Friday, 26 June 2009

If I knew then what I know now

This is an entry for ammani's blog post about writing a letter to your teen-self:

Dear teenage me,
Did you know life is only as predictable as death? So stop wasting too much of your time in planning for the future and live (and love) each day. All your zits will not last forever; a day will come when you will fail to remember that you once had a face as bumpy as the road. You will have a crush on a boy as frequent as the power cuts (in India), don’t feel bad if ‘the one’ doesn’t ever notice you. There will a ‘special someone’ who will never tire of looking at you. Parents will always be your support system, never be too angry to say sorry, even if you think they are wrong. Your brother might seem to be the most irritating creature now but he will be the one who takes your side when your parents don’t approve of the guy you love. All those slam books that you are collecting now will just be a memory, that’s because there will be something called facebook in the future. Eat all the cake and sweets you want, tomorrow you will be worried about the calories. No one is perfect and the same applies to you, never be afraid of committing mistakes, your life will shape up better once you learn from them. There will be difficult times and you might lose hope but believe me they will pass. People who don’t know you will always judge you; it’s not worth changing anything for them. Your politeness and shyness will always be labelled as being too proud, do not pull yourself further in to the shell. Enjoy the long and lazy summer vacations, later on; a two-week break will require so much planning, scheduling and spending. Do not sulk if your parents don’t buy everything you wish for, every single time, they are just trying to prepare you for the life ahead. Don’t be in a hurry to grow old, you will wish you had stayed young when you get here. Loosen up, enjoy life and always believe that there are better things coming your way.


Jacko R.I.P (Aug 25 1958 - Jun 25 2009)

As a teenager I was introduced to English pop music with Michael Jackson. The world of pop music was fast, exciting, and to me it was MJ. His music, ‘gravity defying’ dance moves, the famous ‘moon walk’ and not to mention his hairdo was a craze amongst so many. You can never fail to see a MJ performance in the numerous dance competitions from schools to TV shows. His contributions to music have been tremendous and he will be one of the greatest showman and entertainer in the world ever.

Monday, 22 June 2009

The Handshake

We were summoned in to the head wardens office to be informed that the following week Queen of England will be visiting Kalakshetra and we were supposed to stand at the entrance of Kalakshetra and greet her. The enormity of the event did not strike us back then. There was always someone or the other coming to Kalakshetra. I would have probably been more excited to meet Prince William than his grand mother.

Our warden kept reminding us in her 'oh so sweet' voice that we were supposed to be in our Sunday best to greet her majesty. Our Sunday best was no fancy frocks or gowns, we had to wear our washed uniforms, which happened to be an off white and green combo pavadai davani (half saree), thank god they did not make us wear the orange and purple combo! October 16th 1997 was the day, It arrived and so did the queen. Before her arrival there was a swarm of body guards and press. We waited patiently as the security measures were checked and rechecked. Suddenly there was buzz in the air and the officers in charge scrambled around importantly, announcing she is almost here and we craned our necks to the winding roadway in hope of catching a glimpse. The car scuttled on the mud roads sending a puff of brown dust everywhere and her majesty got down just when it cleared. It was like watching one of those Tamil movies where they show the heroine's beautiful face clearing through the mist. She patiently walked around greeting us and occasionally shaking hands. Everyone wanted a handshake and you could definitely sniff the competition in the air for getting a brief hand shake. All of us were eyeing each other and extending hands in the hope of getting one. I was a little dejected that I was not one of the "fortunate one's". When you actually think about it now it just seems so silly! After all that preparation the meeting with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip lasted approximately less than 5 minutes... We had hoped to pull off some more time shaking hands I suppose. There were days when I couldn't brag enough about this incident to my colleagues at the part - time job. They always oohed and aaahed about it, of course the secret being that I included a tiny non- existent detail, the handshake ;)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A weekend in Paris

Last month we sailed from Dover to Calais and took another 3 hours, by coach, to reach the city of Paris. It was a long and tiring journey and we were beginning to regret the short holiday even before stepping outside our hotel rooms. After a short freshening up session we headed for the boat ride on river Seine to see Paris by night. I fell in love with the city on the first sight. I gaped and looked in awe as all the monuments and buildings came alive, from my history of architecture text book. Me and S struggled to give some of the buildings a name even if the structure looked familiar enough. River Seine certainly dominated the social scene. With the day being hot and long, people were gathered around the river with friends, drinking and chatting away. I wish I had the luxury to sit around and admire the scene, soak in the ambience and gawk at nothing in particular but we were pressed for time. At the end of the boat ride when we reached the dock near Eiffel tower, it was quite dark and the tower was bathed in golden splendour and just as we thought nothing could top this, there were thousands of tiny light flashing on the tower and it looked like it was studded with diamonds.

An early start on the next day with a sumptuous breakfast saw us heading back to the Eiffel tower. This time we were going to see its naked beauty illuminated under the golden rays of sun. I was quite excited as this was the first time we were going to be in close proximity to the mammoth structure. The enormity of the Eiffel tower hits you only when you stand a few feet away and struggle to take a look at the towering structure, as a whole. Usually anything huge is considered monstorous, however the Eiffel tower humbles you with its elegance and curves even after being so big. The best part though is being on top of the third floor deck. You can see almost up to 40 miles of the city stretch out beneath you, a feeling of being on top of the world. It definitely makes you wonder how Gustav Eiffel and his team put it together 120 years ago. Also the fact is that the Parisians initially hated the structure and did not realize the identity it would give to their city. While most of them had a change in their attitude after seeing the finished project, there were some who continued to loathe it. One among them, a famous french novelist (Guy de Maupassant), was said to eat regularly at a restaurant on the tower’s second floor. His reason being, that is the only place in Paris from where he was sure he wouldn’t see the tower.

After lunch we proceeded to Louvre museum to see the 'ever smiling' Mona Lisa and many others. After going through rooms and rooms of Italian paintings we could see a mob of people gathered around her. We struggled to catch a glimpse of her and after a good 10 minutes got to a chance to do so. There were so many exhibits in the museum but we had just 2 hours to cover the entire place, so we hurried from one to room to another and tried to see the sections that interested us the most. I have always liked the glass prism that stands in front of the museum, since my college days, also it merged in so well with the existing structure. Another land mark that we went to was the palace of Versailles, living quarters of the denounced King Louis XVI. The most remarkable feature of the palace were the gardens that stretched for acres. After two days of hectic sight seeing we could not muster courage to sit through the coach and the ferry journey to get back to London but nevertheless the trip was well worth the tiredness. I would love to go back to Paris and spend some quality time without having to hurry and no we are never taking the ferry again!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Hard Bargaining

I have been going on and on about joining the gym from the time we arrived here. After procrastinating for 4 months I decided to do something about it. The gym is hardly a 10 minute walk from the house and I pass it a hundred times every week and yet there I was sitting on my couch, munching away and watching the idiot box.. Guilt was gnawing me every time I carelessly shoved something in my mouth. Well couple of days back when I was done with my vegetable (and etc. etc.) shopping and happened to saunter past the gym (with a big bulging Tesco bag, filled with fruits, vegetables and what not).Maybe it was the heavy bag ( I needed to put it aside and sit for a few minutes) or the weight of the issue in my head, it prompted me to walk past the door and was greeted by a nice lady, who asked me to fill in my general details.

The manager (an Indian lady) showed me around the gym and lastly took me to the lounge to talk money... She outlined what they would do and lined up everything while I patiently waited for the vital information. After a good 15 minutes she started jotting down the membership fees for various time period and I was a little shocked since their display window told another story. Once I asked her about that she explained to me that the offer just expired yesterday. I eyed her suspiciously and she showed me the fine print on the pamphlet which stated the end date... Now she understood that a few freebies had to be thrown in to rope me for the memebership. After that this is how the conversation went:

Me: Hmmmm... Shall I think about it and get back to you later.
Her: If you sign in now, then I can cut your joining fee down to £20 from £25. So..
Me: Hmmm... Maybe..But still I think I should ask my husband and then decide.
Her: How about I cut it right down to £17.50
Me: ****???(Gleefully thinking that maybe I could continue with my act and get the fee nulled..hee..hee...hee)
Her: I could potentially also add a 6 week challenge program, which costs £99 by itself.. So you can benefit from 6 sessions with our personal trainers.
Me: Continue to stare at the sheet of paper in front of me with a thoughtful nod (Thinking to myself, "Could I possibly get more from her???)
Her: OK! I cant go any further down from this... I will reduce your joining fee to £15 and will also deduct the 12 days from this month , so effectively you will pay from tomorrow.
Me: Thank you! I will definitely join but can't sign up today and I can only do it tomorrow
(I realize that she will not go down any further and also I was anyways not planning to pay
for those 12 days girl... duh!)
Her: A sigh of relief!!

Recession sure is making everyone work twice as hard.. Either that or maybe she thought I really needed the exercise. I wonder what sort of a treatment I would have got had the economy not been so bad. Anyways end of the day I am an Indian and I sure like a good deal :)... It's a sense of achievement when we pay a lot lesser than the asking price. Isn't it?