Sunday, April 29, 2012

And the winner is ..

October 20, 2012
And just a week later, the post 'In the Blink of an eye' wins the Gold Batom award for the first time, in the 32nd edition of the Blog-A-Ton! For more on the Blog-A-Ton, click here.

October 12, 2012
Elated to announce that the post Lasting Impressions was one of the three winning entries at the Indifiction Workshop; a workshop for interested fiction writers, where constructive criticism is the key and the intent is to help each other become better writers! For more on the Indifiction workshop, click here.

August 23, 2012
And it happens again! A dear reader of Kaleidoscope, a very helpful critic, someone whose comments I always look forward to not just for the encouragement and appreciation, but also for the pointers and constructive feedback that she offers - Jayashree S of JaishWrites, as she's known throughout the blogosphere, feels I deserve to be nominated for the Liebster award, something I feel very honored about!!! So, without further ado, hoping that I do not appear pompous I'll put it up on my very own Wall of Fame! Here goes!

A Liebster award gifted to Deepa's Kaleidoscope

Now, Jaish also does want me to state eleven things that I feel are required to have a happy and fulfilling life. These could be things, principles, rules, anything! Here's my list, not necessarily in that order!

1. A passion. Any passion. Something that helps me look forward to the day, gives me a purpose, something that drives me insane crazy at times and yet at other times is the only way I can hold on to my sanity.

2. The courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference. Well, I cheated a little because that makes it three things, but it is one single prayer isn't it?

3. Tolerance. Buckets of it! For those times, when even counting to ten becomes an impossible task!

4. Family. Includes blood, extended and friends!

5. Books. Whatever form they may be in. But they are an integral part of me! They are the mechanism by which you can have multiple personalities, tour the world at no cost (Okay, at a very meager price!), live lives one has only dreamed of, transport you across eras. Whoever said, they have only one life to live hasn't heard of books (so said some famous personality). 

6. Self-confidence. I might give up work every few years for reasons that might make total sense one day and seem silly the next, I might change my passions by the day, I might not even know what I want but there's one thing that's constant. That whatever's humanely possible, if I want it and give it my heart and soul, I can do it. The day I lose that confidence, am done for! 

7. Self-Respect and Dignity. In today's world where crime is heavily rampant and respite hardly seems to be in sight, this is an absolutely necessity! I cannot be blamed for wanting this, can I?

8. My sleep. I have come to love those snoozes and those last precious five minutes, just before I really wake up! After all, this is the one which can transport you to the world of dreams!

9. An education. I know there a lot of people who would probably argue otherwise stating that life can be just as fruitful even without it as hundreds of examples around us prove, but then again this is my opinion isn't it? 

10. My beliefs. About anything and everything that exists under the big blue sky. 

11. Last but not the least, how can I forget pani-puri? Put me on an island with a never ending plate of pani-puri (and a book!) and I'm all set! Well, don't take it literally.

May 28, 2012
Delighted and honored that the post A date, a wedding and a baby won the runner-up award (one of 20 runner ups) at the Indiblogger - Internet is fun with Vodafone contest - content based contest with independent judging and no voting! Of 284 entries, there was one first prize, two seconds, three thirds and 20 runner ups. Congratulations to all the winners!!! A heartfelt 'Thank you' to each and every encouraging word that came my way. 

Vodafone IndiBlogger Contest Runner-up!

April 29, 2012
When I first started my blog it was simply a bunch of my scribblings put together. When I think back to those days, I feel ashamed that all I wrote was a post in a whole year. Yes, you heard it right. Then in 2007, Kaleidoscope went dormant for a while, or rather it just died. In 2011, it rose from the ashes again like a Phoenix and has been going strong ever since. I have penned down my musings on various topics, some fiction, some real life events, some humorous, some captivating and when I read those I do feel a little good about myself. Indiblogger exposed me to a whole new world of bloggers - an enthusiastic, chirpy, determined set of people confident in voicing their opinions and I made quite a few blogging friends. The reader base of Kaleidoscope also increased manifold. Close friends, fellow bloggers and readers leave comments, exchange perspective and help with some constructive feedback (identifying loopholes in fiction which is really helpful!) and I have to say, I am addicted to blogging. Indiblogger's motto is "We blog, therefore we are." I agree!

So when not one, not two but three lovely people nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award, I must say I was a little overwhelmed. My blog had reached the hearts of some and I was satisfied. Now here was someone gifting me an award - and I am thinking huh? What? A blog award? Wow. Well, I feel hugely appreciated and its heartening to know that someone feels that your blog deserves the award. Thank you Indu Chibber and C. Suresh for the honour. And a very dear fellow blogger just reminded me that she too had nominated me for this back in January 2012. Somehow I missed the notification. Thank you Seema and I am sorry I missed it! So without further ado, here it is! 

The Versatile Blogger Award gifted to Deepa's Kaleidoscope

Now, usually award winners are required to post 7 things about themselves. I recently was part of a 10 Day You challenge, so instead of 7, I am going to give you 9! Here's 9 things about me that I would love to share. (There's also 10 Secrets and 8 Fears and so on if you're interested!)

Award winners are also encouraged to nominate 15 other blogs they think are deserving of the award. I am still trying to find my way in the blogging world and I do not have a lot of blogs in my reading library yet - so I am going to bend the rules a little, because I feel there could be others in the same boat too. (Uh-oh, I see the veteran bloggers start to shake their heads already!) I would like to make the requirements as optional. So, the below award nominees, if interested, are welcome to share 7 tidbits of informations about themselves and nominate other bloggers only if they feel like doing so. Also, instead of the versatile blogger, I would like to open it out to a few more awards. This is just my way of saying, I really enjoy reading your blogs! Please click on the award names to claim the same. Do remember to notify any nominees. 

5. 'Inspiration Award' to Jeete Raho (for your work as well!)

This is not to say that there weren't other deserving blogs out there, but these are the ones I discovered in the past year that I have come to follow religiously. Some of my friends also blog so well that I am tempted to pass this along to them too, but they are people I have known first as friends and then as bloggers. The list above - all strangers to me, so completely unbiased! Also I am guessing that established bloggers like CyberNag, AhamkaaraSome Facts, Some Nonsense and many that I have have missed naming, might already have been bombarded with a plethora of these.

Needless to say, I am going to try and keep blogging as much as I can, for as long as I can and I wish you do the same too! Happy Blogging! To blogs, publications and much more!

Note: This is a work-in-progress post timed reverse chronologically.

I would love to hear your views!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back to the Future

Its time again to post for our writers circle monthly blogging group. Seema had graciously chosen the topic for this month and I must confess it was an intriguing one. She wanted us to write a letter to our 20-year old self discussing how we eventually turned out and oh, we're also supposed to try and add a touch of humour. So here's my attempt.

Hey Deeps,
Don't freak out. This is a letter that you write in 2012 addressed to your 20 year self. Yeah very much Steven Spielberg. Its the year 2001. Third year at Shah and Anchor. Electronics Engineering. Let's start with the most important topic that grownups talk about.

1. Super serious goals in life: Funny - you didn't have any then. Funnier - you still don't seem to have any. But that's good in a way. You just take each day as it comes and try to enjoy whatever you get. Just like you got into Biology in class XI because your grandfather and your father were busy fantasizing about converting the Chennai home into a clinic - knowing you, fat chance of that happening! Into engineering again, just because. You will also get into Patni - the first software company that comes to campus interviews at your college. Your friend Aparna is going to realize during your campus trainings itself that software's not what she wants to work on for the rest of your life, but not you. It will take you about 9 years to realize that! But am glad you just went into everything that came your way gung-ho, not worrying about the consequences! You never were a career person anyway. Its nice that you always wanted to work outside the home too because that mindset does end up shaping you and your confidence. 

2. Looks: You really should have listened to your parents. Look at your teeth now. All bent out of shape. A couple might even make it into some Twilight closeups. Your sister had the sense to get braces, but you were such a stubborn brat. And oh, don't worry too much about the pimples. They will continue to harass you for a long time. Nothing you do is going to take them away permanently. So enough already with the tomato face packs and cucumbers.  And what's with the behenji dressing? You trying to beat that Mona from Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi? The only thing you need to look like her are those glasses. Like I said before, the teeth are already there!

3. Guys: Remember those guys you and your close pals had picked - that you guys used to tease each other with? Forget it. None of it actually works out for real and you're not going to want them to work out eventually anyway. All you're going to do is bide your time in silly giggling and match making! But you're going to reminisce about those days whenever you meet your friends and laugh about these! You're going to meet someone in the US and go the whole nine yards with him and you're going to love it! (that's right you do go to the US - again unplanned! Right about now, you can't wait to get back to India though!). 

4. Education: Whatever did you enroll in engineering for? You don't get half those subjects anyway. You barely passed Mechanics, Drawing and Math V. And guess what, looking at you study only twice a year before your semester exams your sister's going to follow in your footsteps and then curse you for a long long long time! You should have followed your heart (Goals are when you think with your brain, which you didn't!) and gone into maybe Law or Advanced Literature/Creative writing which you now desire to. And you'll even consider switching to teaching at one point of time. Just so you know, teachers ARE expected to know more than the students!

5. Extra curricular activities: Are you at the entrance to the Lakme building right now? Munching on samosas with fried green chillies, discussing cricket or throw-ball strategies with Gullu? Good going. You always were an outdoorsy person. Not that you're going to find much company for it later. You'll enroll in a ladies racquetball league only to find out later that you're the only one who did and it would get cancelled and you'll crib about it! And that's just one such incident. But good that you decided to savor the moments and try your hands at all sports possible when you had a chance. You're going to combine two of your passions - sports and writing - soon, writing match updates for your team Bombay Boys (and you will get cursed once in a while for getting too emotional and passionate in your writing!). And you should really have learnt some more cooking. You're pathetic! Not that it motivates you enough to seriously improve. Oh and cherish those friends you have, you're always going to miss these days with them!

But you know what? At the end of the day you'll look back and realize that you've turned out quite alright. You sober down a good deal compared to your usual hot tempered self, you become a teeny bit more mature, but way more confident about yourself, knowing that you can manage the situation whatever it may be. You enjoy your time at work and feel that even with the constant pressures and  the challenges, you had a good work life. You marry into a loving family. You feel proud that your parents are happy with the way you turned out! Your innate scatter-brained character stays as is though and that, lady, doesn't look like its going to change anytime soon. So lay any fears to rest, it's going to be just fine!

From the future,

I would love to hear your views!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saas-Bahus and Beyond: Indian Television

This post has also been published on the Times of India website, NRI Contributors section. The article can be found here.
“My son is very conscientious. He likes every thing in its rightful place. He doesn’t like even one drop of the dessert spilling on his plate. It all needs to be in the bowl. So make sure you serve him properly. Got it bahu?” Says the mother-in-law to her daughter-in-law, looking at her son for affirmation while the father-in-law looks on approvingly and the ‘son’ sits zip-mouthed at the head of the table, nodding in response to his mother’s smothering question. Sounds familiar? It could have been taken straight out of any of those umpteen typical saas-bahu sagas famous in the decade of 2000s. Those were the days when such dramas ruled the Indian television, both the matinee and primetime slots, inspiring many a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, embroiling them in a power struggle.

After a sumptuous lunch, homemaker mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law sat glued to the television screen, each of them relating in part to the characters being portrayed on screen and Ekta Kapoor came to be known as the queen of small screen dramas. Thousands of miles away, the whole set-up replicated itself as the same dramas were screened on Zee TV Americas or the Star Plus USA versions. In May 2008, my Venezuelan co-worker stopped me in the hallway and spoke about a Hindi serial that was being aired in his Homestead Hotel suite. He was hooked from that day onward and every other day he would stop by to tell me what was happening in the show, including some of the dialogues that he would understand through the subtitles. He would be curious to know why women would wear jewelry and heavy brocaded saris to work in the kitchen, how marriages have so much red in them and why widows wear white and have all these restrictions. I would sit patiently answering his questions, mentally chuckling at our conversation.

The current set of Hindi serials on Indian television

Fast-forward to the current decade. Scoot over saas-bahu serials, said the raw emotion filled, passionate romantic dramas with a heavy undercurrent and sizzling lead chemistry. TV series directors and producers like Ekta Kapoor, Gul Khan and Nissar Parvej saw an opportunity to strike gold once again. Soap operas like Iss Pyaar ko kya naam doon, Ek Hazaron mein meri behna hain, Diya aur Baati Hum, Dil Mil Gaye and the recently much-famous controversial love story Bade Acche Lagte Hain, names in themselves that are a mouthful, continue to make waves across the international circuit. Recent announcements like Barun Sobti, the lead of Iss Pyaar Ko, bagging the Public Award for the Best Lead Actor (Male) or the much famous Ram Kapoor and Saakshi Tanwar, the lead actors of Bade Acche Lagte Hain winning the Best Jodi award at the Global Indian Film and Television Honours are proof of this new trend. Recently BBC Asia interviewed the lead actors of Iss Pyaar Ko in separate 45-minute interviews that were heard and commented on by thousands of viewers across the world. Teen-aged girls start to go ga-ga over the lead actors while desperate online Youtube viewers halfway across the globe, wait twiddling their thumbs for the latest video to get uploaded so they can start commenting, predict the future storyline and such. Smartly cashing in on this fad are also corporations like the calling card company, or entrepreneurs like Prem Jyotish the astrologer who sponsor primetime shows on the corresponding NRI Television channels.

However, also gaining immense popularity by the side are shows like Punar Vivah or Phir Subah Hogi,  that highlight social issues like widow-remarriage and downplay orthodox customs and traditions. The small screen has also successfully managed to lure major celebrities from the silver screen be it Raveena Tandon running her own show and inviting the who’s who of Bollywood or the recent thriller series Chhal written by the action film maker-duo Abbas Mustan. Of particular interest is the upcoming show Satyameva Jayate which promises to be of the people, for the people and by the people and vows to take the nation by storm. The recent promos released by the dashing debonair Aamir Khan and the official song which has garnered more than 600K views on Youtube within a couple of days of its release are witness to this. The fact that it will be dubbed in the four south languages as well as the decision that that the peoples channel Doordarshan and Star Plus, the private channel would both be airing it so it could reach the masses, even those who cannot afford cable, is commendable. 
Reality shows have also taken the nation by storm as channel after channel now encourages new talent be it dance, music, stand-up comedy or any other talent. Parents are more open to let their children step foot into this world as they now appreciate the fame that comes along. Indians worldwide furiously punch numbers on their Vonage phones wanting to vote for their favourite contestant. 

Yes, Indian television has certainly come a long way. Public display of affection has progressed from the innocent flirting and the random peck on the cheek to uncensored lip locks and more. Saga-makers justify this stating the improved maturity of the Indian audience while still-rooted-in-tradition viewers of primetime slots showcasing adult romance look away squeamishly or change channels not wanting to expose their children to these trends just yet.

And yet, in a sense, nothing has changed. We continue to live our lives by these shows, relating to the characters in one way or the other. Good or bad, they subconsciously continue to influence at least a tiny part of our expectations from our mother-in-law/daughter-in-law, husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. Socially upright shows manage to leave their footprints on our routine highlighting issues worth fighting for like corruption, hygiene, civic rights and such. Day-to-day fashion clothing trends, hairstyles, use of language and even marriage-proposal techniques continue to draw inspiration from television. My 8 year old nephew, a huge fan of our homegrown detective series CID, went so far as to get his father to set up an appointment with ‘Daya’ through a chain of mutual friends and couldn’t stop talking about it.

Whatever be the case, Indian television continues to evolve by the minute and there’s positive acceptance of experimentation with the script, unreal twists and turns in the plot, completely off the track stories and such, as demonstrated by some of the recent serials that showcase a eunuch’s marriage, a dwarf’s story, the trials and tribulations of a village girl wanting to become an IPS officer while she’s married to a sweet maker. So, even as Ekta Kapoor’s characters have stopped dying and miraculously reappearing, Indian audiences continue to devour up whatever they are served. And this is not limited to Indians worldwide. Youtube videos are rife with comments from Spanish, Vietnamese and Somalian folks who do not understand Hindi yet watch the shows with equal passion and wait for subtitles zealously. And, four years later, though I no longer work with my Venezuelan friend, he still talks about these shows whenever we happen to spot each other. So, even as Indian shows gain world wide popularity, regardless of the content, regardless of whether I believe in that particular show or concept or not, I cannot help but feel a wee bit proud that this is just one more arena where we make our mark on a global level.

Primetime shows continue to be aired five days a week and actors continue to be overworked and exhausted. So what is it that makes these TV shows tick? What kind of expectations does the Indian audience have from primetime TV sagas? Can Indian Television afford to go the western route restructuring shows into seasons and thereby awarding the exhausted actors regular breaks or would that cause a rebellion? And more importantly, where do we see Indian Television ten years down the line?

I would love to hear your views!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My friend Murphy - Part 2 (Last)

For the first half of the adventure, do read Murphy - Part 1.
So here we are, ready well in time, all set to leave - thanks to conscientious Swaps! But Murphy refused to let go! Though am convinced that he doesn't show himself before Swapna!

  1. We called a cab at 2:45 PM to drop us at the airport for our 5:00 PM flight. It was a 40 minute drive. We should be there by 3:30-3:45 PM at most. Well in time.
  2. Surprise! The cab broke down on the way and the driver called for a replacement. 10 minutes lost there. Still plenty of time. Reached the airport at about 4:00 PM. Check in done. Security check was a breeze except that I had forgotten to take off my heavy accessories which I had worn for the trip. So the darn metal detector beeped. Twice. Off went the necklace. Then the bracelet. The security check personnel might be thinking “Women!!!!”. Anyway, we finally said our goodbyes and went to the respective gates.
  3. My flight’s take off got delayed by about 15 minutes.
  4. It couldn’t get the clearance to land at Detroit in time, so it kept circling for a while.
  5. My layover at Detroit was only for 40 minutes and I was pretty sure I was going to see a repeat telecast. I kept praying my connection should be delayed.
  6. We finally got the clearance to land but there was another plane at the gate so our plane now kept taxiing for a while!
  7. The doors of our plane finally opened at 7:27 PM and my next flight was at 7:28 PM. Thankfully I only had a cabin bag so I took my bag and started running. Like Shahrukh runs in the movies. Think Kuch Kuch Hota hain when he runs across the bridge to the summer camp or Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham when he runs from the helicopter to meet his mom. Yep, that running. But alas, my arrival gate had been B21 and I had to run all the way to A15. My only consolation was my flight had been delayed by 10 mins. See when I was praying, I had not specified how much I need it to be delayed. Just like IT, requirements need to be specific. So yeah, He granted my wish, it just didn’t work to my benefit.
  8. So there I am running amok in the airport and halfway through I read the display board to realize my flight had taken off. Without me. The rest of the way I stood on the moving escalator. Why take the effort to walk?
  9. The Delta folks had already rebooked me on the next flight 9:55 PM to Minneapolis, because the delay was their fault. But here’s the catch. I was #4 on standby. I used the extra time to finish dinner, catch up on my reading and sat twiddling my thumbs.
  10. Boarding commenced and I was a little anxious, since I was still on Standby. Well, just my luck that they had seats up to Standby #3 and the rest of us were told to approach the Service Center for next alternatives.
  11. I trudged to the Service Center and found out that the next flight was only the next morning at 7:40 AM and I had either the option of staying at the airport or at a hotel that they put me up in. Looking around, it was starting to get deserted. I went with the hotel, they gave me a $25 gift voucher to spend at the airport, the hotel voucher, shuttle details to and from the airport and a travel kit. I spoke to my husband who looked up the hotel rating on the Internet. See I had vehemently decided against a Smart phone since I always had access to Internet at home. This was one situation which proved I should get one. The rating checked out okay, I was still a little tensed, so I thought I will check it out, if it turned out to be shady, I’ll simply come back in the same shuttle.
  12. Now I was still at the counter debating when behind me there was a blood curdling scream. Full bodied, high pitch, female. Panic spread among those of us in the line. People started whispering. We identified the source of the scream who by the way, still hadn’t stopped. Her husband sat next to her, throwing furtive glances at everyone around. He might have been embarrassed for all we know, but it wasn’t looking good. Finally, the lady at the counter could take it no more and she called 911. The airport security descended on her like a pack of vultures. Complete Gun and Taser and all! The works. After a round of questioning, she goes “They cancelled my ticket. I was mad at them. I needed to vent.” Seriously lady? And you chose the airport to do that? I guess they were harsh with her because she burst into tears.
  13. Well, that decided it for me. Spending the night alone in a hotel room appealed to my logical side more than having to spend it in the company of such crazies.

Thankfully, the hotel turned out to be a decent upscale one, I watched a chick flick, set my cell phone alarm with 3 snoozes, another backup alarm, called the hotel front desk to set a wake up call and finally fell asleep. The next morning I made it to the airport with two hours to spare.

Moral of the story: I had a chaotic spell when I was too casual about everything (I kept thinking my casual attitude was because I could speak English decently, drive well and had travelled alone before, so I knew I could manage). During the trip I had decided to amend my carefree ways and get more serious. Well, the trip back was not my fault and even if doing everything by the book leads to these results, then why be serious!

And oh yeah, Murphy continues to make his presence felt. Meeta has termed it Deepagiri but I know he’s there and am convinced he will be with me till the very end. I am a strong believer in his law. “If anything can go wrong, rest assured it will.”. 

I would love to hear your views!

My friend Murphy - Part 1

Disclaimer: This post has been split into two parts. Read only if you have the time and patience. Though I bet it would elicit a few laughs and leave you in a good mood at the end!

I know what you are thinking. Nope, its not Mr. Murthy spelled incorrectly, it is in fact Mr. Murphy with a P not a T. I will pretend that for the sake of anonymity I won’t be disclosing his first name but the truth is I have no idea what it is. I have always known him as Murphy. He’s been my closest friend since I was a kid, silently tagging along wherever I went, like a shadow, yet making his presence felt year after year, reinforcing the notion of his existence. Not that I ever doubted it, not even for a second. And after all these years, when I had felt like I had finally outgrown my friendship with him, when his antics had slipped to the back of my mind, he came back full-force as if to prove his supremacy.

The earliest experiences I can think of with him are actually experiences shared with me by my mother. I do not honestly remember those. I was too young then, all of three years. Murphy made himself more visible to my parents then than to me. But we have been connected since birth, so I like to say that during my childhood, he communicated with my parents through me.

My mother likes to remind me what a spoilt brat I was. When I was about three or so, I used to spill whole containers of food placed on the table for lunch. Look, food?, action, splat! That simple. I would throw jewelry out the window of our apartment. Expensive jewelry. My mother had to loosely tie me to a chair when she needed to go take a bath so that I wouldn’t get to any more mischief. She swears she could hear me dragging the chair along. So when that did not stop me, she would tie me to the table and hurriedly bathe in five minutes because she knew that would not stop me either. See? That was not me. I was an innocent, gullible kid. That was all Murphy.

When I was maybe four, allegedly one by one all day care folks in the vicinity gave up on me. They simply refused to take me in. They would call my mother, ask her to pick me up and tell her in clear terms “We cannot manage her anymore, she’s too wild!”. My mother had to quit her job to take care of me. That, also was Murphy. How can you even imagine a four year old could do all that?

Over the years as his effects wore off, one thing stayed constant. Falling. The tumbling, scrape-your-knees-elbows-palms, embarrassing falling. Just to make his point, whenever Murphy was with me, I would undoubtedly take a fall. One time on the school field. Once outside on the streets while I was playing with my friends. Even in college. Running to the workshop class, gripping the door handle and opening it hurriedly while the mat below my feet did a smooth sailing and I landed on my face with the door open and the entire class looking at me. It would happen at least once every year. Year after year. Like clockwork. And then it stopped. Just like that. Out of the blue and I thought I was rid of the curse.

Oh, how I was mistaken. Here’s a recap of my adventures on the way to meet two of my closest friends from college. We had such great plans; there was an electricity in the air; we were so looking forward to it; it would be so much fun meeting after a whole decade. Swapna, one of those two, has been such a dear and she has beautifully described our trip complete with the build up, the excitement and our experiences in her blog Dreams Come True. So here goes my part. The day of the trip dawned bright and early.

  1. I hit the Snooze button on my alarm one too many times.
  2. I grossly miscalculated the time I should reach the airport for my 7:40 AM flight to Virginia.
  3. As a result, even at 6:45 AM I was still home brushing my hair, blissfully unaware that I had entered into the time zone which states “You should be at the airport at least an hour before the flight.”
  4. After my husband finally managing to knock some sense into me after long trials and tribulations, I reached the airport at 7:20 AM - a full 20 minutes before my flight. Wait, it keeps getting better and better!
  5. The self-service kiosk refused to let me check in, stating that check-in had closed. Duh!
  6. I forgot my license at the kiosk, thankfully the agent called me back and stated I wouldn’t have gotten far without it anyway. I would have said I forgot it because of the state I was in, but that wouldn’t be the truth because this wasn’t the first time I did that. I have forgotten my wallet in Patel groceries, the Target store, the library, the cafe counter at our workplace so much so that the cafe workers knew how to recognize my wallet!
  7. So I spoke to the agent at the check-in desk who was, God bless her, an angel as she patiently answered my questions and helped me find alternate flights. After a lot of searching, she said, Got one! This evening at 5:40 PM. I didn’t think twice. “I’ll take it!” I said confidently and dramatically almost handed her my credit card. “That would be $1200.” She said. I took my hand back. No dramatics this time.
  8. She continued to search. At one point she asked me if I am flexible about airports. All other flights to my destination were full. No connections. She couldn’t issue me more layovers because that would mean a fresh ticket. The closest one turned out to be about 120 miles away - a possible two-hour drive. After much debating (while the poor soul continued to search for other options) I agreed. I would reach Greens Borough around 5:30 PM in the evening. Best case, I would find a state bus or a Greyhound. Worst case, I would need to rent a car and drive! I paid the $50 rescheduling fee and took my boarding passes. My flight was at 10:15 AM. I had about two hours to kill. Not wanting to take any chances (read: any more)  I walked to my gate and took a seat - starting reading a book I was carrying along.
  9. “At this point of time, we would like to announce that we have an overbooked flight and we are looking for passengers flexible about their travel plans who would be ready to take the next flight. We would pay them $200 in Delta vouchers.” Hmm, sounded good. I had a three hour layover at Cincinnati which would get reduced to a one hour layover but maybe the $200 would cover for my rental car expenses. My logical side kicked in and said not to push my luck. I sat and waited.
  10. “We are now offering $400 if you are flexible to travel by the next flight.” An evil tiny voice inside me said: $200 was one thing, you can definitely risk it for $400. So I went to the counter and discovered that the lady standing before me had taken the deal. I walked back to my seat thinking maybe it was all for good.
  11. Now, I was visiting an old friend, Padma from my colony, for the first time after her marriage, so while browsing the shops at the Cincinnati airport I thought it would be a good idea to buy them a gift. I got them two gift packs - one for her, the other for him and while the lady packed those up and put them into a gift bag, I shuffled through my purse for my wallet. I know what you’re thinking, but this time it was right in there!
  12. The flight from Cincinnati to Greens Borough was uneventful (Funny right?). I picked up my rental which Meeta had booked for me online and thought now would be a good idea to keep the gift bags out so that I can give it to them as soon as we met. And then, I discovered the “For him” was missing!!!! No amount of throwing things around and searching would bring it back. I had to finally call the store and found out they accidentally missed packing it and would be willing to ship it for free. I gave them the address and that took care of this problem.
  13. I drove peacefully, humming to myself, listening to the radio, met my friend, told them my story, had a good home-cooked dinner, reminisced about those days and talked and gossiped. After a good 2-3 hours, they dropped me off to where my college friend Meeta was - the one with whom I had planned the resort trip. We picked up the car from her friend’s place and drove back to her apartment. And she couldn’t find her key. Which was on a badge slot that also had her credit card, her ICard and some cash. Lo and Behold, the ‘Deepa effect’ had just passed from one person to the other. This was the first time something like that had happened. We drove back to her friend’s and scooting in the dark, looked for the damn thing in the light from our cell phones. This was at 1 AM in the morning. She finally found it right in her bag!!
  14. We drove back to her apartment and we discovered that we could not turn off one of the lights in the car, couldn’t find the switch. So she called up her friend Yongbo again and gave the phone to me. As I was talking to him on the phone, she forgot that I had it and started searching for the phone and exclaims to me when I was done: “I think we have to go back. I lost my cell phone!!!”

And the trip had just started. We spoke well into the night, slept real late, woke up late, she cooked pohe, talked some more, actually endlessly. Then we went to pick up Swaps. I think her landing offset the effect that was hovering around me because the rest of the time spent with the two of them was amazing. In a good sense. No mishaps. The trip back was a whole other story. Now that I type this I realize, maybe it was Swaps. Because right till the moment she was with me, everything was good. We parted ways at the airport and took our individual flights. Read Murphy - Part 2 to find out what happened on the way back!

I would love to hear your views!

Friday, April 6, 2012

By the power vested in me

Nope, no marriage being ministered. And no, I haven’t changed my profession either. Still unemployed, still enjoying. The title of this post points to this month’s topic chosen by Bhagyashri, for our writers circle monthly blog posts.

Given a chance, the power/sixth sense I would like to have & why
Hmm, interesting. The first thing that comes to mind is Superman. Movies and TV have always been full of superhero concepts - Heroes, Batman, Superman, IronMan, Spiderman. Think of the possibilities. Initially when she suggested the topic, I started thinking of all the serious ones - eradicate poverty, banish corrupt folks - typical, like spoken at a beauty pageant. And then Swati suggested, how about adding a touch of humor to it. So am going to cheat a little and submit two entries, one humorous and one serious. Here goes.

1. The "Eat all you can" buffet!
Yep, think about how cool that would be. “With great power comes great responsibility” said Spiderman. Well, he definitely wasn’t hungry when he said that, else he would have picked something like I did. He probably wasn’t thinking about using the power for himself either. But me? Well, this particular one is about a humorous take, so I’ll be selfish and choose the power to eat whatever you want, how much ever you want and not gain an ounce or affect cholesterol or my health in any other way. I never used to be a foodie when I was in India. But the recent years have made me yearn for all kinds of food. Its possibly got to do with the fact that eating now makes me gain weight unlike in India, when regardless of how much I ate, I wouldn’t put on. The physical activities and the day to day stresses took away all of it. That’s why I probably didn’t realize it then, because I do not think my apetite’s changed. So yes, that’s my wish. Be able to eat all I want to without having it affect anything else! 

A child attempts to eat a piece of watermelon bigger than himself!

2. Minority Report is back!
This one’s the serious one. I remember watching this movie with my friends after I had graduated 12th grade. The idea that someone could predict crimes and arrest the perpetrator even before the crime is committed fascinated me even then. I have not been a sci-fi fan ever, but futuristic films have held me spell bound and tingly for a long time. What if someone did clone and recreate dinosaurs somewhere like in Jurassic Park? What if someone did create machines more powerful than man, that could someday eradicate mankind like in Transformers? And yes, what if we had a world where we could (or I could - as this post goes - have the power to) identify criminals and nab them prior to or in the act? The world would be a much more safer place. Of course, I wouldn’t know what to do with the nabbed criminals or even where to house them, considering the legal and judicial systems backlogs are at an all-time high, at least in India, but that’s a whole different conversation. 

A cartoon on psychics who can foretell the future
What about you? If you were given the option to have any one power/sixth sense what would it be? What if it did get granted? But then I also think about the movie Bruce Almighty where Bruce Nolan plays God and grants everyone’s wishes not having the time or interest to pick and choose. What would happen if everyone’s wishes were granted? It would be chaos to the power of a million. Oh well, that would be interesting to watch too!

I would love to hear your views!
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