Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Expressions!

From all the lovely ladies at Simmons who I love and shall miss so much, I received:


NY and NJ and Chocolate

I went to New York again. But little I have to say this time.
I landed to run around shops on Black Friday.
Saturday morning I had hot chocolate with marshmallows melting in them at the Max Brenner with Roomie (my roommate for two years and wingie for the next two years of my IITian life). She was sweet enough to book us a table there where people stand in every inch of space for the smell of chocolate. We then went to Jersey Gardens (New Jersey) for shopping. So I crossed state, bought some stuff and got them all to Boston. Now I need to figure out how to pack everything.
And that's all there is for my NY trip.

Highlights:
1. I got to meet Roomie
2. I got to have chocolate
3. I got some nice cheap boots that I know will not last but nevertheless I love them
4. We drove and I always thought that traffic sucks in Manhattan when I walked it, but it wasn't bad at all
5. Ivo and I got the same sweater

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beacon Hill and Thanksgiving

After my wonderful teaching experience and a great rating for a presentation in one of my classes the Thanksgiving break was up.
Wednesday through Monday was my break.

On Wednesday we (Ivo and I) walked again. We walked Beacon Hill. It was so freaking cold that we froze over and had to stop at every starbucks we found. But it was beautiful. Boston is a weird city. It's all college stuff everywhere and like a little town in between the college stuff. We saw places owned by some of the prominent Bostoners of the 1800s. It's all cute and nice. Like living out of the old times. All the architecture was 18th and 19th century. Some houses had so many creepers on them and there were hidden gardens too.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. We (my Chinese undergrad friend, Ivo and I) had lunch at the school for Thanksgiving and we have Turkey and corn bread and mash potates with new people. It was all in my Chinese friend's dorm's living room. After that we went with another Chinese friend (grad school) and her Chinese friend to a professor's house which was in a suburb called Wellesley. It was nice. It was the (American)professor, her daughter with Polish roots, her daughter's friend, her daughter's friend's mother and father who is a professor too, her daughter's friend's father's undergrad student, her daughter's friend's dad's Russian student who is on exchange from Netherlands, a student who stays in the professors house who is a second generation Ukrainian, a dutch couple who were the professor's friends, my Chinese grad friend, my Chinese grad friend's friend, my Nicaraguan friend and my Indian self.
A truly international yet American Thanksgiving dinner complete with Turkey and Pumpkin pie.
Oh Lord! Thank you for this meal!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Teach!

MIT conducts every year a little (actually a really huge) event called Splash (and one over the spring called Spark).

During Splash, any grad/undergrad student can sign up to teach anything, absolutely anything. And who are the students? Middle school and high school students from all over, anywhere. It is up to the teacher to keep the students engages because there are walk-in seminars happening all the time and one could just walk out of a class into these seminars.

So what has it got to do with me? I TAUGHT !!!

What?
(well it was supposed to come off as "what did I teach?", but if you read it as "waht? I don't believe you!" I won't hold it against you.)

so I taught 5 classes of 3 courses.
  • Introduction to Telugu: language and alphabet (2 classes)
  • Incredible India: a crash course on Indian culture (2 classes)
  • Blog Your Way: Blogging 101 (1 class)

How was it?
AWESOME!

What did I learn about myself?
That I know more about Telugu than I thought and my handwriting is good. I know a lot about Indian culture, but I should probably learn more. I know almonds about blogging.

It was also amazing to see parents waiting for their kids, anxious to know what they learnt and elated to see them happy. There was this one lady who was looking through the glass of the door to see how her kid was doing. OK that was a little too much. But in general, I liked the atmosphere. I did not think American parents would care so much about their kids and their little wishes to learn about foreign language or modular origami or black-holes . How wrong I was! How wrong I was!


This is by far the best weekend in United States! (and I don't think the next two are going to beat it. Yes, two. Just two.)

Charlie and his Town

So Ivo got a book from a friend about walking tours in Boston.
It had a lot of tours but there was one part of town we have never ever been to: Charles Town.

The freedom trail we walked was supposed to end in Charles Town but we stopped at the River Charles that day and we completed the trail now.

We started by taking a ferry from Long Wharf to Navy Yard, reading the book all along. Walked around the Navy Yard and the USS Constitution, reading up the history. We then went up to the Bunker Hill Monument (on Beacon Hill, Bunker Hill is somewhere around) with the statue of William Prescott. We saw the Harvard Mall where Harvard and another guy decided to name this place Cambridge and start a great college which later on came into being named Harvard (except he didn't live to see it). We also ran into a little pub where all great leaders met to talk about politics and the Red Coats and somebody's house and somebody else's garden and the City Square and the little Harvard street, etc.

The town was beautiful. It is possible the most beautiful part of Boston. You cross over in the ferry and you feel you crossed over the ocean all the way to England, to a little English town, full with little house, cobble stone pathways and tiny roundish cars! Finally we walked over the bridge to come back to the fast lanes of Boston leaving behind the beautiful peaceful and serene little town that lives by itself.

If you ever visit Boston, make sure you take time out to walk around Charles Town, especially during its' breathtaking fall.

Manhattan


The whole trip to New York felt like a vacation you take when you are working and not a student, like working-people-taking-vacation.

I woke up on Thursday morning to run to a meeting for a project, followed by another meeting for another project followed by a rush to the bus station to catch a bus to NY. See what I mean by working-people-taking-vacation?

The journey to and fro sucks. Because Megabus sucks. I took my laptop with me just so I could use the wifi on Megabus to and fro and work on some stuff I needed to get done over the weekend and not really wanting to work during the weekend. Ultimately, I just carried 3 extra kgs of load to and fro with no use for it except a brief half hour to check mails check weather and register for courses at IIMC.

But Manhattan rocks.

My tour of New York started right from where I got off the bus. Madison Square and Times Square!

The next day began with a little walk around the Fina
ncial District: The New York Stock Exchange, The Bull and The Wall Street (see all my capital Ts in 'The's). We took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty (but since it was later in the day they did not take us to something else that they normal do and also they ran out of tickets for going to the crown. Not that I was upset. But it was funny; we had 'airport like security'. I am not making up the phrase; this is the phrase they used at the security check.


We went over to Ground Zero but it was all barricaded due to some construction work and the Metro stop underneath was also out of service (since 2002). We finished our tour for the day with a spectacular (extremely chilly) view from the Empire State Building.



The next day we woke up later than ever and by the time we had lunch it was nearing dusk. So we quickly wen to the beautiful Central Park and to Lego Land and Rockefeller center. We saw two ice rinks and walked around a lot in the lanes of West Village.


Sunday was just for waking up, grabbing a bite and the pathetic bus back to Boston.

The highlights of the trip:
  • Airport like security
  • The freezing view from Empire State
  • The soft flooring in the kids zone at Central Park. So that kids who fall don't get hurt. It was like styrofoam or something. It was absolutely awesome.
  • Big Big Bubble; at Central Park, there was this guy who had a bucket of soapy water and two sticks connected by a loop of string. So you could make like insanely lasrge bubbles, the size I have never seen before.
  • Lego store, Lego land was mindblowing. I could spend like days if I get locked up in Lego land!


New York, New York


A new header and a new theme!

One hand in the air for the big city,
Street lights, big dreams all looking pretty,
no place in the World that can compare,
Put your lighters in the air, everybody say yeah
come on, come,
yeah,


New York!!!!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you're in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To do, To Blog

After all the blogging I do, I always have more to blog about.
I am living life faster, everyday !

Here are a list of things to blog about ...

Books:
  • Unaccustomed Earth
  • Interpreter of Maladies
  • Breathless in Bombay (when I finish)

Movies:
  • Amelie
  • My Sister's Keeper (already blogged on another site)
  • NY I Love You (But I think I'll get a different perspective after going to NY this weekend :P )
  • The Day I Became a Woman
  • Rajneeti
  • Tum Milo To Sahi
  • Veronica Mars (it's actually a series)

Random things:
  • Like Boston and NY have a lot of rats
  • Like I am not worried about traveling by T after dark anymore because it gets dark by 4.30 now
  • Like how the fact that i finally know what day light savings is and how freaked out I got about it :P
  • Like how I had a discussion with a blogger who believes I am a different "type" and the weekend awakening conversation was not expected out of me and how I reacted very violently to it. (ah well, may be I won't blog about it).
  • Like how I called my long lost friend yesterday and felt great talking to her (we have been on fb for a while).
  • Like how I called my long lost friend today and was hesitant to tell her who I was.
  • Like how I made three new friends out of acquaintances.
  • Like how I realize I only have a month left and lots and lots and lots of stuff left to do!
(Image courtesy: AikoNagori)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Dream On

In one of my courses last week, we had a guest lecture. The guest was this wonderful woman who in her 50s decided to start a nonprofit organization to help women to come away from violent homes.

During the course of her lecture, she made us write our "Dream Proposal".
Your dream proposal consisted of the your biggest dream, steps and goals to reach it and the estimated cost of the first step to reach the dream.The dream could be a picture including your life, you home, your car, the color of your curtains and so on.

As I put pen to paper I tried to recollect my dreams.

The first time I dreamed of doing something was when I was in class 3. I wanted to be the first Indian woman in space and when I was about 10 years old, Kalpana Chawla beat me to it so I tore up all my newspaper cuttings of articles about space, nasa research, meteor showers, etc and gave up that dream.

The first time I put pen on paper and wrote down a pictorial life style dream was about 9 years ago, in class 10. We had a woman who was an alumnus of our school come over to motivate us. She made us close us eyes, listen to soothing music and her harmonious voice and directed us to imagine 10 years hence and look at our lives, picture it and write it down.

I don't have the paper with me right now (it's in my memory box packed away in Kolkata), but I remember what I wrote. I wrote down a lifestyle. Today, I am living it !

(Image courtesy: p0rg)

And suddenly, I realized, I needed a new dream!
And then I realized, I have had a new dream since all these 9 years. And a newer dream since 7 years. And a much newer dream since 6 years and the newest dream since 3 years. I have many dreams ! so many many dreams :)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Weekend Awakening!

"You'll find it very different."
"Excuse me?"
"Once you have been here, India will be very different."
"Different?"
"It won't be like this. Once you get used to this, it's so, so different."
"I like it back home!" (stone faced)
This was the conversation that ensued after I told someone that I am an exchange student and that I have been here for 2 months and I am going back in a month (precisely a month actually). What kind of a conversation is that? He could have said he likes it here, he could have asked where I feel better, he could have. But how can he tell me I am not going to like my country? Because I have had a "life changing" experience staying here !? Duh!

Just to clarify. I did not have a life changing experience here. And I like my country. I like London too. But I like my country more. I know it has limitations. I know it has it's issues. But I like my country. And I don't think that everyone should like my country. But I like my country.

What a conversation to end my weekend!
Wait a minute!
My weekend started with Thursday and ended with Thursday.

I went shopping on Thursday with Ivo and got myself some warm clothes and warmer boots! Diwali shopping I would have said but no, it was just winter shopping, or preparing for the snow.

I took a weekend course if you remember and here is the second weekend of the course. The first weekend was during Dussera and the second during Diwali. Friday came and went like a breeze. I stayed over at a friend's place because 12 hours in the cold is not a good enough reason to come all the way home. Saturday was better cause after all the day of class, a couple of Indian girls from school, my roommate and I went to have an early dinner. We had some good food and good time. And back to work and studying. Sunday came and went by with the class. I dropped by at ISKCON again, alone this time. I attended the Bhajan and was having food when I realized I was not alone and a bunch of friends I went with for the first time had turned up. It was good.

Whenever I talk about the fact that I am going to ISKCON every Sunday, I talk about their good food. I agree it's good and really homely. I enjoy it every time I go. But no. I do not go there for the food. I am not a foodie. Never been. I go there because I like it. I like spending time there. I go there to connect to my culture in contemporary ways and to connect to the spirituality that is an integral part of my culture. It makes me feel I am among people who reconnect and feel connected to the sense of community I miss in this country! I go there to feel 'Indianess' as Nehru defined.

(And where should the above mentioned disappointing conversation happen but here, to enhance my disappointment)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Of Picasso, Paneer and Halloween

Some how, I seemed to have missed the post on Halloween weekend.

Oh well because there was nothing to it. I was supposed to go to NY and meet my undergrad friends (one being bard). But it got cancelled in the last minute!

After my extremely eventful Thursday, I spent a quite Friday cleaning. This is the first I ever used a vacuum cleaner. :)
I always thought vacuum was spelled as vaccuum. Is it not? Is it American vs British or am I plain wrong ? (don't Google it).

So, on Saturday, the bard, who's researching in Tufts, and I decided to spend the day around Tufts and Harvard and we did.

We went to the Harvard Art Museum and saw so many paintings, I barely remember any at all. In fact, I remember only one. It was a Picasso painting. It was amazing and it stuck in my memory. It was funny actually. I was standing in front of it and I was like what the hell? What's so great about it? And I moved away. I just happened to turn around and then it caught it. It's not beautiful. It's just amazing. No wonder Picasso is Picasso.

(image courtesy: renzodionigi )

Then we went over to her friend's place where her some other friends were meeting. The idea was that they'd meeting once in a while and make international food. The Spanish lady, the host made Spanish omelette. And bard and I made Palak Panner. It turned out good. (and this was the first either of us attempted it).

On Halloween, I met up with a friend I made during Vatsap's dinner meeting. She sang the Indian National Anthem at that dinner. And it felt great to hear it on foreign land. So I made friends with her (and also because it was hard to find students at that dinner and she was studying middle eastern jazz at Berkelee School).
So we didn't have anything to do and we dropped by at the ISKCON temple and just roamed about in freezing cold to watch dressed up people on the street.


PS: Bard, I can't link you. Your blog has moved and I can't find it. Please drop in and let me know.

Update: Bard, you are not linked ! Thanks for dropping in!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Socializing, yet not

On September 25th, I killed Orkut! Sorry Google, you got the wrong one in!

On November 1st, I started Twitter! Sorry Google, I only Buzz on Gtalk (which the Buzz steals)!

I haven't connected my Twitter to the Blogger (yes, I haven't migrated to wordpress yet). Shall do so if it picks up after a while.