Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Spring break

Am headed for home tomorrow.

Big wedding. Yeay! :D
And it's not mine. Double yeay! :D

Lotsa cousins. Nephews and nieces who I never knew existed.

It's gonna be fun.

Hope to find myself in a situation where both the comp and the Internet connection are working, otherwise the blog will have to hibernate till 12th April.

Cheers to all readers! :)


Monday, March 21, 2005

Of strangers and strange coincidences

This story starts right after my Antakshari audition blog post. One of the other contestants (Hmmm... in honour of blog ethics, let's call him Mr. Stranger?) was also interviewed by CNA along with me. I had heard him sing, and he was really good. But I had not seen his face, and I only knew him as a stranger, as "the guy whom Annu Kapoor gave his aashirwaad".

Well, thanks to Norah Jones, I missed watching myself on CNA, and had given up hope that I would ever see the clip. Well, looks like life has its own secret ways of surprising us. Apparently, Mr. Stranger had googled Antakshari audition results and found my blog, and left me a note. He had recorded the CNA clip, and offered to send me a CD. I received the CD, watched our respective interviews, and was of course, thrilled beyond words.

Soon, I got busy with work, the weekend non-F1 KL retreat, and planning for the trip home. I forgot all about it, and postponed my promise of treating Mr. Stranger to chai to return the favour.

And today, I was out with two of my friends, and over dinner, I was telling them about how I had got the clip, thanks to Mr. Stranger, whom I've never met. Then we went to Mustafa and there, the unbelievable happened! I had just climbed the steps to enter the chocolate section, when I saw this guy with a look of surprised recognition on his face. It was Mr. Stranger!
Even though I'd seen him in the clip, I would never have recognised him, and would have probably walked past him, like I walked past all the other hundreds of people there. Luckily he recognised me first.

For a minute, I just stood there, gaping. What kinda coincidence was it, that out of all days, on a Monday night, I bump into him in a huge place like Mustafa! Just like that. I was just so utterly suprised to see him there that sense and words took leave of me and I ended up introducing him to my friends as "the CD guy". If I had a rolled up newspaper in my hand then, I would have thwacked myself on the head and said, "the CD guy? that's all you got? the CD guy??? Couldn't you have said something more respectful like, 'fellow contestant' or 'guy I met at antakshari' or 'guy who was nice enough to send me the CD'?"
(Wonder if he took offence...)

And now I am sitting here, feeling so amazed and amused about the whole thing that I feel that a blog post is in order.

Gives me the feeling that someone up there is having a cool time, amusing himself by careful placement of coincidences in our lives.

Here's to life, and the coincidences that make it more amazing than it already is.

And by the way, Mr. Stranger, I still owe you that chai.


Everyone gets one perfect sunset.

I think I got mine yesterday.

Two days contained in two silent moments.
Two silent years contained in two days.

It was so real, it was almost unreal.

Katra katra milti hai...
Katra katra jeene do...
Zindagi hai...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The toxic cubicle

She walks up to my cubicle, kneels down and whispers.

"I've something to tell you."

"Ha ha! Are you quitting?"
"Errr... Yes."
"Ha ha! Are you kidding?"
"Errr... No."

Two resignations in two days. And both are close friends of mine. One of them used to be my boss before I was promoted and put in charge of another team. She was the one who had taught me how to run the magazine. The other is my lunch buddy and a very close friend. This news was the last thing I needed to hear, after the comeback from my recent depression. My friends are leaving the country in a few months. I did not need this.

I can't blame them. Being an editor is stressful, no two ways about it. And sooner or later, they all leave. Some even live the full shelf life of 2 years.
Yes, most of us love this job. But apart from job satisfaction, the rewards in this job are few. So inspite of loving the job, they leave. Those who are in their comfort zone, or who love it too much to be able to leave, wait and hope for the toxic cubicle to get them.

I call my cubicle the toxic cubicle.

Its effects spread far and wide, and in all directions. Whoever sits in its vicinity finds the determination to quit when the stress levels get too high. I have been the only constant feature of that zone for the last 2 years. All others have come and gone.
I joke about it. All the time. I say, "I control the vibes of the toxic cubicle. It will get you if you pray hard enough. It will give you courage to make up your mind and hand over that resignation letter."

Maybe it's my way of handling the depressing situation.
I use humour to stay sane. I even have people coming and requesting me to send some of the vibes their way. I joke about that too. I say, "The toxic cubicle only helps those who help themselves."

Another close colleague -- who will probably be the next one -- said to me that considering how close I was to the two who're leaving, I handled the news well.

Yes, I tried. I tried to stay unfazed. But was I really?

Crazy shopping spree did not help. Buying diamonds worth a thousand dollars did not help. Maybe it would have, if they were for myself.

Yes, I am going quite balmy.

I shall obsess over this song to stay unfazed.

Haath chhoote bhi toh rishtey nahin chhoda karte...
waqt ki shaakh se lamhe nahin toda karte...
Shehed jeene ka mila karta hai thoda thoda...
Jaane waalon ke liye dil nahin toda karte...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Addy the guitarist

A friend of mine once told one of the bar-top dancers at CU, "I think I am falling in love with you." I was as highly amused as I was amazed, when I heard about it. I wondered what made him make a statement like that. Falling in love with her? He barely knew her!!

It was only when I had a vaguely similar experience last week, and I was forced to rethink the whole thing. We were out to celebrate Soldier's big night. As part of the senseless bar-hopping, we were soon at Bar None. As we made our way into the place, we bumped into a long-haired guy. My friend the Sinnerman asked him, "Are you playing tonight?" And long-haired guy said, "Yes, in half an hour." Now Sinnerman knows all the right people in town, so I figured this dude had to be someone important. Definitely more important than Douglas Oliviero, who did not get any attention from us as he walked right past us.

Anyway, long-haired guy turned out to be Addy, the guitarist of the band 9Lives, that plays at Bar None. And then Addy played. And Addy sang. And Sayesha watched. And Sayesha listened. And Sayesha danced.

How do I even start describing Addy the guitarist? There was nothing extremely striking about the way he looked. He looked like one of those shy guys who are extremely talented, but are really humble. Someone you probably wouldn't even notice on the streets. And yet, he had this familiar air about him, as if I had seen him and spoken to him before, a bit like Daniel from my hostel in University.

But you could see the real Addy when he started playing the guitar. And as Addy played, you could see how much he loved what he was doing. It was almost inspiring.
And the night became all about Addy the guitarist.

He played only four songs and stopped, leaving us craving. What is it about guys who can play a guitar, that make them so mysterious and desirable? As he was packing up, I went to talk to him, and told him how great he was. And when I came back, I realised I was gushing. I had spoken to Addy the guitarist.

Geez, I was actually gushing! "What's wrong with you, girl?" I asked myself. Sayesha doesn't gush after talking to complete strangers!

True, I did not "fall in love" with Addy. But on some level, I think I understood what my friend was talking about when he confessed his feelings for the CU girl.

Every day, every night, is a new revelation.

And that's Addy the guitarist

Braving the boring

My company sent me for a course today -- 'Braving the challenges in cross-cultural communication'. A whole-day course on this?! And the worst part was -- the original instructor Mr Podolinsky (who I'd hoped would be a hot Russian hunk) dropped out at the last minute, and his replacements were so boring that they instantly put us to sleep!

And unfortunately, I was sitting right under the nose of the instructors. At one point in time, I was so sleepy that I had to lean over and whisper to my neighbour, "Slap me if I doze off!" Finding nothing better to do in order to keep myself awake, I started compiling a list of hidden talents that the sleepy attendees were discovering during the course.

Here goes:

Things you can do to kill time without dozing off during a really boring all-day course

- send sms messages to the persons sitting on either side of you
- practise writing with your left hand (or right, if you're a leftie)
- catch up with old random friends over sms
- pass around nonsensical notes -- the laughing will keep you awake
- think of how you would keep people awake if you were the instructor
- copy-edit the case studies
- use the styrofoam milo cups as your canvas and let your artistic side go wild
- challenge yourself -- how many times can you excuse yourself and go to the loo?
- cough/sneeze every three minutes to keep yourself awake
- cross your legs and sit on your chair in a yogic pose
- count the number of teeth you have, using only your tongue
- repeat the above to verify the number
- miss the good old office (??!!)

Sigh... what an awful and unproductive day.

I consoled myself with this -- Life is never so bad that it can't get worse.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Of sole mate and soulmates

This post has been overdue for a while now. And today, I am ready to write it. I first started thinking about this a few weeks ago when one of my friends asked a question. A question asked casually over a casual dinner, but one that left a deep impression on my thoughts in the days to come.

“What do you do when you are with someone, and one fine day, you run into your soulmate?”

Her question sucked the breath out of me. The question was so real, so 'out-there', screaming for attention, that it scared me.

What would you do? How would you know? And if you did, what would you do? Would you stick to what you have, because it is familiar and it is real, and let your soulmate -- the one you're meant to be with -- walk away? Or will you follow your instinct and leave everything you have worked so far for, and be with your soulmate? It's a wicked question, and it was enough to give me a couple of sleepless nights.

I set out to follow the trail and see where it took me. First things first -- what does the word 'soulmate' mean?

Dictionary.com : "One of two persons compatible with each other in disposition, point of view, or sensitivity".

M-w : "A person temperamentally suited to another"

The definitions sounded too clinical to me. So I tried to find out how people whom I know defined it. And here are some of the answers I got.

"A soulmate is the person with whom you can share your feelings, emotions, perspectives, opinions, joys, sorrows and even your silence."

"A soulmate is the person you can see yourself with when you are 80."

"A soulmate is the person you are meant to be with -- a person who was created only for you."

"A soulmate is someone you will be together with. Forever."

"A soulmate is one you have a natural connection with. You tune into each other effortlessly, relate with each other on lots of things. you differ in your thoughts and opinions of course, but you always understand the other."

I discovered that while most of the people I spoke to had defined the word, none of them claimed to have met their soulmates. Some even claim that they know -- that the people they are with are not their soulmates. Is it true then? That perhaps our busy lives have a place for the definition, but not for the person it defines? Is the soulmate a myth created by hopeless romantics?

Or is it that our soulmate is out there, waiting to appear, watching our every move, waiting for us to find him or her? How real are these people? And how real is the fear that our soulmates will simply walk up to us one day, and we will just know that it's them? And they will disrupt the life that we had so painstakingly created without them?

Long ago, I watched a movie where the lead character had a theory -- "God has made everyone in pairs -- as soulmates. It will take time, but you will find your soulmate in the end

But then I thought – what is "the end" really? And when does it happen?
When do you know that you've reached "the end", and that you have found your soulmate? When do you stop looking? Do you ever stop looking?

"It’s not over till someone says, 'I do'." Says Rachel in Friends, when she decides to go tell Ross that she loves him, just before he’s about to marry Emily. Could saying "I do" be "the end" when you know you have met your soulmate and you are going to be together forever? Surely not. If that was true, there would be no divorces in the world.

So when do you know? One of my close friends asked an interesting question last night, "Is a soulmate a 'sole mate'? Does it have to be one person?" The more I think about it, the more inclined I am to believe that there are probably many of them out there. And that it's probably not wrong to have many soulmates.

Is it not possible for us to love not one, but many? Do we not connect with different people on different levels? Do we not feel deeply for many people whom we don't or can't "end up with"? If a soulmate is someone you completely connect with, someone who understands all your unfinished sentences, does there have to be a "the end"? Do we really have one and only one soulmate whom we "end up" with?

Are we not capable of loving without "the end"?

And if so, just how many people are we willing to allow ourselves to love?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dear Editor

Snippets from precious letters I receive from precious young fans of my precious science magazine:

"Dear editor, what is anti-matter? If you don't know, ask me and I will tell you."

"Dear editor, please answer these questions. I am going bald with curiosity." (from a 10-year-old)

"Dear editor, please don't send my copy of the magazine to my school. My teacher takes it away and never returns it."

"Dear editor, please pick me! By the way, your magazine rocks!" (on contest form)

"Thank you, Uncle postman!" (on envelope with contest form)

"If I win, I want the pink watch, not the green one!"

"I love your magazine. I love other magazines too."

"My drawing is ugly." (on the contest entry where contestants were required to draw an experimental set-up)

"Why is it that sometimes a light goes on and then it goes off?"

"Mum's hp number: XXXXXXXX, Dad's hp number: XXXXXXXX. Please don't call my Mum." (on contest form)

"And don't forget to switch on the Mission Impossible song!" (with description of how the kid would rescue a captive tiger)

"... and this is how I will rescue the tiger. Now you go and copy my idea!"

"Can you increase the number of contest prizes so I can win?"

"Rescuing a tiger? Easy!" (from a 9-year-old)

"Thank you for your email. I will buy your magazine anyway. You don't have to answer my question." (after I answered a Science question asked by a kid over email)

"I heard a tick-tock sound at one end, and a ding-dong sound at the other end." (The expected answer to the contest question was "low-pitch sound at one end and high-pitch sound at the other end". I gave the kid the prize. Well, he pretty much got the answer, didn't he?)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Technique, or rather the lack of it

We played tennis on Suntec City rooftop on Monday. It was sooooo windy that the tennis balls on the courts were rolling all over the place! It was awesome, we really felt like we were on top of the world! We played for two and a half hours straight, but we did not feel tired, possibly because the wind was not allowing us to sweat.

Starbreez sent a ball flying into the rooftop swimming pool and it almost hit a swimmer, giving him a view of a different kinda 'underwater world'.

We paused the game to laugh.

Joy and Bel said that my serve had gotten better. But I was suspicious when they christened one of the walls after me.

Maybe I should try squash instead.
We paused the game to laugh.

Today, we played badminton at Hougang Sports Club. The badminton racquet felt so light compared to the tennis racquet, I couldn't even play properly for a while. But we enjoyed it so much, we played past the hour we had booked the courts for, till the guy who had booked the next slot turned up and started giving us funny looks. We were up for an out-of-court settlement, but then we got hungry and wandered off.

Jose said that I had very good control over my game. But every time he smashed, I would panic at the last minute and catch the shuttle with my hand.

Maybe I should try cricket instead.
We paused the game to laugh.

I love tennis and badminton. I do not know the rules. I play with zero technique.

And I still maintain that it's the senseless laughing that gives me more exercise than the sport itself.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Don't you dare steal my friend away

I am 24 years old. Which means I am not 10 anymore. And yet, I successfully manage to get jealous of people who I think are going to 'steal my friends away from me'!

Now and then, scary thoughts haunt me.

What will happen when my friends move away? Are they going to find new friends who are better than me?

What will happen when they get married? Will I become a speck in their past?

All right, who's this new person trying to be friends with my friend? Dude, what's with the whole buddy-buddy thing? Are they closer to each other than we are? Back off, mister, I have known my friend from long before you were born! (Ok I went overboard with the last one.)

But today, as I was talking to one of my closest friends, he mentioned that we have been friends for almost 7 years now! 7 years!!! And our friendship is exactly the same! (*Touch big block of wood*) We still tease each other about the same things. We still laugh at the same good old jokes. We still exclaim "GMTA (Great Minds Think Alike)!" when we say the same things at the same time!

And I realise it's the same with every one of my close friends.

Here's to Reghu's reassurances that everything is fine.

Here's to Sinnerman's return and the special connection I have with him.

Here's to the weird nicknames that Soldier gives me every time he meets me, that make him laugh like a baby.

Here's to Viv for always being there for me.

Here's to the millions of fights that Max and I have, that make us closer friends than before.

Here's to Anshuli, for never letting me feel that she has now moved to the other side of the world.

Here's to Sandy, for her absolute trust in me.

Here's to CK for still being the adorable moron that he always was.

Here's to Smita, Reena, Sweta, Sonia, Nawab and DJ for never failing to call me on my birthday.

Here's to Bel, Radha and Arch for putting up with my antics at office.

I feel reassured.

Maybe it's true. No one can 'steal' your friends. It doesn't happen that way.

And that's the way it is.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The moment

Last night, I made a declaration. It shocked my friends.

"I could just die right now."

Now don't get me wrong -- I am not the sort who glorifies death. Thinking about death is indeed negative and morbid, and a total waste of precious time.

It's just that there are moments in life, when you feel that you're done. And that if there was an end to everything, that was the perfect moment for it.

Death can be ugly.

I could have died if the tsunami had hit Singapore.

I could have died from a fall inside Angkor Wat.

I could have died in a landmine explosion in Cambodia.

I could die in a plane crash on the way home.

I could get run over and die on the roads.


And as I thought of all these infinite possibilities, I thought -- if there was a way we could choose how we die, I would have chosen the moment last night, lying in the hammock, listening to my favourite music, flanked by my favourite people, feeling so utterly happy that I felt I was going to explode with emotion. I felt that it was time. I was ready to go. In the most beautiful way. That was the moment. Another moment would have spoilt it all. There was nothing else to see. I had seen the best of life. I was done.

And somehow, today I don't feel the same way. Yesterday I was ready to die. Today I am ready to live again.

I am surprised at myself.

Maybe it was just that moment.

But it was real. And it was mine.

A silent tale

Khamosh sa afsana...
Pani se likha hota...
Na tumne kaha hota...
Na humne suna hota...

Loosely translated:

If only this silent tale...
had been written with water...
If only you hadn't said it...
If only I hadn't heard it...

Old Hindi songs are timelessly beautiful.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Thinking about thinking (or 'metacognition' if you may)

I followed a few links from a blog that I discovered yesterday. And in almost all of them, after every three sentences, I had to pop by dictionary.com.

It made me think. When we think, do we really do so in such long, convoluted sentences filled with seven-syllable words? If a blog is supposed to reflect what we think, where along the way do these complex words and phrases creep in and why?

Are we really blogging for ourselves or for others?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Making the big switch

I bumped into this neighbour of mine after a very long time this evening. He is probably 40 years old. He had worked as a banker for many many years. One fine day, he decided that what he really wanted was to become a nurse. He quit his banking job, and is now training to be a nurse.

Today, he is juggling his work shifts with his classes and exams, working twice as hard for half the pay. But he is happy. And it shows. I identified with his happiness, as I went through the same thing when I quit my job as an engineer, and decided to become an editor. I was confused, I did not know what I was doing, whether it was the right thing to do. But I knew -- and I still do -- that it made me very very happy. Wasn't it all that mattered?

And as I spoke to him, I started thinking -- at what point in life do we know what we really want? And decide what we want to do about it? When do we sit up and realise that everything we are doing is all wrong, and that it's not too late to make amends? Is it right to think this way? That we were meant to do things that are different from what we are doing now? How many of us actually leave our comfort zones, go ahead and really do it? How many of us are sure that after we have made the switch, we will be truly happy?

Will we ever know for sure that we have reached our 'destination' and are truly doing what we were meant to do? Or is it human nature to always remain dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, and dream on about that something 'which we could have done'? Maybe the escapist attitude of "If-I-were-doing-that-I-would-be-so-good-at-it" helps to cover our shortcomings, and makes us feel good.

Maybe it gives us hope to live yet another day.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My dog Frodo

This is my dog Frodo.

He is of British origin. He does not pee. He does not poo. He does not bark. He does not bite. He does not have fleas. He does not make a fuss about baths.
He does not need to be taken for walks. He does not need visits to the vet. I can go off on a long holiday without worrying about leaving him alone in the house. He doesn't lick my friends' faces. Or worse, mine.

Frodo with friends

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


When you're lonely, it only rains three kinds.

1. Chhoti wali baarish (loosely translated, "small rain")
This is the kind of rain that is like a fine spray of mist. Even if you walk a mile in this kind of rain, you don't get wet because the raindrops are so small and light, they evaporate before they touch you. Ideal for talking a long long walk by yourself.

2. Yaadon wali baarish ("rain of memories")
This is the kind that comes down in a slant. The kind that brings back memories, of old places, of old friends, of old days. Ideal for sitting by the window with a glass of lemonade and staring at the raindrops.

3. Aansu wali baarish ("rain of tears")
This is the kind that comes down heavily in vertical lines. Ideal for just standing in the rain and crying. Till the rain becomes the tears and the tears become the rain.

It hasn't rained the third kind in a very long time.