Monday, October 30, 2006


It's that time of the year again - Halloween :-)! Again, we have a pumpkin-carving contest at my company. Again, I am ultra-tired today - you will understand why when I tell you that my day started at morning 1.00am PST today (early morning flight and all - which, by the way, reminds me - be prepared to be bugged by posts about Chicago soon :-P) and has still not ended at 10.20pm PST :-(.

However, keeping up with my self-awarded Most Enthusiastic Pumpkin Carver of the Year title, I decided to try my hand at it again and bought a pumpkin on the way home. So far, so good! Then came home and rummaged through the shelf where I was pretty sure I had put the carving book and carving tools last year. And rummaged, and rummaged. Zip, zilch, nada - no tools or book :-(! Oh no.

Fifteen more minutes of hunting various locations finally yielded the tools. Yaaay :-D! One down, one to go. Then I proceeded to turn my house upside down in my effort to locate the book. But no luck :-(! I officially gave up thirty minutes later. The book had apparently vaporized on its own (though I have sickening confidence that within a week that book will laugh at my face when I am looking for something else).

Now what? I was almost ready togive up and just go to bed when my mom came online. Immediately, I started whining about my idiotic missing carving-pattern book. She then told me that I should draw my own stencil instead and use it. Hehehehehehe - my drawing skills are so excellent that they haven't seen any recognition since third grade!

Anyways, I finally got persuaded and came up with my own ultra simple stencil involving mostly straight lines.

Can you guess what my pumpkin is carved as?

Does this help?
Again, pumpkin-carving is fun :-D! And writing a post about it is fun too :-D!

In case you are still wondering, answer for the guess is here - my pumpkin guy's ears are pulled all the way back - so you can't see it :-P!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Till the time I was in India, I had always considered myself as very warm-blooded. As in, I never used to feel cold easily. My dad is like this and I guessed that I must have taken after him. Dad and me used to watch with smug faces while mum and sis piled on layer after layer of clothing in cold places. These opportunities for piling on clothes, however, were few and far in between. For most of my life before the US, we stayed in places where the weather was considered "cold" was when the temperature fell to around 22 degrees Celsius ( 72 degreees Farenheit). The only exceptions were when we lived Pune (which I don't remember due to being a baby then) and Calcutta (my visit to Darjeeling marks the first time my teeth chattered on their own due to the cold temparature).

Still, when it came to choosing colleges in the US for grad school, I tried to avoid will-snow-in-winter places as much as possible. Davis seemed like a good choice - after all California is supposed to ahve awesome weather, right? I landed here in the second week of September, 2001 - just the beginning of Fall season.

The very first night of stay in Davis, I needed a comforter to cover myself in order to keep warm. The next day, I wore a sweater to school. Yes, a sweater in September, when the sun was shining pretty merrily. I just couldn't stop feeling cold! As you can imagine, as the days went by, it only got worse. Where on earth had all my previous tolerance for cold disappeared to?

In the end of October 2001, another first in my life happened. I could not sleep due to the cold. For some reason, the heater in the apartment was not working for a few days and by sheer bad luck, those few days turned out to be unseasonally cold. To keep warm, when I went to bed, I wore two sweaters, two pants, socks, muffler, woollen cap, gloves and covered myself with a thick blanket and a comforter. I still shivered. That was when it hit me, I had been living under a major delusion all my life. My tolerance for cold temperatures had obviously never existed. I had no business saying I was very warm-blooded if couldnt stop shivering under multiple layers in snowless Davis.

At the end of my first quarter in Davis I went to Mt. Shasta with a bunch of friends. That was a very memorable trip - I touched snow for the first time in my life :-). I fell in love with the snow at first sight and had a slight twinge of regret that I had not chosen to study in a place which had more easy access to snow. That is, until I realized that snow made me feet feel damp *always*, made me feel cold *always* and made me feel like an astronaut with all the layers I wore *always*. I was one happy ducky when we bid adieu to the snow and returned to Davis.

Of my subsequent encounters with snow, the one in Yellowstone National Park was the worst. We camped in the snow (brilliant me was the great soul who had been the staunchest proponent of the camping idea) in sleeping bags and tents not equipped for cold weather. Needless to say, in a couple of hours, all of us had shifted from the tent to the mini-van and turned on the heater in an effort to not freeze and die.

With all these experiences under my belt, I try to stay away from really cold weather as much as I can. Northerners and Mid-westerners can call me wimpy but California is plenty cold enough for me, thank you!

Which is why, I am still wondering how on earth I booked tickets to visit my friend V in Chicago in the end of October. My brain which sometimes comes up with stunning pieces of logic had apparently reasoned that since it was fine weather when I booked tickets a month ago, it still should be fine when I actually travelled - smart!

Anyways, the net result is, I am heading out to Chicago this weekend. I am very excited about meeting V after ages. I will also get to meet his wife M finally :-). As an added bonus, M is apparently a great cook (yaaay :-D). On the flip side, even V, who has very good cold tolerance has warned me about the current cold spell in Chicago :-(!

I have dug out my thickest clothes and have packed multipe layers of everything. So, in the news, if you hear about a person closely resembling an Eskimo being spotted in the Chicago region, it is probably me. If you hear about someone who froze into an ice statue in Chicago, that is also probably me.

Adios for now! I shall give you cold weather survival tips when I get back to more human-habitable regions (i.e. bay area).

That picture shows the snow in the Bay Area mountains which I could see on my way to work at the beginning of this year. This extremely rare occurence of snow in this region was sufficiently far away from me - so I thoroughly enjoyed looking at it every morning while it lasted :-))!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Jaan-e-mann - the review

Note: Like most of my movie "reviews", this one too has plenty of spoilers.

All the reviews I read for the remake of the movie Don had panned it. This was not at all a surprise to me - the promos had looked pretty silly. The reviews only reconfirmed my original opinion and I had zero intention of catching the movie in the theatre. Then, surprise, surprise, another Diwali release, Jaan-e-mann (JEM), a movie which I had not even considered as theatre-watchable, had gotten decent reviews on most web-sites. So I thought, why not go for it.

I persuaded a friend to go with me and we went to the theatre - there was a much bigger crowd for Don than for JEM - but then, Shah Rukh Khan movies always manages to pull in big crowds anyway - so I was not not disheartened. Still, I had pretty low expectations from JEM.
The movie began. Within ten minutes, I was panicking - what the heck had I gotten myself into? Because, in that short while, we had been treated to a space ship (yes, in reality, not a dream sequence), a filmfare awards ceremony and a dwarfish Anupam Kher trying really hard to be funny but failing miserably. At that point, I arranged a suitably apologetic expression on my face for the benefit of my friend and mentally cursed all those conscience-less reviewers who give such glowing reviews for undeserving movies.

The story is like this - Salman Khan is divorced from his wife Preity Zinta and is unable to pay the alimony. So his uncle Anupam Kher comes up with the brilliant idea that they should get Preity married to someone else so that Salman is freed of his obligations. Enter Akshay Kumar, who used to have a big crush on Preity during his geeky college days (all three had studied in the same college). Salman and Anupam convince Akshay that he should try to woo Preity and Akshay agrees.

So Salman and Akshay fly to New York (what is it with New York and desi movies these days?), where Preity lives . Salman stays in the background and teaches the socially inept Akshay tricks to patofy Preity. And Preity slowly begins to fall for Akshay.

All of a sudden, a baby is introduced into the picture - really, if a baby can conveniently disappear when you want to chill out after coming back from work, or want to party or go shopping or do any of the other things people without babies easily do, I am sure people would be a lot less scared of having kids. Anyways, the baby is apparently Salman and Preity's baby from their broken marriage. BTW, the baby is totally adorable and a complete scene-stealer.

Then comes the twist - surprise, surprise - Salman realizes he loves both Preity and the baby after all. Just when he decides to come clean to Akshay, Preity and Akshay get engaged after a completely irritating mandatory-for-Hindi-movies marriage-type song. So Salman decides to play martyr and leave the scene.

Then, before the wedding, Akshay discovers that the spat leading to the divorce between Salman and Preity was actually engineered by Preity's brother who did not like Salman. So Akshay decides to play martyr now (yeah, martyrdom is done on a time-sharing basis in Bollywood) and brings Salman and Preity back together. And they both (Salman and Preity) live happily everafter (along with the disappearing baby).

What about Akshay? Why, he gets together with a Russian astronaut who is a Preity lookalike and is called Preity Zintaveska!!!! And they (Akshay and Russian astronaut) live happily ever after too! The end.

I still can't pinpoint what exactly was really bad about the movie. After all, the three main characters are major eye-candies. The New York locales were very pleasing to the eye (really, NYC up and close is so dirty - but these movies make it look so drool-worthy!). A couple of scenes evoked genuine laughter.

However, to counter all that, given the latest trend of movie directors wanting to enter their movies in the longer-than-the-Mahabharatha contest, this movie goes on forever. For a story which is so cliched, that is waaay too long. The movie is also so goofy and senseless in some places that you need to do frequent reality checks to make sure that you haven't lost all your nuts! Add to it a bunch of discontinuous scenes and you have got a recipe for a headache.

Most importantly, at no point in the movie are you particularly interested in knowing what happens next - any person who has seen Bollywood movies can tell you that. How many of you really thought Akshay would get Preity in the end?

This is a movie which you could watch at home when you have absolutely no other DVD or book. It definitely is not a movie on which you would want to spend $8.50 to watch on Diwali night. I learnt that too late :-(!

p.s. If anyone has the house addresses of the Rediff reviewers who gave Jaan-e-man good reviews, please to let me know. I have surprise "gifts" for them.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Festival Time!

Happy Deepavali, Folks!

Yup, this is my own effort at rendering a lamp in MS-Paint. It already looked juvenile enough, so decided to not add the "glow" around the flame (which made it look like the flame was shedding fur :-().

Do eat lots of sweets and wear new clothes! I am already doing the former thanks to my wonderful parents who sent me sweets :-D. I am definitely going to try to do the latter too. People in India will have the additional joy of bursting fire crackers. And yes, don't forget to light lamps!

Wishing you all a colorful, sparkling and joyous Deepavali :-D!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cup of Joe

Did you see the Dilbert comic-strip today?

It's pretty funny :-)! I think I should also get one of those coffee backpacks. One cup of coffee no longer seems to have any effect on me keeping awake in the afternoons at the work!

I don't even remember exactly when I learnt to drink strong coffee. When I was small, like all kids, me and my sis had to drink two (sometimes three) glasses of milk a day. No coffee or tea though - only Horlicks, Boost, Bournvita and the like. Coffee/tea were apparently not good for health. My sister had no issues with this - she simply detested coffee and tea and was quite content with the other beverage mixes - or at least as content as you can be when being forced to drink a tall glass of milk. Me, on the other hand, always had a strange attraction towards the smell of coffee.

So usually, mostly on weekends, my mom used to add a couple of drops of coffee to my milk with sugar. It gave a coffee-ish smell to the milk and I simply loved it! I still can remember me sitting, knees pulled up to my chest on a high stool (yeah, those were the days when I could comfortably fit into such a small area) in a corner of the room as I drank it. I don't know why clambering onto the stool was important but it was a ritual for me!

Then, as I grew older, I started discovering the joys of tea. I still could tolerate only a very, very milky version of coffee. But tea - ah, that was something else! My dad is a tea lover too. During the weekends, mid-morning, dad would ask for a cup of chai. While giving dad his cup, mom would give me about two gulps of the tea in a tumbler. Dad and me would then drink our respective teas. Bliss!

As I grew older, my love for tea grew along with me. I still had to drink milk everyday but I could drink tea in the evenings. Tea was the first "dish" I learnt to make by myself. Given my addiction, it was easier to make tea myself than keep bugging mom for tea! However, during the "important" board-exam years, mom would make it for me if she found me studying late at night. But then, at some point, I was downing so many glasses of tea a day that my stomach started to hurt. Thus came the end of the endless-cups-of-tea era. Sigh!

Then, it was onto college. There, in the hostel, in the mornings, we used to get milk. Initially, I used to buy Horlicks, Boost or Bournvita to add to the milk and drink. But I noticed that the contents of the bottles got over pretty quick as every visitor to the room happily helped themselves to it. Really, the Horlicks "kudikka vendaam, appadiyey chaapuduvein" (no need to drink, I will eat it just like that) slogan never had better proof :-)!

In case you have never been in a typical hostel, hostel milk looks like white-colored water and is impossible to drink without some masking agent. Clearly, I needed something else to mix with the milk.

So, I decided to switch over to the instant coffee powder that was provided by the hostel mess. I realized that more coffee powder made me feel more awake (ah, caffeine) and the strength of my coffees started increasing! I guess undergrad was where I learnt to drink the non-milky version of coffee. I was surprised at myself - I was actually enjoying drinking something which I always used to claim was too bitter!

That was until I came to the US. For the first time in my life, I drank black coffee. Basically my lab had run out of sugar and creamer and I was desperate for something warm to keep me awake through the night. Black coffee served the purpose well though rather bitterly.

However, as compensation, my apartment had a tea-loving roommate. So we used to take turns making tea every morning and evening (if we were home). And then another cool thing happened. We got J as our roommate. If I thought I was a tea-addict, J must have probably been having tea running through her veins! She loved to not only drink tea but also to MAKE tea! I tell you, its bliss when you can look up from the book you are reading and tell "J, lets have chai" and have a steaming mug of tea placed in your hand soon afterwards :-)!

But soon, it was time to get to the real world and work. For the first one year of my work-life, for some reason, I never drank coffee at work. It was just tea. I remember my colleague saying "Oh, you don't drink coffee? Then probably you don't smoke or drink either." - LOL :-)!

Then at some point, I can't remember why, I started drinking coffee at work in the mornings. And then added a cup in the afternoons too! Sigh! Nowadays, I proactively make fresh coffee to drink if I can't find some! Naturally, now I am finding that the normal dosage is not enough to keep me awake (even if it is mostly psychological for me anyways).

That's why I am starting to hunt for one of those coffee back-packs!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Progress Report

First, my plants! This is how my pots looked this morning. As you can see, each of the plants has new flowers. I am one proud gardener :-D!
Second. I had written in an earlier post as to how shy I was with people I don't know well. I had also added that I was trying to work on improving myself in that aspect. Well, this evening, I went for a barbeque where I knew no one but the host. And guess what, I actually had fun with the nine other invitees too :-)! Of course, that the rest of the people were super nice to me played a big role in this but I am claiming some credit too (hey, I went) :-)!

Third. Tomorrow is a working Monday and I am not sulking that much. This is a temporary phenomenon and will probably not be repeated for several more months. Nevertheless, I am marking it up on this week's progress!

Fourth. I could not come up with any blog topics but wanted to pay attention to my blog. So came up with this pointless post. The pointlessness of my pointless posts is rapidly progressing by the post! It is not a good thing I know. But regression is still progress in a different direction!

And finally, the post is concluded. All of you who read till the end just added one more golden brick to your golden house in heaven :-P! Good night, folks!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cursive writer

This evening, just before calling it a day and heading home, me and one of my colleagues, N, started comparing our handwritings (don't even ask how we managed to land up there from a very work-related discussion). I joined my letters in a cursive hand while N used a combination of cursive and discrete letters.

N glanced at my writing and exclaimed, "Oh, that's so pretty!". Even though I know that my handwriting is just about average when compared to some very beautiful handwritings I have seen, I couldn't help but feel good.

For most of my school life, I studied in Chennai and Calcutta. The schools there were big and had lots of students. Thus, as long as the students were able to string words together correctly and put them on paper, the teachers did not really care too much about how pretty those words looked. So, other than occasionally admiring a friend or classmate's nice handwriting, I never gave much thought to how mine looked. The only concession I remember making in deference to "nice" handwriting was to use an ink pen as I noticed that it made my writing look better than when I wrote with a ball-point pen.

Then, in ninth standard, my dad got transferred to K which was not a city but rather a town. The convent school I joined was fairly new and my class had only 22 students. Ours would only be the second batch to write the tenth standard board exams from that school. The teachers were determined that everyone should do well. Hence each of us got individual attention.

One fine day, one of the teachers, Sister P, called me and told that while the teachers thought that the contents of my test papers were quite okay, they thought that my handwriting was quite bad. They were worried that my board-exam marks would suffer as a result. In short, she was politely telling that my handwriting looked like "kozhi-kirukkal" (kozhi-kirukkal refers to handwriting that looks as though a hen had dipped its feet into a pot of ink and then run across the paper - kozhi=hen, kirukkal=scribbles). What!?! No one had had any objections as to how I wrote for the first ten years of my school life - how on earth did it matter now!?!

Apparently, it mattered a lot. For, the next day, Sister P wanted me to go to the school bookstore to buy a four-ruled notebook. For those of you who don't know what a four-ruled notebook is: it is a notebook in which each page has sets of four lines grouped together. Kindergardeners use such notebooks to practise cursive handwriting. Sister P wanted me to practise cursive writing everyday in such a notebook.

I have never felt more embarassed and tried to talk my way out of it. But Sister P was determined. That evening, after school, Sister P wrote down the English alphabets for me in the notebook. I was supposed to copy them exactly many times. The irony of it all :-(! I don't remember doing such homework in kindergarden - I used to spend so much time playing then that mom had to literally hold my hand and scribble down my homework for me. And now God was having a very good laugh :-(!

Anyways, a couple of weeks later, I had graduated to a two-ruled notebook. And some more weeks later to a single rule notebook. At that point, the Sisters decided that my handwriting had reached passable - barely so, but it was okay. I was happy to finally get rid of the source of lots of leg-pulling at school. And even though I did not notice anything different myself, I decided that if the nuns said so, my handwriting must be looking better now (most of the nuns had such lovely handwritings - even their writings on the blackboard looked like calligraphy).

So board exams came and went. I scored pretty decently - I really could not say how my new and improved handwriting had contributed to it. But the nuns at my school felt good about making me give my best shot and I was guilt-free at not messing up (literally).

I thought that was that. But then something which had never happened to me before started happening: I started getting compliments about my handwriting. Not often or anything but regularly enough. Wow :-)! So my efforts did come with extra benefits!

Practise does lead to being at least decently okay at the practised thing, even if you were not born with it! N's compliment reminded me of this yet again :-)!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sepia toned nostalgia

Two days ago, my parents sent me something which I have been trying to get hold of for a long (five years to be precise) time and had lost hope of ever getting. They sent me a collection of emails I had sent to them soon after landing in the USA for the first time to do my Master's.

At that time (2001), our family e-groups had not yet been created and the stingy mailbox quota set by the free email providers meant that emails could not be archived in the email account itself. I reluctantly deleted the emails I had received whenever the mail quota got exceeded.

However, my parents had saved quite a few of my emails from that time onto files before deleting them from their email accounts. But, of the emails I sent immediately after reaching the USA, there was no sign. I had wanted to see what my views had been back then. Oh well, you keep some, you lose some!

Then, a couple of days ago, when cleaning out old floppies, my dad stumbled upon those emails from me which they had saved. So they immediately sent them to me. Yaaaay :-D!

With great eagerness, I began to go through them. And immediately one thing struck me. My emails were littered with words like wud instead of 'would', mite instead of 'might', i instead of 'I' wat instead of 'what' etc. These mispellings kind of grate on my nerves these days and I wonder how I managed to use them so ardently back them. I absolutely do not remember myself being such a big proponent of these supposedly "cool" words!

Then the next thing struck me. In the emails sent in the first few months, every single email contained a reference to how much I missed home or how scared I was or how lonely I felt or how I was trying my best to cope up.

Really? Of course I remember being lonely and scared initially but certainly not to this extent! Without those emails, all I remembered now from those days were the facts that I had made new friends quickly enough and that my seniors had included me in all their activities - so I had plenty of company and that I had visited one new place or the other (outside Davis) almost every weekend - in short, I remembered having fun!

That set me thinking. As evidenced from the emails, my life had definitely been a mixed bag back then - but, I could only remember the positive things now. Apparently, all those initial difficulties no longer had a major impact on how I felt now. Only the good things mattered and these gave my memories a warm, lovely sepia-toned hue.

If that is indeed the case, instead of cribbing about every little thing now (a seasoned worrier like me can worry and crib about *anything*), I think I should spend more time creating happy memories - because that is what I am going to recall five years hence. And I bet it will be wonderful having LOTS of happy memories to think back on :-D.

So, more happy memories from now on - point noted and underlined with fluorescent sketch.

And finally, while reading the emails, I also realized that somethings will never change. Here is an almost exact reproduction of the mail I wrote about an evening of "doing homework":

"Actually the story goes like this - today we have a networks assignment due - queuing theory is the topic - which is the bane of my existence. So last evening V (one of my classmates) and me came back to my house in the fond hope of discussing the problems. But me being from AU and he being a lazier pig than me, both of us drank hot chocolate, ate chips, chocolates and talked for one hour abt our undergrad life. Then realised it was too much on our part and we shd start studying.

We spent 45 minutes exactly on reading the questions and then i had to go to the grocery shop to meet R (my roomie) - V told he would accompany me and we both went - R aalu adayalam kaanum - so we both shopped for my house.

Tired by this exercise, we came home and ate ice-cream. Then spent some more time breaking our heads. Queuing theory is one of the most horrible topics researched by man-kind - any amt of reading got us no where - so guess what we did - yep, we sat and ate dinner (R was back by then and had cooked).

We had spent a total of some 2.5 hrs so far and not a single problem was solved. i took a phone break and then i got back to queing theory - A was back by then - so once more brainstorming and we finally got sth done.

Then i had to faircopy the thing - ultimately 2:00am when i slept - i still have sth left to do in it..:( and i am feeling TERRIBLY SLEEPY.,,now! Thats how my whole day yesterday was spent on queuing hteory and more queing theory and of course eating! "

LOL :-D! I totally identify with it even now and I am glad (!?!) to note that my procrastinating capabilities haven't diminished one tiny bit after five years.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ayutha Pooja

When I was small, Ayutha Pooja was a festival which I looked forward to with great eagerness along with Diwali and Pongal. One of the reasons of course, was the holiday from school which we got. But besides that, the more appealing reason to me was that Ayutha Pooja was the one day when we could, thanks to tradition, with a very clear conscience, desist from studying :-D!

The festival of Navaratri (literally translated to "nine nights") preceded Ayutha Pooja. My family did not have the tradition of keeping "Golu", which is the most prominent feature of Navaratri in Tamilnadu. Nevertheless, it was fun to get invited to houses of various friends and neighbors who did keep golu. Back then, we mostly used to live in bank-provided apartment complexes where we knew a lot of our neighbors (all the houses had at least one person working in one of the various branches of the same bank as dad).

So almost every evening, invitation to one house or the other was guaranteed. Sometimes we were invited to visit multiple houses on the same evening. At each house, we got to see the beautiful golu setup of idols. We invariably got delicious sundal to eat. Additionaly, we got flowers, kumkum and an small item like a kutti mirror or kumkum container (traditional items - I don't know the reasoning behind giving these) to take away.

Most of the times, one or the other of the invited ladies (usually only the lady folks were present - I don't know if only women were invited or the guys just stayed away) would sing religious songs. Sis and me were also asked to chime in with the devotional songs. But in interest of the physical and mental well-being of the others, we used to politely decline!

The most interesting Navaratri celebrations happened when we lived in Calcutta. Durga Pooja, as navaratri is commonly referred to there, is a very big festival in West Bengal. You could see pandals housing statues of Durga and other Gods in every locality. Some of these pandals were so beautifully and artistically decorated. Each of the durga pooja evenings in Calcutta was spent outside the house, visiting the various pandals spread across the city. The whole city was lit up with the festivities and it was a joy to be among the happy crowds.

The last day of navaratri, Ayutha Pooja (ayutham = weapon in Tamil but in this context, it more implies "tools") was a full fledged celebration at home. The cleaning up of the house and the implements in it started earlier in anticipation of the festival. Sis and I used to pitch in - we split all the electronics between us (TV/VCR/Washing machine/refrigerator etc.) between us for cleaning. Mom would supervise the cleaning of the doors and windows of the house by the maid. Dad would supervise the watchman/driver in the cleaning of the car.

On Ayutha pooja day, we used to go around the house keeping dots of sandal paste and kumkum on all the doors as well as on the implements in the house.This was considered auspicious. A string of fresh mango leaves would be strung across the main entrance to the house. We also kept all our books, writing implements and other tools of trade before the pictures of God.

I remember, when I was in 12th standard (the all-important year of school life, thanks to board exams) I got completely carried away and transferred my whole book shelf of school-books to the pooja room. My mom had to gently remind me that just keeping the books in the pooja room would not ensure telepathic transfer of knowledge :-D!

Anyways, after all this set up, dad would conduct the pooja. Then we would all settle down to an elaborate and scrumptious lunch made by mom. *Yummy*! Since, as per the demands of tradition, we were not supposed to use any of our school-books (teachers at school also usually did not give us homework - we always made sure to plead "inability to do homework" beforehand :-D) , sis and I used to either play all day or watched TV till our eyes popped out :-D. !

The next day was Vijayadashami - the most auspicious day to study. I usually used to try to read at least some of my subjects - maybe a page from each book. With that, the navaratri festivities came to an end.

Last night, I was chatting with my parents. Dad told me that it was Ayutha Pooja for them as it was October 1st in India. He then added that he and mom were not too keen on celebrating it as both sis and me were not at home. But they were still going ahead with the pooja to maintain tradition. Oh, I miss celebrating Ayutha Pooja :-(! I wish I was back home :-(.

I started cribbing to mom about missing the Ayutha Pooja festivities. So she said that I should try celebrating it over here. She asked me to clean my house, my car and cook something nice today (October 1st and Ayutha Pooja according to US time). I said I would try.

Today was one of those cloudy yet beautiful days. I opened the blinds across both the patio doors and let the diffused sunlight flood into the house. Then I vacuumed the whole apartment, dusted everything and did laundry. Basically, full-fledged cleaning. Then, in the evening, I made sundal, lit my kutti oil-lamp and said a little prayer for everyone.

Oh, this is not a patch on celebrating Ayutha Pooja at home. But I feel a little happier now. Even though I know I did not clean the car :-D!

Happy Ayutha Pooja folks :-)!