Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another year...

Flies past me, making me a year older and hopefully a year wiser...Of course like all years past, I did learn a lot of things in life and I intend to put the learning to good use. And as always hope that as average as 2010 was maybe 2011 will be the year when dreams come true, not just for me but for everyone.

Last year, and the year before last seemed way more busy than 2010 though 2010 was the one that ran very fast. In January Babs and I went to my brother's house in the east coast to surprise my parents who were visiting him on their anniversary. The other brother also drove down to surprise them and all in all my parents were ecstatic and we, the kids were very happy too. The little ones had a ball of a time playing with each other and enjoyed it as much as I did relaxing in my brothers home.

February was a boring month, hardly anything noteworthy happened. in March we had a huge snow fall in Dallas which coincided with my Birthday. I loved the powdery white that canvassed the entire city making it look beautiful as the three of us drove around the city taking it all in.

With April, my brother came down to visit us with his family. We were so busy the whole week that I had no idea how time flew past us so fast. Then of course we went to the Rahat Fateh Khan concert that Babs thoroughly enjoyed along with us. It was her first real live concert.

Then May rolled in and the family took a small, short trip to the South West. It was fun because we were two families who helped take care of each other's ward and have fun at the same time. Grand Canyon and Vegas for the first time and we had an awesome experience.

When June came by, I was off to Chattanooga to visit my parents and spend the week with my brother and his kids who were also there for their summer vacation.

And as July made it's way in the BIL and his family joined us to celebrate the 4th of July. Soon after that August had us busy with the Shankar Mahadevan concert at which once again the little one enjoyed and danced with me as he sang Jhoom Barabar. While July marked my ten years of living in the United States, August saw me celebrating our ten year anniversary. Ten years since G and I fell in love.

In September, I was excited to go and see Endhiran in the theater with my old college friends. It is always good to see a Rajni movie in the theater and it is even better when it is enjoyed with like-minded people!

October was a super busy month for us. We did the Europe trip and got to see some nice places and hang out with great old friends. Then Babs started school and that changed a lot of things in our life and of course Babs also grew a year older!

November, we welcomed a new nephew, Arav into my BIL's family and MIL came to help them.

Our house is filled with guests right now keeping the place merry and messy and happy and busy all at the same time. Another year is going to pass me by as I look at it helplessly and pray for a better 2011 for everyone in the world.


See you all in 2011!

Have a Safe and Happy New Year

Love

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas

Oh I loved Christmas in India a lot. Especially when you are a little girl walking around the township seeing certain houses little up by the beautiful red shining star, ah! magical. Of course, there were stories about Santa, bits and pieces, here and there, and I was always sad that Santa never came to our house. Then there was the school Christmas tree decorating contest. Each of the classrooms had to decorate a tree and whichever class had the best decorated tree would get tonnes of candy. Then there was the Christmas night in school, where they would re-enact the story of the birth and then sing carols, and of course candy for all! And then the street caroling. It was all there...fond memories!

My brother's best friends were both Christians. One was a Tamil Christian, John and the other an Anglo, Kevin. I was always invited to their house on the day of, after Church and everything. Since we were predominantly vegetarian at home John's mother would indulge me with making my favorite Chicken curry, mutton korma, egg fry, and biriyani. I would eat till I burst, take a nap before getting back home with a content tummy. 

In the evenings we would go to Kevin's house and boy was Christmas different at his house. We would have a non-alcoholic drink with plum cake...yumm...I had no intention of saying, "That will do." As long as his mother kept filling my plate, I would keep eating it. My day would end well with a sound sleep and pleasant memories of the day. Each Christmas would be exactly like the one before. Nothing changed, my routine was pre-determined and I was in no hurry to make any changes. Until of course, we moved to Chennai.

When I was in my eleventh standard my brother and I went to the phone booth (I had to resist the temptation of writing STD booth!) to make a trunk call (long distance) to wish friends for Christmas. We were waiting outside the booth because someone else was keeping the place busy and brother and I got into talking. Right across from the phone booth was this church, a really beautiful one. It was getting busy because it was the eve of Christmas and I was checking out this one particular guy who had a guitar slung over his shoulder sitting on a Kawasaki motorbike and chatting with his friends. My brother caught my distraction and said, "Nice bike?" and I nodded absent minded and he asked me, "What about the guy?" I blushed. But it opened up a friend in my brother for me. He became my soul confidante after that. I could tell him everything and he helped me sort out stuff. 

This year, Santa came home and showered my daughter with boat loads of gifts. Of course she knows who Santa is and never looks his way when we are in the malls because she is scared of him. But she loves the beauty of Christmas just like I do. We down sat on Christmas day near the fire place opening up her gifts when she said, "Because I went to sleep on time, Santa did not take me with him up the chimney?" I looked at her, wanting to tell her that Santa only came to give gifts, but then the tired mother inside me took over and said, "Yes, tonight also Santa will be watching to see if you sleep on time."

Hope everyone had a Merry X-Mas.

Love
ART

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Letters!

Ok! You all got me, I had written the table manners post before...but how come more of you commented this time around and not before??!!! I guess second time around either I got the point across or I forced it on you! Either way...mission accomplished :P

Now to my new post...

As a little girl growing up I loved to write letters. I wrote them to my friends in Chennai once in a while and whenever they replied I was always overwhelmed with joy. But they were not as enthusiastic as I was. I wondered about pen pals and my mother put an end to it by telling me that I was too young to write letters to strangers. So till I was in eleventh standard I quit letter writing altogether.

In eleventh I made friends with my neighbor and unfortunately for me the very same year he was moving out of town to start college. I don't know who started it but we soon started writing to each other once in a while at the beginning. It would be in a simple inland letter, the blue colored one that you got at the post office for like 10 Paisa or something. Then we started writing on the crimps of the letter that we had to switch over to writing in the yellow colored envelopes. It seemed to everyone in my house that other than my father I was the only other person who got a mail at least two or three times a week.

I spent a lot of time writing in my sometimes neat sometimes nasty hand writing. Long letters that extended to 8 or 14 pages in a A4 sheet. I would write about teenage problems, classmates, bitchy stuff, school, etc., and he would write back making fun of it or tried to push me in the right directions. We spoke movies, food, and of course whatever, I don't even remember now. But it was fun expecting to see a letter in the mailbox. It was also the time when stickers were popular. I would spend money on buying cutesy ones and stick them all over.

My friend was prompt, he would send me greeting cards for the appropriate reasons and seasons and I would too, we had so much fun. But then somehow slowly, as they say about all good things, this one too slowly met with a natural death. It might have had something to do with the fact that my friend moved back to Chennai after his education and there was really no need to write to him, or that I was in college and busy travelling to and fro between home and college. I also moved away from that neighborhood and then no more letters.

I miss the excitement of getting a letter from a friend or someone in the family. The excitement with which I read them. The whole fun is missed out on opening and reading emails. One line emails suck even more, the kind that I am sending more often to friends nowadays.

I love the tradition of sending Season's Greetings cards though. I used to help father work on several cards he would send out to his friends, family, & colleagues when I was a little girl. I helped him with writing the addresses, inserting them into the envelopes and pasting the stamp on them before mailing them out for him. It was fun and I love that tradition and would like to keep it going...

Now with technology of course most of us wish each other electronically for every festival but I make sure that most of my friends with whom I am in regular touch with receive a card from my family...

So this year...to you and yours...Seasons Greetings!

Love
ART

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Table Manners

I was sitting at the dining table at my friends house, my fingers were drying from the sambar that I had already licked off it. My Plate had dried up too and I was done with the dining table for now, but the rest of the table was abuzz with activity. I had such an urge to get up, pick my plate up, put it in the sink and wash my hands. With a huge restrain I waited for ten minutes and when I could no longer hold back, I stood up and excused myself.

Back home in India I could never have sat this long at the table after having finished my meal. Mom absolutely denounced that behavior. It was then my mind started racing trying to figure out the differences between the Western practice of not eating before everyone has food on the plate and not leave before everyone is ready to finish and the Indian way of eating as soon as you have food in your plate and leaving the table when done. And guess what? I think I nailed it…

Long before we knew otherwise we South Indians ate our meals on a leaf which we still continue to do so on certain occasions. We also ate in the floor using our fingers instead of spoons and forks.

Also in South India we typically eat rice with sambar/dal/rasam or other flowy alternates and some side dish and probably pickle and an appalam. So the minute the sambar or such is poured on top rice, you better start attacking it or else you will run the risk of letting it flow over to the ground or the table whatever the case may be. If you are going to sit and wait for the rest to join you, you might as well lick the sambar off the ground. There, I solved the first piece of puzzle.

Again, as I mentioned above, most Indians use their fingers to eat and if you have never done that, you will never know how annoying dried up fingers can be. Also, since India has a lot of flies and ants, if you let your leaf open with remnants of rice and sambar, you are just inviting the insect population living around for a buffet at your leaf. So, the rule is to get up from your place as soon as you eat and remember to close your leaf at the very least to make sure that your neighbors who got served after you can eat in peace without having to battle annoying flies.

So what is considered as table manners in the Western Hemisphere cannot be applied to Indian living conditions and households. Well, we probably can incorporate it now that we eat the same food in plates and sometimes with silverware too. But my point is, I absolutely hate it when Indians look down upon their fellow Indians for not having adhered to the Western Mannerisms. I wonder what gives anyone the attitude to judge me on what has probably been ingrained in my gene pool for 1000’s of years. I guess that is why I gave this topic so much of a thought and decided to pen it down too.

At least to the time when I still lived there. And today after 30 plus years of having lived my life in that fashion, changing it seems very difficult. I am inevitably the first person to finish eating irrespective of when I actually got food on my table. And if I am sitting with a bunch of people who are not my friends, I hold myself back and wait for everyone to finish, and if I am with friends, I politely excuse myself and get up.

I really hate to have dried up fingers and worst of all, dried up plates to put in the dishwasher or worse wash them myself…

As far as all theories are concerned you will always find postulates and what I have written here might not work for a Punjabi family eating Roti and sabzi but this is the gist I can make from my own life experiences…please comment if you agree or disagree!