37

Turning 27…

…is hard!

You start getting asked if you are married or not more than a national average of 3 times a day. People assume if you are not a marriage material or why else you can’t even snag a husband. It gets worse when people start wondering why do you not even have a boyfriend!

You go to a store and anti-ageing is pushed onto you like no tomorrow. There was a time when taking care of wrinkles began after you turned 35. Now, mid-late twenties is already so damn late that you are on your way to looking like a pug.

You are still stuck in a limbo because clothes at Macy’s and Nordstrom look too aunty-like and you still fall for the pretty teeny bopper clothes at Forever 21.

Going out and partying induces a major calculation drive that involves what time do you need to wake up the next day and how many hours of sleep you shall get.

Beginning of the month brings about a ‘Woohoo’ for the start of a new month budget and a ‘Waaaan’ when all the mortgages and rents and EMIs leave your bank accounts

You can no longer wolf down those 3 slices of pizza without freaking out about that belly bulge. ‘A moment on the lips, forever on the hips’ is here to stay, baby!

Binge drinking brings about a worse hangover than ever. Your stomach also refuses to co-operate anymore and say hello to way too many restroom visits the next day.

Teenage acne has given way to adult acne. Hmmpphh.

If your skin was dry all your life, it starts turning oilier. The reverse is also true. In short, your skin hates you now.

Say hello to being called ‘Aunty’ by your friends’ babies.

So, it happened on the 26th of September for me and I am dealing with it with a mixture of trepidation and happiness. I thank God for his little mercies and for making me see another year of life. The ball is in His court now to start turning up the ‘good’ about my days.

PS : I got my driving license card on Saturday and it is here to stay till 2019, babay!

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20

My skirt is not your license, pervert.

For some or the other reason, this has been going on in my head since around 2 weeks about men, whether in India or abroad. And to top it, I read few very interesting tweets on my Twitter feed.

I suppose everybody has read about TOI and Deepika Padukone’s tiff here. For the uninitiated, I have done a blog post on how embarrassing and crude Times of India is and how I would rather call it the Trash of India. So, it usually publishes very news worthy articles on the home page of their website like ‘Top 10 s*x scenes’, ‘Top 10 heroines with good b*tts’ and other very socially relevant articles. Occasionally, actually usually, you will find illuminating videos like ‘OMG, look at her wardrobe malfunction’ or ‘OMG, look at her pa*ty show’ and ‘OMG, look at her cle*vage’ which has what happened this time where the subject was Deepika Padukone, a very famous Indian film heroine. It was accompanied by a very shady pixelated image/video, I am not totally sure what, because I refuse to give click/view to that trash. But this time Deepika, lashed back at them where she decided to educate them about the existence of her female anatomy. TOI thought it was cheeky and cute to reply back saying how that was a compliment and everybody should see her, ahem, beauty. *Goes and bangs head on the wall*

Next we have the La-Di-Dah Shobhaa De’s article on NDTV webpage. For a recap, she had said after Deepika’s launch that she was very ‘verni’ and looked like someone who wouldn’t win ‘even’ a Dombivali Beauty Contest. I have been wondering why Dombivali? My best friend/rakhi brother who lives in San Diego is from Dombivali and he is one of the most good looking guys I know(Do not turn into an air head if you read this!). And why Verni? Just because Ms De happens to be from an elite part of Bombay? I am from Pune Kothrud, and I totally qualify to be called as Verni by every Tom, Dick and Harry from Koregaon Park or Kalyani Nagar. I have failed to understand the point of her article, like most of her articles. I am neutral towards Deepika Padukone, just to make things clear.

I do not understand this woman. NDTV says she is an authority on Indian pop culture. Yes she is. Because her article bang on describes the Indian patriarchal mentality. It further re-iterates the fact that a woman is responsible if someone leches at her, oh no no, compliments her body. Her view is exactly the view of a streetside romeo who goes on a hooting spree when a girl’s dupatta is slipping, a lady’s blouse is showing her strap or a woman walks out wearing a pair of shorts. According to Ms De, Deepika has put on display most parts of her body to the public. She has dressed up in risqué outfits and has done bold photo-shoots. She has a toned body and wears clothes that flaunt it. The low back dress, Ms De talks about, Deepika has been there and done that. Does that make it right to point and leer at her body in a National Daily like a hooligan in a bus? You know how she sounds to me? Like one of those moral-policing culture gurus who say that if a girl doesn’t want to be raped, she should cover herself. There are some people who have said that she is a high flying celebrity, she should be okay with pictures of her cleavage and she is creating a fuss about respect and empowerment. Really? Like, really?? I am pretty sure, a celebrity or a regular woman who loves wearing her gowns and skirts and dresses and cholis will find it very insulting when a picture of her is taken and it is zoomed onto her br*asts or b*tt. I think it is a federal crime(yeah, right!) when such pictures are circulated and leered at by politicians in the parliament, high school boys in the restroom, men in offices at water coolers, and by the pseudo journalists.

I am pretty sick and tired of being told not to travel in a general compartment in the trains because men will pinch my behind. I hate being told not to wear low waist jeans because the back benchers will stare. It frustrates me being asked to not wear a square neck or V-neck because it will attract attention. It is quite obvious that I have br*asts and I wear a b*a. So should you stare at my strap like an animal staring at its prey? I know you have a d*ck, does it mean I stare fixedly while you(all the freakin’ time) scratch it? Take your eyes off my body. Don’t dare call it a natural instinct. My natural instinct is to gouge your eyes out and hand them to you. And for heaven’s sake, TOI, stop feeding this crap to the public as entertainment news. We have enough people on the streets who go OMG and whistle if I walk down in a salwar/saree/skirt. I don’t need a National Newspaper doing the same exact thing.

Lay off!

16

Honesty is not always the best policy

The DMV(dept of motor vehicles), CA loves me too much or hates me limitless, I am not sure anymore. For the uninitiated, when you go in to get your license in USA, you have to give a written and vision test and then a behind the wheel driving test to get your driving previledges. If you are not a citizen, you have to submit I-29s and passport and visa copies to show your legal presence in the US.

I gave my written exam in 2011 and took my driving test in august 2012 while at grad school in San Diego. In both the exams, I was among the rarity in my school or people I know, who passed in their first go. I had to go in twice to the office after that because they wanted some more paperwork.That is when my DMV rounds began. Mind you, the DMV is not a fun place to hang out. If you thought the Indian RTO is inconvenient and a pain in the backside, the DMV is in another league of it’s own.

I waited to get my card in the mail with bated breath. 15 days…. 30 days…. 45 days…. And then 60 days! Finally I lost my patience and gave the Sacramento office a call. And, what do I hear,? They don’t have my picture. All this, after I had asked the lady after my driving test if I was supposed to get my picture taken again. She had refused and I had confirmed twice! Yet they told me then, that I was missing a picture. Why they did not call me right away? Your guess is as good as mine. So anyways, I went to the San Diego DV office again and did the whole picture taking thing. Finally my card arrived in the mail and I heaved a sigh of relief. Until I saw my mugshot and almost choked on my breath. Don’t worry, no one will see it, they said. Every cute bartender saw it. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Most of my friends already had their driving licesncesv by that time. Most people were good to go for a couple of years. Heck, I know a few people, who just gave their written exams and received their cards in the mail in a month, totally skipping the behind the wheel exam. Me? I was supposed to drop into their office by March 2013 again. They gave me a validity of 7 months, completely on whim. None of my papers were ending in March’13. My I29 was good until Oct 2013 and my post completion employment authorization was good till Dec 2013. So, I went in again in February 2013. This time, they very generously extended my license till Dec 2013. It seemed like this time the date was based on my ending of the authorization card. I was supposed to go in with a proof of my 17 month extension of employment authorization for the next renewal which I would have received in November. Once again for recap, people with the same visa situation as me, were owners of licenses good until 2015-2016, etc. So, I went in again in last November. They took all my paperwork and told me as usual to wait for 60 days for my card and if it doesn’t arrive, to call the sacramento office. Well of course! It did not arrive in the stipulated time frame. I had to go to the Santa Ana office, show them some more paperwork, get my temporary license extended, and wait again. Siggghhhhhhh. Finally my card arrived with a due date of? 26th September 2014, my birthday. I think I shed a tear or two at the thought of going in for my 3rd renewal within 2 years of driving. But this was nothing.

Three weeks back, I received a notice from the DMV. Usually when you are close to your renwal date, they mail you a notice regarding how you can extend it. Sometimes you can be eligible for renewing it over the phone, online or sometimes you can send your paperwork in mail. If it has been 5 years, you have to pay a renewal fee of $33, and for the unlucky few, you have to give the written test again. Me, you ask? My letter stated that I had to :

1.) Take the vision test
2.) Give the written exam
3.) Take behind the wheel driving test
4.) Pay a renewal fee of $33 in the office

Peaches! This was perfection personified by the DMV. I felt so sad, so so sad, that I can’t even tell! After 2 days of fuming, I made around 3-4 online appointments at the Santa Ana office to try and sort out the mess. I spoke to a lot of people at work and asked people on facebook to figure out if it was common. Apparentlty, everyone was clueless about this and said it had been 20 years or so they had been just renewing it. Great! DMV wanted to make me jump through a million hoops for no apparent reason.

So, I started studying a little bit and went to try and wriggle out of all this. I was told their that sometimes they gave the license for 2 years, and sometimes for 5 years. They just pick people to do it. There was no way of waiving that off. I just tried to smile inspite of my crest-fallen face and decided I will attempt the test then and there. Thankfully, I passed with just one mistake.

The guy who checked my test, printed out an interim license to give me and told me that I will have my card in 2 weeks. Now, I should have just kept mum, taken the paper license, thanked him and walked out without as much as a second glance, right? But no. I had to be an epitome of honesty and I blurted out to ask why would I receive the card right away. He told me because I already had a license. I went on to say that the notice I received said that I had to take a driving test too. He asked me the booth number where I had submitted my paperwork and went to check the letter. He came back and re-printed a temporary license to say that I have to take a driving test next 😦

This makes me so so sad. I am just running around in circles like a dog chasing its tail. And then, its me and my big mouth. When will these two learn to keep quiet?

ETA on 09/17: I passed my driving exam! Tiny update here.

13

Travelogue : Portlandia adventures

Hola Amigos!

I am sitting at work, with my legs on the voltage regulator/emergency power thingy. They feel like lead! I have a terrible vacation hangover and I need a vacation to recover from the vacation.

I went to the gorgeous city of Portland in Oregon, nestled midst the lush greenery of American north west. I cannot describe how pretty the place was. As some of you might be aware, California is in an extreme drought season because of very low rains in the last 3 years. So it is quite brown and dry and the recent forest fires have made it even worse and scary. So landing at the Portland airport was such a fresh green experience. There were really tall, green trees all around. Mini forests surrounded us all over. We even got bone drenched in rain in our mile and half walk to the hotel from the bus stop! Our very first hour in town on Saturday. Is that how Portland welcomes Californians? We will never know! 😀

On Sunday morning, we rented bikes for 24 hours and did a nice ride along the waterfront. We did our own brewery tour and went to many, many microbrewery tours in downtown and the South-East. I stuck to tasters throughout and got the max bang out of my buck without getting drunk. I had no intention of riding a bike drunk on the narrow streets. The breweries in Portland are very famous for their quirky flavors. Since I do not like stouts or pale ales or anything dark and bitter, I stuck to my fruities and florals and a little bit of citrus and coffee here and there.

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So much beer, so little time….

On Monday, we rented a car and went to the very famous Multnomah falls. They were so so so beautiful! The area was so lush, breezy and the light spray of water in the air felt so refreshing, I cannot even describe. We did a nice hike up the mountain to get to the top of the falls. That was something! We reached the river which feeds the falls. The water was icy cold but I loved splashing my feet about. There was a Labrador Retriever there playing fetch with his human. He was running, splashing, swimming to get his wooden branch or whatever that was. It was adorable!

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On Tuesday, we finally got to have Voodoo doughnuts, which is a must stop shop for visitors. The doughnuts there are beyond divinity! Usually the wait in line is almost an hour, but I planned on going there on Tuesday morning when most tourists would have left. So we had to wait just over 5 minutes.

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Another highly recommended place would be Salt and Straw ice cream. I am out of words to describe my flavors. Almond brittle with salt caramel and a scoop of honey lavender. Sheer genius, whoever came up with the lavender flavor.

My legs refuse to move sort of and my butt hurts beyond words from all the cycling and hiking, but so worth it!

One cool thing about Portland is there is no sales tax! Aaand, there is a huge bookstore called Powell’s. It is like Crosswords X 3 and has 3-4 levels and a basement. I bought 3 Lord of the rings used books for around $15. Not bad at all.

The city is famous for bikes. Half of the roads, however narrow they are, are reserved for trams and bikes. It is extremely safe to ride about town because bikers have the right of way throughout. I highly suggest renting bikes rather than cars. They have bikes with carriages and child seats as well.

The most important thing about the trip was, I got to get out and do something! My last trip was to Atlanta to see Moo, and I hadn’t done anything after that. If I don’t do anything and don’t get out, I start getting anxious. So it was a welcome break from the trappings of the routine. But I have to admit, I missed the xBF a lot. I was thinking about him all the time. What he would have done, what he would have eaten, how he would have been the control freak to plan everything and would have lead us everywhere. Me and Abhi and all would have just played ‘follow the leader’ blindly with him in charge. I couldn’t help missing him while cycling, at the falls, while dining or drinking. Anyhoo….

If you are planning on a Portland trip, get in touch. I will tell you about the places in much more detail and the do’s and don’ts.