December 31, 2008

I got fish. And then I lost fish.

Even before I could dedicate a blog entry to them!

Clementine and Tangerine came into my life one Thursday. I got them from a shop, not that they flew to me; they could have had they been flying fishes. Unfortunately they couldn’t, they were gold fishes. I had always feared that gold fishes are risky pets; what if they forget how to live? Mine did exactly that!

My entire family had problems with their names; they just didn’t understand my love for “Eternal Sunshine..” and my appreciation of the lovely Kate Winslet. Explaining to my cousins that the names are just apt for my orange-colored fishes was futile. My uncle thought I was missing being Americano. My mum said she can’t even call out to them. She decided to call them Tanju and Clemu. Rather than making them undergo the torture of being called Ramu-Shamu-types, I decided to call them something else. After an intense discussion over dinner of what to call them, we decided that they would be called Bhola-Ram. But before their rechristening, one of them died; can’t say which one. I think it was because of the fact that they were fed every hour by my over-zealous cousins. Or because of my brother, a 27-year old fellow who insisted on feeding them Polo (the mint-with-the-hole) and some orange candy. Noble intentions, I’m sure. Why should we be the only ones enjoying holiday sweets. The fact that the fish died the day after bhai-bhabhi left didn’t help. Being all alone at home, and having to bury her in the backyard all by myself didn’t help. What my parents thought would help, and what did help, was getting a companion for my fish. So, dad came in the evening holding a bag of water with a cute little gold fish in it. It had thin black lining on its fins and tail. And a cute little black moustache. I knew what I would call it. Charlie! And the older one had to be rechristened. Chimanlal-Charlie! My two fishes! 🙂

Within a few days I lost Charlie. Mainly because I had commented on how she had adjusted well, after an initial period of not being able to eat because of the bully that Chimanlal was. Pa and I buried her together. Chimanlal didn’t get a new companion now. And was enjoying being the only one getting all the attention (and all the food), or so I thought. I lost him in a few days. This time I was not in town. Pa buried him.

I have learnt to handle the death of a fish now. Ma’s statement of how I had freed them from their lives as fishes, and given them the hope to be born as humans in their next lives, didn’t help. Pa’s statement that we should plant grapes in the backyard did help!

A name plate still lies next to the empty bowl in my room. It says “Clementine and Tangerine” in shades of orange. Even before I could change the names on the photo frame-turned-name plate, I lost my Clementine-Tangerine-Bhola-Ram-Chimanlal-Charlie. I didn’t get an opportunity to write about them while they were alive. I dedicate this entry in their memory.

Wedding Musings!!

July 18, 2008

Phew! What a past week it’s been. Even if I try to, I can’t describe how the wedding went. (Don’t I say this about everything?! Nice way of saying “I am a shitty writer, can’t write. The experience was OK, but I can’t seem to get the right words to write about it, so let’s just say the experience was indescribable!)


Anyways, I did dance, though I didn’t perform. Fair enough. Dancing like crazy in the baraat with the entire extended family watching was performance enough for me, thank you. 




Nobody believed I was my bhai’s real sister. Apart from the fact that we look alike, we have nothing in common. He is the life of every party; I could not go to a party and have people come and tell me the next day I was looking good at the party! He dances like Abhishek Bachchan; I had a crush on Abhishek Bachchan! And I dance like..umm..I don’t dance! He talks with everyone; out of the 400 people I know/know of that attended the ceremonies, I spoke to 10, including my bhai-bhabhi-ma-pa! Everyone loves him; it pains me to write the second half of this statement.




No matter how hard I try to look good, standing next to 2 stunning-looking sisters just never works right! For my own wedding, sisters will not be welcome. Brothers I love! *muah* and “Wazzzaaa” to you guys! 




I remember talking to one of my aunts and telling her how surprised I was that it had been a week since I arrived, and all the hectic shopping and the shaadi food didn’t take its toll on me. 2 days into making that statement and I was down with the flu. Nice! All my plans of bonding with the new couple had to be thwarted. It was either that, or all plans of my brother for a cozy, romantic honeymoon would have been unable to see the light of day. I sacrificed, for my own sake. Else, as G.O.N. pointed out, my brother would have ordered for not only Dutch tulips, but also stocks of the Anthrax spores, especially for my honeymoon! Which would be sad, considering that I am sure it would be the only time my husband would be able to get lazy-me to do anything! 😉




After devouring channel V and MTV and HBO, I decided it was time to have a look at what’s happening in India. So, I tuned into the news channels day before. This is what I learnt from Zee News, Aaj Tak, Star News and Headlines Today, respectively; it was Katrina Kaif’s birthday, she received a diamond bracelet from Salman Khan as a gift, there was a party at Salman’s place at midnight, and Aamir Khan showed up at that party (without a gift) to wish Katrina. 


This is what I missed! This is what I came back for! Am I glad to be back! 🙂


So, I’m finally home, for good (for the time-being at least!). And it’s great to be back. There were, though, a few moments of extreme anxiety. Not only of what the future holds, professionally, but also of how I will adjust to the life here after having lived in the States for 2 years. For instance, I was standing in queue at the Air India counter (wanted to get a feel of India even before landing on Indian soil, and the fact that theirs’ were the cheapest tickets I could get a week before departing didn’t hurt either!) to have my passport scanned with a ton of other desis, and guess what, there was line-jumping. I was seething from within, obviously. And for a second, I wanted to turn away and run, run back to the life I was leaving behind, the life of courteous manners, smiling faces and clean, non-crowded streets. But it was just for a second, at most 2. It’s great to be back. And all it took was one outing in Delhi with my brother to get me back into the groove. Not only did the recollection of the 21 years I had spent in my country help, but also the advice my brother gave me was invaluable. On stepping into the Metro train, “Hold onto something else you’ll fall, and plug your nostrils else you’ll faint” (though I think we were contributing a little to the nice aroma of sweat too, thanks to the Delhi heat!). On looking for a dustbin to throw trash, “Just throw it anywhere” (though I didn’t listen to him; as long as I can help it, I never have, and never will throw trash on the road). Before leaving the house to go out to shop, “Pee!” (I did, and boy am I glad I did! The public restrooms in India, wherever available, are in an appalling state; wish we could do something about it.). On wishing him “a good day” when speaking to him “my” night of arrival, “You have to stop saying ‘good day’ to us all during ‘your’ night, and ‘good night’ during your ‘day’. We are in the same time-zone now!” (I did. And it really helps when people are around. Else they would brand you as someone who has just learnt the English language; just as when I had really short hair, everybody who heard my brother refer to me as “she” thought my brother was Englishly-challenged!).  


This is home; this is where I was born, brought up. This is me.


“I’m going to the place where love, and feeling good don’t ever cost a thing

And the pain you feel’s a different kind of pain

I’m going home, back to the place where I belong, where your love has always been enough for me

I’m not running from, no I think you’ve got me all wrong, I don’t regret this life I chose for me

But these places and these faces are getting old, so I’m going home

I’m going home!”






Hmmm..a dance instructor is going to come home from tomorrow evening to teach us how to dance. The “performance” is on Thursday. Please God, please give me the strength to pull off whatever role is given to me with confidence and élan, be it that of a table or of a building, or even that of a tree, which might be tough considering it involves some movement, that of fluttering of leaves.


June 27, 2008

Let’s begin with some happy news; my bhai is getting married. After having badgered him no end into getting married, my efforts of the last 5-6 years have finally paid off. No one will be more excited than I am. There’s just one small problem.

The shaadi (shady business this, as MS word would tell you, or ‘shads’ as my little cousins will call it!) demands that we put up an elaborate song-and-dance performance. And why shouldn’t we* sing and dance, when all we’ve* done well as a nation is this? Supreme Court judges have waited to pass their judgement under the Indian Penal Code dafaa teen-so-do (302 for the uninitiated), armies from the other side of the border have waited to start a war, the Rain Gods have waited to provide just the right climax; they have all waited. Waited for a song-and-dance to either get over so that they can resume their business, or waited for just the right moment to jump in and be a part of the fun-and-frolic.

In fact, the song-and-dance sequences of Bollywood movies are one of three things that my firang class-mates know about India, arranged marriages and cows-on-roads being the other two.

(*the author would like to exclude herself from the ‘we’, but in order to uphold the sense of belonging, ‘we’ has not been replaced by ‘they’.)

Where was I? Yes, the ‘shads’! I do realize that my writing it as that is as annoying as people calling a Vikram, Viks, a Golu, Gols, and a Bhuru, Bhurs! But it is way better than “mah kollin it Shadezzzz”, you have to hand me that!

SMS-lingo, as it is popularly known (or was known when I was a kid, now I guess it’s just normal lingo) was introduced to ensure we can fit all our thoughts and opinions and emotions in 760 characters, or else pay an extra 1 paisa. Noble idea! I’ve saved many a paisa (and then bought Fata-fat with them) by saying “luv u” (I wasn’t stingy enough to say ILU) to many boys. (OK, I accept I’m a loser, just two boys! One boy! Hey, why are you sniggering? My brother is a boy!) But today’s kids have taken the lingo to a whole new level; maybe they are not as stingy as we used to be. They feel a need to add more characters than necessary to make up for the loss of characters in some words. Lil wndr mah cuzn doznt lyk mah ritin wayzzzz! (“Little wonder my cousin doesn’t like my writing ways”, for those who didn’t get it; though I think I’m the only one who didn’t!) Not that I don’t use the lingo myself. In a desperate attempt to stay young, you can see me dropping off a scrap or two in my brothers’ Orkut scrapbooks that read something like this, “Wazzzaaa??!!” I never quite knew what that meant, don’t think I ever will! But since every eighth-grader uses it, I believe it will work better than Pond’s Age-defying complex in helping me stay younger and hipper!

I began writing this with the hope that I’d be able to get some sympathy from fellow two-left-feet’s as my lack of talent in singing-and-dancing is giving me the jitters, because singing-and-dancing is something that should, and does, come naturally to every Indian girl. But I’ve rambled on about inconsequential matters. (Not that my lack of talent in the singing-and-dancing department is a very important matter.) And instead of getting a kind word of sympathy, all I’ll get are a couple of hate-mails and one death-threat. And that is the best case scenario! I say best because I believe, with all the confidence that education has instilled in me (Duffer! 2.5/15 in the first test! 1.5/15 in the second!), that no more than 1 person will read this post! (Hey! You’re sniggering again! I am a person!)

I was thinking of changing the title of this post, but I think I will not! Because after reading this post everyone (or one, as I suspect) will think of me as just that, TALENT-LESS! “Saala likhne ka talent nahi fir bhi blogger banne chale hai! Loser! Talent-less! Bad at singing-dancing, bad at writing, I bet you are ugly that’s why you are on the other side of the computer screen; tum bechari se shads kon karega?!” Ahhhh! Sympathy! I got what I wanted! Now I’m out of here! 🙂

The Wind beneath My Wings

Came back from a week long trip to Pennsylvania, and boy am I in love! I thought Massachusetts/New England was pretty, but Pennsylvania was awesome.

Loads of fun stuff happened, but the “high point” of the trip was sky-diving! I can go on and on trying to put into words how I felt, but this is one thing that is to be experienced, not written or read about. There are a few important lessons I have learnt though, and will keep in mind next time I jump from a plane 10,000 feet above the ground.

  1. The quality of the video of the dive is inversely proportional to how well you feel after the dive. The more nauseated you feel after the dive, the better (more Bond-ish/Bourne-ish) you look in the videos and the pics.
  2. Start working out a few months before your actual dive, and try to build some muscles. There should be no loose flesh whatsoever on any exposed parts of your body. The extremely high speed is sure to play clay-modeling with your flesh. Now we don’t want to scare our parents by looking like Elastic-man in the videos, do we?
  3. In case you can’t develop muscles by then, be well-covered.
  4. When attempting to give flying kisses during free-fall, be prepared to give kisses emanating from the nose and the fore-head instead of the lips. Similarly, don’t be surprised if when attempting to give a thumbs-up to the videographer in front of you, one of the thumbs-up is received by the aunty sitting at the window seat of the Boeing 747 flying past you toward your right, and the other by the bird flying below you that just happens to look up toward the heavens.
  5. Smile! You’re on candid camera! It is a little difficult to pull-off, considering you are thrown off a plane from 10, 000 feet, but it’s worth trying. You’ll have the pictures for life baba.
  6. Enjoy the experience to the max. In spite of all the little bloopers (we have many, amongst the 14 of us who took the “plunge”), the experience is unbelievable! You might not look like a Lara Croft and the pimples adorning your fore-head might be the high-light of every pic, but nobody can take away from you the experience of falling freely, of flying!

*Yeah I’m freeeeeeeeeee….Free falling!!* 🙂


Belated Happy Birthday, Bhatia

It was Bhatia’s birthday on Friday, and since I wasn’t around, I couldn’t write an “ode to Bhatia”. Sorry baba 😦 An extra-special ode to you next year! *uummuuuaaah*


Other stories

There are no other stories, fortunately! 😉

Happy birthday Golu!

May 30, 2008

Memories flash through my mind.

Talking on the phone for hours the night before an exam wondering what the syllabus is; a wink after the exam conveying all’s well – we shall pass!
Gushing over our respective crushes for days, before realizing we’re talking about the same guy!
Sitting in the front row in class; behaving like back-benchers!
Checking cricket scores in the middle of lectures; wasn’t Irfan Pathan ‘the’ dude!! 🙂
Going for shit movies, over and over! (In fact, we celebrated your first rank by seeing some stupid movie which probably recovered 200 rupees of its 200 million budget!!)
Trying so hard, though unsuccessfully, to not laugh when being screamed at by profs!
beta-Gal assays; surviving through the “Friendship Breaker” lab!
Wandering around wondering, wondering where life will take us. No, actually, where we will take life!

If only words were memories and would come easily to me.

Love you! Miss you! *muah*

All the 2 people (including myself) who read my blog know who I am. Yes, Saumya Venom I am!
Hello World! 🙂

Long weekend…

May 28, 2008

Gaurav et. al. went back on Monday afternoon, and I’ve been sleeping through my depression ever since. What an awesome weekend it was; one of the best in a long time! Well, the weekend in New York a couple of weeks back was pretty awesome too. We saw the shooting of Hancock (I hear the film’s release has gotten delayed; I have a feeling it might be due to a bunch of crazy desis hanging out of, literally falling over, two small windows screaming “Will bhai”, during a tense hostage scene. Imagine if we actually made it in the movie!), spotted the Law and Order SVU chick Mariska in Central Park, screamed “Jai Hind” when passing the Indian Consulate (much to the ire of gora New Yorkers) and had awesome desi food. Thanks Anjali and Rishabh!

But that was a mere 24 hours with the Penn State gang. This time when they came over to Boston, I could spend a good 60-65 hrs with them.

Taking a cue from Gaurav, I’d like to make a list of my own of the most amazing things.

Most amazing things in life- Part I (There will be many more to follow I’m sure!)

  1. Friends
  2. “Old” friends
  3. Icecream with friends at 3 am
  4. Chatting away to glory at 3 am, over a tub of icecream and leftover food, in hushed tones, knowing very well that the loud whispers and muffled laughter are a lot more disturbing than normal conversational volume to the souls sleeping in the next room.
  5. Discussing the happenings of that particular day’s outing, recounting the jokes and the puns, the intended humor and the unintentional slip-of-tongues, and laughing at them as wildly, if not more, as when they actually happened.
  6. Having such an amazing time that when it all ends, you wish you could turn back time and relive that time all over again, just the way it was, without changing a thing.

I am happy that I’m going back home, but there is a little part of me that wishes I could take these times, these experiences, these weekends along with me.

Rang de Basanti!

April 12, 2008

I just finished watching Rang de Basanti, twice. I don’t know what it was that made me want to watch it. Was it the news of the Supreme Court’s decision on the issue of reservations for OBCs? Or was it the fact that I was missing my undergrad friends terribly, and was reminded of Roobaroo, the song which made all of cry at our farewell? I don’t know. But it was 6 hours spent well. I have been wasting time for over 8 weeks now; time that I should spend reading research papers and textbooks has been spent watching movies, playing computer games, reading blogs and sleeping. And there is a tiny little part of me that feels guilty, because even though I know that the upcoming qualifying exam is inconsequential as I’ve decided to quit grad school anyway, a part of me wants to exit with some “pride”. But the 6 hours spent watching RDB were not only guilt-free, but also enlightening.

My inability to live without Ma-Pa & Bhai, no matter how hard I try (have been trying for over a year and a half), to live knowing that they, and my closest friends are not a few hours away, and to be living in a place I don’t call “home”; all made me realize I am definitely not at the right place, and I had to take the decision of going back home. Fair enough. But, what will I do once I go back? Join a grad school in India and do a PhD there? Switch fields and go in for an MBA? Take up a job; some job, any job? I didn’t know and I had no idea. I still don’t know, but I think I have an idea.

The movie got me thinking. Why am I where I am? As an 11-year old, I wanted to help people, I wanted to become a doctor. 10 years later, armed with a degree in Biotechnology, I came to the United States to do research. I still wanted to help people, but by developing drugs and vaccines, not just administering them. Almost 2 years later, not only am I struggling to settle in, I am a little disillusioned. I see little practical significance in most of the research work that goes on, can’t stand the paper-crazy attitude of most advisors (what happened to the good old days of doing research for the love of science), hate my cell lines for they give crazy, confounding results and quite frankly, am put off by the AT LEAST 6 years it takes to graduate, and that is if you are a very hard-working student (Hmmph! I was told 4-5 years!). Most importantly, I’ve realized that I might spend my entire life in a lab, and still not make so much of a dent in anybody else’s life, leave aside saving it.

“Zindagi jeene ke do tareeke hote hai. Ek, jo ho raha hai hone do, bardaash karte jao. Ya fir zimmedari uthao use badalne ki!” (“There are just two ways to live life. One, to tolerate things as they are. Or, to take the responsibility of changing them.”) Profound words, which gave me an idea of what I should try to do once I go back. There is so much back home that I think needs changing. I wish I had leadership qualities, I would have loved to be a law-maker. Seriously. I might not be able to solve all of India’s problems, but who says it has to be all or nothing? Can’t I try and make a difference in a handful of lives? I don’t think I want to die, without having the satisfaction of having done my best at making life a little easier for people who don’t have it easy. I don’t want to be the person knocking on heaven’s door, whose greatest accomplishment is a BMW Z4 Roadster. (Though I wouldn’t mind if my husband is that person!) I don’t know what my true calling is, what kind of work will make me want to get up in the morning and say to myself, “yayy! today’s not a holiday!” Don’t think that kind of work exists, but if it does, I’m sure it neither involves having to deal with bosses, nor does it involve having to sit in front of the computer the whole day. But while I try to find my true calling, shouldn’t I just do something that will give me a 1% chance of being admitted into heaven? I just hope God gives me the courage to follow my heart, and not get trapped in a rat race to earn money and make a living. And if it takes an RDB to keep me on track, I’ll watch it every week, gladly. (Who minds watching Kunal Kapoor and Siddharth for 3 hours every week? he ha ha!)

Think I’ve been rambling on about life and “true calling”, whatever that is. And the seriousness is making me sick. Anyways, as I was saying, I don’t think I’ll mind seeing Kunal and Siddharth. (“Whom are you seeing these days?” Umm, Kunal. But please don’t tell Siddharth!) Kunal I always liked, but I never really understood why girls were crazy about Siddharth. Now I do. 😉 I guess I was still in the Madhavan-liking phase when the movie had released, so Madhavan and Kunal were cute. See, the problem is, I can never like more than 2 guys at a time. Like in Dil Chahta Hai, I liked Saif and Akshaye (sorry Aamir), Ocean’s series, George and Matt (sorry Brad), Kal Ho Naa Ho, Saif and Frankie (sorry Shahrukh) and Hera-Pheri, Akshay and Paresh (sorry Sunil/Suneel/Suniel)! You get the drift! So now that I am not blinded by Madhavan’s love anymore, I realized how amazing Siddharth is. And that makes it 2 Siddharths I really like. Dear God, either one will do! Please?!

I think I watched the movie twice because it gave me a glimpse of all the things that I miss. My Delhi, my home. India Gate, where I lived for 11 years, the best 11 years of my life. Red Fort, which I saw everyday on my way to college, the best 4 years of the 11 best years of my life; where we went for our first picnic. Garam-garam paranthas, freshly made, with oodles of butter. And silly as it may sound, Ma! 😦

And this is the point where I expect whiny-me to start off on how I want to go back home. Hey, I am going home in a few weeks, Insha’Allah! So I won’t whine. I will just end here, with one of the funniest lines of the movie. There are tons, and this is not even the funniest. Just that talking about Ma reminded me of ladies log (sorry Ma :p) and that reminded me of a hilarious line from RDB about women,

“Women make possible impossible..err..impossible possible!”

He ha ha! I am a woman. And irrespective of whether the former is true or the latter, I am proud to be a woman! He ha ha! (My laughter might raise a few doubts, but trust me, I am! Proud? No..err yes! But also a woman!)


Where are we headed?!

April 8, 2008

I came across this article on plastic surgery among teenagers in India.


My thoughts? I’m not quite sure! I’m furious, sad, disappointed and scared, I think!

I’m furious, furious at the parents who’d rather let their kids go in for plastic surgery, than inculcate in them values of tolerance; is it so much easier to put one’s kids under the knife than reprimand them for bullying others?

I’m sad, sad at the state we are in right now. Instead of teaching kids to tolerate differences and celebrate diversity, we are destroying diversity itself!

I’m disappointed, disappointed in the doctors who do such surgeries. Medicine is a noble profession. What noble deed might you be doing by cutting up some kid’s nose or sucking fat off a cute little boy’s cheeks? Are all your patients really kids who suffer from “severe” lack of confidence? Or does money really make the world go ‘round?

And I’m scared, scared of where we are headed as a race. The pursuit of “beauty” (whatever that is, because quite frankly, I think my definition differs drastically from everyone else’s) is becoming increasingly synonymous with the pursuit of “happiness” (again, whatever that is). Or, vice versa!

I’m also scared of having kids, because honestly, I’d probably be the kind of mum who’ll have to see her only child commit suicide because she refused to let the kid have plastic surgery for a slightly deformed nose that all the bratty kids made fun of! But why am I talking about kids here, when there is a big possibility that I don’t even get married? No one would want to marry me, given that I have dark circles, a protruding lateral incisor, a weird nose, wear glasses and have no curves! And given the recent studies about how important being attractive is for professional success, I’d have no money for guys to be after! Ahhh! Doesn’t that mean that I shouldn’t be scared then? Yes, I shouldn’t be scared at all!