Thursday, August 24, 2006

Break Time

I'm leaving for our annual family vacations early tomorrow morning. I'm not exactly sure if I'm looking forward to these vacations or dreading them. You see, when we're on holiday, all the members of my family end up getting on each others nerves so much so that by the end of it, everyone is extremely relieved to get back and return to work/school.

We're going on a road trip to the north of France and Spain and are going to be staying in a little seaside town next to the Spanish border in France. This does mean that I am not going to have internet access for a week or so. University starts almost as soon as I get back and I'm not particularly looking forward to that. But that qualifies for another post on it's own which shall be written as soon as I get back.

Right now I have a long list of things I have to do before tonight, written down for me very thoughtfully by my dear mother, who didn't think I would remember them. This list includes a whole load of ironing, vacuuming, clearing up my room and not to mention the packing which she has been nagging me to get on with for a week. But yours truly, as usual, has left everything for the last day and doesn't feel like doing it anymore now that the last day has actually come up. I'm in it for a 'Talk' tonight, I can feel it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mummy!

Today is my mum's birthday. My father was thankfully nudged into remembering it by me last night because I didn't want him forgetting her birthday three times in a row this year. Luckily for him, my mum is one of those people who does not care much about birthdays; so my dad'’s forgetfulness was not too much of a big deal.

My mum and I normally don't exactly get along. We fight a lot. This is actually an understatement. We fight all the time is probably a more accurate description of my relationship with my mother. She always tells me off for not being more useful around the house. I always tell her that she should appreciate having me as a daughter and be thankful that I'’m not a drug addict, teen angsting, alternative music listening, purple haired creep, which I could have pretty much turned out to be if I had wanted. But mostly we fight for the same old reasons, and normally require external assistance in the form of my father to send us into our respective rooms in order to have some peace and quiet in our household.

What I personally love about our fights is that she is always the first one to make up. She can never be upset with me for more than an hour. So I guess, there'’s no bitterness in our relationship. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, my ability to judge how much I love a person comes from how much that person can affect me enough to get on my nerves. Sometimes, I have to guiltily admit that I feel like throwing things at my mother.

My mum can actually read my mind. It's scary, but it'’s true. Sometimes when I was younger I used to think that she was literally inside my mind. She always tells me that she just knows. Now, I don't even bother asking her how does she always know. I never need to tell her how I'’m feeling or how my day was. She claims she can read it on my face, however well I'’m trying to cover it up. This makes it very difficult to lie or conceal things from her.

According to my father, the only thing I've inherited from my mother are my procrastination abilities and my immense dislike for any sort of work. Both of us don'’t even bother denying, this. What can I say, there has to be something other than my height that I should have got from my mother'’s genes. My mum is tiny, she'’s really small and thin, well, smaller and thinner than me at least. This makes it possible for her to have a complete access to my wardrobe. We fight over my clothes all the times. I hate it when she wears my clothes. She never minds when I wear hers.

My mum was relatively young when she had me, and she'’s managed to age quite well. Most people normally mistake us for sisters. I love people complimenting my mum on the fact that she looks so young. It makes me happy because she'’s so pretty. She always tells me that she was too young when I was born, and had no idea how to deal with children. Well, I personally think she did a fine job. Mum'’s also great with people. Everyone who knows her loves her including the people she works for and all the cleaning women. What wouldn'’t I do to have her social skills?

My mum is rather absurd. She comes up with the silliest suggestions, which involve no logical thinking whatsoever. She is terrified of heights. See, the fact that she has problems with heights wouldn'’t matter much to me, but the fact that she insists that I keep away from them is what leads to our inexorable arguments. My mum also has every phobia in the world -– heights, darkness, closed spaces, crowds, insects and every other thing one can think of. But she i’s always a good sport and doesn'’t mind our incessant teasing.

She likes things done her way all the time, which inevitably leads to our numerous arguments because I like the same. She never ever gives in when we fight. She i’s the most stubborn creature I'’ve ever come across. She is more stubborn than I am and that takes some effort.

She always falls asleep mid way of movies, a habit that I'’ve recently started finding adorable.

She is also obsessed with cleaning. If I could divide every person in this world into six different groups based on the characters in Friends, my mum would definitely be a Monica. She'’s scary when she cleans and the problem is that she'’s always cleaning.

She is great at finding missing property. It's a skill, I tell you. She once managed to find a pair of our house keys on the street two days after our maid had accidentally dropped them. I've lost count of the number of times she's retrieved lost items for me - missing earrings, bags, food, books, important documents, keys and the list continues.

However she may be, she'’s still my mum and I love her from the bottom my heart. She i’s the bestest mother in the whole world according to me, and I wouldn'’t replace her for all the riches in the world. So, here'’s wishing her a very happy birthday.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Independence Day

Tomorrow, 15th August is the Indian Independence day. Yes folks, at the stroke of midnight exactly 59 years ago, in the year 1947, we became free. Freedom is a very subjective word in this context, I suppose. It is also the first date I actually remember memorizing after my own birthday.

When I was younger, my dad and I used to spend the Independence day morning watching the national parade on television. He always made me stand up when they played the national anthem because according to him it is blasphemous to sit down when the national anthem of any country is playing. So we stood up as soon as the President's orchestra started playing. I loved standing up. It was always a special occasion for me. This was because, on most other days I never had the opportunity to consciously stand up straight, while looking at television for a few minutes. Then, we used to watch the President's speech, whilst I normally lost interest in it mid way because I could never understand the big Hindi words he used in this speech. Mind you, this wasn'’t because I was a stupid child; colloquial Hindi is so much different from formal Hindi, that I still normally don't understand all of the President'’s speech.

As I grew up, it became mandatory to participate in the school independence day celebrations where we had to stand in the hot sun all morning, sing patriotic songs in three languages (Hindi, English and Marathi). Then of course, there was the flag unfurling ceremony where we sang the national anthem. I loved singing our national anthem and still do enjoy singing it, even though I haven'’t had the opportunity to sing it in the last four years. I don't think I liked it because it made me feel patriotic, but because I always felt that it was a beautiful song.

I'’m not exactly what you call a nationalist, well not consciously at least. I'm the first person to criticize my country where it deserves, which is what I normally do. But today I have decided to do something else. I ha’ve decided to talk about why I like my country and not why I dislike it. I'’m not going to talk about the hypocrisy with which Indian culture treats women or how religion is going to be the end of our people or about the absolute poverty, illiteracy and corruption, but about why I love it so much. Whatever faults India may have, it is still my country and I love it very much because it defines who I am and where I allegedly belong, well according to my passport, at least.

I love my country because I grew up there and whatever little morals I may have, they are because of my upbringing there. I love it because of it'’s wonderful film industry (yes, I am one of those one billion suckers that actually likes Bollywood movies). I love it because we have great food. Seriously, which other country can boast to be more creative than us where vegetarian food is concerned? When I talk about food, it encompasses all kinds of foods including snacks, three course meals, street food and junk food. I love how we like to Indianize every western item we come across, even McDonalds rather than fall pray to plain old westernization. I also love it because we have seasonal fruits that you don'’t get anywhere else in the world.

I love it because our national sport it cricket and we'’re great at it. The World Cup is next year, and wait and see, we'’re going to be absolutely brilliant. I love it because of it'’s chaotic traffic. You never feel alone or lonely, at least in Bombay. I love the fact that you can never be alone on the streets whatever time of night it may be because there are people everywhere, all the time.

I love it because we have the monsoon season, which according to me is the best season in the world. I love it because we have a great sense of style and clothing. In India, I can wear a pair of jeans with a kurta and not have to face hoards of people looking at me strangely. We have even managed to make ourselves look hot in saris, a garment which was created supposedly to cover up our bodies. I love it because everyone there is so friendly and I wouldn't even think twice before asking my neighbours for any sort of help. Here, I don't even know who lives next door to me.

I love it because we have so many languages (and yes, they are languages with different scripts and not just dialects. The next person to ask me about this is going to have to listen to a long rant). You just grow up speaking and studying two, three different languages and understanding at least one or two more. I love the fact that whenever I am there, I always end up speaking in a bizarre, incomprehensible mixture of Hindi/English/Marathi all at the same time, and everybody still understands me.

I love it because every single person you meet from there comes from such a diverse cultural background that everyone might as well come from a different country, and yet we manage to love each other just fine. I also love it because in India you grow up having a lot of friends everywhere. I knew practically every kid my age on the whole street where I lived because everyone always knows everyone else. India is a country where it is very difficult for someone to keep a secret. But what I love the most about it is how people like me can grow up there retaining our own culture and languages, while watching American sitcoms, movies and speaking fluent English. It'’s like you grow up belonging to two different worlds. I can listen to Led Zeppelin and love Bollywood music all at the same time.

So there, that is how I'’ve spent my Independence day this year. I can't watch the parade on television here or sing the national anthem, but what I can do is give us a fine tribute that even the President in his fancy Hindi might have problems trying to compete with.

Mera Bharat is truly mahan! :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Introducing Julia!

I would like everyone on the blogosphere to get acquainted with Julia. Yes, I am officially replacing TPF from her 'best friend'’ status. TPF lost this position the moment she abandoned me in this strange, foreign country and returned to her native land. I am fickle enough to replace and abandon old friends as soon as I find new ones that I like more. Julia is beautiful, interesting, intelligent and all other adverbs of admiration one can think of and I am totally enamoured by her. She is also the best thing that has happened to me since cable television in this country, which clearly shows how much she means to me.

For those who has not figured this out yet, Julia happens to be my new laptop. I have always wanted a laptop ever since I heard about them. I mean, what could be better than a computer, a computer that you can use in your bed, of course or on your couch or in the bathroom, for that matter. For the record, no I am not using my computer in the bathroom, but I would like to have the option to do so in any case, thank you very much. Julia also happens to be password protected, which means that I can write/view pornography on it without my parents knowing or checking my browser history. No, I am not into writing/viewing pornography, but I still like keeping my options open. Privacy matters, especially when you have a teenager with nothing to hide. That is why I like to pretend that I have a big secret up my sleeve or in this case, in my computer.

Julia is a graduation present from my parents. Initially I was going to buy a Mac because Macs are so cool in teenage land, but then I started looking beyond the pretty looks and being the non conformist teenage that I am, I decided that I was not yet ready to try to learn to use a whole new operating system all on my own. I also figured that my Mac dreams could wait until I started earning my own money and let my parents save bit more for my future educational dreams. Turns out, Julia was a bit more expensive than the Mac that I wanted, but it was love at first sight and even my parents couldn'’t deny that to me.

No, I'’m not getting rid of Quincy (my old computer) or forgetting him as soon as I have a prettier replacement with no sexuality crisis. What kind of a person would that make me? A teenager, I know, but as I previously mentioned, I'’m one of those unconventional types, therefore I am still emotionally attached to Quincy. He has been with my through my good times and crashed through my bad times. I love him very much and will always care about him even with Julia in my life, however pretty her in-built web cam may be or however cool her in-built DVD burner is. Yes, even though Julia may have the beautiful blue lights and the in-built wireless connection, but Quincy is still my hero.

These days, I feel like a computer whiz. A few days ago, I made my home wireless entirely by myself. Alright, I'm sure this is no big feat to most people, but trust me if you had to call up Internet technicians and ask for computer help in Italian when you don't really speak Italian, it is a big deal. Therefore, yes I am proud of myself.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mid-life Crisis

Most of the times, technology scares me because I feel too old for it. Most children these days start using computers at age three on cool Macs. I, on the other hand, had my first home computer when I was in the third grade. I’m not sure what operating system we had at that time, but my first memories of actually using a computer is with Windows 93. The computer belonged to my mum’s office. I still remember logging off Windows and going on to 'DOS' and typing ‘c-drive’ and playing games such as ‘Prince of Persia’ (yes, the original ‘Prince’. I sucked at it, by the way. It used to terrify me and yet, I insisted playing it.). I could never understand how key boards worked and why all the alphabets were not in alphabetical order or how in the wide world could my mother type so fast. Today, my mother is the slowest typist in the family. It is funny how things turn out to be, isn’t it?

We got Internet at home when I was either in the sixth grade or the seventh grade. At that time, I don’t even think my parents knew what exactly the Internet was. I’m not sure I still know what exactly the Internet is. I remember my mother teaching my the basics of email in seventh grade and opening a hotmail account for me. I never thought that I would even use it. After all, I did not have anyone to write messages to. Then, I was introduced to chain forwards, which I have to shamefully admit that my 13 year old self was addicted to. But my exposure to the Internet did not go beyond email. That was until I was introduced to something called ‘Google’ of course. Suddenly my vision of life had changed. I still hold Google responsible for changing my way of thinking.

Right now, I find that children are introduced to computers much before kindergarten. My three year old cousin, who has not even started school yet, proficiently plays all sorts of ‘educational’ games on her computer, which teach her how to count, learn the alphabet or does puzzles. She has a lot of fun doing them and learns at the same time. I just learnt the alphabet from boring, little school books. When I was little, my idea of fun on a computer was ‘Microsoft Paint’ on which I have spent endless joyful moments. CDs were practically inexistent all through my childhood. All I knew were the big floppies for the A-drive by my parents for work purposes. The little floppies, which are outdated right now seemed like a digital revolution to me.
It’s not just computers, it’s every piece of technology that we presently use seems foreign to my childhood like laptops, ipods, DVD players, DVDs themselves, mobile phones etc. The strangest thing in the world is to see my two year old cousin using the DVD player. He knows how to switch it on, select his DVD and play it. At two, I hardly knew what a remote control for our television was and grew up watching VHSs on our outdated video player.

Since I am the only fruit of my parent’s loins, they but naturally freakishly obsessive about knowing my movements. I got my first mobile phone when I was about fourteen and hated it. All my friends could never understand why I disliked it so much, but I did. It made me attract attention. I didn’t like the attention. I did not have any numbers stored on my phone, and I did not even know about the existence of text messages. There was nobody else of my age group who owned an actual cell phone. I used to get into so many arguments with my parents about carrying it all around. Presently, I’ve been carrying a mobile around for about the last 5 years, I still don’t use it much, (because it is permanently out of money) but I don’t think I could live without it. It just makes me feel safer having a phone around me in case of late night emergencies. Normally, my mobile phone is more useful to me as an alarm clock, rather than an object of communication, but it’s something I still need to have for personal comfort. It feels great to know that all the people I love are just a button away from me.

I feel too old for a lot of things actually. Just the other day TPF had come over to my house for a sleepover and we were supposed to have a movie marathon all night long. The next day my dad asked me which movies we saw all night and I told him that we just went to bed at 11 because we were too tired to do anything else. He then teased me about all the fabulous plans we had made that evening. My reply to that was: “I think I’ve become too old to stay up all night long, dad. When I was 14, it was alright, I used to have all that energy, but right now, I just don’t think I have the capacity to stay up late.”

That’s right, my dear readers I’m almost 19 and am going through a mid-life crisis. I’m too old for this young world that seems to get younger each day and all I can do is sit and collect stories to tell my grandchildren.