Being back home…

I came back to my 1st home, Pune, after about 2.5 years. It felt different, yet familiar. The magic of belonging and not-belonging still holds true! There are so many new things in the city, that I felt quite lost and pleasantly so. This visit also saw some major changes happening, specially about my future visits and I am still upset about that!

One of the reasons for the visit was to make sure ze best friend gets married to her guy and doesn’t skip her own wedding! I ensured that by booking my tickets to India, insisting that she book our tickets to her home town and the wedding venue, and making sure to keep her in my sight during the last couple of days. We had fun last few days, shopping, eating Idlis and getting Mehendi done at my place on our last day in Pune. Going around on her scooty on her last day before traveling for her wedding, I felt really, really sad that this was going to be perhaps the last time we went about town. We both wondered when would we ever do this again, where we went out, bought a bunch of trinkets, had momos and went back home. Not having to worry about anything else. I feel terribly sad that I will have only the boys to hang out with whenever I come home next! Not that they are horrible people, but they are not my girls!

The wedding turned out to be quite fun. We had a mini hostel room reunion and it was great to catch up with the girls! I got to travel to the southernmost tip of India and checked off Kanyakumari from my bucketlist. The place is unique because it is a confluence point for three seas, the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. It was hot beyond reason, but we lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately, a tale of terrible behavior by tourists, lack of peace, and plastic trash everywhere. The Vivekananda Memorial was beautiful, and would have been amazingly peaceful, if the people would have been respectful. It was underwhelming, and disappointing. Luckily, the cab driver took us to another spot on the other edge of Kanyakumari, where there was no human in sight. Now, that was stunning! The water was so blue and clean, and the visibility was glorious so that we could see the nuclear plant of Kundankulam from the shore.

The rest of the trip is passing by in a daze of laziness, rains, humidity and gluttony. I have gotten drenched in rains in Pune more than I have seen rain in the last year in California. The monsoon has gained way too much speed right now, and my flights back to SD are causing a good amount of stress. The humidity has made my hair crazy but I am not complaining! The added task of filling buckets of soft water from kitchen tap to wash hair has been interesting, but apparently everyone does it here! The groundwater is hard and is terrible for skin and hair, and hence this exercise. Gluttony is at it’s peak per usual and I am on my see-food diet. I refuse to refuse food offered to me, and I have been downing everything as long as it is vegetarian. Bring on the street food, mom-made food, desserts, and my mint antacids like cherry on top. It has been glorious!

The biggest problem now is, how to deal with the gnawing pain of leaving home, again. I was hoping that I was used to this by now, but it still feels new just like back in 2009. All the euphoria of coming to motherland, to home, to family, is replaced by this weird nervousness of having to leave again during the last week. Anyone and everyone visiting HAS to say “Oh, she’s leaving this Saturday?! It’s almost here!” YES WE KNOW! I find it insanely annoying when they have to ask me about my next visit and if I would take as much time between visits like last time. I see my parents going about their daily life, and I wonder how they would continue after I leave. And I wonder how I would continue after I go back? This woe puts all the stupid dry hair, humidity, fatty food issues to shame.

Anyhoo, for now, this is all the fun stuff that I have to share. I am constantly monitoring the flood situation in Mumbai for my trip to the airport, and palpitating a bit. Hopefully, this stress will be for nothing, and I would be catching my flight without too much hassle. Here’s to wishing and hoping for the best!

See y’all on the other side of the globe!




Justice for sale

My newest Facebook comment on Arjun Kapoor and Salman Khan got me 99 comments. Out of those 99 comments, there were comments from 2 guys who I think are pretty brain dead, defending Salman Khan, calling me Congressi Sonia Gandhi and an unforgiving sinner. 8 people texted me to ask what is wrong with my FB friend list. 😀


All and sundry are definitely aware of the Salman Khan case that has been doing the rounds. He allegedly was driving drunk on a night in 2002 and drove over a footpath injuring a few people and killing one. The case has been languishing in sessions court since then and finally he was awarded a sentence of 5 years for driving under the influence of alcohol, culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for not having a driving license. Within a record time of an hour, he was awarded bail by high court for 2 days, and then after 2 days, the High Court passed a super quick judgement to squash his jail term and set up a new date. Tareekh pe tareekh, tareekh pe tareekh, anyone?


It makes me laugh(and shed tears on the side) that the lawyers and courts are tumbling over each other in their over eagerness to please Salman Bhai. Just a day before that, I read the saddest report on rapes, false naxal allegations on women and blatant violation of human rights in the tribal belt of India. I read up everything I could on Soni Sori and have been disturbed ever since. There are thousands of under trials who have been counting months , and some even years, till they get atleast a date in court for bail proceedings. I don’t know what to make from this.

There is this Arjun Kapoor who claims that no matter what anyone, or any court says, he completely believes that Salman Khan cannot do such a deed. There are celebrities claiming that footpaths are not meant to be sleeping on. There are hordes of celebrities visiting his place as if someone has died. Well, someone did die. In 2002. Under his vehicle, which is still being used by the way. He had the guts to send his driver to claim that he was the culprit, and he woke up after 13 years in order to ‘realize his mistake’. Kamal Khan who was a witness and had given a statement that Salman was indeed behind the steering wheel, disappeared one fine day. Another person died, who kept his claim alive that Salman WAS drunk and WAS driving. Having been tortured according to several reports, and being shunned by family and friends, he passed away literally on the streets after contracting TB. What a sad, sad end. I wonder where this generous Human Being was then.

Now, my mom and I are fans of his style and his movies. My mom had a huge crush on him when Maine Pyar Kiya came out. I fell in love with Salman Khan and Madhuri tai after Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. I whistled loudly during Ek Tha Tiger when he swaggered around. I don’t want to count his remakes, because I hate them to be honest. I feel they are made for people who have a really, really low IQ, even though I love masala films. I am extremely intrigued about his affairs and lap up all stories and old pictures of him and Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif. But that is where my love ends. 

My father cannot stand Salman Khan. He gets mad when mom or me drool over him. He always says how can we like a person who is such a ‘gunda’, kills people, hits women, claims to have conquered all his actresses. He cannot stand the movie Hum Saath Saath Hain because they show Prem to be the most generous hearted person ever, whereas during the same movie he set out to hunt a protected species of rare deer with other imbeciles like Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre and Tabu. He chased a deer round and round till it was tired, then shot and injured him, and then cut its neck off with a knife. Real macho, Mr. Khan, real macho.

There are countless people who insist that his ‘mistake’ should be forgiven because he has done a huge amount of charitable work. According to that logic, Bill and Melinda Gates should be handed a couple of grenades and a free rein with a license to kill. His nonprofit Being Human began in 2008 or 2009. Only if our judiciary wouldn’t have been asleep for so long and had passed the judgement within a couple of years, would there have been less furor over this judgement? I wonder. I am not even harping on the fact that he claimed of drinking water in a bar when he was a known alcoholic, short tempered, egoistic enough to think he is always right(he still is if you watch Bigg Boss *rolling my eyes*), he hid inside his home till the cops came to get him after running away from the site.

 I am sure, after 10-15 years when the judgement finally passes, he will be fined Rs. 500 for driving without a license in the end and will be let go. 

But the charity will continue.

Whatever helps him sleep at night.


‘Make in India’

For those who don’t know, I work in the core mechanical industry as a mechanical engineer. The company deals with turbomachinery and my group is the R&D and new pump development for LNG. My teeny bit for the environment! Our line of pumps consists of around 15 new designs that will cover a wide range of flow rates and pressure rise as per the requirements. The services we are catering to are pretty big and related to railroad engines, transport, marines, bunkering, space exploration etc. These are majorly heavyweight applications all over the world which need a lot of safety enhancements and certifications. Especially since we also cater to the Liquid Oxygen, Argon and other inert gases. Again for those of you unaware, Liq. Oxygen will blow up everything in its vicinity if it comes in contact with any impurity. Yup. So these quality issues and certifications are very big deals.

We don’t really manufacture things on our shop floor. We design the components and give orders to vendors and machine shops who make those for us and we assemble all here. This includes the hydraulic components, the motors, shafts and all the random nuts and bolts needed. Since the time I have joined this pump business, I have learnt that we have certain favored vendors and certain almost black listed ones. I have heard, with my own ears, people saying, NOT to get parts from India or China because the quality is very questionable. As an Indian, I always felt bad about it. But as an engineer, I know there is some truth in it. 40% of the parts will show failure on testing and that is a huge number which eats up the profit like a termite. Aesthetically, Indian made parts leave a lot to be desired which our Indian vendors admit to as well. We have a machine shop in OC that makes all our hydraulics for the new pumps and they are literally like diamonds. It is a state of the art local shop with the latest 5-axis tools and machines and it is a pleasure to visit them and learn, every single time!

During my India trip, I went to visit 2 sister companies of ours based in Vadodara to see how they could help us out. One of them, let’s call them RE are developers of pressure vessels. We need tanks to mount our centrifugal pumps in and the current manufactures charges us $11k for each sump. So we were interested to know how our sister company can help us. Plus our current sump vendor is doing such a bad job that every sump has to be sent back first for corrections. Things like putting the right handed pipe on left side and such disasters. They showed their huge shop floors and their machining capabilities. They have made sumps(cylinders) 10 m in diameters and 20 m tall. They looked at our purchase orders and drew up such detailed drawings for questions that we were pretty awed! They explained to us what they can do and the costs. The next company we met was, let’s call them DS, and they already do some drafting work for the design engineers. We collected all their info and came back with whatever we needed.

Today we had our weekly team meeting. When my turn came, Dennis asked me to tell what I learned in that trip to Vadodara and he asked Rahul to cover the points too. We explained to them everything about what RE is doing, their big customers who also happen to be either our customers or another sister company. They have done really impressive work on the pressure vessels side. I very proudly showed them their detailed drawing and everyone was pretty stunned. Then, Dennis asked what the per sump cost will be. After hearing the amount, they literally fell off the chair! We will be done with production and shipping in max $4k!! That’s a friggin’ difference of 7k! Then came the question of using the drafting capabilities of DS. That’s when this all-Texan guy, piped in that if it were him, he wouldn’t send anything to them cuz of his few bad experiences. Basically Mikey is a pretty nice easygoing guy but he was just telling about his bad experiences. He mentioned that even with clear cut instructions, these guys have managed to screw up a lot and it was way more time and energy consuming than making the drawings himself. At this Dennis piped in and said these few things and these are his own words :

· We have two people in our room who studied their undergraduation in the same way as those guys and perhaps from the same universities and we know about their capabilities.

· The smartest engineers in the company come from India! (Woohoo!)

· Entire bloody Houston is run by Indian engineers, well, entire country is run by their engineering prowess.

· This young lady(me) brought back a Pumps India magazine and flipping through it makes me realize how innovative they are getting and with such advanced product line!

· Let’s face it that India is an emerging world leader and we will lose out if don’t take advantage of that.

· Big companies are making an exception for RE even if their clause states ‘NO India and China vendors’, so why not use our own sister company.

· Everybody needs a little hand in training and if the result will be good, then why not guide them.

Hearing Dennis say all these awesome things and seeing a blue blooded Canadian-American white guy standing up for us, made me want to get up with a flourish and kiss him on his li’l bald head!

So ladies and gentleman, I am proud to say that we have managed to get RE involved with our test sumps for now and very soon we will have them working on a huge order for us!

Yay for NaMo’s Make In INDIA!!


Image by the official Make In India website


The Liebster Award!

Well, well! Srishty from Life of Srish, has conferred my first award upon me!

Tadaaaaa… The Liebster Award!


I am very very happy that she considered me worthy of the award. It feels nice that someone likes what I write, which is just an outpouring of the crazy stew cooking in my head. It feels very pleasant that my readers can feel that emotion that I try to express. All your comments, likes and the feedback are very much appreciated and looked forward to.

I am going to do the needful as she states in her blog and follow the Lieb’s rules and regulations.


A. Thank the blogger who gives it to you.
B. Answer the eleven questions he/she asks.
C. Nominate eleven bloggers with less than 500 followers. [I am going to bend this rule a bit, I’ll choose eleven bloggers whom I want to choose, instead of necessarily the ones with less than 500 followers].
D. Ask these eleven bloggers eleven questions.
E. Let these bloggers know that I have nominated them.

So, here it goes….

A. Thank you sooooooo much Srishty. Big hug to you! Specially because this is no way close to the beauty and fashion blogs you love and favor, and yet you read me. 😀

B. 11 Questions by Srishty.

1. Describe your blog as simply as possible.     My blog is just a zany mix of colors which can be as bright as the sun or as dark as the midnight sky.

2. Name one movie that you can watch over and over again.     I can watch the Harry Potter series, in marathons. I love them! Also, I wish I was naming some super intelligent movies, but I have seen ‘Desi Spiderman’ 4 times and ‘Jaani Dushman'(the one with Manisha Koirala, Armaan Kohli as ichchadhari snakes, and Akshay Kumar, etc etc) around 8-9 times. It was always on on Zee Cinema! I had to watch something! Not my fault. Check this video out for the best song ever from Desi Spiderman.

3. Name your favorite food item (if it is too difficult to choose, pick any one of your favorites.     Too many to choose from honestly. But Pani Puri is my big time favorite.

4. Do you believe in passion? If yes, have you found yours?     I don’t know if I believe in it, and I don’t know if I have found it. The kind of person I am, honestly, I will not know or I will end up questioning it. I would like to ponder over it rather than give a textbook answer.

5. Any quote or learning in life that had a huge impression on you.     “Mere Karan-Arjun aayenge. Zaroor ayenge.”

6. One thing that you would want to change about yourselves.     My quick temper and my constant feeling of being ignored and abandoned. Also, my nose, my acne, hair and weight. Can I turn into Deepika Padukone, please?

7. Name one blogger whose blog you love reading.     There are so many. But I will name the first blog I remember reading, back in my 2nd year of engineering. It was by a guy who left engineering and started studying Design in Singapore, and was a great photographer, Hershey Desai. I started my own super private blog right after that, which is a personal diary. And then, I started this blog. The one blog that really pushed me into starting to write was Pepper’s. Also, love reading my own Mo’s blog, Khayali Pulao. The BFF deserves a mention.

8. You have tickets for a book fair, a food festival, a cricket match and a movie marathon at an auditorium, all four happening at the same time. Which one would you choose and why?     I don’t care so much about a movie marathon(Netflix zindabad!), or a cricket match(at all!). I am a voracious reader, so I just might go to the book fair. But then, I can buy the books anytime. Hmm. I guess, if I have my friends with me, I will hit the Food Fest. I do love eating. No point giving a fake answer to this. Y’all won’t judge me. 😀

9. One good childhood memory.     Playing with all the roadie doggies around my then residences. 🙂 Rest in Peace, sweethearts.

10. Something that you are currently hooked on to. (For example, a book that you are currently reading, the Indian politics scene, some new dish that you recently ate, some blog that you recently discovered).     I am stuck with this book ‘Mrityunjay’ in Marathi. It is very tedious for me to read and it is a very heavy read. But whatever I am reading, is mindblowing. Also, addicted to American shows. Game of Thrones is a new discovery. Ooh, I am turning into a gym rat and loving my Belly Dancing classes. 😀

11. Any feedback about my blog (don’t worry about being nice, just be honest 🙂)     I really like how your blog sort of shows your friendly persona very clearly. It is a potpourri of your lifestyle, but so relate-able. But the best part is your picture! Girl-crushing on those kohl-ed eyes! 😀

C. Nominating fellow bloggers for the Liebster Award.


R’s Mom


Khayali Pulao




Pop Goes the Biscuit

Sanity Vows

Rubber Pal

Riddhi Roy

D. So, here are my 11 questions for you all:

1.       What is the significance behind your blog name/title and the name you have chosen(if) for yourself.

2.       What inspired you to start blogging?

3.       In your list of pictures, how many are selfies? 😀

4.       Name a place in India and one abroad that you really would want to visit or re-visit.

5.       What is your daytime job when you are not moonlighting as a ‘city vigilante’, err, or a blogger? (Sorry, just saw Spiderman2)

6.       What is the most amazing thing and the most annoying thing about yourself?

7.       What is the most amazing thing and the most annoying thing about the opposite sex?

8.       Everyone asks about love. I want to know how important do you think lust is in a relationship?

9.       What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

10.   How much time do you take to get ready for work?

11.   Last but not the least, where and how do you see yourself in ten years from now?

E. Shall do the needful… 😀


Tedha hai, par mera hai

During lunch yesterday, I was sitting in the break room with colleagues and friends. 1 Indian and 3 Vietnamese. Our talks were about very random things, and then veered towards girls getting paid to text Mr. Old Moneybags. I have heard that it is just texting and no adult conversation involved. Apparently, they just want to talk and have a mentally stimulating conversation with educated girls. Weird.

As background, let me tell you that one of the Vietnamese girls is married to an Indian, a Bombay Gujarati boy. Her Mother in Law is here visiting right now. She started telling us about how her MIL is a vegetarian and doesn’t work and women in India arent allowed to work. I jumped in right there with a big Nooooooooo! I said that was or is in only the super traditional families. Or some women genuinely don’t want to work, they prefer being homemakers, eg. my cousin bhabhi. Then somehow the talk took a turn towards the movie ‘Water’ where they have shown the plight of young widows, new widows, old widows. The movie is a very true portrayel of womanhood, in my opinion. Yet I chimed in and said how pathetic the situation was, but there are people trying to improve it and there are improvements. Then she told about similar situations in Vietnam where young girls were sold off with a moneyback guarantee by the poor families. Human trafficking is rampant in the developing/under-developed countries and it is very hard to put a check on it. The need for food, clean water, and a roof on the head makes people do things way beneath human dignity.

I agreed to everything, but I realised one thing. I am extremely protective towards India’s image. It is like, I will say anything about my country. But you say something, and I will break your face. I don’t hide behind unicorns and rainbows when it comes to facing the grim realities, but I hate the generalization that happens when non Indians talk about my country. They don’t know about India. They don’t understand that there are many little countries within this giant country. I do not disagree that the general status of women is more like a commodity and something to lech at, but I still hate that when I talk about my life in my city, some of my friends here tell that it must be so scary and dangerous. :-/

I do not pooh-pooh away the fact that most families cannot afford a decent square meal a day. But it makes me angry when people wonder in front of me about why anyone would want to move back leaving USA and the cushy job. I am perfectly aware of the inflation and the sluggish industrial pace my country is facing, but heck, if you don’t know that India has very good job prospects, you are living under a rock.

If you ask me, I can list down 10 bad things about India. And about the USA. Also, I can list down 20 great things about India, and the USA. Comparing India and the USA is like comparing apples to oranges. Both are so vastly different with so many goods and bads. Specially, India is an absolutely different culture than any other country. It can be very overwhelming, even for Indians when they are moving to another location within the country itself. Let us cut it some slack. We are positive about things. There will be marked improvements in the coming years.

So, do not speak about how bad India is. Only I am allowed to say that.


Guest Post : By the Father

I have something very special to present here. My father saw the movie Queen two days back and told me about it. He was telling me what he felt about the movie and I told him to jot it down. He very kindly agreed to write down a guest post about it for my blog. I have told him that I shall convey to him all the comments and critiquing he receives. 


Yesterday I watched a movie titled “Queen”. It was a very pleasant experience.

It set my thinking rolling at a furious pace. I was thrilled to see the metamorphosis of a young girl from a timid, obedient daughter (meek submission personified) into a grown up liberated, confident woman and behold! With the help of totally unknown roommates.

I now fully agree with Chetan Bhagat when he wrote about this movie that every single girl or woman has a “queen” hidden inside and they must discover it and liberate themselves.

My mind started thinking about marriages in my community and in relatives. In most of the cases if not in all, the parents marry off their daughter without any specific reason. I am sure they do not have any clear reasoning in their mind except perhaps the age old traditions. If you ask them they will come out with one of those points like she is now grown up, all her friends have got married, what will people say if we don’t marry her off now etc. etc. There is no thought about what the girl thinks or what is the thinking level their  future husband possesses.

The girls also being obedient daughters, as they are taught to be, go along with parents’ wish and get married. Again without any clear thoughts. They feel happy to fulfil their parents’ wish and land up in a state of long term slavery called married life. They analyse very superficially about the boy whether he is worthy of being called the life partner is true sense.

The boy has been given authority by our society to be a psycho supported by his parents. The modern looking boy and his progressing thinking parents suddenly take 90 degrees turn and become very conservative while selecting a girl for marriage.

Most of the new age boys start pointing out shortcomings of their wives and autocratically imposing their likes and dislikes on the hapless girl ruining the most sensitive and precious time in the life of young couple. The in laws of the girl put all the responsibility of our great culture and traditions on the newly arrived daughter in law. There are numerous cases around us of women giving up their earlier free life, their hobbies, their passions and leading a wretched, oppressed life. A mere mention of their earlier likes or hobbies by anybody makes them depressed.

I am not sure whether majority of the boys understand the meaning of equality, partnering for life, individual freedom or woman empowerment leave alone practicing these.

It’s time to think whether to subject our daughters to this kind of married life or to train them and allow them to think differently and independently. Why not to leave this all important decision of life to them? Why not to allow them tread their own path by brushing aside the ever lingering thought of “what will people say!”

As responsible, educated parents we owe this to our beloved daughters.


Vote hai toh hot hai

Most of the people I know did an incredibly wonderful job of exercising their right to vote. I am happy that even if most of my Facebook friendlist is suffering from some sort of Party-fandom, they are atleast becoming more politically aware. The real knowledge and an open mind will come eventually to all of us. These are baby steps, and they are pleasing me. Most of my friends voted. A couple of people I know did not, because they think they could not vote since their home towns were different. A guy I am very good friends with said that he did not vote because his name will appear in Jalgaon. I am not sure what makes him think that because he has been living in Pune since years! My friends who just moved to Bangalore in Nov, or just moved back to India, could register and vote! Well, actually, knowing him, he can be really incredibly stubborn and the least bothered to find out the process to vote. Hmmpphh… :-/

 My parents went out to vote really early in the morning. My mum informed me how Kothrud had the second highest turnout in Pune after Kasba Peth. *Pumping fist in the air*. Yet, Pune had just an average turnout. A lot of youngsters who have just stepped out of their teenage years, went to vote. I believe they were lured out more because of catchy slogans and the urge to post their inked finger on Instagram. Search #gotinked and you will know! 😀 But whatever works! Atleast it is a step forward. 

My mom told me about three people who did not vote. We have a neighbor, who I will call R aunty, about 60 years of age.. My mom said she said she is not going to vote. She believes nothing happens by voting. What will one person’s vote do. My mom told her to atleast go and click ‘None of the above’ if you feel no one is worthy. But she just refused. “I don’t want to do even that”. My mom said she can be very very stubborn. ‘Adiyal’ is the word in hindi. Then another neighbor who celebrated her 30th birthday yesterday and recently got married, N, she mentioned to mom that she wonders if her name would be there or not, she wasn’t sure. She wasn’t even sure of the procedure to register. According to my mother, she really lacks any knowledge of current affairs. She doesn’t subscribe to newspapers and doesn’t watch news. Whenever her brother comes for a visit from the UK, he is the one who starts a paper subscription. All this is pretty much expected from her. The third person is our maid, S. Her reason was that her husband said that there is no need to do it. Again, one person not voting or voting does not make a difference. My mother somehow told her that India has given one single and only good right to the people, and that is to exercise our vote, and she doesn’t want to do that also! But then her husband has the last word. *Shaking my head*

I looked at all these three women and realized they come from different backgrounds, are of different ages, and have a very different status from each other. Yet, their awareness level is so low. Sure, things haven’t improved in the past. But what makes them have that attitude that it just will not happen? One small little right has been granted to us, and they want to give it away. Clearly, just being highly educated isn’t everything. I hope sometime in their lives, they will understand this small responsibility of being a citizen.

As for me, I have signed every petition I have come across to make the Indian govt make amendments and give Indians living abroad the chance to vote. The PM proclaims that NRIs are very important and there are Pravasi Bhartiya days organized. The Supreme Court directive that the EC should look at ways to make sure that NRIs get a chance to vote even if they are not physically present in their constituencies, is a very hopeful sign. It will not be possible this time, because the elections are already underway, but atleast should be on for the next elections. It is a welcome break from the usual ‘Indians living abroad gave up on India’ opinion. Yes, I know people who put up statuses on FB ridiculing us students or workers for being vocal about politics. I just roll my eyes and move onto the next item on my newsfeed. This article will shed more light on the topic of NRI votes. I have voted before when I was in India for the state elections, and I hope I can always do it.

Anyways, as I mentioned earlier, these are baby steps. And baby steps are so much better than no steps at all. So I am happy.


All things shaadi

I was talking to my mum the other day and I mentioned to her how all beauty blogs mention that girls should start using anti-ageing skincare after 25. And I  am 26.5. I told her that I just learned washing my face properly and it is time already to begin worrying about my crow’s feet, laugh lines, sparrow beaks etc. I made up the sparrow beak part. I know it is not funny. But sparrows are cute. Anyways, I digress. She took the whole thing as ‘that is why girls should get married before their skin starts to sag’ lecture opportunity. My mom is sort of giving me time to ‘normalize my heart’ by November and then she will go get my name jotted down in some Marathi boy search registries. I shouldn’t even be calling it boy search because everybody knows a Marathi Manoos is well, so not a boy. The very thought makes me cry. I need a boy toy, stat!

I am just not ready to get married. But the weird thing is I love everything about a wedding. Except the spending money part and the getting married to a stranger part. My heart feels very torn between wanting a Yash Chopra style shaadi and wanting to do a simple arya samaj wedding to cut expenditure. I just love reading wedding blogs. I was obsessed with Mehak’s bridal files, and I would read and re-read her posts a couple of times in a day. And the woman went ahead and created this huge website called Wed Me Good to feed my obsession even more! Her website is fabulous! It has everything from clothes to photographers to makeup to invitations, and listed according to cities. Even though her lowest range is probably twice the amount I am willing to spend on my own wedding, I cannot stop myself from drooling over the stuff.  Her blog and some more blogs are responsible for the horrible tug of war in my head, between pretty shiny things and the desire to stay unmarried.

Even if I decide to go all out, Maharashtrians are not known to buy 50k worth of ONE SINGLE lehenga for ONE SINGLE use. I don’t even have siblings to re-use my piece of bling. We do not have Karwa Chauth or Teej. Most likely, I will be living in the States for some time atleast after marriage(if it happens). So it is totally pointless to collect Indian wear as trousseau. It will end up as a decoration for my wardrobe, but shut inside the suitcase. Also, what do I do with the 6 chip n dip trays and 12 vases that I will receive in my wedding? My cousin did a smart thing. She requested everyone to not give her sarees or suits or anything, and to give her cash only if they wanted to gift her something. She ended up making the guests partly sponsor their own dinners. 😀 Veeerryyy smart indeed, especially for the Baby Atyas and Mangal Kakus and Madhukar Mamas I will most likely meet after 20 years and for probably the last time ever. I love Indian weaves and the traditional sarees. I like the chiffons and silks equally. The Bandhanis, Leheriyas, Kanjeevarams, Paithanis are so gorgeous! It makes me super sad that I can’t get a collection of my own pretty sarees and jewelery because I am a lousy dresser. I have such pretty things in my closet, but yet I tend to wear the same t-shirt and shorts/jeans wherever I go. I am not even thinking about all the beautiful jewelry I want but I know I will never use it again. It makes me cry.

One thing that I learned after perusing these wedding blogs like they were a part of my syllabus was that there are several chapters dedicated to ‘candid photographers’. Basically candid photographers take pictures of random things like your kajaled eyes, earring, feet, your laughing face, your husband looking far away at your choli clad cousin, yawning, picking your nose and such stuff. The pictures are all touched up and look simply amazing. It is like Instagram on crack, where your new saree is made to look old and your face glows like a million bulbs put together. The groom is usually overlooked and the pictures are all about the bride. Well, lets face it, shaadis are about the brides. Even I sort of want such a photographer. But holy molly! They charge around my month’s paycheck before taxes. When I get married(again, if I do) I will call my friend Abhi9, feed him very good food, maybe sponsor a Goa trip for him and make him take my random pictures and re-touch them. This is also what some blogs suggest, to enlist a friend’s help :). Problem solved!

So so so many more aspects to a wedding ceremony, all beautiful though! While writing this, I remembered this Tanishq ad where the girl is very resistant about meeting a guy but warms up to the idea after trying on some wedding jewelry. I have a strong feeling that my mom is using the same technique by mentioning her P.N. Gadgil visits and showing me saree and anarkali ad cuttings. I am still extremely resistant about getting married and will continue till I feel ready. Till then, I will satisfy my pretty-stuff-cravings on Wed Me Good. Adios, amigos.



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.


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.


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.