Monday, September 26, 2011
It really is hard to stay mad when there is so much beauty in this world.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
While the subject of his book is building a room from scratch, it reminded me of my daily cooking. I think of cooking as something that I do to get away from thoughts, and into the physical world. The food I make exists in real life, in a way that my research does not. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
And like Michael Pollan, I too found it difficult to get away from the world of words. The cooking hobby leads to reading cooking blogs, tips, stories. And to forming communities of people sharing grocery shopping, menu plans, and success recipes.
Pollan finishes the roof, walls, windows, but eventually concludes that a thing you build is never complete. Reality changes you just like you changed the dream into literal existence. The journey, destination, and meaning of existence get intertwined along the way, until you are defined by the thing you were trying to define.
A thought-provoking read. (Thanks Wolf for a neat gift.)
Thursday, July 07, 2011
The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun. Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you. As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that.” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?
The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own. If I start a scene with “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you just say, “Yeah…” we’re kind of at a standstill. But if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “What did you expect? We’re in hell.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth,” now we’re getting somewhere. To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.
The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person. That person is a drag. It’s usually the same person around the office who says things like “There’s no calories in it if you eat it standing up!” and “I felt menaced when Terry raised her voice.”
MAKE STATEMENTS also applies to us women: Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice. Instead of saying “Where are we?” make a statement like “Here we are in Spain, Dracula.” Okay, “Here we are in Spain, Dracula” may seem like a terrible start to a scene, but this leads us to the best rule:
THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities. If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what? Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel. I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up being a police hamster who’s been put on “hamster wheel” duty because I’m “too much of a loose cannon” in the field. In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents. And many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.
I love Tina Fey, and Bossypants was a great book. Her "prayer for my daughter" is already doing the internet rounds, but this passage really appealed to me, mostly because I think its a great philosophy. So the next time someone asks me to do something "crazy", I'm totally saying "yes, and ..."
* Improv will not reduce belly fat.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Friday, March 04, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The first piece of furniture my parents bought themselves was a dining table. It was the most useful thing they could think of buying. It was used to study, stack books, work, cut vegetables, write letters, organize bills, make art projects for school, and of course, to eat dinner together. That table lasted us 30 years – with one re-lamination of the surface along the way.
TJ and I just bought our first piece of furniture too – and I hope we have ours for the same time as well.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The grass was warm, the breeze was cool, and you could almost hear the kids playing and running around through the park (there weren't any kids though).
There was a smile on my face. And TJ next to me. It was the perfect afternoon.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
I could never be good. This feeling of badness lives in every part of my being. Call it anxiety or despair. Call it guilt or shame. It occupies me everywhere. The older, seemingly clearer and wiser I get, the more devious, globalized and terrorist the badness becomes.
-- 'The Good Body' by Eve Ensler.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Tejaswi came to Chicago on Friday morning, and we met up in the afternoon, once my meetings were done. Thanks to all the Valentine day hoopla, we had got gifts for each other - I had got him an early easter egg and a cute blue toy for the child in him, and he got me magnetic jewellery. We met Sandeep in the evening, and went to Devon street and the magnificient mile.
On Saturday, we mostly did good food - Victory's Banner, where pretty women in sarees served us french toast and uppama, and Bongo room, with the gorgeous corner table and sunlight. We ended the day with dinner at a Moroccan restaurant, which had the best "Indian-ish" food I have ever had, and beer tasting at Goose Island.
Sunday started with a walk to the Greek village for some delicious Kasseri and Feta artopita, while we waited out our hour long wait for breakfast at Meli's. We then went to Millenium park and took some touristy pics, before going off to the art museum to look at all their Monet paintings (they have so many more than the MET !) And on our way back to the airport, we decided to stop at the very interesting looking Earwax cafe for an evening snack with Sandeep.
Chicago was cold, but gorgeous. Since I was on holiday, I splurged and decided to waste a lot of water on my very first (watermelon flavored) bubble bath. The sun was fine, the food was awesome, and the company was the best. Lets hope for more holidays very soon.
Friday, August 21, 2009
There are countless more of course, and every time I watch one of these, I feel happy for the people on screen, but it also makes me feel empty. My life seems so slow in comparison, without such intense moments, where you make silly faces to see your shadows in the sun or put atta on the love of your life. It seems full of classes, and experiment running, and cooking and eating out at random places, and planning and grocery shopping.
But last week, I sat and visualized the "high points" of my life - times spent laughing with friends, planning surprise parties, traveling together, playing antakshari, and I realized that "my song" was much bigger and more intense and more fun than the stuff I saw on screen - its just that putting the video together takes so much more time. In fact, the New York trips alone made for enough footage for an entire movie - I just wish I could have recorded it and kept it in my memory forever. :)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Coming out of the LCC to see your friends waiting there.
Watching Pinky apply eye-liner. Learning tips from Chandini about make-up/fashion/life.
Matunga roads. Phone conversations.
That first crush - of that first crush.
Mom shouting that "its 2 am, who are you talking to?" Replying "noone, its the television noise".
The sofa, the red sofa? Monginis pastries.
Truly, madly, deeply.
Srihari, Horizons, and the rock band.
The park with the kids and the little boy who pulled his pants down.
The sitting place under the bridge at Matunga station.
Missing the rain dance.
Missing the gang of 14.
"Forgetting" the trip to Lonavala. Getting thrown into the pool in jeans.
The extremely dumb Valentine's day gifts. The 45 minute wait.
Agrawal classes. Not eating Monginis pastries on the way back.
The queue in SIES for paying fees with Shawn.
Physics lab. Chemistry lab.
Shopping at Bandra.
beautiful_18f. McDonalds, and my purple stripe tshirt with dark blue flared pants. My soft toy?
Singing Eminem in engineering admission lines.
That horrendous brown gown. The first (and only) spaghetti.
The HN forest.
The end of innocence. It all starts with a smile :)
Thursday, July 30, 2009
But why can't Geeta ? She is Delhi-educated too, she believes in equality of the gender, and abolishing the caste system, she believes in making a difference, trying to improve the country etc. etc.
Then why can she not be the person to get new students to school, convince the village elders to let lower caste children study in the same school or anything useful in the village? Why does she have to be a side-prop, who does nothing more than give speeches to potential husbands? He even has to save the school that she runs !
Its a good movie, but this fact annoys me too much to enjoy the movie.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
If the vote gets accepted, maybe kids in school will be taught the 10 Facebook principles of:
- Freedom to Share and Connect
- Ownership and Control of Information
- Free Flow of Information
- Fundamental Equality
- Social Value
- Open Platforms and Standards
- Fundamental Service
- Common Welfare
- Transparent Process
- One World
P.S. : I voted for the new statement, simply because it states that the IP of content posted to facebook will belong to the users. It bothered me though that the new site governance policies also say that facebook reserves the right to not acknowledge that some content is a paid-for service or an advertisement, even though I have no clue whether this is a standard practice for all websites.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
You can't help but feel for Kate Winslet as she wishes to get out of her current life, as she hopes that Paris will be the thing that will revive her life, her marriage, bring her and her husband closer to the destiny they deserve.
You can't help but wonder whether Leonardo DiCaprio deserves all of this, as he tries to get out of work, sleeps with some other woman, complains about his job, and generally gets disinterested in making more out of his life.
But then he gets a chance to be inspired, a chance to be something bigger than who is he right now, and unfortunately, his chance is not Kate's chance. She will remain there, in the same place, with the same things, the dream of Paris just a dream.
And it hurts. On so many levels, that even 10 days after watching the movie, I can still cry for her.
I'm sorry Kate that things didn't work out as planned. You were a free spirit, you deserved more of life than you got. I wish this was just a story, I wish that as I watched the movie, I didn't feel for all the people who's lives this must have been, wanting, deserving, but not getting.
Revolutionary Road is truly a must watch.
Its a short story book, and the title story is about a woman, who walks out of her weight watchers meeting, and decides to eat whatever she wants, the whole day. She gets a dozen donuts (each one described in exquisite detail), hot dogs, a bacon cheeseburger with fries, malted chocolate, cheetos, icecream, steak, apple crisp and crumb topped cherry pie, a martini, baked potato with butter, bacon, and sour cream; and every piece of food she puts in her mouth is described with wonder and happiness. She even describes the joy of eating unhealthy food as almost sexual (but more yeasty and better).
I suddely realized what kind of a story it is - its like food porn - you watch someone fulfilling your deepest desires, and wish that you were getting some of that action too. And it struck me how just imagining someone eat all that awesome food made me happy, even though it really should have left me wanting it myself.
I really liked the story, really liked the idea, but then I reached the end. Unlike sex, food cannot be just celebrated in a story without regret. You eat, you enjoy, but then you cry.
She said "I would like to end this by saying that it felt really good to cheat all day, to eat whatever I wanted. But it didn't. All that happened was that I felt hollow-eyed."
I'm sorry Elizabeth Berg, but there have been many many days in my life when I have eaten without regret, and I have been happy at the end of it. Happy to finish the entire chocolate bar, happy to sit with a pack of red-spicy banana wafers and finish it, happy to order a cheese pav-bhaji with extra butter pav and top it off with kulfi and falooda.
For someone who writes feel-good stories, how could you end your first story with a moral that eating good is bad ? How could you leave your readers with the guilt of that woman, with the shame of not being able to control themselves ? Do you think we are not mature enough to be able to recognize a fantasy for what it is? It felt like watching a porn video which ends with the stars regretting their ways and deciding to stay faithful from now on. Disappointing.
Friday, April 03, 2009
But best of all, the rains let you look up at the sky, without fear of being blinded for your arrogance. They make the sky seem a little more in reach, they let you hope for more.
Its raining here in Pittsburgh today, and I start afresh, with new promises, and new excitement. Maybe spring will be here quickly after all.
Monday, February 02, 2009
This was when we thought the match was over - the score was like 17-7. But it wasn't. The cardinals went on to make another touchdown in the 4th quarter, and then another in the last 2 minutes of play and pulled ahead to 23-20 ! And again, I thought the game was over - there were only 2 minutes left ! And again, it wasn't. With 35 seconds to go, the Steelers scored ! By then, all of us here were jumping and praying and screaming at the top of our lungs ! There were 35 seconds, and the Arizona Cardinals had to advance 60 yards, and they almost did - but not quite. (This time I didn't assume anything!) Till the last second, the fight was on for the championship, but a lucky break gave us the win !
The game tonight was really played right till the end - it was all about not freaking out about the clock, or about the huge lead the opposing team had. It was about the 100 yard sprint by Harrison, and the 64 yard sprint by Fitzgerald, the almost-out-of-the-line-but-not-quite catch by Holmes, and the really good defense that the Cardinals showed when the Steelers reached the goal line 3 minutes into the game, stopping them there for a field goal instead of a touchdown.
After the game, we went to UPitt, and watched the crowds go wild ! Lots of screaming and fireworks and bonfires, and totally wild stuff. There were like a million people there, waving their terrible towels, singing, blocking the roads, screaming, celebrating the win ! A lot of people broke road signs, and at least one guy climbed the traffic signal post, and upturned the traffic light. The police turned up eventually, and stood in front of the celebrating crowd, asking them to go off the road. But the people kept screaming, and eventually, the police had to back off ! That was one sight I had never imagined seeing in the US.
It was like an impromptu ganpati procession on the roads, all the noise and dancing, but unlike the ganpati crowd, this was a very well-behaved crowd towards other people.
Tonight was totally an awesome night ! I hope I get to see the steelers play again at the superbowl every year :)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Fear. Anger. Shame. I'm tired of feeling all of this. And more.
Is a sense of security in your own country too much to ask for? To know that even if people don't approve of your behavior, they will not attack you in the middle of the day? Even worse, that you will not be made an example to all other "people" of your kind - "lets beat five women up for talking to Muslim men as an example to all other women out there? "
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Q&A : Vikas Swarup - Requested by 32 people
Things I learned about my dad in therapy : Heather B. Armstrong - requested by 2
Waiter Rant : requested by 124 people
Brisingr : requested by 231
Dreams from my father : requested by 33
Daughters of India - requested by 2
I'm so glad the Carnegie Library is right next door - and I wish there were such libraries in India as well.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Singing aloud, pretending to be performing at a concert, slow dancing with an imaginary partner, dreaming about dreams I knew were going to be shattered very soon. Dreaming them cause even then, I could see that it would be the last time I would be thinking such thoughts, making such plans, knowing that one day I would look back and smile at my childish hopes and fears. They seemed so important then - I felt so misunderstood then. Life seemed so complicated, centered as it was around 12th, friends and love.
I think there's something you should knowFreedom indeed.
I think it's time I told you so
There's something deep inside of me
There's someone else I've got to be
Friday, January 09, 2009
I'm glad I started this, and I hope I continue for a long time.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
But the US changed all that. I met people from other cultures, who ate much unheathier "home made" food, and others who ate much healthier food. I started wondering why "we Indians" always overcook our vegetables. Why "we(I)" need so much salt, why I always want food with more ghee and more spices. I thought about eating less cooked veggies, less salt, more "lentils" ...
I worry so much more about food now than I ever did. I now wonder what the side-effect of all this worrying is. And thus the cycle of positive reinforcement begins?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Looked at the prices of tickets to India. For different dates, different websites.
Wondered what could be, how I could be at home.
I searched, even though I knew I have a deadline, and I can't go home.
I searched, even though I knew all flights will be ridiculously expensive.
I searched, even though I knew it will not be practical for me to go to India for a few more months.
Its at times like these when I hate myself for being a practical person.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Given the Thanksgiving break and limited resources on campus please feel free to contact ... (people and phone numbers)
I trust the support of friends here on campus or at home is a source of comfort and I encourage you to rely on others as needed. Again, our sympathies are with you and we welcome the opportunity to assist."
Its Thanksgiving, and still someone cared to arrange people to call, and mail people. :)
1993, 2003, 2006, 2008.
Bangalore, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mumbai.
Whats happening to our country ? How do we fix this ?
Friday, November 14, 2008
When I am lying in bed, just about to fall asleep, I wonder about Om and Ishwar - how much they saw, how much they hoped. I wonder what they felt all that struggle was worth.
I think about the book, and feel miserable even now. Hurt for the characters, for their families, for the rest of our country, and I wish, like a small child, that things got better. The last time I connected so much with a book was Shantaram, but at least Shantaram was a happy book. It gave me things to think about, and also to hope for.
A fine balance, on the other hand, left me wanting. Wanting a parent to come and fix this world now. Wanting to not take responsibility for what I see in our world, yet left me knowing that I must - who will, if not us?
Highly highly recommended.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Microbe Hunters gave me hope. Hope that different kinds of people can succeed at the same thing. Hope that if you keep pushing at the rock, it will move - one inch at a time. And it showed me a completely new way to think and write about research. After all, isn't it about the people as much as about the scientific method?
It is an old old book - it was written way back in 1926, and its supposed to have the racist undertones of its times. But its such a beautiful book, so passionate, and exciting, that how does it matter, that 80 years ago, the author thought the white man was supreme ?