Saturday, October 21, 2006

Diwali @ The Big Green

1500 Candles at the Big Green. In the background is the Baker Tower

Organiser of the celebrations- SHANTI- The Hindu student association of Dartmouth

This is the festival season back home and we all Indians are feeling a bit low for obvious reasons. But then the saving grace is that the festival fell on a weekend. To begin with there was Puja at the Rollins Chapel and I found it a little odd in the chapel. Not because I am not a Hindu, I mean I've been to temples in India and the atmosphere here was more relaxed. But then this is Diwali, the occasion of joy.

After the Puja was the highlight of the evening- Lighting up the entire big green with 1500 candles. Ambitious as it was, the volunteers were plentiful so all went well. The scene at big green after we lighted up all the diyas was breathtaking. The pics which I have put are dark in comparison. Forgive my photography.

From the big green we went to the Collis center for the dinner. The dinner was completely prepared by the Indian families in the area (without any catering help). I am extremely grateful to them for the REAL INDIAN FOOD I've had today. I especially loved the gulabjamuns :-)

Actually our celebration began even before the puja, there was lunch at B's place. Amazingly B too had gone out on all cylinders to prepare lots of food for all of us. I enjoy these gatherings and the movies which inevitably follow. Today was Andaz apna apna. I need not say more.


Friday, October 20, 2006

The Namesake by Mira Nair


The namesake is a movie based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. The movie is going to hit the theaters in the spring next year. I was lucky to watch it the Hopkins Center. Mira Nair was being presented with the annual Dartmouth film award this year and the screening was a privilege.

As the trailers of the movie say, it IS a loving adaptation of the novel. I found the book great and over the last few days I have been watching a few Mira Nair movies. In Monsoon wedding and Salaam Bombay (the ones I've seen), I was awed by the richness of the visuals. The tension and emotions just beneath the surface, which the characters could all but express, were the qualities which, as I think of them now emerge to me.

The Jhumpa Lahiri book, according to me was as much about Ashima as it was about Gogol and in the end they both ended up finding their destinies. I am very glad that this facet of the novel has been retained in the movie and it stays true to the course. "Life in a foreign country can be difficult ", I've heard people say. Imagine being in a foreign land within a week of your marriage with the knowledge that this is going to be your home for a long long time, perhaps forever.

What do you do when you operate the Laundromat for the first time and don't know whom to ask for instructions? How do you prepare that "hot mix" when none of the ingredients are at hand? What would you do when your husband is not there during your labor? In short how do you continue living? Tabu as Ashima rocks in the movie and it is pleasantly surprising to hear her English with an unmistakable Indian accent even after living as a first generation immigrant for so long. What is the big deal??

The confusion and a crisis of identity for Gogol are according to me very stereotypical. But the way this ABCD carves out his life is interesting. Tired of living a second hand life, everything becomes clear when in the end he says- “I know I am supposed to feel utterly devastated, but I actually feel free for the first time in my life”. That is the thing with life. You find your happiness in the most unexpected of things.

Now I realize I have got all my feelings for the novel and movie all mixed up and this post has been as much about the book as it has been about the movie.

“For our loving parents, who gave us everything”

Friday, October 13, 2006


There was this picture in a person's profile on Orkut a few months ago. It said-"There is no free lunch". At the time I believed it and I guess I even understood what he was trying to say. Then, I came to Dartmouth.

The first week here was a flurry of free food. Practically everywhere we went, there was some free food on offer. BBQs, seminars, presentations.. you name it and chances are there that they were having pizzas or burgers or salad or cookies or all of them. I was delighted to find so many things on offer. I savored them as much as I could (within the norms though). I was consuming, in the land of consumerism.

My third week has almost ended. In this post I specifically want to write this week's free food day by day. As the MS-rep to the Thayer Council, on Monday I had lunch with the Dean of Thayer school. On Wednesday I had my dinner at the mentoring get together (for the last time, I wonder), then on Thursday I ate pizza at the Thayer council meeting in the afternoon and pizza again at a Google seminar in the evening. Today, the last working day of the week, I went to a seminar which was provided free lunch.

The engineering career fair was on Wednesday and as a result I got a lot of free t-shirts too during the last week. A total of four. I like the google one most. It says "I'm Feeling Lucky". I am sure I have described these things in sufficient detail.

I've been thinking about all this free stuff and wondering why they do it. I still believe "there is no free lunch". Maybe it helps the students do better, they have a sense of belonging to the college when they wear the college merchandise. Or may be these are all marketing gimmicks and nothing more.

Sunday, October 1, 2006


How many of us have dark sides which we don't want to share with anyone else? Is there something in our lives which we would like rather like to keep as an unknown secret?

The answer to these questions, at least for me is YES. But then don't start thinking I am going to reveal my dark side in this post. Rather, I would write about a friend who has this phobia of meeting old friends among other things. Let us call this guy A.

A is a very frank and straight forward guy. Not in-your-face types, but he still speaks his mind. Doesn't matter if most of the times people don't agree with him.

A had a 'best friend' when he was in junior college. 'Best' means totally langotiya yaar. But then, they lost touch in college, because they were in different colleges. One fine day, when A was waiting for a train on the platform, he spotted this other guy. You can't think of what he did. He left the platform in a jiffy and took two rickshaws to his home. Only because he did not want to even come across his best friend of yesteryears. I know all this from the little time I have spent with him.

On one another occasion he was crossing a road with his friend (another one) ahead of him. A saw a vehicle coming and he just stood there, did not shout out to his friend!!! "He wanted to see what happens" in an accident. Finally, his friend was alerted by someone else.

I am sure there will be many more similar incidents in A's life which I don't know of. But the point is, there are enough such incidents in my life too which are pretty dark. I admire A for his candour and straight-forwardness. May be this post was nothing. After all, I know myself, but then it is good to find someone whom you admire for something which you can't be.

Three cheers for A!!!