Solemn Balderdash...

The irony of my life!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My chicago trip

The Windy City

Symphony practice at Millenium Park

An evening in Chicago

The 'Big John'
View from the John Hancock Tower

One of the gazellion Skyscrappers in Chicago

Thursday, May 04, 2006

By Reservations only!

Reading the news these days depresses me. People shooting their own family, so called crusaders beheading people for belonging to a different religion, communal violence, more deaths… But what has bothered me the most has been the issue of reservations. I always believed that I would go back to my country in a few years raise my kids there, send them to school there. But now I wonder. I have never been brought up in the shadows of caste or religion. Infact up until the time I was in my 11th grade where I had to fill out certain forms, I didn’t even know what my caste was. But now I wonder…How do you talk to kids about tolerance and equality on one hand and then tell them to forfeit what is rightfully theirs to someone completely undeserving on the other? I would like to ask the government. They seem to have an excellent plan to take care of the people who were supposedly minority since their ancestors had been treated wrongly 50 years ago. I ask them what about us. What is happening now is wrong. Does that mean our children and their children will receive concessions for what we and people after us are going through to receive a good education? And why the kid gloves? Why are the people from the reservation quotas being handed things that we are made to work our asses off for?? When did the definition of lower caste change to economically challenged? Or is it another definition for mentally challenged? And since when did 50% become a minority?

I don’t think the country would be in such a frenzy if seats were reserved for people who couldn’t afford to go to school and worked and went to night schools to complete their education. But when seats are given to people who score a meager 60% to the normally 99% cutoff, it is pathetic. Especially when you know 50% of those seats will be vacant in the second year and no one will look at the futility or the lost opportunity to some brilliant student who scored 98.9% and who would have made a brilliant surgeon someday but couldn’t get into medical school because his grandfather wasn’t victimized by a Brahmin!

In a country where an entire identity can be changed if you can feed the right people a little money what it a little SC/ST certificate? Not only is this issue grossly unfair (not to mention a complete political move) it is also an invitation for more corruption. Maybe ranting won't help(Signing a petition against this fiasco definitely didn't!) But somehow there is still a little hope that maybe if there are enough voices this won't go through and the future of the country will be spared!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!

this thing is a mind reader!!!!!!!!!!1

You Are Boston

Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.
Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.
And quite frankly, you think you are the best.

Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block

what kind of writer should i be???

Atlast a star is born!! watchout bollywood...AND hollowood! here I come!!!!

You Should Be a Film Writer

You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Excerpts from my life

I had the funniest conversation with my mother last night. I should tell you my mother gets cooler with every passing year.She was quite a disciplinerian as i was growing up. But now she is one character! Funny thing is she asks me for advice!! ME!! I think that’s quite insane. Anyways, I called her last night and she very coolly informed me she was quitting her job. One she had had for the past 24 years. That’s older than I am!! I wasn’t surprised cause she has been saying this for the past 4 years. She just doesn’t get around to doing it though. I guess she is afraid of boredom. But anyways, heres how our conversation went.

Ma: I am quitting my job. I don’t like it and I don’t want to do it anymore. Its too nerve- wracking and I think I have had enough.
Me: hmmmm
Ma: Yes I have made up my mind. I want some free time in my life. Don’t want so much
Me: Good
Ma: What do you think??
Me: If you don’t want to do it you shouldn’t do it.
Ma: That is exactly what your dad said. Exact same words infact. Have you been talking to him. Did you guys decide on what you were going to say to me??
Me: (Sigh) Ok mommy. I think its time I told you this. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way and I am only telling you this cause I love you. You are a smart intelligent woman and its time you started making your decisions on your own. Daddy and I are not going to be around forever you know! You have to decide what you want to do and do it! Even if we don’t agree!! As long as you think and believe its right.
Ma: So you are saying I should trust my instincts?
Me: Yes. Exactly
Ma: But what if I am wrong? What if I don’t know what’s good for me? What if I screw everything up? You have got to help me. I am not ready for this!!!
Me: SNEHA NAGESH SHANBHAG!!! I will not have you telling me you are not capable of being independent!! I did not stick with you and love you for 22 years to hear you say this!
Ma: (after a pause) You are right. I will be independent. I will live my life completely. You are right! Ofcourse you are right!!
Me: ya I know that.

(In the back ground) Dad: can I have some tea? I really need to get to work soon.

Ma: (yells) Go make your own tea!!! I am an independent woman from now on!!
Me: (to myself) What have I done! I have created a monster!!!

So if you thought I was a kook now you know why!!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

story...or something like it!!

So if you think I have been lazy since I have not updated my blog in a longggg time, well think again! I was trying something different. I decided to write a story (APPLAUSE!!!!) But its too long to be called a short story. So call it whatever you want. Here goes:

She stared out of her window gazing at the magnificent New York Skyline. Thirty years. She was almost through with half her life and what did she have to show for it? Well a lot if you look at objectively, her practical self told her: a well-paying job, a good six figure salary, respect that came with her position, a huge office by NY standards with an excellent view, a nice condo in Manhattan, lots of friends. True, she told herself, linking her hands together and resting her chin on them. She had a great job and was making more money than she needed. But once when she thought of it as her career, today it had just become a job. And the skyline that seemed amazing the first 500 times that she had looked out of the window was now just there. What was she going to do with her salary when she had absolutely no time to spend it? And friends…yes lots of them and almost every one of them married with kids, or engaged or seriously dating. What had happened to her plans? She had been a planner all her life. After getting her masters at 23, she wanted to work for a couple of years and lay a strong foundation for her career. She was quite sure she would meet someone special by then and then get married at the age of 26, have her first kid at 28 and the next at 30. A husband, 2 children, one boy and one girl actually, and one dog: a retriever. They would be one happy family. That was going to be her life. When had she taken a detour from her planned life?

May 25th 1999, that’s when. A knock sounded on her door shaking her out of her reverie. Ray, the janitor peeped in. A man in his late 50s, sometimes, she thought Ray was her only friend. After all, she saw him more than most of her other colleagues since she worked such odd hours.

‘You still here? Its 9 o’clock.’

‘I was just packing up. I am almost done’

‘Lots of flowers you got there. Any special occasion?’

She looked up from packing and gave a wry smile. ‘No’, she replied ‘Just my birthday’

‘And you are still here? What’s wrong with you girl? Go out there and have some fun. Get drunk. Give yourself a break. Its Friday night after all’

‘I cant. I have to finish up a report…’

‘You don’t have to give me excuses’, he said carefully scrutinizing her. ‘Why don’t you treat yourself and take the weekend off? You look like you have some on your mind’

Since this was not the first time Ray had been on target about her, she wasn’t startled at how accurate he was. She did have lots on her mind and if she was lucky all she needed would be a break. If not…well she would figure it out later.

She nodded her head at Ray, ‘Maybe I will. Thanks Ray and goodnight. See you on Monday.’ She said, picking her bag.

‘And Ms. Pai?’

She turned around and raised her eyebrow

‘Happy birthday’ Ray said

She smiled. ‘Thank you Ray’

Today for a change she decided to walk home. The first time she had been to NY, she had been overwhelmed by all the people and the rush. She had felt alive here. She had been 18 then. Surprisingly ever since she had moved to NY, she had never taken the time to actually walk around the city she loved so much. ‘Well, today is your lucky day’, she told herself.

As she started towards her apartment on 56th St., she began to relax. She still loved this place. She really should get out of her office more, she thought. Just as she was weaving her way through a hoard of teenagers, she spotted it. The Temple Bar. It had been ages since she had been here. Although, it was dimly lit and looked like a place better suited for clandestine meetings, it probably had the best drinks in the city. She wondered if it still had those sinful margaritas. Maybe I should go in and check out, she thought. After all, it does seem like a day for firsts!

It took her a minute to get accustomed to the darkness as she entered. As she made her way to the table, she wondered if this was such a good idea. Relax, she chided herself, and enjoy. She sat at the bar and ordered a margarita. Mmmmmmmmmm, she thought, still the same.

‘Long day, huh?’ She jumped at the sound that seemed to come from nowhere.

She turned to her left to look at this…figure. Well that was the best she could describe him. It was obviously a man. She could tell that from his voice.

‘Well ya, you could say that’ she answered not quite certain how to react.

‘Not one of those workaholics are you?’ he asked, with a smile in his voice.

She didn’t know why exactly she relaxed, but somehow, very surprisingly, she let her guard down.

‘Guilty’ she said smiling herself.

‘I don’t suppose I should blame you. Its this city. Its so bloody cold. You might as well stay in and work.’

‘Cold? What are you talking about? Its fall. Its amazing weather! I take it you are not from around here?’

‘Nope. California. That is what ‘amazing weather’ would be. Ever been there?’

‘Yes, once. A long time back.’ She said, looking into her glass.

‘Doesn’t sound like you had a lot of fun.’

‘Well, it wasn’t a pleasure trip. Besides, I am a typical New York City girl. My kind gets extremely confused if we don’t see crowded streets and skyscrapers.’ He just laughed.

‘So are you here on business?’ She wasn’t sure if that was too personal, but she didn’t know what else to say.

‘Personal business. I was hoping to meet someone.’

‘And did you?’

He took a second to answer. ‘I did.’ He said finally. ‘But it didn’t go the way I expected it to.’ She was now a little confused and very intrigued. There was something about this guy. She couldn’t put a finger on it. But somehow, he seemed very familiar.

‘Would you like another drink?’ He asked looking at her almost empty glass.

‘No’ she said, shaking her head. ‘I usually don’t drink.’

‘At all?’ He asked surprised as he signaled the bartender to refill his glass.

‘This is my first drink in 8 years.’

‘Why?’ he asked.

She was surprised that actually had the urge to tell him. A stranger whose name she didn’t know.

‘DO you really want to know?’ she asked turning towards him.


‘Ok. I had a heart transplant 8 years ago. For the following year I was on medication and was asked not to drink. I still need to take some medication once in a while. So I try to stay away from alcohol.’ She said shrugging her shoulders making it sound very casual. But in fact she was holding her breath to see what his reaction would be. Till date most people thought her different, because of her transplant. They either looked at her like she was a freak or like a fragile doll who might break if they as much as touched her.

He nodded his head. ‘That makes sense. What went wrong with your heart?’

She was surprised because he sounded like he was genuinely interested.

‘It just failed one day. It was my final semester in grad school. I was excited about finishing up. I had big plans for the future. They had offered me a job at J P Morgan. And there was Jay. I had met known him for 3 years and we wanted to get married. Life had never looked better. And then one day just before my finals, I had this horrible feeling like someone was choking me and I just fainted. Everyone thought it was stress and didn’t worry too much about it. But when they took me to the hospital I knew something was wrong. They put me through a series of tests. And finally they said that it was a condition called Cardiomyopathy. My heart muscle was getting weak and would continue getting weaker. There was only one way to keep me alive. A heart transplant. But the doctor warned me it could take months to find a matching donor. They didn’t know if I would make it. I couldn’t think. For days I was like a zombie. Why was this happening to me? I thought. I had been healthy all my life. There had been no clue that this would ever happen to me. I couldn’t tell any of my friends. Everyone was excited about their graduation, their future, all the vacations they had planned! Then, my uncle called from San Francisco. He is a surgeon there. He said he had friends who were cardiologists. He would make sure I received the proper treatment and I would be ok. So I went and I told my friends I was going to California for a holiday. Once I was in California my condition deteriorated and they had absolutely no luck finding a donor. I had lost all hope and then one day a miracle happened. The doctor called saying they had found one and within 48 hours, I had a new heart. May 25th 1999, I received a new life.’

He was silent for a while. Then he asked ‘What happened to Jay?’

‘I don’t know. I didn’t get a chance to tell him about the diagnosis. He was going to meet his brother in Las Vegas and then take a road trip from there. I tried very hard to get in touch with him. But I guess he was on the road and I couldn’t reach him. Then after my operation, I came back and I thought I would see him here. But he never came back. I waited for a long time but I never heard from him. I had never met his brother, so I couldn’t contact him and none of his friends seemed to know where he was. Maybe he found something better from life.’ She hadn’t thought of Jay in 8 years now because she promised herself that if he could forget about her in a matter of months, she was not going to waste her life- her new life crying over him. He had obviously been a liar and a coward. But it still hurt. She had loved him. She had wanted to have a family with him, to share her life with him and he hadn’t even had the courtesy to break up with her.

They both were silent for a few minutes before he asked, ‘Did you ever find who the donor was?’

She was a little surprised by the question. ‘No she said. I didn’t want to know.’

‘Hmmm. So you still work at J P Morgan?’

‘No they couldn’t wait a year till I completely recovered. But I work for Ernst & Young. So I guess it all worked out.’

‘Did it? Are you happy with your life then?’ he asked scrutinizing her carefully. She suddenly felt very awkward. She felt like he could see right through her even in the darkness. She looked away. ‘Yes, she said. I have a good job and friends. Ofcourse I am happy.’

‘You have been given a second chance. I hope you realize that. Not everyone is that lucky.’

Before she could say anything, he got up from his chair and looked at her. ‘Its quite late. I should get going. Do you want me to call you a cab?’

‘I think I will walk a little bit. I don’t stay very far away.’ She said putting on her jacket.

He walked her out of the door. She turned to thank him and for the first time that night, she actually got to see his face. He was tall and very good looking. Dark hair, sharp brown eyes, a stubborn chin. And very familiar. When he raised his eyebrow, she realized she was staring.

‘I am sorry’ she said, flustered. ’You just looked a little familiar. I didn’t mean to stare. Sorry.’

‘That’s alright. Well good night. It was really nice to meet you Maya.’ He said extending his hand for a shake.

‘It was nice to…’ she stopped. She was sure she hadn’t told him her name. Suddenly she was scared. Was he a stalker? A psycho?

‘How do you know my name?’ she asked knowing that the panic showed in her voice.

‘Jay didn’t desert you Maya. He was very excited about your life together too. He couldn’t stop talking about you.’

Before she could ask him what the hell he meant, he raised his hand as if asking her to stop and started to explain.

‘After his graduation we had decided to meet in Las Vegas. We decided to go then take a short road trip to Seattle where I am based. Las Vegas was a lot of fun. Well you know Jay. Anywhere with him is fun. I could never believe how close we were inspite of our 5 year age difference you know. Anyways, we had covered most of Southern California and were headed towards San Jose. Jay was driving and I had fallen asleep in the back of the car. The passenger seat was too congested for me you see. Everything was going fine and then suddenly before we could even blink this drunk guy on the other side of the road lost control of his car and rammed his car straight into us. I got away with a few bruises. But Jay didn’t get away that easily. He was seriously hurt. I couldn’t get him out of the car because he was stuck. The ambulance took what seemed like eons to get there. Jay must have known he was not going to make it. He told me he loved you. And he would continue loving you no matter what. He wanted me to tell you he was sorry.’

Maya couldn’t speak. She couldn’t even breathe. She couldn’t believe her Jay was dead. She could have tolerated the fact that he had left her and was happy with someone else, but that he was no longer in this world! How could that happen?

‘Don’t you want to know when this happened?’ She looked up sharply. Her heart was thudding.

‘When?’ She whispered.

‘May 25th ,1999.’

That’s when the tears started. One by one. She didn’t even know she stood there crying. She was so numb from the shock.

‘You got his heart Maya. You got a second chance at life. My brother wasn’t that lucky. I guess this is how you are meant to share your life with him. Give it a fair chance Maya. Be happy. For Jay.’

He hugged her then. For a long moment. And without a word turned around and started walking away. As she watched him go, somewhere in a distance a clock struck midnight. This wasn’t the end, she thought. It was the beginning. Perhaps of her life…

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Here's looking at you,kid

A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by

Yes, I saw Casablanca again…for the 15th time I think! And for the 15th time, I was overwhelmed. It is one movie that just gets better with time. The superior wit, a very simple and unpretentious script and Humphrey Bogart’s unique style. Surprisingly, its one story of unrequited love that does not make me sad. Maybe because it’s not just a love story. As Rick puts it to Ilsa, "I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that."
Maybe it is the ‘beautiful friendship’ between Capt. Renault and Rick.

Capt. Renault: Rick, there are many exit visas sold in this café, but we know that you've never sold one. That is the reason we permit you to remain open.
Rick: Oh? I thought it was because I let you win at roulette.
Capt. Renault: That is another reason.

Or perhaps, its the setting. In the midst of war and brutality, when you think people had forgotten the meaning to humanity, it shows you the sentimentalistic streak in a seemingly dispassionate man.
Whatever it is, it is a wonderful movie. A classic. Too bad they don't make movies like that anymore!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Glimpses of India


Sunrise in Gangtok

The Frozen Changu Lake-Sikkim


The Kanchanjunga Range

P.S.: I wonder why people look for a chance to run to Switzerland etc. when there is so much beauty in India!

India trip

It has been 2 weeks and 4 days since I came back from India and the only reason I have procrastinated writing a blog for so long is I guess because I was afraid that once I began writing, it would all come back to me. How much fun I had…how wonderful it was to be with my family…to hug my mom at night before I went to bed…to wake up to the smell of breakfast cooking and to revel in the fact that I not only DIDN’T have to cook, but also that I DIDN’T have to do the dishes after…to make plans every single day to go shopping without worrying that it might burn a giant hole in my pocket…to hog without a thought at every single place I had dreamed of for the past 10 just finally be home.
To say that my India trip was special is an understatement. I tried to live the next 2 years of my life in that one month, because I was quite sure that it would atleast be that long before I went back again. Somehow, it was worse leaving home this second time. Like I told my mom, atleast the first time there was that excitement about the unknown life in the US of A. Now I even knew what was awaiting me when I got back and it sometimes did not seem like a good enough reason to leave. I am not trying to say I hate it here. I don’t. I love the work and my friends. But I am very selfish and want everything. And most of my everything includes my family.
Anyways, leaving the melancholy behind let me tell you a little about my trip. It was WONDERFUL!!! Despite the severe gastritis that I was diagnosed with within a couple of days of reaching there, I had a lot of fun. Of course, I chose to ignore the doctor’s orders to not eat outside food! I think the best thing however was the trip I took with my family to Sikkim and Darjeeling. My family is very enthusiastic and we even went river rafting. It was soo cool!
But time passes so quickly when you are having fun! 30 days were gone in a flash!
So now I am back. To the place where there’s no pollution, no sucky roads (well, that’s not actually true...I DO live in Mass) no crowded streets, no honking, no trash on the roads…Man, life sucks!