Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yuck

So apparently, I'm:



Your Score: Cardamom


You scored 75% intoxication, 25% hotness, 50% complexity, and 50% craziness!




You are Cardamom!

Not many people know you. You're kind of sweet, subtle, and maybe even shy. You're definitely understated and totally underrated. But once people get to know you, they can't get enough. You touch some esoteric, ancient place deep inside people and they love you for it.




Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test


Yuck.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Great Expectations

A mid-night conversation last week sparked the articulation of MinCat's "Philosophy" of love, life and relationships. It has been taking shape over the past two years, and it seems like every couple of months it grows just a little bit more. What better way to document it than here where I can gleefully subject y'all to a little lecture on how to live your lives? :)

Every one of us has been in what I like to call an expectationally-awkward situation at some point in our lives. Person A, in the relationship* "expects" too much of Person B, eroding B's space and peace of mind, and causing the normally stable A to mutate into a strange, moody, resentful, melodramatic creature that, frankly, neither A nor B likes, and B to become withdrawn, distant and cold.** Discomfort rises, if A is like me, then A tries to be cold and distant and fails miserably, being unable to say no to B, and rationalizes it by thinking it is also what s/he wanted to do all along, so there is no point in cutting off his/her nose to spite B. B spends more time solo or on other people in other relationships, because s/he is "teaching A not to be dependent and demanding", and assuages any guilt by telling him/herself that all relationships are unequal and s/he is only being true to him/herself.

One fine day they "have to talk". Except for one time it was always I who started this bit in my experience, though I suppose it depends on the type of A and B in the relationship. They sit down and begin. A says how s/he feels neglected/lonely/left out. B says how s/he feels pressured/claustrophobic/walled-in. A says s/he isn't asking for all that much, just a little attention, after all doesn't B care at all? B says s/he cares, but s/he is who s/he is and A can't change that and has no right to expect it to change just to accommodate A's hypersensitivity and neediness. B has lots of other friends who don't think anything is wrong with him/her! Well so does A! Good! says B. Can't A see that people love A and A needn't be so needy and clingy? The bottom line is that B needs his/her space and A is going to have to accept it.

One of two things happens here. A is deeply insecure and terrified of "losing" B and therefore gives in and makes an effort to be less demanding and less needy, especially since everyone else is telling A that s/he has too many expectations, s/he should just NOT expect anything from anyone! A stops to rethink everything s/he says or does in relation to B and interaction becomes forced and awkward. They are both holding back and watching the relationship, and neither finds the person with whom they originally wanted to interact in the relationship anymore. Eventually they reach what I call the "pre-disappointing stage" where A is expecting to be disappointed and gets no joy out of anything because s/he is always telling him/herself that s/he cannot have expectations and B will disappoint them. This would work very well if it weren't for the fact that (a) in the process of pre-disappointing A is articulating expectations anyway, albeit inverted, and (b) it didn't hide the little baby A underneath it all, who is hoping that the disappointment will be disappointed, and B will actually end up exceeding the inverted expectations. They spend less time together and eventually their relationship dies out, and both move on slightly more wary of As and Bs they might encounter later on in life. The next time A encounters a B, s/he will keep walls up and be ever-so-faintly bitter and resentful from the start, pretty much preempting any real connection, and B will sidestep and withdraw from any A s/he meets, with much the same result. Both imagine they have learned from the relationship and chalk it up to life-experience.

Alternatively, A could get angry and say well THIS is who *I* am, why should you just assume that I am the one who needs to deal with it, I can just as easily say, YOU deal with it or go. This would work except B is the more independent one in the relationship, and so B goes, leaving A hurt and resentful and bitter, and B shaking his/her head and saying never again.

With me so far?

In my life I have had at least 12 like this, with friends, family, crushes, and most recently, BSW. In the beginning I would emerge hurt and angry then it morphed to indignant and resentful (why do they always behave like this??) and finally became exasperated (how come I am the only person in the world who goes out of my way for other people and no one can be bothered to meet me halfway??? I mean, I'm not asking for more than I give!). Of all those relationships, some ended with anger and never wanting to see B again, some ended with feigned indifference but hurt bubbling under the surface, and some, thank heavens, have been salvaged by the Philosophy.

The epiphany I had was simple: the irksome part of this entire routine was that it denied the validity of that statement, "THIS is who *I* am, why should you just assume that I am the one who needs to deal with it, I can just as easily say, YOU deal with it or go" simply because B leaves. At least when A tries to deal with B in the reversed situation, B's point of view is validated. And then it struck me! The problem was not that B wouldn't deal, but that B, and everyone, acted like A had no right to be upset over B. Everyone endorsed B's right to be claustrophobic about A's behaviour, but no one accepts that A has the right to be hurt by B's, INCLUDING A!

The solution, for me, became very simple too. All I had to do was accept that I had the right to be upset, just as B had the right to feel suffocated. Of course it helps if B and "everyone else" also accept my right to be upset, but accepting it myself is the first step. I found that once I did, i no longer resented B, I was no longer indignant for my violated self (hahahaha sorry I couldn't resist) and I could regain the balance I lost when I felt insecure, and restabilize the relationship. Of course, once I was stable again, B became less like a hunted creature at bay and was more open to compromise and negotiation that were not him/her seeking protection from crazy me. And thus, the relationships survived, and I became a stronger person for them, instead of becoming one with deeper insecurities and less belief in myself. If I needed to walk away, I could walk away with dignity and joy in the good that was the relationship, and leave behind me all the ickkiness.

(I just realised that articulated, it sounds ridiculously like some self-help book. sigh.)

*by relationship I refer to interaction between two people on some level of intensity - friends, family, lovers, Sig(nificant)Oth(er)s, whatever.

**I'll be honest here, I'm an A.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New York Moments

*croons* In a New York minute.... oo oo oooooo...

This afternoon, when the Poo and I toddled off to the supermarket to stock up on food, I had a delightful encounter. A short lady, who looks much like many aunties from Amma's generation, is standing in the bus stop. She wears an orange jacket and has glasses and a salt and pepper bob. She's carrying bags from the same supermarket, and is amused to see that we are only carrying one bag, especially since she apparently struck up a conversation with the Poo* while she, the Poo, was forlornly guarding the shopping cart while yours truly was darting among the crazed Thanksgiving shoppers acquiring raw materials for lunch, and she, the lady, noticed the full cart. What a delightful sentence! She is from Guyana and keeps house for a family on the UWS. She's been keeping house for this family fourteen years and all told for seventeen years.

...

The other day, when I was trying to get back uptown at 11pm, the 1 decided not to run and a whole subway full of disgruntled people disgorged themselves from the station. A tall gaunt man yelled anyone wants to share a cab to the UWS, so myself and a little lady hopped into one with him. Turned out that he was an opera singer. No really!! And she went to Julliard, and has one actor son and one graphic designer son. But the opera singer, with his sunken eyes that bored into one, was gaunt from not having food because he was, like all great talent, starving in his rent controlled studio. I swear I felt like I was in a movie.

...

At Halloween I noticed, and this might not be restricted to New York, that for women, wearing a costume is not about looking like the thing, but about looking like a hooker fulfilling male fantasy about the thing!

...

A lady in the subway called out to me as I left: I love how your socks match your bag. This was untrue, except that both were striped, but still I was stunned that a nice white lady would DO that!


*It never ceases to amaze me who, whenever I go ANYWHERE with the Poo on public transport, random people start chatting with us. Apparently she attracts them and me, being the chatty one, I keep them hooked.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Please Mr. Postman

Dearest Thati
I was in the train today and I saw an old man who looked a lot like you. That just after I saw another one who looked like Sharma Thata! Sitting there across from him I began to miss you so much it hurt. Sometimes I can't believe you're not lying on your bed doing the crossword.

Do you know Accoo is getting married? Really!!!!!! In December, in Madras. And Juj is going to have a baby!!! a BABY!! can you imagine??? It's so strange, I can't say I ever thought about this stuff...but now that it's happening I feel like I could never have imagined it without you.

I'll miss you so much
love, always
Gul

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Read Read Read!

No, seriously!

READ!!

I apologise if you don't know about this history or this recent news event. But I think that post REALLY explains some things about the Indian psyche.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

Apologies, I fell into a pit.

Carrying on with requests

So here's the thing. A lot of people I know have been having Issues of late, with husbands, boyfriends, work, family etc. Her Minkieness included. The causes are varied, from I feel stupid in class to I don't know if I can handle a long-distance relationship. But the solution, she proclaims loudly, is the same!

Okay, to backtrack a bit, in the not-so-distant past MinCat was having some emotional distress issues (those of you who knew her as a superintelligent shade of blue would remember the angst and drama of her life). The biggest issues were, of course, family related, but many were, equally predictably, boy related. The strange part was how difficult it was to actually get PAST these almost ancient issues that really were not relevant to my life anymore. So I did what any sensible kitty does, I saw a shrink.

In the course of our brief but immensely useful interaction I learnt that Mr. Dylan of my title was right all along. You see, my problem was not so much that so and so had done such and such and I felt bad about it or because of it. My problem was that I would keep telling myself it served me right for believing in so and so, or taking such and such seriously, that I was a Strong Independent Woman and should be above petty hurts, that we were all grown ups and no-one actually picked sides, things just turned out the way they did. So that people could say to me secure in the knowledge that I wouldn't object, "Come ON! Don't be difficult! If she's not making it awkward why should you?"*

What I realised was that in all the being-an-adult and you-only-brought-this-upon-yourself I completely refused to acknowledge the fact that I had been hurt by the people closest to me, and that hurt was made worse by everyone avoiding the subject and there being no space to say "yes, it was a horrible thing that happened out of the blue", even if there was no blame assigned. There was no space for me to say "Hey! She was being difficult when she pulled that shit in the first place!" even if only to myself. Which meant of course that I was refusing to be hurt and thus couldn't get past being hurt.

The point of this ramble is that while it seems like the only way to get past something is to put it away in the back of the wardrobe and lock it up, it has turned out, in my experience, to be a far better thing to just dive headfirst into it and blubber and scream and lie under the quilt watching chickflicks. In short, if you're feeling something, nevermind WHAT it is, WHY it is or whether it should be, just feel it. Don't think twice, its all right to feel. And once you're done feeling it, it will go away.


*Okay, okay, more backtracking. When I was in college, I spent the first year in a private hostel for women and the second year in a flat with three girls from the hostel. My roommate in the flat was my bestest friend. Another girl, from my class at college, who was my bestest friend THERE, was desperate for a place to live so she came and bunked with me for a month. We shall call her M for now. By the end of the month M had convinced all my other flatmates that I was a conniving gossip and was spreading all kinds of stories about them all over college. End result, I had no best friends and nearly flunked one paper. What happened the next year when we came back was that the group of friends we had in common in college had not picked sides, but had to divide time between the two of us. Being wildly enthusiastic about college community things, and not actively anti-social, I had several other people I could hang out with at the cafeteria or on the lawn at any given point, which meant that the common friends said no no she's all alone you see, thereby spending all their time with her. Which is ok, but it did mean that I had a year when I had no idea what was going on in their lives and the like. Eventually one of them got married and M and the third girl were her bridesmaids. I didn't know anyone at that wedding except them, and so I was very reluctant to go, which is when I was told to stop being difficult.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Under the Greenwood Tree

Who loves to lie with me?

That said. How time flies and all that jazz. Here's a few requests for all y'all my faithful readers.

1. Has anyone noticed the new background? That's the bit behind the white bit. Like two strips on the sides.

2. Stealing idea from Veo I'm going to try set meself goals and all by taking requests. Anyone got a song title they'd like me to turn into a post?

2a. In the same vein, anyone got anything they'd like a special MinCat rant about?

3. Please notice the books I'm reading and loving in the sidebar.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fear Factor

I was watching that Zach Braff movie this morning, you know the one with the pregnant girlfriend and the college girl he sleeps with...um....Last Kiss or something. It's not a shining example of cinematic excellence, but it really pushed my buttons.

What IS it with the world today that people* are so terrified of adulthood? I wonder what it is about seeing people in older generations that makes us fear growing up. Because I can't really think of a better explanation. But, before I set off on my rant, allow me to set the scene.

The movie is about a 29-year old man, who is a fairly successful architect, very much in love with his girlfriend, who suddenly discovers she's pregnant. Of course they won't get married because "Show me 3 couples you personally know who have lasted and I'll marry you", which is FINE, because inscribing oneself in some particular institutionalised form of heterosexual monogamy isn't necessary to survival**, but they are a committed couple, except he must run off and have an affair with a 20-yr old, because he's so scared that there are no surprises left and he's getting old and it's too much to handle. Of course she takes him back and whatnot, but what had me going WTF was the no more surprises oh I'm old my life is over bit.

Leave aside the fact that a child is in itself an infinite source of endless surprise, be it the I want to be a pilot mommy or the cocaine in his crucifix, how can giving oneself into commitment mean the end of all things new? Does this mean that all the single people are running around having wild sex and cuddles with random people and every morning they wake up and go surprise! Look whose bed I'm in! Heck where are those singles, I want in!

Seriously though, even if it did, is that what we really want? I don't deny that there are people, many even, who probably are very happy with alternatives to the find a partner and share your life option, but this wild lemming-like panic is beyond me. Admit to a fellow 25-year old that the reason I'm having trouble picking a career is that I don't WANT one beyond a house full of cats, dogs and babies, and they will faint or stab themselves in the eye before taking me seriously. Of course I'm not denying that when the kids are teenagers and don't need me I'll probably want to do something more, but I fail to understand why it is inadmissible to acknowledge that yes one is seeking a partner. Why is it a betrayal of your education, your goals, yourself to want to share whatever it is you want with someone else?

*takes deep breath*
To return to my point though.

What is it about the world today that makes people so terrified of dependence. Dependence has come to mean some sort of semi-parasitical existence, and you spend your twenties so scared of it that you shove everyone away and then when you turn thirty you wonder why you don't know anyone and where have all the good men/women gone. But dependence doesn't have to mean obligation, it doesn't have to mean codependence! I can depend on my parents, I can depend on my sister, and each day I'm thankful for it. I can depend on my friends, well some of them at any rate, but that doesn't mean I cannot function without them.

But again, I digress.

So the thing is, the movie made me wonder, if *hiss* settling down is such a bad thing, what DO these people want from life? Do they want to be forty-five, torturing themselves to look good and be out there, always ready to get hammered, always ready to get stoned, always ready to stay up all night watching porn? Seriously, the very thought of partying three nights in a row has me curling up into a foetal ball and whimpering. And I'm only twenty-five. Isn't there a point when you're tired? Aren't there days when you DON'T want to wax your bikini line and suck in your stomach and head out to the bar in stilettos? Don't you want to curl up on the couch in pyjamas and read a book while someone else is puttering about doing their own thing too? You want the Z4, but not the responsibility of paying the insurance?

Sometimes I wonder if the problem is that people are scared to be the odd one out. I find more and more blogs are either witty twenty-something singles who don't want anything approaching commitment oh puhleeeese what are you from the middle ages??? and thirty or forty somethings who are desperately lonely and angry that they can't find the perfect person and must now settle. What changes these people? Is it suddenly ok to want companionship when you turn thirty, but not before?

To me life has it's telos, you age/mature/whatever, and appreciate some things, like Abbey Road, which I only liked after I hit puberty, and you don't appreciate others, like being hungover with 3 hours sleep every night. Or maybe you do, I wouldn't know. But isn't it important to be able to say to yourself, hey I LIKE being 10 years older than everyone I hang out with, or I LIKE knowing I'll wake up next to the same person every day. Whichever it is. Shouldn't you be able to just say it?



*I'm very tempted here to say "Western" people, people from my generation, men, USAmericans, people who live in the US and Western Europe, but I shall refrain

**Another post. I promise. As if anyone's reading!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lurkers!

hello
I just discovered all the cool things I can do with my sitemeter. and I found people visit me from Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Ohio, somewhere in the south central united states [Texas maybe?], Wrentham Massachusetts, Pittsburgh [wait I know this one, right?], Stoke-on-Trent, Rottingdean Birmingham, Frence, Sint-Martens-Latem BELGIUM, Stuttgart Germany, people all over India, while I can't figure out which one is who specifically I can believe the places except the one in the middle that makes me think it's Bhopal???, Brisbane and somewhere jus south of the middle of Australia.

Who ARE you?????
Suddenly I feel way cooler than I ever have in all my years [3? 4?] of blogging.
If you don't mind very much wldja pleeeeease say hi and where you're from in the comments box? Or send me an email. I am a cat after all and we all know what curiosity does to my species!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Come September

When I was Very Young my godly mother used to play a song, by The Shadows or The Ventures or something, called Come September. The point being that, in September, when the new school year starts, people who have flunked have a shot at passing again. Of course, since school started in June and if one flunked one stayed flunked and usually moved school if one's parents loved one enough*, it made no sense at all. One also didn't know that school could mean many things, like what a twenty-five year old does in the West Village, and happened in many places.

Well September has come around and I spent the day doing probably what I did last year, only this time it was with the slightly supercilious air of a person who knows where to get free print-outs, and what time to go to the bank to avoid the line, a person who knows the Washington Square campus by heart and isn't shy about sharing her knowledge. It felt very strange.

When I remember myself going about bizniz last year I'm convinced it was in another place, a place that is hazy and tinged with a cold grey light, where there are a few buildings with NYU banners and a few vaguely familiar faces from the Graduate Welcome Week events. It was a New York that was very empty and quiet and very full and noisy, by turns; a New York where I could never run into anyone I knew on the street, and even if I did, odds were I wouldn't know their name.

Yesterday I planned to meet two people, and I ran into four more. The park was full of bright sunshine and the sky was ridiculously blue.



*of COURSE I have never flunked!!!!! ;)

Friday, August 31, 2007

1 am Faff

By the time the entering the house ritual is done most of the faff has gone. Ask me about it some other time. I do love driving at night in this city, its beautiful and I rarely ever have to get out of fifth.

The problem with signs is, how do you know it IS a sign and isn't wishful thinking? What if fairytales ARE true, what if you DO just know, and what if you are never sure of the what ifs?

All I can do is gather every scrap of zen I can lay my hands on, rummage though the pockets of the thrice-washed pants, in the hope that there's something extra there - every penny helps, right? Then mix it up in a mojito, knock it down and pray it conjures up every last atom of faith left in my body and my life, every story of fate and destiny, good and bad, every iota of hope and positive thinking, close my eyes and just hold on. After all, the thing with destiny is that it always works out happy and fulfilling in the end, right?

And you know, this time it might just work. At least in terms of trauma and drama free life.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Testing

Am trying to overcome vagaries of internet, so this is test post to see if I can do this whole email your post in thing. Of course this means I have a good excuse for fluff. [Like I need one. :D]

Yesterday was truly a signal day in the life of MinCat.

First, she had dinner with her paediatrician. This is not in itself too strange, only there was a moment when she was sitting on the couch and said paediatrician said what would you like to drink, I have some nice single malts, that the surreality of it all struck her.

Second, on this trip MinCat knows NO women. It was strange indeed to be in Wannabe-English-Pub, surrounded by boys instead of girls. Most bizarre. [Those of ye who have seen MinCat through all her previous avatars will know why. Those of you who haven't don't bother, it's not that interesting.]

Third, in the auto on the way to Karaoke night, the phone rings, and it is Old Friend [gah, i should make a list of all the pseudonyms] who was supposed to give her a ride home but had to cancel, calling to say that he would make time and swing by WEP, so that she would be assured of a ride. When she told him she did have a backup and would be fine, he said to her, well if you need a ride, call me, I'll come and get you, leaving MinCat both gasping in shock and melting in awww-ness.

And fourth, on arriving at mall that houses WEP, to meet BikerBoy and some of his friends, MinCat was overwhelmed by the greeting she received. You see, she was on the phone with BikerBoy, informing him of her arrival, as she climbed the steps to the atrium, and he broke off midsentence, not even waiting to hang up, and came bounding across the atrium, and leapt over a parapet to give her a giant hug. She was left speechless and sniffly with sentiment.

Three and four are events of note because it has never happened that boys have made such gestures to MinCat in all the twenty-five long years of her life. They might possibly be the sweetest spontaneous gestures any boy has EVER made to her. After all this she sang Alanis Morissette at the Karaoke and went to sleep with the biggest fuzzy grin on her face.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Illegal Immigration

**Disclaimer**
This post talks about what has come across to me as the general ideological/political stance of the entities involved. I am well aware that there exist other stances with huge followings, and many individuals who fight these very stances I discuss.

Living in New York, and having travelled through Spain, the country that is essentially the border-town between Africa and Europe, illegal immigration is an inescapable subject of conversation, writing, and news coverage. I try and not involve myself as a rule, because after all we cats like to walk by ourselves, but sometimes it's hard to avoid. I like to think that I come from a family and a social background characterised by its tolerance, of other people, their ideas, their opinions, their idiosyncrasies or whatever. So, when I find a very good friend, whom I love and respect, making casual and callous remarks about gypsies, it makes me cringe. But I also feel it is that person's right to comment about a community in that country, with the experience of that life. After all, I make Sardar jokes [well I don't anymore, but I used to] and I'm sure that often I say things that make outsiders cringe. I like to think that I refrain from making a lasting judgement of a person I have recently met, and that I'm open to changing my mind about them all the time I might know them. And I do my best not to engage in argument with people who voice opinions very firmly, especially if I have just met them, and they are not peers.

Now, in the course of the travels in Spain I had a lot of arguments about a lot of things, not the least garish tank tops with images of Indian gods on them, and George Harrison and co's appropriation of hare rama and the like. While staying with people in a small town in Spain, I found it very very difficult to behave. The family is extremely religious, which many Spaniards are, but I hadn't encountered any before, since my friend's family isn't very devout. This meant that they were also fairly traditional, or conservative if you prefer, especially since they live in this little town on the coast. In the course of my conversations with the wife, I was stunned into silence many times over by the kind of views she expressed. You see, in India, people who are educated, especially in medicine and the sciences [she's a nurse] pride themselves on being rational about certain things like religion or birth control. So the problem I face in Christian countries is that educated people express views that are, to me, exceedingly backward and ignorant. In the midst of the statements about homosexuality and birth control, the lady made a face and muttered about "los moros".

The moors in Spain are a problematic subject, because after all, it was the expulsion of the Moors that gave birth to the idea of the Spanish nation, with Ferdinand and Isabel la Catolica's wars. But having lived there for over 700 years, many of them were, for all practical purposes, and if we go by today's evaluation of the non-immigrant population of the USA, natives by that time. But, having been built up as the bad guys*, anyone African or Muslim becomes tainted. The vast numbers of Algerians who migrate up and down from France, the Moroccans who have settled in Spain, any number of Pakistani and Central Asian people who have moved there to hold menial jobs - all are faintly vilified for being there. "It starts with one and then everyone comes and then *hushed tones of horror* they live SIX PEOPLE IN ONE HOUSE!"

The term "los moros" now refers to muslims or Africans, and god help you if you are both. Both the gentleman and his wife were resentful of the illegal-immigrant presence in their country, indicating that they would be willing to tolerate a few, but not people in such numbers, because they were taking their jobs. This argument I saw as ridiculous, since not one of the Pakistanis I met was in either of their professions! But the question that occurred to me, and I didn't ask, was: And what about the hordes of illegal immigrants Europeans in India and Africa and America in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries? [And well beyond]

Just because it wasn't articulated in that manner doesn't mean it wasn't illegal immigration. After all, it was the uninvited entry into the territory of another nation, usually in possession of resources that you didn't have, to better your life and that of the people of your kingdom, and motivated by extreme circumstances, whether the desperate need for a market, resources or land. The significant differences are that they decimated populations, totally exploited the native people of the land, stole all their resources, and convinced of their own superiority, subjugated everyone they could and killed everyone they couldn't [well ok, that's an exaggeration, but not by a lot] and most of all, they sold other human beings into slavery. Now today's immigrant, legal or otherwise, is convinced of his/her own inferiority, and does his/her best to better the interests of the country s/he has emigrated to, and in the process to improve the life of immediate family.

The point I'm making is that I see this point-blank refusal to be open to a two-way exchange that is equal in content, manner and extent, for both sides. Equality for the West [as we so love to call it here, I'm going to use it till I can come up with a better term than First World] is only allowed on their terms, and equality means that they are kind enough to permit everyone else to feel equal, but don't ever forget by whose grace you are at this point, because I'll take it away any time I want, whether with a War on Terror, or economic sanctions, or a cloak-and-dagger execution. Its great to have hordes of Indians working to keep your customer service bill down, but only as long as it doesn't make you worry about your own job-security. Agreed the Asian work ethic is voluntary slave ethic in comparison to that of the West, but the West loves slave-ethics, they did invent the industry.

The bottom line is that it takes tremendous courage to up and relocate to a country with a foreign language and a strange and often antagonistic religion; it must rise from extreme circumstances in your homeland; and it demands extreme hardship to even GET there. I'm not talking, in this post, about people like me, who have something to come back to, or even people form the middle-class, who put every damn thing they've got and fight tooth and nail to get to that IT job in the US; I'm talking of the poor people, whose lives are unbearable, often as a result of actions by the developed world or their own government, of the droves of Pakistani immigrants in Europe, of the Salvadorians and Haitians and all the other people who stumble their way into the USA. It took as much courage if not more, to do it in 1492, and we valourise that courage. So why do we vilify it today?

It is also true that mass immigration plays havoc with cultural hierarchies; when your Gujarati family manages to successfully run a motel chain in Arkansas, it really destroys the pretty picture of camels and exotic sari-clad women that Folklore has allotted them, and demands both agency and relevance to the modern world for these rural people. Islam's response to the West's denial of agency has been terrorism, though I am suspicious of so convenient an explanation.

It still remains that we, of the "Third World", are doing EXACTLY what they did 500 years ago, in that Arabic, Egyptian and Vedic knowledge, and colonial resources, both natural and human, brought today's "First World" where they are today, just as learning their languages and equipping ourselves with the skills needed to occupy the interstices and gaps in their society brings us where we are today. [Education is a whole other post.]

*to the extent that the patron saint of Spain Santiago is called Santiago Matamoros [St James the Moor-Killer] and almost always depicted as a shining white man on a shining white horse that is rearing up to strike dead one of several Moors lying on the ground, as its master kills more with his shining sword.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Love Love Love

No personal stuff mi culo respetable. Not like anyone reads anyway. Besides as I slowly recover I shall write.

Lying in bed exhausted and unable to sleep I thought of all the peoples I loves. Here is your ode.

She Who Sees Clearly: I have to love you, no? And I can't help but love you. But most of all, I love you cos you are just so fucking awesome, and I'm so very happy that the past year brought us here. I miss talking to you everyday, most dreffly! But soon it shall recommence.

My Pixie Girl: Now you is special for very er unusual reasons, no? And right now I love you because really truly underneath it all we're around forever.

Pisshead Kutti: I am too afraid of spiders! But I love you for saying otherwise. And I love you for the Ps. And blackbird. And good LORD Gtalk! And always being cold. And the sanjiifying. Wait, I don't love the sanjifying itself though, so don't get your hopes up.

O Poogalicious one: Once again, I have to no? But my princess what a delight it is to report speech to ye, she said, grinning. Always fly by my house.

The Acrostic One: For the monkey ballet, for the nose-poking, for the dumb charades and the thought process. I LOVES YOU!

Beloved Hag: Don't hate me for the nick, you christened yourself. And how can I not love someone like you? I hope I can be one-fifth as cool when I grow up.

Mi Chiquirritín: Cómo no quererte? Ya sabes cuanto y porque.

Loquita: A ver a ver... ¿como se puede describir está connexión que tenemos? No sé pero seguro que en otra vida había una chica española y otra india y ahora han cambiado de sítio. ¿No?

The Bride: I was driving through AWHO today and my god I almost pulled over to pick you up. Hug. Even thought you don't like them. Love ya for evernever.

And there are more. But the love that welled up for now is satiated.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Notas de Viaje: Part II Los Españoles

I know I said no Dear Diary moments, but what the heck!

1st july
The thing I notice first about Madrid as we circle in to land is the colour. The whole city is laid out gently tinted red, where in the US I only see the occasional aquamarine swimming pool and tree-filled swanky neighbourhood to relieve the grey. And the spectacular sunrise with the sky striped all the colours of the rainbow only served to add it. Not to forget the exquisite beauty of the sun rising through the mists over mountains, with horizontal fingers of god. If only I had the courage to whip out the camera! The other thing that defines Madrid for me is the smell - of cigarettes. My god the way they smoke. I got out of the metro train from the spankingly new, spectacularly well-designed with waving roofs, cheerful primary colours and insanely inconvenient layout airport, to transfer to the line for the bus station and the first hint I detect in the air is of cigarettes. Spain is one of the few places left in the western world where one can smoke inside a bar. Not necessarily a good thing!

One thing that really impressed me about the people here is their consideration. There is no Indian family that hasn’t gone running out to buy diet coke, bottled water and toilet paper for phoren family visitors. But I don’t know of a single Indian family settled in the US who ever makes sure there is a mug in the loo for people visiting from India. R’s parents are so adorable they bought wet serviettes, of the kind used to wipe babies’ bums, and made sure there was vegetarian food in the house, to the extent that they left the tuna out of the salad to add when they ate. This in a culture where the concept of no meat is so bizarre that I have been asked several times: pero chica QUÉ COMES?? [but what on earth DO you eat???] after i have said no meat and then refused offers of tuna salad and chicken soup.

Notas de Viaje*: Part I Magicality

30th june
There is something so beautiful about watching planes queue up to land. there they are in the perfectly patient line, tiered along a diagonal rising to the sky, marked by their headlights twinkling in the daytime sky. And then, as we taxi in O’Hare, looking for our gate, I see a 747 being towed, and I am stunned at the seeming effortlessness of its movement. Here is a giant skulking monster aircraft, weighing so much that the mind boggles, and yet it glides along like a pond-skater, pulled by this tiny little truck. And then, when in the air, it moves like a hawk, sailing through the sky, once again effortlessly, its wings bounce fragilely in turbulence, making me fear that they might snap off from the wind, I forget the sheer power of those engines, rumbling in the background, the sheer brute power required to keep this behemoth afloat. And when I remember it, I look out at those wings again, and am suddenly seized by terror, because I imagine the power of those winds if they shake those wings that hard, and am reminded of my own transience and fragility, because if they are that strong they could break the wings off, couldn’t they?

I remember thinking once that the magic of airports is alive only at night, when you can’t actually see the machines and the fuel and the force that goes into making those fairy lights glide off into the air. But I am forced to reconsider that today. I was stuck by the ease with which one is led to forget all that very physical, solid and metallic aspect to air travel at anytime, simply because the planes fly! And it led me to think about how the best crafted things hide their artifice. Is it innate to humans that we want to believe in magic? The insane amount of technology that goes into this laptop I’m typing on, sitting in this seat in this airplane is something we are all encouraged to forget. Think of the iPhone! It’s selling point is its cuteness and magicality [is that a word? My MSWorks dictionary says no. So be it, I have coined the word.] This plane I’m on even has a tail camera, which lets you get an albeit skewed realtime view of the take off at about the same level as the pilot. It was SO COOL. Felt like a videogame - again forget the reality and assume the magicality.

My biggest problem with the fictional work of Booker winner Arundhati Roy is that she tries too hard, and worse, it shows. So I began to think, is that why I am giddy with delight at the book that pretends it just popped out of an author’s head? That denial of artifice is precisely what excited me about One Hundred Years of Solitude, even if it is an endless and definitely boring piece of entertainment. So magicality is the aim. It is magicality that conceals the hours of backbreaking work that go into embroidery, leaving you gasping at the delicacy of the work and yet incapable of truly understanding the labour that went into it. So why are we so blasé about craft today?

A part of me wants to yell MANUFACTURE! The Spanish word for factory is fabrica, which is just fabulous in its portmanteau-ness. The fabrication of this result, never you mind how it happened, isn’t it magical? The fact that machines can now produce results very similar to those of humans leads us to devalue artifice. Magicality itself elicits a blasé reaction, if you will permit the oxymoron. I buy a chikan kurta, its pretty whether someone embroidered it by hand or a machine did it. Of course this means either I cease to appreciate it when it is done by hand, or I choose to demand my magicality. After all, the machines are also the result of artifice.

So let us unite my friends and demand the return of magicality!

*With all due apologies to Ernestito

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nature vs Nurture

***Warning: Generalization alert***

What is it about instinct and conditioning? Conditioning, especially social, is very important, it teaches us not to spit on other people, and thus reduces the spread of the common cold, for example. Or how, as I was just discussing with She Who Sees Clearly, one always feels a little less lonely when the phone rings. Then again, instinct is a pretty cool thing too, it is instinct that makes you shut your eyes when an evil butterfly with treacherous designs on your cornea pops up around your head. But when it comes to personal life, what is it about us hoomuns that makes it impossible to PICK ONE!

Well ok, maybe it's only me that can't pick. In all the years (oh shush) that I've been poking about in other people's bizniz, I've found that most of us seem to love torturing ourselves. To being with, we like to declare our individuality. We are who we are and to hell with those who want us to be someone else, be it parents, lovers, teachers, friends or even ourselves. After all when we tell ourselves to change we only say that because we are accepting the *hiss* social conditioning that *hiss* society has thrust upon us. Of course, come the situation when one has to call on one's individuality, it's never quite that simple. We DO live within this society and there are benefits that accrue to us, so we must compromise somewhere. It doesn't just affect MY life, so I can't be the person making this decision to completely change the way the company works. Etc. Fair enough.

But, what happens when it truly is a decision that affects only me? I'm single, live on my own, got no dependents, ain't dependent on no one. What makes it so hard to step out and make a decision on my personal life? Why must I dissect it minutely with every single person I love and then discuss each opinion with the others? Why is it when I rail against The Game, and declaim about my refusal to stoop to such a level, that I still subscribe to it passively? I won't play, I shan't play, I declare! But, even when it is most out of character, when I hate to acquiesce, when I KNOW that the only way I'll move on is to do it my way, I still droop and slouch and whimper about The Game. The social conditioning tells me that I should interpret something in a certain way. But it is only an interpretation, and I'll never KNOW until I ask. In-so-many-words. Agonizing over a non-date to a friend today, I got my wake-up call. "Did you call and ask him what's going on? What am I thinking, of course you did." quoth said friend, making me realise that MinCat has, in a flurry of protestations, relinquished her newfound control TO THE GAME! And then it all makes sense again, it's so easy to just smile and say, hey, what's going on here? Instead of talking of everything else under the sun and trying to make THAT into an answer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Raving Nymphomaniac?

You know how it is sometimes when the *perfect* man appears? I mean this in a most superficial manner of course, since once you get to know anyone they can no longer be perfect. So, obviously, I mean someone you meet briefly - I say less then 10 minutes of conversation. Course it usually takes them about three words to turn me off. What can I say, I'm picky.

Anyhoo, the source of the pontification is the fact that, even though I did make a list enumerating the characteristics of the elusive *one*, many many years ago, the shock of the nooooooooooooo-don't-get-out-of-the-subway-until-I-give-you-my-number reaction was how spontaneous it was and how he really wasn't my "type".

So MinCat is riding the train downtown, the lord knows where to, with BikerBoy, a visiting friend who is holding forth about something. Midsentence in walks man under discussion. Very tall (why is it that when a guy has to duck to get into the subway it gives me butterflies?) - that one was expected. He was also white, very white (bringing to mind the vague corpse-like tone to BSW's skin, *shudder*), not lanky at all. Just a layer of pudge, you know? And on someone that big..... *sigh*

In all the times I've pictured the guy I'd pick out of a catalogue, he's always had cropped hair, probably straight, though it's so short I probably can't tell. This one had curly brown hair, that lovely shining chocolate colour, and it wasn't long, but it wasn't cropped close to his head either. I have no idea what colour his eyes were, because he was too tall for me to get a look, cos I was sitting down.

He kinda looked like Elijah Wood meets John Mayer, which is soooooooooooooo not my type! I suppose what amazes me is just that shock of recognition I had, THIS is the perfect guy. With THAT hair. And THOSE jeans. And THAT asymmetrical jaw. He was reading a book too. I made sheep's eyes at him for about ten minutes and then he got out at Times Square. I almost leapt out of the train waving my phone number on a paper napkin.

Anyway, I think the reason I started this post, apart from wanting to relive the gorgeousness of him tee hee hee, was because it struck me that that same day, I saw another guy, classically GORGEOUS, and I'm talking objective perfection here. And while I thought he was so good-looking, I had no wish ALL to stare at him or smile or make eye-contact. And I certainly had no impulse to throw my phone number at him!

Why is this? Maybe it's because I don't trust beautiful men. I feel the clichés about them are often true; that if a guy knows he's hot, if he knows he's gorgeous the other sides of his personality don't develop. He won't have a sense of humour and he will have a sense of his own superiority. And everyone knows MinCat is the superior one ;) It's the interesting ones that get me. It might have something to do with my recent discovery that all the sexual attraction in the world will not make up for a lack of intellectual turning on. I cannot in all honesty think of a single good-looking male I know who isn't just a little bit of a pompous prick. This includes the ones I'm related to and the intelligent ones. Of course when I say good-looking I mean people who are outstandingly yummy, you just can't not call them good-looking.

I think sometimes that in a fantasy world I'd love to be with some drool-inducing hunk, but in real life maybe I'd rather be with a non-extreme person who induces extreme feelings in me.
Is it just me?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Answers

Well it took me a while to sort through the dizzying number of responses to my question post
and here are some answers.

From The Dragon:
1.If you could become someone (someone you know personally) who would it be?

Um....what a BIZARRE thing to ask. i would become my mommy cos she's a GODDESS. :D


2. If you were one of the last people alive on earth, would you steal from the department store?

Er...yes. why is this a question??


3. What is the one cruel thing you have always wanted to tell someone you love, but never have? Also who is that person?

Honestly....I can't think of anything. I tried REALLY hard. But you know me, speech is a spinal reflex, if I'm thinking it I say it and then spend hours apologising for being a prick.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ooer


You scored as Remus Lupin. You're a calm, cool, optimistic person who doesn't dwell on the bad but looks more deeply into the good. You're wise and know much about the world, and though you teach your lessons to others, react humbly when complimented on your intelligence. You've suffered a lot in your life but are extremely accepting of it all and suffer inwardly. You're a great friend to have as you're gentle and caring.

Remus Lupin


84%

Hermione Granger


84%

Harry Potter


69%

Luna Lovegood


66%

Albus Dumbledore


66%

Neville Longbottom


63%

Ron Weasley


63%

Severus Snape


59%

Sirius Black


56%

Bellatrix Lestrange


53%

Oliver Wood


44%

Draco Malfoy


41%

Lord Voldemort


34%

Percy Weasley


31%

Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with QuizFarm.com

My My. I like me! :D

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ay yi yi!!!!

I wake up bleary-eyed and read this:

Your warm, loving, romantic nature is being noticed whether you realize it or not, dear Cancer. Perhaps you feel sometimes that there is not enough excitement in your life - especially your love life. Don't think that this means you need to change yourself in order to be more pleasing to others. The truth is that your stability and your quiet, loving nature are extremely nurturing and comforting to those who understand and appreciate such qualities. The last thing you want to do today is put up a facade of being someone you are not.


To quote Armando, from today's Garfield, AY YI YI!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ain't it Funny?

That when you tell yourself you want something, and you get it, you realise you want what you said you didn't want all along?
Or when you tell yourself you don't really have any specifics, you just want things to move in a certain direction, you find out you *do* want specifics, and that they aren't what you expected at all?
Or when you you have it all figured out the universe will tease you by giving it to you in bits and pieces, so that you get parts of what you want mixed with what you don't want?

Or maybe it takes getting something one claims one wants, to make one drop one's Political Correctness and admit, albeit even if only to oneself in the Saferoom, what one really, truly wants.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More timepass

You Belong in New Zealand

Good on ya, mate
You're the best looking one of the bunch
Though you're often forgotten...
You're quite proud of who you are

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Me again

So one is wrong for sure, any guesses?


Monday, April 23, 2007

Edward Monkton

This is for all of you my darlings. I love you. Even those of you that don't read this. Esp YOU cos you led me here.

"THE FRIENDS can connect in a mysterious way without even speaking.
Perhaps they have AMAZING MAGICAL POWERS.
Perhaps they are both just PECULIAR IN THE HEAD."

"The BISCUIT will only dare to be just a BISCUIT when it is with its TRUE FRIEND the POTATO."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Memememememe

Stolen from her Greatness


1. PICK OUT A SCAR YOU HAVE, AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU GOT IT
Big slash across me tummy, dividing the bulge into two. Surgery for cysts in my small intestine when I was 3. Or so they tell me. I wouldn't know, I don't remember.

2. WHAT IS ON THE WALLS IN YOUR ROOM?
Photographs I have taken, (one my sister took) of pretty landscapy things. And on the other wall, lots of picture of the people I love in bright colourful frames.

3. WHAT DOES YOUR PHONE LOOK LIKE.
It's a red flippy-fone! wheeeeeee!

4. WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?
At this point tango and salsa. But yesterday it was Bollywood.

5. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT DESKTOP PICTURE?
A sunset I took in Goa on the last trip I took with a very dear friend.

6. WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?
Someone to snuggle up to. (Ugh, I'm pathetic!)

7. DO YOU BELIEVE IN GAY MARRIAGE?
Marriage is overrated. (Until I want to get married of course)

8. WHAT TIME WERE YOU BORN?
8.05 am

9. ARE YOUR PARENTS STILL TOGETHER?
Very much so.

10. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
The squelching of me wallowing in self-pity.

11. DO YOU GET SCARED OF THE DARK?
Yes. Very. Everything scares me in the dark.

12. THE LAST PERSON TO MAKE YOU CRY?
Me. Or was it the universe?

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOGNE / PERFUME?
Boss Intense

14. WHAT KIND OF HAIR/EYE COLOUR DO YOU LIKE ON THE OPPOSITE SEX?
Dark hair Green eyes. *swoon*

15. DO YOU LIKE PAIN KILLERS?
Only when I'm cramping.

16. ARE YOU TOO SHY TO ASK SOMEONE OUT?
Yes.

17. FAVE PIZZA TOPPING?
Olives and Pineapple

18. IF YOU COULD EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Toast and marmite. Oh GOD I MISS MARMITE!!!!

19. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU MADE MAD?
A friend who was helping me with taxes.

20. IS ANYONE IN LOVE WITH YOU?
Nope. Never been. (See #12)

Friday, April 20, 2007

*hic*

Apologies. Have been obsessing with cooking blog and end-term papers. There are posts in process. And layout will be bettered. Hee hee. I thought mejorado. So anyway. Right now the apple martinis tell me to tell you that I'll be Bach, And you can be Mozart.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Vagueness

Continuing in the vein of non-posts...


This Is My Life, Rated
Life:
6.6
Mind:
7.4
Body:
5.7
Spirit:
6
Friends/Family:
4.4
Love:
0
Finance:
7
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Monday, April 16, 2007

देखो देखो!

अब हम हिंदी में लिखसकते है। येह ब्लॉगर का कमाल है!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thoughts on the Throne

In the bathrooms in my building in NYU, there is usually no heat. Worse, however, is the toilet paper. Now being a good Girl From South of the Himalayas I am not very fond of the concept to begin with. And in New York it is exacebated by how cheap they are with it! The paper in NYU is much like butter paper and confined to a single transparent sheet. The paper in JFK and La Guardia is even worse, if possible. I assumed it was a factor of the publicness of the facilities only to discover it is not so! In Boston's Logan airport, and here in sunny California, even in the Oakland airport and the Saravana Bhavan in Sunnyvale that is far flung enough to not be connected by the BART, they have delightful, multiple-ply, soft and verging on spongy paper.

Does this say anything about New York and New Yorkers?

One answer: Yup. We have no nerves in our bums.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dear Diary

argh.

*reatreats to corner and glowers*

Friday, March 09, 2007

Park Benches and Chocolate

It's been a strange day. Dear me I swore I wouldn't let this become another I woke and brushed my teeth this morning blogs. But. It's been one of those days. It's 6pm and I'm on the squishy couch in the study, as I have been most of the day. Except when i was coming back from little errands and sat on the bench on the road divider to read my book and eat a cookie, cos it was such a beautiful bright sunny day. Also cold and windy. And then I read one Jennifer Crusie and am on my second. And it's about a chubby girl called Min (short for Minerva). It's full of food and loving food, and discovering a teeny italian restaurant and having the one thing on the menu you always eat. Seeing how this evening is not going to be the way I really want it to be, albeit a fun evening, I have been driven to the evils of chocolate. Real hot chocolate. Made with cooking chocolate melted into boiling water. And stirred till it cools, followed by a tichy bit of milk, and then brought to a boil. Evil, Sinful, Dark Chocolate. *sigh*

Monday, March 05, 2007

Commuting the City

The subway is one of my favourite bits about the city. The most amazing things happen on it. Depending on which stations you're using you can find bongos, steel drums, a team of breakdancers, a choir, cellos, pan pipes, and the ubiquitous guitars and saxophones. There's even an old guy at West 4th who plays the synth, as in it's spouting noises and hes poking at a key a minute, surrounded by battery-powered dancing dolls - a G.I, a barbie-type thing, something with God Bless America on it.

Then there are the see the light jesus will save you types. There are the Good evening ladies and gennlemen, my name is XYZ and I am homeless speeches from people who walk the cars looking for money and food. Then there are the Good evening ladies and gennlemen I work for a corporation that makes up food packages for the homeless, etc.

Once there was this highly entertaining guy who came in and said:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am from another planet. My spaceship crashed on Earth a few years ago and I need money to buy the spare parts. I need to get back to the mother ship as soon as possible so I would really appreciate it if you would make any donation you feel like.
The car rolled its eyes collectively.
He continued: I would also like to inform you that when I leave I will be taking with me the most most wanted criminal of my home world - George W. Bush.
The car burst out laughing and produced $1 bills.

Then there are the days when I feel like India is haunting me. Last Tuesday, I was running downtown to meet a friend and as I leapt into the sbway car I heard the Mallu-est of Mallu voices [much like the priest at my friend the Bryde's wedding, who kept saying donkey, only it sounded like lungi] say, next shtop, 79th street. sadly phonetic transcription is impossible. Later that night, I leapt into a cab, rattled off my address and sat back only to realise the cabbie, apart from driving much like the BPO cabs in dear old Hyderabad, was jabbering endlessly on his phone, in Punjabi! At the end of the ride, by which time I knew a lot about his daughter and her school, I asked him where he was from. Pakistan he said. Unable to stop myself, or the wine, I babbled at him in Hindi and we had a little chat about where I was from and howcome I spoke Hindi so well.

One of the most interesting things is how people react to discovering they have sat down next to someone undesirable as a seat partner; in PC NYC you can't just get up and leave. Or so one would think. Last night, there was a smelly and definitely mentally unbalanced homeless man in my car. He was slumped down on the row of seats laughing and talking to himself. In jumped an elderly couple, who promply squished themselves into the first 2 empty seats they saw. If they had taken a second they would have seen how many more empty seats there were NOT sandwiched between the homeless guy and the door. Of course the woman then smushed between her husband and the homeless man was ina quandary, should she get up and be rude in indicating that she perceived a difference between the dirty unstable man and her clean middleclass self, or should she stay there. She stuck it out for a while but then evenutally got up and went to the other end of the car where she cooed over someone's baby. Not a bad reaction all told. Shocking however, was the clean-cut young man who got on at 79th street, sat far from the homeless man, twitched and fidgeted a bit before leaping off at 86th, to run the length of 2 cars and change cars. This I know cos I got off at 86th and saw him run.

Its funny how there are different types of commuters. There are the Starers, who just stand and stare into space; the Gadgeters, who fidget with blackberrys, iPods, DVD players and occasionally laptops; the Entertainers, who play music so loud its obviously for the entertainment of the entire train; the Readers, who well, read; the Eaters, and the people who combine any or all of the above. [In case you want to know, I'm a Reader and a Gadgeter, I can't commute without iPodito.] Of course the main purpose of all these distraction is not so much to pass time as to avoid making eye-contact with or acknowledging the existence of other commuters. Which is why, when an old professor-like gent hopped on the train, sat next to me and bent over to peer at the title of the book I was reading, I grinned and showed it to him. I can't count the number of times I've wanted to talk to someone about a book they were reading in the train. Anyway, soon after, a black teenager comes by, selling candy. Mr. Professor says, young man, I'll buy your candy if you can tell me who this man is, pointing to the book he was reading - a biography of W. E. B. DuBois. Let us call him the Lala Lajpat Rai of the Black movement. Actually I don't know an appropriate equivalent, but he was the first black man to get a PhD, and from Harvard no less; he was a leader of the PanAfrican movement; wrote extensively on black issues, and the identity of African-Americans; etc. So the kid had no clue, and Mr. Professor gave him a short lecture and the kid promised to go look him up. Mr. Prof then said, do you know the Schomberg library? [Arturo Schomberg, another shining light of the black mvt] No sir I don't. Do you live in Harlem? No sir, the Bronx. Well you should go to Harlem to the Schomberg Library. Yes sir, I will, tomorrow. Hopefully, the kid grinned, thinking I've been so good maybe he'll buy some candy. But nope. It made me think about Indian kids and their awareness of people in the struggle. Maybe I shld read up on the Dalit movement...um sorry my Ancient Witch, the braincell is taking over again.

That same train ride, a bunch of Brazilians got on the train, carrying bags and suitcases and obivously dressed up to go out. Two of the women stood near a pole and started unzipping suitcases and pulling out makeup, and one proceeded to make the other one up like a harlot [:D] with bright red eyeshadow and huge amounts of glitter. In a moving subway train. Huh.

And lastly, I realised last weekend that I seem to have acquired the Angry Newyorker walking attitude. Head down, much like a bull, and charge onward, refusing to apologise to anyone who moves out of their original trajectory and thus gets run into. Ok, I'm not that bad, I do look around and apologise to people I run into. I have however found myself, especially when in the area of Times Square, gritting my teeth and growling to myself: move move MOVE DAMMIT!!! Fucking tourists, SOME OF US HAVE PLACE TO GO!! If you must walk like children on a ramble, DO IT IN SINGLE FILE!! ARGH! ARGH! MOVE!! STICK TO ONE PATH!! DECIDE WHICH WAY TO TURN BEFORE THE CROSSING! THE LIGHT IS TURNING RED, MOVE MOVE MOVE DAMMIT MOVEEEEEEEEEE!

Hee.

Also, annoying couples who must sway all over the sidewalk, I mean come on! It's bad enough you're rubbing my singledom in my face, but do you HAVE to make me late for class as well?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

EEP!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Post-op

Perhaps its the things I read as part of coursework, perhaps its because its a year since I realised I needed help and sought it, or perhaps its just the way the whole chaotic synchronicity of the universe just works sometimes, but one of the themes asserting itself in my life right now is that of recovery.

On a thematic level it’s the week I read Lawrence Weschler’s masterpiece on Brazil and Uruguay [see sidebar]. The theme: recovering from torture, as a newly-formed nation state, as a person released from fourteen years of solitary confinement, as people who kept their heads down and looked the other way, as the man who runs into the man he intricately tortured several times, as the citizens who fled their homeland when it mutated.

The book is part of the course I’m doing on International Human Rights in Latin America, taught by a rather film-star-like nauseatingly Disney professor who brings out the most cynical and abrasive side to me. His question: is the glass half full or half empty? My answer: half-empty and evaporating fast. The man, whom I think of as Bambi in my head, often makes me want to scream in frustration and SHAKE him, if only to burst that bubble of “love…..and tolerance…..and compassion” that he lives in and therefore believes we all have hidden away inside our mean little souls. But this week I was forced to agree with him.

Compiled from three articles in the New Yorker, the book is excellently written, engaging the reader and, much like the eye in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, in refusing to actually give shape and form to the deep horror that lies at its heart, i.e. the torture and disappearing* of innocent civilians by repressive authoritarian regimes, does not permit you to pin it down and move past it, but leaves the details up to the mind of the reader, making it your very own little hell that you then have to think about getting over.

But, I digress. It’s hard not to, it isn’t very often that work with these kinds of impulses can affect me so much.

Anyway, the point of the book, and of many of the texts [including clips from documentaries] that we’ve dealt with so far in this course is the dilemma that is recovery from these things. The main conclusion arrived at across several countries and ideologies is that the only course of action that will grant peace to the people who remain while ensuring the stability of the political situation is a truth commission, that will investigate what happened, and publicly acknowledge the horrors so that people can attain closure, both collectively and individually.**

And thence to the next thought, that of victimhood. The importance of rehabilitation on an individual level is its ability to empower people to elevate themselves from the status of agency-less victim to survivor and agent. Ugh, bad sentence. I mean that the most insidious aspect of torture or abuse is that it takes away your agency. It makes you believe that you have no voice, and even if you were spouting the Truth*** no one would believe you, so why bother? In the act of seeking validation, seeking a figure in/of authority to hear you, to acknowledge that you have a voice, you are empowered, and are no longer a victim, but become a survivor.

It is the same process that underlies therapy. To stand up and say all the terrifying thoughts out loud, to have them heard and acknowledged, is the single most rehabilitating thing about therapy. Some people go through their own personal little hells; maybe because a boy told you you’re unattractive, maybe because your parents are divorced, maybe because you were systematically lied to as a child, maybe because someone molested you, maybe because you were forced to grow up too fast. The acknowledgement of the issue is the hardest step, acknowledging it to yourself first and then, in the act of seeking help, acting to obtain affirmation. It doesn’t matter if there was a reason, if things were done in error, if the people who did them are sorry; the biggest relief comes from the fact that you can yell, IT HAPPENED.

I suppose my point, when I began writing this, was that acknowledgement is the cornerstone of recovery, even if it is only acknowledgement of the damage done, of the existence of the injury, whether you’re talking about the blood of a civilization, or the fears of a child.




*The verb is used in a special way in the context of Latin America, coming from the Spanish desaparecido or disappeared, which referred to the way people were made to disappear by the government, and would vanish without a trace. Any trace. Ever.

“¿A dónde van los desaparecidos?
Busca en el agua y en los matorrales
¿Y por qué es que se desaparecen?
Porque no todos somos iguales
¿Y cuándo vuelve el desaparecido?
Cada vez que lo trae el pensamiento
¿Cómo se le habla al desaparecido?
Con la emoción apretando por dentro

Where do the disappeared go?
Seek them in the water and the pyres.
And why is it that they disappear?
Because we are not all equal.
And when does the disappeared return?
Every time memory brings him.
How does one speak of the disappeared?
With emotion tightening you inside.
- Maná "Desaparecidos"


**In Uruguay, the government granted a blanket amnesty to everyone – both those imprisioned for their “crimes” againt the repressive military government, and the military themselves, for the atrocities they committed. This was out of fear of the still powerful military, whose strength threatened the very fragile new democracy.

In Brazil, a Presbyterian minster and the Catholic Archbishop of Sao Paulo organized a team of people to photocopy the records of abuse and violation that the military had, and then privately published a book Brasil: Nunca Mais. The book was named after Argentina’s own revelation from its dirty war – Argentina: Nunca Más.

Greg Grandin, history professor at NYU wrote a book called The Blood of Guatemala about the 200,000 people killed in the US sponsored and supported civil war.

In the Republic of South Africa, they came up with the most successful rehabilitation attempt, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. People who wanted amnesty would have to apply, their cases would be reviewed to see if they really did act under duress themselves, if they were contrite, and if they could aid the commission in finding other people implicated in worse ways – the Generals who organized the troops, the ministers who ordered the Generals, etc. They did not always get amnesty for their crimes, but the victims got closure.

In December 1981, the US Army trained Atlacatl regiment of the Salvadoran army proceeded to systematically and brutally massacre about 900 people across several hamlets in the guerilla-controlled Morazán district. El Mozote has only 2 survivors. Groups of people were herded off and shot in the back of the head, or decapitated; for days later the corpses just lay there mummifying in the sun. [The Massacre at El Mozote by Mark Danner, if you’re interested. Stay away from food.] Nobody has ever been held accountable.

I’d go on, but it’s a whole post one day, country by country, the bloodshed in Latin America.


***for a given value of Truth of course

Spoil Me

Please?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Neologisms

A funny email from the Scientist on new meanings of old words provoked thought on the vagaries, nay the sheer bizarreness, of USAmerican English. There is the oft-cited gem: 'momentarily' being used to mean 'in a moment' as oppsoed to what it really means, 'for a moment'.

In all the reading I've had to do of much scholarly writing subscribing to USAmerican standards, I've encountered some words that make me stop and go WHYYYYYY? before I can move on. [Perhaps I merit the teasing BSW inflicts on me for trying to be more English than the English. Last week he was delighted because I said who all are, instead of who is, and proceeded to spend twenty minutes talking about Indian English.]

The one that stands out the most is "undergird". What, by Darwin's big toe, is that supposed to mean? It seems to be a fancy way to say underline. Only, there already IS a fancy way to say underline, especially metaphorically, i.e. underscore. Doing some research I discovered, according to dictionary.com, what 'gird' means. [I apologise, I didn't being my OED. Besides, I think dictionary.com provides a fairly accurate estimation of the language as most widely used and interpreted in this country.]

1.to encircle or bind with a belt or band.
2.to surround; enclose; hem in.
3.to prepare (oneself) for action: He girded himself for the trial ahead.
4.to provide, equip, or invest, as with power or strength.

Now, in the light of this, I'm trying very hard to find how one can undergird anything in the first place, and secondly, which of the possible interpretations would fit in the following sentence:

"We'd spoken of the gradual disintegration, during the late fifties and sixties, of the prosperity which undergirded that stability"

Lets see:

1. under-enclosed?
2. under-encircled? under-hemmed-in?
3. under-prepared oneself? [Ok, this one isn't relevant.]
4. under-equipped with strength?

I think the word wanted here is underlay, or even formed the basis of.

Votes?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Entitlement

Do you ever have a sense of entitlement about some things? Do you ever resent time for going by and never coming back? Do you ever feel like you've been cheated, you are being cheated, of things that are important to you, even if they aren't to other people? Does it ever happen that you tell yourself about the worst case scenario, because the multiverse is supposed to prove you wrong and then it doesn't?

Trivia...
The difference between caring and not, no? You broke your leg, I'm sorry to hear that. You stubbed your toe, how is it today? What's the difference? [no, its not a stalker.]

Yeah MinCat talks big, but she's as much a coward as anyone else. Sure her excuse is that she's eighteen in her head, and people expect her to be twenty-four. But its not just that. What is she scared of? She doesn't know. She's scared that her backup plans will be her only choice. She's scared that while she's distracting herself from the possibility that she won't ever get what she really wants, while she's off chasing balls of wool labelled International Law and Consulting, she'll have lost all chances of that one thing she really wanted, and then she won't be twenty-four ever again. She wonders why she preaches so much and reviles those who don't practice what they preach, and yet forces herself to put things into moulds and then is upset when they don't fit perfectly. She writes posts about how people are immature and can't open up to experiences and other people, and yet, she isn't any different. She dooesn't have the courage to ask for what she wants, because she knows she has the courage to deal with not getting it, but she doesn't want to have to do it.

She doesn't even have the courage to speak in first person.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hear Ye Hear Ye

In recognition of the signal events of the weekend of friday the 2nd of february 2007 to sunday the 4th fo february 2007, we here at Chez MinCat officially declare the first weekend in February Spoil MinCat Weekend! With Food If Possible.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The New Yorker

No, not the magazine, the people.

Living here, going to "school" and all, I have to say I expected things to be a little different. When you move to a new place, you have to find your space, find people to talk to, things to do, your bar, your diner, your corner in the subway car. And you do so.

When you move to a new job, you're the new kid on the block. [Yeah its cliche day, deal with it.] People have been there longer, they have their cliques and groups, people they lunch with and people they don't. You take you time, feel your ground, eat at your desk for a while, get too drunk at an office party and wake up the next morning with a few friends.

When you start a degree, there's usually a group of new kids on the block. At first you stick to yourself, but usually all the new kids eat lunch together. Then, as time goes by, you go get drinks with a few, you call someone for notes. Slowly you have your new kid cliques. Everyone takes it slow, but everyone lingers after class and smiles awkwardly at each other. Everyone comes 15 minutes early for some pre-class conversation. You get assigned to group projects and find people who make you laugh, and people who make you scream. By the second semester, there a few people you can call friends, more people you know you can count on to hang out with, and even more you don't feel awkward calling.

So, is it New York, or is it me?

Here I am, in my second semester, with one friend in class. Possibly another. One person I'd call without giving it thought, one person who will call me over the weekend. One person I know will come to any party I throw.

Maybe I'm an eager beaver. But really, I doubt it. Scoo, on the other hand, seems to have settled into her new place faster, in terms of the new people she has connected with.

But my life isn't some empty wasteland. There's the Scientist, and her innumerable friends who have adopted me long-distance. There's the guy I went to high school with. There's Salsa Girl, from dance class. There's the Flatmate, and the cousins. There's BSW. There's innumerable family friends. Obviously I have a social life. It just doesn't include classmates. Mainly from their lack of response [oh come on I had to whine!]

And it looks like New Yorkers also have social lives. It seems like people don't come here lost and alone like in the movies. Everyone comes here with connections, people they know. People have lived here a while, people know people who know people who have lived here a while. New Yorkers always have somewhere to go on saturday night, something to do on sunday afternoon.

Is it New York?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How to Rant

Like this. Valid arguments and countering and most important retaining sense of proportion anf humour. you GO lee.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Depressing

You Are 25 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.
What Age Do You Act?


how sad is it? i am my age!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Fairy Lights or Oooo looky, fuzz in my navel

Memories of when I came to the City in 2005, for my cousin's wedding, often take on an unreal tinge. Apart from it being my first time here as an adult, living in the Waldorf Astoria, Lexington Avenue's Fall Festival, and MUCH family turmoil, it was the first time I received any male attention. Atleast, male attention on that scale, and not from creepy men in DTC buses.

Three days of intense activity, interspersed with this startling....aspect to life, followed by a whirlwind trip to the West coast and a return to India really make me wonder if it ever happened. The paths our lives took after that weekend now mean I barely figure in his life anymore. I've come to terms with it; after all can one really stamp one's feet and demand that one be important to someone else? Well I've known people who can, but I can't.

One of the things we did that weekend was take the Roosevelt Island Tramway, which is one of the most fabulous cheap things to do in the City, especially after dark, because you get to see all the lights. As you go over 2nd Ave, I think, on one side you see a river of diamond headlights, and on the other a darker kaleidoscope of ruby tail-lights, emerald traffic lights and amber street lights. Fairy lights.

Yesterday the Scientist was here. Traipsing all over the City we ended up on the East side, and FINALLY en route to the Tramway, something we've been planning to do ever since I got here. As we went over, it suddenly came home to me so strongly, that, despite therapy and finding better ways to deal with life, I haven't lost my worst fear. Nothing hurts like being forgotten, nothing hurtslike being left behind, NOTHING hurts like losing someone, for no reason. Just because it happened that way.

No, we weren't in a relationship, no, neither of us wanted to be. But he was my friend. Not a day went by that we didn't talk. And sitting there, FREEZING my arse off, literally, I couldn't help but remember all the other people. Mahima, Shipra, Chica, Kas, Gautham, Mangala...so many people, without whom I couldn't consider the future, gone for all practical purposes. And, honestly, more whom I don't remember anymore.

But then, other things have changed too. My dearest Scoo and I now have a strong and healthy relationship, I still have the Scientist, Field Commander, Friend in Edinborough, The Rey de los Chingones, Friend in Spain, Friend in Italy, Friend in Hong Kong, the Ancient Witch [*snigger*]. And maybe, new ones here. Though I don't know, I seem to feel like there's no point trying much anymore, it's time to sit back and enjoy the frinds and family I have. And maybe accept the fact that that's what life is giving me.

In the tram, you can look right into so many of those swanky Upper East Side highrise apartments. And there's the couple watching TV on the couch, blankly, there's the empty perfect living room, and so on. Sure I have more than them.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Perils of Unknown Bathrooms or Be Careful in Someone Else's Loo

After the delights of first snowfall in Hartford, CT, last night, [first snowfall for MinCat not Hartford] MinCat woke early, 730am in fact, and watched it snow for an hour. To make up for this she spent the rest of the day upside down in a GINORMOUS chair watching sitcoms. This resulted in it being almost-time-to-leave and MinCat failing to fit the definition squeaky clean. Undaunted she set out to shower in the Bathroom of the House of the Daughter of the Friend of the Mother of MinCat, litte knowing how eventful and life-threatening it was going to be.

The shower in the Flat is of the kind that one enters from the bottom, i.e. the end without the showerhead. The shower in the Bathroom of the House of the Daughter of the Friend of the Mother of MinCat, however, isdesigned slightly differently. The pot is right next to the bottom, and the plastic shelf is at that end too. Gamely inserting one foot MinCat shifts her weight only to go flying down the length of the tub, taking most of the shelf with her. Result, long bruise and painful scratch on arm.

Picking herself up MinCat proceeds to air some of her choice multilingual vocabulary and wearily approach the shower itself. Naturally, it works differently too, resulting in the inadvertent application of icy water. Shaking, she turns it off and resets the handle, only to realise that the knob that turns the shower off does not, unlike the one in the Flat, automatically drop down when the water is turned off.

Brokenly she finishes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Concept of Clean

Sometimes I wonder if boys understand the Concept of Clean. Often they seem unable to recognise it, or the lack thereof. Perhaps I'm being unfair. Surely there exist Those-With-Penises who are aware of the existence of the concept. But I wonder, do they have any idea *how* it comes about? Or do they believe that the Blind Io will cause it to come to pass when they look thoughtfully at the stove? What of the little-known theory of Wipe the Stove When You're Done, or its corollary, Clean the Sink After you Do the Dishes? Don't they teach them at that special school where the Testicularly-Gifted go to learn to be mean to me?