Friday, September 29, 2006

Tease of the Bureacratese

Probably a good 60 percent of this week was spent in Babudom and the intricacies of Babuspeak. Yes, I am talking of the bureaucrats in DC that are absolutely no different from those of Delhi. In Delhi, whether it was the old and dilapidated Shastri Bhawan (Ministry of Coal) or the swanky new corridors of Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan (Ministry of Civil Aviation), the same type of clerks pushed files, carried chais and played teen patti on the lawns. It’s a bit different here but you can’t help noticing some similarities: the same old bored security guards to the person who issues the visitor pass.
Basically I had gone to procure some public documents at the Department of Education for a story I was co-writing with someone. On Day 1, I managed to get a pass and went to the specific room where said documents would be. Of course, there was this long corridor with the sterile cubicles on both ends. The room was there but the babu was missing. He was on vacation. A nice lady tried to help me but no luck. Totally unacceptable. On Day 2, I decided to show up but there was nobody even to issue me the damn pass. I was also told that I needed to make an “appointment” to get such information! My co-writer and I were livid and since he was up in Boston he couldn’t really help. But he was a pro and having also worked in Delhi as a Post correspondent, he knew the dealings of Babuland. In other words, he pulled some strings. Talked to the man upstairs. Whatever.
And suddenly I got a phone call from some contact who very sweetly and promptly offered to help in every possible way. So third time was a charm. On Day 3, I went there with the “appointment” and got a decent treatment… a nice quiet space to work, use of phone, computer, loo, soda machine, etc. Except when I wanted to make copies of the documents, this lazy ass babu told his boss (my contact) that it was “almost lunch time” (it was only 11:55 a.m., I swear) and he was working on “something else” (yeah, his personal e-mails/blog I bet). So after shooting looks of death at him, I made the copies myself. It's another story how i got the copy machine to work in my favor. But i finally left the confines of Babudom to return to the confines of my cubicle.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Moving - Again!

This is my last week living by myself in nice little cubby hole in Cleveland Park. I found a roommate and after putting in major walking hours exploring the city for a suitable apt. to suit our needs, we finally got a place on Capitol Hill that we really liked. This is the first time i actually put in some physical effort to find a place and i may have lost a few pounds in the process... called the Apt. Hunting Diet :) will be shifting with some bags and baggage this weekend and the furniture will go end of Oct.
So i lived by myself for 2 out of my 5 yrs in the U.S. and both times i got harsh lessons in independence and self-sufficiency. but most imp. lessons have been in the "how-to" department: how to use a can opener (by holding can steady), how to hook up the dvd player (by reading the manual), how to react when a stranger walks in to your apt. by mistake when you leave your door unlocked for the first time (that scream that never comes out of your mouth), and of course how to enjoy my lovely company :) going back to living with someone won't be easy but Malini is highly amusing... just as normal women carry lipsticks or chapsticks, she carries around a Tide marker pen to remove food spills on her clothes!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Steve Irwin R.I.P.

I thought i didn't care about Steve Irwin's death too much, until i saw his memorial service yesterday. In case you were in a cave Irwin is the crocodile hunter who used to do programs on the Animal Planet. I saw him a lot on The Tonight Show. He was totally fearless and loved all sorts of creatures. His little daughter Bindi - yup that's the Indian connection - gave an amazing eulogy in front of millions of viewers without any waterworks. "He was working to change the world so that everyone would love wildlife the way he did. Daddy, I miss you and whenever I look at crocs I will always think of you." Perhaps the most touching tribute i saw since Harry left his "I miss you mum" note on Princess Diana's hearst. And yes, i do watch mass televised memorial services at every given chance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Metro Musings

Metro riders continue to surprise... a GWU professor asked my views on Camus (yes, existential angst is written all over my face), another chap offered me a piece of chewing gum (great, i smell bad too) and yet another chap hungrily took my mint breakers when i offered him one (my very own version of a soup kitchen). but the best strangers on the train are still in the metros of Paris and Moscow. so a trip down nostalgia lane...
it was circa 1983 in former Soviet Union and i was waiting for a terribly irresponsible parent to pick me up from swimming practice... tired of waiting till pretty late in the evening, i went down to the metro and headed home. this nice old lady in the train must've seen the tears coming on this 8-yr-old and offered me the best piece of chocolate ever.
in Paris, i simply lost the whole family in the crowded subway (the question of who let go of whose hand is still debatable) but had the good sense to get off at the next station to wait for them. again, this college kid just wanted to stand with this 10-yr-old until my parents came to fetch me. in hindsight, he could've been a totally shady guy but i was reassured by his company. maybe these were all just elaborate plots by my parents to get rid of me... but i think their wish finally came true a few years ago!!! :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Day After

Yes, I remembered. Saw “Path to 9/11” on ABC and Frontline on PBS… both intense and interesting. In spite of the big, bold messages warning viewers it was a dramatization and not a documentary, I fail to see why the network tied up with Scholastic to distribute the movie as a “learning tool” for school kids… will kids even know the difference between the two? PBS had too many shots of people falling from the towers… It felt kind of sadistic to even watch.
Anyway, today morning I had this weird dream about Jon Stewart telling some joke about how washing machines affect marriages. The two musketeers were snickering on the sidelines. Dream over. Then as I was stepping out to work, some woman literally accosted (that’s the only word to describe it) me on the street and said, “good morning.” She scared the crap out of me… I don’t know why… she looked mean and sinister, could’ve been a ghost. Who knows? or maybe she was just a nice, old lady who wanted my earrings. I might have been dreaming again. But I managed to stutter "morning, gggg-gotta go."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Curse of Kramer's

Once again i found myself at the mercy of a "DC institution" which has consistently wreaked havoc on my so-called dating life. Yup, all the dates i have had here have been consistently bad, if not disasterous. Since it is a nice, well-populated place with the option of coffee/drinks/dinner, the first date can go on as long as you want to. Anyway, none of the men (?) i've met there have matured into anything resembling fruitful.
So tonight i met - on a very last minute invitation - this chap at Kramer's. At first, i thought we weren't going there, but since he suggested it, i rolled my eyes and said, "why the hell not?" I met Mr B online only 2 days ago (maa and married friends told me to be more proactive!!) and he was so insistent on meeting me i thought OK, i've handled other freaks, i can do this, too. I talked to him briefly on the phone and immediately dismissed him... did not sound confident at ALL, had a very saaad desi accent (and i have one, too but i'm a snob about the *type* of desi accent... something more coherent then what he was saying for sure) and just seemed too pushy for my liking.
so we ended up getting dinner there and it occured to me during the course of the conversation, he was getting a soft corner for me. this was due to 3 reasons (i think):
  • he was very new to the city and i was being nice and friendly to him. wanted to meet more people, asked me about what to do, etc.
  • i talked about his hometown in Bhopal which i had visited back in 1992 and he got this glazed look in his eyes. later he mentioned nobody in his 7 yrs in the US of A had talked about Bhopal like i did. what can i say?? i just have a damn good memory!
  • he offered to show me his apt. (i mentioned my woes). "you should move into my apt.," he said. "err, that won't be necessary or even possible," i said. "nono, i meant my apt. complex. it's super nice," he said. hmm. don't think so.

But before all of you rush to his defence and yell, "what's wrong with him? he sounds sooo nice!" let me make it totally clear i'm really not attracted to him. it's not looks, though it is def a factor. it's not his accent, either. though that really bothers me, too. he has zero personality!!! also very full of himself coz he works for the govt - pshaw! so? - and has no inclination to visit India in near future. plus he's got no interest to travel or do anything fun that i like to do. so let me sum up my quandry: nice chap, but i can't date him. i also don't want to pull the "let's just be friends" crap on him. i have lots of friends already :) right now, i have a legit excuse... my cellphone charger is lost... seriously... but is it better to tell the truth?? or should i just ignore the whole thing? he did pay for my meal.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Breezy Weekend

So i was in Chicago this labor day weekend and for a change it wasn't too windy. i met my lovely cousin sisters and my crazy ol' brother. one of my sisters has just invested in real estate and it looks like she will stay in that city for a long time. i looove the city - lake shore drive, the beautiful buildings always take my breath away - but i might get tired of living there forever. probably the thought of being surrounded by land and nutty Cubs fans :)
anyway, i also visited Evanston, which is home to Northwestern Univ. and where Joyee is slogging away for her ph.d. in math. she was also doing something crazy like car-sitting for a classmate and managed to lose the keys! in the midst of this drama, we grabbed desi lunch at mt.everest. this is the 3rd place i've been to which is called everest. at least the other two had something to do with Nepal... in DC and one in Davis, Calif.
On Sunday, we headed towards Peoria which is about 3 hrs west of Chicago. my uncle and aunt have a massive home there and my cousins and i are always reminded that it's the best place to have some shaadi party! but we had a pretty good party ourselves... watching Maria Sharapova's black dress (and game, i suppose) at the U.S. Open; bbq in the garage (it started raining) and shopping at Steve&Barry's (everything $6.98). but no family reunion is incomplete without someone getting on someone's nerves... ah well, what matters is that we all said our goodbyes in a civilized fashion!