07 December 2006

It's a ........

...... GIRL!!!!!!!

Avani was born on 6th December at 1447 in Tsuruoka, Japan. She is 47.5 cms tall and weighs 2668 grams and is absolutely adorable!

04 December 2006

Watching it snow

So what's a reasonable person doing being wide awake after midnight? Watching it snow. According to the weatherman, it wasn't supposed to till about middle of December, but I guess someone forgot to tell that to the weather.

I'm getting done with my packing. Since I'm going to be in the hospital for around 10 days, I decided this is a good time to re-read all 11 volumes of the Wheel of Time. Isn't it a good thing I convinced Arun not to throw it away when we moved? A too thinks it's the best way to kill time in a hospital bed. Beats watching Japanese television. I still haven't figured out what is a show, and what's a commercial. Or the point of one particular show where half the characters are dressed in kimonos and the other half in natty western suits, who seem to go through life in a series of elaborate tea ceremonies. Or another where a bunch of guys in, what I assume are medieval costumes, go around chopping up people like so many vegetables with their katanas. Wheel of Time is way less complicated! Just some 100 main and 200 sub characters, 1 dozen key plots and a dozen-dozen sub and sub-sub-plots, enough twists to confuse a geo-mapping satellite... what more could I possibly ask for to keep me entertained for 10 snowy dreary days?

Aditi is pretty excited. She's waiting to play with her new sibling. She's picked out books to read to and stories to tell the little one.

Here I sign off. I have no idea when I'll be able to blog again for the next few weeks.

How come all you guys out there aren't running a baby pool?? You were so much more fun last time around! So watch this space to know if it's going to be a boy or a girl.

03 December 2006

2006 - Big sister is watching

Aditi is quite curious and has her own ideas about the little baby.

She was quite shocked when I told her that the little one does not know how to open the kitchen drawers and cupboards. She thought about it for a while and came up to me and said, 'Amma don't worry, I'll teach kutti-baby to open drawers'. Yikes, that's all I need right now!

Aditi has told me that she will sing to the little baby, will carry it around (scary), will teach baby to use the potty, will tell the baby stories, will share with the baby (scarier: considering that her idea of sharing is to take what she wants from the other kids), will teach baby to sing, and yes, that she will tell baby to listen to what amma and appa say, and that she will teach baby to be good (scariest).

More than the baby itself, A and I are now eagerly waiting to see Aditi's reactions to her little sibling. Her first sight of the little ones and her opinions and thoughts.

That reminds me: better get the video camera ready. Charge batteries, get more tape etc.

Food for thought

Now that D-day is around the corner, I've been quite caught up with things... Was it this hectic last time around?? I don't remember. I don't think so.

This time around, the rigmarole is starting to show signs of getting 'Lost in Translation'. I had a very exhausting 2 hour interview with the nutritionist at the hospital a couple of days ago. Somehow by the time I got through to her about what I eat and don't eat, I was quite ready to give up and tell her just give me rice and curds, and I'll get my own pickles, thank you. Being a vegetarian in this neck of the woods isn't all that easy.

First I had to explain that I don't eat meat and fish. No fish?? Yes, ma'am, no fish. So the nutritionist gets some printouts from her file and my translator asked me whether fish is 'meat'. Now, how on earth does one answer that? So the next step was to explain that I was NOT vegan, and that I could take milk, cheese and other dairy products. Yes, eggs are OK too. No, I do not mind eating tofu and eggs every day to make up for nutrition components.

Then I had to explain that chicken, beef and pork are not OK, neither are ham, bacon or sausages. By the time we got through that part, I was so tired. Then came the kicker. 'So does that mean prawn, shrimp and crabs are alright?' Sigh... we were back to block one. And the poor lady went through a list of vegetables to find out what was OK and what was not! After a point I gave up saying 'every vegetable is fine, every single one', and stuck to okaying each individual vegetable as it was read out.

I don't know who was more shocked by my diet, the nutritionist or the translator. I'm sure they think I'm from another planet.

Bond, James Bond

Since Ma is now here, and more than game for babysitting, A and I decided to go watch Casino Royale. Verdict, not bad at all! Initially I really didn't like the idea of Daniel Craig as Bond, especially after Munich. Now I really should take back any uncharitable thought that i might have had about Craig as 007.

Of all the Bonds to date, I think Craig comes closest to the high standards set by Sean Connery. After Sean Connery, he has to be the next best Bond to date. I really should add that I did think Pierce Brosnan was an awesome 007 too. Eye candy, oozing sophistication and er.. more eye candy. A, of course, thinks that this is a girl thing. he might be right, but who cares. He's CUTE! No one could call Craig's Bond cute. Cool, but not quite eye-candy. Beef-cake, yes; eye-candy, never!

The initial action scenes lacked the usual polish of a typical Bond chase. Way too gritty, and not quite polished. The Madagascar chase somehow reminded me of a classic Jackie Chan movie, with slightly too acrobatic stunts.

And then there was the absence of the traditional Bond theme music in the title sequence. But never mind, it did play during the end credits. So A and I sat through the final credits just for the Bond theme!

One crib I have about this movie is total absence of gadgets. Where, oh where, was the watch that doubles as a detonator that could also be used to pinpoint someones location by GPS and of course, in an emergency, tell you the time too?? Where was John Cleese?? Somehow Bond wasn't quite the same without his faithful-sidekick-fancy-gadgets!

And not enough of the trademark one-liners. (You expect me to talk? No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die)

But yes, if they can't get Brosnan back, Daniel Craig is an awesome Bond, James Bond.

28 November 2006

Hair raising tales

... and I bit the bullet, packed my dictionary in my handbag, wrote down a list of (what I thought) were useful words and phrases, and walked into the hairdresser's salon.

The first sight of the stylist wasn't all that confidence inspiring. And it didn't help that my so-called useful phrases list turned out to be next to useless. Then the stylist handed me a few books and asked me to pick a style. Some of them looked quite nice... on Japanese women. Finally i gave up on the book and told him to just shorten it. I think that offended his professional ethics, and he asked me to wait a bit and disappeared. That was somewhat scary... was I getting my hair cut or not?? Then he came back with a glossy ad from a glossy magazine for one of the cosmetic giants. And pointed out to one of the models' styles. Alright. That looked comfortably simple, something which I could live with. If it didn't look good, at least it wouldn't look terrible.

The end result wasn't too bad. After lots of 'chotto skoshi' , 'o this or that kudasai' and plenty of 'onegaishimasu' I decided I could live with the look... It certainly doesn't make me look like the spokes-model for Estee Lauder, but at least I don't have the everyday-is-a-bad-hair-day look anymore.

Aditi, of course, thinks that I'm in disgrace for not combing my hair, which is why it's way shorter. I wonder if she'll still think that way once she's in her teens!

Movies, Movies, Movies

So just what have I been up to lately?? Watching movies!

Since we discovered the wonderful world of torrents (thanks, Nikhil), I've been downloading movies, old and new, by the dozen! After all, that's our second best entertainment option (#1 of course, is li'l sis, who got us hooked totally to 24).

Lets see, in the last fortnight we watched Cars, Khosla ka Ghosla, Pyar ke Side Effects to name a few.

Cars was, in one word, BRILLAINT! Loved the concept, loved the execution! It was worth waiting all those months till I could get a decent print!

Bollywood movies are definitely starting to break out of the stale old mold. We watched Khosla ka Ghosla earlier today. After I downloaded the movie, A read some reviews, none of which were even charitable. So we didn't get around to watching it for absolutely weeks... till today! And we really liked it. The characters are funny. The plotline: could happen to anyone.. very very real, and realistic! No unnecessary song and dance for no good reason. Anupam Kher, Kiran Juneja lead an exceptionally subtle and sublime cast. It's definitely worth watching. Do give it a try. Really entertaining!

Pyar ke Side Effects was another refreshing change from the usual ho-hum Bollywood plots. Rahul Bose and Mallika Sherawat (who really can act) are quite funny. I loved the bit where Mallika Sherawat tries to initiate a serious conversation about relationships... right in the middle of a cricket match (deja vu)! Again, a good timepass movie.

We still have Don and Dor on our to watch list. And we're saving those for snowy weekends when we're likely to be totally housebound! So more reviews will happen later.

19 November 2006

So wish me luck....

Nonono... this isn't about the latest addition to the family.. All's smooth sailing on that front. Except of course for names... neither of us can agree on one... or rather, two, as we decided we didn't want to know the sex of the baby.

Later this week I embark on an adventure like none other. After having a series of progressively worse bad hair days, I decided to bite the bullet and do something about my hair. So after a lot of R&D (looking for good cuts that didn't look like the wearer was attacked by rodents) I asked one of A's colleagues who her stylist was. That lovely lady went one step further and booked an appointment for me.

Now we get to the catch. The stylist doesn't speak English. So I'm poring over the good old dictionary and making a list of what I think are important words that one needs to communicate with a stylist.

Worst case scenario: I don't get on the wrong side of a camera a few months. Considering that I'm the one doing at least 99.99% of any picture taking, that doesn't seem like such a big scare!

So wish me luck. This is my acid test. Whether or not I post any pictures will tell you whether or not all those Japanese lessons paid off.

Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant!

07 November 2006

Testing 1..2..3..

One of my readers (all countable on one hand) asked why there haven't been updates here in ages. Good question... No answer...

Honestly, nothing much has been happening out here. Since my last update, all that's happened is that I finally passed my driving test, got my license and the very next day backed the car into a pillar. Nono.. not to worry, the car had the mildest of scratches on it!

Now that I have my license, I've been exploring this little town, drive in any direction that seems interesting (advantage of living in a small town: can never get lost), going window shopping without harassing Arun.. You get the drift.

Right now, we're trying to get decent baby furniture, infant car-seats, woolen and other assorted warm clothes for Aditi (who's shooting up like a beanpole), warm clothes for the new baby... phew... Did I forget to mention heated carpets, room heaters and more stuff along those lines?? So all spare time's spent in stores checking out stuff.

The weathers starting to get chilly. Quite chilly actually. There's already been snow about 60kms north of here. Any sunny days are now spent airing out quilts, comforters, blankets and other assorted winter wear that's been sitting in storage for a few months. Or if its a really gloriously sunny day, I drag Arun and Aditi around somewhere for a long drive in the mountains and look at the pretty colours.

Other than that, nothing much. Will get around to posting some pics one of these days. Don't ask when, when I get around to it.. that's when!

29 September 2006


Is that cool, or what?? (Check #7 in case you're trying to figure what on earth I'm talking about!)

12 September 2006

Watching Superman with a 3 year old

My little one watched her first Superman movie, Arun and I laughed all the way through.. Why?? Because of all the questions we had to answer, and the lovely running commentary.....

Here are some of the more interesting ones.
  • Movie begins- Krypton explodes- the little one thinks it's the moon- scene changes- Clark Kent shows up at the daily planet- little one goes, "But what happened to the moon?"
  • Lex Luthor throws his wig at the little girl- "Uncle did not wear ponytails, so his mommy made him bald" (am sure that sounds familiar)
  • Lois Lane is being bounced around the aircraft- "See? That's why amma tells me to wear a seatbelt!"
  • Superman changes back into Clark Kent- Lois and Watzisname are discussing how Clark Kent possesses some traits similar to Superman- "Is Superman wearing glasses?"- Even a three-year-old-novice to the Superman franchise knows that Kent is Superman.
  • Lois Lane leaves the cabin where she finds the collection of wigs- Lex Luthor steps out of a washroom- He's brushing his teeth- "This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth.... left, right, up and down... " (remember the tune to 'here we go 'round the mulberry bush'?)
  • Superman is taken to hospital and the doctors prepare for surgery- "what happened to Superman's clothes?"
  • Lois Lane starts to light a cigarette, and flicks on the lighter- "No playing with fire. It's dangerous"
Arun promised her that he'd tie a towel around her shoulders and she could be 'Super-Aditi'.

So I can safely assume that both kids loved the movie.

10 September 2006

Tagged again!

Why me?? I spent too much time trying to figure out 8 things about me, thanks to Dents' tag.. and now this... ah well.. here we go!

1. Book that changed your life: 1984. Why?? 1) sounds darned impressive, 2) I read it sometime in the early '90s and by then it was too late for 1984 to be like 1984... (it could happen later, or it may already be happening, but it not like 1984 happening in 1984.. hehehehehe)

2. Book you've read more than once: The Collected works of O'Henry. I've read them a gazillion times before, and will probably read them a gazillion times again!

3. Book you'd take to a desert island: Weekend Wodehouse. This collection has the perfect blend of the incurably loony inhabitants of Blandings, the moronic Bertie Wooster and his faithful Jeeves, and a handful of the most eccentric of Mr. Mulliner's relations. Simply perfect.

4. Book that made you laugh: Mike at Wrykin, Aunts Aren't Gentlemen

5. Book that made you cry: To Kill a Mockingbird

6. Book you wish you had written: "What to cook that (both) a 3 year old and a 35 year old are likely to eat"

7. Book you wish had never been written: Here I throw a cat among the pigeons.... "Catch 22" ... I started it 4 times, but could never get beyond a certain point... I still don't get the point, if there was one, of the book...

8. Book you're currently reading: Tom Clancy's 'Cardinal of the Kremlin'

9. Book you've been meaning to read: Anna Karenina... I don't know why. Each time I started reading it, I couldn't get beyond a point. I'd like to say that I have read Tolstoy ... hehehe

10. Tagging: aaaghhhh... lemme think... Arun, Gouri, Denti, Anitha, Deepak, Joji and Ozzy...

04 September 2006

28 August 2006

The new king of Bollywood

When I first read on Rediff that there was to be a bollywood remake of Othello, called 'Omkara', I told myself it was a recipe for box-office disaster. Then after I read about the casting, I had this image of a producer like the kinds of Naseeruddin Shah in Bombay Boys ... who wanted to make a bad movie so he could launder some black money...

Ok, Ajay Devgan was cast in the title role... after watching Company I didn't doubt he could play Othello. But Saif Ali Khan and Viveik Oberoi?? Saif would have made a decent Cassio... but Viveik Oberoi as Iago?? Note how quickly I jumped to the wrong conclusions. When I later read that Saif Ali Khan was to play the role of Iago, I couldn't believe my eyes. Chocolate boy Saif as the evil Iago?? No way.....

So over the weekend Arun got his hands on the movie, and I was like, oh well, beats watching Superman Returns in Japanese. 30 minutes into the movie I was ready to apologize to Saif Khan for any misgivings I might have had of his histrionic capabilities. Saif Ali Khan HAS to be the new King of Bollywood. His portrayal of Langda Tyaagi is way more than superb and brilliant. His performance is exquisite! Pure art. If he doesn't get ALL possible awards for that role, then there is something seriously wrong with the Indian Cinegoers, Critics and film jurists alike. He's simply the perfect Iago, oozing evil from behind a veil of innocence.... It's time for the rest of the Khan's to move over and make way for the new King of Bollywood, Saif Ali Khan.

Ajay Devgan as Omkara (Othello), Viveik Oberoi's Kesu (Cassio), Kareena Kapoor's portrayal of Dolly (Desdemona), Konkona Sen Sharma's Indu (Emilia) and Naseeruddin Shah's character of Bhaisaab (Doge of Venice) were beautifully played. Bipasha Basu as Billo (Bianca) sucked big time. She was way too plastic. Yes, she was there just for the item numbers, but still, I'm sure there are better actresses who could have played that role.

The desi setting for Othello was brilliantly conceived. The background was the murky politics of the region. Character development was brilliant! It was gripping to the end! I don't think I have really raved about a Bollywood all this much.... ever! For a tragic ending, it was brilliantly shot. From start to finish, Omkara is gripping!

I recommend this as a must watch. However, if you are looking for a long song and dance production, with hazar bizarrely outfitted extras in the background, this is not for you.

Bollywood's most sophisticated and stylish offering to date. All hail Omkara!

25 August 2006

Who let the doc tag??

I always thought PhD students (at least going by the ones that I've seen) didn't have enough time in a day to get their research done... Looks like I could be wrong about that. A certain researcher in a certain university in Bean-town seems to have all the time in the world to play tag! I refuse to be a spoilsport, so here goes...

This is how one plays tag online..
1) Say who tagged you
2) Say eight things about yourself
3) Tag 6 people

I was tagged by that jobless doc in Boston.

8 things, eh?? Lets see....
I WANT chaat... desperately..
I DON'T want to make the aforementioned chaat.
I WISH I could have something nice for lunch (something NOT cooked by me)
I genuinely believe that if I wish hard enough some inspired soul WILL open a Mexican restaurant in Tsuruoka.
SOMEDAY I will wake up on time to watch a sunrise here(so what if it happens at around 4:30 am).
I HAVE conclusively proved that a cellphone dropped in a pot of boiling sambar will never work again.
I NEED retail therapy to feel good.
I'm WAITING for the local release of X-Men 3.

(Wow... how colossally boring!)

Now let's play tag... Anitha, Deepak, Arun (much against my better judgment), Joji, Gouri.... you're IT! And here's right back at you, Dents.

10 August 2006

Who let the dogs out?

Who let the cat out of the bag?? What cat?? What bag?

Thanks to Dents' constant linking, we discovered YouTube. The first time I looked at the Youtube site, I found 'Kajra Re' on the first page. This little one absolutely loves that song, and sings it so adorably I ended up bookmarking that for her. As a natural progression, we found links to other songs that she liked, Hakuna Matata etc.

And with a little searching and browsing we discovered we could find a lot of old favourite music videos too. Arun wanted to see if he could find The Ketchup Song. It did have such a catchy beat. So talking of catchy beats, we thought we should find Macarena too. I remembered certain 2-left-footed types (other than me of course) trying to dance the Macarena. It was such a craze when we were in college!

And then one of the videos we were watching actually had a link to... I am not joking.. "Who let the dogs out?" The little one actually sings that one now! Of all the good music she could have picked up, she had to like that one song (if one can call it a song)!

Now first thing in the morning, she comes up to me and says, "may I please watch Ketcher (ketchup), Macarena, Kajra Re and Who let the dogs out? Please??"

What a start to my day.....

As a very irrelevant postscript, does anyone who remembers a certain party remember the part where a certain artist type would, in the middle of conversations, suddenly ask, "but folks, Who let the dogs out?" And then everyone else would religiously reply "Who? Who?" And then, the artist would pick up the intercom and go "Security, 1 plate baasundi.. "

08 August 2006

How to give a 3 year old a haircut

1. Take said 3 year old to a hairdresser, preferably one run by elderly ladies who are sure to pamper her silly
2. Take out dictionary and try to explain how you want her hair trimmed
3. Listen to responses that don't make sense as the words used by hairdresser do not exist in your dictionary.
4. Put dictionary back in handbag.
5. Start miming. Fold, twist, mime scissors, cutting motion etc and hope message is getting through correctly.
6. Seat daddy-dear on barber chair and let 3 year old watch him being draped in towel etc.
7. Seat 3 year old on daddy's lap, and cover her with towels etc.
8. Confer again with hairdresser using abysmal vocabulary and sign language and agree on length.
9. Hairdresser shall start snipping at this point.
10. 3 year old insists that she doesn't want her head shaved and will wear her ponytails from now on.
11. Explain to 3 year old (before onset of tears) that this will look very cute, and ask the hairdresser to say 'kawaii desu' (how cute) a few times to get the idea through.
12. Explain (or try to explain) to three year old why its not a great idea to move her head rapidly from side to side.
13. Let cute cat walk through salon.
14. Ask elderly lady whether its ok to pick up said cat.
15. Pick up said cat and hold cat in angle and height so 3 year old looks that way.

16. Move cat around to keep 3 year old looking in the right direction.
17. Turn chair away from mirror.
18. Explain to 3 year old that this style will look cuter than curls.
19. Get hairdresser to reiterate #18
20. Repeat steps 16 till desired results are acquired
21. Do a final trim.
22. Wait for hairdresser to get a pretty ribbon and let 3 year look at herself in mirror.
23. Repeat steps 18 and 19 again.
24. Pay hairdresser.
25. Get out of salon before cute (but very annoyed) cat decides to express displeasure.
26. Start breathing and thank the dude above for getting one through this with minimum trauma.
27. Look at s.o. and hope one doesn't have to repeat this in a hurry.

31 July 2006


... got around to posting a few pics here.

30 July 2006

Dinner with Geeks!!!

Arun had invited a few of the students from the Univ to dinner last night. Are they geeks!

Suddenly the conversation changes track and the guys start discussing one particularly pretty student. One of the PhD students was looking a little confused trying to figure out who the rest were talking about. Suddenly one saw enlightenment on his face. "Ok... I know who she is... she's the one with the IBM thinkpad...." Not the hairstyle, or other attributes to jog our friend's memory.

The reactions around were priceless.... jaws dropped, one guy even slapped himself to see if he'd heard right.....

And now I think people (especially Tina) should think twice before calling Arun a geek.

28 July 2006

Template generator

I've been rather bored with the look and feel of my blogs, and didn't really care all that much for the templates available on blogger. I really wanted a three column template, colours of my choice etc...

The previous template was alright, but it was absolutely BORING!! Rather colourless... uninspired too.

Today I discovered PsycHo, one of the best template generators I could find online. The customization options are quite comprehensive. It does need some very minor tweaks to personalize it further. If a HTML/CSS doofus like me can do it, trust me, anyone can!

All I need to figure out now is how to get the side columns run the length of the page, and not abruptly terminate where the column text ends. And I also need to know how to lose those bullets against the previous posts.

Comments anyone? And yes, I really need to know the column length thingie... so do put on your thinking caps and help!

PS: I did find a few more bugs and can't figure out how to debug those...

1. According to Axe, he can't click on any of the old comments. He tried clicking on June 2005 and couldn't click on the "5 voices in the dark" thingie. But he could click on the timestamp to view everything, though.... I tried it too.. he's right.. . (check)

2. Just how do I lose those darn bullets agianst previous post titles? (check)

3. Clicking on any link makes it open in a new tab... does anyone who doesn't use a decent civilized browser like Mozilla find they are opening new windows with each click on a hyperlink?

Deepak set that right for me! But there's still other li'l things I need help with.. so all geeks out there can put on their thinking caps!

26 July 2006

The newest Bogeyman

My little one has these lovely long curls, but always refuses to brush them. The other day while I was blog surfing she saw the picture on this. She looked again, and turned and asked me: "did uncle's mommy take away all his hair because he refused to wear a ponytail??"

Now I just seat her in front of the comp, and flip to Axe's blog. And Aditi promptly goes, "may I have my butterflies (her word for ponytails) please?"

Poor Axe.....

16 July 2006

Shades of dark, darker and darkest...

.. is how I'd describe Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest.

What went wrong?? Was chatting with Axe about this last week, and he cribbed it was too dark, comparing it with The Empire Strikes Back in relation the first Star Wars. I think we all went to watch the Curse of the Black Pearl with minimum expectations expecting a decent action comedy. The Curse of the Black Pearl was funny. The chemistry between Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush was simply brilliant. I, of course, tend to overlook the guy with the sword, but he was a total non-entity in this one... It just wasn't funny. And funny is what I expected after the first movie.

I hated the weird creatures. One supposes that an overdose of the fantasy element (weird mutated creatures) could not really be that funny.

And what's with the score?? I just loved the score in the first movie... the one that goes
That particular bit played only during the final credits!! It was such an apt score, with a certain flamboyance to act as a counterfoil to that slurring, somewhat effeminate pirate...

Ah well, now that Barbossa is back, maybe the Pirates 3 will be more interesting.
(Highlight at your own risk. Spoiler alert!!)

It wasn't a total loss. I loved the East India Company being portrayed as the baddies.

I don't want to give it a rating, but I suggest that you watch it only if you are a die-hard fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

19 June 2006

"Too sweet ...."

... was the final verdict, after about 25 people watched me make coconut burfi and later eat it.

This is again part of the all the activities I ended up being roped into. SS-san from the International forum asked if I would like to attend a small talk at the nearby hamlet (town, they call it here) Atsumi. And yes, could I demonstrate the preparation of some traditional Indian 'candy'?

Candy? Now I was at a complete loss. What typical Indian candy could I make? So I spent about 2-3 weeks in intense research at local supermarkets. Why? Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Satsuki (SI-san), the session organiser, requested that I use ingredients available locally. So there I was desperately mailing mommy and anyone else I could think of asking for very simple sweet recipes, and then hunting in the supermarkets for availability of ingredients. Before I hit the stores there was a lot on internet and dictionary research trying to find the correct English or Japanese name for these things.

Simple and tasty delicacies were ruled out. To make kesari, I needed rave, something unheard of here. I couldn't even find condensed milk for some simple sweets. Finally mom's friend Radha aunty gave her a simple recipe for a coconut burfi, with minimum fuss, that I could make with dry or processed coconut powder. Thank God for that! So after giving SI-san a list of things that would be needed, I settled on this.

On D-day, I was told that I would be given a lift there by one Mrs Okabe, and was given instuctions where to meet her. So I go to the rendezvous and meet her there for the almost hour long drive to Atsumi.

Then we hit the first hitch. Mrs Okabe was Korean, and spoke fluent Japanese. I certainly don't know a single word of Korean, and my Japanese to date isn't something to write home about. So I reached into my bag and pulled out my notepad, pen and dictionary. So whenever Mrs Okabe said anything, I'd jot down what I assumed were the key words to the conversation, look it up in the dictionary, mentally phrase out my response, look up the right words in the dictionary, conjugate verbs correctly, adjust tenses and reply back. We actually managed to have a decently meaningful conversation this way!

The drive to Atsumi was lovely. We drove through the mountains, and the last twenty minutes, we had the mountains on one side, and the sea on the other side of the road. It was a cloudy day, and visibility was a quite poor once we reached the seaside. Since Mrs Okabe had to concentrate on her driving, I put away the dictionary and sat back to enjoy the view.

Atsumi itself is famous for its hotsprings and rose gardens. The town is built into a small valley along the Atsumi river. The houses at the edges of town look like they've been built into the very hills.

We got to Atsumi, and I finally met SI-san, who was so far only a voice on the phone. I was then told that I would have to speak a few words about 'bringing up children in India'. Duh? I told her that I would love to do it, but it wasn't going to be easy using an abridged dictionary. But fortunately, my Japanese teacher AB-san was there, and she was a part of the group who would be learning to make the candies from me. So I quickly wrote down something and she translated it into Japanese.

It was a very small group. There were only 4 of us per group. There were 6 groups in all, with representatives from India, Philippines, Brazil, USA, New Zealand and Korea. I knew AB-san from the classes. The other two ladies were quite curious about everything starting from my clothes, to bindi, to mangalsutra. One totally precocious little kid crossed over from another group to mine because he said he had many questions for me.

So we adjourned to the kitchens to start making our respective dishes. While the concoction was cooking, the little kid (and the ladies too) were full of questions. They were appalled that I hadn't eaten any local fish. And were shocked to realize that I didn't eat fish, period. So instead of a cultural exchange it turned out to be an explanation of vegetarianism. I had to explain just what a vegetarian ate if not fish and meat. To them a diet free of any sort of meat was incomprehensible. I have been told that the ladies and gentlemen in the group now want a full demo of a vegetarian meal.

The little kid was a firecracker. He asked me to speak to him in 'Indian'.. so I let rip in a nice combination of Tamil, Hindi and Kannada. His questions were endless. Finally there was the most priceless one of all.. do all Indians know the kind of yoga where you stand on your head? .... Huh?? where did that come from?? So I asked him: Do all Japanese people know how to fight like the samurai with a katana? Are all Japanese expert in martial arts?

By this time, all the kids were around my table, because word had spread that I was handing out candy... I still have no clue what was so funny about my question, but the entire bunch of kids broke into squeals of laughter, and went on and on and on. I asked AB what I'd said wrong. She too was a bit puzzled, but one of the other mothers in the group said not to think too much about what makes those kids laugh.

And then, there was the 'eating'... We all got to sample what the other groups had made.

Finally when I was leaving, everyone stopped to say how much they liked the candy, but did I add too much sugar by mistake? It was delicious.... but... it was too sweet.

Yes, Indian sweets can be rather overwhelmingly sweet.

And yes, my new friends have asked themselves over to lunch some weekend to taste meat-free food...

At the rate people seem to want to try Indian vegetarian food, Arun says maybe I should open a restaurant.

06 June 2006

Things I know for a fact

I know that gravity is 9.81 m/s². I know that the boiling point of water is 100°C. I know that the moon orbits the earth, and the earth in turn orbits the sun.

To be precise, I have been told that these are facts and I have accepted them at face value.

I've also been told that using cell-phones can cause brain tumors. Today, I know certain facts about cell-phones that have been proved to my satisfaction, much to the detriment of the instrument in question.

Now I have listed some things that I have had proved, to my satisfaction, as irrefutable facts.

A cell-phone dropped in a pot of boiling sambar will never work again.

A cell-phone dropped in a loo has a very slim chance of ever working right again. Especially if it has been there for 4 hours prior to detection.

A sturdy Nokia 3310 may, under standard throwing and falling conditions, survive a fall from a 7th floor window, and live to tell the tale.

I certainly do not make any claims about being any sort of electronics expert. I do know some other random facts about other household electronics.

M&M candies should not be inserted into a DVD player along with a DVD. If it doesn't fall through, it leaves a funny coating of colour on the surface of the disc.

Pouring chocolate milk on a Tom and Jerry DVD doesn't assuage either protagonists' hunger, but does leave one big grandmother of a mess to be cleaned up.

And picking up a DVD with a pair of tongs can crack the said disc.

Does anyone out there have other facts to share??

04 June 2006

What a rip-off

We now know for certain that we aren't going to watch a single match played in the FIFA World Cup 2006.

Over the weekend, we went out to buy a satellite dish and tuner from one of two service providers. We go to the electronics store, make out choice, and then before we pay, for some reason (divine intervention probably) decide call our friend AS-san to talk to the salesman once, just to make sure we understooeverything right. Thank God for that.

We had 2 choices of satellite TV options, provided by service providers N and S henceforth referred to as spN and spS). Now, spN broadcasts every match live. But absolutely no replays or highlights packages or anything. And spN doesn't have a single non-Japanese channel in it's repertoire.

So we look at spS. spS offers some 20 basic, and 8 premium English program channels. We like that. And yes, the World cup matches will NOT be broadcast live. The games are recorded and telecast the next day. Ok, that doesn't sound too bad, does it? But they are all telecast between 9am and 6pm. And somehow Arun didn't think he'd take the day off to watch a match who's results were already available on any news bulletin on any media.

So, much to my delight, no cable television! Am off to make something sweet to celebrate!

Even if I am thrilled, I still can't help believing that it's all one big rip-off! Not one broadcaster has a highlights capsule or anything. You watch them live on one channel, or watch the recorded on another, no repeat telecasts, no highlights, nothing.

Just how long will people get taken for a ride like this? Broadcasting standards ARE fairly primitive!!

03 June 2006

Colourful local parade

Last week there was this parade in town in honour of the Tenjin Matsuri festival.

Here are a few pictures.

These masked persons are called Bakemono. Their primary function in life (or rather in this parade) is to remain masked for the duration of the parade, not utter a single word, stay incognito and most important, pour out sake for all and sundry. And juice for the kids, of course! Did I remember to mention that the sake is free??

Legend goes that one Sugawara, who was this education reformer in the late 9th century, fell out of grace with the powers that be. Since Sugawara was so popular with the masses, the powers decided to exile him.

The locals wanted to give him a fitting farewell, but did not want to be recognised as friends or well-wishers of a persona-non-grata. So the town turned out in force to see him off. Every man, woman and child masked beyond recognition.

Bakemono also means monster.

In the days of yore, during the Tenjin Matsuri, the bakemono could enter any home without fear of impunity. According to our friends here, some of the gentlemen who used to play the bakemono used this as an opportunity to visit their favourite ladies!

These are the Shinto priests leading the parade.

The next section of the parade were the traditional dances. This particular dance looked a little like the dandiya performed in a kimono! I didn't get around to taking any video, but picture a dandiya filmed in excruciatingly slow motion, and played back is slow motion! Yes, it was that slow!

Arun wondered if these people had ever watched a dandiya or a garba. I wouldn't recommend it. We wouldn't want then to suffer from motion sickness, would we?

This little girl was the youngest participant in the traditional dances. Looked like a Japanese doll! Aditi and Nadiya were thoroughly fascinated by her costume.

I really shouldn't have listened to Arun's suggestions for the right place to watch the parade. By the time the bakemono got to us, all they had was fruit juice.. they were all out of sake!!! Next year, we find a place closer to where the parade starts! Is there any point in missing out on as much free sake as you can drink?

01 June 2006

Oh no... not again!

I've been trying, with my bare minimum knowledge of Japanese to find out where MI-3 is playing. It hasn't released here yet! Release is planned for early July.... I just hope Pirates of the Caribbean 2 will be released on time.

Sigh... if anyone still wants to send me a b'day gift, please send me some curry leaves, chaat and maybe some movies.

How priorities change...

Am I getting old???? hmmmmm......

PS: Anyone who thinks Axe is gay say "Aye"......

31 May 2006

Interesting questions

I got this forward by email. I decided to post it here rather than simply forward it on. Enjoy...

And if you're jobless, do post corresponding answers. That would be more entertaining
  1. Why does your gynecologist leave the room when you undress?
  2. If a person owns a piece of land, do they own it all the way down to the center of the earth?
  3. Why can't woman put their mascara on with their mouth closed?
  4. Why is it called alcoholics anonymous when the first thing you do is stand up and say "hi, my name's Bob. I'm an alcoholic"?
  5. If you mated a Bulldog with a Shih-tsu would you get a Bullshit?
  6. Why are they called stairs inside but steps outside?
  7. Why is there a light in the fridge but not in the freezer?
  8. Why does mineral water that has trickled through mountains for centurieshave a use by date?
  9. Why do toasters always have a setting on them which burns your toast to a horrible crisp no one would eat?
  10. Who was the first person to look at a cow and say "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here and drink what comes out"?
  11. What do people in China call their good plates?
  12. If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?
  13. Why does Goofy stand on two legs when Pluto remains on four? They're both dogs.
  14. What do you call male ballerinas?
  15. Can blind people see their dreams and do they dream?
  16. If Wile E coyote has enough money to buy all that Acme crap why doesn't he buy his dinner?
  17. Why is a person who handles money called a broker?
  18. If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?
  19. If corn oil is made from corn and vegetable oil is made from vegetables. What is baby oil made from?
  20. If a man is walking in a forest and no women is there to hear him is he still wrong?
  21. Why is it that when someone tells you that there's billions of stars in the universe, you believe them. But if they tell you there's wet paint somewhere you have to touch it?
  22. Why do you call it an asteroid when its outside the hemisphere, yet call it hemorrhoid when its in your ass?
  23. Did you ever notice that if you blow in a dogs face it goes mad, yet when you take him on a car ride he sticks his head straight out the window?

30 May 2006

I protest....

I am really bugged today. And here are my list of protests and pet peeves:

X Men 3 releases in the 2nd week of September. A release almost 15 weeks after the premiere doesn't make any sense, does it? Apparently where there's merchandising in connection with the movie, the Japanese release is scheduled at a later date. But this time lag sucks... Big time!

Getting my driving license translated to Japanese is proving to be a big headache. I called the office of one of the translating agencies, and not a soul there could speak English. Now do I trust them with the job of translating my documents when they can't understand a simple question like 'is this the translation service?' or 'do you speak English?'... I think not.

So my next option was to call er... (better I don't name names, no saying what trouble that could create in case I need something from there at a later date) .. A certain body of diplomatic representatives from my country.. And it was a waste. The dude who finally answered my queries had all the answers. "Yes of course it can be done, please send us the original and a copy attested by (er.... no names again) ... those we report to back home. You don't have an attested copy? Then no, it can't be done.... But maybe it can be done for an extra fee... But ma'am you will not be issued any receipt for the extra fees paid...." ... For a second, I should admit, I was quite stumped... then I realised exactly what was implied.... (&*^%*&#@%#*#&%!!!!) Why do these people make things so complicated? I asked around, and turns out this is the only mission that charges at all for these services to their nationals. And to think we need to depend on these @#%%&!$ in any crisis....
(And if for some reason I wanted to get the attestation done, it could be done in one of two ways. One, I submit the required papers in the local administrative offices and wait till eternity for it to get done and get back to me, if ever. Two, take it from point to point myself. involving at least 2 trips each to the state and national capitals! And going route 2 again implies fees sans receipts.. )

Despite my efforts I still can't get the hang of hiragana and katakana (the basic Japanese scripts).

The postman told me that our mail takes longer to get to us because the address etc is in English... takes longer to decipher.

Last but not the least... the salespeople at big local supermarket cant understand the words soda-bi-carb or bicarbonate of soda!

22 May 2006

A slice of India...

Over the weekend, SS-san from the International Forum arranged with NM-san, who runs an Elder Day-care center, that I would give a demonstration on 'wearing Indian clothes'. So Aditi and I, dressed in our traditional best went to the center to show them what Indian clothes were all about. Yunohama, where the center is located, has to be the smallest town that I've ever seen. Before I even realised we had entered the town, I was told that this was the other end!

I really had a lovely afternoon there. There was a birthday party for three of the ladies there. They turned 75, 91 and 98! This was a birthday treat for them. I think they had a better time with Aditi running around than the actual sari thingie. Aditi, I know for a fact had a whale of a time running around and wrapping all and sundry around her little finger. She was at her charming best. Everyone was greeted with a konichiwa... O genki desu ka? And I certainly didn't need NM-san to interpret the 'awwwwwwwws'. That is a kind of universal language, what?

For the first part of the demo the ladies were slightly bashful, and it was decided that the old dears who were a year older today would play dress-up first. And did they enjoy it!!!! Especially the 99 year young at heart! After the rest of the old dears saw that their friends were having a whale of a time, everyone wanted to play dress up and have their pics taken. Some 20 odd of them wore saris and had their pics taken.

And then was the birthday party. Aditi insisted on singing 'Happy Birthday' at the top of her voice! Awwwwwwww again.

Then one grandmother bashfully asked me if I would visit her niece who ran a nursery nearby. So off we went to the nursery. The kids were so curious about Aditi and me in our desi outfits. One precocious little one stopped and asked me 'Anata wa gaijin desu ka?' (are you a foreigner?)... I couldn't help but burst out laughing and explain to the little tyke that I was from India. That was a good icebreaker as any. So here I was surrounded by kids who had such a repertoire of questions. Where was I from? Why was I dressed like that? Did I know English? Have I seen an elephant? (God knows where that one came from) Why am I in Japan? Wow... they really were curious. Finally it was time for us to leave and we got a really enthusiastic goodbye from the entire bunch!

So we headed back to the elder care place to collect our stuff. There the admin staff asked if they could wear saris and have their pics taken too. So there we were for another 45 mins while the younger generation played at dressing-up.

Even as I type, Aditi asks if we can go there again. I ask her why... "because they will call me kawai desu (how cute)"

She does have her priorities.

We certainly have been invited back again for any other 'Indian' activity. I am thinking of a movie session. How does Sholay sound? Perfect cross-cultural bridge?

Some more pics of Aditi

Pictures of Aditi taken at Preethi and Sriram's place just before we left Singapore.

Sriram has amazing patience with a camera...patiently shoots pic after pic till he gets the right shot!

Sriram, thanks a million!

Some more pics of Aditi

21 May 2006

The DaVinci Bored

Oops.. that should read 'The DaVinci Code'.. but DaVinci Bore is an equally good title for that disaster of a movie.

The book wasn't all that great to start with. I do admit that Dan Brown did have an intriguing plotline, but he did totally kill it with totally inane and trite prose. His presentation of it totally sucked. Arun and I recently read a book called 'The Historian '. The main reason we bought that book was that it was only one of two English books available at a large bookstore here! We did make the salesman's day by buying out his entire stock of English books! I digress... The plotline wasn't really gripping or anything, but the author's style of prose was lovely. It kept the reader totally gripped. I wonder how she would have written a story like the DaVinci Code.

Back to the movie... what on earth was wrong with Tom Hanks?? His portrayal of Robert Langdon was terrible! My theory is that he read the book, signed up when he was offered the role, got totally depressed when he read the screenplay, and being the thorough professional he is, finished the movie anyway, so what if he played the role like an automaton!

After watching this disaster of a movie, I can fully understand why the Catholic church is up in arms against it. I can't find any similarity between the portrayal of the Opus Dei Bishop in the book and the one in the movie. I don't know what Ron Howard wanted to prove, but he totally killed a decent plotline with a very bad screenplay.

And the cinematography was weird to say the least. Some of the weird superimposition of images from the past are rather annoying... and I thought, pointless. Arun says he liked this superimposition bit... but then he also likes cricket... different tastes...

Sir Ian McKellen's performance was one saving grace. A real thespian to the core. But then he is a real 'Brit' and doesn't sound pompous!

If any of you really want to watch the movie, I'd suggest you wait for it to make its debut on HBO. Not worth the price of a ticket.

Why did we even bother? We haven't watched a movie in close to three months!!! Withdrawal!

The popcorn in the theater was another redeeming feature!!!!

17 May 2006


... it happened!!! I finally found a nursery where Aditi can go three mornings a week.

I still don't know the name of the place, but I really liked the look of it. Decent sized well lit and ventilaled rooms, kid friendly colors, very sweet teachers (so what if none of them speak one single word of English) and most important (from Aditi's PoV) a fish-tank! Priorities, priorities....

She starts on monday... Giving me time to go to Japanese classes one or two mornings each week. I really want to stop saying wakarimasen everytime I am asked something!

16 May 2006

A nice weekend

Our dear friend AS-san took us out for a lovely drive this weekend. We went to see violet fields, a bungee jump point, a few farmers' markets and I finally got her to help me go detergent shopping..... And I cooked for a sushi masterchef!

Arun, of course, is starting to get bored with our trips to see the various blooms of spring. The bungee season opens in June sometime, once all the snow has cleared. AS says that when people sign up for the bungee, they are weighed, and their weights are stamped on their hands, and people are called in groups of 'weight'. Apparently that's the reason it isn't all that popular with the women around here..... (this calls for serious ' Delete Posterior' before I would want to try it)

The highlight of my weekend was.... SUSHI!!! AS brought over a friend of hers for lunch. W-san, a really trendy grandfather, is a chef. He runs his own Sushi restaurant. He brought us a lovely selection of vegetarian Sushi. And it was really awesome. After eating seaweed a couple of times in Singy, I was a little skeptical about whether I would be able to stomach sushi or not... but W's stuff was awesome. He's assured us that anytime we go to his restaurant, he'll make something vegetarian specially for us..... That's an offer we aren't going to refuse.

And I made aloo-parathas for a sushi master!!!! He simply loved my Palak Paneer. I have promised him some really spicy food next time. Maybe biriyani???

And detergent shopping??? Yes... something as mundane as that... Every product on the supermarket shelves is labelled in Nihongo (and in laymans terms, incomprehensible squiggles) and I have a really tough time trying to get a salesperson to understand that I want detergent without bleach or safe for wools and delicates, etc. So I finally gave up and dragged AS to a supermarket (much to her amusement) to explain what squiggles I need to look for.

Now I know the kanji squiggle for color. And God help me... the bleach squiggle looks quite similar!!!! Time to buy clothes in monochrome if i cant get detergents figured out very soon! Or better still when the stuff is over, carry the container to the supermarket, point and ask for more of the same...

05 May 2006

Tsuruoka updates

I've posted some pics of Tsuruoka .

The set labeled 'Hanami 2006' are pics of the Cherry Blossom season. Also some pics of the view from my window.

The place is pretty as a picture. And the people are really sweet. Quite cultured! They go out of their way to help us out....

Of course, the first few days we were here, people actually used to stare at us as we passed by. Their curiosity is quite sweet. People do stop and ask us where we are from and how long we've been here. After that, out standard response to anything they ask us is usually Wakarimasen (I don't understand)... that's as far as our Japanese goes.

Aditi of course has got into the swing of things. Any oldie who stops and talks to her is treated to a greeting with an accompanying bow... awwwwwwww.... As soon as she says her name in Japanese, there's another awwwwww... and then there's her Domo Arigato, with a properly deep bow... and then the biggest awwwwww of all...

She does have a small fan club going here. The oldies are especially thrilled when she parrots out the really formal greetings. And then it's back to Wakarimasen when the next question comes.

I'm working on learning the Japanese script. It's not as logical as the Hindi/Kannada scripts, so that's giving me regular headaches! I go to classes once a week. But these days I play hooky whenever the weathers good. We just cycle down to the park and enjoy the sunshine for what its worth!

I think I've posted lots for today. More when I get around to it again.

How I wish......

This never fails to crack me up. My phone here has this option in the text edit menu. It actually says "DELETE POSTERIOR"...

Wouldn't it be lu-verly??

I want to buy a pair of jeans in a smaller size. So just 'delete posterior'. Hmmm nice, but maybe drop another size.. 'delete posterior' .. I'm sure there are others out here who share these sentiments.... sigh... if only....

After a while I figured it out. When you select 'delete posterior', you want the clear button to delete the previous characters in the text you keyed in, rather that the default setting of deleting the current/highlighted character.

If only I could delete some posterior that easily.....

A land of strange contrasts....

Even after having lived in Tsuruoka for over a month, some of the culture shocks haven't eased. The economic shocks are much lesser now (the prices here scared me silly initially) but some of the systems still leave me rather dazed.

For all its technological advances, Japan truly marches to the beat of some medieval drummer.

For example, security measures in a small apartment in a nice neighbourhood... the planning is awesome without any wasted space. And when anyone rings the doorbell, that activates a security camera, so I can see who rings, and if its someone who wants donations send them away without opening the door.

The basic washing machine we bought has so many awesome controls (none of which I can operate for the simple reason that it's all in Japanese) and program options.

When we first came here, we were so impressed by the (of all things) loos here. The control panels on them are awesome. The guest house where we stayed for the first ten days had this totally awesome powder-room with a control panel with 31 buttons. I could set the temperature of the potty seat. And if A left it up as usual, I just pressed a button to let it down. I could set the temperature of the water in the bidet, the pressure and the direction too. Then there was the air temperature settings, and air pressure. And the volume settings of the flush!!!!!

Then we come to the paperwork, and that's when the frustration starts.

I get my health insurance card. And naturally its in a bunch of incomprehensible (as yet) squiggles. Hey, I see some numbers.... and they look familiar. Ok.. that's my date of birth. But they got that wrong... the month and day are alright, but the year is way off target. So there we go to AS-san (our hand-holder-in-chief) and point out the error to her. She checks and tells us that it's correct. Huh... uh... actually I was born in 75, and my Insurance card reads 50.

So that's when we get our first jolt. You see, out here they borrow only the day and month from the Gregorian calendar. The year is the year of that era. Era?? Yes, era. The year of what emperor's reign. So I was born in the 50th year of the Showa emperor's reign and Arun in the 46th. Aditi's was born in the 15th year of the current emperor's reign. So her year of birth is Heisei 15. The current year is Heisei 18.

This gets quite confusing when one goes to buy a used car. We saw this car we liked, and under the Japanese symbol for year was the number 8. Brilliant as we were we assumed that it was a 8 year old car. Of course not. The year of manufacture was Heisei 8. We missed that one little character somewhere... so it was back to square one of the great car hunt.

The banks too use some thoroughly antiquated systems. First shock we got when we went to open an account: 'joint account?? Nan desu ka? (what's that?) Sigh.... Checkbook? Nan desu ka? .. and here we gave up, and just said whatever and got on with the procedure.

And here's the kicker, one doesn't use a signature on bank and other financial instruments. One uses a chop, with name carved in Kanji (or katakana in case of foreigners like us)... And God help you if you ever lose the chop. Replacing it is as simple as brain transplant.

And did I mention that ATM's close around sunset, and Credit Cards are not used except at very large stores and hotels?

The worst are the looks I get when I tell anyone I am a vegetarian. Almost a look of utter pity.

Now I know what 'Stranger in a strange land' really means. When in Rome one does as the Romans do.

These Romans are crazy.....

A very long weekend

In this corner of the world, National Day, Constitution Day and Childrens Day happen on successive days. Of course there was the Emperor's (not this one, the last one) Birthday too last week. So it's been one long stretch of holidays. And the weather being what it is was rather inclement.

So here we are. Three days of being stuck indoors. Why didn't we go out somewhere?? Because we, strangers that we are to the system, forgot to draw cash before the onset of the holidays. So off I went to the ATM to draw cash and head to the next town to watch a movie. I got to the ATM, and couldn't get in. I tried the door, it wouldn't slide open. I took out my ATM card and waved it under the sensors (what that could've done to help, I still don't know), stood back a step and then tried the door... basically tried all weird things to get it to open.

Finally, a lady who was walking by took pity on me and told me that it was a holiday and that the ATM was closed. I wasn't sure that I'd heard her right, and my Nihongo still doesn't extend to asking intelligent questions. So we decided to cycle to the bank itself and try the ATM there. On our way we passed 2 other ATMs and none of them would let us in. By this time we had a very bad feeling. We got to the bank, and there was this very nice notice in very formal Japanese. All we understood that the 3rd-5th were marked in red, and here too we couldn't enter the ATM. Which implies that when the bank doesn't work, neither does the ATM. And this being Japan, credit cards are next to useless.

Lessons learned in life: In Tsuruoka, not only do the ATMs close by 9pm, they are closed on all public holidays and have reduced working hours over the weekends.

Someone really has to explain the concept of an ATM to the banks here. Isn't ATM supposed to be about AnyTime Money??

I've marked the next long holiday, and plan to be ready before the ATM's shut down for their siesta!

16 March 2006

So long, and thanks for all the ..... fish???

So long, farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Sayonara...
So long and Thanks for all the fish too!

The time has come to say goodbye... first of all to hassle free broadband access! And then, on Wednesday, the packers get here and cart away our stuff. And on Saturday, we are off to Nihon... the Land of the Rising Sun. We're off to Tsuruoka. Tsuruoka? You really don't know where that is? Simple, it's in the Yamagata prefecture, just south of Sakata. If you're still lost, just look for Tsuruoka on a map. It's north of Tokyo, on the island of Honshu itself.

Moving day is almost around the corner, and the things that I have managed to get done are countable.. so lets not even ask about what needs to be done.

All said and done, I am really going to miss Singy. So much to do, and so much that I could have done, but haven't.

Now, after reading up all about life in Japan, I begin to realize just how many conveniences there are that I had taken for granted. Home delivery of daily groceries has been just a mouse click and two hours away, as opposed to having it delivered from Tokyo. Getting stuff like wireless broadband is such a breeze. And most important, ATMs stay open all day long... 24x7. And yes, people do speak English.

Which reminds me, I really need to do all my pending Japanese assignments, and get started on the script. This does not imply that I do not wakarimasen the Nihongo, but just that my communication is restricted to telling someone which object is a book, or whether the book in question is on, in or under the table. I can even tell that there is a box on the table and that the aforementioned table, box and book are in a room in a house. Impressive what? But just how useful that is going to be deep in the heart of Japanese territory, I have no clue! Its high time I learnt useful words, like the ones for 'internet', 'electricity', 'telephone', and of course the names of a few vegetables! I don't want to ask for what I think is a potato, and end up with a fish or a slab of beef!!!

And I'm going to desperately miss all my friends and my wonderful neighbours. :-'(

Ah well, it's just time to vacate a very cozy comfort zone, and to shake up and shape up.

And to any of you who actually follow my rants, it's going to be a while before I have net access again. My broadband goes off tomorrow, and I doubt I'll have time to check mail often before I leave Singy. And God alone knows how long before I get net access in Japan.

Do leave lots of comments and whatever... and I'd love to see some mail in my inbox too. Poor Axe and Dents... your letters haven't reached me yet! So in case you haven't mailed them, just wait until I find a place in Tsuruoka, and then you can mail it to me.

So long folks, till I get net access again.... I plan to start my Japan diaries as soon as we get settled in.

Sayonara Singapura.....

Going nuts once.. 2.. 3.. gone nuts!

We move next week.. at least I think so. Or maybe Arun and our things will go and I'll need to check myself into the local nuthouse where they apparently allow 'guests' to get a lot of peace and quiet.

Next time we move between countries it damn well be the Personnel Departments that are handling the movers, and the entire messy details of the move. Or maybe I should just leave way ahead of time and then let Arun handle all the details. I's soooo tempted to do that right now. Or even better, once the move is announced, just go to Mysore, park with my mommy and get unlimited TLC.... now that's an idea..... hmmmmmmmmmmm

07 March 2006

One adorable sketch

Around Chinese New year, we had this sketch done by an artist at a carnival.

This guy was just awesome. He took all of ten minutes to finish this one.

... And he captured her sleepy, sulky, tired expression so perfectly.

I almost expect to hear a protest from her each time I see this portrait.

25 February 2006

Right here... doing lots, doing nothing

Here we are, looking ahead at our last 4 weeks of Singapore.

If all stays to schedule, we move to Tsuruoka on the 25th of March. Just a month away, and there's so much to be done and so little time to do it in! We still haven't signed with a mover! Hopefully, after today's game, Arun can get down to the business of moving. I am SO going to love a place where there's no cricket! Hopefully now things will get done on time without the interruption of a cricket match, friendly or otherwise...

I'm now trying to catch up at least once with everyone I know here before I leave, and looks like I know a lot more people than I actually thought I did! That's going to make for a very hectic social life in the next month.

And not to mention movies. I plan to watch as many of the new releases as I can. When I can still walk across the road to the cinema.

So much I want to do while still here, and so little time for it! So here's hoping I get time to do it all!

28 January 2006

Rang De Basanti... totally rocks!

Wow... what a movie!

With this movie for Bollywood has finally come of age! When I first read the cast, I wasn't too sure that I wanted to watch this. With Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Anupam Kher, Om Puri, Waheeda Rahman and few other well known names in the mix, I was mentally prepared for a typical (if stylish) Bollywood potboiler, with an item number or two, plenty of dishum-dishum, a very typical villain with the requisite bizarre appearance, subplots within the plot, and subplots within the subplots too.

The story begins with a young British filmmaker, Sue, heading to India to make a film on the young revolutionaries who made an impression her grandfather, a British police officer in pre-independence India. In Delhi, with her friend Sonia (Soha Ali Khan), she runs into DJ (Aamir Khan), Karan (Siddharth), Sukhi (Sharman Joshi), Aslam (Kunal Kapoor) and the Laxman Pandey (Atul Kulkarni) who joins them later. She hopes to realize her dream of a making a film on Bhagat Singh, Azad, Rajguru etc.

But, contrary to the expectations raised by her grandfather's dairy, the youth show no particular feelings of patriotism for their country. They view their country as a rampantly corrupt hopeless case. They even poke fun at her attempts to make a film. Playing their historical roles changes their perspective about their role in the present.

Madhavan, as Sonia's IAF pilot fiance, is the sole voice of conscience.

Spoiler alert!!!

Madhavan's death in a MIG crash brings the friends' conscience to the forefront. The events of the past, in the roles they play in Sue's movie, shape their present. They are forced to grow up overnight and take a look at the world around them. It's their call to stop being passive observers, and to take action. The five put aside their don't-give-a-damn attitude and start to undo the slurs on Madhavan's reputation. Their reasons and methods might not be the right ones, but their hearts are in the right place. There is a seamless integration of the parallels of the past and their actions in the present.

It was heartwarming... and heartbreaking. There were moments of personal sentiment there. I was really amazed by the spontaneous applause at the end of the movie.

There is absolutely no preachiness (a la Swades) or justification of the actions of the protagonists. The changes wrought in them are portrayed brilliantly. Their motivation to do what they did might not have been for all the right reasons, but thankfully neither was in unrealistic.

Anymore and I might just end up giving away the entire story!

I was so amazed with this production. Every single thing was absolutely perfect, from the headliners on-screen to the technical team off-screen. The music was good too. There were the requisite songs, but they were rather unobstrusive. Surprising for a Bollywood production, there was no screen hogging by any of the headliners. The script was snappy and brisk.

Definitely worth watching.. more than once, imho. Don't miss this one!

My arguement with Arun:
I believe this won't do too well, as it's rather a sophisticated movie, without the usual jhatka-matkas. Arun believes that I underestimate the taste of the Desi cine-goers.

20 January 2006

Kids these days

The last couple of days have been one of THOSE days... When Aditi seems to have made it her mission in life to be an absolute imp.

Yesterday I had to go shopping to restock my freezer. Since I was going to a neighbourhood mom-n-pop kind of shop, I decided to take her along. Before I could pick out basic jeera and rye, the little one had dropped a bag of atta and was coated in white dust! Since I paid for it anyway, the storekeeper gave me a towel to dust her off.

On the way home, there was this fiasco on the bus. Aditi found the curls on the head of the elderly matron, sitting on the seat in front of us, absolutely fascinating. Before I could stop her, she pulled the lady's hair, and had it in her hands. I've never been so mortified. Thankfully, the bus pulled into a stop, and I gave the lady her wig back and got off with all my baggage! So what if I had a much longer walk home. For some reason Arun found that hilarious. He just couldn't stop laughing. Apparently it's funny because it happened to someone else!

Today she thought it would be funny to pour chutney AND curd in the sugar dabba.

sigh.... terrible twos in full swing.

I just hope the threes are better.....

A long time ago in a blog not so far away....

I am so amazed that there are actually people (all of one) who read my blog regularly and poke and prod to see if it's still alive or not.

Since I haven't blogged in ages, here's an update on what's happening in our lives.

Arun's got a new job as Assistant Professor at Keio University. So we're all moving bag and baggage to Tsuruoka, Japan, sometime in late March.

We took a 3 week holiday and went to India. Mysore being the totally hip place that it is, there was a Japanese teacher who lives on the same street as we do. So there was this total crash course in basic Japanese. Now I can confidently point out cars, buses, trains, tell someone whether a book is on, under or in a table, count apples, eggs and fish, but not people (not yet thanks to the complicated numbering systems) and go to a store and ask for the price of this or that! Once the two of us catch up on our assignments, we could of course say more!

There was the unexpected (condolence) trip to Chennai, which put an effective damper on high spirits for the rest of the holiday. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Worse things were still to come after we returned to Singy. Turns out there were heavy incessant thunder storms. And wiring in this apartment block being not all that new, power tends to trip frequently. And since no one was home to turn it on again, each individual thing in the freezer started growing its own ecosystem. All my sambar and rasam powders were a total write-off. So were the other assorted masalas and any other thing that was there. There was even a grey film of something on my salt! I still don't remember why I stuck the salt and sugar in the freezer, but there you go. The sugar had turned an interesting greenish gray. Revolting I know.... but a pretty shade all the same. Imagine going to Nalli and asking for a saree in the shade of fungus-coated sugar... hehehe

Our dear friend D, who is doing some research on some weird types of fungus whose names I can't pronounce, wished that I'd told him before I cleaned the freezer. So next time this happens, I'll just call some research Institute and ask them whether they need any of the life forms growing in my freezer.