Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Namesake- A Touch of Sentiments

I recently watched the movie "The Namesake" on DVD that was directed by Mira Nair, though the movie had come out earlier this year. I had already read the book written by Jhumpa Lahiri, but seeing the movie made the experience lot more realistic for me. It was one of those movies that had me crying my heart out and poor K had to stop at one point and we watched the remaining portion on the next day. The movie still remains fresh at mind and in heart that prompted me to write a blog.
Perhaps there have been other movies that showcase cross-cultural issues and American versus other cultural issues and differences like Bend it like Beckam, East versus East etc., but what makes Namesake stand out, is the beautiful way in which Mira Nair portrays the true personalities of each of the characters that make you forget that it is a movie after all.
The story revolves around first-generation Indian American Gogul Ganguli and his Bengali family, parents Ashoke and Ashima, specifically and the struggles that they each meet out to come to terms with the American culture. Kal Penn as Gogul Ganguli and Tabu as Ashima live and breathe the images of their respective characters and really touch your hearts with their stellar performances.
The story line and incidents that happen right from the start of Ashima's marriage to Ashoke and her entry to the American land till the end when she decides to live her life part in Calcutta and the US complete a full life for the film. The movie has a message for everyone- be it the Indian arranged marriage couple or the Indian American children born in this country. It portrays Ashima as a strong woman of substance who has come a long way since she married Ashoke. It also depicts the hardships faced by Gogul and his sister, more so, by Gogul, in trying to fit in. The women in his life- both Maxine and the Begali wife Moushmi teach him valuable lessons that shape his thought processes and make him understand himself more.
A few scenes that really stood out for me were when Ashima tries to call her son on his birthday and he his out with his girl friend Maxine's family, when she later tells him to make him up Maxine (though she doesn't approve of her) and some more.
This movie is a great learning cultural tool for many Indian Americans who go through the sturuggles of raising their children in this country. As for the non Indian poulation, it gives them a good insight into the arranged marriage system and how love, trust and commitment follow through. It also provides a good overview of the emotions and feelings that Gogul-like Indians undrego growing up in this country.
It is a rather slow movie, especially in the earlier parts, but The Namesake will speak to anyone who has felt themselves pulled in different directions by their own heart and emotions.
A must see for all!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Happy Deepavali...A trip down memory lane

It is those memories of celebrating a Deepavali back in India that makes it so special for many of us who aren't back home for this festive occasion.- Happy Deepavali...

Several of us have different memories when we talk about Deepavali back in our homes in India. For me, it brings back first the smell and taste of the sweets and savories (bakshanam)
that could be tasted as they are bring made by mothers and grand mothers, unlike other festivals like Krishna Jayanthi etc. where you would have to wait for the Gods (naivediyam)
before you can have a go at the goodies. I still remember the times when my mom would make kara boondhi a few days before Deepavali which would be the official lauch of the preparations.
Not to forget, the "Deepavali marundu or lehiyam" that would be the first thing to fall plop into my palm after an oil bath. The elders would refer to it as a good digestive and eating that before delving into the sweets and savories for the rest of the day would keep you up and running.
Moving on to more than just goodies for the stomach, Deepavali brings lots of crackers, and recently, heard from India that there are tons of new varieties of crackers, sparklers, flower pots etc. that have been added to the existing traditional ones.
Special television programs throughout the day in all the satellite channels and new movies being released on that day all contribute to the festive atmosphere of the day. New clothes, colorful versions of several designs and jewels along with a visit to relatives, grandparents places for blessings and sweet exchanges are all the other things that complete my memory of a complete Deepavali celebration.
As for this year, planning to record some of the Sun Tv programs to watch (esp. the star pattimadram) and watch it sometime later. For K and I, it is just another routine work day and a trip down memory lane of earlier Deepavali's.
Wishing all bloggers A Very Happy & Prosperous Deepavali...............................................

Monday, October 22, 2007

JK Rowling's spills secrets on her characters

As one of the millions of Harry Potter fans worldwide, I have to do a blog on JKR's latest revealetions on some of her characters. Rowling was present at New York City's Carnegie Hall on Saturday night at an event that boasted of thousands of Harry Potter fans who had come across the country for the hot event. These lucky children won a sweepstakes created by Rowlings publisher and they then flew to New York from all over the place. The event was hosted by MSNBC news anchor Keith Olbermann who paved the way for Rowling to occupy the center stage.
Answering to a question posed by someone in the crowds, Rowling spilled the beans on the kindly old headmaster of Hogwarts, by saying that Dumbledore was gay. That statements explains a lot from her series, especially, it affirms the connection between Dumbledore and Grindelward, his younger days companion who took an interest in the Dark Arts. Albus Dumbledore's character is probably the most loved and discussed, next to Harry, in all of Harry Potter's fan groups. Though, initial books probably made readers question the loyalty and relationship between Professor McGonagal and Dumbledore, Rowling clarifies that in her latter books.
Hope the upcoming Harry Potter movies, would make sure that the authenticity of his character remains without messing up the storyline.
Further, Rowling went on to answer a few other questions such as Neville's love life, Molly Weasley's killing of Bellatrix and so no. The whole evening came to an end by 8.30 pm when Rowling stood up to sign the stacks of books piled up for the children who had come.
Wish I could go to one such event and get caught up in the magical moments................

Friday, October 19, 2007

Saraswathi Puja and Vijayadasami- end of Navarathri

Happy Friday!

Since I didn't get to do a post on the golu this year, thought that I would do a write up on the end of the navarathri festival, which is marked by the Sarawasthi puja on the ninth day (navami) followed by Vijayadasami on the tenth day. Because, these days fall on a weekend, it becomes a little easier, atleast for working folks like us in the US, to do some sort of a mini puja at home.
A trip down the memory lane- Back in India, Saraswathi puja was an important day to reckon with. It was on this only day that our parents never insisted us to study/read and we were made to keep all our books, musical instruments before the Goddess and puja would be performed. This was done as a form of respect to the Goddess of knowledge Saraswathi who would be the one to bless our educational pursuits. In commercial places, this day would be referred to as Ayudha puja and all the machinery, equipment used in any form of shop, industry etc. would be cleaned and decorated with flowers, sandalwood paste etc. After a brief puja, sweets, rice flakes (arisi pori) with jaggery would be distributed to all. Even vehicles and automobiles would be decorated and worshiphed since they brought livelihood for several folks.

On the tenth day of Vijayadasami, the day that the Goddess has attained victory by slaying the demon, is considered auspicious and siginifies good over evil. This is the day when new ventures, be it in business, education, music, dance etc. is begun, since it signifies prosperity throughout the coming year.

Well, thus comes the end to the navarathi season. Hope everybody has a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Back to Blogging

Hello! Hola! Bonjour! Ciao! Aloha! Namaste! Vanakkam..........

Yes, I am back to blogging after a leave of absence of six months. Given that my last blog was in April when we moved into our new home, I didn't think that I would come back to blogging for several reasons, top one being that I simply had lost the enthu and motivation to blog somewhere along the line. Further, I didn't think that me not blogging would make a difference to the huge blogger community, honestly, it doesn't, but when a few friends kept asking me as to why I haven't blogged and that I should start blogging again, I thought, well, maybe its time to make a come back.

A lot has happened in the last six months, don't want to indulge into great details about each and every thing. The highlights would be K and I completed 3 years of matrimony in June, we visited London and nearby cities like Stratford, Oxford enroute to India in July. We celebrated my dad's 60th birthday function in India and attended my brother-in-law's engagement around the same time in August. Came back to US and spent the last week in keeping golu and inviting friends.

While, those have been the happenings in my personal life, other things that whizzed by were Thalaivar's Sivaji making history in tamil cinema, the Indian stock market's growth (given that it was down today), the Google and Apple stocks still holding strong, the I-Phone frenzy and more.

Well, with the comeback comes a new look to this blog......will be back soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Home..Sweet Home

The last couple of months have probably been the busiest time in my life, given that my blogging has consistently decreased to "a blog once a month". But, that doesn't prevent me from spending my lunch hour reading some of the other blogs to keep up on the happenings.
Early this year, after a lot of pressurizing from my end, my husband and I decided to embark on the "Bay Area Housing Express" to make our journey through the tedious process of buying a home. As first-time passengers in this express, our requirements for reaching the destination of "Buying a Home in Silicon Valley" were different. K's need was simple- "You buy a house, pay for it to live in it and don't expect anything more." My desire was a little more ambitious- Given that the housing prices in the valley are much much higher than anywhere else in the country and don't seem to drop lower; and logic sans the already inflated housing prices versus steady salary growth, not knowing how unpredictable the future here is going to be, still, the tinge of hope that maybe, the home price may go up slightly and there is still room for a small profit to be made.
But, anyways, the entire process of home buying was an educative and eye-opening experience. Initially, our knowledge base on the topic was limited to conversations with some friends who have been experts in this area, buying and selling their 2nd and 3rd homes. Nevertheless, the process seemed scary. You know there's a lot of paperwork involved, and a lot of vocabulary that might sound alien. It was like doing school work, the evenings, K and I spent reading the material our agent had given us and learning the meaning of terms like Adjustable Rate Mortgage(ARM), Amortization, Annual Percentage Rate(APR), Closing costs, Contingency, Delinquent, etc. The easy part was spending the weekend afternoons going for open houses and then after a while, you realize that the more you see, the more you get confused. Not only that, you know that the ones that are in a reasonable condition are the ones that will be sold in a jiffy with mutiple offers and the fixer-upper types also had their bidders.
While several friends of us kept telling us that the prices have gone down now, the scenario during mutiple offers brought a jolt of unexpected happenings. While nation-wide home prices have declined, the valley still seems to be going steady, not great, but flat. When a house has multiple offers, it just seems that people are frantic enough to escalate the value of the home and make sure that the price is highly inflated, atleast 15-25K more than the listing price.
Anyways, to cut a long story short, we finally found a house that we liked and more importantly got. The hard part comes afterwards, gettting the home loan approved, locking it down at a good interest rate and closing escrow.
Once all those processes are completed and you get the keys to the home, you can finally call yours, one may think that you can breathe easier. The moving in, followed by seeing the huge mortgage amount go every month from your paycheck, makes you wonder, if you made the right decision.
But, seeing that you can slam nails into your walls, hang how many ever pictures you want, paint them and decorate them as per your wish and basically having the freedom to do anything, makes you smile and say, "Maybe, this wasn't such a bad idea, after all."
More on the home series to follow..................................................................

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bachelors- 'Singled Out' in South India (100th post)

Recently watched Mozhi on big screen with some friends, although Jo's acting etc. are all talked about, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes between the Telegu actor Brahmanandam who plays the house owner and his clashes with Prakash Raj, seemed like a fresh breath of comedy amidst the other present day stereo types. This episode in the movie along with a recent conversation with one of my single friends in India gave me some content for a blog.
A good high-school friend of mine who works for a BPO in Chennai was telling me about his state of affairs as a "bachelor" guy in the city and how hard it is for him to make a right impression with folks considering his single status. When I asked him to elaborate more, he was only too happy to express his displeasure about the way bachelors are treated in and around the city. Given that several youngsters come from different parts to live and work in Chennai's booming IT corridor and companies, inspite of their education and good behavior, the society has little regard for these folks.
As an example, he mentioned how his house owner looks down upon him and a few other roomates of his with suspicion given the fact that they are bachelors. It was so hard to even convince him to rent us this apartment for 3 working bachelors. Out of curiosity, when he asked his owner why he was against bachelors, the man responded with a knowing grin, "I was a bachelor once. I know what you guys do!" My friend was saying he may have hinted about drinking, making noise, partying etc. but the truth is we hardly make much noise and do any partying in the house. We work on day and night shifts alternatively and come home to relax, watch some tv and get some sleep. We don't cook regularly and are often out of people's ways and feel that we are way better compared to several other family tenants.
He didn't stop his out-pour there, but went on to say how the neighbours view the bachelors. A few years back when he was living with his parents, they would fondly tell their small kids about "Anna" and wave to him. Nowadays, when me or my friends walk into the apartment complex, the folks rush in with their kids and close the door, just because I smile and say hi to them. The same neighbours, especially the married women, later, knock on our doors with a request to teach their child Math or Science or help out with a school project that is due on the next day.
He was also telling me how several of his colleagues who are CA's or sofware professionals have been denied home loans by financial institutions, owing to their unmarried status.
Lastly, my dad was telling me about a distant relative of his who had left Tiruchi to work in a good job in Chennai. Looks like he was in need of a gas connection, which, after my dad's narration, I realized is not the easiest to obtain in Chennai. The boy had to have a ration card in order to get his gas connection, for which, he had to be married or needed to take days off from work to go back to Tiruchi and cancel his name on the ration card there. The boy commented to my dad that he had a passport, voter's ID Card, a driver's license, a PAN card and income tax receipts, but none of this could be useful in helping him obtain a gas connection.
Looking at all this, seems like being a bachelor is not such a great idea and all fun as it appears to be. I guess the city definitely needs to be more open and polite to the tons of youngsters who are bachelors and are there to make a living.
Thought for the day:
Try to focus, not on the annoying things your neighbours do, but on the things they do right.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back to Blogging.....

It has been a while since I blogged, especially the meaningful blogging, except the Thanksgiving and New Year wishes posts. No specific reason, except for a sudden dip or lack of motivation on topics to write about and work catching up and some other stuff to take care of at the domestic front, there has been no will to blog. Although, I have been reading the other blogs on and off when time permits. Hopefully, I will start blogging regularly from now on....

Thought for the day:

When someone asks you how you are, don't emphasize how busy you are. You're an interesting person with many qualities besides busyness.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year & Resolutions

Wishing all bloggers A Very Happy and Prosperous 2007! Thanks for all your wishes and hope the new year brings in more blogger friends and sharing.

Back to work today- the first working day in 2007 and I'm sure that some of you may have made resolutions to start off the year. Making New Year Resolutions is no less than a tradition in modern times and though they are easy to make or think of, its quite difficult and virtually impossible for everyone to keep up their resolutions till the year end. A few suggestions on keeping up those resolutions and achieve them by the year ending.

* Its a good idea to recall last year's resolution and see if it has been successfully achieved. If not, make that the primary resolution for this year and promise yourself to keep it this year.

* Also, making a lot of resolutions and not following them is easier, so try and stick to 1-3 resolutions, small ones that you are sure can be achievable.

* Keep reminding yourself of your resolution daily, by writing it and sticking it in your office or at home and reward yourself when you have work towards your goal.

Well, one of my resolutions this year is to try and pray to God for a few minutes daily either in the morning or evening. Feels like this habit of mine needs some strengthening in the new year.

Would be interesting to hear some other resolutions for this year.............

Happy Tuesday!