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Archive for the ‘Its a Wonderful Life’ Category

Tune Jo Na Kaha, from New York (rendered by Mohit Chauhan)

I had the chance today to return to my campus after the span of a year, which is a long time when you consider the chunk of time we as students spend in our college campuses. I always loved my college campus. As I’ve written elsewhere, I also grew to be deeply affectionate and grateful for my college itself, and the time I spent there was something I’ll never regret. My best memories are of the wonderful people I met there, my best friends, who are still such a constant part of my life.

And so, invariably, while walking those familiar paths I know so well, while taking the shortcuts and walking in and out of hallways and meeting dear professors and old colleagues, a deep nostalgia set in. Walking past the flowerbeds, around the fountain, down to the quad and past the green fields…walking past benches my friends and I had often accosted, past hillsides we had rolled down or just sat and chatted, past halls where we’d gather to do our homework, past the campus coffee house…past all these places that brought to life so many memories. I could almost see us there, almost see ghostly selves wandering around with me. I was struck with this deep longing of going back to that time. I wanted so much to be, once again, one of these students who walked around with a sense of belonging and a sense of ‘owning’ the place, which was something that had once belonged to me. Just for a day, I wanted to be the college student I was eighteen months ago, running around with a hundred things to do, holding on to a gigantic book and constantly smiling and waving at acquaintances as they passed me by. Stopping for a quick chat with a friend at the fountain. Taking a breather in the late afternoon at the park and watching the ducks go by. For one day, I wanted to go back to that time, or rather, to that feeling. It hasn’t been that long since I left that phase of my life, and yet, I already wanted to revisit it.

I got back to the car and, while driving around the campus, impulsively decided to visit a Chinese restaurant that was a favorite joint back in the day. A few of my friends loved this place, and I loved its dumplings and hot and sour soup. I wasn’t especially hungry; I simply wanted to relive that time, that taste, those late night take outs. I just wanted to vividly taste that past.

So I walked in and ordered dumplings and the hot and sour soup, and some veggie lo mein to go. All for still the same low cheap student price I remembered. And I sat down, contented and retrospective, to wait.

Ten minutes later a plate of the most unhappy dumplings I have ever seen were brought out. The soup looked attractive, but the dumplings were dumpy and soggy. Nevertheless, I dug in with enthusiasm. The dumplings lived up to their appearance: they were less than mediocre and not at all what I remembered. I had to slosh them in soy sauce for some flavor, and even then I managed only three. Turning more hopefully to the soup, I took a big gulp, almost burning my mouth, tasting something that can only be described as gelatinous water mixed with chili. It was, honestly, terrible. I only managed a few more bites before I just gave up completely, and sat there trying to figure out what had happened…

Did this food, which I once enjoyed so much, deteriorate in its quality? In one year, especially in the past economically turbulent year, had the owners compromised on the taste of their dishes? Had the chef changed?

Or was it that over the past year, my experiences with authentic food all over Asia and tasting true Chinese food had completely changed my expectations? Had the food always been this bad and I just didn’t know better?

I can’t tell you which one is true here, but while I sat there debating this, I took one more bite of the soup (since I hate wasting food) and the intense heat was like a slap that made things clearer. I’m always asking for signs and lessons from the universe and here was a huge one staring me right in the face. I had spent the afternoon mourning for a phase of my life that had passed by for good. I had been indulging myself in nostalgia, wishing myself back to a time that I had already moved on from. And the terrible food of this restaurant, which was just part of that mosaic from the past, was a reminder that I can’t go back. Here, in an unappealing manner on my plate, was clear evidence that I could never go back, and that my life had moved on (as it should).

It was in no way a sad realization. It came in the form of a calm, matter-of-fact, sensible voice, and it made sense. Yes, my collegiate life was beautiful…it had its ups and downs, its emotions and its upheavals, its celebrations and its joy. But…its over. And in the time that has followed I have had experiences of a completely different kind, amazing, wonderful, influential experiences that have changed my life. I differ greatly, in a very good way,  from the girl who came in as a freshman into this campus. I changed over my years as a student, and when I left, I continued to change, and life continued to move, faster than I could ever have imagined. It did for all of us, we all changed, we all moved on, and in the last month I had had the pleasure of seeing all my dear friends and being proud of the lives they are leading, the people they have become. I am grateful for and proud of the person I myself am today. I am wiser, I am calmer, I am more at peace with who I am than that child scurrying around campus. I am at terms with my scars, even proud to show them off, and so much more confident about where I am leading myself and all I want to do. Sure, I am moving onto another phase where I have again so much to learn, where I’ll crash and burn, where I’ll start from scratch and struggle and suffer, where there will be umpteen challenges…but it is still my future, and I will still be eager to be in it.

I can’t ask for the past to come back. I can cherish my memories, but I can’t, and I shouldn’t, try to relive them. That period should be remembered with joy, but never with longing or with a pointless desire to return, because my world has moved on. Just as we shouldn’t regret the past, we also shouldn’t hold it by its coat strings and beg it to take us back when the brilliant surprise of our future is waiting solemnly, hands entwined with the present, waiting for our attention. After all, that is where my attention is deserved.

It doesn’t matter what the real reason behind the disappointing taste of the soup or the dumplings may have been. The fact, I know, is that it wasn’t meant to taste the same to me. That time had changed, that person had changed, and so the taste, too, had changed. It was a sign, or rather, a marker in time.

And so I took a last look at the left overs, smiled, and left, driving away from the city in the late afternoon sun, peaceful with this new knowledge and a true sense of closure.

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Its my birthday! Birthdays are usually rough on me: I always get a little gloomy and moody, one, because getting older isn’t fun, and two, and probably the bigger reason, because they get over so fast and you know it and you can’t stop it and then its all gone for another year. Yep, I sound like a kid (I swear I’m not one, though ;)). Regardless of all of that, I’m glad to have another eventful year behind me and I’m excited about the year ahead, which starts in full swing next Sunday. I’ve had a great birthday so far (its been two hours) and I have great hopes for the whole day and the entire week and the whole year! With everyone’s love and blessings and best wishes, it’ll be a wonderful, exciting, enriching, surprising, beautiful year, and I’ll come back from my adventures a better, stronger, wiser, and ‘older’ person 🙂

Thanks to everyone whose already called/texted/sent cards, and thanks in advance to everyone who will wish me today! I love you all and I’m grateful to have you, and appreciate your thoughtful wishes!

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Meherbaan, A.R. Rahman, from Ada

All the time until I finally leave for HK is going to be very, very busy. Its already been quite full, although I’ve had more than my share of lazing around and aimlessly youtubing videos (speaking of which, I’m addicted to 우리 결흔했어요 (We Got Married): its reality television you can watch without guilt! Like most Korean reality shows! ). Anyway, while this is a period of exciting changes and new beginnings for my family, it is also somewhat scary, worrisome, like all change is.

Right now I’m mainly focused on figuring out all the wedding arrangements. Now that some of the stuff has gone into place, I’m a little relieved, but until we move the rest isn’t really going to happen. At the same time, working on the wedding and the house has taken away from my work out time, and this was meant to be the get in shape once and for all summer (is that at all possible anyway?). It is too darn hot, for one thing, it just makes me sick to step out. Second, I can’t do work out videos in an apartment which is for one, upstairs, and also full of chaos. Its too crazy. If things get chaotic or too messy, my way is to just completely give up and go into ennui. It makes no sense and it doesn’t help, but its a desperate solution. Right now, I know we will move soon and also I will pack up and leave soon, so it makes me want to bother less. And I do bother less. Argh vicious illogical cycles.

I’ve booked my ticket to HK, which is exciting, and which makes it very real. I’ve also been confirmed for housing. Its an expensive room, but cheap for HK, and its on campus which I wanted for the communality, and at the same time its a single with its own bathroom (I like me privacy). I’ve been in touch with some people, which is a little comfort, especially the fellow Scholars going to HK. They seem like nice, intelligent and social people, just my type, and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them. So far, I don’t feel very nervous, just a little tense of all the stuff I have to figure out (like darn visas, and insurances and stuff), but I think the closer it’ll get the more I’ll be apprehensive since I’m practically moving there. I’m used to living away, but living with the knowledge that I can’t run anywhere to family in a 40 mile radius is new. Its a little exciting, but very strange too.

I’m now brainstorming for ideas for my travel blog. I decided a brand new blog would be apt, but I’m now not sure if I want it to be under this blog or just a whole new niche. Lets see what I do with that. I’d probably continue to blog on this for more general stuff and my opinions on other non-HK-living stuff, but I’d like to devote the other blog just to my time there and my experiences and adventures.

A couple of things that have made me quite happy recently:

*Ada…the new A.R. Rahman album, from which I’ve posted the song Meherbaan. Its a great album, though there are certain songs that, while being very Rahmanish, are also not clear on their inspiration. Tu Mera Hai has a very 90s feel, as does Milo Wahan Wahan, they’re somewhat unusual and not something you’re used to hearing nowadays. I enjoyed Hawa Sun Hawa the most, undoubtedly. Sonu Niigam is in full form, and Alka Yagnik’s voice is like sweet honey, but not too sweet. The lyrics aren’t spectacular, but it makes up for that with emotion. Meherbaan has Rahman’s voice, which surprises you again. How does the man change his voice to suit the style so well? So very different from Khwaja, yet still similar in the sense that Meherbaan too is filled with words I cannot understand. The song plays on the relationships between words and symbols and metaphors, so I miss out on many, but the ones I do get are lovely (this is not a direct translation, just the lines I really love. Thanks to Bhabhi :D)

Tu Hai Zabaan, Main Hoon Bayaan (You are the language, I am the speech)

Tere Bina Main Hoon Bezameen/Tere Bina Main Beaasmaan

(Without you, I am without land. Without you I am without sky)

Tu Hai Nadiya Main Hoon Sangam (You are the River, I am the Union)

Tu Hatheli, Main Hoon Henna (You are the Palm, I am the Henna)

Tu Hai Nazar, Main Nazara (You are the Eyes, I am the View)

Tu Hai Saagar, Main Kinara (You are the Sea, I am the Shore)

Aren’t those lovely?

Gulfisha is another notable Sonu Niigam number, where he’s in full flirtatious form, and as my chingu S said, I have no idea what gulfisha means, but we is sure loving the song! Hai Dard sounds great with Udit Narayan, who I haven’t heard in a while so can enjoy more now (distance makes the heart fonder?). It is overall quite an impressive album, and as always it amazes and astounds you that Rahman has so much talent that he can make every album, every song, sound so different, unique, with its own qualities and its own life, so to speak. Like my dad said, it makes you wonder how a human is created in this world.

*I am America, and So Can You! I finally got my copy of the legendary book by Stephen Colbert, finally being able to afford my very own copy, and I am beyond thrilled. And it is more than I could ever have wanted. Pages and pages of the grand wisdom, in your face, no words minced mouthiness of the great Colbert. It has me rolling on the ground in laughter, and it just cannot be explained just how great this book is, from the titles the footnotes to the disclaimers and stickers. It is brimming with Colbert’s greatness (quite literally), and I suggest that if you haven’t, you go out and buy yourself a copy this minute. Or many. And remember to stick up the sign to let firefighters know to save your copies. This is worth more than its weight in diamonds. 🙂

I’m going to now go look for a creative name for ze travel blog. Whee!

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Solely music-related post.

One, I can’t thank Javabeans enough for this post on Yi Sung Yol, its like a gift for us information-starved fans. http://www.dramabeans.com/2008/06/profilegiveaway-2-yi-sung-yol/

It has so much information on his music, his background with UMe&Blue, his personal journey and insight into his own music, and is just a fantastic read. Best of all, she translated 20 versus 30, one of my favorite songs. How amazing is that. I was so thrilled I think I shouted involuntarily (only a few artists can bring out the fan girl in me). And to top things off, I was a winner of the giveaway! Woooohhoooo! That means I get the first CD 🙂 Thanks so much Javabeans! Please check out this article if you’d come here looking for information on him, I’m sure you’ll appreciate it as much as I have.

Also, Mary R commented on one of my YSY posts (thanks!) and gave me some more news: http://www.kome-world.com/uk/article.php?id=142 He was awarded the Musician of the Year Award for In Exchange and also the Best Modern Rock Single at the Korean Music Awards. Yes! It pleases me that he’s getting these awards and recognition: couldn’t go to a better, more-deserving artist. His music just blows our minds away!

Two, I have yet to describe my trip to California, in which I had gallons of fun and was quite the traveler and adventurer. One of the best bits was our last-moment trip to Oakland to catch Summer Beats 2008, the amazing concert with Atif Aslam, Kailash Kher, Richa Sharma and Amanat Ali (who, I’m sorry to say, should have spent more time backstage observing his sunbaes than on stage). How do I begin? Amanat Ali wasted too much time. But then Richa Sharma struck just the right tone with Saawariya as she gracefully came on stage. Her Dama Dum Mast Kalandar was a bit too much the fourth time around (there really was no need, especially since it wasn’t her song anyway), but she did a medley of some of her best intros (Jag Soona, etc). I wish they’d have cut her by just 2-3 minutes. Next tiny Kailash Kher with his big beautiful voice walks on. He was so short, I was totally not expecting that! But he makes up for what he lacks in height with his powerful voice. He picked great songs, starting with Sajna Tere Bina, going on to Chak De from Khosla ka Ghosla, and singing his two beautiful hits, Teri Deewani and Saiyyan (I’m so crazy with this song right now). The dancers were just amazing too, they did a beautiful, fitting sequence in Teri Deewani, making the whole song amazing. He got the audience involved, introduced his band Kailasa, and was so genial and funny that it was definitely worth it. He was probably the best performer of the night.

Kailasa-Saiyyan (Jhoomo Re)

And then, onto the main event (atleast for me), but thanks to the stupid MC and Amanat, the rockstar of the night Atif Aslam only got like 25 minutes (and he was not happy about that). After commenting on the time he got right into it though, and kept it high energy the entire 25 minutes, ending rather abruptly. Atif is truly a rockstar, and he showed his colors. It was amazing. I always think that a concert is worth your money if you see something you’d never get on a good pair of speakers, and clearly Atif thinks the same (see, we’re made for each other), because he did his most famous songs with variations, did guitar solos, threw in some crazy rockstar moves. Of course, to see him live and realize that the man actually is that damn good looking has its advantages to it too. And yes, when he lets go of his cool dudeness and smiles, it is so, so, worth it. (Hold on a minute while I reminisce…)

The big drawback: the sound quality was bad in the theatre. Atif sings really close to the mike (just like John Mayer and YSY: I see a pattern here!), and the sound system wasn’t set up for that. As a result his words weren’t clear, and sometimes there was feedback (not fun). When we did hear the words, it was interesting to note how different his enunciation is. He pronounces a lot of words with a strange accent, and a different emphasis, and really mouths them out. He’s born and raised and educated in Pakistan, so I’m pretty sure that just comes from his singing style, he just likes to really throw his words out there, and enunciate each one. Its hard to explain, you just have to hear him/see him in concert, but its unexpected. Ofcourse, I’m totally biased so I take the positive spin on that :). He sang his most popular songs, but left out Woh Lamhe and Doorie, but I think that was on purpose because he was a little miffed at the time he was left (I can totally understand that too: wth was it with the extra time given to others??). Pehli Nazar Mein: when he began, I think my heart skipped a beat. He started from the first stanza and the audience went crazy. He did variations of Aadat, and sang Tere Bin, which was a huge hit too.

The man sure keeps his energy up, and he has some freaking amazing guitar skills. The whole band does, and I kind of wish he had introduced the rest, atleast given them names, because he had some great talent in that group. He did one or two slow songs too, which included the pretty Kuch is Tarah, but not enough. I’m such a big fan of his deep, strong voice that I would have really liked to relish that for atleast a couple more songs, rather than the heavy rock star music and guitaring. I mean, I definitely loved the musical extras he gave the audience, but I longed for a little bit more of his voice. When I got back home, though, I realized his new album Meri Kahani was out. So apart from planning our wedding, I spent some time checking that out. Its recieved more criticisms than his last album (Doorie), because he’s totally changed his style. I didn’t like Doorie as much (except the title track), so I barely paid attention to those criticisms, and yes, I was right, his new explorations do more for me. Atif has ventured out of his usual, comfort zone, of which many were getting tired, and tried something new and different for him and his voice.

You may not be able to tell with this title song, but perhaps this next song, my favorite one (a duet with a Pakistani female singer, SKJ), will throw more light.

Atif Aslam-Kaun Tha (Meri Kahani)

This album has quite a few slow songs (yes!), leaning towards acoustic, giving his voice and the lyrics more space than his previous songs tended to. Also, more emphasis is given to a subdued, understated quality of his voice than to the power alone. As in, while his previous hits have relied on his high notes, the throwing out of his voice, Meri Kahani doesn’t do that as much, but tries to bring out the softness, huskiness and emotion in his voice. I’ve always felt Atif has a ‘tragic’ voice, which I find hard to explain, but its like that very first time you hear Aadat, or you hear Tere Bin, and you’re immediately drawn because he plays directly on the listener’s emotions. You feel his voice more, and the lyrics mean less. I’m not being fan-girly, because even when I don’t like his songs, I can appreciate the depth of his voice. So Meri Kahani tries to prove that his voice has more than the deep, tragic, low facet…he has more talent than just stretching the note.

On the negative side, this means some of his songs are not as clear, he seems to mumble or they are just too soft to win over the guitar. Also, the strange accent troubles me a bit in this album, especially when he pronounces Tha (the word for was) as Ta. That just sounds wrong, especially with the female singer doing it the right way. I’m not sure why he does that, if its just a by product of enunciation or what. There are also some rock tunes, mainly the too-heavy-metal for me tune, Hungami Halaat, and Chor Gaye leans towards the usual rock and guitar numbers. I completely disagree with critics who claim the album is lacklustre or sounds similar throughout: I’m not sure which album they’ve been listening to. I think thats just backlash from disappointment, because most fans enjoy hearing the kind of music they love rather than watch their artist foray into different fields. The album has plenty of flaws, and some songs deserve to be reworked (like Humrahi, which goes along just beautifully until it suddenly changes its mind and decides not to be acoustic, and the whole tune gets changed, leaving the listener in a “whaaa” stance). But overall, being as objective as I can, I think Atif has taken some huge steps to explore his musical skills with this attempt as singer and songwriter and composer. The album is personal, a narrative that is more honest, open, and bolder than his previous work has been. His songs are varied, and cover a broad range, ranging from memories and childhood, to love, longing, loss to even a dialogue on man and society with Rabba Sacheya, an adaptation of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s Punjabi poem about man’s expectations from God and the problems with society (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meri_Kahani). That isn’t a weak effort or experiment, but an impressive attempt by a singer who, to be honest, doesn’t need to work so hard to sell (his voice is enough to sell like hotcakes. Infact, every album he has sung a track for in recent times has been a hit in the Bollywood music industry alone). He may be indulging his personal tastes and his desires to expand his portfolio, and he makes some mistakes, but Atif Aslam has a very, very forgiving listener base, and with his truly impressive talent, he should be lauded for taking chances and forging into new territory.

And now I’m done reviewing music for the day. I have yet to go into Rahman’s Ada, and rave some more about Atif Aslam. I’m considering posting some of my video from the concert, but between planning a wedding and planning my impending move to a new country, I unfortunately have less time for good ol’ fan girlness. Pity.

[PS: I just heard from my chingu that other places weren’t as lucky to have a good Summer Beats concert, and got some ol’ fashioned swindling instead, with Raghav (Raghav????!) being pushed down throats. And the later concerts got cancelled because of Atif’s visa problems (yes. Racial profiling at its best). I feel pretty darn lucky to have had a fairly decent concert, and a great time, albeit the beginning. If this happened to you, please don’t let it put you off from attending future Atif Aslam or Kailash Kher concerts (when they are allowed into the country, and when the producers are able to get their act together). From my own experience I can say, they put on a damn good show, and its enjoyable and worth the money (a reasonable sum of money that a student may afford), and you take home more than just what you would have heard on your speakers. So atleast give ’em one more shot. ‘Course, this comes from a completely biased source. 🙂 )

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Thank You, Kim Sang Hun. (Instrumental)

So, along with a note for all my fellow graduates, a shout-out of thanks needs to go out to many people.

The three people who have made me what I am, good or bad. My parents and my brother. You put up with the most of my crap, my bad behavior, and you also benefit the most from my good parts, and you take a lot, and you give a lot, and you just influence me day in and day out. I know I am always loved, and I know I can always come home to you. Thank you for that.

The friends who’ve been with me through these years: Y’all are people who make my world smile. Your radiance fills up every corner. I’m proud of being called your friend. I’m always happy to be with you, more than happy. You make me laugh and cry. You irritate me, and you cajole me. You give me the most beautiful memories. I love each of you for different reasons, and each of you are unique and oh-so-special to me. The hardest part is being so far from you, but I will work hard at keeping all of you near to me as much as I can. Because I’m just too selfish to do otherwise. You’re mine! MINE! 🙂 Thank you for being the kinds of friends you only see in movies and books. Each one of you was a childhood desire come true.

My aunts and uncles, here, who’ve been with me these past few years, who I knew I could call on if it really got difficult, who gave me good food and a home away from home, who loved me and were proud of me, and who took care of me when needed. I am fortunate to have you, and so very grateful. You have influenced who I am, and I hope that whatever happens, you will always be proud of me and keep loving me.

My aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins, to my sis-in-law, to my friends, who were all far away but who I know love me. Thank you for your calls, your wishes, your blessings and your unconditional love. When distance and time doesn’t break it, then you know its the strongest of bonds. Our family is just so unique, and I thank God that I was born into it. Love and miss you all, and I hope to celebrate with all of you soon!

My teachers, all through my life: I’ve reached wherever I am because of what I was taught. I have been fortunate to have the kinds of mentors I have had, who have been friends and teachers, who have been patient and kind and who have taught me much more than just the subject. I’m grateful. To all my professors, who have imparted different kinds of lessons, I am grateful.

To my Nana and Nani: I miss you, and I missed you when I walking down, when I held my diploma, when I celebrated. You would have liked to be there. Nana, I will always remember your words. I will keep trying to be a grand daughter who makes you proud. Please keep watching over me.

Thank you to all my family, all my friends, everyone who has held my hand at one time or another through this journey. You are all part of who I am, and you will always be with me. I am grateful for you and for your love. Please, please, keep making me feel special and precious and loved. Even if that’s being a little childish and selfish. Just do it. 🙂

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New Soul, Yael Anim. (best viewed full screen 🙂 )

By all weather accounts (though who believes those anyway), the weather was supposed to be horrible. Rain and clouds, the threat of the ceremony being pushed indoors, and delayed flights to add to the inauspicious start . At 6am it was still grey, so I pulled back the covers and groaned and went back to sleep. At 6:45a, a call from overseas to wish me happiness. At 7:30a I finally dragged myself out and took a look outside.

It was like the sun had taken a peek and decided he was ready to play outside. A little wary, since only splashes were visible here and there, but there was a promise that had been missing before. And thus, dear readers, the class of 2008 began preparing for graduation day, and the finicky, moody New England weather actually cooperated. By the time I ran down to the Quad, and then returned to pick up my dropped belongings (that darn honor cord), the day was just getting sunnier and breezier and brighter. And it kept getting brighter and warmer, until our necks were burning and our faces were glowing as we sat on the rows of seats, unable to see the stage but pleasantly content. It was a happy day. It was perfect, in some ways, and more than one person mentioned to me how amazing it was how the grayness just disappeared, and how the sun seemed to shine just for us, the class of 2008.

And as we walked across the bridge and faced our family, our friends, the people who loved us and were proud of us, we realized that this was it. Or maybe that realization came during the very brief shakehands-takediploma-movetassel-runoffstage (or maybe that was just too, too brief). Or when we hugged and took a gazillion pictures and laughed and hugged again and posed again. Or maybe when we went out for lunches with the people who loved us congratulating us and showering us with wishes (and gifts!). Or when we returned for a final walk across the beautiful campus, vibrant with spring colors, which we had inhabited for so long. Or maybe, it still hasn’t sunk in.

Whether you hated or loved or liked or disliked or just made it or were different to the last few years, and whether you believe it or not, they have impacted your life. They have, in many ways, changed who you are and who you will be, affected who you associate with, and provided you with moments you’d like to frame on a mantlepiece or banish to the deep, dark recesses of your brain. They have influenced your future; not just the career you are going into or the job you’re holding right now, but your personal choices in everything related to fashion sense (which has, hopefully, improved, but we can only hope), to your decisions in your life partner and your ambitions in life. Class of 2008, here, on these grounds, you were: scared, frightened, happy, miserable, depressed, angry, frustrated, irritated, ridiculed, joyous, content, satisfied, busy, fat, thin, premenstrual, sex-deprived, sex-addicts, drug-addicts, alcoholics, straight edgers, activists, artists, independent, dependent, confident, weak, vegans, meat-eaters, outgoing, socially awkward, friendly, weird in a bad way, strange, eccentric, normal, ugly, beautiful, and on and on. You were all this, and you were together. You made friends, enemies, lost friends, enemies, (enemies became friends and friends became enemies. Stewie reference, anyone??), you made memories, you lost part of your memories on the really bad nights, you studied hard or hardly worked, you sobbed and cried or laughed and hugged, but you lived.

Class of 2008, from here you take all this and more. You don’t really take what you were taught here, or the values they tried to feed you, but you take your reactions to everything that happened here. You take with you what your learned each of the nights and each of the days when you lived here, you take the lessons you learned through experiences and the values that came to you through realization and, just, living. You take, hopefully, not just the memories of friends but the actual strength of the relationships that you made here. You take with you, hopefully, a sense of pride in who you are, and a sense of hope for the future that stands before you, remembering that “Hope does not lie in a great outcome. Hope lies in making sense of the things going on in your life.” The journey has, really, just begun.

Class of 2008, its time. Congratulations.

Graduation, Vitamin C. (because how can you have graduation without this candy cane sweet song? And, to the people I love so dearly: I miss you, and I’ll always be there, and I know you will too. I’m proud of each one of you, and I know our lives are going to be so bright. Your friendship has blessed my life, and I hope it’ll continue to do so!)

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Not this post, ‘course. You can bet on that 😉

Sha La La, Full House OST

‘Coz how can you not listen to this and remember Song Hye Kyo posing around on her trip, and wish you could pose around and look as pretty on your trips?

Right after I made my first post about my recent trip, I planned to make another describing everything I didn’t in my mousy mood. Because it was also one of the best and most important event in my life, returning home after such a long time. Its something I’d wanted so much it hurt, and then when I was there it was suddenly so strange to be there, so unreal. Things usually hit me much later anyway…the cause and effect time line is somewhat skewed in my system…so for some time it was like I’d always been used to this. Hadn’t I? I had always jumped away from traffic threatening to run me over, walked while minding the potholes and sewage water, and tried to make my way through the crowds. I think, in essence, that was me getting used to being back to who I was. None of this was shocking, because I wasn’t a foreigner, it just took getting used to to get back in the rhythm.

The best part, of course, was to reconnect. Re-adjusting was part of the reconnecting, and I was surprised at how well I did. At one point, I managed to live without electricity, with mosquitoes, and in questionable hygienic situations, being sick all the while, without any signs of the reaction I would have expected. Eight years ago maybe it wouldn’t even be a matter of consideration, but I was still somewhat pleased with myself that I could adjust. However, re-connecting with the people was the best. Sure, we had our gaps, our moments of awkwardness or ‘um, now how do I move past this uncomfortable situation without treading on toes?’, but those were few and far between, and with very few people. Mostly, it felt like time had failed to create a rift between the people we cared for the most. Like my childhood bff, D, said, it was like no time had passed between us. Hadn’t we always laid around like this? Gossipped about old classmates? Discussed movies and food and the city and the torture of waxing, all in one conversation?

I won’t discuss the family part so much (this being a public blog and all), but enough is said to convey how beautiful it was to just see everyone we could, relive the memories, and just discuss and catch up on where we were. It wasn’t always perfect, and we didn’t get to see everyone (and managed to offend many, but isn’t that always how it goes? ;)), but it was good enough :). And of course, one of the most exciting parts of the trip, which will go undescribed, was the meeting of people you’d always wanted to meet, and welcoming in beautiful, new parts of the family.

And then there was just the sense of realizing I was back in my own country and appreciating that to the fullest. Where service and being served is just a given. It was strange to have people open doors, serve your food and water, do your laundry, having a waiter stand next to your table the entire time as you tried to hide your disconcernment and continue your casual conversation. It was strange to realize that you weren’t expected to cook, clean, do any of the chores you usually did (and yet there was so much to do, but thats different!). Some of it was difficult to get used to (esp the constant waiter! eek, i’ll serve myself!), but other stuff I was too happy to oblige with (you can guess which). It was relaxing, and it was kind of a reminder of how hard we work here. Its not marshmallow smores here…in fact, its more sweet and chocolatey when you have somebody doing all the mundane things so you can focus on the important things in life. Like shopping.

And shopping was…well, fun. Styles change with the flick of a celebrity’s wrist, but thats okay with me because everyone’s going to be out of style here 😉 After being embarassed (but refusing to be ashamed) after my outdated wardrobe at the wedding, I stocked up on suits and whatnots, and ran after and shouted and urged and pleased with tailors as they kept failing to get it right (I still don’t understand why…), and then finally did (and that was the really fun part). I didn’t get to shop as much as I wanted to (or ‘needed’ to), but shopping and getting stuff tailored is an experience in itself. Don’t miss it. And no matter what anyone tries to tell you: stuff isn’t really that expensive. Sure, prices have tripled, even quadrupled, from eight years ago, but if you know where to shop and if you know how not to act foreignerly (or if your skin gives you away, take someone brown in a sari ;)), because its the people who get phoreigned who lose out.

Touring? Who has time for that? Granted I’ve barely seen most of the country. I’ll say it outloud: I HAVEN’T SEEN THE TAJ MAHAL. There. But touring takes a back seat when everyone’s inviting you to dinner and feeding you and you’re trying to visit everybody so you can stay in their good books. Its a lillll bit difficult. I was lucky, however, to have excuses to be in a lot of different cities this time. And we did make a little byway to Mysore, the city of breathtaking temples and palaces. Just a sneak peek at a picture post I hope to make again later. And I’ll have to make a whole different pictures post for the fantastic trip I had with P’s AWESOME FAMILY 🙂 to Shivaji’s Fort in Pune. We had THE best time (probably the most fun I’ve had in ages), and we saw the most beautiful things…birds, flowers, the most beautiful sights of the rustic land…and had the yummiest fresh food under the shade of some trees. Yup, that was quite some day. (Thanks!)

Srirangapatnam:

At Srirangapatnam

Mysore Palace (probably THE most beautiful palace I’ve EVER seen. It was just astounding)

Have you said hello to Mahishisura?

The famous Chamundeshwari Temple

(The Goddess Chamundi killed the wicked Mahishisura Rakshas (lovely pic above). The temple is in the Chamundi Hills)

The Goddess herself. Women (and Goddess) Power!

Last, but oh definitely not the least (how can it ever be the least), THE FOOD! Which is what everyone goes home for. Every foreigner. No matter what they tell you. Because can you get the same taste at any restaurant in the world? Can you get the same tandoori chicken, the same sweet corn soup, the same aloo tikki, the same saag and makki roti, the same peda and phetha and laddoo and gulabjamun? And the uncle chips, pudina flavor, which you’ve loved since you were about three? Can you get fed with the same love, care, pressurizing? Can you be filled to bursting point each meal, and then be offered some chai? Where else will your didi feed you sabji-roti with her hands, and where else will you eat the juiciest, sweetest, red carrots? Where else can mausis make your favorite foods and sweets and you almost cry because its just all so good and yummy and touching.

Now I’m hungry, and nostalgic and sad. And I didn’t take any pictures of the food. Oh darn.

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