Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Profile of a jerk

A disturbing update faced me as I logged onto Facebook for my hourly fix(!) last evening. A classmate from grad school who did his undergrad from Penn State and who is my grouse companion about the job scene here, posted this response to his follow-up mail on a job application: "Pedophile Penn State? I really don't think so." !!!
My first reaction (and most reactions, going from the comments on his wall) was 'WTF??!' Are you kidding me? What sort of a person can honestly think it a reason for rejecting a candidate? It's juvenile and pointlessly insulting. After mulling over it for a while, I noticed other disturbing aspects to this response. On the surface, it seems like a crass case of generalization; some jerk shooting off his mouth. But consider this: the guy leads a top NYC architecture firm and is a Harvard alumni - the cream of the crop, so to speak. He appears confident he'll get away with it too (airing views over an email where a simple 'forward' or 'tweet' can do much damage.) Confident that a low blow at a struggling grad will not hurt him. As long as he holds the promise of employment, he is untouchable by the wrath of the young architecture community. While I hope my friend does something more about it than just a nasty email back, I am more convinced in my belief that in many cases, education is a superficial condition. It is not always an enhancement of the mind, as one expects it to be. Prejudices run deeper.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I miss my grandparents. What wouldn't I give for just one conversation with them. Let them know what I am doing, who I married, where I lived, if I was happy...Just general stuff loved ones want to hear about. M's grandparents are visiting - the cause for this renewed sense of loss. At times like this I want to believe in the the concept of heaven and your loved ones watching over you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Excerpts from my week in San Fran - 2

May 26th:

Just back from a really 'fresh' breakfast at La Boulange. (yes, they have branches in the downtown area too!) Although I was initially a little irritated that the hotel (Palace Hotel - we moved yesterday!) didn't have a coffee machine in the room (it's such a basic thing!), I was ultimately glad to get out and enjoy the morning sunshine.

Yesterday was slow compared to the previous days - M wasn't feeling too well and we also took some time shifting hotels. I found Palace Hotel to be a truly beautiful, historic building. It has a way of transporting you back in time - especially as you walk past lit chandeliers and gilded decor and listen to Mozart playing in the lobby at 8.00 in the morning! The attention to detail is amazing. (note to self: must have tea in the large ballroom under the glass dome. The guidebook wasn't overstating it when it described it as the 'most beautiful room in California'. After dragging the reluctant husband to lunch at Tulan for some Vietnamese, I ventured out to SF MoMa. Discovered an artist I hadn't heard of - Clifford Stills, who makes Rothko look like an amateur. The highlight of the place though, is Mario Botta's light shaft. While not very graceful from the exterior, it works really well for the atrium, bathing the interiors in a silver halo. A quick stop at the museum store for my usual picks of postcards and it was time to head out for the evening meal.

M was feeling better after a nap and felt enthused about trying out a pizza place we had heard about nearby. While the pizza disappointed (I guess we just got too adventurous with the toppings), the drinks at a place next door didn't. 'Cucumbita' (self explanatory!) for me and crispy fried asparagus and corn on the cob on the side...yummilicious!


The beautiful 'antique' Palace Hotel.


Cheap but flavourful - Tulan.


Clifford Stills at the SF Museum of Modern Art. 




Walking under Mario Botta's light shaft, through a connecting bridge into the art galleries - SF MoMa



The Palace Hotel Ballroom where we did eventually have breakfast. Above - A closer look at the beautiful glass ceiling.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Excerpts from my week in San Fran - 1

May 22nd , either 12.00 p.m or 3.00 p.m!
Can't tell, totally disoriented. The phone clock is behaving erratically. It showed 12.00 an hour ago and it is only 10 past 12 now! Guess it is picking up the local time of wherever we are passing over. I always have this sense of a time wrap in planes...Anyway, this flight was made bearable by our Norwegian co-passenger of Guyanese descent visiting his family in San Fran (talk about melting pot!) He was quite knowledgeable about Norway and the ill-effects of microwave cooking(!) (The guy used to be a chef on cruise ships) Also, I am finally reading Delirious New York again. On a flight to SF :))

Still May 22nd, actually 3.00 a.m but having to pretend it's 12.00 a.m!
The Wyndham Resort is good! Warm and cosy - especially now as we are coming in from the 'fall' weather outside - at a time which is summer in most parts of the world.This is hilarious. I only packed a bikini and summer dresses. I will most probably freeze. The evening was so-so, me coming to terms with the weather. After walking around in circles for sometime, we made our way to the Udupi restaurant in the Mission neighbourhood. Amazing bisi bele bhaath! The cable car ride on the way back was fun too. SF seems less lively/populous after NY.

May 23rd:
A really good day - totally worth the aching feet at this point. It is incredible how much you can achieve if you put your mind to it! Chinatown, North Beach, The Wharf and Lombard Street - all in a day! It was a good decision to postpone the winery trip...gave us a chance to explore the city first. After a non-nondescript breakfast and some pointless walking, we wandered onto Union Square and got some good pictures together. It was quite cold despite the sun. M insisted on buying me warm clothes before I whine and spoil the trip. We legged it to H&M (God bless them!) and picked up a bomber jacket which goes perfectly with dresses. I also used their trial rooms to slip on a pair of slacks (they have turned out to be such a great addition to my wardrobe!) Things picked up thereafter.
Chinatown in SF is not as dense as the Chinatown in NY. While there is some argument to be made for the complexity and loveliness of the latter, I actually enjoyed being able to stop and watch instead of being swept along in a swarm or people. M's old classmate from Penn State joined us there. Lunch was at the most authentically Chinese restaurant of my life. Servers ran around thrusting food trays at diners. I watched bemusedly while they tried to tempt us with pork/shrimp/fish dishes, all the while shaking their heads to indicate that it contained no meat. M didn't eat much - he had discovered bits of sea food in his supposedly veggie noodles.

Cute orange/lime tree outside a random house in China Town.

The 3 of us then picked our way up steep lanes to Telegraph Hill. Loved seeing how people dealt with living on an incline! Incidentally, the street was also featured in the Hitchcock classic 'Vertigo'. Coit Tower, atop the hill, used to be a lighthouse of sorts. Naturally, it provides great views of the city and the famed San Fran bridges. The plaza at its base had great vistas too, which we explored, interrupting lovers amidst bushes. Coming back to (seemingly) level ground, we fortified ourselves with coffee at a gem which Lonely Planet had missed - La Boulange, if you want to visit. Split a plateful of tiny desserts which were surprisingly low on saccharine.

Noted this spot for potential lazing on our way back from Telegraph. Didn't happen though; we took another way down.



'Vertigo' style pic from the top of Telegraph Street.

Almost amazed at how much ground we had covered in a few hours, we continued walking across pretty and quaint houses and found ourselves at Fisherman's Wharf. The beach afforded glorious sunshine and gorgeous views of the mysterious Alcatraz. Seagulls skimmed past us along the touristy Pier 39. Apart from the mandatory souvenir shops, an artist/handicraft market lined the way. Nothing like some retail therapy to soothe tired feet! The sunlight was beautiful, fresh and clean, like a new sun; but also deceptive - the breeze was giving us the chills.




A closer look at submarines, delightfully bright cookies and Boudin's famous sourdough, decked up for the shop window - all along Pier 39.

We took the cable car for the homeward journey but hopped off at Lombard street - had to, it called for closer inspection. It is now officially , the prettiest street I have seen, along with being the crookedest. Anniversary dinner had to be a take-away after all the walking, but the day was so worth it.







Tricky deal for cars on Lombard, pretty shots along the street and Alcatraz seen in the distance from the top of Lombard.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Not the best policy

Diplomacy is not really a good thing. Not all the time. I mean, its good to be diplomatic when you air your political views in public. Or gloat about India winning the World Cup in mixed company ;) But its not very pleasant if you moderate every reply. Its nice to show pleasure, excitement, even reproach once in a while. Specially with family. A hands-off approach will only take you this far in personal ties. I should be open to a parent cautioning me, or a sibling's advice. And if I can't, then I am, in effect, relegating that person to a distant category.
'I am sure you'll make the right choice' or 'its up to you!' is best reserved for acquaintances or random friends. I find it difficult to warm up to such people. I like people who'll be 'thrilled' rather than 'happy' for me. I am not advocating over-the-top emotional display. Just less...stoicism? Its boring...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Quick notes

When people are insecure, they loudly proclaim otherwise.
I had this insight a few moments ago in the studio. There is this classmate whose habit of talking about herself all the while irritates me a fair bit. Every time I even looked at her, she used the opportunity to tell me how complex her project is, how much work she has to do, how hard she wants to work blah blah blah (in the architectural world, it equals to saying, 'I am doing wonderful work!' - explained for the uninitiated) And also made plans to hog up the TA's time tomorrow. Which is fine by me. I think she was having a panic moment, and was realizing that her stuff wasn't as good as she thought it was.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My sentiments exactly!

Over the last few years, my mother has taken to writing more frequently. She always had a knack for prose but she also revealed a keen interest in poetry. In Haiku, in fact. Although I have admired her efforts, I found, like many others, that 'this Haiku thing' eludes me. I was always more appreciative of verse. Until now. I guess I never really understood the beauty of a 'ku'. That there was so much more to it that just 5-7-5. The power of a few words to convey a strong image. I have to say that I am a Haiku convert now.
Here are a few I came across, thanks to Mum.

between sun and shade
a butterfly pauses
like none I've seen -
whoever falls in love
with someone they know?

-Michael McClintock

Dear Malvina
It's been a long time since we It's already autumn here...
lonely evening

-Rafal Zabratynski


crashing waves -
almost believing
it's forever

-Svetlana Marisova

Father's day
his wheel tracks
in the carpet

-Michelle Schaefer

I've this memory -
riding my father's shoulders
into the ocean,
the poetry of things
before I could speak


-Michael McClintock

i fear it's too late
like starlight
i should have set out earlier

-Mark Holloway

I also love these! Way to go Mum!!

Unkempt lawn
rocking chair
match point!
daughter's day

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tales from India

Almost time to head back! I've immensely enjoyed this one month in India, flight and visa troubles notwithstanding. During the last year, I found that I quite liked New York (except that winter anywhere in the US feels depressing to me) I think I'd like living there for an extended time too. But I'm surprised I don't miss it at all once in India. Its almost as if I'd never been there.
At home, every morning begins with my mum's call for 'cha' and Dad's bellows to get me to show up before the tea turns cold. After a short but cozy discussion (mostly a monologue directed at me,unless I am feeling rebellious, about eating better!) we retreat to our separate zones to get ready for the day. I get in a leisurely yoga session before breakfast. Then I check my mail. And put off any study plans I might have had. I am still a day ahead of my NY schedule, you see. I don't feel guilty at all. Having settled that, I have started parking myself in a small terrace off my bedroom with a book to enjoy the sunshine. ('HIDDEN ORDER- How Adaptation builds Complexity' has been gathering dust on my table but I increasingly turn towards 'More folktales from India'. Who can blame me?)Mum joins me now and then and sometimes the neighbour's pup shows up on the adjoining terrace to take his morning quota of sun too. Watching Mum shell peas, we usually talk about this and that. Silly things that can only interest mother and daughter...This is really the best time of the day for me.
There are harrowing times too - the visa angst, the negotiations over flight schedules, the misogynist 'callcenter' guy who refused to cancel my tickets(imagine!) and promptly obliged when my husband asked...but thankfully, the happy memories will stick :)
M made his first visit to my home. Felt good to share that part of my life with him. Took the amused husband on a two-wheeler ride. Tried every kind of street food I had on my list. Fell sick but being sick at home is good fun. Connected with old friends over long phonecalls. Revelled in my 'Indian' wardrobe whenever I got the chance. And happily stayed away from that laptop - truly the epitome of a vacation for me! See you all back in NY soon!