Monday, September 21, 2009

Who lived in 110?

Apparently, no one did, until we came along! I think it was a last minute allocation. The room was tinier than a jail cell, seriously! okay, I have not spent a day in a jail cell, but I am willing to bet it was!

Anyway, it did not matter, we had the best of neighbors and it was still the I Block and we could get to the common phone with ease! Despite all, I think I spent the least amount of time in the hostel in my second year!

The one particular memory I have is of our attempt at cooking aloo curry in our room, now why on earth would we attempt to cook anything that had aloo in it, while the mess had an eternal supply of that particular brand of vegetable, is beyond my comprehension. I think we spent more time arguing on whether the onions needed to be washed before cutting and cooking them, than the actual cooking time and you can guess which side I was on!

That's pretty much for the pictures of the rooms we lived in, in MIT unless someone is willing to enter the nicer New Ladies Hostel or the Old Ladies Hostel (that name cracks me up to this day, there's a comma in there somewhere... you can decide where to put it!) to click pics of our rooms there!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If tomorrow never comes

A familiar face was missing when I went back home the last time, my grandma passed one day before I was scheduled to depart from the US, her favorite line to me was 'mote jaije, yeh burgainche jevan!' (you should become fat, this morsel of food is for kids). As much as you think you may be prepared, you can never anticipate how death affects you.

This is almost another one of those morbid sounding posts, so stop if any talk about death scares you! I have been pondering this thought since a few weeks, how fascinating would it be to write your own obituary? Ted Kennedy Jr, delivered a beautiful eulogy for his Dad, no doubt he wrote it by himself, however was there anything else his Dad really wanted to say about himself, his final word?
If I were to write an obit and knowing me, you'd probably need to take out a full page in Udayavani or Rakno (Konkani weekly)! The best part it's a work in progress, I can keep editing it.

That brings me to another thought, as I was writing about MIT and Manipal and all the growing up we did there, I realized that the memory of receiving that call on that fateful Sunday morning of Easter was still crystal clear in my mind, although the conversation itself wasn't. It was ironically the day before April fool's day, the day before our sessionals.

How unfortunate is it for a young girl to write an ode for her friend while still in college? (It was published in the year book along with his sister's own eulogy). I remember trying to confirm that it was the Sujit I knew, since there were many other kids with the same name in their class. The church bells were ringing and my tall lanky friend from Sunday Catechism was no more. The circumstances were unfortunate and it affected almost our entire batch. The service drew hundreds of our batch-mates and our Late Parish Priest (who spent most of his life as a principal of a college) had his heart in the right place when he almost gave us all a lecture on how to live a good life, how not to disappoint the people who love us.

Having studied in an only girls school, Sunday Catechism class was our first opportunity at male friends and he was among the first, the last bench of the notorious girls! vs the last bench of the troublemaker boys! One each from each row have already passed on to a different world. From awkward teens to competitors in coaching class to drifting apart ever so slightly in a professional college environment, yet managing to catch up on some of those hour and a half journeys into College on those early Monday mornings.

I'm sure they are all in a better place today, we will all be... one day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A penny for me and a dollar for you

I was at the clubhouse today with an intention to watch the game (federer vs djokovic) on the big screen tv, but since someone else was watching some other game I decided to wait it out by the computers with my book for company. That's when I noticed them, a small baby sleeping soundly in her pram beside her Dad who seemed focused on noting down telephone numbers and filling in multiple forms online. On a closer look, I realized he was going through local employment classifieds online. I did not want to pry, but was close enough to see his screen without meaning to.

Anyway, when I decided to get out of there, he noticed me and brought a smile upto his face by way of greeting and as if on cue the baby started fussing a bit. As luck would have it, he seemed done and he greeted me verbally and started a conversation. Information was revealed that his daughter was 4 months old and that he was going to be out of a job next week and hence was looking for work. There was no mention of the lady but I'd like to assume she was back in the apartment. Southerners are known for their strong family bonding, more than the rest of America.

He spoke about health-care, struggling to make ends meet yet his attitude was positive, cheerful despite his plight. I know there are a lot of people in similar, maybe worse shoes the world over, but he chose to talk about it to me, there are so many such heartbreaking stories I've come across out of my limited volunteering work, yet each one touches you more than the other. I found myself praying to God so that he finds a good job and that they are kept in good health. That is all I could do today... unfortunately.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Bhagi Monthiche fest

Not wanting to sound redundant, I searched through my archives and found that I had posted twice before on September 8th. Well, the titles are pretty strange! but then they were not specific to this feast.

Of finger licking!, Eating right? I think I should start reading into my archives more often, it should provide an insight into what I was cooking, writing about back then ;'), probably not very different from now? Anyway, that in itself proves that this feast is a pretty big deal, more like was for me right now! although back home it still is.
You know the drill! kids offering up flowers in procession, the distribution of stalks of paddy and then sugarcane to the kids, preparing the novem jevan out of the rice distributed in the church and coconut milk (a specific combination of thick and thin), odd numbered dishes of vegetarian food and finally the most important of all, the entire family eating together. More than the event that this feast celebrates, it is the linkage with the harvest festival that makes it an event for the mangalorean Catholics, much like Onam, Pongal in other regions. No special significance is attached to the day here in the US and there is no special mass either.
This is where I digress from the topic in the title of the post, like I do ever so often! 

September 8th was like a July 16th, the feast of Mt. Carmel, the day when we attended Mass and received brown scapulars or it was like those First Friday's of every month when the non-catholic students would get to play and we had to go to the church nearby for Mass. Teacher Joyce would macho up and be the pretend policewoman with her stud moves (hand signals to stop the traffic)! It was a sight to behold, a short petite teacher holding up traffic at a busy junction for minutes and queues and queues of girls in blue uniforms crossing the road! or the times when we had to mandatorily attend the 'Way of the Cross' on friday's of Lent in the College Chapel during our lunch hour. I do wonder if the Catholic institutions in the city follow all these customs to this day..., okay I agree September 8th can't be compared to any of this!

Wish you a Bhagi Monthiche fest, i.e. a Blessed feast of the Nativity of our Mother Mary.

On a footnote, Infosys started operations on this day in Mangalore 14 years ago and it became their second development center after Bangalore.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Room 206

My thoughts and memories are kind of juxtaposed right now and hence the chronological order of these posts will probably not make much sense, yet my goal is really not to document every single detail but rather those that are worth capturing and of course if my mind lets me. If I had to write about every single event from my four year stay in Manipal, I would probably have to quit my job which pays me to live here!

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that Sunday, a couple of bags were packed and we hauled ourselves into the cab that took us to Manipal. It was a day that will be etched in history forever, okay I agree, in my history only! On getting to the hostel blocks, it did seem like I was put up in a nicer looking block than the person I traveled with. The dinghy room, the fact that the best bed in the room was already occupied, the knowledge that my roommate was a keralite (call me racist if you may but this was my first time out on my own and familiarity does not breed contempt, although I did know that the third roommate was a school-mate) did not improve my mood that was slowly plummeting into an abyss faster than the elevator ride to the top of the tower of the Americas. It was only in the II year that I realized the true meaning of dinghy, we’ll probably get to that or not.

                                                                                      A view from outside, that corner room was ours.
The ‘how I came about being allocated Room 206’ is an interesting back story too. The nuance of room allocation was something I learned only after spending about two weeks getting to know the girls, including religion and region. And yes, I do believe those factors played a significant role in determining your room-mates. Our floor was pre-dominantly occupied by Konkani speaking girls, all speaking it with different accents, the GSB Konkanis from the area, the GSB Konkanis from Kerala and the Mangalorean Catholics. Most of the rooms had all GSB Konkanis, all Mangaloren Catholics, a couple of NRI girls with a girl from Mumbai and some mix and match like in our room.

Back to that first day in the hostel, I decided to leave the bed in the middle for the third person and plopped onto the hard bed in the corner facing the door opening, there really wasn’t anything to look around for, the custom desk and chair for each of us, the steel wardrobe and the whole row of bathrooms on the corner of the floor certainly did not look inviting. I unpacked the bare necessities and joined the others who were looking for a store to buy some more other bare necessities from! Trudging back from Kamath’s, which was right opposite the basketball court, I found more familiar faces and then ended up in the mess, it was called Ananya (it means single or unique). Rows and rows of wooden benches and tables lined the mess, aloo paratha and tea/coffee was on the menu and it was something I’d never eaten before and for some reason with the whole first day in hostel mood, I have always considered aloo paratha to be something I do not like! this is my probably my opening to mention that aloo was the staple diet in all our hostel mess's right upto the fourth ;') I promptly traveled back home the next day as we did not have a few hours! And that was just so classic of us from around the area, we could go back to our comfortable beds into familiar surroundings while the rest of the girls had to tolerate missing home, some bit of ragging on the weekends and could never complain.

My keralite room-mate was the sweetest girl I knew back in the first year.

MIT and Manipal was the place where the transformation happened, from a teenager to the twenty-something’s.