Archive for September, 2005

Good looks

September 28, 2005

Prompted by an entry in LJ of .

If I see a face for the first time, an impression of beauty/non-beauty forms. If I continue to see just the face, the impression remains static. But if I interact with the person, or read about him/her or watch them on a talk show, than the impression is strengthesned or it fades depending on the person behind the face.

Too many people I know are too conscious about their good looks, or arrogant, or not-nice in other ways; some of them just plain don’t smile enough. But when many non-good-looking people smile, lighting up their face, with their goodness shining through, bohey become good-looking to me. My husband’s wrinkled face, with its jowly cheeks and doughball nose, is not handsome to my artist’s eye but
is the most good-feeling looks I know.

One quirk that I have is that if the good looks are accompanied by a corncrake, “kaakaa kural” voice, that is the end of beauty for me. I may like the person but will wince every time s/he says something.

I think Ingrid Bergman is extremely beautiful, and Tom Cruise extremely handsome. I don’t think Julia Robertsts or Aishwarya Rai are all that beautiful.

That doesn’t explain, though, why I find Walter Matthau very good-looking, and why I find Pierce Brosnan, and Naseeruddin Shah, and Nafisa Ali as good-looking as ever as they age, and why I think Shabana Azmi is losing her looks….

American place names….

September 25, 2005

This is probably my 8th visit to this vast country…but what always strikes my notice is this business of names of towns and cities.
We have visited Naples,Poland, London, Moscow, Manchester…without leaving American soil. I get the feeling that Americans are not comfortable making up names; as soon as the question arose, “What shall we call this town?” someone came running along, with an Atlas tucked under his arm. “Ah!” cried everyone, let’s see what page we turn to today.” “Paris!” yells the Atlas guy. “Great!” says the crowd. So Paris it is. The more exotic it is…Salem or Lebanon or Geneva or Madras…there it goes, down on the record.

Sometimes, for a change, they don’t want all those foreign names. What to do? Someone has an inspiration. Turn to the US pages! she shouts. “Ah….” goes the crowd. “Springfield!” “There are Springfields in practically every State.” “Well,why shouldn’t WE have one then?” So another Springfield is added to the list.(There are now 86 Springfields in the U.S.) There are two Portlands at opposite ends of the country…I don’t know how many more I haven’t seen yet.

Very early on, though, the new settlers were not so resourceful. They only knew English names and tacked on “New” to them much the same way as our little restaurants in Tamil Nadu tack them on(” New Sri Baby Mess”, “Neo Shanta Bhavan”, and so on.) New York, New Hampshire, New England, New Jersey..the country may be more than 200 years old but these places continue to be new. I am waiting for the English to start calling their places Old York, Old Hampshire, and so on….

But then, this time, I have found what I think is the best yet…I read that Mark Twain lived in a town called Florida, Missouri. Now this could be great. I am now going to check if there is a Missouri, Florida. Just imagine the possiblities this would have thrown up. There are now fifty states… gadzillion combinations possible! How tame to have finally come up with New York, New York!

And I could give the Americans some extra suggestions. They need not name their roads “Olive” or “Locust” or “Holly” or other stuff like that. We can show them the “foot” way to name streets. In Bangalore,particularly, one needs to go out with a measuring tape to know where one is. Am I on the 80 foot Road or the 100 foot Road? They could be more honest than us and call a road “Hundred-feet-to-start-out-with-but-we-have-dug-up-all-the-sides-so-it-is-only-seventy-six-feet-with-a-road-divider-and-cows-taking-up-another-four-feet” Road. But of course in Bangalore we would immediately initialize that to HFTSOWBWHDUATSSIIOSSFWARDACTUAFF Road, or HFTS Road for short. Do you know of anyone who would recognize Mahatma Gandhi Road or Jaya Prakash Nagar or Rabindranath Tagore Nagar? Are you crazy? How would *I* know where Bytarayanapura-Tavarekere-Madivala Layout is? I am just about OK with B G Road being Bannerghatta Road!


September 22, 2005

I thought I had watched enough Hollywood movies to be able to follow American English as she is spoken…but alas, therre is just now way some of the citizens of St Louis, and I, can understand each other! I find it quite impossible to understand what some of them say to me…and the reverse is also true. I went to a nearby supermarket and asked where I could find the milk…and there were four friendly, wanting-to-be-helpful-but-completely-foxed people looking at me blankly. I finally mimed milking a cow and got my response! Thank goodness, this problem occurs in the South and not in the NorthEast of the US…I suspect that a Texas drawl is going to be beyond this too!

To avoid being hurt

September 21, 2005

Been reflecting for some time on someone whom I have wanted to be friends with, who always had issues about it, not least being the fact that I was friendly with his parents. I learnt to accept that he would always be cold and unforthcoming. Then I learnt that he has put up an LJ entry (after removing me from his friends’ list) accusing me of being less than caring about his mother.

How wrong perceptions can be! I have been battling a little-known condition myself, with a lot of pain, inability to drive, and often difficulty even in moving about at home. I never expected that he would ever come to see me or enquire about me; I kept visiting his mother whenever I could;when I received a call from his father , I rushed to see his mother and was prevented from doing so by him; and I was puzzled by his actions, and am actually relieved to know that there was a reason for what I perceived as extreme coldness.

There are times when a person should be left alone to work out his emotions (actually, perhaps all of the time) and this is definitely one of them. The fact that I have never had a warm response is actually helping me now and keeps me from being hurt. It is of course hurting that when I think of myself as an affectionate person, I am perceived as just the opposite. But surprisingly, this response from this person does not hurt as badly as it would from one of the others in the group he (and my daughter)belongs to.

Perhaps the fact that I am referring to this means that the hurt is not as little as I like to think…but I do like to think that I am trying to take things objectively…..

How to keep active when visiting abroad

September 20, 2005

One of the greatest problems one faces when visiting family abroad is, how to keep oneself well occupied. Of course, helping with the housework can take up some time, but I find that my spouse is slowly gong crazy, as he has always been a human “doing” and not just a human “being”. One solution is to visit in the cold weather, whecan walking around can both familiarize you with where you are, and get you a lot of exercise. Since driving is an issue for most of us who come to the US, I would certainly suggest this. The irony is that we are both comfortable driving in the US and specifically enquired if an international driving licence would be required to rent a car…we were told it was not necessary, and didn’t bother to get them; now we realize that we are not covered by the insure on DnA’s cars unless we possess them! So we avoid driving the cars (which anyway, both of them need much more than we do!). Luckily for us, here in St Louis, we live close to Forest Park and the Loop area and hence can walk quite a lot early in the morning at least, before the heat sets in.  Some of the ritzier shopping areas are not serve by the MetroLink; public trahinsportation is not the greatest feature of the smaller American ciities!

When we are travelling of course, hiring a car is a great way to see this vast country. If one of us navigates and the other one drives, we are really comfortable; we drove more than 1500 miles in the space of a week during our last visit but one. Of course, potrol (“gas”) prices are quite horrendous now…here as in India….

I did a lot of weeding in the front garden today, and I am happy that DnA live in a locality (“neighborhood”) where the neighbours say hi, and even come in for a short visit without standing on ceremony! I buy the daily local newspaper every morning during my walk and there is a lot of news about the Metro for which A works.

Ah….here’s A…am going swimmng at the local YMCA now…


September 12, 2005

Variety is supposed to be the spice of life…but it is both the blessing and bane of life in America. When you enter a supermarket, when you want a service, indeed, at every turn…you are faced with a myriad choice, every one clamouring for your attention and promising the world at your feet. And if it makes me feel good to have 33 different varieties of milk to choose from, I can’t help feeling that I am paying much more for the cost of the supermarket carrying all that inventory….

But being still used to limited choices in India (“Voh nahin milega” or “Athu sikkillaa”), I find the smazing variety in America staggering….goods made the world over and filling the shelves to bursting. Certainly it gives me the feeling of plenty.

Already a week has gone by….

September 9, 2005

Can’t believe that a week has gone by since we landed in the early hours of 1st September! We had a wonderful time in NY, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Natural History Museum and the Hayden Planetarium, and met up with some of the Gangue members and friends from Muscat….went to Portland Maine where our sambandhis have a lovely new house that could actually accomodate 65 people for the wedding reception they gave DnA.

I realize that the way our tickets are booked ensure that on EVERY flight I am going to get selected for “random” screening, in which they just stop short of looking into my body orifices….I am planning to phone my airline carrier and complain about it, but I don’t know if it is going to help.

The New Orleans flood situation is still grim; I think, with long practice, we seem to be better equipped to deal with adversity….

St Louis is quite pleasant, and the new home is so beautiful….I will wait for the weekend to spend time with the new owners and have fun!