Friday evenings end like this for ECECS people. A boring 50 min seminar on some godamn principles of research and so on.As usual yours, truly has never been to one of these,preferring to take recourse in the comforts of the bed and comforter instead.

But , as luck would have it, turns out attendance to this one is mandatory, and no more that 2 absences are permitted.So, cursing all Gods, for decreeing such a cruel thing as attending classes on me,I sauntered cooly into the last one, thinking of all possible ways to fruitfully spend an hour and fifteen minutes(That it was not 1:15 minutes, but only 50 mins, was a minor consolation for this soul!!!).But then, in a fortuitious turn of events ,me and a few of my friends, were comfortably seated behind a pillar.

"Cow-Bull!!!" said one."No , I protest, Hollywood!!!" said another. "Cmon guys, grow up!!! Didnt you see those chinks excitedly chattering away last seminar.. Cmon,lets stop acting nerdy and play Antakshari for God's sake!!!" said a third one."Hey, if we all walked off,do you think she would particularly notice??" said another.The lady in question, was a fragile old gray haired woman,the typical horn-rimmed ones, right out of an Enid Blyton novel.

"Look at her, she looks "Inniko naalaiko" "we decide.One thing lead to another and before we knew it me and ash were locking horns in a feirce battle - a poem writing competition on the woman herself.

My multi tasking ablilites also meant I was playing "Cow-bull" with my roomie seated beside me. Faster than we could say "Purdy" the weekend began.Needless to say, I was looking forward to this Friday's seminar for an hour of unlimited fun.I walked into the room,armed with a pack of chips and a new armory of games.To my utter consternation, all rows were filled to capacity.After an embarrassing 10 minutes jaywalking inside the seminar room, I found myself seated right under the professors nose.For some strange reason,Dr. HC found it necessary to look directly into my eyes and explain how you plot log graphs in some software.

Result : A badly sprained neck thanks to my incessant nodding.

Moral of the story :Bed and comforter are a person's best friends.

"Oh !!! What a ride that was!!!" I thought,as I got off the Roller Coaster,my bones still aching from the impact.Shaky leggged and totally drained out, I grabbed a popcorn and and Ice cream and sat by the bench to catch my breath.

Suddenly I saw people getting into the ride. "Hey" I shout,but they are too excited to listen.I sit back and watch, as the ride goes higher.They close their eyes , thrilled by the high.A familiar nostalgic wave swept over me.I sit there, knowing, that the ride would take them higher, and at the highest point , stop for a second. Opening their eyes, they would find themselves on top of the world.

But Oh,the coaster would then go downhill too, I panic.It is a gravity defying fall, that would have the whole place go topsy-turvy.I start shouting to warn them,but then, I realise,they are just on the start of the ride.Not fair to be warned already.Just ride with the wind.And enjoy the high.Endure the lows. And, while we are at it, I just pray the Roller-Coaster guy forgets his keys, and these people ride on forever.

Oh , I am outta popcorn, I ll just grab somemore, and watch more people ride.
This is a very typical senti post. The types you can find in every other forward that floods your inbox daily.It might border on being "K3G-ish" or simply too cliched. But I dont care, I just had to get it all off my chest. So here goes :

I was 9, and I came jumping home. I was all excited about my first excursion. It was one whole day and it took me through beaches, and factories and aquariums. You made sure I took morning breakfast,snacks, lunch hampers and a whole lot of water with me. I came home all elated and tired, with a bad headache, and shouted at you. You put me on your lap and made sure I slept well.

I didnt know you hadnt eaten all day, worried for my safety.

I was 16, and was excited about going to BITS.I was happy to leave home, and finally find the independence that I wanted. I was excited about having my own room, freinds to hang out with all day, and sleep late, miss lunches and what not. You travelled all the way accross the country, just to make sure I was all settled. I threw tantrums at you because you had a bad headache and wanted to borrow my balm. I was impatient to see you off and get going to classes.

I didnt know that you cried all the way back.

Every hols, I used to come home weary and tired. Sometimes, I cried for no reason at all, I used you as a punching bag for all my frustrations of the semester gone by. You waited , counting everyday off the calendar, wanting me to come back. I landed at home,only to visit my friend on the way. You waited with my favorite dinner menu, that I wouldnt eat for hours because of phone calls. You wanted to sleep beside me, to offer me comfort, but I would sit on the computer all night chatting away. You would come into my room in the morning, expectantly, hoping to have a conversation, and I would just have you cook for me and go away to sleep.

It was time to go back to college, I would keep running around the platform, meeting friends after the break and catching up on gossip. You would look away hoping I woudnt notice how you were trying to stem those tears. As the train started slowly, I would be comfortably ensconsed with friends, and you would keep waving on and on, hoping I would catch a glimpse, till the long train faded away into the horizon.

It was PS II time. You wanted to stay with me for six months. You wanted to make up for the time spent away from home. I cruelly said "NO", right on your face, and went on and on about an individual's private space, and respect for each others opinions and the like.You prayed for my making a Job, and when I did, you hoped I would stay nearby.I , on the other hand , was glad to see that my appointment letter had "Pune" written on it.I on the other hand, lectured about how higher studies is important at this stage in my career, and as to how I should make use of the opportunity at hand. You were very happy when I made my second job, hoping I would stay nearby. I rushed out of the VISA office, to see you anxiously waiting outside the consulate in the sweltering heat, only to tell you I am going away... half the world away from you.

You packed my bags, made all my lists meticulously as I was out partying with my friends ,the last few days.You prayed for me, and hoped everything was fine, and I was cribbing about not being able to spend my last birthday in India with my friends.The last few hours before take-off, you spent time alone at the house, because I was out for a haircut and meeting friends. You cried at the airport, and I, was worrying about whether my hand luggage had my favorite Sonu Nigam CD or not.

Mom and Dad,I am happy that you have finally gotten where you always wanted to be, and I want to wish you the very best in this new life you are about to embark upon.And yes, I love you. :)

Friday evening.Tickets to an orchestra which was a part of A.R.Rehman's "Unity of Light" tour.Expectations,I would say, was mixed.I didnt fancy sitting through a DCH-Sydney-opera-style performance on a very cold Friday to start to the weekend.

First peice, was "Asathoma Satgamaya", an Indian tune set to music with the whole orchestra joining in. This was followed by a brief explanation of the main differences in style in Western and Eastern music.An awesome rendition of "Ahirbhairavi" set to these two different styles,one synthesized with an Australian Tribal tune, and the other, "Albela Sajan" from "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam"caught me unawares. Srinivas on the Tabla and Anupama on the Sitar were superb.

Next up, was a tune from the Middle East.It was a poem for peace, which was apparently found in the pockets of Itzhak Rabin,the day he was assasinated,and set to music recently.This was followed by "Bethelehemu" from Africa.In those days of the missionaries,the African tribesman, simply substituted some christian sounding words in thier tribal chants to fake conversion.This was followed by a very peppy Cuban number.

Back to Indian music, the band shared some experiences from ARR'S tour, before going on to perform his numbers "Ramta Jogi" from Taal .The next peice had me in tears, well, almost. Patrick, a percussionist in the troupe on the Gatam, Srinivas on the Tabla and a fivesome on the drums, set the stage for one of the most mesmerising peices of percussion play I have ever heard.A vocal recital (much like our jugalbandhi)between the ghatam and tabla players - well, it is not my first time, but then, just looking at Patrick, looking so much at ease with legs folded, wearing a black Kurtha and doing the Aadi Taal with both hands and reciting sequences of "Taa Dhin Dhin taa" with so much poise had me ashamed.(Legend has it, that he was so taken by the Maestro that he dyed his hair black when he went to meet him.) I mean, just looking at these wonderful Christines and Paulas decked in sarees and singing verses of "Mein prem ka pyala piya"nonchalantly before a predominantly Desi audience has me re-examine if I am really doing the right thing in life.(It also has me regret the countless wasted opportunities,to explore and learn more. Dr.Anil Roy, hope you are not reading this!!!)

There was a time when I was sure that music is, indeed my calling.It was put down to childish fantasies, and years later, I am still doing something I can barely stand.But I still dream, and my dreams only get stronger with such experiences.Maybe, just maybe, someday I ll find my true calling.Something which i truly love doing.Something meaningful for an existence.

Being Twenty-Something

One really sensible foward in recent times :

They call it the "Quarter-life Crisis." It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn't know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now. You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you don't recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren't really cold, catty, mean or insincere but that they areas confused as you.You look at your job... and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because suddenly yourealize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn't.

One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life.You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try to cling on to the past with dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lay in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Or maybe you love someone but love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you know that you aren't a bad person. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision.

You worry , about money, the future and making a life for yourself... and while winning the race would be great, right nowyou'd just like to be a contender! What you may not realize is thateveryone reading this relates to it.We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out. Send this to your twenty-something friends... maybe it will help someone feel like they aren't alone in their state of confusion... "I bend but I do not break."
Statutory Warning : This post is going to describe a typical tam family, so pardon me if some of you find it real OHT !!!!

It was a Monday morning.One of those proverbially horrendous ones. The types that make you ruminate on the larger meaning of life.One that leads you to think up stuff like "I had four years of paid(??) vacation at undergrad.I swear I want to make gradschool different.Maybe I should cut down on fun and get serious with life".

Along came the smokies trip.Once in a bluemoon,I told myself.A real good break before I take up rigors of gradschool,I told myself.I spend the last week catching up with all the backlog,on the homefront and otherwise.This Friday evening, chance bestowed on me a trip to lexington.And,a play by crazy mohan and troupe!!!!!!!

It was an extremely enjoyable outing, and of course, there was good food too!!!Plays by "crazy" involve comedy,for the uninitated, and loads of it.And, the clean variety.(Hard to believe,but true!!!).It is a typical drama that you and your family can sit together and watch/hear on those sunday evenings. I grew up on a steady diet of "Return of crazy theives" "Crazy theives of Palavakkam" and "Maadhu +2" when I was a kid.Audio cassettes were exchanged between cousins, and the latest expoits of Maadhu and Cheenu was one of the mainstays of any family get-together discussions.There were a few of us who could not only recite dialougues word-for-word,but also add very comic gestures and intonations to make it rip roaring.

Diwali,of course,was the one occasion which none of us would miss.Till I was about 10, I was lucky to have the kinda diwali one reads about in "Swami and friends".Getting up at four in the morning,we would find all our new clothes stacked neatly with a spot of turmeric on the edges.(That is supposed to ward off evil or whatever!!!)Paati used to have us form a line, and when it was our turn, we would sit atop a "Manai".This was proceeded by a red paste she would apply to our feet, and a spot of oil on our heads.(This is usually preceeded by sleepy protests of "Paati, we cant wash hair,its four and there is not enough "Venneer" of all of us!!!!").

After chittapa's incessant alarms and timeouts , the entire family used to assemble outside the porch for the fireworks. Thatta, on the other hand, unfailingly took up the task of taking the family's newest born to the farthest room,cushioning the little one with blankets until he/she was safe from the atrociously high decibel levels in the neighborhood.Appa took up the task of lighting small "color match sticks" for the faint hearted toddlers. The rest of us used to take turns in lighting and watching the dizzying array of "Thara chakrams" "Kambi mathaapu" "Saatai" and God knows what else. The highlight of the celebrations used to be the firepots.We used to take turns to position ourselves by the switch board, and switch off all exsisting light sources at the croacky "Lights off, now!!!"by one of my cousins.Pitch dark for a minute before a beautiful flowerpot went off.I think it was more the feeling of togetherness, than the coordinated "Lights off " routine.Every year,one of us in the cousins gang would do something smart-alecky and end up getting scolded at.But the mood was always festive,fun and undoubtedly warm.By dawn break,most of us,tired and hungry(My guy cousins would shoo us away and go ahead with some "macho" stuff...the "atom bombs" and "triple shots"!!!!!) , would go off and take comfortable positions on sofas , or better still on some cuddly aunts lap.The TV routine started off with the monoply channel DD churning out"Kirbanandha variyar"'s ponmazhigal or something.Of course,one of us giving a funny live commentary and mimicking him,ensured none of us ever heard any of his divine ramblings.

Food sessions - each of our moms would coordinate on what sweets and savories each one prepares, so that there wouldnt be too much of the same variety.A sumptuous array of murukku,thattai,adhirsams,mixture,mysore pak,ladoos,seedais.. (Wait wait.. I have to stop now to grab a tissue... to stop the drool..)would be followed by a recipe exchange session by the womenfolk.Someone just has to mutter "How nice if this was had with soooda oru coffee" and Bam!!!! The liters and liters of "Kaapi"would just keep flowing along with a "suvayaana pattimandram".(And I havent even tasted coffee so far!!! how did I manage that !!!!).

But midday, we would switch to listening comedy tapes by S.V.Shekar or Crazy Mohan.(I bet you guys are thinking "Huh!!! So FINALLY!!! Thats the goddamn connection!!!!")Outrageous jokes would follow, from each ones workplace or school or college.It used to be one hell of a hilarious session,with even the usually taciturn and serious thatha joining in with some particularly witty stuff from his work days.Lunch of course, was all about who could eat more of "Thayir vadai" or who could gulp down tumblers of yummy payasam.This would predictably be followed up by jokes about somones growing belly and futile attempts at the treadmills.And of course,the latest babe in my cousins college, and his futile attempts to impress her(This usually would fall in the late night,secret,"cousins-only" discussions in the "Motta maadi" but, the rascal would,sometimes get away with this at the lunch table too!!!!).

Now, in case you are wondering what happened to this fairy tale, nothing did.Time, just flew. And left all of us yearning for more.I must have heard it a hundred times, I still LOL when I listen to this family favorite:

Maadhu : " Aaamam, dei maruthu... bank aa kollayadikka sorangam thondren sorangam thondrennu solriye.. thondina satham varume da???"

Marudhu a.k.a erudhu : "Athellam plan pannamaya ithula yenrangirpom vadhyaare ... satham vandha varatum,kaathula panja vechundu thondrom!!!!"

It is unbelievable what gradschool can do to you.I mean, to people like me.I really cant believe I had "reply to mails" and "blogging" in my to-do list today!!!!For the uninitated,there was a point in time, where these were the sole purposes of my existence, and of course chatting too!!!!

Anyways,this weekend we took a trip to the Smoky mountains,Tennesse and North Carolina.It was a six hour drive down there.Hiking,barbeque,white water rafting ,Ripleys Believe-it-or-not museum and of course,millions of snaps were some predictable highlights.The Back-to reality monday saw me struggling to manage work,classes,assignment and sleep backlogs.But after a hours and hours of sniffing and encryption,I finally found the time to come back the routine mode.And do laundry,ironing, making India calls,replying to mails, and now of course blogging.(Only to go back to more of sockets, and digraphs and Active client mode soon,but i'd rather overlook that part,for now atleast!)

White water rafting is the most amazing thing ever.We rafted down three class IV bends , and we surfed up one,three times.(There are class I to VI , class V being dangerous and class VI being un-navigable!!!!)Of course,the scary part was when you think you will fall off the raft on the next class IV, but that was part of the fun too !!! Ripleys Musuem had some real amazing artefacts, like a shrunk-skull(I can hear people shout Eeeks!!! that is so Mulder-ish..but Yay!!!!) and a man who sculpted himself. He wanted it to be as close to real life as possible, and hence the sculpture has the mans own hair,toe and finger nails and even TEETH!!!!!Barbeque in the night was fun,I got to learn make some real nice coleslaw and some sort of capsicum-pineapple-onion sticks(which btw, wasn't too popular considering the abundance of beef around!!!).The trip also had a hike to laurel falls(which of course wasnt worth the God knows how many miles of trekking!!) and another trek upto the "Clingman's Dome".The entire adventure is recorded here.Heres a sneak preview.

I know the post sounds very abrupt,but so have I,lately.This post was originally about something widely different from what it is,but when Mani, in a sudden sprint of energy, uploaded ALL the snaps, I knew I had to write something about the trip.A real post tommorow.Till then adieu folks!!!Btw, It feels nice to know people check on you for regular updates, and even demand one when you are in this oh-what-do-I-write moods!!!!!