Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Good and The Bad

The Bad
I am so depressed today. The whole job hunting nightmare continues .. . . and while a lot of other things in my life at the moment is hunky dory .. this is tormenting me. The only potential job on the horizon is one I had said I would never go back to (... never say never .. never say never .. . I really should have listened to my mum more!) Actually I can't decide if I will be sadder if I have to join the job or if I don't get it - its a toss up there! I desperately want something good .. challenging and that pays well. Earlier I thought money would not be an important factor in my job decision making.. but some of the difference between sectors is too much to ignore ... turns out I am more mercenary than I thought I was! In all I am terribly depressed and think I shall go watch some mindless film..

The Good
Bee has got me a very very early new year present - tickets to Alegria. Its here in Jan at the Royal Albert Hall.. I heard that one should go there for a performance anyway .. and am sure this will be spectacular.

I had first read about Cirque du Soleil in a marketing case .. it was about how people were losing interest in the circus with the advent of television and cinema and two former performers, Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier, created a new space with the grandeur of theatre and elements of the circus. It was a circus (minus animals) set to a theme, grand music, costumes and lighting. It was a really interesting case ... and I was very curious after reading it. Last year I went for my first cirque show... and I loved every minute of it. Though its ridiculously expensive for us .. we're going again - I am terribly excited and really looking forward to it. I am sure it is going to be better than what I can even dream it to be .. and I know I won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Through my lens - Notting Hill Carnival

What a lovely weekend it was - pity its over. The highlight of the weekend was the Notting Hill Carnival. Its supposed to be the largest in Europe and second only to the carnival in Rio! Armed with camera and a few friends, I hit the carnival on Monday evening.

It was everything that I read it would be. The huge crowds (supposed to be visited by two million people!).. the loud music and wild drinking. Here's the pictures to do the talking . . . . .

There was barely place to stand with people lining all roads along the way. The crowd was as cosmopolitan as it gets! Thankfully there was not too much pushing.

There were ofcourse the smart ones who found unique vantage points. The first is a group on the roof of one of the shops. The second is a lady who got someone to carry her around ..and finally someone who just sat on the ledge of one of the buildings!

The life of the party - the floats with the sound system. I don't know the decibel level .. but it reached right within you and one could actually feel the vibration.

And the biggest attraction of the carnival - Mas (costume, Masquerade). Some of the costumes were awesome. I couldn't stop clicking! Have put some of the pictures together in this.. do click on it and check out the larger version.

Other highlights of the carnival - One of the great floats. I loved the music .. made a note to listen to some more steel drums.

And finally - the creativity was not just limited to the parade ... with all the beer around .. others seemed to join in!

Most of the people I went with didn't enjoy themselves much - and I think that's because they didn't even move a toe to those awesome Latino beats - not sure how they did that - maybe a couple of beers would have helped! I loved it .. had a great time clicking away .. danced by myself and soaked in the vibrant spirit at the largest street party in Europe.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

One interesting hobby please

I just found out that my cv does not reflect the kind of person I am. My hobbies and personal interests section needs to be pepped up. So the past three days I have been racking my brain for two lines which will make the reader think of me as an interesting high achiever. And so far I have n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

While working and later studying ..after 12-14 hour days .. I barely could get dinner ready on weekdays. I just about managed chatting with flatmates / family, reading a bit and crashing. Weekends would be some more work, meeting friends, unwinding and then it would be Monday again. Maybe if I was the driven type I could have actually learnt something but then I enjoyed the relaxing, reading, meeting friends! And now I suffer for it .. no hobbies to write about.

I checked out what others in my class had written ... and now I have a complex! There are ballet dancers who have given professional shows, people who like learning languages (and know 7 languages to show that!), someone had run in five marathons, cello players, national swimming champions - where do they get the time ??

Its not like I don't have any interests ..

I love reading. Fiction. Everyone writes that (along with music - also another genuine interest) ..and therefore does not make you special. Ok how about writing by Indian writers - thats too narrow!

Then there's travelling. Again ..very often mentioned and unless you've been to some totally off beat places (even better if there are no loos there) then not worth mentioning. Nothing great about going to Bali or Italy.

Hmm .. so how about cooking? I do enjoy that .. and actually love cooking for friends. The other person who I saw had mentioned cooking.. had also written a cook book. You don't even have original recipes! Also, its a very individualistic thing.. does not show team spirit! (Its a hobby for god sakes!)

Then.. photography? I love taking photographs .. of people and places. You'll have to know about apertures, shutter speeds and blah blah blah ..and not be taking pictures in the automatic mode on an SLR and thinking of it as your great work.

So now I have run out of things which are really of interest to me and can be of good 'cv value' (some other time will talk of my opinion of the whole concept of cv value and cv bullet points - for now have an important mission!). Bee very sarcastically commented that its too bad that watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S and partying can't be included. Was ready to whack him especially since he genuinely has hobbies which make good cv bullet points and fulfill the criteria of being different, interesting, showing team spirit, dedication, perseverence and all.

So now I need to find a personal interest .. which may or may not be of any interest to me ..but will make future employers see me as the shining star they must employ. Problem is I need it fast! I wonder if this is a generic thing .. or as my sister would sarcastically say ..'the problem with you MBA types'.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Curiosity killed the cat

For someone who has recently started blogging I should have been focussing on mastering what is available. .. but no, why must I be normal. I had been seeing a lot of press / discussion about the new blogger and every time I logged on there was a little button which gave me the option of upgrading in two clicks. Initially I ignored it.. but then curiosity got the better of me ..and wham ..I am now irreversibly 'upgraded'. Not very helpful since the layouts have changed..and its really bugging that it keeps wanting to log on with my regular gmail account! So now have to figure this version out.. and I better be able to use some new features to justify this added confusion.

On a totally different topic.. I had the interview today. It lasted half the day ..and went well (so I think!) but the job is fairly junior so I am not too interested. I am hoping this has established a relationship to look at further opportunities which may be more feasible. Lets see how it goes. At any rate I have a very numb feeling at the moment. Since I was a child, I have this vacant feeling after any major interview or exam. It was really strong after the class X board exams (a time I had actually studied) where I nearly cried because I had nothing to do after they were over. Its a different issue that I totally partied after that .. maybe a bit too long which extended onto the next two years!

Coincidentally two very close friends called today .. which perked up my day. .. but for the rest ..the house is still in a mess (I always wreck it when I am getting ready for an interview and fling things all over) and I have just been surfing random stuff to kill time (I love the Internet). Will have to go out in a bit to show our house guest Piccadilly Circus.. not sure she'll be too excited since she's from New York and I hear they have bill boards which are bigger, better and more in number.

Am looking forward to the weekend. I love long weekends (even though am not working so it technically should not matter- but still). Bee and I are planning to take time off from all the job hunt / new place /work tension and just relax. Planning to check out the Notting Hill Carnival which looks very interesting. ..and just watch some totally random movies.

Tuesday will be an all new week ..and bring with it new hope.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Somewhere over the rainbow ...

A weekend with a school friend visiting = Late nights gossip sessions + nice memories + diet being forgotten + high pitched excited shrieking + a lot of fun

A close friend from school called last week to say she would be in London. She came over last weekend and had a really busy schedule .. but we managed to catch lunch one day and sat up chatting late every night. It was very hectic and I am now very very sleepy from all those late nights but I enjoyed every moment of it. Close friends from school always magically remain close. We were a group of five friends and no matter how long we're out of touch or have moved on with our lives, when we meet its like we never left. I still feel as close to them and know they'll always be there.

Each one of them has done really well and can be quite intimidating when met professionally (so I have heard from people who have met them in that capacity) but once we're together we're no better than a bunch of screaming, gossiping teenagers chatting late into the night. I suppose when you've been through all the 'growing up stuff' together and seen each other in the worst dressed, gawky teenager with braces phase there's little you need to maintain as an 'image'. I love the bond we share.. and hope it always remains like this... and given what we've all been through.. I am pretty sure it will.

PS The title is from the song Somewhere over the rainbow from Wizard of Oz. I always associate it with the happy memories of school, friends..and 'singing class'.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Finally have an interview. Its with a company I would love to work for .. not sure about the specific role.. but then after all these months my expectations have reached rock bottom .. or nearly rock bottom atleast. Lots to prepare.. and hope I don't say something stupid in my nervousness. At any rate .. after all these days of silence and sitting at home ..theres finally some action... and hope. It feels good. Ofcourse.. if I goof up its going to feel terrible.. but thats for another day .. for now some optimism would help!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I can't remember where I had read this .. it was sometime a few years back. I like the sentiment very much. Whenever I've felt my life getting monotonous I've asked myself this.. and if I have no exciting answer .. I've tried to do something. Its also an interesting question to ask others .. I've got to know more about my friends this way.

While there's been a lot happening in my life with graduating from school, moving cities, looking for a job ... the last time I can think of something interesting I did for the first time was trek on a volcano. It was a lot of fun .. A couple of friends, Bee and I went to Bali for four days last January. We visited the usual list of temples, dances and all .. but decided to also include a climb on Mt Batur. Its not a big challenge for someone who is very fit .. but for me it turned out to be quite a difficult task.

We left the hotel at 2 am, drove 60km to reach the place where we met our guide. We started walking at 4am (since we wanted to reach the peak before sunrise). It was not too difficult to start but gradually became tougher as we got to the steeper parts. At points I thought I'd give up but with a lot of encouragement I finally made it to the top. The climb was very exciting since it was in the dark by a dim torch light ... and once we got to the peak it was beautiful. Thanks to me slowing everyone down we reached a few minutes after sunrise.. but did manage to get some lovely pictures. The climb down was much tougher as it always is .. it didn't help that I am very scared of heights and would keep panicking every few minutes. The guide was fantastic and really helpful and we made it back in decent time. It was a very memorable experience. Later in the year we visited another volcano (Mt Etna) but there we went up in a jeep and while it was stunning at the top - I didn't feel we had "earned" it. .. and anyway .. it was not my first time on a volcano.

While there's a lot of new things happening in my life at the moment ... I haven't done anything new and interesting in a while. So am considering my options.. maybe try rollerblading .. or ice skating once its colder .. or learn sketching... the options are endless!

So when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Its Independence Day, and I'm wondering what the speech from Red Fort is about this year.

When I was in school today was about waking up early and grudgingly going to school for flag hoisting and "cultural" event with kids putting up shows in different languages and wearing clothes from different parts of the country. In college and later at work, it was a holiday we looked forward to and planned a trip if it were close to the weekend. Now, it is no longer a holiday but a day when I take a moment off to think about my country.

Like many .. or maybe most NRI's, leaving India makes me think about the country more consciously. Atleast once in six months I've been in a gathering with people talking about India, how we've all left, the implications and so on. There's always mixed feelings at these gatherings.. lots of nostalgia and sometimes guilt. This was ofcourse at the peak when Swadesh was released. I don't feel guilty, though I do miss being in all my familiar surroundings and being the local. Ofcourse every time I land in an Indian airport (or visit the high commission) and have to deal with the chaos, all the nice feelings vanish (though after moving to the UK and going through Heathrow, I now look upon the Indian arrivals more kindly).

One thing I am very scared about is losing touch with India and the realities. By that I mean, freezing the image of when I left and living my life by it. I think frequent trips help eliminate that, and am hoping sometime in the future I'll get to work there atleast on a short term assignment. When I was growing up, I always felt that cousins and friends from abroad were frozen in their parents time. I once sat next to a couple on an early morning flight(when I am at my grouchy best) who marvelled at sugar sachets, women working and laptops - 'India Shining' (!!) ... and if their endless questions were not enough, the lady in her bright red clothes and 10 inches of make up on a 6am flight was hurting my eyes which were barely open. So, in short, am terrified of becoming like them (will never wear bright red clothes or 10 inches make up though) and being out of sync... scared because I'd like to be in touch and more so, sounding like an idiot!

Have been rambling. But this post is about my 15 minutes to think about my country .. before I am once again swallowed into the day of job hunting and house decorations.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My world this week

A very hectic week of unpacking things, finding a place for everything and setting up the house.

Things I learnt -
  • The importance of storage space. Our previous house was half the size .. but its a challenge fitting things in here. Have already exhausted all the shelves, cupboards and corners and still have a pile of things to sort out.
  • Pictures rails are very useful! Since the contract specifies that we cannot put any nails on the wall, I was sad that I might have to live with bare walls. But have now discovered picture rails and am going overboard with things to hang. No thanks to the hardware store guy who refused to help me figure out the hooks and what strings to buy etc.
  • I should save up to watch musicals and concerts. We went for a musical (The Producers) last week and I totally enjoyed it. It was a little slapstick in parts, but the singing and dancing and sheer talent was amazing. Now want to go for a ballet.
  • It is not a good idea to visit Ikea late evening. As customary with setting up a new place (especially rented ones), we made a trip to Ikea.We reached at 9, and after, what I consider a very restrained shopping trip for Ikea, we left at 11:30. A very nice bus driver (because he helped us figure out the route) dropped us to a tube station on the line to our place and we just about made it in time for the last train. I have no idea what we would have done otherwise, since there were no cabs in sight and we had no clue what bus to take if we didn't get the tube!
  • Patience. A hundred phone calls and mess ups later, we have finally got broadband connection at home!
  • The importance of being well dressed. The population of London is over 7,000,000 which makes it a very small probability of randomly meeting someone you know. Yet, in the past week I have literally bumped into, old friends and acquaintances on the road.
  • My new phone is as wonderful as I thought it to be. It also takes nice pictures. Ofcourse, nothing like a proper camera, but its good enough and lets me capture the 'Kodak moments'. Here are some general pictures taken on the phone

  1. Borough Market on a sunny saturday morning
  2. The carousel along the south bank of the Thames
  3. View from my window when I look up from the computer
  4. The Serpentine

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Of Moving Day and more

Last weekend it was finally here - moving day. It was as chaotic as expected. Our 51 cartons which had come by sea had got delivered, unpacked and kept on 'flat surfaces' - which pretty much translated into every square inch of floor since there aren't that many flat surfaces! To add to that we had to transport all our things from the serviced apartment and since we hadn't packed till the last minute, there was no choice but to stuff everything into plastic packets and load them into the cab. The driver looked horrified, cribbed but dropped us to our destination.

Its been four days but its a slow process of figuring out where all the stuff should go. Initially had thought it would be easy since our previous house was much smaller. But now realize that smaller can be smarter and in effect we had more storage space in a house that was half the area. Have managed to get the bedroom and kitchen in order, the living room shall be tackled next weekend. Its all so tiring .. and am too scared to buy anything after the horrific number of boxes we had on this move. But slowly it shall be arranged and after a month will forget the pains and start buying junk again. Just hope that we don't need to move for a while.

The rest of the weekend was nice. Had a friend over. House guests and shifting don't go too well .. but he was really helpful and it was great having him over. Couldn't show him around much but went on a lovely walk around the city. There was an carousel for adults on the near London eye. Have always drooled over the colourful carousels in the past and as soon as I saw one for adults, I dragged everyone to go on a ride. It was as wonderful as I imagined it to be and I loved every minute of it! For the rest of the day ..just walked and walked and walked the end I gathered I had walked around 12 km !!

Took lots of pictures on my new phone. Shall post them once I get Internet working at home... whenever that happens. This whole settling down is such a slow process. ..but hopefully once the painful part is over and the job is got .. life will be beautiful again!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Places to eat - Imli, London

Imli Restaurant, 167-168 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WR

I like eating out and so shall put in posts now and again about places I have been to and how I liked them. Here's the first - Imli, London

I had read a lot of mixed reviews about the place and couldn't decide if I wanted to go. However, I liked the idea of Indian tapas food, so three of us went there for lunch on Saturday.

The place was easy to find, moderately big and had a modern decor. It was fairly empty the day we visited and we got a nice place by the window. I felt the menu was limited given the idea of tapas and variety of Indian food. The menu is available on the website, so you could check it before visiting. The set menu was not too interesting so we ate à la carte. They suggested we order 3-4 dishes per person and we went with that. We started with a mix of chaats, alu tikki and bhel puri. There was a section which was a smaller version of Indian mains and served with rice / paratha, so we got a couple of dishes from that, the southern lamb curry was quite good. We also got a bottle of an Argentinean wine with our meal.

I liked the food but didn't think it was exceptional. The choice of wine is limited. I felt they could experiment with a selection of cocktails which might go with Indian food. Overall, it was nice but don't think I'll go back.

Average spend per person: £20

Friday, August 04, 2006

I am in love

After the pains of dealing with red tape and delays, I finally got my new phone delivered this morning. That has been the highlight of my day and has got me super excited. I love gadgets, and discovering the features. Somehow I just can't get my impatient mind to sit and read through a whole book of instructions .. so just discovering it by trial and error. .which probably takes longer than if I just read the manual in the first place.

A large part of the excitement is that, for the first time I have one of the latest phones in the market. I've never been able to get myself to shell out the premium to buy the 'in phones'. So when I saw all these new cool phones being given free with the connection, I went overboard and got the newest kid on the block - drumroll to the new Nokia N73.

A day is too early to judge, but it seems to be an awesome phone. Has a great camera (the same people who make the Sony camera lens) - which good, since now I can take lots of pictures for the blog. The software to synchronize with the PC is excellent (as opposed to some others that I've seen which have too many options and are in effect pretty useless). The phone has the trademark Nokia easy to use features.

So far so good. I've heard that after a while the Nseries phones tend to hang and give trouble. Fingers crossed. And till then shall listen to my favourite songs everytime the phone rings .. vive la mp3 ringtones!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Might as well face it, you're addicted to TV

When I started working I didn't have the money to buy a TV. It turned out to be quite a blessing in disguise since it got me back to reading again. I enjoyed it so much that by the time I could afford a TV, I was totally anti television ..well cable TV actually. I was more convinced when for the brief while that I stayed with friends/family, everyone's life seemed to be guided by sas-bahu/bold and the beautiful and such and so forth. Back from office and no one would even talk because of some random moment of suspense on some equally random soap!

My camp is a difficult one to convert people to .. but managed atleast one victory - the husband .. so Bee and I never got a TV and instead splurged on a music system. Everything was hunky dory till we moved to London. The combination of joblessness and ready cable TV at the serviced apartment got me hooked. Like all addictions .. it started with one serial .. and then two ..and suddenly there's a full blown list of 'must watch'. As I feared, I love the mindlessness of swapping through 200 channels ... and am hopelessly hooked!

At first, I refused to admit I was addicted .. till now, when its time to move to our own place. We are finally getting our shipped luggage ..there's going be the music system, the pressure cooker, the 100 glasses, 200 CD's .. but no TV. Have tried to hint to Bee that maybe we should think of buying one... but he's shocked at how much television I watch these days ..and has put his foot down. So as of next week .. for me, there's going to be no more Friends, Fraiser, CSI, 8 Simple Rules or Ally McBeal. On the brighter side, will finally have all my music with me ..and hopefully, soon, a job.