A very happy Diwali indeed…

Pleasant surprises are always welcome. After spending most of the gloomy, wet thursday studying for the Kinetics mid-term and then finally writing it in the evening, I wanted a break from the monotonous and tedious routine of preparing for exams and studying my ass off. Someone up there did hear my wishes and voila! what followed were two successive days of amazing parties culminating in Diwali celebrations.

After the mid-term, our research group headed to Uncle Julio’s, a mexican grill located quite some distance away. We were celebrating a birthday and two successful PhD thesis defenses. The group was multicultural and multi-ethnic with Turkish, Greek, Korean, American, Indian(me) and Puerto-rican representation. It was so much fun! We(myself and one other member only) started off by hunting for the only vegetarian dishes in a menu full of beef,pork,frog legs and baby octopuses. Photographs were taken, dares were given, new drinks were tried, tubs of nachos were emptied and the conversation just freely flowed. There was exchange of cuisine details ( Paneer Butter Masala, Naans and Butter Chicken are total favourites of everyone around the globe, I discovered). We tested the spice-tolerance of everyone thanks to an awfully spicy pepper included generously in all our dishes. I ate a vegetable Fajita and maybe close to a kilo of nachos. I am never able to do justice to any of the restaurant serving portions here so invariably I packed up half my dinner (which will be my dinner today) and we continued the photo-sessions, the leg pulling, the hand-symbol games and the teasing till the food kinda settled down inside. We then headed to the Italian pastry shop to celebrate a birthday. The pastry shop was one I had seen only in movies. Dimly lit, it had a very pretty and crowded bar and little cute tables with small candles on them. I guess our group of ten was the only non-couple party out there and we headed out to the covered patio which had a fire-grate and logs of wood burning and settled down cosily. There was turkish tea, cinnamon coffee, white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, peanut butter and chocolate cake and so many other varieties ordered by the others. I was asked questions about the caste system of our country, the religion and the festivals and other things which are second nature to us but they look at it with so much curiosity. It was amusing trying to explain the origins of Diwali to everyone. Then there was the whole topic about turkish coffee and the tea-leaves reading which those people are so good at apparently. I tasted it, it was horrid to say the least. No sugar, no milk and the coffee powder is not drained off from the liquid. My facial expressions on drinking that, got everyone rolling in their seats. It was a memorable evening, given many of these people are graduating to take up different professions in different parts of the globe. It was fun,food and frolic at its peak.

The next evening (the day was so sleepy thanks to the sudden chill in all of US with temperatures well in single digits -thankfully positive here) got even better. A couple of guys organized a potluck party on Diwali eve. A friend of mine and I made pulao to contribute to it. The others got curd rice, homemade snacks, gulab jamuns, sabji and the hosts had the drinks, nachos and chips. We had a ball! (Literally all of us kept taking turns bouncing on their gym ball). Jokes apart, it was amazing fun. We played a plethora of games, ranging from a warped version of cricket with a tennis raquet and ball which had rules like if you hit the wall directly, it is out and strict under-shoulder bowling to card games which were so much fun ( all were new to me but I am now in love with them) like Bluff and 5 Carder. We played Uno, Clue and the hosts had a dart board in their living room which we enjoyed playing and distracting the members of the opposite team. I am no good at it since my aim is horribly pathetic. I was happy to even touch the board with my dart! 😛 Food was in plenty, so were the desserts and so was the teasing,leg pulling and laughing. A very very memorable diwali party. For once, we all forgot everything about academics or exams and just had fun.

(Long post I know, but this is for me to read later -when I’m old and jobless perhaps! :P). Sometimes, no-plans become amazing plans. We all woke up late (the other roomies were in other parties themselves) and there was an impromptu enthusiasm to cook in all of us. We split up the dishes ( I made pulao – Ok, I know I’m becoming some expert in making it or something; Ramya and Pallavi made the Shira barfi and raita ; Richa made chole and Priyanka made kheer) We did a small Lakshmi Puja after my elaborate oil bath and then dug into the food! Awesome it was! A sweet and warm, homely Diwali!

It is freezing outside, close to 4 degrees and the windchill making it 0 and cloudy and windy. I have a midterm on tuesday (sigh!) and one more the week after. Somehow, I’m recharged and raring to go. Festivals do recharge you emotionally!
On that note ( to all those to stuck with me and actually read the entire thing and to everyone else as well)


PS: Some pics are here, more will be added later!

Team efforts of our apartment
Team efforts of our apartment

Girl Talk: A girl’s computer and a boy’s computer

Faced with the dilemma of buying a new computer (its a tough decision for me given that 1. My old comp is working fine, though battery-less and wifi-less, its perennially on life support and keeps having these multiple organ failures everynow and then which it recovers from after giving some shocks and defragmenting. 2. Mac is actually within reach now.)
So I asked my friends for some help. Invariably I realized some startling cases of gender discrimination crept up even while buying a computer! So here goes:

Person 1: You are a girl, a pink Vaio should be your choice.
Me: Duh! ( I do love the colour :P). I am not impressed by the Vaio hardware. It has always conked off for all the people I know.
Person 1: You are a girl, basically any computer should do. Why are you worried about the hardware?
Me: What does that mean? I am a girl so any computer…
Person 1: I dont think girls need computers for anything other than checking mail and playing songs or updating facebook statuses. Anything else you’d invest is plain waste of money.
Me: Blah!

Person 2: Buy a Mac, buy a mac.
Me: The config of the 1000$ one isnt that fab, its just 2GB ram with a 160 GB harddrive and virtually no upgrades.Is it worth it?
Person 2: Oooh, so you know technical stuff eh? But for a girl, 2 GB ram is good enough for the solitaire games and the songs.
Also, I know my friend who is a girl and she is very happy with her 2 GB mac. Though my other guy-friends have a problem.
Me: **Very Sour Expression.**

I wondered what has gender got to do with a computer’s configuration. In many cases, it is true I think. The sexes use their respective computers for totally different things. It surprises me a great deal when I discover how technologically incompetent so many girls around me are, who are more than happy to give their “screwed” up computers to the guys who after a night-out of driver downloads, forum searches and formatting, fix the bugs. Why don’t they do it themselves? It is sad to think that in this era, girls are still not at ease with computers. When I complain of a low RAM or processor speed or how maybe Linux will help me solve issues, people go like “Whoa..so you actually use the computer for all this coding work.” My computer (being a girl’s) is expected to be all clean and devoid of anything except music, photographs and Microsoft Office. But not all girls have pink computers with frilly covers and desktop wallpapers of some bollywood hero.

I dont blame the perception entirely because I know at some level it is true. But hey there are girls who do live stream games on ESPN, watch football matches and tennis matches, use their comps for simulations and photoshop work and even play heavy duty games (apart from attaching external woofers and jamming loud metal music), who can maintain their computers and who can handle computers without “external” support.

And next time one such girl asks/tells you about some computer’s configuration or the lack of it, all you guys, dont let your eyebrows disappear into your hair.

Deja Vu..

Its that time of the year again. Diwali, Dusshera..oh wait, midterms and more exams. A sneak peek into the next few months of my life looks like a long string of exams and exams and classes and more exams. For the first ever time, I’m not in India for the festivities of Navratra or Diwali. I’m not missing it here, simply because, they just don’t let me. I’ve been sitting in my room the whole day trying to get something done but no avail. I feel useless, kinda stupid and unproductive. Every night, I go to bed thinking tomorrow will be THE day of maximum studying, but as usual, that tomorrow never comes.

I’ve not been blogging for a while I know. Its been busy here. Busy as hell. Midterm weeks approach and bring a sense of gloom into everyone’s mind. Then come the qualifiers. Honestly, I’ve been scared to death from whatever I’ve heard so far and the only way to beat it would be to actually start studying for it. I miss the hostel. I miss knowing that everyone is (hopefully) in the same shit as I am and that everyone’s brains are being squeezed to unhealthy levels. At some level, I enjoy the strain but the prospect of “passing” or “failing” adds an additional 1000KPa to the pressure already. (Sad joke :P)

Loads of things have happened in the last few weeks. I’ve made a great friend at last. So my days are no longer boring. I can go and spend time and talk and do girly stuff and enjoy myself whenever I want to. Secondly, my cooking has improved by leaps and bounds. I can fix a decent meal in less than 15 minutes and it comes rather well! Of course there has been the added academic joy of finally finding your advisor who’ll fund you for the next 4-5 years. The project excites me. Its just these hurdles called exams I’ve to cross to finally start working on it. Aaaah..January..when will it come?!

I miss reading books. Its like the carrot and donkey story. I’ve an absolutely delightful collection of books in the biggest library I’ve been to, sitting 10 minutes away from me and I can’t read any of it. I cant even think of any non-chemical engineering book right now. Even thinking feels like a crime. Bah.

The last few weeks saw a lot of changes: I got my iphone at laast. Got my second pay-check. Decided on the camera and laptop I want to buy. Got an office assigned to myself! Splurged in Bath and Body Works, watched a hindi movie, fell in love with Tamil songs, made Frappucino all by myself at home, spent a night out watching an English movie with popcorn, went to the Coca-cola museum, ate Indian food and found myself amusingly in the same state of mind as I had in BITS just before an exam. Well here, the odds are only higher. Its getting colder here, with the night temperatures well within the 20 degree mark. It rains occasionally. That manages to cheer me up somehow.

Random post. Thats all my brain saddled with tons of saddle points and optimization functions and kinetics can think of right now. I’ll write about something more interesting soon. Till then, godspeed!