A stream of thoughts

Sometimes what we want to speak fail to reach ears of many people. Through my blog i hope its reaches the eyes of people who want to read it.

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Location: illinois, United States

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


I am driving back to home from work on a very cold evening. The windows in the car are all rolled up, the heat is on full blast and I see outside a landscape that has changed completely into winter mode with not a leaf on the trees. Tiny snowflakes float down aimlessly, some landing on the windows and immediately turning into tiny water droplets. The car moves effort less on the newly paved road. Without knowing what the drivers around me are thinking about or where they are coming from or going, I can almost judge their moves on the road. It has become a routine, a very dull routine for me.

Everything around me is so predictable, and suddenly I realize how much we take life & relationships for granted. I don't remember anymore what smelling a rose feels like, I don't remember what breathing feels like, and I don't remember what getting a tight hug from a loved one feels like. I don't remember what it felt like to sit in the shade of a tree with my best friend my husband lying next to me and watching sun play hide and seek with the leaves, I don't remember sitting and watching sun set against the emptiness of a sea, I don't remember what feels like walking barefoot on green grass or on warm sand of a beach. All this of course won't be possible were we not pulled by a single force. Gravity.

Few days back, Ashish & I stole some time out of our super busy schedule for a date and decided to go for a movie. Anyone who has kids would know it’s not an easy accomplishment. After discussing the time, the movie and the location, we finalized on a movie which had been making a lot of buzz. Gravity.

I went to the movie with no expectation at all simply because I didn't have time to think about it. Ok...so it’s about space, people stuck in space and then in the end they get back. What is such a big deal about it? We bought the tickets, took hold of our 3-D glasses and started walking towards the theater. I was more absorbed about the fact that I had left my kids back then with the movie. What are they doing, are the sleeping ok, and are they fighting, are they playing...

We enter the nearly empty theater, selected our seats and settled down. I took a deep breath and I forced my mind to stop wondering about kids and concentrate on the movie. I looked at Ashish sitting next to me and I realized suddenly we are alone, all by ourselves with no distraction and I just smiled. I held his hand and felt the old comfort creeping back in.

The movie began on a casual note with astronauts trying to service the Hubble Space Telescope. They have subtle incidents to indicate the lack one strong force, Gravity. Dr. Ryan Stone (played by Sandra bullock) doesn't hold on to her equipment tightly enough and they go flying away in space. When Matt Kowalski (played by George Clooney) catches it and returns to her, she replies - I am used to tools dropping on the floor not floating away. I chuckled and then I felt my heart skip a beat. How do you manage in a place which so endless? What do you see when you look up or down?

A Russian missile then strikes on a defunct satellite, which causes a chain reaction forming a cloud of space debris floating towards them. This high-speed debris causes lot of damage and detaches Dr Stone, who tumbles into the empty space. This is where you realize how helpless you can be up there. With nothing to hold on to, you just float away, but to where? Human body can deal for a while without food or water or air, but not all at the same time. At that instant, I felt like all my senses come alive, I noticed I was breathing really hard, I noticed holding on to the cold soda really tight, I noticed my feet tapping on the floor (an old habit when I am scared). I really wanted to stretch my hands to hold Dr. Stone and pull her towards me, pull her towards the safety of Gravity!

Ultimately she is rescued by Kowalski and as they start the journey towards International Space Station, the sun rises in the backdrop. Watching the warm sunlight that we all know so well spread through the cold and alien outer space, I realized how numb we have become to our surroundings. This simple yet most beautiful motion of earth revolving around the sun has created so many miracles that it’s even hard to imagine. Two tiny figures of astronauts moving across the large canvas of earth and sun remind me how little and helpless we are. We don't really control anything. We just feel comfortable lying to ourselves that I we are in control.

When they reach ISS, they try to grab the shuttle but become entangle into a giant parachute. Against the protest of Dr. Stone, Kowalski cuts himself and drifts into empty space and you see Dr Stone floating all by herself in the space. At that moment, I am reminded of another dialogue from the beginning of the movie, where she indicated to Kowalski that she likes being up in the space, away from all the maddening life of earth and she could get used to it. At this point, I feel like asking her again, can you...really? However much we always say to ourselves that we just want to run away from all this craziness; we can never really run away. At the end of the day, we always want to head home. Home where craziness is, home where your kids fill your heart with laughter, home is where love makes it all real...

The movie goes on and Dr. Stone finally return to earth and in the end they just show her feet firm on the ground...

I am not sure if any movie has left such a big impact on me. Made me realize that how tiny we are in front of what made it possible for us to evolve. When I came out, I held on to Ashish’s hand and looked down on my feet. When I came out of the theater I looked up in the sky and felt the comfort of being surrounded by things that make me alive. That moment i realized that love is real, family is real, home is real, even the smiles and tears are all real...just like Gravity is real...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Chasing the lights...

It’s been a long day and I can’t wait to get home. As I come out of the office, the darkness engulfs me and I wonder if I worked through the evening and into the night. No, it can't be. My clock shows 5 pm. I look back, the world headquarters of McDonalds shines behind me. The windows are lit with warm yellow light inside. The big Christmas tree shines in the background. The ever famous arch is shining and standing out against the darkness of night. Everything looks so bright and shinny in the dark background of night!

I warp my jacket around me tighter and start walking towards my car. The winter is slowly creeping its way into the windy city of Chicago. My breathe forms a white fog in front of me. As a force of habit I suck in as much air inside my lungs and then let out my breath slowly making a denser fog appear. I smiled to myself. It remained me of a silly game we used to play as children. We pretended to be smoking, only this is much healthier and it did make my nose tip a bit warmer.

The walk back to car is long. The wind makes my eyes water and my nose turn numb with cold. At this every moment when I desperately need the warmth of my car, I forget where I parked it! I sort to the help of technology, clicked on my unlock button on the keys and my car purred quietly ...somewhere. I did it again. I saw faint light blinking between the two cars. So, that’s where you have been hiding...

As soon as I get into my car, I turned the heater to full. I switched on my favorite channel on radio and the loud music of Hanna Montana’s song “Party in the USA” suddenly wraps me into the world of its own. I start my car, adjust my rear view mirror and I am on my way to chase the lights all the way to home...

While driving on the interstate Highway – 290, I realized that it’s equal to driving on any F1 race track. The cars rush past me, only because they can't go over me. I curse when someone is slow on road because I am getting late. I curse when someone over takes me rashly because at that point I am not late! I drive at 70 miles/ hour at times because the one ahead of me is speeding. Sometimes I am forced to drive 75 miles/hour because someone behind me is touching the bumper of my car! At times I chase a car in front of me because I want a second look at that good looking person or someone chases me to show the anger because I was not speeding enough!

Yet when somewhere someone decides to go ahead and have an accident, the traffic becomes more docile. The traffic jams in USA is a great leveler. Unlike in India, where people want to cut lanes and create a jam of their own, here it doesn't depend whether you have a bigger car, or you are richer than everyone or whether you can maneuver your car like a pro. Everyone has to wait in their lane. Everyone seems to follow the bright red light ahead of them as if they are hypnotized by it. I forget what’s around me and my whole world revolves around that bright red light in front of me. When it moves, I move, when it stops… I stop too!

While waiting for that red light to move, I look up into the dark skies. I see small white dots are chasing each other. They are known as airplanes waiting to land. Their chase never ends as they go round and round chasing each. It looks like an animated screen of a game called Pac man. The bigger dot scrolls on the screen to eat the little dots. The airplanes look like big Pac man eating the small dots called stars. They won't stop until they eat all or someone somewhere presses a button to let the planes know that they need to end the chase and for heaven-sake land the airplane!

There is a point on my way to home, where five roads cross each other in different direction and on different layers. Three bridges built on top of the two roads on ground. I can see the red and yellow lights chasing each other till they move out of my vision. I really love this juncture in my journey to home. For a moment I forget that the bright lights are attached to cars and wonder, how can so many lights, going in so many different directions not forget their way! They just keep chasing the one ahead of them. It looks like bright lights are skidding on a smooth road at high speed and yet never bang into each other!

At that point sitting in my car, I wonder when it I loose the track of time. I have become a slave of my habit. The cars ahead and behind me don't matter. The same channel on radio, the same music one after the other, the same road to office and back each day, the same angry mob trying to take over my comfort zone, everything becomes a simple chase to reach somewhere. I forget the tree and bushes are displaying colors of summers or falls or in winters nothing at all. I forget all about a native Indian dream catcher dancing like a ballerina dancer attached to my rear view mirror. I forget to look at the beautiful moon rising in the sky to spread the light while Sun takes a nap!

Probably someday I'll wake up from this hypnotism...only to realize I have missed a decade...

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Slumdog Millionaire: A movie that Indians love to hate

Few weeks back, I was talking to Ashish, my husband, about a movie which was creating quite a stir in the creative world. It was before it won the Golden Globe, Critics Choice Awards and the greatest of the awards, an Oscars. We didn’t know then, that it is directed by an English director, financed by an American company and is based on a novel written by an Indian. All we knew was everyone was talking about it.

The movie magically and shockingly took us back to the city that we cherish so much...Mumbai or Bombay. The city of dreams, the city of humidity and sweat. The city that has taught hundreds of thousands of large families to live in one-bedroom apartment. The city which taught so many of us to struggle and to dream. A city with a sky full of stars in the darkness of night, and filled with human stars in the daytime blaze–a city of fashion, of film,  of a murky underworld, and decaying slums.

The slums runs through this amazing city like a big snake, shinning black, slithering and swallowing whatever beautiful which comes its way. When you fly into the heart of city, the first thing you see is slums, eating away the hills, the greenery, and the beauty of the city. The roads in the city act as dividing mediums with big malls on one side shouting loudly the slogan–India Shining. On the other side, silently, lie slums that people in Mumbai have trained themselves to ignore, thinking that if they close their eyes to the problem long enough it will somehow go away.

Most people, who live in the slums, left their huge homes in villages that provided clean water, clean air, and land that is pure and fertile. Ironically, Mumbai provides polluted air and long queues where people must stand in line for water to drink and oil for cooking. Then they carry these basic necessities to their shanties of less than 100 square feet that provides shelter for families as large as six or more members. They struggle every day to try to realize their dreams to “make it big,” like the few hundred before them who have miraculously managed to achieve the fantasy.

Is this why they could not accept this movie? Is it because it shows the reality instead showing some beautiful location in Switzerland with stars like Sharukh Khan dancing to senseless tunes? Is it because the movie shows how kids can lose fingers, hands, even eyesight, for the “crime” of begging in the streets? Is it because it shows how kids are taught to kill for money to become the next don?

People don’t like the title of the movie because they see “Slumdog” as a putdown for those who live in the slums, as though they are no better than dogs.  If words are supposed to insult what about the word “Millionaire” that is right next to it? People say they didn’t like the movie because it doesn’t show the "India Shinning" image. Instead the director chose a very dirty place, Slums of Mumbai, which according to them doesn’t exist. I see this divergence from fact as comparable to when a leader of a country like Iran says that he doesn’t believe the holocaust happened. Though I agree that this is not the only part of India yet the story was not about India it was about love in the streets of slums. How else can you show that without bringing in the slums?

The big actors in Bollywood don’t agree with this movie probably because they didn’t get a role in it. Some say the movie won only because a foreigner directed it. Maybe they have forgotten that the only other movie about India that managed to win international awards was Gandhi. Gandhi is shown religiously in India on every TV channel on Independence Day, Republic Day, and on the anniversary of his death. No one complains for this masterpiece though this movie is also directed by another foreigner - Richard Attenborough, an Englishman, and the role of Gandhi played by Ben Kingsley, an American.

Yet when the same movie managed to win the first ever Oscar for an Indian musician - A R Rahman, India is celebrating. Kids who acted in the movie were wholeheartedly welcomed back into the slums upon their return from the Oscar presentations. They are treated as famous actors and everyone is happy for them. The use of “dog” in the title of the movie is no longer an issue.  Every news channel and every internet site in India is talking about how great the movie is.

Frida Pinto has all of a sudden become a big celebrity. Before this movie no one even knew she existed. She is being talked in every gossip column. No seems to mind a barely covered Frida Pinto on the front page of Maxim and Vogue. She has even managed to get a role in Woody Allen’s new movie, a feat that the famous star, Ashwariya Rai, was unable to do till now.

My husband and I, like many people of our generation and background, love this movie for the hard and dirty truth it displays. We are probably few of those Indians who don’t cringe with the word “dog” in it, because we know that this city has always opened its arms for its citizens giving equal opportunities. This city has always cheered for its citizens whether they live in more affluent parts of the city or in the open-sewer slums.  

We rejoice when a movie about India gets an international platform because it breaks the mold that India has endured for ages. It dares to tell that there are no elephants roaming around in every city, there are no snake charmers walking on the roads and people don’t live in palaces and forts.

Someday, after all the current sensationalism about “Slumdog Millionaire” is over, somewhere in the narrow streets of the slums, an old man may be sitting under the only surviving tree visible for miles. He will tell awestruck kids about “Slumdog Millionaire” and how it managed to take a few children, just like them, across the seven oceans into a big city of dreams. He will not talk about how the movie showed only the slums and not the India of the Shining Image. He will tell about Frida Pinto who came from nowhere to become the most talked-about actress from India, and about A.R. Rahman, who became the first musician from India to win an Oscar. The movie and the people involved in it will be the shining images left for India to remember and commend forever.

A new friend...

It was cold this morning when Ashish left for his office. Alone now, how to pass the day weighed heavily upon me like a dark, thousand-ton burden. I stood at the French window that frames a lovely view of the lake, brimming with life in the warm months of the year. Now it lay frozen and desolate, the barren trees standing patiently, waiting for the warm breath of summer to return.

The only color visible in the outside world was white. Surprisingly, all the cars were white too, covered as they were with winter’s snow. I missed the colors of the summer months, and the people strolling and playing along the lakeshore. It told me I was in the middle of a vibrant civilization.

I decided to make an effort to pull myself out of the depression that had taken control of my life. As I was about to turn away from the window, I noticed something moving in the shrub that’s right outside my apartment. A large squirrel was staring at me with his big black eyes. The squirrel looked like a toy that someone had placed at the edge of the shrub. I didn’t move for a long time for I was afraid of scaring away the only companion I had.

After a while, the squirrel moved a little closer to my window, but I still did not move. Then the squirrel moved very close to the window, so close that only the window pane separated us. He looked so beautiful with his fluffy fur and beautiful salt-and-pepper tail arched over his back. His large toes and curved claws were clearly visible. Next, he sat up on his back feet and folded his front “hands” close to his chest. He looked like an old man sitting on a stool, wondering what he had forgotten to bring home from the market that his wife had sent him to get.

I suddenly remembered that I had some bread pieces left from breakfast that I could share with this poor soul. My sudden movement to get the bread scared Mr. Squirrel and he ran back to the shrub. I was devastated for I didn’t want to lose my new friend. With the bread in hand, I stood silently where I had stood before and prayed that he would return. After a few moments, he did return, and this time he was a little bolder in approaching me.

When I opened the window, a cold gush of wind chilled my face. Sitting down, I extended my hand with a piece of bread toward the squirrel. He waited at a safe distance, but shifted his eyes back and forth from mine to the bread several times. He was clearly interested in the bread. I realized that I would not be able to get the squirrel to come to me so I made small pieces of the bread and threw them closer to him. The moment I closed the window, he rushed to the bread, took a piece in both hands, sat on his back feet, and began nibbling.

This interaction between the Squirrel and I made me realize how fascinating the tea party must have been for Alice at the Mad Hatter tea party, with the Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse there.

The squirrel didn’t let anything go to waste and never dropped a single piece of bread. All this while, he kept looking at me as he continued to eat. Was he thanking me? I smiled at the thought and wished I could talk to this special animal. After he ate his full, he grabbed one piece of bread and ran to hide it. He came back again and again, each time running off in a different direction to hide each morsel. It was fascinating to see him so busy and so serious with the task of hiding the food for later use.

After the squirrel hid every piece of bread, he came again to my window. This time he stood on his hind feet and stretched his whole body to its maximum length. He apparently wanted more food and stood like this for a long time. But I didn’t want to give him too much food, for I didn’t want to make him sick. I thought, Please come back tomorrow. I can’t give you any more food today.

As if he understood what I was thinking, he hopped away without even looking back. I felt so sad to see him go away like that, and wished that he would come back. And he did come back. He comes back every day now. I have named him Phil and he brightens my life in these gloomy winter days.

I am so happy that I found a new friend in such an unexpected way.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A diwali at home...away from home!

Can’t believe it’s already winters in Chicago. It seems like yesterday when I landed in a snow covered Chicago and now already the evenings are getting shorter and mornings are getting colder. Getting out of bed takes a lot of afford. Today morning while aimlessly walking around the house, putting things on their place with robotic movements, I looked outside and saw a clear blue sky, leaves falling down in a spiral motion as if delaying the fall for as long as possible. I opened our patio window and step out from the warm comfort of my home into the windy cold weather…and as soon as I did that the cold air filled my lungs and I wrapped my arms around myself.

Standing there all by myself… I could suddenly smell the cold, crisp air of Udaipur. The old, white gate opened and I screamed “SPIKKYYYYY” and my dog comes running outside, welcoming me to a place where I belong. He is all over me, licking all my face and to balance myself I have to sit down which is a big mistake because now he doesn’t want to leave me. My sister, binnu comes out to control spiky and manages to free me from his loving doggie-hug! Then comes a loving hug from binnu, a teary hug from my mom, a side hug from my father, big arm hug from my brother, a long lost hug from a sister whom I am meeting after a long time and a pat on my head from chacha….I am home.

The moment I step in I could smell the delicious sweetness of jalebis, the spicy kachoris and dhokle and my stomach starts grumbling from the anticipation of what’s coming! The moment I lay my plate with all the goodies, spiky takes his favorite place, on my feet to beg for all that we are eating!!! Sometimes I wonder if it would be a good idea to place a plate for him on the table! Atleast we could have our own share without feeling guilty of eating without giving him anything. Attacking the breakfast table I gather all the news of what’s happening in Udaipur. Everyone seems to be either doing great or good or bad…the usual.

All the relatives will be landing in Udaipur for Diwali soon… there are going to be loads of parties, good food, loads of dancing and loads of fun. Nothing out of usual but then this usual makes me feel at home. Seems the time never moves ahead in Udaipur but then for me the time flies. Binny and I get down to our annual routine of doing rangoli at our house on the day of Diwali. Binny is usually super excited and I am super lazy. She coxes me to think about which design, what colors and we end up digging our grandmother’s treasure from previous Diwali and take out our colors, designs and some crackles left from previous festival. My brother, Vaibhav, gets excited and starts burning the crackles early. Spiky, our super-dog, comes running from inside all set to attack the source of noise and I look at them laughing, enjoying the madness and happiness this festival brings. The rangoli takes whole day to finish but satisfied that we did a good job; we call everyone from inside and gather the obvious praises!

Now comes the most important part…what to wear in the evening. I decide on saree from my mom’s treasure and binny decides a lehnga from her treasure! My mom puts on her half glass and starts to fix her blouse for my size and while she is doing this I and binny lie on her lap. We discuss everything from my life, binny’s life and life in Udaipur. That is the happiest moment in my life. Makes me want to never grow up! But someone really gets jealous…suddenly jumps on the bed and makes his presence felt, rubbing his nose on mom’s hand and barks to let everyone know… I am the one who has the right to all the love and attention…mom just smiles and pats on spiky’s head! Jealous dog!

Papa comes in from a day full of shopping for dry fruits, sweets, kaju katlis and most of all loads of pujas at his different office locations! He takes a pillow, rests his head on the bed rest and before we know, his snoring fills the room like fragrance from an incense stick! Binny and I hug papa and wake him up from his deep slumber! He doesn’t get irritated but just smiles and rolls back to his beauty sleep. We let him rest…he is our pandit for the day!

Atlast we get ready for the puja and there is no puja without the chaos! Chacha and papa dressed in kurta pajam set the place for puja. Vaibhav does the setting of things in place around puja place, I and Binny light the diyas and mummy places them outside. The puja starts and with everyone even spiky takes his place. The commotion continues during puja…do this, no don’t do this right now…where is the lacha, where are the silver coins…chacha says the Sanskrit shlokes while papa and mummy performs the puja. As soon as puja is over, I and binny rush inside to change in more comfortable clothes to burn the crackles. Outside the air is cold and filled with the smell of burning crackles.

A “Hello” from a person passing in front our house, brings me back to Chicago. Standing there in cold, shivering…I went to Udaipur and came back. Suddenly Udaipur feels so far and unreachable. In the cold, dry air of Chicago, I could smell the air of Udaipur. I am missing home… even though I am at home…

Friday, August 22, 2008

The gold at the end of rainbow...

Few days back, while driving around Ashish and I saw a beautiful rainbow which we managed to capture on our camera. Those beautiful colors splashed across the sky brought back something old which I read somewhere...You will find gold where the rainbow ends. I remember, I read this saying when I was very young in a children's story book. It got stuck with me since then.

When I was young I used to believe that there is really gold to be found. Whenever I used to look at a rainbow, I always wanted to know where it ended. I used to think, if I find that gold, all the troubles would end. I would have enough money so that my dad won't have to work so hard, so that I could have whatever I wanted without thinking twice, I could go on big vacations with my family, own lot of dogs...and then I went to geography class. It was in those dry lectures that I realized that its impossible for me to know where the rainbow ends. Hence, the dream to own that gold was shattered. I never understood the true meaning of this saying.

After so many years when I saw that rainbow in the cloudy sky of Chicago, I realized that the gold is not the gold of this materialistic world. The gold signifies the ultimate happiness. The happiness that we keep pursuing. Then we are alone, we always dream to fall in love, when we fall in love we always dream of getting married to that person and spending our whole life with that person. Once married, we are looking forward to kids; we struggle to keep our parents happy, struggle to keep our kids happy, struggle to keep ourselves happy. The different colors of life, the different moods of life, and different kind of people we meet...they all get lost in a stupid journey to get that ideal world where no one is unhappy. Aren't we making ourselves unhappy in pursuit to keep everyone happy? We are pursuing that gold which we will never find. In that journey to find that gold we forget the beautiful path we are on.

There is no "happily ever after", there is no ideal world...there is no gold. The only thing that remains is rainbow...and so many times we forget to enjoy this beautiful mix of colors, in search of the nonexistent gold. Have we ever stopped ourselves to say...look how beautiful my life is without the mad rush for the ideal happiness. Have we ever stopped to look at the greens of the earth, the blues of the sky and violets, Indigos, Blues, Greens, Yellows, Oranges and Reds of a rainbow...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

From Mumbai to Chicago....

I felt the cold winds of Chicago blow into my face, while I sat in my car. It’s been two weeks since I have landed in here. I am still getting used to the idea that it can be cold in middle of March. Back in India, at this time we are already celebrating the onset of summers!! The air is crisp and cold, unlike in Mumbai where you feel you are breathing only water because of high humidity.

Up in the sky, far away I saw a plane flying cutting through the beautiful colors of the evening. Two weeks back, I was probably in that plane...waiting to fly into the arms of my husband, Ashish. The wait to reach him was long. After all we were separated by seven seas and Indian immigration people!!!!

"So, why are you flying to USA?" the immigration officer in India asked me.

"My husband is working there." I replied.

"So?", he said.

I was little taken aback at that moment. How do I reply to this "So!"? I could think of various answers and it made me smile. I didn’t know whether it was joke or that man was actually asking me this question.

"To join my husband", I said with a smile on my face.

The way that officer looked at me, I immediately knew that it’s going to be a long night. That funny question was actually a serious one!

"Show me your papers." he said.

I took out my marriage certificate and other forms to tell that my husband is legally in the golden country and I am just a wife waiting to join my husband. He looked at the photocopy of my husband’s passport.

"How did you get this photocopy of his passport?", he said.

"He gave it to me before he went", I replied. I was not sure why he was asking me this.

"How can this possible? This already has an immigration stamp on it. Do you want to tell me that he got it stamped here and then came out to give you the photocopy?” he said it with a scowl on his face.

I was lost. What was this man trying to say? I was totally confused and for a moment I felt the floor beneath my feet slip away!

"Well, my husband left on 9th Feb 2008. The stamp you see is of May, 2006. He came back to India on Nov, 2006. We got married and he left before me. I am on my way to be with him". I told him and this time I definitely didn’t smile!

"Show me your marriage certificate", he said.

I pulled out the marriage certificate given to me by the government of India. I thought this will shut him up.

"This is not valid!” he said without even looking up.

I simply lost control of what’s happening. How can a marriage certificate with the stamp of valid government seal be invalid!

"This is a district certificate. It’s from Udaipur. How is that possible?” he said again.

Is this guy really talking to me or am I an invisible element listening to the conversation of some other people.

"Well, I got married in Udaipur and hence the certificate from there. I have also got a letter from my husband's company.”I told him. I was desperately trying to convince this man that I am not a fake person!

I pulled out a letter from my husband’s company which stated that I am on my way to join my husband.

How did you get this?", he asked. Oh god! I hope he is not one crazy fan of Sherlock Homes.

"Well, the company posted it to me", I told him.

"Did it come in an envelope?", he asked.

"Yes.", I told him.

I couldn’t help but frown as I didn’t know what he was getting to.

"Why doesn’t it have folds to indicate it came in an envelope?", he said with such an authority that I couldn’t believe my ears!!

These are the people the government of India has hired to see that only eligible people go to the other countries! The most important question this guy here could ask me was why the letter doesn’t have folds!

"Well, it came in a big envelope so that the paper doesn’t need to be folded!", I told him. This time my voice was barely audible. I was afraid whether it was a trick question or a real question.

He gave me a look which said, don’t act smart lady as I have the power to let you go or not. At this point I panicked. What did I do wrong, probably smiled at his stupid question. This guy can actually refuse to let me go while terrorists get in airplanes and have managed to hijack it fly it across the buildings.

"Stand on the side", he said like a teacher tells a student to punish.

I didn’t know what it meant. I went cold. Does it mean that he is actually not letting me go...this can’t be true? I got a valid VISA from the United State of Government. They had checked all my documents. Can this guy actually refuse to let me go?

He gave my papers to some other guy. Must be a senior from the way he held his head up and moved around. I was surrounded by strangers whom I had never seen them in my life before and I am sure I won’t ever meet them again. Yet, somehow they had the power to alter my future!

"Show me your marriage certificate", the senior officer told me.

I pulled out my marriage certificate again. I also added the letter from my husband's company incase even he also has any doubt. He just gave one look at it and gave it back to the immigration officer who was handling my case. He just nodded and went away. I kept standing there not knowing what would happen next!

The officer stamped my visa and gave it back to me with such an air of importance. I could not believe that it all happened to me. I was in such a shock; I didn’t know how to react. What did actually go wrong? If everything was right, why was I stopped in the first place? I walked to the gate like a zombie! Maybe it was just a dream. I pinched myself and realized painfully that it was not!

Thankfully, the rest of my journey went peacefully. When I stood in front of the immigration at ORD, she just asked me three questions -

"Why are you here?"

"Which company does your husband work for?"

"How long do you plan to live here?"

After which she said - "Have a pleasant stay in USA. Hope you have a wonderful time here".

A strange country is ready to take me in and people of my own country had problems without any reasons. The most intelligent question they could afford to ask me was why the paper doesn’t have folds if it came in envelope!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Snapshots of 2007...

Today when Sonali and Rashmi left for their office, when our maid went after doing the cleaning of our house, I sat down on the chair besides the big window of our house and looked outside. There were noises from the near by school, somewhere there was load music playing on radio and the birds were chirping. Life was going on for everyone as it did for every day. For me time slowed down and i saw the memories flash across from the year 2007 flash across me.

I shook myself out of the dream and looked around my house. Four faces, all 32 teeth showing, started back at me...a sketch snap taken on 31st Dec 2006 with Sonali, Manasi, Rashmi and me. It felt like yesterday when all four of us went for a stupid movie because we couldn’t find a better place to go for our New Year celebration. After the movie got over, IMAX Adlabs surprised us by serving free cake. Well, nothing which is free should be left out and we all joined the line for our free cake. After all, it’s new year. We marked the beginning of yet another year by hugging each other and laughing like mad. Something magical was in the air...made us feel on cloud 9. That marked the beginning of year 2007 for us...for me!

Well, the year 2007 was magical for me. My friends got married, some celebrated their 3rd anniversary and as always I felt amazed on how fast time flies. Friend's kids celebrated their birthdays and at these times i always get transported back to life where we girls had no responsibility and as carefree as ever, a vast contrast to what we are today. It always surprises me as how madly happy we were then and how our happiness knows no boundaries even now. My list of friends increased with a single trip to Goa when i found new friends in Deepali and Rishi whom i didn’t know before 2007 started. Well, it doesn’t take much to get such amazing friends...just plan a trip to Goa...Goa will take care of the rest.

Then of course I found my life patner in my best friend. I knew Ashish as a friend for a 10 long years but now I am getting to know Ashish as husband (as he likes to say - to-be husband). We used to spend hours talking on Fatehsagar when we were in college. This time when i went to Fatehsagar with him, holding his hands...there was something special. Sometimes I feel...is it for real? Without being aware of it, i feel a smile appearing on my face and my heart says...it’s for real. Sitting there in my home, looking at my snap with him... I knew it was a beginning of all the new things in life. This year 2007 changed so many things in my life with just one incident.

When i look back at my last new year, watching movie in IMAX and Ashish enjoying in USA...we didn’t have the slightest idea of what this year is going to bring to us. Now that we know, it has made this year even more special.

This year was not only smiles. People lost their loved ones and there were tears too. For every up, there were downs too. What’s a year - 365 days, if you don’t have little downs to make way for ups? The whole journey of tears and laughter were made memorable for me by my friends and family and my new family too. The ride to Delhi for friend's marriage, proposing to Ashish, getting engaged on 23rd April 2007, learning to cook, trips to Bangalore, having a family surrounding me and Ashish to congratulate us for a new path that we have chosen together, a trip to Goa and riding on bike sitting behind Ashish, birthdays in our weekend villa(our small flat in 304), Holi, Diwali and many more festivals, getting a TV and the joy of having cable connection of our own, wiping of tears for friends and letting them we are there for each other...a year gone by leaving behind wonderful memories.

I didn’t realize for how long i was lost but when I looked around my house...it felt the time had stopped for me. Well, the time has come to welcome 2008 with new resolutions and new dreams. I hope this coming year is as wonderful as the year that has gone by...for everyone who touches my life.