Saturday, July 25, 2009

@ Divorce!

Divorce! appears to be the new buzz word or in fad, in India, since desis seem to be getting one left and right. All the mallus and perhaps even the non-mallus may have heard of popular actress Kavya Madhavan's impending divorce! Atleast the grapevine has it.. Apparently so is the lovely actress Meena! Married barely a week ago, she is headed for divorce as well. Again, all rumor for now.
Celebrity divorces are nothing new although mostly associated with Bollywood, who seemed to belong to another planet anyways. They are so far removed from ordinary citizens that there is a certain level of acceptance to the fact that marriage could happen to anybody but divorce happened only to celebrities and rarely if not never to the rest of the population.

But alas! that is no more the case these days. The "divorce virus" is spreading and spreading quickly. It is not exclusive anymore and it happens at a blink. It has spread to the local, regional film industry, to someone like Kavya Madhavan (who comes across as a nice and simple girl and is loved by many for her looks, sweet personality and acting abilities. To think that she is possibly headed for a divorce feels almost like your favorite cousin is headed for divorce). It has even crept into our lives- you hear of a friend's friend getting a divorce, a distant cousin getting a divorce, you yourself contemplating divorce...(oho!)
Recently a mallu friend of mine gave “the notice" to her "husband" (had to put him in quotes since it is more a technicality than anything else. She has been married 5 years but lived with him only 3 months). Most of the time I forget she is married, infact most of the time she forgets she is married! :D.

Anyways..when divorces seem to be happening so frequently I found myself pondering on how it all began- with a marriage ofcourse! Come to think of it, marriage lead/led to the invention of a new word in the english language -divorce ( unless somebody has a different explanation).

Whoever came up with the idea of marriage (in the conventional sense) must have been one heck of an optimist and a person devoid of desires. I was always convinced it was more or less an arrangement where everyone gives you their blessing (read consent) to have sex with one person for the rest of your lives. Everything else that you have read, heard or experienced –such as friendship, peace, joy (extended through the arrival of offsprings), and love are all simply possibilities. It may happen or may not happen. This is more from the perspective of an “arranged marriage”. There is also “love marriages” which is sort of a reversed situation. You get into it, optimistic of ever-lasting friendship, peace, joy, “good sex”, and wonderful off-springs. Blessings and approval from everyone is the only optional part.

These being merely reflections of my demented mind, I decided to look up marriage and see what some of the “learned scholars” had to say. As always Prof Wikipedia did not disappoint much :D. I found that to some extent I am right…marriage as an ancient tradition, was always seen as an “arrangement” than anything else.
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship and specific sexual access rights. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships usually intimate and sexual are acknowledged by a variety of ways, depending on the culture or demographic ( Src: Wikipedia). Look here for detailed definitions and historical perspectives.

But over the years this simple clarity got muddled with a bunch of tags - divine union (a.k.a holy matrimony), morality and eternal. Clearly none of these tags can realistically apply to humans. They might say there is a Buddha in everyone but I don’t see any humans walking with a halo behind their head. What I am trying to say is there is nothing holy or divine about the people getting into the arrangement so how is the divines of the union or the holiness of the matrimony decided and/or who decides it?. Also to err is human and morality is a relative concept and eternal is impossible unless you consider yourself immortal. Hmmm…
Anyways, this post is not a minor thesis on divorce or marriage with new groundbreaking insights of any kind. It is merely a reaction to many things-

-A lovely movie I saw by Shyamprasad ( an excellent movie maker who makes “realistic cinema”) called Ore-Kadal ( “The Sea Within”). It is the movie of an affair (illegitimate ofcourse ;)) between a brilliant economic professor and a simple housewife and its repercussions on their lives and others associated with them. The music (by Ouseppachan) sounded pretty awesome to my ears and I have been listening to them until my ears stopped hearing them (Check out the youtube clip. It is a love song not a song on marriage -by Bombay Jaysree. Also the song Oru Kadalyi by Naveen Nair- outstanding me thinks!)

-All the divorce news I have been hearing…with increasing frequency and proximity.

-News from home regarding the “hunt” for a perfect husband for my not-so-perfect cousin :)

-And just general pursuits of a mind with some time in hand…

Nevertheless, in spite of my ramblings I wish all the married folks out there a Happy Blissful Married Life!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Some Words Over the Weekend

Read, heard, spoken and discussed.....

“Isn’t general incivility the very essence of love”-Jane Austen.

“I am done with PhD. I am done with setting goals in my life. From now on simply enjoy the ride, go with the flow”- A friend.

“We also lived in a tree house by the way, for a week. Also in Kerala, on top of a hill, in the middle of a rain forest. In the evenings we would sit in the balcony and sip red wine. There was no electricity. So we sat by the light of oil lamps, unless of course there was a full moon. We didn’t need lamps then, did we Meenakshi?” -Raja –Mr & Mrs Iyer

“One of my classmates was sexually abused by her father, ever since she was a child. *Horrified silence*. I am not surprised. Child sexual abuse is happening everyday in India. Just that there is so much taboo associated with it and so less awareness, often the cases go unreported and the culprits roam free and unpunished. To know more read “Bitter Chocolate” by Pinki Virani but be prepared to feel sick”- A Group of Friends

“His chest seemed to swell like a balloon. He was going to hyperventilate. That would stop the wedding. Or would it not? The silence rolled into the mandapam like a tsunami wave, with Ashok and the priest being the last to relinquish speech. It was a sign that she was now approaching. He forgot about his lungs and sat stiffly, staring straight ahead at the tiny altar with the fire and the sticks of incense. He remembered how his friends had turned around for that first sight and proudly watched their frothy Aphrodites come close. One had even blurted, “ I do “ before the priest finished asking the question”- From Anne Cherian's book.

“ Please don’t forget to send some Parle G biscuits.
You are still such a child! wanting to eat glucose biscuits!
But its not for me, its for a friend’s little son. For me sent the cashew barfis”- Cousins

'Really an irrelevant post'- Myself

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Something interesting. I found this through someone and decided to post it up here. I thought about giving a different title than the original..but was not sure what to call this. Someone called it " perspectives", I thought of "differences"...but then decided to stick to the original. It definitely arises curiosity:).

Still listening to the great George Harrison songs. Leaving you with some of his words...

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don't know how you were diverted
you were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
no one alerted you

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On A Thursday!

At work…

Things have been pretty slow. Well summers are generally pretty slow since most people on campus are out on vacation. Not a bad time to work if you are the lazy kind. :P

My study…

In put half of the surveys on to excel. I am done with my part of data in put. Now the remaining task of data input will be handed over to my Prof. It was her idea to share the load and ain’t she sweet?!? :)

Surprised, fascinated and shocked…

One of my classmates and his wife had a baby. The baby is such a cute little bundle! Found their entire “birth experience” posted on his blog including video& pictures!!!! Pretty graphic some are. I found them surprising, fascinating and shocking.

The workout...

My friend came over. We went grocery shopping. Decided to walk instead of taking the bus. It was a good half hour walk. This was our first serious attempt to start a regular exercise regime. On our return we bought some good red wine (Blackstone, California Merlot, 2007) and some Thai take home. So much for burning calories!


My friend has the option of using Dr before her name or a PhD after her name. Congratulations to her and we clinked wine filled glasses for a job well done and her future research at Uni of Michigan. Also at the back of my head I wondered if I would ever see this day for myself.

Time pass…

My friend and I watched varnam ayiram on youtube. Laughed like maniacs while counting the number of times Surya (the dude!) said “daddy” in every line he uttered!


That my friend had not heard the song “Aiyayyo” from Paruthiveeran! Well, cannot blame her much since she was super busy getting a PhD. Made her listen to the song and also asked her to translate as we listened. She went home later in the night tripping over the song. I went back and listened to the song another 5-6 times. Yep I can do that without getting tired :)

Mental pursuits of the trivial kind...

First thought:- Get the flower; Then go- he loves me-he loves me not-he loves me..Second thought-What a pointless exercise; Leave the flower alone.


Two glasses of wine on a weeknight! and going to bed slightly tipsy and lightheaded.Today I am at work with thankfully no hangovers!

Plan for today…

Watch/listen to Concert for George all over again while I cook some Indian delectables for the get together at Prof’s house tomorrow. I leave with a preview of what lies of my FAVORITE! George Harrison songs.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Enchanting Evening!

As a continuing graduate student I suppose it is natural to write more about whatever is happening in school than anything else. Not because there is no life outside school but because most of the interesting experiences in life seems to be happening within the physical and conceptual boundaries of graduate school. Also I am not complaining for I am a self-confessed learning addict!

Last semester I had an opportunity to enroll for a film criticism class with a focus on Indian movies. My original intentions for the class was to simply sit back and enjoy some good Indian movies, hear what everyone had to say and in the process get some theoretical understanding on how to view a movie through a critical eye. It was supposed to be more of a stress buster in between my mad attempts to work on my thesis proposal. But soon I found myself an involved and dedicated student of film criticism and being the only Indian student in class you can imagine the number of questions I was asked and my opinions and clarifications sought.! ha!

Thus the credit for my unanticipated involvement should go partly to my classmates and the rest to my Prof. My Prof is an American (by birth& descent),bohemian (both inside & outside), married to an Indian- a retired Prof of History, has a daughter who looks like Bhagyshree the actress(I swear!)and a son who looks more Indian, less caucasian. She often talks about her visits to her “sasural”( the in-laws place) in Delhi-UP and even before, her visits to India as a student of Anthropology from Cambridge (where she met her future husband). She showed me these gorgeous black and white pictures taken by her back in the 60s, as part of her Anthropology field study. It was mostly depictions of rural life in UP and Bihar and some parts of West Bengal. She had got the pictures enlarged with the intention of donating it to the local museum and they were incredible. If you visited these places again, which she has, you would find them all transformed beyond recognition, which basically makes her photographs all the more precious.

Anyways, coming back to the point of my post, my lovely professor, knowing that my area of study is envt, sent out an announcement of a symposium organized by the School of South Asian Studies, titled "Anticipation/Memory/Place: Environmentalism, Sustainability, and Eco-Criticism in South Asian Contexts" along with the list of invited talks. To my absolute delight I found included in the program, the screening of "Stolen Waters" - by Prasant and Daya (2003); a short-film on the Coca-Cola controversy at Plachimada. It brought back memories of my old school and our involvement with the issue. We had even banned coca-cola from our campus and all of us had sworn never to touch the drink again. Unfortunately, I have relapsed since then.

However it was another session that I was truly looking forward to and waited in excited anticipation throughout the entire length of the symposium. It was scheduled for the second day, last session.
The program chart read: “Singing Land: A Lecture Demonstration, with Musical Accompaniment, on the Ecological Implications of Ancient Indian (Tamil) Poetry and Music" – By Dr. Nirmal Selvamony (Madras Christian College, University of Madras), Introduction by Leela Kumaran".Yes, definitely the cherry (coated with chocolate) on the cake!

So the day and time finally arrive and whatever I say will not truly describe my experience. A few who know me also know about my obsessive love for the Tamil language (mostly to do with the way it sounds) and since I do not speak, read or write and barley comprehend it, I dragged my friend- also my local Tamil translator, just in case I was desperate for a translation. Since she too is obsessed with the language to the extent that she reads hard- core Tamil literature she was more than glad to come along. What Dr Selvamony offered was nothing less than magic. It was awesomeness at its awesomest!

For the geeks out there, this is the gist of the theory part of his lecture demo. As the title says: his discussion was on the Ecological Implications of ancient Indian Tamil Poetry and Music. It was based on the tamil concept of "Tinai".
What is Tinai? : "The concept of tinai relates to physiographical divisions with the inhabitants of each region practicing a different mode of resource based lifestyle". So it's almost like a caste system defined by different types of envtl zones and some examples of tinai are:- kurunji-tinai( forest land); palai -tinai (desert land); mullai-tinai (pastoral land);marutam-tinai (fertile wetland);neital-tinai ( coastal land)... Communities that belonged to a specific tinai would have occupation and lifestyle based on their respective environment. For example communities that belonged to Kurunji-tinnai subsisted on hunting and gathering (Ref: Encyclopaedia of Dalits by Mamta Rajawat). This classification also formed a theoretical basis for the Dravidian origin of caste.
Apparently, the same concept of Tinai has its relevance in ancient Tamil poetry and classical music (which is also influenced by the physical and social geography of a region. Basically, it is all interconnected) and that’s where Dr Selvamony's specialization comes in. (Click here for some clearer and learned insights).

He presented music and song demonstrations based on the five tinais. Now imagine the rendition of classical South Indian music based on the five tinais-representing the five envtl zones accompanied by a contemporary musical instrument- the electric guitar!(in a cool, cozy room, late evening if I may add :)). His performance of a song describing marutam tinai was spell bounding and it had an incredible indigenous /folkish feel to it, so much so that it brought tears to my eyes. No kidding! He also has an amazing voice and one point in his life was a wannabe rock star, with a band and all. If there was some way I could find a recording of his lecture I would gladly post it.

All I can say is that it was an enchanting evening and his discourse on the topic was fascinating. I strongly recommend attending his lecture-demos if you ever have a chance. Needless to say all this has simply reinforced my fascination for the language! :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Yellow Soul!

What color is your soul painted?


Your soul is painted the color yellow, which embodies the characteristics of joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, gold, hope, liberalism, sociability, friendship, death, courage, intellect, confidence, communication, travel, movement, attraction, persuasion, and charm. Yellow is the color of the element Air, and symbolizes the sun, grain, and the power of thought.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

Quizzes and Personality Tests
Not so bad I think....:)

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Returned from India some days ago and back to work although it feels very strange to be alone. As I told a friend I don’t feel lonely, just alone. More than a month left before school reopens and all the craziness descends. I suppose this feeling of being alone has partly to do with the fact that K&K are in India and mainly to do with the fact that there was hardly any dull/alone moment when I was in India. It was not a vacation trip this time but a work trip- myself, my professor and a couple of friends. Infact I barely got time to stay with mom. Although we were on a very tight schedule my group and me squeezed in some fun time. Thanks to my friend V, I visited Coorg where I stayed at this lovely farm-stay and trekked among the magnificent W.Ghats. But ofcourse the highlight was meeting some of my star idols at Koshy’s in Bangalore.

I had the good fortune of seeing (with my own eyes- needs to be stressed) and interacting with Sandesh Kadur, Prof. Kamal Bawa and Gowrishankar-the snake man from ARRS ( read Agumbe Rainforest Research Station :D)!. And the man responsible for all this -Mr Prem Koshy of Koshy’s. I thank my lucky stars the day I met him. He is this true-blue hippie who spent a good chunk of his youth in the US doing everything from graduate school, learning how to bake, to bartending, even hunting and basically having a good time until he returned to India to take over the family business. Trust me I have never met anyone so fascinating and you can easily lose track of time listening to his stories and experiences. His interests range from baking/cooking, to para-normal phenomenon, saving snakes, chasing aliens, tree-hugging, alternate-healing methods, to yoga and what not. So you can hardly blame me if I went gaga when he invited me and Ken to one of their Friday evening activities, aptly named the “ Ladies and Knights of the Square Table” at his café . To my greatest surprise I found that the schedule for the evening was the screening of Sandesh Kadur’s- “Secrets of the King Cobra” (which by the way was aired by the National Geographic) followed by a discussion.

Friday evening arrived and I am at Koshy’s about 5 mins late, with Ken and V for company and I almost passed out when I saw Sandesh Kadur (my hero) upfront introducing his documentary. Never in my wildest dream did I imagine him to be there. And from then on it just went on to be an extraordinary evening interacting with the ARRS team, getting introduced to Sandesh Kadur and Prof Kamal Bawa ( the founder/chair of ATREE and Prof Emeritus of University of Massachusetts and the author of n number of papers on conservation that I have read). Phew! what an evening. Following the event we had dinner with Prem Koshy and then hit the road at 12:30 am for Coorg!

I still get a high thinking about that weekend.

Sandesh Kadur introducing his documentary

Gowrishanker- the snakeman with the ARRS team

Prem Koshy, Prof Bawa and Sandesh K

Deep fried smiley faces with sauted worms at Koshy's :D ( actually fried tater smileys and sauted mushrooms)

Mysore Palace at 3 am - en route Coorg

At the mysore palace at 3 am-guess the photographer was not quite awake!

Charming farm-stay at Coorg-Honeyvalley

With the hippies talking stories at Honeyvalley :).

The other outstanding experience was visiting friends at Waynad. We decided to do a road trip from Bangalore to Waynad and then all the way to Cochin. It was quite emotional for me as I was seeing my friend’s family (particularly my friend’s grandmother and parents) after almost 10 years. We stayed at their charming homestay at Vythiri. The visit to their awesome ancestral house built sometime in the late 1800s was exciting as always. We also took time for a beautiful long trek early morning (thanks to Anwar our designated local guide who ensured we don’t get lost or bitten by snakes: D)), got treated to some delicious home cooked food (thanks to aunty!) and washed it down with some excellent coffee from their estate.

Gorgeous Waynad-View from my friends home at Vythiri

The path..the walk..the view @ Waynad

Lovely detail at the house -Waynad

The last four days spent in Cochin mostly involved getting my annual dose of motherly advice, arranging some local visits for my friends from the University and visiting other friends and family.

Friends with the elephant at Kodanad- Kerala

Other highlights included:

Smoking a cigg and a bidi ( tastes disgusting!) with my friend V and a hippie from Australia

Getting to click some pics with a Nikon D200

Trekking through the sholas

Making a wish to Nandi at Nandi Hills-Bangalore

Having the author Ramachandra Guha (Everyone pls read- India After Gandhi) at Delhi airport waiting in line with you for the boarding pass while I stared at him in awe :) and desperately wished that I had his book with me to get it autographed.

Staying at the Taj West End and eating and appreciating some kickass Indian food ( highly recommend the Masala Club and Samarkhand- Bangalore)

Getting tipsy drinking Indian wine-our Prof's treat

All of us shopping like maniacs in Bangalore.

Meeting with old friends from college in Bangalore.

Celebrating jr's birthday at home- the cake was yummy-simply melted in your mouth!

Making a surprise visit to my friend Pr. at my old university.( that lucky dude left for Europe the following week and sent me a loooong email about his trip across Europe!* turning green with envy*)

And last but not the least enjoying everyone’s company and enjoying swades!

Playing with my toy!

All I can say in summary is- I am still trippin ove' ma trip!

PS: Just want to add- MJ-King of Pop- R.I.P