Thursday, December 22, 2005


Lee Fiora is a 14 year old from South Bend, Indiana, who goes to a snobby boarding school in New England. I am twice her age, stayed at pretty much the same school in my hometown in India when I grew up, and am now old and married. So what do I have in common with Lee?
Nothing, it would seem on surface... and yet, so much, judging by how much I loved the book - 'Prep' by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Lee is me in high school, shy withdrawn, painfully self-conscious, always wondering what people are thinking about her, worried that her parents may embarass her in front of her friends, worried that she may be saying too little or too much, not knowing what to do or how to behave but terribly lonely nevertheless, wanting a friend and longing....aching for a boyfriend. She has a crush on her classmate but she is too terrified to ever take it beyond the realm of her imagination on her own initiative. That was me... other girls in my class went around with boys, but me.. I looked and I longed but never said a word.

Lee has a reason - she was not weird in Indiana. She became this way, because she was a poor hicksville girl in a school filled with rich sophisticated people. She did not fit in and she desperately wanted to. What was my excuse? I've been trying to come up with one, but honestly, I don't know. I know I did not fit in, but I don't know why.

The book ends with Lee finishing school and leaving for college. She ends with the note that college and life thereafter was not as difficult and in fact seemed boring compared to her travails at boarding school. I wish I were as lucky! This time in a strange city (Madras seemed pretty posh to me), away from my parents in a hostel surrounded by seemingly hostile seniors, and my posh well dressed classmates who listened to English music, at least I had more reason to not fit in. Just like Lee, I had maybe one or two good friends. Small incidents like a word of praise for a poem I wrote made me feel weirdly dangerously happy and I felt most alive then.
Lee feels happy whenever someone acknowledges her existence since she is pretty certain that no one notices her (when she is not busy being terrified that everyone is noticing her). I know exactly how that feels!

And of course I fell in love in college, an obsessive love just like Lee's, that went nowhere beyond the confines of my diary and my mind. She went to school games for a glimpse of her love. I would visit the coffee shop everyday, for a glimpse of mine, if he by some miracle decided to have coffee that day. Sometimes he would smile - not a proper defined smile, but merely a wisp of a smile, granted to someone that he knows is from the same department as him, but knows little else about. That one shadow of a smile forgotten by him the next instant, could feed my imagination for days on end and I would smile again and again everytime I thought of that smile.

However, I didn't really need to be like Lee to have liked the book. I liked Sittenfeld's introspective style of writing with her startling but so true observations about people and about life. I am definitely looking forward to her next book due this summer. I started reading this book under the impression that it was a teen read ( like 'Harry Potter' or 'His Dark Materials' meant for teens, but appealing to adults like me). While some teens might read this book, I believe an adult would appreciate it better, having had some time to look back on their own teenage years and reflect, as I did.

Happy New Year everyone (If anyone reads this site)! One of my new year resolutions is to read more. I've made a booklist in my local library website. 20 books - mostly fiction with a smattering of non-fiction, mostly lifted off the NY times bestseller list, with a couple of books from John Wyndham thrown in for good measure. Hopefully I will manage to read them all.

Paranoia and other good things

'Hello, hello, hello, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye,
That's all there is. And the leaves that are green turned to brown'

(Paul Simon, in case you wondered). Nothing really got unblocked. This post is as difficult as the first.

Too many sweets at work today. Liquor filled chocolates, cake with cherry filling, a donut from Krispy Kreme (who refuses that!)..Well at least I refused the cookies. Christmas is good for my soul and bad for my everything else.

I don't know why this is difficult. This isn't my first blog ever after all. My previous stint at blogging was a couple of years in another blog site where apparently only kids with serious suicidal tendencies wrote. My rants about today's music and raves about Illayaraja went unheard amongst the 'I cut myself today and watched the blood slowly dripping down.' and 'I hate you. I hate me even more'. Jeez, are kids today really so depressed? Or is it just an effect thing? But if so many people are writing it, who do they intend to shock? Or maybe they feed off one another. And of course they all hate their parents, especially their mothers.

I guess I hated mine too about 15 years ago (wow, has it been so long?) for no reason really except that I could. She nagged me about my marks, about my appearance, about my friends, my TV watching and almost everything else under the sun. I had to finish school and move to college and to a hostel before I realized how much I loved her and her carrot poriyal. So maybe it is a fashionable thing to hate one's parents. People do grow out of it, don't they? I did (except during the couple of years they nagged for me to get married). I miss them. I even contemplate moving back to be closer to them. And that's the thing - All these years I've taken them for granted, ignoring them, running away from them to a different continent, doing pretty much exactly as I pleased. Now suddenly on the verge of having a family of my own and trying to plan for an uncertain future, I find myself thinking increasingly of their mortality; of their frailty. Everytime I go to India, it is always a shock to see how much more my parents have aged.

Don't get me wrong; my parents aren't old geezers in their 80s or something. They're in their late 50s..which is still pretty young. But their transition from being superparents who were always there to bail me out of financial or any other kind of trouble, to being human and having ever-increasing aches and pains and difficulties is hard to accept. I know.. I know...They were always human and that it is my perception that has changed. But, there is a reason for a shift in my perception - the physical evidence of their aging.

Enough morbidness for today. Someone said that to love is to be afraid. If no one said that, someone ought to have. I find myself always just a little fearful about the ones I love - the most recent addition to this list being my husband. I worry about them: Not in a huge overwhelming way, but in a constant everyday way that exists somewhere in the background of my mind. Is this normal or is this being paranoid? Who knows!

Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

bibitee bobitee boo

The first post is always the toughest I think... Once you get past the blockage, maybe the thoughts flow more freely.

I tried to think of a theme and a tone for this blog. Obviously I cannot write about world politics or economics, when I am not even familiar with my office politics or my personal finances. In addition I am incredibly lazy, so setting a tone and following it in a constant way is difficult as well. At this point, I have to wonder - why write? Because I can; because others do; and because I am the proverbial koopa mandooka believing that my life is the centre of my universe and nothing else really matters... except for an appreciative audience.

Also, because this is an experiment - an exercise if you will, of clearing my mind, channeling my thoughts and then maybe someday....

But that's all a dream. What is real is the tayir saadam I am eating with the carrot poriyal. That is wonderful! It probably doesn't appeal to everyone. It takes a certain kind of person to appreciate carrot in a poriyal or even a kootu. I guess I am that kind of person and luckily so is my husband. Someday if we have kids, I hope they will like it too... but I am dreaming again.

So what is real? There is my life and then there is how I perceive and deal with it. It may not always make sense, in fact it almost always never will. But thats the essence of this blog.

Welcome to the well. I, the frog will show you around.