Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Astrology or Asstrology?

I’d seen this title for many articles debating on the merits of astrology. And I felt it to be appropriate. Is it right let astrology influence your life or is it plain foolish to believe in it?
Most Indian communities use astrology to define their day-to-day life. In the south, people wait for the auspicious hour for doing important jobs and refrain from starting any work during the inauspicious ‘rahu kalam’.
Usually, any function is scheduled a certain day after ascertaining its suitability by consulting an almanac. Again, on that auspicious day, a further favorable time called the ‘muhurtam’ has to be found out. And during this doubly fortunate time, the function is carried out.
Horoscopes play a major role in deciding the future course of action of a particular individual. I remember how my dad consulted his astrologer a few months back to find out whether I was destined for future studies or marriage. Thankfully, the stars were in my favor and I was ‘allowed’ to study further!
Again, marriage between 2 individuals is more of a meeting of horoscopes than minds. There are various levels of matching, uttam, madhyam, or lower. And the uttam is most preferred.
There is also the issue of the birth star. The lunar sun sign is found out on the basis of your birth star and after ascertaining it, you are all set to read or see your bhavishyavani in magazines or on TV.
A rational person may argue against all these superstitions. I mean, there may be thousands of other people born on the same day and time as me! Does that mean all of us will lead the same lives? It must be common knowledge that these predictions only sometimes come true. And even after conducting marriages after matching horoscopes and ascertaining an auspicious time, why is it that there are divorces, widows and widowers still?
My dad, a doctor, believes in astrology, horoscopes and the like. I once asked him why, as a science man, he believes in all this mumbo-jumbo. But dad has an answer - dad says that horoscopes are like pointers to the future, if they point out some problems, isn’t it easier to face life cautiously? He feels that astrology points out potholes on a road – once they are identified, it is easier to drive.
Nowadays, sun signs are fashionable to use. I have seen shows on MTV dedicated to deciphering sun signs. The concept of star partners is always discussed. I personally feel that I make great friends with Scorpios or Geminis usually. Common sense tells me that this may just be a great coincidence.
Bottom line is, one cannot take sides here. A pure non-believer of astrology may be hard to find. I guess astrology helps people keep their peace by giving them an ostrich attitude.
Astrology is apparently a science. It is believed to have scientific basis. But I really wonder whether we are being sensible by believing that the positions of certain airless desolate spheres in the universe, commonly called stars/planets influence our life.


Amchi Mumbai!!!

Mumbai for me is a wonderland. The sea of humanity everywhere, the people who are perpetually in a hurry, the rash driving, oh man!! Every minute is really spent well in Mumbai. And shopping!! God! I wonder how the Mumbaiites actually work – if I’d been a resident, I would’ve just shopped 24/7!

Mumbai is shoppers’ paradise. And bargainers’ heaven. The ‘shop-till-you-drop’ syndrome really gets activated once you get there. I shopped like crazy. Clothes, bags, footwear, I have samples of everything here now. I was lucky that both my maami and maasi are great at bargaining. ‘Coz I‘ve absolutely no clue!!
Chembur Laxmi market, Santacruz, Linking Road, Globus,… I shopped with different range of prices.

I’m not much of a food person and all my relatives (mostly overweight) have understood that well. So I really did gorge on much stuff, except the real Mumbai things that, believe me, are just not the same in other cities. So authentic Pav Bhaji from Bageecha, chaat from Khasiyat, Pani Puri and Kala Khatta from Juhu beach. And Sugarcane juice, I wonder why that simple juice is not available in many places!! And ‘Frankies’ (chapatti rolls, I’d call them!) which is THE snack of the Mumbaiites now (I wonder what it is called in other cities!!).
Also had some REAL burger (from Mac Donald’s) & pizza (from Pizza Hut). No wonder most of my relatives weigh the way they do!!

This is a very debatable topic – it is great to meet celebs or is it similar to meeting ‘lesser mortals’ like friends and relatives? I like meeting people who are well known, even if they are not that famous, it doesn’t matter. People over here always ask people from Mumbai if they’ve met any one famous. It is a great thing!!
But my relatives there hold a different opinion. My uncle asked me – what is so great if you shake hands with a celebrity? Does your hand become of gold?!! Mumbaiites meet so many celebs regularly and have ceased to care.
It is funny, maasi and me bumped into (not literally, thank God!) Saroj Khan and VJ Anusha on consecutive days. My maasi began thinking that I have this special chance of meeting these people, so we took my cousin along for shopping the next few days. But never met anyone after that [; -)]!!

This is one place my mom had wanted me to visit – she felt that any trip to Mumbai was incomplete without a visit to Juhu Beach. I have been there lots of times and never has it appeared to change. The crowds, if anything, have increased. The camel ride is missing and the number of horse carts giving rides is decidedly lower.

In short the trip was everything I’d hoped it would be. A great experience!


Monday, June 27, 2005

Pure Enjoyment

I’m back after a week in Mumbai. And what fun!! I sincerely feel that life in the Metros is seriously LIFE. There is always somewhere to go, something to do, everyone seems to always be in a hurry to go somewhere, do something. I love visiting Madras and Bangalore, but Mumbai is definitely my favorite city (I was born there after all!).
But other than the fun part, the trip was a great experience also. This was the first time I stayed away from my parents for so long. I mean, the only other time was the 2 day picnic I’d gone on in my 3rd sem. Actually, it turned out to be quite a trial run for my upcoming hostel stay.
AND, I got a few kicks looking at the incredulous faces of people who were shocked that I was undertaking this ‘long’ and ‘dangerous’ journey alone. Over here, my neighbors and relatives regularly came up with news items where girls traveling alone on trains had been robbed/killed/…en route. My mom did develop cold feet, regretting her decision to let me go. But all said and done, I’m back after the ‘dangerous and long’ trip with only nice memories!
My relatives who I was meeting after around 5 years were extremely nice. I usually do not form a very good impression on my relatives and my mom has to always listen to comments like – your daughter is arrogant/ rude/… and please ask her to behave well. But over the years, I would like to believe that I have changed, for the better. And the only comment my mom heard about me was from my maasi who said that I was very stingy!!
It is surprising how such a small thing like a trip like this can teach you things. When I found my practically stranded at Kurla station with no one having come to pick me up, I did face a few moments of panic. Here I was, in a city of which I have no knowledge, with my mobile charge drained out and 2 heavy bags of luggage!! Should I call a rickshaw (but if he takes me around whole Mumbai before dropping me off at Pestom, I wouldn’t realize!) or should I wait? Finally, I made a call from a PCO home and my mom called up her relatives to come to pick me up!!
AND, I realized that along with your luggage, your sandals/chappals are also like targets for robbery. On the return journey, I had the good sense to keep all the 5 bags of luggage on the upper berth, which left very little space for me to actually lie on. But the next morning, I realized that my black sandals (bought from Bangalore in February), which I’d left on the floor, were gone!!
But now I’m back home and faced with a different kind of hurry – I have to leave for Kochi by the 10th of July and so, now I have to get all the required things and packing done!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Engineering – not so IN anymore?

I was at a function recently when I got talking to a distant relative, a girl into the tenth standard. Since she quite a bright student, I asked her casually what she wanted to take up as a career. Her answer quite threw me off balance. She said – I wanted to be a computer engineer, but now I hear that it has no scope, so I am as yet undecided!
I finally managed to ask her how she could say so in front of a computer-engineering student!! She looked nonplussed; evidently she had forgotten what I was studying. But the incident made me think. There was a time not so long ago when every kid’s dream was to become a computer engineer. Where along the way did engineering become so passé’?
A few days back, I heard someone comment that today there are engineers available ‘dime a dozen’. He was saying stuff like ‘the supply is exceeding the demand’. And that, of course, is the reason why (if at all) engineering not such a hot profession nowadays.
Ok, there are a few colleges where students desperately want to go to (IIT, NIT, IIIT and some others in various states). But students in those colleges mushrooming all over are definitely mediocre. There are no facilities, almost nil placements that make any above average student in such colleges feel that he/she has wasted his/her 4 years.
In Kerala where there are suddenly a lot of engineering colleges, seats lie vacant every year. And the vacant seats are mostly in the CS/IT discipline. To get more students, it is possible to allow students from outside the state to get admission here.
But personally, I feel to have students from different states come in will not be appropriate as in a lot of the colleges, the medium of instruction is Malayalam!!
Today, I know a lot of my friends who are qualified engineers but are stranded because they have no job. Most students here are unaware about topics outside the syllabus (ok, it’s the students’ fault!) and have poor communication skills. The quality of engineering education needs to be improved if such a scenario is to be avoided.
I know this person who joined engineering, apparently because he did not get seat for BSc.!! Such stories (I swear they are true!) are appalling. I only hope the situation changes for the better soon!


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

‘The Class’ – Eric Segal

While reading ‘The Class’, I did not feel that I was reading a novel. Instead, I felt that I had been propelled into a new world – the world of Harvard. I suddenly became one of the students there and later, passed out like them to join them in their journey, the journey of life.
‘The Class’ is just that, a journey. It tells the stories of 5 Harvard college boys who join Harvard with great dreams and ambitions. But life outside the walls of the college, they would eventually find, is totally different from what they dreamt of.
The heroes of the story are Andrew Eliot, Jason Gilbert, George Keller, Theodore Lambros and Daniel Rossi. Eliot is a complexed guy, weighed down by the excess baggage of his illustrious forefathers, the Eliots. Gilbert, the handsome guy, is always made to believe that he is different from the others, as he is a Jew. Keller, a refugee is a selfish guy, who just cannot accept love. Lambros, son of a restaurateur, wants to come out of his middle class status and dreams of teaching at Harvard in future. And Rossi, the genius pianist, is too confident about his prowess and just wants to go solo soon.
While reading, I moved with all of them in their quest for success, happiness and later, peace of mind. I was a part of their victories and failures. By the time the novel ended, I was numb with the sensation of having lived so many lives over the span of a week. The novel was not just entertainment; to me it was a revelation about life.
The author displays a very cynical view of matrimony, with none of the marriages being successes. Through the 25 years from 1958 to 1983, the class is made to compromise, swallow pride and break the very rules they themselves made. At the 25th reunion in 1983, the class meets again as mature people, together in happiness and sorrow as a real class for the first time in their lives.
‘The Class’, according to me, is fiction at it’s best – true to life. It will remain one of the best books I’ve ever read.


Monday, June 06, 2005

On an Evening in ‘Paris’

Ok, I haven’t gone on a Europe tour or something. ‘Paris’ is this restaurant here. And my parents and I had our dinner in Paris yesterday.
To while away the time while our order arrived (it is just some ghas-phoos, why can’t they hurry up!), we decided to tell one quote each. So here are the pearls of wisdom gleaned:

ME: ‘Do a job you love, and you wont have to work for the rest of your life!’

DAD: ‘Give me a fish, I’ll eat it today, teach me fishing and I’ll eat fish everyday!’

MOM: ‘I asked god for happiness, instead, he gave me miseries and the strength to overcome those miseries!’

Think about it!!

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Bore TV!!

What does a student who has got a long leave do with his/her free time? ‘Watch TV’ must be your prompt answer. And why not? TV is a medium of entertainment for which there are no prerequisites – you just need to have some free time at your disposal and some patience.
But……TV has become such a bore today, I mean, I do not find any shows worth watching. It keep away from the ‘serial trap’, one can watch music channels. But the kind of ‘music’ on these channels now is kinda unbearable (not to mention ‘un watch able’!). Every other video on air is a bad remix of some golden oldie. And today remixes of fairly recent familiar songs are also being heard (RD must be distraught hearing Harry Anand’s ‘Ek Ladki Ko’!).
And daily soaps, God!! The K serials today show ridiculously young MOMs getting their DAUGHTERS married. Jassi is also beginning to drag with Jassi being accused of murdering herself!! ‘Ye Meri Life Hai’ which had begun promising to tell the story of a middle class girl out to make her dreams come true has now become a saas-bahu cum revenge drama. Same is the case with many other soaps which are totally off track from where they started off (hey! The handsome Rajeev Khandelwal has reportedly left the K camp citing ‘illogical changes in script’ of ‘Kaahiin to hoga’).
The only soap I watch nowadays is ‘Sarrkkar’ which is good (maybe ‘coz it is only a few weeks old!). Great acting, a different story, good casting (Priyamvada LOOKS mom, not like Prerna who looks like Kasak’s sis!). But the question is, till when…
AND ‘That 70’s Show’. Man!! There couldn’t be a cooler show! (Thanks due to Meetu!). It keeps me in splits for practically no reason (meaning, it makes me a bit MAD for the half an hour it is on air!).
I find myself reading or listening to music most of my free time. And to all those who said ‘Watch TV’ as response to my first line query, I ask, WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING?!!