Category Archives: All good things

Thank you 50 wonderful people!

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Thank you 50 wonderful people!

It has been quite a while since I last wrote. Over a month I believe. Grad school can take quite a toll on my life and basically disrupt everything that I like in my life!

As I am clearing the cobwebs from the creative side of my brain to make room for my thoughts to flow, I thought I would start off with a note of sincere gratitude.

I finally have 50 followers! It is a very happy moment for me and my heart swells with pride knowing that there are 50 people in the world, that I know only through our mutual love for writing. It is a unique bond and I want you all to know that I truly cherish and value your opinion. Please keep reading my blogs and let me know what you like or hate about it.

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This was more than enough inspiration for me to keep writing. Hopefully, I will be able to pull out more time to ensure that I write at least one post per week. Thank you for all the love!

Love conquers all!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful time with their loved ones. Although Valentine’s day has become more of a commercial event now, we should celebrate what it has always stood for – love! 

Love is such a powerful force – it has the ability to transform the toughest of people into hopeless romantics. I was out with a friend yesterday – this is a person who, according to me, is very guarded, supremely ambitious and not the kind that I would peg as “willing to fall in love”. Yesterday, I found out how wrong I was in my analysis of him! He told me (quite unwillingly, mind you) that he was in love and wanted to buy his girlfriend something for Valentine’s day. I was supposed to help him choose a present for this girl. I was so happy for him – I could clearly see how smitten and how serious he was about her. I later found out that, he had even altered his professional plans so that he could be closer to her. Towards the end of the evening, I was humbled – I thought I had him all figured out, but I realized that in the face of love, all bets change. 

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People change, lives are transformed when in love and it is a wonderful thing. I consider myself blessed to have someone who has transformed my life into bliss. I look back on how things have changed for me and I am truly grateful. The ride might have had a its fair share of fights, misunderstandings and long-distance in it, but the absolute happiness and freedom that I have gained from being in this relationship eclipses everything else. You know who you are and I just want to say three things:

  1. Thank You
  2. I Love You
  3. This little piece I stole from Sam Smith (plagiarism is allowed in love!) 

You lift my heart up when the rest of me is down
You, you enchant me even when you’re not around
If there are boundaries, I will try to knock them down
I’m latching on, babe, now I know what I have found

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Stranger 3 – Divided we fall

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While I was chatting with Tamara, my Brazilian counterpart (Stranger 2), a girl with a thickset body, with long black hair tied in a bun came to us, looking worried and asked us if we had any pain killers. Tamara had one in her bag and was looking for it. Meanwhile, the girl, let’s call her Rupa, started to talk to me. She was clearly from the Indian subcontinent and she started telling me why she was at the airport at 2 in the morning.

Before I start, here’s a little bit of2 history for those who don’t know – India achieved independence in the year 1947 but the country was partitioned and Pakistan was born. In the years that followed, there was a huge exodus where a lot of Muslims moved to Pakistan while many Hindus moved to India. Many people lost their lives and livelihoods in this process, but now time has passed. Although there has been some bitter relations between the two nations, I know I speak for the citizens of both nations when I say that there is no animosity in our hearts for the other. But after extensive media brainwash, I know that doubts have been sown in many people’s hearts when it comes to peace between the two nations.

Anyways, back to the story. Rupa told me that she and her mother had come to the airport to send Rupa’s 90-year old grandmother to Chicago where Rupa’s uncle was going to receive her.  Shortly, Rupa’s mother, Saira, came back asking us if we found the medicine for her mother. That was when I noticed her, lying on a couch – she was a frail, fragile woman with wispy hair- all bones and she looked like she could collapse at the slightest touch. She was not able to sleep on the airport couch because her back was aching pretty badly and thus, needed the medicines. Tamara gave her what she had and in the midst of this, I told Rupa that I was headed to Chicago too. As it turned out, her grandmother was flying to Chicago on the same airline as mine to meet her son. She asked me if I could help her grandmother if she was lost or unaccompanied at O’Hare and I readily agreed. I was ready to do whatever little I could to help her. As soon as I did, the mother and daughter duo immediately started talking to me in Hindi. Since I understood and spoke the language fluently, I was able to hold a conversation with them for quite some time. They were very happy to have someone to talk to and halfway through the conversation they asked me where I was from. “India,” I said.

Rupa replied, “My grandmother is from Gwalior! She moved to Pakistan after the partition.” Now before I could react to that statement, her mother, Saira, interjected, appearing worried – “She just as much an Indian as anyone else. She keeps thinking of her homeland.” This was followed by a barrage of statements all emphasizing the fact that Saira’s mother was a lot more Indian than she was a Pakistani.

I was taken aback – it really looked like Saira was trying to appease the “Indian” in me, under the fear that I would not agree to take care of her mother, just because she was a Pakistani. That was when I had to put my foot down. I made it very clear that her mother’s nationality meant nothing to me. She was a woman who was in need of help and I did not see anything beyond that.

It still saddens me when I see people putting country borders or religion over the greater good. It is a matter of virtue to help without being parochial about race or sex. I don’t blame Saira for justifying the mother’s citizenship. I blame the people who let that feeling creep up in the first place – the media, the corrupt politicians and those wielding the money, arms and power who would benefit from our constant squabbles. The governments of India and Pakistan or the cricket teams and their rivalry do not represent the feelings of the masses. For us, an ailing Indian is the same as an ailing Pakistani and we will rush to their aid if need be. Yet again, this is not a problem localized to India and Pakistan. This is a widespread epidemic between many nations and I believe that it can only be addressed by the masses. ip6.jpg

 

Stranger 2 – Main Act

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My Brazilian Counterpart (Main Character)

If you remember, we last saw Ms. Senorita storm off to some unknown destination and it left us all baffled (On Stranger 1 – Act 1). Once Ms. Senorita left, the woman sitting to my right (the one who lent her the charger) turned to me and asked – “Whoa! What is up with her?” I noticed that she was wearing an off-white blouse and jeans and was all curled up on the couch, keeping a watchful eye over her luggage which consisted of two suitcases and a bag stacked unevenly on a trolley. “Is she coming back for my charger or not?” I started laughing because one could never tell anything with Ms. Senorita.

Ms. Senorita came and left like a hurricane with mass destruction and an abandoned cell phone charger behind her while we were recovering! That was when I met Tamara – I’d like to think of her as my Brazilian counterpart.

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The topic of Ms. Senorita got us talking. I found that Tamara was also a 20-something girl who has led a far more independent life than I did. I admired and even envied her life! She completed her undergraduate studies in Brazil, where she spent a year in London. After this, she moved to Mexico for a few months and for the last 4 months, she was in the US as a tourist. She took up an English course in Massachusetts and used her undergrad degree to land a job with HP. When she was talking about what she wanted to do with life – travel, discover herself, just live life like it was meant to be – I was impressed. I saw in her, a girl who was dancing to her own tunes and was craving to explore more of the world!

We spoke for hours. Initially it was all staying in the USA, visa status and all the related conversation that immigrants have!! Then it turned into something more serious and personal. She was just getting out of a toxic relationship and she said this – “I had to get out of the relationship. My boyfriend was leading a stagnant life and was ‘dying inside’. That is not how I want to be. I want to soar and I cannot do that if he wants to be deadweight.” She was sick of being taken for granted and that got us talking a lot about how as women, we tend to easily give up the first priority spot to someone else. Evaluate yourselves and if you feel the need for it- take back control over your lives, ladies! We have a lot to accomplish on our own – without any support from anyone.

Then we got back to talking Philosophy! Like me, she likes to be in control of her life – any kind of uncertainty would shake her off. So, when I told her that I was in a phase where I did not know how my life would turn out in the next three years, she was extremely sympathetic and genuinely concerned. We kept making plans of what we would do in the future, how things would turn out for us and all that. We spoke like we knew each other for ages! We started off as strangers and departed close friends. This experience has been one of a kind for me. So the next time you get a chance to talk to a stranger, take the opportunity. For all you know, you might find your Tamara!

Here’s a letter that she left for me before she went to her flight!

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As you’d have guessed, we became friends on Facebook and now chat regularly. Although, this story had a Happy Ending, I need to still tell you all about what happened to Ms. Senorita. But before that, I will need to segue into a third story – a story which is wretched and tugged at my heartstrings.

Let me give you a brief introduction of what happened – as I was talking to Tamara, a girl with a thickset body, with long black hair tied in a bun came to us, looking worried and asked us if we had any pain killers. We were immediately concerned, because it is not good to fall sick at an airport without anyone to help out. So we started rummaging out backpacks to see if we had anything to offer and that was when she started telling us the reason why she needed the pills.

For more, hang on..Stranger 3 – Divided we fall, will be out soon!

Stranger 1 – Act 1

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As you might already know, I am continuing writing about the story of three people I met at the airport. This is a continuation, so make sure you read the first part before you start this!

Ms. Senorita (Act 1)

A tall woman, with medium length black hair tied in a messy plait, she strode in flats, capri jeans and a red sweater. I noticed her only because she was was walking around, talking very loudly to random people either in English or Spanish.

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It definitely looked like she was searching for something or someone. I was wondering what the problem was and I saw that she was walking towards us. She asked me if I had an Android phone charger – unfortunately, I was using mine and my phone was running out of juice. So she turned to the woman sitting next to me and she complied. I helped her with connecting the charger since it was closer to me and she started thanking me very profusely. There was a very clear boisterous, “bossy” tone in her voice. Like she was used to getting people to do things her way. I hope I am not painting a negative picture of her here- that is not my intention. I answered a lot of questions that she shot at me:

“Where are you going?”,

“Where are you coming from?”,

“College Station? What kind of a place is that?!”

I tried asking her meekly where she was going and I find out that she is not sure! I mean, she lived in Houston and she wanted to go to Ohio but she hadn’t bought a ticket. And she continued talking but throughout the time I was wondering – “Why would a person who was from Houston choose to spend a night at the airport AND not have a ticket booked to some place?”

My thought process reached a sudden halt when I realized that she was waiting for me to answer a question she had asked. Like an idiot, I replied “Yes!” (Always say “No!” if you don’t know what the question is!)

Anyways, before I knew it, I was lying on a massage chair that she offered, nay forced me into while she went to change her clothes. Throughout the time I was on the chair, I was wondering if I actually wanted the pounding on my back! I realized that I was not a big fan of massage chairs. So long story short, after about 40 more minutes of interrogation about me and what I do, she took her phone and went without letting me or the person who lent her the charger know if she will be back. Where did she go? Where is she planning to fly to? Will she return?

Stay tuned for Stranger 1 – Act 2 which should be out after a couple of other stories!

 

Strangers at the Airport – Intro

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Strangers at the Airport – Intro

When I started writing this blog, I was surprised at how long it ran. I realized that there was no point in me writing the entire story in one blog, since a reader’s interest would definitely wane by the time they got halfway through – heck I was tired of all the typing and I don’t blame you all! So let’s start with the introduction!

Don’t let the title of the blog throw you off. I did not plot to kill anyone with another person like they did on the movie (so hang up on those 911 calls, please!). I mentioned in my previous post that I was traveling for over 72 hours out of which I was stuck at Houston Airport for one night. It was here that I met 3 sets of people from different backgrounds and somehow, in that one night, we developed a unique kind of a relationship that people do once they get talking when they’re in such stranded situations.

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I want to start off with the chronological events. This turned out to be quite a fun night, despite all the millions of crazy thoughts that were running through my head. I have changed everyone’s names to obviously protect their privacy!

This is how it began..I was looking for a couch in a cozy nook so that I could get those 40 winks before braving the biting Chicago winds. I found just what I was looking for, a faux leather couch with a coffee table to its right and a cell-phone charging center to its left. To the other side of this coffee table, I saw that someone was sitting on a matching faux leather couch. I did not pay much attention to the other person and went upon making myself comfortable in my spot.

And then she entered!

 Stay tuned for Stranger 1 – Act 1!

Strong Intuition = Strong Conviction

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Strong Intuition  = Strong Conviction

The last 72 hours has been such a blur. I was in Champaign, Illinois- spending the last ten days of a glorious vacation lazing around while my boyfriend went to school to continue his research. A few days before I left, he developed a rash and a painful boil on his left elbow. This was further accompanied by chills and fever. He visited the doctors several time and they started draining the puss out of his boil. The day that I was supposed to leave to Texas to continue school, his hand had swollen to twice its normal size. I kept telling him that I wanted to stay but he insisted that I leave since school was starting soon. So against my better judgement I left Champaign at 3:00 am on the 16th morning. I reached Houston at around 11:00 am or so and had to wait a solid 3 hours for a ride to College Station. I finally reached College Station, Texas at a little over 5:30 pm. While I was on my way back, I heard from my boyfriend that the doctors has got the results of the tests on his puss and that he was infected with the MRSA bacteria. For those of you who don’t know, MRSA is an evolved and antibiotic resistant bacteria. The medication given by them was not working on the MRSA that my boyfriend was infected with and they wanted him to be admitted to a hospital as soon as possible. You can only imagine the amount I kicked myself for coming back that day. As soon as I came to College Station, I decided to check WebMD to learn more about the disease. And yes, it is very true what they say everywhere. Do not Google your symptoms or a disease, because the internet only provides the most grotesque possible diagnosis. By the time I read the whole thing, I was reduced to a sack of tears. In a hurry, I decided to head back to Houston that very day and take the flight on the 17th morning at 8:00 am. Luckily, the person who gave me a ride to Houston from College Station turned out to be an angel in disguise. He was super friendly and ever so accommodating. Once I reached the airport, I met 3 different people, each of whom left a long lasting impression on me. I also learnt in the middle of the night, that my boyfriend was undergoing surgery to drain out the puss pockets that were formed in his elbow. He continued telling me that he had got everything under control and that all was well and I should return to Houston. The idiot even sent me a selfie from the hospital, but given how I was on the verge of tears for the past 12 hours, his picture only made matters worse.

On a lighter note: Guys – word of advice, don’t send your girlfriends/wives pictures of you in the hospital. It will only make them want to cry their eyes out more!

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By the end of the night, I was more resolved to go to Champaign than ever. So, by the time I reached Chicago airport, it was around 10:00 am on 17th morning. I had to wait for a shuttle to Champaign till 1:00 pm and finally by the time I reached the hospital, it was 4:00 pm on the 17th. The next 24 hours went faster than ever, with regular visits from the doctors and nurses up until his discharge on the 18th late morning. After completing all the formalities, we finally got home by 4:00 or 5:00 pm on the 18th and then I was on a mission. A mission to clean up his room, do lots and lots of laundry and basically conduct a hygiene revamp of his living situation! Before I knew it, night had fallen and I was walking in -18 degrees weather to take his clothes from the drier. Since it looked like he was making good recovery, I booked my flight on Tuesday night and booked yet another charter from Champaign to Chicago and here I am, writing and hoping that I can publish my post with the current pathetic state of Wifi in the charter. I still have another good six to seven hours to go before I reach College Station and that is IF everything goes well in Chicago and Houston. So I am keeping my fingers crossed! So to summarize my travel itinerary for the past 72 hours:

16th Jan 3:00 am  – Left Champaign to Chicago by Charter

16th Jan 8:30 am – Flew from Chicago to Houston

16th Jan 2:00 pm – Ride from Houston to College Station

16th Jan 5:00 pm  – Reached College Station

16th Jan 7:40 pm – Ride from College Station to Houston

17th Jan 8:30 am – Flew from Houston to Chicago

17th Jan 1:00 pm – Left Chicago to Champaign by Charter

17th Jan 4:00 pm – Reached the hospital

19th Jan 3:00 pm – Left Champaign to Chicago by Charter

19th Jan 6:25 pm – Reached Chicago O’hare Airport

19th Jan  8:45 pm – Flying from Chicago to Houston (Hoping to fly on time)

19th Jan 11:30 pm – Reach Houston (if all goes well)

20th Jan 2:00 am – Reach College Station (if all goes doubly well)

I guess the point of my whole discussion was that, following intuition is of utmost importance to everybody. It is not easy and might feel utterly random and foolish. But you have that “gut feeling” for a reason – someone put it there for a reason. Don’t disregard this as something unimportant because if you do, then nature/God has a way of turning tables such that you are back to being exactly where He/She/It intended you to be.

Wish me luck!

Toasting sisters everywhere!

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Toasting sisters everywhere!

It was on Jan 17th, 19 years ago, when I woke up in the morning to find my mum and dad missing from home. Naturally as a 5 year old, I began freaking out and ended up crying looking for them. It was only after I found my grandfather in the living room watching Television that I calmed down and asked him where everyone was. “They have gone to get your little sister”, he said. I thought to myself, “Oh! the day is finally here” and did a mental cartwheel before proceeding to sit beside my grandfather to wait for my dad to come pick me up to see her.

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I still remember half-walking, half-running down the hospital’s dimly lit hallway. And when I finally entered the room, I saw my mother lying on the bed and smiling at me. She said, “Why don’t you say hello to your sister?” and that was when I saw her there – all wrapped in white with plump cheeks with a rosy tinge. My sister. I was dumbstruck for the first time in my life. Emotions that I did not know existed, came bursting forth. My heart felt so much fuller and lighter at the same time. People are often surprised at the clarity of my memory when it came to this incident. But I think it was only expected – I met the most important person in my life. No one can forget such important phases in one’s lives.

Now that she stands before me, a beautiful woman, I think of how fast time slipped by. I still remember our fights over toys and our gossips about boys among other things. Now looking at her- an avid reader, a budding computer science engineer and a beautiful woman with a wacky sense of humor – has deepened my relationship with her. When I see her stepping up and taking care of my family in my absence, having philosophical conversations with me about books or life, I can only swell with pride. Such brave and wise women, with hearts of gold are not found easily.

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So Happy Birthday my love! Here is hoping that you get everything that you have ever wanted in life. I hope you continue to grow as beautifully as you are now and I hope I will get to watch you bloom into an even better wholesome woman than you are now. I love you and I wish only the best for you.

To all the other women and men who are as blessed as I am to have such supportive and wonderful sisters, let us take a moment to raise our glasses to these marvelous works of God or nature. Thank you for coming into our lives and brightening everything up. We would be nothing without you.

Remembering Alice Paul

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I was checking out the Google Doodle today and realized that today was the 131st birthday of Alice Paul. There have been instances where I have seen these doodles and forgotten about it in a matter of few seconds. But something in the doodle caught my eye today – Alice Paul was a feminist, she fought for equality and women’s right to vote. I was initially quite embarrassed about the  fact that up until today, I had no idea who Alice Paul was and I proclaimed to be a feminist. Anyways, here is a small summary I put together of who she was and what she did for women.

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Alice Paul was a very well-read woman. With a PhD in sociology and a Doctorate in Civil Laws, she was a radical reformist with a  staunch belief in women’s right to vote and equality of women. Despite being imprisoned and subjected to severe brutality several times during her tenure as the co-founder of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), she tirelessly worked towards realizing her goals. A story that touched me deeply were the events that unfolded during the Night of Terror. Despite facing severe brutality by the authorities – and this included being force fed raw eggs with a tube pushed down her throat – Alice Paul continued to remain strong and fight for her cause. The part that makes me proud to be a woman is that after the court’s ruling on the Night of Terror –

The decision declared that every one of the women suffragists who picketed the White House was illegally arrested, illegally convicted, and illegally imprisoned. The women could have filed suits for damages, false arrest and imprisonment at once, however they did not.

And all this happened in the early 1900’s. More often than not, I end up wondering what we kind of progress we have had as women. A lot of times I end up sensing a gut-wrenching despair – I don’t see many women in engineering disciplines in higher degrees, not so many women back at work and not as many women in politics either (Here, I am proud to be an Indian, at lease we had a Prime Minister and some very strong female political figures). But then, the feeling passes. We are stronger than we ever were and we are only going up from here. Take a moment and be proud women and men all over the world!

 

 

Welcome 2016

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Welcome 2016

Another year..gone! The chilly Decembers have paved way to a colder and drearier January  – with the silver lining being the promise of  a “great year ahead”.

Many a times, if you think of it, a new year always symbolizes a “fresh start” of sorts. You have 366 days to finally start that travelogue, bake that creamy pudding pie or lose those last 5 pounds. Taking opportunity of this is totally left to us.

Then there are people like me, who make strong resolutions and let all the other things in life take over.

“Today is finally the day I read War and Peace..oh wait, 30 Rock marathon is on”

So I have decided to take it easy this year – make a few realistic resolutions and make them one month at a time! That way, when December comes, I will not be looking back on the year and wondering how much of my resolutions I actually fulfilled.

Then there are people like this:

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Yes, you are Calvin.

Happy New Year folks! Hope we all have a great year ahead!