I am back!

I am back! The trip was wonderful, short but action-packed. There’s lots to write about but I’m still settling in, so bear with me please.

Till then, I’ll leave you with the 50 secrets PackofJellyBeans tagged me to tell you about.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?

Yes. A mythological character, mother to one of our most famous Gods. I hated my name when I was young, for all the teasing it brought on.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?

Last Sunday, when we left Mumbai to come back home to New York. I didn’t really cry, but my eyes were wet when we entered the airport terminal and I couldn’t see my parents anymore.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?

Naah, hate it! It’s small, round and childish. I envied people with gorgeous calligraphy-like cursive handwriting when in school. But it hardly matters now. My hand shakes when I write more than a couple of sentences these days.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?

None. I am vegetarian.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?

No, not yet.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?

I am tempted to say – definitely yes – but something holds me back. I have always had very few friends – in school, college or otherwise. And even fewer of these friendships have lasted over the years.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM?

No. I am not very good at it. People close to me tell me I am too straightforward for my own good.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?

Yes.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?

Not for a billion bucks!

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?

I don’t like cereals. But since I am forced to eat them nowadays, Honey Bunches of Almonds is the least intolerable one I find.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?

Never! And always get scolded by my parents/husband when they catch me at it.

12. IF YOU WERE TO PICK YOU OWN FIRST NAME, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

When I was young I’d pick a new name for myself every few months. But right now I have made my peace with my own name.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?

Chocolate! I rarely ever order any other ice cream when given a choice.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?

The expression on their face. I am usually attracted to people with happy smiling faces. I rarely notice clothes or shoes at first glance.

15. RED OR PINK?

Pink. All sorts of pink shades. But red is good too. Dark rich reds. On second thoughts, I might actually prefer red to pink these days. Have I grown up?

16. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?

I am bad at reading situations. Or rather, I rarely try to. I act by impluse rather than thought. I cannot plan my actions and that gets me into trouble more often than not.

17. WHOM DO YOU MISS THE MOST?

My parents of course. Not that you would believe it if you saw us together – we are constantly arguing over the smallest of things. And I miss the husband terribly whenever he isn’t with me. Which rarely happens these days.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO COMPLETE THIS LIST?

Sure!

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?

Black pants and shoes. Boring, I know! But I am in office.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

Nothing! Except for occasional sneezes and bless yous from co-workers, a habit that always amuses me.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?

Yellow. It’s a happy happy color.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS?

My favorite flowers – Rajnigandha, my favorite foods being cooked, forest or country smells, the combination of mehendi and nilgiri oil, the husband’s cologne or aftershave or whatever it is he uses that smells so nice!

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?

My boss.

25. HOW DO YOU KNOW THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?

Through her blog.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?

Cricket, what else? But I need good company, the kind that’ll holler and bite their nails with me. I’m not much into sports otherwise.

27. HAIR COLOR?

Black.

28. EYE COLOR?

Black.

29.DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?

Yes. When I am not feeling lazy. Most times it’s the good old chashma.

30. FAVORITE FOODS?

All sorts of chaat. Pav Bhaji. Maggi. Papads.

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?

Happy all the way!

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?

Jab We Met. For the umpteenth time on the plane back home.

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?

A bottle green and black jurta with mustard print on the neck and sleeves.

34.SUMMER OR WINTER?

Summer in New York, winter (such as it is) in Mumbai.

35. HUGS OR KISSES?

Hard to choose, I cannot do without either!

36. DESCRIBE YOUR PENCIL CUP?

It is a beautiful black Rajasthani cup with green engravings on it. Oh, and it’s currently empty except for a pair of earrings!

38. FAVORITE ARTIST(s)?

Madhuri Dixit. I had a huge Madhuri fixation in childhood. I’d scream on seeing her even today.

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?

I am reading an assortment of Indian author books I picked up in Mumbai last week. I was so excited to get them, I started reading all of them at once! Q & A was the one I read last night.

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?

The name of the company I work for.

41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT?

Barack Obama on CNN.

42. FAVORITE SOUND(S)?

Bird sounds early in the morning.

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?

Haven’t listened to either!

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?

Depends upon how you’d define home. My current home is thousands of miles away from my former home!

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?

I am told I am tough to beat in a debate.

46. WHERE WERE U BORN?

Bombay. By the sea overlooking Haji Ali. Romantic na?

47. FAVORITE PIECE OF JEWELRY?

Earrings. I cannot leave my home without a matching pair on.

48. HOW DID YOU MEET YOUR SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER?

I was with my best friend whom he happened to know. She introduced us. I hardly even noticed him then. The interesting part is that all our first three meetings were chance meetings on the streets of Mulund.

49. FAVORITE SONG?

Please don’t ask. Each time I like a song, I tell the husband – this one’s on my top ten list. Your top ten list has hundreds of songs he jokes. But I think I am especially partial to Pehla Nasha from JJWS if you insist I choose. Reminds me of the romantic young me.

50. FAVORITE MUSICAL?

Mughal-E-Azam. Amazing songs and beautifully woven into the story.

A confession – I really enjoyed doing this tag. Felt like one of those movie stars giving interviews for filmi magazines!

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Brilliant little you and me!

First D, then Mampi and now Chakli and Priya have tagged my blog with the Brilliant Blog Award. Four of you find my ramblings brilliant? Wow! Thank you friends, both the blog and I feel humbled and honored! What more do we say? We are somewhat overwhelmed at present. Let us bask in our newfound glory for a while please!

But before that, I need to complete the tag by passing on the award to seven bloggers I admire. Hmm… just seven? Let me skip my regulars then. You guys know how much I love you already, don’t you? Perhaps its time to come out of the closet and name some of the brilliant blogs I usually only lurk around at – it feels so embarrassing to keep saying ‘Great post!’ and ‘I agree!’ and add nothing to the discussion, you know.

So here’s my list. A lot of these folks are blogging celebrities and I know they may never get around to seeing this, but if Mampi can tag Mr. Bachchan, surely I can tag Baradwajrangan and The Mad Momma!

Baradwajrangan – The best Bollywood movie reviewer today, in my humble opinion. I simply MUST read his reviews before and after watching a movie – that way I get to enjoy it thrice!

Memsaab – I never thought I’d meet an American who was madly in love with Shammi Kapoor. And Hindi movies. Her movie reviews are total masala entertainment! And the screen snapshots are to die for!

The Mad Momma – Her blog and Usha’s AgelessBonding were some of the first blogs I was hooked on to, they lured me into the blogosphere so to speak. Candid, fiery, passionate and giving-as-good-as-she-gets, her crazy-about-my-family attitude and cool parenting style is an inspiration to me and her confidence and sense of style is something I wish I could emulate … We keep having our disagreements but her posts are still the first thing I check when I log on to the internet – I love her impassioned writing plus her comment space is a complete entertainment in itself. AND we share our birthdays too!

Usha at AgelessBonding – Around this time last year, Usha was sweet enough to comment on an unknown newbie’s blog (mine!) and encourage her to continue. Thanks so much Usha, I might not have got to this 85th post of mine without that kind gesture. I have to keep reminding myself this is a woman of my parent’s generation when I read her posts, it’s so easy to forget otherwise. But does it really matter? Warm, friendly, funny, naughty, well-informed, wise and totally open-minded – you couldn’t have chosen a better name for your blog Usha – AgelessBonding it is!

Sunayana Roy’s Sunny Days – Sue is exactly my age but so much wiser! And she’s the most straightforward blogger I read. Be it a post on kicking the smoking habit or narrating a husband-wife spat or offering her two cents on handling the in-laws – her writing is always honest but never sensational – the reason I like it so much perhaps.

Boo – What a name! And a what a blog! Trust Boo to find humor in the most mundane of situations – she can pick up something that happens everyday in our homes and only ends up irritating us and turn it into fodder for her next rolling-on-the-floor kind of rolicking hilarious post!

Indian Homemaker – I came across her blog only by chance very recently and am I glad I did! A passionate feminist, she manages to say a lot of what I only think but can never put in words and helps me make sense of the jumbled thoughts in my mind. Plus I get the impression she truly cares about the stuff she writes and that makes her writing doubly appealing to me.

You guys are all brilliant!

And now with that done, we are off to gloat!

Another Book Tag

It’s raining book tags! Right on the heels of Shruthi’s tag, here comes Chakli’s. The rules are – Get the book closest to you. Open the book to page 123. Count to line five. Write the next three lines.

I am currently reading Thomas Friedman’s ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’, so this is the book closest at hand. The lines to be reproduced do not make much sense by themselves, but that’s the fun of doing a tag! So the lines are – ‘The P.L.O. leaders were archetypical petit bourgeoisie. They were neither notables nor educated professionals, but rather school teachers, like Abu Iyad, or engineers, like Arafat…’

Thomas Friedman is better known for his most recent book ‘The World is Flat’, but I found this book, his first, far more riveting. Based on his first-hand experiences reporting from Lebanon and Israel for the New York Times, the book is an honest attempt at making sense of two different but interconnected Middle East tangles. (The first half of the book focuses on the Lebanese civil war, while the second is about Israel and the Palestine conflict.)

For folks like me who are not so familiar with the details, it is a good starting point to understand a drama that has been at the center-stage of world politics for more years than we can remember. The fact that the book is dated (from the late 80’s or so), makes it even more fascinating in my opinion. Imagine looking back at what we now consider as ‘history’ through the point of view of ‘current affairs’! As I was reading, I was plagued with questions. What was the outcome of the conflict? Is the situation peaceful now? How were these seemingly insurmountable differences resolved?

I was glad to read that peace, or some semblance of it, has returned to Lebanon. Unfortunately though, the Israelis and Palestinians are hardly on better terms today. In fact, had the author not mentioned dates in the book, I would have just as easily believed the events described in the book to be contemporary. (The headlines on Google News yesterday read ‘Three dead in fresh Gaza clash‘.)

Finally, there remains an unresolved question in my mind. In spite of all the strife and uncertainty in Israel, why do Jews continue to migrate there? I am reminded of a Jewish Indian family, family friends of ours, who moved from Mumbai to Israel a few years back. To my knowledge there is no antisemitism in India. An average Indian would probably be unaware of a religion called Judaism even. What, then, was the inexplicable hold this country had over our friends, a hold far stronger than the comfort of a peaceful and familiar life in the country of their birth? Can religious affinity be this strong in our ‘modern’ times?

This was fun! Thanks Chakli! I tag Silvara, Trupti, Indian Home Maker, Cee Kay and Usha. No pressure though, feel free to ignore the tag if you’ve already done it, or are otherwise unable/unwilling.

A Book Tag

Shruthi has gifted me the tag of my dreams! I am to list and describe my ten favorite characters from literature. Can anything be more heartwarming for a book-lover? Without more ado then, but with a ‘If my choices match yours, it just goes to show we both share great taste!’ disclaimer, let me begin.

Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)

Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind)

I am pretty sure these two gentleman would feature on most girls’ lists. In both cases the lure is the thrill of taming a wild headstrong man, the goose-pimply moment when he goes all mushy in love… Picture the rakish Rhett Butler murmuring sweet nothings as he comforts Scarlett after a nightmare. Need I say more?

Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)

Dare I add Scarlett to this list too? Yes, she is selfish and shallow, but isn’t her strength and childlike enthusiasm and can-do spirit infectious? I cry for her each time I read the last page, when Rhett dismisses her with his famous ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’ line. And I smile the very next moment when I hear Scarlett say, ‘Tomorrow is another day’!

Sir Percy Blakeney (The Scarlet Pimpernal)

Father Ralph (The Thorn Birds)

These characters are pretty alike too. Love is painful in these stories, it is deep and strong but unrequited. And so very sweet when finally expressed. Who can forget the last scene in ‘The Scarlet Pimpernal’ where Sir Percy tenderly carries his lady aboard his ship, all misunderstandings and distances between them forgotten?

Jennifer Cavilleri (Love Story)

Love is fun here, it is a young, mischievous and bantering love, yet also a deep and abiding love. ‘Love Story’ is one of those magical once-in-a-lifetime stories for me and I especially love Jennifer with her strength and tenderness, her humour and her zest for life.

Mathew and Marilla Cuthbert (Anne of Green Gables)

I am an unabashed romantic, as you can see. But love can be powerful in other forms too, as is seen best in the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series. The magic of Anne’s innocent childlike love melting Mathew and Marilla’s crusty hearts is a joy to read (and re-read). Why isn’t Anne on this list instead? I do love her, but I think I am partial to Marilla and Mathew for some reason I cannot explain.

Susan Calvin (Isaac Asimov’s robot stories)

A lonely woman very similar to Marilla in many ways, Susan is unable to relate to people and finds solace in work instead. There is no Anne to melt her cold demeanour, but her beloved robots are probably of some consolation. Her sharp tongue, razor-sharp wit and caustic humour make Susan Calvin Asimov’s favorite character and mine too. (I assume she must have been his favorite, considering she appears so often in his robot stories.)

Sir Humphrey Appleby (Yes Minister)

One of the most delicious characters ever. Sharp biting sarcasm, Machiavellian political skills and a hilarious ability to confuse and complicate the simplest of situations – Sir Humphrey Appleby rocks!

Malgudi (R.K. Narayan’s work) / Mussoorie (Ruskin Bond’s work)

And I challenge any of you to prove to me these settings are not the most fascinating characters in Narayan’s or Bond’s stories. So there!

I compared this list with the list of my favorite books I had compiled a while ago and was surprised to find many favorites from the old list missing in this one. The one explanation I came up with is that the story is probably the hero in most of the other books.

Take for example ‘A Suitable Boy’, one of my all-time favorite books. All the characters in this book are interesting, nay fascinating, yet no one character makes me fall in love with him/her… food for a separate post perhaps?

Now comes the tough part, I need to tag someone. I have a hunch Priya, Chakli, Chandni and Manpreet would enjoy doing this tag. Would you, girls?

Me 101!

It’s been a while since my last post. I do have several drafts in the pipeline, but never got around to finishing any of them. Then just as I was about to give up on myself in despair, AA_Mom came to my rescue! I’ve been tagged and the tag is one of the easier ones going around, methinks. (Basically, I’m not being pushed to write anything new at all, which is what makes it easy in my opinion!)

The Rules
Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given : family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like. Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better.

Easy, huh? So here goes!

Family
There’s no contest in this category. One of my all-time favorite posts wins hands-down! And while we’re on the subject of my nani, you might find this one amusing too.

Friends
I’ve been very lucky to have made some wonderful new friends during my stay in the US, and this post is a wonderful reminder of a couple we were very close too, but who unfortunately moved back to India some months ago. I miss you guys!

Then there’s this cute post about one of my closest friends in college. And finally, a wonderful trip down memory lane, remembering birthday parties celebrated with old childhood friends.

Love
Now this one’s tough, if we are talking of romantic love only. That’s because the husband, who sometimes reads my blog is a little wary of me posting personal or mushy stuff here. The only one I can think of right now, is this hilarious episode involving the husband. I’m not sure if it qualifies, but that’s all I have on him here!

And I love this one too, reminding me that love need not always be about red roses and candle-light dinners!

To balance the mush, here’s a reminder of how sometimes love can go horribly wrong too.

Me
Now which one do I choose here? Isn’t this blog all about me? 🙂

Here’s one on my love of reading, another on my efforts at self-improvement, something about my my semi-retired liftstyle, my changed attitudes towards guests, some initial impressions on blogging and finally my take on saas-bahu dramas. Take your pick friends!

Anything I like
This one’s pretty ambiguous. I initially was unsure on what to go with, then I thought I’d highlight some of my amateur attempts at playing movie critic (I am a huge Bollywood fan) and take your feedback on what you guys think of them. Now please be honest, I think I can take it!

Okay, so that’s it! I know I cheated, linking to more than one post in each category… par hum toh aise hi hain, you know!

Oops, I had so much fun doing this tag that I almost forgot to tag others. Now what does that say about me? 🙂

I am not sure if you guys have already been tagged for this one, but in case you haven’t, let me tag – M, Cee Kay, Shruthi, Dhanashree and Notunma. Please to write soon!