday 

So on an not completely related note -
The line in the description "free from the scrutiny of feminists" made me wince. A lot of outspoken women seem to viewed as feminists. While some of these women relate with being called a feminist I am not sure I do. I am outspoken, I believe men and women are equals but I spend my days in the front of a laptop screen and my evenings in some mindless pursuit of entertainment. I do not work for any women causes, contribute in any way to their upliftment. How am I a feminist? The term has become a tad over used and sometimes a butt of jokes. I do not see myself as a feminist just as all the African Americans out there do not (hopefully) see themselves as members of the civil rights movement while going about their everyday lives. I do not represent women. While the ram sena makes me rant so does shiv sena's misplaced nationalism and so on. 

The genders in being different offer unique advantages. Men and women are different because they are. I really enjoy some of these differences and thought I would used this post to put them down.
Advantages of being a woman.. 
feel free to disagree I DO NOT speak as a feminist but for me. 

1. Able to cry. This is more and more not cornered by women but considering I am bawling my eyes out over every movie, book, anniversary ( I am a crier ) I feel safe in my identity as a woman doing this. If I were a man I would have to reserve my tears for life changing experiences and this is beyond me.

2. Scream like a girl --- many many phobias... heights, speed, sudden movement, ghosts... Again I feel comfortable harbouring, soothing and sometimes nourishing my fears.

3. Makeup - late comer to this since my first use of face paint was at the ripe age of 27. But I like :). 

4. I hold down a job and always intend to do so. But until I got married I never considered that having a career is different from being a "provider". I never saw myself as a person who would/ should provide ( that word again) for my family. Seems this is something most men think about from day one. That is one hell of a cross to bear. 

5. I am not a slave to fashion but there are many times when I "have" to try on three things before picking what I have to wear to go to hole in the wall Indian restaurant. My husband always greets the outcome with a big smile and then takes the person who couldn't manage wardrobe decisions very seriously when she talks about satyam, chidambaram, obama .....

6. I moved away from a job with a lot of prospects. I work from home but this is no way to have a great career. Honestly I could not care less. I did what makes me happy and being a woman this invited no judgement. Choosing a personal life over a career is an option all of us have but it seems women are judged less for it.

I had planned to avoid such topics because too much I believe has already been said and I do not think I have the appropriate credentials to add anything of value. So I intend from now on to view this as a humorous situation so all funny takes are welcome while serious ones will be tolerated.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

new things

After the end of my grad school days I find I have more and more time on my hands.Four years of engineering followed by a couple of years in the software industry followed by a couple of years in grad school has left me ill prepared for all this leisure. Hang on now I am not claiming I spent all that time studying / working just that when I was not working / studying the guilt of not doing those things always hung over my head. My leisure time was so taken up by things that had a very very small learning curve like well movie watching, some books, more movie watching.....

And now with my much reduced ambition, money I don't have to put away for next term fees, and ALL THIS TIME there are just so many things I want to do. So many. I have no memory of my childhood failures, no idea of what I am good at or not. Also the stress involved is so much reduced now. There is no fiendishly talented / athletic younger sibling who is definitely going to take up whatever you take up immediately after you and then make it look so easy that the only way out is to pretend not be interested anymore. No cheering parents whose hopeful, bright, proud faces makes you wish you had practiced before starting this new thing. My dad after buying the two of us tennis rackets told the story of how steffi graf had taken up tennis at 4 and how 7 was fine for me.  Needless to say I "lost interest" in tennis and stuck with stappu, dark room and chain chain as a way to spend my evenings. At that time these were not competitive sports (I am not certain that this is still the case considering the last Olympics). 

So flush with all this time and up to brim with enthusiasm I am reliving my failures as a child all over again.
Things I have tried/ aimed to accomplish in the past couple of years

- Learn to write/ read tamil. The plan of course was to devour all the tamil classics immediately
- run a half marathon .. I could run upto 4 miles but then I realized I just run so that I am really hungry and eat without guilt. NOT marathon material.
- learn to crochet - did not open the learn to crochet kit till it was caught in my vaccum and had to be thrown away
- learn to snow board - this was very very painful. My husband has not given up on this yet and it might just be a question of years before I forget the pain of the experience and get back there.
- build a shelf from wood - OK so this was a little out there... but in my defence it was a LOT of leisure time and there are some amazing how to videos on youtube.
- learn to ski - this one showed promise.. thank my very patient husband who tolerated my cursing in Tamil  and smiled with me while I grinned foolishly and shouted "this is great" for all the non Tamil speakers to hear.
- learn yoga - this was OK... but not high learning curve activity since everything i did learn was medium in complexity
- practice paranayama until my mind is completely alert, my sleep in totally dreamless and my complexion radiant from all that oxygen. - I practice pranayama intermittently but my approach is more damage control...
- learn to paint - this is the new one. I have spent the last couple of months picking art for my walls and staring at the many beautiful paintings and all that talent out there has left me thirsting to put some colour down on paper. When I was 7 I would break into a cold sweat in drawing class and try to creep by in my making a copy albeit poorer of what the more gifted kids were making ( one prachi aggarwal - her bright red house looked so vibrant and my version looked like a very inexpensively produced Japanese anime snapshot). I think about that and yet I want to paint and believe I can. Is this wisdom or has senility set in early? 

I have also planned to re stain my coffee tables, sand and refinish my shelves, make a stain glass painting on my glass top dining table, read the vedas, read the upanishads, learn Spanish.

If I do continue writing this blog I am sure these and many other failed or partly successful attempts will find there way into the blog entries... Though I doubt even a written record is going to stop me from repeating these mistakes again when I am say 40... I think I might remember to stick to the bunny slopes if I try snowboarding again. 

Monday, 16 February 2009

first blog

I have been wanting to write a blog for a long time now.  From back in school when I fancied I could write quite decently to now where I sometimes pick up a decent book ( those too may not be that related but i want to write cos I love books), a blog is a much bigger step for me then I would have thought. 

The past couple of years have been rather eventful for me personally. I was in a long distance relationship, in a fit of romance I got married and then proceeded to be in a long distance marriage ( well not THAT romantic I know). After many many frequent flyer miles, long phone conversations and airport good byes I took that leap of faith after a full year ( i have trouble relinquishing control) and decided to quit my job. My manager however figured that me "not" working in New Jersey in not going to be too much different from me "not" working in Oregon and so here I am seven months later working from home, trying to furnish my house, learning to make joint money decisions or in fact make just about any other decision including what take out jointly, learning to live with someone 24 x 7, learning that I maybe don't have to keep it interesting for him all the time and he might like the sloppy, self loathing,  OCDish person that I pretend not to be. 

I do intend not to be all that serious in this. This blog is not therapy but an actually attempt to write unsuckily ( hmm scope for improvement there?)

So the blog begins....