What’s with Asians and MIXING the strangest things to eat? Or eating flowers? Having tea made from the weirdest ingredients?

The day I landed in Singapore, my relative offered me aloe vera juice that I gulped in out of courtesy, stifling the tears back in. Few days later, on campus, I tasted the weirdest, sourest lime juice I had ever tasted, so different that I went to the stall guy and asked him if it was vegetarian (I know, I know, but I was just 17 and paranoid – I had just seen a ‘vegetarian’ stall selling pork). Soon, I saw that people had cucumber + aloe vera juice, and that fruits called honey dew, dragon fruit, DURIAN and longan existed. That people have juice made from celery, while all juices I had had till then were made of the traditional apple/mango/orange/carrot/grapes. And then there was bubble tea - never mind the jelly-shaped things that float into your mouth as you sip the juice through a thick straw, the juice itself was probably made from ginseng. Soon, I had grown used to chrysanthemum tea, jasmine tea, and horrors, until a friend recently gifted a box, got to know that there was something called Turkish Delight where the chocolate was stuffed with rose (I nearly lost my appetite for chocolate, I tell you – and that means that Turkish Delight had tasted terrible). And just a couple of months back, I ate fungus – not even mushroom, mind you, but bamboo shoots with fungus. Braved fungus once more yesterday, and survived.

And today, I have braved myself to a challenge and made myself a cup of hot green tea. It looks a muddy light green and I’m doing everything to not drink it though I brought it upon myself. I took one sip gingerly and it tasted like I was chewing leaf. LEAF.

Singapore is a foodie’s paradise, and for a vegetarian not too keen on trying new things, it’s nearly hell. But well, I have braced myself for the challenges and have learnt how to eat things I am just too sure will bring tears to my eyes.

Well, it’s 31 December and while everyone in the office is sending each other thank you notes for the year that it has been, I should probably thank this weird city I have lived in for 4 1/2 years, in whose honour I have dedicated dozens of posts in this blog, for making me steely, giving me courage and confidence, and most of all, to take things in my stride and laugh at one and many a thing.

Happy 2009, everybody! May this year be healthy, peaceful, prosperous (with all signs of the credit crunch disappearing) and joyous!

Kaise Mujhe was the most beautiful thing in the movie - my love for the song has only gone up exponentially since watching the movie. Brilliance from all angles - A R Rahman, Benny Dayal, Shreya Ghoshal, Aamir Khan, Asin and even the guys behind the movie for giving it the whole out-of-the-earth-floating feel. Just closing my eyes to the song and remembering flashes of the song from the movie chokes me - hardly any other moment in the movie touched me so. So beautiful, so poignant, so moving, so sincere and genuine... oh, 'if music be the food of love, play on', for life without music is ill-spent.
... amma's important update to me for the day was the new Rahman song she had seen on TV - 'jiya se jiya', how Rahman was awesome, the beats, brilliant and the song, rocking!
It’s been ages since I sat down and typed anything sensible in my blog – I must say I’m getting really depressed with the quality of all the writing I’ve been churning out lately; they all just go to show the state of mind I have been in all these days – confused, aimless, happy at times and unhappy quite often too – and one look at the archives of the blog was enough to irritate me into consciousness.

The blog was started when I was new and wide-eyed in Singapore, and those were days when I had something to write about everyday. I am stunned at how these days I hardly make a joyous note of the insignificant things in my life that brighten my day. Guess working does that to people, and I hate it. Working has made me busy, uninspired, mechanical, and don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with my job itself, I love it for all its nice and makes-you-want-to-break-something moments, it’s equally rewarding – but working itself, has changed me. I’m no longer carefree, I realized, and I don’t like that at all. So, well, I decided to spend some good time writing about all the insignificant but momentous things that have been going on in my life these six months of working (gosh, it’s really been that long??).

Graduating. It was joyous, but really felt like I was leaving something of my life behind. Irresponsibility, innocence, the freedom to commit mistakes, starry-eyed-ness about pretty much everything. Campus walks, project-cursing, the benches. And sigh, even exams.



The house. It’s a simple, lovely house where the landlord has generously left behind his stuff that we have conveniently gotten used to using for ourselves. The room I took has a bookcase. Pretty much why I took the room even though it’s small and hardly has a cupboard and didn’t even have a mirror when I moved in. But the bookcase, wooden, light brown, mounted on the wall, really tempted me and I knew I should have it filled. I’m well on my way! (Ignore the fact that it's the bookcase that has to hold anything that won't fit in my silly wardrobe that can ONLY hold my clothes on hangers!) Look at the books! Making way for more..

The work. I have been enjoying, much to my surprise. It’s fun to learn new things, and sometimes it’s good to do things well for that rare element of praise that comes your way. I know – I have to grow up, but heck, I’ve just been working 6 months. Only thing I don’t like as yet is the loss of being/thinking irresponsibly, of having to think twice before narrating your weekend screw-up with the danger that your colleagues think you’ve lost it looming heavily around, and finally, the horrible branding of ‘cute’ on you. While it feels nice to be the youngest in the team, sometimes I feel childish and like I know nothing. Not to say of the millions of times you feel like an idiot for having to ask how to reply to an email or handle a situation. Well, you gotta learn!

Movies, music. So many to even remember and list since I started working. Why, I watched a movie on my first day of work too! Kung Fu Panda. Hilarious. Been enjoying all the best animation, the latest being Bolt – totally worth your time!
Music has been keeping life together as strongly as ever. Even during the fifteen minutes I have in the morning between my shower and leaving for work, I switch the computer on for a loop of the one song that totally fits the mood of the morning. The favourites have been Jashn-e-Bahaara, Iravu Nilavu, Taxi Taxi, Tu Bole Main Boloon, Manmohini Morey, and recently, Guzaarish and Kaise Mujhe. The CD collection is growing, thanks to my proud contributions from my salary. Yuvvraaj kinda disappointed me as I could not find his usual brilliance – and I thought Ghajini was another disappointment until I got hooked to most of the songs. Waiting for the movie to release – should be worth a watch.

There was a karaoke session in between too. Three hours of non-stop fun, where my friends were treated not just to songs they knew but even ‘Engeyum eppodhum’ from Ninaithale
Inikkum, ‘Oru maalai’, and to my utter delight, ‘Pudhu Vellai Mazhai’ and songs from ABBA too! While my throat ached with the sudden overuse for singing, I realized with horror that probably the only sruthi I could sing in these days would be naalarai kattai. At this rate I’ll end up like DK Pattamaal. Shit.

Otherwise… there have been some travel trips. One to Batam, Indonesia for voluntary work, another to Bintan, Indonesia that had the most beautiful beaches I'd seen (the photo - there's the beach, the music and a book - ice cream was the only essential thing missing!). There was also a short trip home during which all that happened was rain, rain and rain like it was the end of the world. It was great fun with my sister’s baby boy and watching his antics and carrying him to various corners in the house and showing him ‘apple’, ‘rat’ and ‘bananas’ off the huge picture of Ganesha in the living room. Miss the boy terribly.

Life still seems to be a dream, like I am living someone else’s life and not mine. Isn’t that a horrible wake-up call? I mentally make a note to start off with various things like continuing my German, learning to swim and paint, but things don’t seem to stick. Maybe it’s time for my first new year resolution! Well, I’ll make it later :D
Sticky, salty water. Noisy people. A sweaty feel. Tamil+English. Loud TV. Sweltering heat. Smoke. Dust. Music all the time. Tamil. Mosquitoes. Jeering people. Rasam.
HOME!

If you, like me, grew up in India, the only beaches you’d been to (unless you’d been to Goa or gone abroad, of course) would have been where you stood, holding your parents’ hands and letting the waves wash your feet. Your mother would have pulled her sari up to only reveal her ankles, and your dad may have rolled up his pants, unless he’d been the adventurous kind to jump into the sea and have fun.


Until very recently, I had no idea how beaches in other parts of the world could be. Where the water is true blue and breathtakingly beautiful that you could see the sea bed through, where people wear their bikinis and swim.

2 days back, I left for Bintan, an island in Indonesia just an hour away from Singapore. A beach freak, I was excited beyond words! And I wasn’t disappointed – the beach is the MOST BEAUTIFUL I have ever since in my 22 years! It is the kind that you watch in movies and go WOW – do such beaches really exist?

A day after spending a good few hours to going deeper into the water than you can ever imagine a non-swimmer-but-still-a-beach-freak like-me would go, I was quite stumped for a number of reasons.

I sat by the pool sipping a cool drink, watching women well over 50 splashing about in the water in their bikinis. Trust me, they weren’t the fittest babes around – but nothing stopped them from having their fun. And that really, really baffled me – why are we Indians so different? While in India, I used to think it was only the westerners who roamed around in bikinis or wore the skimpiest of clothes – you get the drift. I received quite a shock when I visited the beach here for the first time, slightly even turning red at the sight of young women in their bikinis. Even Asians do this? What surprised me even more was when a Thai friend showed me a picture from the early 80s of her family where her mother was dressed in a swimsuit too. They were just a normal family, and they’d have been like mine, had they been in India. And yet, a world of difference!

Why are we so different? Heck, I don’t even know swimming because by the time I realized I could learn, I was already grown up and the prospect of going into a pool in a swimming costume was frowned upon! Our idea of fun in a beach is so ridiculous – I know it is a LOT of fun and I still swear by it – but how come it is that we don’t know so many things? Like the sheer enjoyment of a piece of clothing that is not cumbersome and gives you the pure joy of going a few more feet deeper into the water than that you can afford to in your saree/salwar kameez/jeans?

It’s just a wholly different world, and it’s one that my colleagues can’t even imagine as I try hard to express them. “You don’t swim in your beaches?” they ask. It’s another thing our beaches are quite dirty and nobody in their right mind would want to swim beyond a point, but the very fact that we women couldn’t do so even if we wanted to is plainly horrible.

I know I should be thankful that I get to experience a lot of things, but I can’t help thinking many a time of the many of us who don’t get to do so. How much are we missing! Will it change? Soon?

Sometimes, we make mistakes despite knowing they are wrong. This is called committing crime, and I recently did.

I watched Sakarakatti.

I’d read the reviews that had trashed the movie beyond repair, and I still went, believing Rahman’s songs in the movie will provide some respite and will be worth watching for. How truly mistaken!

This is by far the only movie I have seen that really doesn’t have a storyline. I mean, we all say that for many movies, but most have a fledgling storyline that at least has a teeny bit of logic, a sequence that at least exists for the namesake, a screenplay, however horrible it may be. This movie, didn’t have ANYTHING!

The movie starts off with a bunch of adigaprasangi kids that are wondering how to get girls to like them (at 10 years?? Why, oh, why?) and decide readings books on sex is the way to go. And suddenly, out of the blue, ‘Elay!’ starts. The song is one of the best in the movie, with such feel-good lyrics and when I used to listen to the song, I used to imagine a bunch of fervently-committed college kids who are do-gooders. What a waste singing it to kids who are busy ogling at girls! The brainless director wasted the lovely meaning of the song on kids and cartoons (speaking of which, what the hell was the genie doing? Why did the kids walk on the long log a la Lion King?) Argh! It irks me to see the songs wasted!

This is only the tip of the iceberg, really. The hero, a friggin’ 18-year-old is going way too far to prove his love to another equally dumb 18-year-old in college. And how does he fall in love with her? When he sees her cussing her driver when their car breaks down. Wow, so much for the guy for whom the Elay song is wasted. He falls for her looking at her swear and at her sexy short winter clothes that she wears in Chennai.

Add to this confusion another 18-year-old idiot, the hero’s cousin who comes from Coimbatore (and wears tanks, layers clothes, and what not!) and falls in love with the hero too. Why? Coz he sees her in a towel. I mean, even Annamalai was better coz Kushboo had a deeper reason to fall in love with Rajini :P

I’m not going to bother with the rest of the ‘storyline’ because there’s none. The only deepest regret I have is that I can’t listen to the songs of the movie now without remembering the damned graphics. Chinamma Chilakamma, and I remember the mummies and the long-toothed rakshasi that flies about for no reason whatsoever. I miss you da, and I remember weird space ships and the space scooters on which the Coimbatore girl and the hero fly (the hero is next to her in the song throughout, and yet she sings I miss you da when in real life, she is sitting next to him; I shouldn’t even bother finding logic, I know).

And Taxi, hahaha… they brought down French girls and got Blaaze to do the rap and this was the most sensible song in the movie! And for this reason, I think, they showed the song twice in the movie! For all the buddies that the hero has in the movie, he sings at some other guy ‘En uyir nanban nee thaane’.

Whatever. The only entertainment I got was with my friend when we roared with laughter every minute. My first tamil movie in a cinema after a year, and this is what I get. My bad!
It's one of those numbers you never thought you'd be associated with in life; and yet, there they are, not lurking in the corner anymore but jumping out to stare you in the eye!

So I turn 22, and I look at the year ahead and wonder what surprises and what changes will happen, and how life will turn. Hopefully all turns are for good!

Awk, it's just the most sensible birthday post I've written in the last almost-4-years of blogging. I guess the blog is the perfect place for me to see how I've changed from some gawky teenager to some sensible (!) and mature (!!) woman - lady (?!)

Happy Birthday to me!
Why it sucks: Think it's been four years since I had cheedai.

How I still manage: Just found them in an obscure shop in Little India, imported from Grand Sweets. Wish they'd had the thonnais with steaming hot pongal or sambhar saadam or thayir saadam or.. time to stop, I'm drooling.
It's Friday and I'm desperately trying to churn out some fluff writing at work for an event. I realize, with horror, that it turns out to be more difficult than I thought. Nevertheless, I chug on, with extreme happiness that a week with long hours at work is finally coming to an end.

What contributes more to the tempo and enthu in which I'm doing everything is the song I'm listening - Elay! It's cute, funny, fast, interesting and enjoyable! And it's got everything I like - acoustic guitar, a violin that's on a frenzy, Naresh Iyer [;)], pace and interesting and understandable lyrics. And the part of the song I love the most (for reasons I really cannot follow) is the way the song grinds to a halt in the end, with the sudden halt of beats, the chords that still play on and the voice and the words - 'Kaadhal station vandhiruchu vaa...'

I feel like an idiot getting so excited for (of all things), the ending of the song, but.. it's..

Awesome!

Randomness reigns supreme in Vani's life.
(I know, even I'm getting tired of announcing this-and-that in my blog, but that's pretty much what I am doing these days - looking forward to things to make life seem good! Not that it's bad, though!).

We've moved in! Hostel life officially came to an end almost 2 weeks back, when we finally brought in our things from here and there and started 'living' in our house. Other things took longer, and it was only today that I finally got my desktop a wireless USB adapter and finally came online!

And so, I waited for a week to write what I thought of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.. What do I say? Bloody entertaining! And very, very cute and magical. It's cliched and everything, but it's the movie I'll associate my end of college with. Of course, the movie has the same theme, but everything about the movie was so thoroughly enjoyable and things you could relate to - which I believe very few directors have been able to achieve!

And the songs.....wooohoooo! For the first time in my history of AR Rahman movie watching in Singapore, where I clap with uncontrollable glee every time his name comes on the screen, some guy sitting in the row behind mine commented 'Why so much happiness for this?!' and I wanted to say, I'm-super-excited-and-the-title-is-my-favourite-track-and-the-title-song-looks-so-bloody-nice-
what-more-
can-I-ask-for.

That says it, I guess. I totally, totally loved the movie for everything it was, it's funny, magical, cute, entertaining, dumb and silly moments. Coz it was just what life was till a very few days ago.
RANDOM.
The first email to the big boss. Tons of proof-reads by self and others. Automated spell check working in full swing.
A silent prayer, and the 'Send' button.
A tiny breath of relief escapes.
And the reply to the short email composed for over ten minutes comes in less than a minute: "ok"
Welcome to working.
Naalu varshathoda mudivu varudhu.
Stomach is knotted with fear!
Title's significance shall be explained later, if the author is in the mood to.
Update: Managed it :) Good, not bad, but some disappointments. Anyway, 4 years had quite a good end. Thank God!
Title's significance (lame ah irukkum, be prepared): ozhunga irundha pattasu, illati thalaila idi.

When day dreamers like me try to study in the library to get a studious feel (from the hundred others out there), it fails... and below is what happens; these are random sentences I typed out in boredom while studying there - for all but two days!!

Day 1 - 11 Apr

As I tap the fingers of my right hand on the back of my left palm, as I tap the keys of an invisible piano, to the rhythm of one of the beautiful and cute background pieces of Swades, I feel elated, but I also feel like an idiot as the girl two seats away gives me a weird look.

So I turn to tapping the keys on the keyboard instead – people could simply think I am typing. This was what the rhythm became. Good thing I know how to type. :D

“jjkklkj ;lk j awed ndow j h ji wkjd fo lask ajfkdj;jkl”

I tire the iPod by making it play the same 1.26 min clip over and over again.

I’m suddenly possessed by some zeal to work. Hardly happens, when I work because I want to and not because I have to, and I have to make the fullest of it.

I wonder how lovely it would be if I could play the keyboard (the musical one, I mean, not the computer’s). It’s not tough to learn, but it just didn’t happen.

I had a chocolate brownie today that made me so nauseated I don’t feel like going near one for at least a month. Ugh! Thinking of it makes me queasy. I think I’ll just skip dinner. Dessert became dinner. If I eat at this rate when I’m in the library studying for exams, I’ll get flabby! Nope, I’m not overly concerned, but I simply don’t want to put on unhealthy weight.

It’s a surprise I’ve been sitting in the ‘window’ seat (computer :D) and not looked out to stare at all. I mean, I have (I’m a window fan, after all), but it’s really not been distracting. I really don’t know what’s happened.

Day 2 - 12 Apr

Startling discovery early in the morning: the fountain for drinking water at the end of the corridor near the washrooms spouts out less water whenever somebody flushes inside the toilet. Ewww! What all water connections are connected?!?! :|

For all the ‘mood’ I was in yesterday, I’m getting hardly anything done today. Sudden excitement regarding booking of tickets. But worry at the same time regarding job and jumping into decisions.

By a freak chance, found that Tiger Airways’ tickets to Chennai are cheaper. After confused discussions, finally booked a ticket. I’m going home!!

P.S.: I studied for 3 days. Please cross your fingers for my results!
Another goodbye post! And this time, it's a biiiig goodbye...

Goodbye to college life. To life as a student. To life where you could still afford to be careless, dependent, childish.

Sigh, 4 years gone by in a flash! I can still remember how my major enthusiasm to come to Singapore (only besides the course) was to live in a hostel! (Lame as it sounds, it's true!) And I've enjoyed it every bit. It's here that I saw who I really am, and it's here that I got to know what my priorities in life are!

I'll miss the campus like crazy. The weird canteens, the roads, the moon obsession, my 4th year room whose window I would sit at if bored, the cluttered cork board, the regular trips to the library and the wonderful minutes spent just staring at the books, the movies on LAN, the innumerable FRIENDS episodes, the long walks, the brown benches where I spent half of my school life in meetings, oh, I could go on and on!

It's such a weird feeling, as I realize this is the last blog post from campus. There are so many "lasts", and I'm trying desperately not to simply think too much of them. Ah, it's ok, everything good has to come to an end - because it has to give way to something better!

And with hope in my heart, I step out to the 'real world', and hope it's not too bad. Now it's time for a walk across my favourite stretch.
Goodbye, to my lovely other home.

P.S.: Chennai, here I come!

Just read online that some political parties are banning sex education in some states in India because it's against our "culture". So sex education is against Indian culture but the skimpily clad women cheering during the IPL matches are OK and very much a part of Indian culture? Why don’t we stop protesting over silly things and get to work – like, say, actually working towards spreading AIDS awareness and educating the public in better (and more open) terms about it? Ugh, the “bastions of ‘Indian culture’”. We seriously are in need of some re-shifting of priorities before our country can get set and go.


P.S.: Joblessness, hence the news addiction!

4 years came to an end yesterday. As I woke up this morning and realized I have NO studying/course work to do, I felt weird, but I wanted to jump up and down! Which means, I am probably happy - of course lah, coz now I'm a GRADUATE!
Whhhopppppppppeeeeeee!!!!!!!
... I'm just out of my last ever class in University.

Wonder how many years it's gonna be before I get back into a lecture, and well, if I ever will!

Loved you, uni. Loved you way too much, dear course. I'm SO GLAD I had no second thoughts about the course. And that I didn't decide to do engineering to only wish every other day that I'd done what I always wanted to do.
The urge

When there is too much work, when there is too much in my head, when sad, happy, excited, or tired. When the mind longs for fresh air, and strongly desires to be away from people.

The timing

Always close to midnight, the ghostly 12 midnight hour.

The place

Straight ahead from the hostel, to the other section where there are only trees, orange hues, the chill air, long shadows, silence, calm. Hardly any people other than the occasional jogger or the intermittent car or McDonald’s delivery guy.

The music

Whatever the iPod plays. Loosely lodged in its black pouch, held carelessly yet lovingly by the owner. Frequently taken out to repeatedly play the song that comes up by chance but perfectly suits the mood.

Me.

A wandering soul at midnight. Wantonly leaving her glasses behind so she doesn’t have to do any socializing and just look away without being able to recognize who that person far away is. Looking back and deciding to skip a bit, trot, and very often, break into song. Watching the people at the first section walk briskly, surprisingly in tune to her song. Grinning and guffawing at anything and everything. Standing with arms hugging herself when there is a cold breeze. Wondering if the song is in adi thaalam or rupakam. Walking through the groups of unknown Indian people, certain for some reason that she would their topic of discussion once out of earshot. Walking on even though the right knee suddenly starts aching slightly. Walking on and on till the staff quarters that are flooding the road with light, which she doesn’t like. Sometimes, cutting right into the staff quarters and walking to the 24-hour shop and getting an ice-cream cone for her to devour and enjoy. Walking back unmindful of the stares that come her way when she (unsuccessfully, many a time) tries to manage the wallet, cell phone and the iPod. Climbing the five floors up to her hostel and laughing at the end when she reaches room, panting, with beaming a victorious smile, mind now uncluttered, fresh and happy.

We had a guest speaker last week for one of our marketing classes last week, and something he said was so bloody witty I keep thinking of it!

"...it's like peeing in a wet suit.. nobody knows you're doing it, but you feel nice and warm!"

Hahaha!!

To the wonder that gives life, maintains the bit of sanity left in the planet, multitasks in a way some can’t imagine… the most precious species that mankind often fails to appreciate…

To the woman, one of God’s most wonderful creation! A day is not enough to sing your praise!

I love the word 'centum'. It's a typical Indian word, and it brings back good memories. Of mark sheets with nice 3-digit numbers and 'V.Good' or 'Keep it up!' scrawled in red ink.

Oh, this is the 200th post!

Right now, I am breaking my head with my team mates about what could have gone wrong in today's experiment (was the participant a momentarily-disabled fool who put 13 instead of 31? Or is it a bug that is beyond the comprehension of mass comm students?).

"He better give us an A+ for all this work!" is definitely what is going on in all our minds. That would be lovely, my Hons would go up, life would seem pleasant, and something will keep me happy and pleased for sometime, more so if a job is in place!

This post completely lacks coherence and I'm a little upset it's the 200th. But I think this is the best way to rightly chronicle my current, disarrayed state of mind!
When I got out of the cinema, I felt good about the movie. By the time I got back, I was madly in love with it!
What do I talk about - Rahman, or Gowarikar, or Hrithik or Ash or the numerous other things in the movie?!
I'm mad to the extent I immediately wanted to watch it once again - immediately! I tried to write something about the movie, but I didn't know what to write - it's not the case of words failing me, but more that I didn't want to write anything for fear I might say something and spoil the ethereal feeling around the movie... ah, brilliance!
Must, must watch.
It's a beauty, in every way.

Just a word of caution: Don't watch it with people who cheer and clap for the craziest things in the movie without realizing it's a period movie and the director's done a wonderful job of it. Or if you are someone like that, then don't watch it in the cinema. Because every time you cheer or jeer, there is someone like me angrily cursing you under her breath.