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Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

2009 -a recap

Posted by Sowmya on January 22, 2010

I have never been the one to do year end posts mostly because I never found much to write on my year. Most days passed in a blur and were too similar to the other. But this time, as I sit and think there are many things that have happened this year and some that I have done. Maybe it should be put to paper somewhere for posterity when I want to know where my life went and what I have been up to all my life?

This year started out great. I had moved to Mumbai last November since the recession shut down my office in Chennai. It was not the easiest of decisions to make. Sri in Chennai and me in Mumbai was not the happiest of things to happen but quitting a job at the depths of recession also did not seem like a smart thing to do. Sri was his usual supportive self and urged me to keep my job and some hopes of a career still alive. Armed with his reassurances and my in-laws unequivocal support, I set off to Mumbai in November. I was not in a celebratory mode last new year since I was not with Sri and suddenly things seemed incomplete without him. It felt strange and weird that I could live more than 27 years on my own and be perfectly happy but a year with this guy and nothing was the same again. But then, that is what a marriage is all about I guess. It struck twelve and I ushered in the New Year gaping at the television when suddenly the doorbell rang. Imagine my surprise when I found hubby dearest at the doorstep! It is an unforgettable moment, so unbelievably true. For a guy who does not believe in the frills of the relationship, this was a huge step to take.

Work had improved significantly since my return to Mumbai. I found I was learning new stuff daily and that due diligence was not as bad as I thought. Handling two assignments and two seniors was a task in itself but fun nevertheless. Arguing over every single issue and rethinking and redoing a job till it was perfect were pleasure and gave me a well earned sleep each night. Sri visited another couple of times and I visited Chennai too. I can tell you that long distance relationships totally suck especially if they are so early in the marriage before you have had time to settle down and get used to the other. 

I got a job in Chennai in May and I moved back in June. I was hoping that it would never happen, that I would never need to get back to the darned city but destiny had something else in store for me. I quit my job, left an almost promotion and some salary and came back to Chennai. On one hand it seemed like a crazy thing to do. I was giving spiels about having a career and not just any job and here I was quitting and maybe, in a way moving one step lower in the chain. But life did not seem worth it without Sri. Staying with him meant more than everything else and so I took the call to switch my job and get back to staying with Sri and making him pull his hair out in frustration J

So in June I joined my new company where there were about seventy people working but not one in my department. I was the first and only one and it was up to me to do something about it. It was a challenge along with the very different work environment. I had to get used to a lot of things which I had not heard of before. Chennai, and in particular my company, believes in a lot more formality and protocol. Coming from a place where everyone was on first name basis including the boss, it was initially very weird. Protocols again are not my strong point and I struggled in vain trying to follow it. Eventually I have managed to establish some kind of middle path with the people here whereby I can breathe comfortably and offend no one. That should count as one of the achievements for the year. Being new and starting a vertical by yourself meant many days of intense frustration of not doing anything, of trying and not succeeding and of trying to rid myself of the feeling of futility of it all. I missed my brainstorming sessions, my intense work pressures and the joys of trying to learn something new every day. I missed having people around who I could talk to about things that mattered and who understood what I was saying. Being one to think in English, conversations in Tamil were an effort. Yes, it is my mother tongue but I have not spoken in Tamil so often, especially outside the confines of home.

A huge responsibility then fell on our shoulders. We were building our own house. It started sometime in December last year when I was in Mumbai and so could not involve myself in it completely. But since I was back, I started getting a feel of it. It was driving everyone at home totally crazy. There was nothing on which Sri and me could agree on and if we did, by mistake, my in-laws did not like it. Life was at it chaotic worst. Or should I say best? Being involved at every stage of the house is a nerve racking experience and I would prefer buying a ready-made one any day.

In July, I made one of my bigger decisions and my biggest purchase as yet –I bought a car, a lovely new shining grey i10. Driving made some part of my life easier since I could do away with bargaining with the auto guys every day morning but it brought other complications with it. I now know why some people swear so much. They obviously drive around a lot in Chennai. This place is a driver’s worst nightmare coming true every minute he is behind the wheel.  Another challenge I overcome, not unscathed. My car has more than its fair share of bruises and beatings in these past six months. But a car gives you a feeling of freedom which you don’t get otherwise. I still plan to explore the city with my car. That is yet to happen as I only commute to work every day and catch the odd movie some weekends. An exploration, a long drive is definitely on the New Year agenda.

I made a very brief visit to Mumbai before Navratri when I helped mom set-up our annual golu. I, then finally met J and S, my closest friends who had been blessed with a pretty little girl in July. I became an aunt all over again. Seeing J with her little one was an overwhelming experience. It feels good to know there have been people with you since college about ten years ago and we are still there for each other.

Work was still erratic till October and my frustration levels were going up few notches every day. Add the house construction to the equation and there was complete incompleteness all around me. We had decided to forgo our annual vacation and I had nothing to look forward to in November and December.  Life seemed very boring and bleak. Every day was filled with making budgets and cutting costs and looking for increasing revenues.  In a bid to make life interesting I entered the NaNoWriMo contest in which I had to write a story of 50000 words in the month of November. To my utter astonishment, I completed it. I am someone who completes everything up to 90% and then quits. Somehow I do not finish anything fully. It is not something I am proud of but the truth it is. So the fact that I completed a story of 50000 words was a huge achievement for me. I hope to get the final draft out this year and who knows, maybe get it published J I finished the year with an awesome New Year party with some of Sri’s friends.

All in all, I can say 2009 has been a happening year in my life with its many twists and turns and roundabouts but overall a fun year.  Welcome 2010

Posted in INSIGHTFUL?, MUMBAI MERI JAAN, NOW THAT'S ME | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arranged Marriages -Part 3

Posted by Sowmya on October 20, 2009

Concluding Part to this series……….

So, like I was saying, after all the screening which would easily put the Indian Idol and Roadies to shame, the parents finally select a guy who is suitable to be presented before their daughter dearest. Then starts your roller coaster ride….It all really depends on how much you like a roller coaster…..fear or fun is yours to choose.

SIXTH STAGE -Meeting the boy
Yes! This is it. Though there is no assurance that the first guy you meet will be ‘The One’ but you do go with the hope that it should be so. Typically, what happened with me was that my parents gave my mobile number to his parents who in turn passed it on to the guy who then called me, usually, at the most inappropriate time and sweetly asked, ” Right time to talk?”. I had half a mind to scream, ” Nooooo. I usually always work at 11 am on a weekday and right now I am sitting with my boss and his boss and this is SO NOT the right time.” Instead I grin sheapishly at my bosses and excuse myself from the conference room and talk to my Mr. Probably Right. Why? Cos I have a mother who can take such stuff very seriously and I was strictly instructed to drop everything and talk to the guy as also agree to meet him wherever and whenever it is convinient for him irrespective of the fact that I may have a movie booked for the same time or that I have to travel half the world to reach where he tells me. So this much I did. Talk, that is, not miss my movie. I maneuvered around that one successfully. Always.

So Scenario 1 -Only boy meets girl

This happened at Barista or CCD mostly. At one point of time in life, the Barista guy near my place was bewildered to see me every sunday with a new guy. But he was nice enough to give cappucino the way I liked it.  So the review starts from the time of arrival. How late / early was duly noted and reported to their respective parents and used against the other party in case such need arose. Actually, my evaluation started from the time I spoke to him over the phone. I had my first impressions ready before meeting the guy and kinda knew how friendly / conservative / funny / chilled out the guy was. On most occassions I was proved right. The guys were just as they seemed over the phone. Moronic mostly. No offence but I was appalled by the frequency of wierdos in my matchmaking scene. Half the reason I agreed to an arranged marriage were my brothers (own and cousins) who are absolutely brilliant with a very good sense of humor and amazing conversation skills. I figured if the rest of our tribe was even half this good I could make do.

But hell no! It seemed like I was brought up with the creme de la creme of the Iyengar clan and most others were nuts. Maybe there were smart guys but I did’nt meet any. So it doe not count.

Most guys I met did not watch movies / surf the net / go out with friends. What is the probability that all the loner Iyengars were queued up for me? Couple of them were even gloating about it -‘I am a loner. *smirk*’ I ran.

Others rated very high on the MCP scale.  ‘You can do whatever you want. As long as you take care of my parents, our home, our cat, neighbour’s dog you can do anything you want.’  I was so elated on having found such libertarians. Grrrrrrrrr

Still others were huge fans of keeping score. ‘So how many guys have you met? Did you not like them all? Did you like anyone? Where did you guys meet?’ I wanted to wack them right there and say ‘ Rememeber to tell the next girl you meet that you were wacked by me.’ Alas! I coul not do that.

One guy I met at around 11 a.m. I had woken up around 10 and had a very heavy breakfast. He was all chivalrous and asked me what I would like to have. Since I was full (extremely) I politely declined. He kept asking and so I was forced to explain my late breakfast, etc etc. He still did not relent. Our conversation went something like this –

He: So what are your hobbies? Eat something…..

Me: No thanks. I love to read, blah blah……

He: Which is your native town? Eat something….

Me: No thanks. I am from bgkfdhgkfngkl

and we went on like this for about an hour. Somewhere in the middle of all this I had a neembu pani since this whole chivalry was getting on to me. But my really heavy breakfast prevented me from indulging him any further. Then he started his next tirade…’Have lunch please.’ I was ready to run.  Then he goes….

He: So what do you think are your negative traits?

I find this question very silly. Everyone loves themselves the most and what appears negative to me may not be the same for you. But questions have to be answered and so I picked the first words which came to me.

Me: Hmmmm I am lazy, an introvert and sometimes stubborn.

He: Oh yes! You are stubborn. Inspite of what I said, you refused to eat today!


Yeah! It takes such kinds too to make the world.

Scenario 2 -The guy’s entire family and its aunt meet the girl’s entire family and her aunt

Such situations generally are hillarious. There is some superstition that ‘an odd number of people should not come for auspicious occasions like ‘girl seeing’. So the visiting party consists of guy, his father and mother and some obscure relative just to make up the numbers. Such relative usually thinks of this to be a great honour / responsibility and takes it very seriously by asking insightful questions to the girl. Sample this -‘So how do you travel?’ ‘How far is your office?’ ‘Which school did you study?’ and suchlike. In case it was tough to procure an obscure relative the accompanying member to the trio is an apology. ‘ You see, there was no one else. What to do?  We tried to get my sister’s husband’s brother-in-law’s second cousin but something urgent came up in the last minute and she could not make it.

We have done this a couple of times too. I was never comfortable with my extended family having detailed information with regard to my guy-evaluation techniques and hence  we took an apology along.

The initial half hour or so is spent in exchanging background information like which village / seer / etc the 2 families belonged to, how many brothers and sisters did the 2 sets of parents have and how many of them were in Chennai, how many retired / retiring this year and how many children each one of them had. I have 6 aunts and 3 uncles with a total of 18 cousins. You can imagine the fun, especially if the other family was equally matched. The basic purpose was of course to find some common friend / relative through whom an independant background check could be done. I let this part of the conversation go over my head and instead watched everyone’s expressions / reactions and smirked to myself.

The guys in such a scenario usually scrutinized the tiles on my floor and I smirked some more. The next stage was the one I found most irritating – ‘Checking out the house’. I had a fight with my parents before every guy and his family visited us. What was the necessity to take them around our home, especially my bedroom. I felt it to be such an invasion of privacy. But my parents never listened. On the very rare occassions that my parents forgot, the visiting people would either hint / ask directly to be shown our home. So it was either –

Mother of Guy: (looking around) So how many rooms do you have?


Father of Guy nudged by Mother of Guy: Is this the way to your kitchen?

Me: (Grrrr! That is the main door through which you entered and shall soon exit)

My Parents: Oh please come and look……….

Procession starts –

Mom: This book shelf was my daughter’s idea.

Mother of Guy: So nice! So nice!

Me: (Grrr! Mom, not again. It does not take much to select one from a pile of books)

Mom: These pots were painted and decorated by my daughter

Father of Guy: So pretty! So creative!

Me: ( I do pity you sir. What my mom did not tell you is that those pots are about the only creative thing I have done in these 20 something years of my life)

Then was the snack time. One sweet stuff and one farsan type with either coffee or juice as preferred.

After which my dad would address the guy -‘Why dont you and my daughter go to her room and talk?’

 And for what happened next, refer to Scenario 1.

But I do remember this particularly funny incident. When Dad, as usual, suggested to the guy that he and me could go to the other room and talk, the guy freaked.

Dad: Why dont you and my daughter go to her room and chat up?

Guy: No, its ok

Me: (Eh???? WTF)

Dad: Errrr. No no. Its fine. Please.

Guy: No. No. I dont want to go

Dad: Its absolutely fine. Please feel free to talk as much as you want.

Guy: No! No! I have nothing to ask her

Me: (*smirk* *smirk* Dad, this one is done for!)

Dad: (desperately) Please go!

Guy’s Mom: Come on! You may have nothing to ask but she would. So go and talk to her

Guy: Ok

I don’t have to tell you where that led to. Absolute rejection. But my bro and me had an amazing time guffawing over him.

Well jokes apart, I hope you enjoyed this and picked up something useful. All I can offer by way of advice is this –

Never commit to anyone on the spot. Even if the guy asks / pesters you for an opinion, tell him its a HUGE decision and you would want to think it over.

Be prepared for your meeting but not overprepared. I mean, don’t go with a checklist and stick to it and fire away questions like a stress interview. Think of what points you would like to cover, your expectations and your non compromisables. Steer the conversation the way you like without being too rigid about it.

Go with an open mind. Chat up with him / her as you would to a new colleague / acquaintance.

Remember everything you spoke and discuss it with your sibling / parent / friend. A different perspective always helps

Try to meet up atleast a couple of times before taking a decision. If that is not possible then remember one thing -When in doubt, say NO.

Hope you had fun reading this. I had an awesome trip down memory lane. I’ll try and add bits as and when I remember it.

Ciao! Have fun 🙂

Posted in INSIGHTFUL?, NOW THAT'S ME, ZILLION YEARS AGO | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Golu Ideas II

Posted by Sowmya on August 26, 2009

Some more funda on golu –

Another easy theme would be a zoo where you can display different animals and also some generic dolls which can be shown as visiting the zoo. One year we showcased the Olympics. An old small teddy bear was designated mascot and we displayed tracks (good old kolam strips on sawdust / mud), long jump, high jump and swimming events in which we put some water in a rectangular vessel and colored the bottom of the vessel blue to give a pool effect.

Another theme could be snapshots of the life of Krishna/Rama. Easy to do events would be Krishna stealing the butter, ‘raas leela’, ‘Geeta Upadesh’, etc.

To decorate the golu padi you can use the crepe ribbons. We had once weaved the ribbons like a mat and put it in the background. It gave the golu an extremely colorful and vibrant look. We needed a background cover since it were semi-circular padis. In the usual straight padi, background will not be required.

Tip -If you receive bouquets then save up those small pots in which they come. You can either plant something in them and keep in the border or paint them and display.

Posted in CREATIVE ITCH, INSIGHTFUL?, NOW THAT'S ME | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Golu Idea I

Posted by Sowmya on August 25, 2009

Continuing from where I left it yesterday –

Our golu usually comprised of the 5 padis and a theme which was displayed on the floor. The padis had the comparatively bigger ‘bommais’ with the usual suspects of ‘Ramar set’, ‘Chettiyar kadai’ (grocery store), few Krishnar bommais with the ‘mara pachi’ in the centre. Guess everyone is aware that ‘mara pachi’ HAVE to be kept first on the golu padi and HAVE to be the first to be removed too. Don’t know the exact logic but that is the tradition for sure. You can adorn the padi with some ‘series light’ which add glitter to your golu.

One idea for the theme could be patriotism –we traced out a map of India on thermecol. You could use the tourist / road map of India for it. You can colour the different states with different colours –Rajasthan a light brown to show desert and maybe a miniature Kutub Minar / Taj Mahal at Delhi and Agra. We had a set of dolls each of which depicted the traditional wear of a particular state. So we put them in their relevant states and added ‘Bharat Mata’ to complete our ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’ theme.

If you are getting any wood work done now or anyone near you is then rush to the carpenter and get all the sawdust you can. Sawdust is of fantastic use in Golu. It can be used as mud in its normal form. It is easy to use and clean at the end of 10 days unlike mud which brings with it dirt, smell and some insects to boot. A simple theme could be a garden where you can have sawdust to depict the mud and people sitting around, children playing, etc. It will take minimum time and get you awesome compliments. You could add some plants and tree figures if you have. Else you can have some small plants in small cardboard boxes which will make the garden look natural. Mustard is obviously the fastest growing one. You can also try dhaniya seeds.

For the ambitious ones, you can even colour some sawdust in different colours and use it as you please. Green can be used to show grass, red can also be used to show red mud, etc. But colouring takes time. You need to soak the sawdust in the colour and then dry it out in the sun before it is ready to use. You can also use it wet in case you need to make hedges and such stuff. You do have good time for it if you start the preparation now. But if you have light coloured tiles then please be warned that the coloured sawdust (if used wet) leaves stains. In such case you can put a newspaper and then use the sawdust over it.

More ideas on the way 🙂

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Golu Ideas

Posted by Sowmya on August 24, 2009

This post is kinda on popular demand. I find that most traffic directed to my site is looking for ‘golu padi ideas’ or ‘chennai autos’. I presume it is thanks to these posts. I don’t know what people are looking for when they search for ‘chennai autos’ but I have a fair idea of the former. So here are a few tips and ideas on golu and golu padis which may be of use to you –

I presume it must be your first golu if you are ‘googling’ for golu padis. I suggest -start small. 3 padis should be fine for your first golu or the ambitious can go for 5 padis. The easiest way we did it was to accumulate magazines and newspapers over a few months. If it is too late in the day you can always borrow them from friends and neighbors. For the 3 padi golu let the bottom most padi be your table. Arrange the newspapers in 2 rows to make a broad second padi and then the magazines on the first row of newspapers to make the top padi. You can cover these with hubby’s unused veshti (dhoti). If it is a nice one with red and green border then you have the basic decoration done for your padi at no extra effort.

If you want to go for 5 padis then, in addition to the 3 above you can add wodden trunks which are at a lesser height than your table and small wooden or plastic stools for the last padi. If the difference in the levels of any 2 padis is too much, then stack some newspapers on them and get them to your desired levels.

Golu padi is ready!

If you intend to do it religiously on a yearly basis you can get the readymade padis. I have never used them but heard they are quite good. Also you can get your carpenter to make it for you. In that case you can make it to 7 or even 9 padis. It has to obviously be dismantle-able and easy to store.

We had, after lot of effort, found a carpenter who could make a dismantle-able semi-circular padi set for us. Semi circular padis are fun. It’s different / novel/ etc. But the main consideration should be the kind of ‘bommais’ or dolls you have. In a semi-circular padi, it is tough to keep the bigger ones. One of the reasons we got it done was to camouflage our small bommais. But we have had it for about 12 years now. So you can say it’s worth the trouble.

I will put up our golu ideas of previous years. Feel free to use them if you like and do let me know how it turned out 🙂

Posted in CREATIVE ITCH, INSIGHTFUL?, NOW THAT'S ME | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »