Saturday, September 25, 2010

Socially Un-Networked

Back from a holiday to Dubai and India - visited parents, relatives and friends and dined, drank and laughed at old jokes and new. Two weeks just flew past and here I am back in Brisbane with some good memories and a massive jet lag. Back to work - but I guess what are sick days for after all :-P

Last month J was all excited about her first trip back home after marriage and was happily shopping for little things to take back for everyone, basically just small mementos or fridge magnets or stuffed toys for all her little cousins. We had different classifications such as “gift cousins”, “chocolate cousins”, “only a phone call cousins” and “lets meet them next time cousins”, making sure she didn’t miss out anyone etc etc.. In the mean time she had also announced her countdown to the start of the holiday on Facebook. Not much time passed before she was contacted by various ‘friends’ here at Brisbane with a list of things that they wanted to be brought back from India. She being ever obliging agreed unwillingly. Pretty soon after the list was compiled our trip was ending up like a delivery service. Even wondered if we should change over from Emirates to DHL Super Jumbo.. hmm. We had people coming over and dropping things off for us to take to Dubai and extremely pushy offers to be dropped off and picked up from the airport. Finally I had enough and put my foot down and said I am not brining in anything from Dubai or India. We had one set of guys who had their two year old son call us up and ask us if we could bring him the milk powder from Kerala – and this was after some heavy prompting from his pushy mum in the background. The extend some people go to is unbelievable *sigh*

It has been two weeks since we got back and there is no news from our milk powder friends. The book that they also requested for, which required me driving down to a different village in India at 10 PM at night through what seemed a ghost town in order for me to pick up, is still lying here at our home in Brisbane. I guess it wasn’t that urgent at all. Oh well..

Soon we got alerts in email with “you were tagged” on FB. So there were caught having fun with some of our friends who we had met during the short trip. This left the others friends who are also on facebook, wondering why we didn’t bother visiting them or giving them a ring, let alone take picture with them. Wonder if we will hear from them again. And to top it all off one of them even tagged us in a picture of a stuffed toy we had gifted their kids with a caption “from J with love”. This must have left some impression on the other “non gift” friends and in Kerala this is enough material for starting a family feud.

So I guess we have been socially un networked from a few friends…

I read an interesting article about Mark Zuckerberg who had to pay USD 65 million to keep a bunch of uni students quiet about them claiming that he stole their idea while working together on a same project. Apparently Mark delayed the project they were working on and in the meantime launched Facebook which had a striking similarity. Difference they called it “dating” and Mark called it “networking”. Talk about play with words.

And the other talk of the town is the commonwealth games about which the less said the better.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard !.. or do they ?

Sitting on the front porch in an arm chair was one of granny’s favourite pastimes. Not that the view was great – but she loved all the attention she got from passersby who would greet her by calling her “chechi” – as in elder sister in Malayalam. So thirty something men and women who lived in the neighbourhood addressing her by “chechi did wonders to her ego, and you can actually see her face light up. She even mentioned casually to me about how the whole village thinks she looks so young for her age. I usually have the “no comments” look on my face when someone’s ego does the talking. Also she thought of this as an opportunity to catch up on the various gossips that float around in the village. Over the years it became hard to imagine our home without granny on the front porch trying to grab some attention.

Years later I found out that the tradition still continued when I came back to India after high school to write the Kerala State Entrance Exam. Preparations were on full swing with me signing up for entrance exam coaching which involved trips to town where the classes were held – and this immediately opened up possibilities of exploring the numerous movie theatres around town. It was just a matter of running into the right group of friends ( or “mites” as Aussies would call them :-P ) before we started seeing a movie every other day. Also this was when I got introduced to the world of dodgy noon shows .. don’t let me get into that now.

So soon the talk of the village was “mon ( a not so cute name for son in Mallu ) and his entrance exams” thanks to granny and her gossip friends. So every morning she would make announcements to passersby on how well “mons’s” preps are going for entrance exams and how he is hoping to score a good rank. My mum who knew better would try to shut her up but in vain. This became a regular routine for a month..

After a month of solid preparations the big day arrived. The Kerala State Entrance Exam! and granny decided to accompany me to the exam centre. We started off in her white Ambassador with Mercedes Benz wheel caps (Yes! granny had a souped up car). She asked the driver to slow down at every house nearby so she could inform them that “mon” is off to write the exam today. I was in the front seat trying to hide my face in embarrassment, one, because I hated being referred to as “mon” and second because I had a vague idea about how the results would turn out. I slid down in my seat as far as I could.

What I loved the most about entrance exams was the fact that they were all multiple choice and I had one in four chances to get it right and with my common sense I could narrow it down to one in three which I thought was pretty good.

Soon the results were going to be out and I was busy trying to find colleges in Bangalore because that was further away from home and Blore was much more a happening place than Kerala. Granny had taken down my registration number so she can check the results in the local newspaper first thing in the morning as she is usually up before sun rise. On judgement day I got up late as usual and came out to the front porch to have coffee and get some fresh air... but something seemed wrong! The chair was empty. Granny was nowhere to be seen.

Apparently I managed to get a rank of 4000 something in the entrance exam in a world where anything above 1000 was considered pretty crappy and I would not get into any of the decent colleges. I already had Bangalore in sight. What I had done with my performance was break Granny’s 15 year old habit of sitting on the porch and gossiping away to glory. To save face she had to stay indoors for a few days and make limited appearances in public till all the talk of the entrance exams died out. I noticed on a few occasions how she avoided any talk remotely related to academics lest the question of entrance exams and “mon’s” rank came up. Those were tough times for poor old lady.

“Mon” did finally attend an Engineering College and he even managed to roller coaster his way through attaining a BTech within the allotted four years. Both of granny’s daughters were brilliant in studies and were rank holders frequently during their academic life, so I do sympathize with grandmother as none of her grand children lived up to her expectations. One passed away a while back at the age of 24, another one has taken solace in religion and finally the prodigal ‘grand’son, somewhere down under, has limited achievements that she can boast off sitting in that arm chair in front of the house. The fatted calf survives.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

back again ..

This is probably the longest period that I haven't blogged for since I started blogging an year or so ago. I guess marriage, Australia and settling down kept me quite busy. I have got in to a rhythm now and so I am trying to find some time start blogging regularly again - and to actually read the blogs of a few other fellow bloggers I had started to follow a while back..

I have heard that marriage changes people quite a lot and now experiencing it live. I guess it changes women more than the men and its true in my case as well. J has turned from a junk food loving, shopaholic, FB addict, carefree university student into a completely new person. Now we hardly eat from out as we (she) cooks at home on a daily basis, spends less on clothes and her FB status gets changed once a month as opposed to hourly updates. When we browse around at shopping malls, more than DKNY and CK she gets attracted to Robin's Kitchen and the crockery sections at Target. How things change.. that too in a few months.

I like to think that I have changed myself as well.. but have to admit not as much as her. I try and help clean up the house, help in cooking, watch romantic movies with her *sigh*, and gave up on alcohol ( if red wine at social dinners does not count ;). I come home early, do not bring work home at all.. little things that help us be happy, I try to do. Oh Wait I got one more.. I returned Band of Brothers back to my colleague without watching it because J hates bloody war scenes ( okay now I am struggling to find ways in which I have changed :p ).

Anyway the only conflict we have is my two nights of playing soccer with the boys every week.. Although she seems pretty cool about it, I am sure she would rather I spend the time with her :-P which explains the sudden headaches or back pain she picks up on Friday afternoons :-P. Whenever we get together with friends for dinner or gatherings, the wifes are all conspiring to keep the boys at home on soccer nights and share ideas on how toe accomplish the mission. They discuss drastic measures like plan to go on a shopping spree as long as we play soccer, or no home made food and a few other things.. etc etc ..and the thoughts are getting more evil week by week.

But on the other hand we do spned a lot of time together and also made a few sightseeing tours to Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Sydney and Wollongong.. I love Australia. Also got ourselves a new car - "golfie" as she likes to call it. So we spend a lot of time driving around .. Here are some pics from the places we visited.



Harbor Bridge

Golfie :)

From J's Kitchen


Sunday, March 14, 2010


Settling down in this new town is taking longer than expected, but the excitement is still there and the ways of life in Australia still amazes me. I am liking it so far. Things here are so organized and there are rules and regulations for every little thing which a good amount of people follow - be it a little social etiquette or a government policy.

Today J hunted down a mallu store on the other side of town and we decided to have a drive down there and shop for some Kerala stuff ( 50 % of which are coconut related products :-P ). Anyway we finally reach there and the owner himself is at the cashiers and is a mallu himself ( no surprises there ). So we say hello.. and he shoots right away -

1. Are you on a PR ? ( whatever happened to “how are you doing” or “good after noon” )

2. Is your wife a nurse? (huh?? where did that come from ? )

I was all taken aback but J seemed pretty cool as she is already used to all these questions.. So I guess that’s the way mallus introduce each other.. So my introduction from now on is going to be “Hi I am so and so I don’t have a PR and my wife isn’t a nurse” :-P. Jokes apart – mallu store was a relief for us as we can now we can prepare mallu eshtyle food at home :)))))))))))).

Hopefully we find a place to move into by next week and settle in and still have some beans left in the bank :-P. Australia is an expensive place.

Got a pre paid Virgin Mobile connection and found the instructions pretty intimidating .. J So I thought I will share it on the blog.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Love Aaj Kal

Haven’t blogged for ages as I was busy getting an extreme makeover - new life partner, new job profile and on top of that transfer to a new location.

In the modern world falling in love over the internet is considered quite common but I never thought it would happen to me. We had met once a year ago under our parents arranged “supervision” but nothing fruitful came of it as we both were pretty much busy with our lives, she more so as she had enrolled for a second masters and had a year to go. Nine months passed before we exchanged out first email and then there was no looking back (100 emails a day and gazillion text messages and phone calls and facebooking). Finally after two months of online courtship she said “yes”. And we decided to get married the coming month.

Marriage was a quite one with only us, our parents, her brother and her cousin. Yes the guest list was kept to a minimum to avoid unwanted hassles of inviting the most distant of relatives and them ending up upset as we didn’t chase up our visit with a phone call the day before marriage to invite them again.. People in Kerala will know exactly what I am talking about. Most relatives consider a marriage as a perfect foundation to start a family feud. Anyway let me not get into that. Marriage went off super cool at Mookambika temple and then a drive back to our home town on Trichur. In fourteen days we visited all of our relatives and 12 temples and were all set to leave Kerala.

Flew to Dubai and then next two weeks were spent me showing off Dubai to her as this was like my home town – she wasn’t that impressed L Quite understandable considering the fact that she spent the last two years in Australia which is a very beautiful place I have to say. Tax free money and the option to fly down to Kerala often over a weekend didn’t appeal to her much. Oh well...

So I accepted a job offer to move to Brisbane and settle down in Oz with a laid back office job so that we could spend time together. My visa came through and decided to leave for OZ almost immediately. So I packed my bags – which were just my clothes and sports accessories. And here I am in Brisbane with my wife J, trying to settle down in a new place.

For the first time in my life I am going to be paying taxes and mobile bills and house rent as it was all taken care of by my firm while in Dubai. But within days of landing here in Australia I have completely fallen in love with this place. I have never been this excited in my life as I am at this moment. Tomorrow is my first day at my new office and I am looking forward to life in Brisbane.

I love life.