Appeal to my vanity – yes go on!

I would rather be a man. I know it is difficult to shave everyday, and all that, but it is easier buying a pair of trousers for men. Imagine: I go to the store and the only choice facing me is 3 colours. What’s the worst case scenario? I buy 3 pairs of trousers and come home. I don’t have to think about trousers for a long time. For some people, they also don’t have to think about height separately.

“What size Sir”
“32-32”

You don’t even need to remember 2 separate numbers. How cool is that?

Or I could be a child, just ask me how old I am and bingo! I swear I would not be offended if it saved me hours of agonizing over the right fit. For those who insist on not divulging their age, it could be arranged by decades, and you could go there and pick out your age.

“How old are you?”
“You know, I look like a 2T, but I am really 3 years old!” *Gush gush blush blush*

Honestly, I don’t know the deal with women’s sizes. By the time, I arrive in the approximate geographical location, after hours of meandering down “Woman”, “Petite Large”, “Misses Petite” and “Misses Pregnant, but not yet large”, I am ready to leave. But if I really must buy trousers, I dig up my perseverance and lumber on. Dockers, Lee, Gloria Vanderbilt, NY&C – every single brand appeals to my vanity in different ways. One says, I am size 2, another insists I am 0, another says 4 in the PM section(That’s petite medium!) As if, these brands were not making it hard enough, stores decide to chip in for their share too. One store had sizes 3,5,7 – maybe, the odd numbers came and cried in the Board of Governors meeting.

One place, I picked up size 1. Now unless, we have the changed the value-based system of counting, 1 is lower-end and 10 is higher end. So, for pants, one would assume that 1 uses less cloth when you look at circumference right? Wrong! This ‘1’ size was enough for the elephant in Oakland Zoo.

I would like to meet the marketing wizard who came up with the “psychology” that women would like to think themselves as slimmer, and the only way to do that was by confusing the trouser sizes?!

I gave up finally! The left leg doesn’t have a tear yet, so, I suppose I could wait before buying another pair, I tell myself. Then, I see one pair for an obscene price with a tear in both legs. That’s easy – I’ll just pick up a pair of scissors and try to recreate another symmetrical tear, and make do for another year or two!

Vazhga Tamizh!

The week-end was spent in California Tamil Academy. Sat was graduation day – completion of a school year. California Tamil Academy is an amazing organization – run entirely by volunteers, they teach Tamil to over 3000 children in Bay Area. I really like the setup and the dedication. It gives a sense of belonging in more ways than one. People felt at home – at times, they behaved just as badly as they would in a political rally in India without the lathi-armed police.

For example, the secretary was pleading, shouting, cajoling anything to get people to settle down so the ceremony could start to no avail. It was so disheartening to see people (most of them with professional careers no doubt!) standing around without the least bit of consideration for the Secretary’s increasingly hoarse voice. I wonder why we embarrass ourselves thus when we congregate.

Finally, the program started, and the children trooped on stage to receive their certificates. As usual, they first sent the pre-schoolers onto the stage. They got them to stand on stage, and there was a slight delay before the certificates were given. The children were left standing on stage looking around at the crowd! One of them sat down on the stage (Guilty as charged: that clown was my child!) I was visible in the audience wringing my hands with an upward swing movement (“You can’t sit like that on stage K!” I said to her multiple times after the ceremony quite horrified)

http://www.hashwinphotography.com/cta/index.php?album=cta-fremont-graudation-day-2009

Here is what she learnt to write though!

The day after, was the annual day program. It was a grand mela – a LARGE congregation of people belonging to a similar demographic (all Tamilians with one or more children studying Tamil). The day long program started with the preschoolers. We had to drop them off after taking them to the restroom!

The cuteness index to quality of the program was inversely proportional.

In the preschool lot, there was one who decided to admire the chain she was wearing in the middle of HER program (this time, thankfully, it wasn’t my daughter!), one of them wanted to talk to his friends on the stage and another decided to just run to his mother halfway through the performance!

As the day wore on, the children definitely performed better! All in all, I laud the academy’s efforts.

Vazhga Tamizh!

Vazhga Tamizh!

The week-end was spent in California Tamil Academy. Sat was graduation day – completion of a school year. California Tamil Academy is an amazing organization – run entirely by volunteers, they teach Tamil to over 3000 children in Bay Area. I really like the setup and the dedication. It gives a sense of belonging in more ways than one. People felt at home – at times, they behaved just as badly as they would in a political rally in India without the lathi-armed police.

For example, the secretary was pleading, shouting, cajoling anything to get people to settle down so the ceremony could start to no avail. It was so disheartening to see people (most of them with professional careers no doubt!) standing around without the least bit of consideration for the Secretary’s increasingly hoarse voice. I wonder why we embarrass ourselves thus when we congregate.

Finally, the program started, and the children trooped on stage to receive their certificates. As usual, they first sent the pre-schoolers onto the stage. They got them to stand on stage, and there was a slight delay before the certificates were given. The children were left standing on stage looking around at the crowd! One of them sat down on the stage (Guilty as charged: that clown was my child!) I was visible in the audience wringing my hands with an upward swing movement (“You can’t sit like that on stage K!” I said to her multiple times after the ceremony quite horrified)

http://www.hashwinphotography.com/cta/index.php?album=cta-fremont-graudation-day-2009

Here is what she learnt to write though!

The day after, was the annual day program. It was a grand mela – a LARGE congregation of people belonging to a similar demographic (all Tamilians with one or more children studying Tamil). The day long program started with the preschoolers. We had to drop them off after taking them to the restroom!

The cuteness index to quality of the program was inversely proportional.

In the preschool lot, there was one who decided to admire the chain she was wearing in the middle of HER program (this time, thankfully, it wasn’t my daughter!), one of them wanted to talk to his friends on the stage and another decided to just run to his mother halfway through the performance!

As the day wore on, the children definitely performed better! All in all, I laud the academy’s efforts.

Vazhga Tamizh!

The beauty of questioning

I spend a lot of time vacillating between an agnostic secular person and a religious person, who doesn’t believe 80% of what my religion has become over the ages. Suffice it to say that the days I spend in my former state far outnumber the days I spend in the latter.

Here is my problem: I like to believe in the power of hope and if belief is what brings hope, I am all for it. On the other hand, over the ages, I can categorically state that religion has done more damage to mankind than good. The moment religion ceases to be a personal experience, I can see it wreaking havoc.

I quite like the idea of finding yourself. Easily, that is the path taken by all the “founders” of religion – be it Buddha or the Sufi saints of Islam or the Bhagavad Gita. But how does one explain “finding oneself” to the masses? That is where the problem begins. So, the explanation became finding one’s moral conscience – still good. But a few centuries later, moral conscience evolves into a set of rules written by the elitist community of the religion. Slowly, the congregation becomes more of a unifying force, one to forge your identity with, than to use as a tool to better yourself.

At my wedding, the priest was a person who was my grandfather’s friend. My grandfather was a kind-hearted, generous, loving, able teacher, caring husband/father and he was a pious man. But somehow, whenever people described him, they put his piety ahead of his other virtues. This priest came to my wedding and said he would do all it takes in his power to make sure that great man’s grand-daughter lived a fantastic life, and put us through the most grueling wedding ceremony in recent times. I didn’t understand more than a few words of what was said – there was no need for me to elongate the proceedings by asking for clarifications in between on a hot day in front of the fire, with no food in my stomach. The ceremony lasted a good 9 hours of listening to things I didn’t understand. Everyone who came to congratulate me, said the priest was excellent, he hadn’t missed a single thing – who would understand how my intestines were reacting at the time? Which religion?

What I am trying to say is, some people are ritualistic by nature – to them, rituals become religion – this isn’t orthodoxy, this is just an interpretation of their own religion. It is also show-case worthy.

I have spent my growing years chanting some prayers that my mother taught me on the way to the school in the morning, as we ran for the train. That is all I know today, and probably that is all I will ever know – who knows? Every now and then, I think that just because I am part-agnostic, I should not deny the experience of a religion to my daughter. So, I take her to the local temple. She asks a million questions along the way as usual. We are in the temple, and she looks at the statues and asks – “If Ummachi (God) made everything and gave us everything, how come he isn’t even moving?”

I savoured the question – the beauty of questioning always delights me. I am sorry that when it comes to religion so few people still have the power of questioning left in them.

Only running…..

To everyone who heard the shocking news that my husband left me for a sleepover in a van, and how much my daughter misses her dad – here is the good news, my husband is back!

Really? I did not think he was going to do that? The family seemed pretty stable, don’t you think?

To all those potential rumour mills that started buzzing, luckily I was nearby to explain the reason behind the husband’s sudden disappearance! He ran a 200 mile relay for the India Literacy Project. He and his team spent the week-end in a van sleeping and eating off the road, while they passed the baton. Over 200 teams participated in the relay, and the mild drizzle was an added twist to the tale. (Regular readers would be pleased to know that now, I have 2 chaffing-proof raincoats added to all the other running condiments at home!)

Of course, all my daughter knew was that her father was missing for the whole week-end. He had gone for a sleep-over, and that too in a van! I had to quickly explain that he hadn’t joined the hippies out to explore lands unknown, but was really only running – PHEW!

The tired h. came back last night battered and tired and certainly in heavy need of a shower, but back he was! Meanwhile, the daughter filled him up with all the cool things the girls did this week-end.

I am getting the news of the relay itself in installments, since I wasn’t given much air-time with the father-daughter reunion and all. What I did get was some of the funny team names that participated.

Slow As Molasses (They beat the husband’s team by about 5 minutes)
Dude, Where’s My Van?
Smells Like Team Spirit
Heart And Soles
6 Degrees Of Perspiration 12 Women Of Inspiration
The Fast, The Slow, And The Pretty
Slower Than Turtles, Faster Than Dsl
Babes Are Back In Black
Google Leftovers [Google]
Who’s Watching The Kids? [Willow Glen Track Club]
Shut Up And Run [Kaiser Electronics]
Suns Of A Beach
Cheaper Than Therapy
Does This Van Make My Butt Look Big?
Just Watering Your Flowers, Ma’am
That Wasn’t A Mile
Y R We Runnin?Running Noses [Stanford University Otolaryngology]

There was a walking team christened “What’s the hurry?” (that was my favourite!)