14

Quakes and Shakes

An earthquake of 5.1 magnitude and several aftershocks struck Orange County on Friday night at 9 pm. The shaking walls, swinging vertical blinds, my wobbling bed, earth’s crunching sounds(I live on the ground floor), scared the living daylights out of me. But everything is alright and no major damages were reported except for some landslides on the freeway and gas/water pipeline damages. I did not sleep very well because I was freaked out and was a ball of nerves the whole night.

Post the quake, my phone calls were not connecting and there was no network. My calls eventually connected and I managed to scare my parents also. I don’t even need to describe how scared I was and how much I needed my mommy and daddy. But speaking to them and transferring my worries to them felt better. 😀

So, even if my calls were failing, the internet was fit as a fiddle. I could post the mandatory ‘OMG, earthquake!’ status on Facebook in the very next minute of the quaking.
And hence, all is well with the world.

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20

The Salad Chronicles

I carry a green salad for lunch almost everyday with a serving of fruit. I believe in healthy eating. I have read and I firmly believe that one big part of your daily intake should be bright green and colorful vegetables in their raw form. It is essential for a healthy digestion and keeps you full with the calorie intake in check. Healthy living has become a very important part of my life and nothing makes my body feel cleaner and uplifted than a box of mixed spring greens.

Okay, I lied. I carry salad ONLY because it is the easiest thing to put together for lunch, and I don’t want to eat out everyday. And I want to continue trying to fit in my clothes. I used to carry some leftover dinner when I was at grad school, but I hate re-heating food and I detest cold roti. I got sick of soapy-tasting maggi and cold rice. Also, I had gained crazy weight and I was insanely conscious about my calorie intake. I used to see Karen and Brian bringing some yummy salads with feta cheese and colored bell papers so I got inspired as well.

Since then, I carry a box of salad to work. When I was at school, I would put in some chopped mushrooms, a boiled egg, half a red bell pepper and half a tomato with the lush green spring leaves. But my laziness has taken over now, and on a good day, my salad sees half a red bell pepper and half a tomato with loads of leaves. Most of the times it is just one of the two red vegetables/fruit(for the botanical purists, tomato is a fruit, I agree). I buy and use the best dressings though. Currently I have the Olive Garden’s signature Italian dressing which is exactly what they use in their salads. Yummmm, so good! My favorite is something with asiago or feta cheese lumps in it. Just salads can get a bit boring, but then I change it up with some nuts thrown in, some flax seeds sprinkled, or I change my dressing. And I have to carry lunch just 2-3 times a week. I get a healthy lunch from work(sandwich or a better fruity salad and acai smoothie) through work and I go out on Fridays with some colleagues.

It does add to the weird generalization that I can eat only salads being a vegetarian. But it is better than people staring at my rice/roti/stir-fry veggies/maggi and asking if I am eating ‘curry’. I am a little bored of trying to clarify that curry is not the only thing Indians eat and it is more of a weekend leisure cooking or a restaurant recipe. Sometimes I counter-ask if they eat only noodles(for an Asian person) or a burger(if it is someone white). The ‘where is my biryani’ guy still assumes I am hiding biryani under the bed of salad in my humble little lunchbox.

I don’t really know what else to write, so I will leave with two things I have gone through many times while having my lunch.

1. If I am eating in my cubicle, someone will come along exactly at the moment when I am stuffing my mouth with the leaves and half the leaves and the stems are hanging out from my mouth like a goat.

2. If I am going to the water cooler to fill my bottle immediately after finishing the salad, or if I eat in the lunchroom with some people, it is EXTREMELY awkward to smile openly and talk normally because, I KNOW I have green stuff stuck on all my teeth.

P.S. I cannot believe I wrote an entire post about salad. Heights of pseudo-creativity.

8

Dream a little dream of me….

Dream a little dream of me,
Let your thoughts unfold,
Let me leave my body,
When I melt in your hold.

Make some lust mix with love,
Let your desires unfurl,
Lets open up to each other,
Turn a grain of sand into a pearl.

Into the fragrance of vanilla,
Lets splash some cinnamon,
Let the spices flow with the sugar,
As we become one.

Stretch your feelings to me,
Let our souls entwine,
Let us dissolve into each other,
We can make this love divine.

End note: I had seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy titled ‘dream a little dream of me’, which is also the title of a very old song. This phrase popped into my head while working on a vane design, I have no idea why. So, tada, this is a product of a 10 min coffee break.

28

I am scared….

(Not in a particular order)

1. That I will get fired.
2. My H1b visa will get rejected.
3. About my parents.
4. About my dog.
5. That my lashes will fall off because I love rubbing my eyes so much.
6. That someone will think I am ugly cuz of my acne scars and fat glasses.
7. That I will never get married.
8. That the xBF will get married.
9. That I will get married to a jerk.
10. That I might have psoriasis or the sudden new dark spot on my lip might be a warning.
11. That my acne prone skin will never get better.
12. That I will be ignored, will not be important for anyone and be abandoned by everyone.
13. That my favorite mason jar bottle will fall and the glass will shatter.
14. That I will have a crazy weight gain.
15. That no one will cry when I die.

5

Of my 5k and post race madness

I finally took the plunge and did a 5km run on Sunday. The occasion was a St. Patrick’s day celebration and the race was called Leprechaun Leap. I finished it in 37.49 minutes and timed at 7.5 min/km. I feel very proud of myself for running around 2/3rd of it, when I expected to run just a mile. I remember how I was incapable of running for even a minute around a year back. And with this result, I feel so good about myself. It was a fun race and there were lots of people from work participating. The company MD and Sales head were dressed as leprechauns with their wives in tow, dressed in tutus. The route covered going into these hangers in the town, that were built during WWII to park blimps or aircrafts. It was an amazing experience!

Post the race, we went to a bar. I did this extremely stupid thing of not eating enough and not having enough water to let my body recover. I had 2 beers and at some point one of our chief vendors gave me his Vodka with cranberry. It did it. That was it. I was on cloud 9, 10. 15, whatever. Thankfully, the bosses’ wives and our GM Erica and her fiancé were pretty drunk too. I have a distinct memory of MD’s wife handing me her tutu and I did a belly dance jig in it. Holy sh*t!

Extremely luckily, they had just left when I threw up and hit rock bottom. My friend Shawn from work put me in a cab and dropped me home, wiped me clean. He and his bootcamp friends took amazing care of me, and I could not be more grateful. I do not remember anything of it. I blacked out after a few selfies, and I just cannot remember the bosses’s wives leaving, or the throwing up or the cab ride. This all happened at noon and I woke up at 7 pm. So there went my life’s 7 hours that I will never know about. I managed to shower after that somehow and went back to bed. I was still really high at night. As a result I have a really bad tummy. Although, it might be because I had fried eggs there which had a bit of runny yolk, and my system hates uncooked eggs. I have nausea even two days after. I have had a gazillion pudin hara, saunf, yogurt and rice, lemon juice, etc.

The race was amazing, and the post-race beer was equally agonizing. Well, I have learnt my lesson that after a workout, even a normal dose of beer can do insane harm.

No. More. Beer. Atleast for a year.

The funniest part is, the next day, both the bosses’ laughed and asked me if I was okay. Apparently the other two ladies have sort of party animals’ reputation, so I did fine. 😀

10

Of long nights…

I glance over the time,
It blinks 10 o clock,
Feels like a free spirited boat,
Stuck alone in the dock.

It is 10.30 pm now,
I am trying to get some sleep,
I can’t seem to empty my mind,
Of the memories etched deep.

It is almost 11 now,
My eyes refuse to shut,
I feel so lost here alone,
Life is stuck in a rut.

The time is close to midnight,
I force myself for a shuteye,
Only to wake up the next day,
With a deep long sigh.

18

Of Yoga, Biryani and Namaste

This August 2014, I will complete 5 years of living in the United States of America. True to the nature of my nomadic life since childhood, I spent 3 years in San Diego and then moved to OC. After living in Maharashtra for 8 years till 2009, this is the longest time I have stuck to living in a particular state. My stay here has been very bitter-sweet. Bitter, made by certain fellow desis and surprisingly made sweet by my other desi and non desi friends. Everybody who I met here, be an American/Asian(non-Indian) or European, has been an amazing person. I learnt many new things about different cultures, lifestyles, thought process and in general, life.

One thing that I have learnt in these 5 years is that the image of India in the eyes of the western world, can be summarized into 3 ‘exotic’ words. Biryani, Yoga and Namaste. According to most of the people I have met, India is such an exotic country, where we eat very spicy curries, say Namaste a lot, do some crazy yoga poses on the drop of a hat and practically live inside the Taj Mahal. A disclaimer, this view is expressed by around 60% people I know. The rest are very well-read or have been to India(my company has a branch in Vadodara, Gujarat and many projects in India for pumps and turbines).

My very first interaction with an American was my Asian classmate, who also became my colleague in the lab later on. She was quite well read and actually practiced Iyengar Yoga that was taught at the school gym. She thought that since I was an Indian, I would be a pro in Yoga and enthusiastically took me for a class after we became really good friends in the lab. She and the African-American teacher, were quite disappointed that I had trouble touching my toes while bending down and I toppled down quite frequently while striking the Warrior pose. But she and my other friends, were very welcoming. We were a bunch of pseudo-racists, who loved pulling each other’s leg about everything under the sun, including their faces, drinking habits and ethnicities. Some of them have had Indian origin friends in schools or colleges but they were pretty much American, so they never really learnt anything about India that was not broadcast on Fox news or CNN or included in a Beatles song. But, Adam would particularly surprise me by talking about Sachin Tendulkar, especially after the World cup win. He was passionate about baseball, so cricket interested him too. Brian would just amuse me no end by pretending to have really limited knowledge of India, but in a funny way.

My friends had told me that the only thing they have learnt in school about India was Gandhi and spices. So, I tried educating them more about Indian culture, lifestyle, different religions, festivals, food, etc. When I visited India and returned, by popular demand, I bought kurtas for them, bindis and bangles for the girls and spent a good part of the week drawing mehendi tattoos for them. It was a task to find a kurta for Brian’s 6’3” giant frame, both in the Indian stores in San Diego and in India. He really wanted it.

Two and a half years back, we had a fabulous time playing holi, and having our own version of bhang(ahem :P). We used to cook and have dinners together since Karen and Chad were my neighbors. So by the time I left the lab, they were aware of the differences between haldi and mirchi, kurta and saree, hum dil de chuke sanam and slumdog millionaire. Here is a fabulous picture of all of us.

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After I joined work, I realized that most people know much more about the Indian culture and lifestyle since many had visited India for business. Yet, there are people here are aware of limited things and end up annoying me just by doing something which they think is endearing. I met a person here in his mid 40s, who got insanely excited when he learnt that I am an Indian. He told me how beautiful the culture is and how respectful Indians are. Everything was okay till the point he told me that he tries to teach his family and kids about respect by showing them Bollywood movies! Every thanksgiving they sit together and watch ‘Baghbaan’ reruns!?!?! I was stunned. Just stunned. After that, every time he sees me, he does this whole process of joining his palms, bringing them to his nose level, bending down and saying out loud ‘Namaste’. I find it very irritating for some reason. ‘Namaste’ is something I rarely say, even in India. I either say Hello/Hi or if they are older relatives or family friends, I touch their feet and say Namaskar, being a Maharashtrian. So this whole rigmarole of doing ‘Namaste’ to me even when surrounded by so many people, I find it just awkward. On my part, I just reply with a hello.

There is another Afghani person on the shop floor, who just loves everything about India, apparently. In his eagerness to show me how much he likes India, he ends up saying the silliest weirdest things to me. He is very fond of meditation and listens to some Shiv chants now and then. He has assumed that I meditate too. He has told me that we Indians have beautiful, pure, white souls and my smile shows him the culture and beauty of India. I don’t know how. In his enthusiasm about explaining how much he adores India and Hinduism, he told me of this picture he shared on FB where a woman has her bre*st out and feeding a monkey baby along with her baby and how he loves monkeys. Errr, awkwardness at a whole another level.

We had a new draftsman join around a month back, and I have started avoiding him already. A couple of days after he joined, I introduced myself to him very politely. He is a middle aged African-American with a good educational background. He told me about how he has been to Mumbai and some other Indian cities for work and how he liked the food there. Ever since then, every time he sees me he says, ”Hello, good morning/afternoon. Where is my Biryani?” Every. Single. Time. Sometimes 4-5 times a day. Initially I laughed and told him that I don’t eat meat, and had a general friendly banter. Then, I started telling that it is in the Indian restaurant down the street and he can go there whenever and get his biryani. Now, I just smile politely and shake my head. Two days back I told him that I don’t know what to say to him anymore.

My previous landlady takes the cake though. She was a 50 year old white woman, who told me excitedly that she spoke to a friend of mine, every time that she would call and speak to a customer care agent in a call center.

Siggghhhh.

End note: My cousin was onsite in Indiana for a turbo training. She is in Cummins. She was asked about India-Sri Lanka issue because that was a hot topic that time. She was asked why were the two countries conflicted. She totally blanked out about the LTTE-Rajiv Gandhi-Tamil-natives issues and ended up telling about Rama, Hanuman, the monkey army, kidnapping of Sita and Ravan. The goras were very intrigued and were fed mythological reasons for the next 3 hours.

4

Burnt dinner = Homesickness

Last evening, I sat down trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Usually, I wash my hair on Thursdays. So after gym and the hair wash, I don’t have much time and I usually end up cooking something light like eggs or bread or anything ready.. So I stepped into the kitchen to just heat up my ready to eat rotis and I planned on having it with yogurt. But I also had to make salad for lunch. When I took out my basket of veggies, I realized my mushrooms were starting to go brown. I decided that I will sauté them quickly with some schezwan sauce and be done with it. One thing led to another, and I started chopping chilli, tomatoes and onions to make some curry instead.

After I finished frying the curry and putting the mushrooms, I put some water in it to stew a bit and I went to call my parents. I have to call before 7.30 pm to catch my dad before he leaves for work. I made the call and sorted out my gym bag for the next day in like 2 minutes. I was still talking to my mom and went into the kitchen to see my curry, and there, I smelt it burning.

Oh god! I ran to it and my curry had disappeared into a black coal layer on my kadhai and my poor mushroom looked shriveled up. My voice just dropped really low as I told my mom what happened. I just got so upset that my dinner was ruined. She told me to take non burnt stuff and to have it if it wasn’t smelling. I did that because I couldnt just throw my dinner away. Plus, throwing food makes me really upset. So I gave a deep sigh and told my mom that I will call her later after sorting this mess out. I was already done talking to dad.

I took out the mushrooms, and they were alright. They were edible enough. I put the kadhai in sink with water to loosen the black stuff inside and proceeded to finish off my dinner. I felt so so sad while having it and I started missing home a lot. L

I called my mom again after the dinner and she said my dad had already finished a long lecture delivery on how one should stand by the stove while cooking and how my mom should also do that to avoid burning milk and everything. Just to clarify, my dad wasn’t being mean to her, but he was upset because I lost my dinner and that was his venting out. Yes, he vents out by giving weird lectures. I laughed it off and told them I was finished eating and lied that it was alright.

After the whole talk, I was feeling very homesick. I was missing home cooked food, and all the love and the pampering. There are times my mom also ends up burning the food, but it doesn’t matter when you all are together. You just make do with it. When staying alone, getting up in the morning, going to work, working out, making dinner and sleeping is such a regular schedule that you get used to it, and you think you are doing good. But when things like some ache, some burnt food, some cold and cough show up, they disrupt your schedule. That disruption makes you realize how important your people are for you. How they being there, makes everything, even these troubles seem so much easier to deal with. They are the reason why you don’t just live, but you thrive. Sometimes being alone is way too lonely. Siggghhh. The only thing I can do is speak as often to my parents as I can. If not in reality, they are a part of my life here, virtually. And they do make things so much easier even while being thousands of miles apart.

I decided to change my mood and started to talk to mom about random stuff like Corelle dinnerware and anarkalis and what not. It made me feel better, so much better. After our talk, I got my laptop out to start watching my shows, and for once, I was glad that the Big Bang Theory had a really fun episode yesterday.

20

I am an adult. Really?

I will be turning 27 this September’14. I feel old. I feel I need to start using anti-ageing skincare soon. My eyes are all crinky at the corners because I have small eyes, I wear contact lenses and I squint a lot.

The great father of mine says I am getting old only physically. Mentally I am a 5 year old still. I am all responsible and money-wise and know my priorities and all that. But my behavior and my talks don’t say that I am 27 AT ALL! I feel even more like a kid when with certain things I am supposed to show maturity and behave like an adult. I have to make some awkward confessions here.

In my line of work, a certain part of the pump/bolting mechanism is called a n*pple. I am putting an asterisk here to avoid creepskates googling and landing on my blog. Everytime I here that word, I giggle. I have to control my laughter so that people at work don’t think of me as a weirdo. I hear the word being said atleast 5 times during the day. And each time, I crack one rib trying to stifle my laughter.

Whenever someone mentions Dick’s Sporting Goods, I can hear laughter in my head. If I am driving and I pass the store, I laugh out loud. I just cannot help it! Same with the character Dick in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Oh Lord! It made reading Famous Five very awkward after I was 13-14.

Many times, when I see newly married couples from my school/college, the first thought is, have they done it , yet? I see some girls or guys, and I have a hard time imagining if they must be doing it at all! Holy cow! I almost have to smack myself to make such weird thoughts go away. It is very very embarrassing for such ideas creeping in my head. Thankfully, I am not alone. A couple of my friends are guilty of that as well. Also, getting pregnant is like, the stamp that you have had s*x. How are you supposed to tell your parents that you are pregnant! 😀 I am very embarrassed to admit this all here, but hey! I am being honest here!

There are times when I talk to my mom about my dog’s s*x life(actually the lack of it, but no lack of trying from our side). She tells me stuff in details of how they got the female, which is usually one of the half adopted strays that my mom feeds, and how it got very exasperating and how my dog was being a nutjob. I can hear my dad yelling in the background at my mom and I, to stop talking like crazy because we both are in fits of laughter.

Sometimes I watch Ellen DeGeneres’s youtube clips and there is a writer named Andy on her show. She has called him on stage a couple of times and made him say some stuff.

Watch this clip here, courtesy The Ellen Show.

The way he reacts is so similar to how I behave!

Siggghhh. I am 27. I think it is about time I stop the giggles and be more mature.

So, I have to buy some new gym clothes. I will go to Dick’s Sporting Good tonight. *Breaking into a goofy giggle in my cubicle* 😀

ETA: Read Pepper’s wonderful post here and feel good that we arent perverts, but perfectly normal. Also read thisfor just a lovely post about being a child-woman. I am very similar to what she has jotted down. I say ‘wheee’ when my car goes down the slope. 😀

41

Why I need to get married-by my mom

The reasons my mother wants me to get married:

1. We are a family of 3 people and I am the only daughter. I am the youngest cousin on my mom’s side. We have only given gifts to everyone till now for thread ceremonies/engagements/marriages, etc. It is about time we receive some gifts. Well, atleast she is honest about it. 😛

2. She has been attending marriages and she says she has been craving for the rituals to happen in our household too.

3. The woman loves food, and the wedding food especially. She has been going on and on, about how she will eat in my wedding. (She went to the temple the other day for Gajanan Maharaj’s appearance day, and the only thing she described to us was the food served. In eloquent details.)

4. She is just looking for reasons to shop and get new sarees and jewelry.

5. She wants guests to visit us and see our new apartment after they move there in May-June.

On a side note, my parents expressed their strong desires to go and see ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’. They really want to watch that movie. Go figure.