Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Hillary Clinton in India

July 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Badly spelled, with practically no analysis, but he may just be right.

6.Americans understand India better than they understand Pakistan and its jihadi hordes. Pakistanis understand the US better than Indians.

7.Hype and flattery will be the defining characteristics of her visit. Indian ego will remain tickled for some months.

But I’m glad she’s able to make the trip, even with feminist elbow and all (btw, check out her new ‘blinged sling’)


Unknown women: Angelica Kauffmann

November 11, 2008 Leave a comment

A great woman I heard about – for the first time today:
Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), an artist. Read about her here.

I’ve shared an extremely superficial relationship with painting/art over the years. Apparently when I was 8-10 years old, I’d written to my grandmom (ammamma) about me doing “three P’s: painting, paata (music) and ‘peaking”. I’m guessing the third meant public speaking. When she told me about this letter ten years later, I was ‘doing’ Physics and had no recollection of ever having painted anything – I’d lost it by then. All I vaguely remember is attending a summer painting/drawing class when I was 11 or 12, in Hyderabad, and I was really excited then at how simple it could be and that I could actually draw!!! YAY!!

Amma bought me a Paul Klee book sometime later in a book exhibition, by then I’d moved so far away it seemed like it was written in a strange language. I only felt mildly upset I couldn’t understand or relate to it, and it was more a loss for my ego than for my curiousity.

In college, again, a good friend was a painter – and she told me some “kewl stuff” about abstract art, like circles meaning continuity and triangles signifying agression and yin energy. Which was all very good, but like any artist would, she delivered this information with so much superciliousness I didn’t care to push too hard for more, even though I was very curious.

My first year working in a large multinational company, a visiting co-worker took me to an art gallery. She was interested in buying some art and had a clear size requirement. I was clearly out of my depth, but felt very welcomed by the owner who told me ‘just feel the art, listen to it, like it – you don’t have to understand it”. While this kind of statement usually delivered in Art of Living classes and by yoga instructors spewing pseudo-science puts me off, it was strangely comforting in a place where I felt more lost than I have at any science museum in my life.

Going to Europe was exciting the first couple times, of course, and the plethora of art everywhere definitely contributed to my enjoyment. But this time when we were planning our Italy trip, I avoided Florence because of the art – I didn’t want to feel so lost again. The learning/enjoyment vs. knowledge curves are definitely step-shaped, and I’m all plateaued out now.

And the last couple of years, I have, for the first time ever, had a little extra money and we’ve been wondering about how to buy/support art. I’m looking for women artists who make powerful, but positive, feministic art (I’m tired of being angry all the time!). An Indian artist would be even better. Suggestions?

Categories: culture, diary, pride, sisterhood, travel

More stupid human tricks

October 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Inspired by Waveflux‘s post (I also commented right there), this happened my first day in the new role and the day of my Sydney trip:

My car key is a square/cube shaped thing, with no edges whatsoever ( and I’d dropped it onto the floor of the car. I can still drive the car as long as the key is in the front half of the car, somewhere around the front seats (it has a sensor). Through the course of a busy morning, I kept telling myself I’d look for the key on the floor and pick it up, but never did. In the evening, I saw that the key had gone and lodged itself in a square-shaped hole on the floor under the driver’s seat. The hole, bizarrely enough, was *JUST* large enough for the key to fit, and no more. I said to myself, okay, if I can’t pull the key out of the hole, maybe I can push it through the hole and pull it out the other end. So I pushed it a couple inches more before I realized it wasn’t just A hole, the hole was the AC vent!!! And I, being the car expert I am, had NO IDEA how to open a vent!! It didn’t look like it had any screws or anything.

So I tried to pull the key out, but I could barely touch it as it was so far gone. I couldn’t pull it out with a flat blade, or with my fingernails, because it was pretty tightly lodged in. I tried to take the carpet out from under the pipe that had the hole, so that it would create a downward slope for the key to fall out the hole. No, that wouldn’t help either. I couldn’t go to a garage, because I had to reach the airport for a flight in 20 minutes. I couldn’t just drive to the airport, catch my flight, and bother about the key later, because what if it got in deeper into the air conditioning system and then the car stalled?

Through a stroke of brilliance – as big as the one that got my key lost in the first place – I started the car – and Viola, it did work. Good sensors. I drove VERY, VERY slowly and carefully to another area of the parking lot that had an upward slope and parked the car on the steepest part I found. I then went to the back seat, and with a tiny screwdriver, *rotated* the key on a vertical axis, until the metal ring (see the image above) around the key faced me instead of inside the hole. And still, I couldn’t pull the key out. because I didn’t have enough space to angle the screwdriver enough. So I pulled a big part of the carpet from under the pipe, and then in a self-described-magician’s-tablecloth-trick-type move, pulled at the ring of the key with the screwdriver at the same time that I pulled out the final piece of the carpet from under the pipe.

Ah. It came out.
🙂 I still have bruises on my knuckles where the skin was scraped right off for my efforts. But I made my flight!

And to all those who say women aren’t handy with tools, PPFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTT to you.


September 22, 2008 Leave a comment

So much news!

  1. Sydney! Yup, this year’s been a lot of travel – almost everything initiated by P. Freaky. We’re simply not equals anymore in the realm of power and perks. Wonder if this could be the biggest reason behind my snipi-ness and perennial restlessness. Who knows?
  2. I think my body clock has a 26-hour day. That’s why I don’t stay jet lagged for too long, and take barely a day to adjust to any new place, even one with a 15 hour time difference like Australia vs. EST. But when I stay home, my cycle’s out of whack every few weeks.
  3. I HATE long flights! What is it with my inability to sleep? And my HAIR, my HAIR, it suffers so to redeem the rest of me.
  4. This is bizarre: was just I sexually harassed on board a flight AKL-SYD, in the business class cabin? An old man, drunk beyond his wits, travelling with a female companion, sitting across the aisle from me, threw his used blanket in my lap, waking me as I slept. Then as I woke up in a daze, bewildered by the stuff on my body, staring at him and at space, and accounting for a blanket on P and my unopened one at my feet, the old man reaches across and snatches the blanket from my lap, and stuffs it between his legs, and stares straight ahead. Of all the inexplicable things to happen to a human being.
  5. I’m done travelling. There’s no mystery, no wonder, no excitement in my life anymore. It happened with the second London trip, the one in 2006, and then Paris was so terrible and boring in 2007 (PARIS, PARIS, for chrissakes. Sheesh!). Even Peru was a bit silly, even though that was so much better. Now Sydney. I can only think of Amalfi as being explosively good, and that’s because we didn’t plan on doing anything, and the food was so sumptuous. Am I done with vacations? Is this a new phase of discovery or merely the end of my curiosity?

I dont much like modern Australia. It’s way too wannabe-England, too colonial-conscious. I’m desperate for some Aboriginal (Indegenous?) art, history etc. and can’t find much. It’s a one-note city, much like Atlanta, and I’m already tired of it. Is there a way to find local flavor? Is there any local flavor?

Categories: travel


April 13, 2006 Leave a comment

We’re relocating sometime soon to Bushland, and to the heart of redneck America, that seat of the Civil War, Atlanta. People’s reactions are varied, almost everyone either starts or ends with a “congratulations”.

Me, I’m a little happy, and a little sad. It is a P-led transfer, and it has chavunism written all over it. I’m shifting with him, uprooting my life and leaving my job et al. But obviously, all everyone from his family has to say is that P‘s done it. Not to be mean to him, but really do they think he’s alone in all this, and that I’m just a tag-along-er? Do they not know enought about me by now to realise I might’ve played an active role? How can they concurrently call me a shrew and a dominatrix and then pretend that all the major decisions are his? It’s logically not held together! But then, logic was never an essential component of the Indian family construct.

Anyway, I don’t know if this is the best decision of our lives or the worst or a non-momentous one in the long run; that’s what is unnerving me most – I can’t even categorize this in the scale of importance for us. Is this just a temporary relocation, or is it the shift that changes the course of our future lives?

Whichever way, I’m sure to think and write a lot more about this now.

Categories: action, diary, India vs US, travel

An Algerian named Karim

March 30, 2006 Leave a comment

This is a piece I’d promised a long while ago, to myself and to P. In return for the lovely Europe vacation.

So I was asleep, comfortable, a little part of me freezing (my toes that were outside the sheet), a little part of me very warm (my left side that was too close to the radiator). It wasn’t a radiator, actually, for it didn’t radiate. It just heated, and very ferociously, but the heat didn’t spread itself too far away into the room. I wasn’t able to figure out whether I could legitimately blame the radiator for that, or the heat, or the lazy air molecules that, even with the extra heat energy, didn’t bother themselves to move too much. They wouldn’t’ve discovered America. Hell, they wouldn’t’ve discovered the 10e arrondissement.

Yes, for I was in Paris, sleeping, dreaming, in a 16th century building with cardboard walls.

And suddenly there were noises in the room. P had returned. High time it was, too. I scratched ‘down there’ for a bit, trying to get various parts of me warmed up, to get enough energy to admonish him (not yell, that is always Stage III). And opened my eyes to a very long face. No, not a sad P. But a white, long face. With hair on it. And very curious eyes that were staring at me quite openly. Moi, j’ai sauté vers le haut. Who was this?

Long face: Bonjour, moi obewe wefjwefh sjbwd jsdguwgdw….

Me: WHAT? Who are you?

Long face (with a lovely sing-song accent): O, sorrwe, you aire Einglis! I am cleaning your chambre, if you don’t mind (head bowed down, continues as if nothing’s really odd).

Me (suddenly stopping the scratching as I realize I’m embarrassing him): But how did you get the keys?

Long-face: Where are you from?

He’s about 22, 23. Turns out he’s Algerian, called Karim. He has a big burn bruise on his hand, but it’s a perfectly shaped circle, like it was branded (just an accident with a round thing would be more likely to burn his skin asymmetrically, wouldn’t it?). He’s fascinated to see me, look at me, and I can see the misty-eyes already spinning fantasies in his heed about this exotic Indian girl (“oi, but you aire so a long far from youir ‘ome!”). Wish he could at least wait until I couldn’t see the ‘cleaner with hotel guest’ fantasy so plainly in his face! But that’s the Europeans for you, and Simone de Beauvoir dares to talk about the ‘abysmal state of women in the East’ – I’ve been more recognized solely by my sex in France than in India (barring Delhi, of course).

P’s gone out to call his mum, and hasn’t returned in an aeon. I can’t see him in the phone booth downstairs across the road, even when I dare to stand in the cold, windy balcony long enough. Karim’s eyes mist over; full of pity when I answer that the door is locked from the outside by my husband, who has the keys (I didn’t want to be woken up). His fantasy now is even richer as he thinks of himself as the cleaning slave who will rescue the pretty, dark Eastern princess (not ‘pretty dark’, but ‘pretty, dark’) from her cruel husband who locks her up by day. He even dares to openly show shock at the fact that my husband has the keys (Poor P!! I could laugh out loud at his consternation if he heard of this).

Of course, P returns some fifteen minutes later and we do have the hearty laugh about this. The downstairs phone booth wasn’t working and he’d had to trudge a long way to find a working telephone (but it’d worked last night when I’d called Pune!). Of course, I realize the true story only much later (he was buying me a ring).

The whole story made a lot more sense when I’d finished Andalus – Jason Webster’s story of Moors and Algerians in Europe (Spain, actually). There was good reason for Karim to think of himself as a slave. And maybe the burn was a brand, after all.

Categories: diary, humor, P, race, travel