Sunday, September 9, 2007

History in a Museum

I was curious about the Museum of Natural History after watching `Night at the Museum,' a movie about a divorced father taking up a job as a night watchman at the MNH in an attempt to stabilize his life. Things get spiced up at night when everything comes to life (including the dinosaurs, Roosevelt etc. etc.) because of the magical powers of an old,Egyptian artifact.

Coming back to the museum where the movie was filmed- it is, in one word, amazing! A must-see if you're in NYC. We packed in as much as possible in one hour and I have to go back to explore it at properly, but in the meanwhile, here are some pictures:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Math boo-boo

So when my professor asked me to read the `Know This' about combinations and permutations in class I was startled to see exclamation marks all over the page. At first I wondered if they are there to emphasize a number/letter and was tempted to read it with the appropriate inflections. As impressed as I was to find out that Math actually has an emotional side I played it safe, reading it as: "N exclamation and 2 exclamation blah, blah, blah..."

For ten minutes, no one laughed, corrected me or interrupted. When I was done my prof. explained in his sing song voice that "actually, in mathematics, the exclamation mark is called a factorial and has a value etc. etc."

I'm still looking for a place to bury my head in after that fiasco(:

Monday, August 20, 2007

India Day Parade

Alright, I promise this is the last parade I shall write about on this blog- this year atleast! Unless ofcourse, some other eye-catching, merry pageant crosses my path:)

I arrived late at the India Day Parade in Manhattan unfortunately, and missed out on the `Masala cruise' t-shirts et. al. but did manage to catch performances by local artistes, Johnny Lever's jokes and Priyanka Chopra's rather uninspired lines(: There's nothing quite like snacking on chaat and listening to the latest Bollywood hits on the streets on New York while a light, constant drizzle makes a birds nest of your hair(:

Here are some pics from my friend's camera- thanks Neena!

I'm glad the MC remembered to thank the sanitation department- the after-show was messy and embarassing- I lost count of the number of chicken bones strewed on the street, vestiges of tandoori masala glowing brightly. Ewww! And I'm vegetarian.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Random thought

Watching the agility with which my 6-year-old cousin uses a digital camera made me wonder- do we reveal our professional paths in our childhood? My mom tells me I was a restless child who would only stay still if she gave me a magazine or something to browse through. And this is much before I learned to read. My younger sister on the other hand, preferred styling Barbie dolls over reading. She is a fashion designer. Another friend who loved to pull toys apart but only to put them back together is an engineer.

So I wonder if my adorable, youngest cousin and her creative photography (she has clicked her father's nostrils while he was asleep among other thing:)- I wonder if this is just a childish fascination with a camera or something more?

Here's a pic of her in action..

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Story Break

Forgot the spy novel I was reading at home today and was looking up short stories online to print and read on my 10-min ride home when I found this gem:

In the words of the website's founders' Chris Worth and R.P. Bird: "It explores a literary form for today's frothed-up, on-the-hoof, want-it-all-now consumer lifestyle: complete stories that take no longer to read than an espresso takes to slurp."

The stories are certainly short. Max. of 25 words, to be precise but I was intrigued to see that neither plot nor narrative was compromised for brevity. Some stories were a little too vague for my liking, but most of them are beautifully composed. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Winning State
It was hard. We worked our asses off, in the rain, sleet, and snow. But it cannot compare to winning you. Damn, that was hard!

Tongue in Cheek
His tongue slipped when he talked. It lisped when he sang. It hung out when he ate.Thats a dumb tongue in cheek.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Milkshake curry

Yoda's `Milkshake' post reminded me of a rather hilarious video set to same `tis. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Immigrant Parade

Seems to me like there's a parade of some kind in NY every weekend. Some are expected, and draw huge crowds- like during Bastille Day, St. Patrick's Day even the Indian independence day. And then there are some which receive little publicity but march to their own beat, ready to be discovered around streetcorners. Here are some pics from an immigrant parade we passed a couple of weekends ago...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

An Update

It's been more than a month since I blogged and I couldn't stifle the guilt anymore, so here I am. Besides, I missed blogging and reading my blogger-friends' updates too much, so I've vowed to tune in more often:)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The View

I've had three dreams- nay nightmares- about leaving my apartment this past week(: I have a studio on the 21st floor in one of the earliest high-rises in Jersey City and for the past year and half have enjoyed a terrific view of New York City...right in front of me is the Hudson river and the downtown NYC's skyline as well as the Empire State building and if you peek your head out of the window, there's a clear view of Lady Liberty herself.

Most of all, I think its the security of having my own place that is so heady. Here's a rapidly-being-devoured-view from my apartment..

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Myth or Fact?

I had an interesting conversation with a guy friend a couple of days back; he claimed that no man is satisfied with just one woman.

Is that true??

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


It's good to be back in blogland after a long hiatus. I'm going to take the easy way out and go with pictures instead of words..MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) in NY has some striking, unconventional art on display.

Personally, I like the Impressionists: Monet and gang, but it was hard to resist these..

Radha's blog has some more pics from this fascinating wall.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Word Play

Since I injured my right hand yesterday (blame it on a light door and a strong gust of wind) I've been trying to type with my left hand, and slowly getting better and faster at it. Tedious though. Note to self: become ambidextrous as soon as right hand is back in action.

I've also been using more shortforms than I usually do, in emails and while scrapping, although I try and avoid them usually. But I refuse to use some of this new-fangled language that the internet has given rise too. Some pet peeves:

* It's Could, not cud. Cud reminds me of a cow.

* Would, not wud. Please, lets not lose ourselves in the woods.

* And- not nd. It won't hurt that much to type an additional vowel.

* That- sigh, tat just sucks.

* Girl- I'll never be your gurl if you can't spell straight.

* Friends- frenz is not cool, it's not hip.

* With, what- wit, wat...please, please don't drop your "h's"

* The- d. Imagine "The End" as "D End"

Catchy Lines

JD Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" is supposed to have spoilt a generation of writers by making writing look too easy. I love the book's style, words tripping together to build Holden Caulfield's character and life. There is something very real and honest about the novel as captured by its first line:

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

That got me thinking about other memorable first lines or "hooks" from other books. Here's another favorite from Gabriel Garcia Marquez' "One Hundred Years of Solitude":

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Another brilliant book is "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides, with one of the most creative storylines I've come across. The novel's first line by its protagonist Calliope Stephanides sums up the story succintly:

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974."

Here are a couple of quotes from one of my favorite novels "The Incredible Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera. Although they did not open the novel, they are particularly striking:

"We can never know what we want because, living only one life, we can neither compare it to our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come."

We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, "sketch" is not quite the word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.

Any more first lines, or memorable quotes from books anyone?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Teasing Eve

I saw this website on Surabhi's blog and was so impressed with it that I had to post it here.

I think its remarkable that women are standing up for themselves and refusing to allow some stranger call them`mirchi' (hot!) on the street. Every woman has been eve-teased at some point. Maybe its just me but I feel that it happened more in India than in the US. But irrespective of where it happened I felt dirty, as if in some way it was my fault, even if I was conservatively clad.

To be appreciated as an attractive woman is one thing, to be viewed as a sex object, another. Most of these conflicts boil down to respect: eve-teasing, abuse and allied issues have a lot to do with how we view women and their place in society. And any real change can only come about if we treat women with the respect we would want our mothers and sisters to be treated with.

Thanks S, for sharing this website. One of the most potent lines of the Blank Noise Project is that `There is no asking for it.'

Monday, April 30, 2007

Too drunk to marry?

I've often thought that a lot of marriages are about timing. Here's a story that affirmed this belief:

Villagers at a wedding in eastern India decided the groom had arrived too drunk to get married, and so the bride married the groom's more sober brother instead, police said Monday.
"The groom was drunk and had reportedly misbehaved with guests when the bride's family and local villagers chased him away," Madho Singh, a senior police officer told Reuters after Sunday's marriage in a village in Bihar state's Arwal district.
The younger brother readily agreed to take the groom's place beside the teenage bride at her family's invitation, witnesses said.
"The groom apologized for his behavior, but has been crying that word will spread and he will never get a bride again," Singh said by phone.


I don't know how much of a choice this young bride had when it selecting a husband but I wonder how she felt about the spur of the moment replacement. Was she secretly turned off by the way her soon-to-be-husband was behaving and relieved to marry his sober (and younger- after all, she is in her teens) brother? Did they even ask her what she wanted?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Restaurant Tag

New York is a culinary paradise for a foodie; Radha's tag got me thinking about five restaurants to recommend- tough task! So I tried to select a range that would reflect the city's ethnic and culinary diversity. Here's the restaurant roll:

1) Sea - Thai food is about balance: basil and chilli, sweet and sour, coconut milk and galaghal and Sea is the perfect place to indulge in a bowl of steaming drunk man noodles or emerald vegetable dumplings. It's rather colorful interiors center around a larger-than-life Buddha statue in the middle of a square-shaped pond. Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the place can be a bit of a trek so if you're craving yummy Pad Thai sans the fishy smell, head over any one of its branches- Peep or Spice- in Manhattan. The food is mouth-watering and the green tea ice-cream worth lining up for!

2) Cafe Habana - Cuban food, good Cuban food for vegetarians is hard to find. This tiny place in East Village is trendy and overcrowded with unrelenting waitresses, but my trick is to focus on the grilled corn-on-the-cob with chili spice, cheese and butter. Yummmy. Another fav. is the Tlacoyo Con Tres Maria, a handmade corn cake stuffed with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, with a delicious side of beans and rice.

3) Mamoun's - Perfect for a quick bite before or after a night of bar-hopping, Mamouns is one of those secret places tourist guides often miss out on. A night in Greenwich Village is incomplete without a stop at Momoun's Falafel, the best place for quick, tasty falafel/ chicken sandwich oozing with hummus. More of a shanty than a restaurant, there are exactly two tables and a couple of benches, which makes eating neatly a bit of challenge. And that's part of the fun:)

4) Grey Dog Cafe - Goat cheese sandwiches, tofu salads, iced tea, nice wine, broccoli cheddar soup and the biggest cookies ever! This quaint cafe in the heart of West Village is my fav. `think' place. Cosy, warm with great food and music, this little cafe also serves a mean brunch with lots of character.

5) Tsampa - Who knew Tibetan food could be so tasty! Tsampa's momos and tofu with mixed greens and brown rice are fresh and tasty. The peaceful, calm restaurant is a great place to kick back and relax with a glass of their exceptional plum wine.

Continuing the good food work I tag: Suramya (Delhi), Ashu (Paris), Moi (Florida), Aditya (Bombay) and Wanda (CA).

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Stumbled across this and couldn't resist sharing it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Talking to God

I joined meditation for two reasons: peace of mind and reflection. To better understand what I felt and why, instead of doubting myself and going crazy doing it. I thought an hour and a half once a week is enough for enlightenment.

It isn't. Four sessions and I am still clueless. I've tried both Tibetan meditation and Buddhist meditation (yes they are different). The Tibetan techniques includes chanting mantras and for all my faith in the power and energy of words I didn't have the patience to go through with it. The Buddhist way of guided introspection reminded me of an intriguing book titled "Selling Water by the River." No rituals, no ceremony. Just a simple devotion to being a good person, to understand and accept that strife is a part of life and a quest for inner peace.

In a world saturated with religion, I found my way in meditation. It's difficult for me to sit still and concentrate for over an hour without any breaks. The first time it gave me a headache; second time, I peeked at all the other people concentrating on taking deep breaths and thought of all the things I could be doing instead of sitting in this old rundown mansion on a sunny day with my eyes closed. After the third time I looked forward to being be able to allow thoughts to visit without grasping on to them, or fighting with them, to be free to think without weighing or judging yourself is freedom indeed.

Years ago I wrestled with the language of prayer: the dilemna of praying to a Hindu God in English left me guilty and confused. Then I thought about the omniscence of God and figured that language matters less than the intention or devotion. Through meditation, I've found that silence can work just as well.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Atlas shrugged

For all that I feel that news these days is 90% disasters/ mishaps (natural or man-made) this website was a reminder of the other calamities that miss international headlines. Wonder what is plaguing the world we live in? Bombs, terrorism attacks and more bad news are vividly displayed here:

p.s: It is also interesting to note the different types and intensity of conflicts in different regions.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia nightmare

The Virginia Tech shootings are everywhere you look- newspapers, magazines, talk shows, trying to understand what could drive a 23-year-old guy to go on a shooting rampage and kill 32 innocent people. Cho Seung-Hui was a loner, depressed, isolated. So what? These are excuses, give me a reason. Almost every teen goes through a phase like that, very few take their rage out on other people by killing them. How do you then sift through thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of troubled people and pluck those who are going to vent their rage violently?

I was going to write a different blog, about a forward I recieved on Orkut about Meenal Panchal, an Indian student who was one of the victim's of Cho Seung-Hui's shooting spree. About how Orkut has stepped beyond re-connecting with old friends, making new friends, checking up on ex-flames, meeting more people. It's become a platform for sharing feelings, bridging geographic and some cases, earthly divides. I wanted to write about the messages I've read on a family friend's profile after he passed away in a tragic car accident. His friends, and even family still scrap him giving updates on lives, their pain at losing him, what he meant to them. Sadly, and somewhat eeriely, his presence lives on through his Orkut profile...

And then I got this forward about Meenal, and saw the messages her friends have left for her and felt the impact of the tragedy all over again. I wish there was a way to anticipate when a person crosses the line between sanity and insanity. I wish there was a way for students to attend school/college with fear that they or someone they love could get shot by a peer. For professors to be able to teach without fear that they might be next in a firing line..

My heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Eternal sunshine for a scarred mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my favorite movies- what a great story! The power to erase painful memories from one's mind. In many ways, our lives shape our characters, who we are today..then again there are things we would like to forget; some of us have things we can't bear to remember. Is the solution to erase these events from our mind?

Scientists are testing a new drug called Propranolol that may be able to help victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to make peace with their memories. Matt Bean of Men's Health writes:

"Extremely traumatic events can unleash a torrent of stress hormones, searing the memory into the brain. That's where propranolol enters the picture. It blunts the impact of stress hormones on the amygdala, the small, emotional control center in the middle of your brain. As a result, the brain is able to encode the traumatic memory as a factual event, a garden-variety horrible memory, rather than a world-changing, panic-inducing schism in consciousness. It's like removing the crescendo of violins from the climax of an action movie: You still know what's happening, but you're able to focus on just the facts."

The article quotes Dr. Roger Pitman, a co-researcher on the project:

"Nobody knows when they're going to be in a car accident, or be raped, or be kidnapped, so trying to give them a pill within 6 hours of the trauma is difficult," he says. "But we can control the memory now, bringing it back to the point of sensitivity no matter when it occurred. This could have implications for all kinds of problems: drug addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or anything where you need to change the wiring in the brain."

My memories matter to me, as painful as they may be at times. But then again, we're talking about people who have lost a limb, been in life-threatening situations- along with the actual memory itself is the guilt, the self-recrimination, the loss of confidence, of hope...the endless, futile `if only.....'. No doubt there will be a fallout to this new drug, if and when its introduced. So the question is- is that something you would be willing to risk? If the stakes are high enough, or the memories bad enough, it may well be worth striving for a spotless mind. And a good night's sleep.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Day at the Park

Can't wait for the weather to thaw! Some nice things about Spring in NY: roadside cafes and martinis, walks on either side of the Hudson, live music in almost every street corner, colors, and more colors in flowers, clothes, smiles, raspberry iced tea and outdoor flea markets, and ofcourse, Central Park where you can row, roller-blade, watch Shakespeare, jive to a local band or read. For hours...

Here are some pics of the Park on a rare spring-like day this winter:

Wilde words

I could write and write, yet never compose something as lyrical and poignant as these stanzas from Oscar Wilde's `Ballad of Reading Gaol':

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Adventures in Chinatown

In a parallel universe I'm a female James Bond. A swashbuckling, charismatic, secret agent living a glamorous, adventurous life. I'm dodging bullets, saving lives, decoding cryptic messages as charmingly as 007.

In reality, I'm grateful for a tamer life. But then one day, I felt like one of my favorite characters on a secret mission in Chinatown. It all started when I heard a voice murmur: "Goochi, Goochi, Louis Vooton, Coach" in front, at the side, behind us. It was hard to place the voices at first- they were everywhere and nowhere. Then a middle-aged lady with a pouch around her waist locked eyes and repeated, "Louis Vooton, Coach. You want? All original." Ok. It couldn't hurt. She scanned our faces quickly, expertly, then nodded. "Follow me."

We did. Weaving through pedestrians, vendors and stalls till we reached a deserted lane seven blocks away. Our guide spoke into a walkie talkie as she opened a wooden door and we climbed up four rickety, steep staircases then passed through a large sewing factory. The workers there must have seen people walk by huffing and puffing because they barely noticed us, which was reassuring because by then I was convinced we were being kidnapped and had flipped my phone open, fingers ready to dial 911 in case we needed to send an SOS. Finally, we reached a small room and our guide abandoned us to rows and rows of bags. They were all there- Gucci, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Prada. All original, claimed a young Chinese guy as we stood there gaping.

At 1/4th the original price they were a steal, but there were too many and it was hard to choose. And then we remembered the other people on the street who had also beckoned us with the same brand names and similiar adventures...


Since I've almost run out of people to play Scrabble with, face-to-face, here's where I get my Scrabble fix:

It's an amazing site, run out of India. Just another reason to love the internet!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fair & Lovely

A few years ago I watched a tamashawalli get ready for a performance, and was fascinated to see that she used Fair & Lovely as her base. The link between beauty and fair skin is deep-rooted. The `brown bag' test was used by African-Americans to judge if a black person was light enough to join the elite black clubs/associations .i.e. they could not be darker than the brown paper lunch bag.

Here's a more recent twist to an old notion. After those aggravating commercials showing how successful women became after using their products, Fair & Lovely has turned its dark gaze on men with `Fair and Lovely Menz Active.' I wonder if the shallow beauty assessments are now extended to men too or if the metrosexual wave has emboldened Indian men to seek out a fairer face?

Click for the video.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vonnegut has left the building

What better way to birth my blog than with a tribute to Kurt Vonnegut (d. Apr 11, 07) one of the most interesting, eccentric, thought-provoking writers? I found Vonnegut four years ago, attracted by the title of his essays, "A Man Without a Country." As much as I felt like a woman without a country at the time, I had to put it down after a few pages. It was not what I had expected. Written in a free-flowing manner, it was as if the thoughts had flown from the author's mind to his pen skipping social filters. It was a little bit bitter, a little bit funny, absurd and profound at the same time. Most of all, it was liberating.

Here's an autobiographical excerpt from one of his most famous novels Slaughterhouse Five:

"I think about my education sometimes. I went to the University of Chicago for a while after the Second World War. I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. They may be teaching that still.
Another thing they taught was that nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting. Shortly before my father died, he said to me, "You know -- you never wrote a story with a villain in it."
''I told him that was one of the things I learned in college after the war. "