Thursday, April 17, 2014

Memories ......

It has been a long time since i posted. Today is my blog's birthday. Yes, 8th birthday:) It has been 8 long years since I started writing on this page. Of course, I have not written much in last couple of years. Anyways, wishing my own blog a hap hap happy birthday!

So, what have I missed sharing? Well, nothing much a racing fast semester, missing India, missing my parents and family, well, nothing much other than that! As a birthday present, thought will write about something that I love...

My native :) I come from God's own country. I really miss my native a lot more after coming to the US. I stayed in Chennai for over 7 years but still, my state, the state of Kerala remains very close to my heart.. Growing up and living my early days in this state mostly in Trivandrum, the capital city, I have some wonderful memories. It starts with the  scent of coconut trees, jackfruit trees, the grass, hibiscus and what not. I remember the essence of beautiful earth when the first drop of rain hits the ground, the walks to temple, the zoos, the museum, Shangumugham beach, eating peanuts with dad, walking the whole distance with my dear dad on Onam and munching peanuts, the school, the wonderful smell of tiffin boxes when we opened during lunch time at school, the brown color "Chinmaya" uniform students walking around the small school campus, rushing out of the gates to meet my mother to walk back home, writing homeworks, hating it every time, playing "the times table" and other quiz contests during the load shedding time every day with dad and brother, the sound of the generator on the corridor of our apartment/flats, playing carroms, chess, little genius, book competition (who finishes reading a book first!) and what not.....

Pictures of Vadakkumnathan temple- my aunt(the left corner) and my parents(the right corner) in front of Vadakkumnathan.
I also very much miss the travel to my native town of Trichur where my grandma lived, the train travel watching out through the window seats talking to my brother and reading story books that dad got for us during our trips,  the temple visits, the swing, walking around the house picking stones, leaves, small coconuts that fell from trees, helping dad with the garden, playing with bro and tailing my big sis... Well, there is something special about that connection. I miss Trichur even more. I miss my grandma too {she passed away 10 years ago :( }.  Not that I have very great memories of being with her when I was very young, but I do, about the time when I was much older and when she stayed with us for a long time. Today also happens to be my grandma's birthday. Interesting eh? Well, my mom's birthday is tomorrow :) MIL-DIL connection!

I miss the rhythm of my native language, the water from the well, the fights, going over the trunk full of dad's old books, looking at old black and white pictures, everything.... I am missing everything around, I think I belong to. I cannot rewind anything now, these are just memories. Sometimes sweet, yet at times, bitter but these memories make me who I am. I miss everything about my native. I long to be there many a times, it is a kind of yearning that I cannot define or express. Who is there now? What will I do? I don't know 1 Sometimes, I just want to rent a car and just drive around, walk around our old house, wish I can help my parents remodel and set up a new home for them to stay, well, these are just dreams, who is going to stop me from dreaming :). I do not have any friends there in that state, but there seems to be a strong connection that draws me to my place, the place where I really belong.

This post is dedicated to my grandma - Meenakshi thathi (my dad's mom), my native Trichur, my parents and bro for all good memories they have given me to cherish and of course, this blog as a gift on its 8th birthday!

And yeah, wishing my mom a wonderful and happy birthday in advance :)


Saturday, February 15, 2014

A day for my sweetheart!

Picture courtesy: Meenu Arvind © Copyrights Reserved 2013
V-Day! Well, every day has to be a V-day, why have just one day! Yeah, it is easy to say, but when there is a dedicated day, we tend to remember to do something special for the special someone or many in our lives. This Valentine's day, I could not do much for my dear valentine. Busy busy week and of course, a couple of days down with the snow storm, driving around was hard. However, tried my best to get at least one little gift for him. So, this post is a special dedication.

There are many valentines in my life - from my parents to brother to my best friends and now, a real valentine- my hubby! I am thankful for what he is and what he tries to achieve. Here is a note to my sweetheart!

You walked in to my life like a sudden breeze,
A little cold, yet warm enough.
It took a while to feel the warmth,
but then, the love grew as time passed.
Can I say, love grew?
or may be it did not have to!
it just needed a while to color our hearts!

Once it did, there is no looking back,
Little fights or angry taunts,
moody days and busy times.
All these just pass because,
there is only love around.

Thank you Lord
for helping us meet,
it may not be the perfect match
but there is something that makes it spark!

Vous aimer......

Yours truly,

© Copyrights Reserved- Meenu Arvind 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh! Wait, here is my New Year wish!

UTK-View from my campus building:)

So a new year has just begun and new beginnings are always hopeful (at least that is what the world tries to tell us :). A happy new year to each one of you. Well, yeah, I guess I can continue wishing a happy new year for the entire month of January. Ah, i know some of you are wondering, how come she is writing this late, well, for me, it has taken this long to realize that the new year has begun and it's almost a month old :P. Here, the new year also means new semester and that means, more to the grind! I have a MUCH lesser load for coursework but whatever I am having is as good as or much more than the previous semester. With the amount of work load-  i hope i remain sane (oh, am i now?!).

Sometimes, I feel this journey of studying is very solitary. They say, you will surely have folks to walk along but sometimes, it is not so.. in fact, most times it is not so. It is bad. But the good part is that it helps me know more about myself. Having moved through different parts of India through my school days, meeting different folks at different points in my life, in fact not staying with any one for a longer time, even if i wished to do that, I felt I was strong and will be able to handle change, being alone, the pressure and what not. Sometimes, i think i am not there yet. Lolz! Don't think i will be soon enough be there too :D

Thanks to my dear hubby and a few good friends from both at work and otherwise, they keep me sane and yeah, it has also helped me know who will be there when you need them the most!

This semester, I am enjoying my teaching more than my coursework! The class is a super awesome set of students who are really nice and curious. They are also having it a little later than last sem's timing.  As for research front, all i can say is it is still a long way to go!

So, see ya with another post soon...

Let the white flurries keep painting the town but of course, let the cars all drive safe and clean:) Happy nights, morning, noon and yeah, for those on ET happy snowy white evenings! 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Updates and more .....

Courtesy:Google images

Back again from a hiatus. There has been a lot happening in the past few months. It just seems as if the semester began only a few days ago but when I take a pause to breath I realize that its only going to be a few more days before the semester gets done! Phew! That seems like a roller coaster ride! I have had my ups and downs through the semester, but then you understand that life just goes on. You also get to understand that there is nothing that is going to stop you from being you except yourself. Yeah, elements outside  can/do impact our inner balance, but then it is just our illusion and most times we fall for it and hence feel there is an imbalance.

This semester is just packed.  With four courses to learn and one to teach, I am all just tied up and sometimes tired! I enjoy it but then, it sometimes is overwhelming. I like teaching. It is beautiful and despite it being early morning (the very first class schedule, of course, not at dawn!). I sometimes wonder, if it is me or the students who are tired with this morning time. Teaching actually (especially teaching here in the US) is teaching me qualities of being more patient and trying to make the best of what I have. I hope i am a good student and am able to follow that and be a better person and teacher too (if i were to continue !). Well, i am having a much better time slot next semester but a hard schedule with three classes a week! Well, that is to worry for the next and not now :). By the way, yeah, belated Diwali wishes to all of you! Hope you had a good one.Diwali here was just too simple. Of course, lit lamps and it was a nice thing.
Picture courtesy: © Meenu Arvind Copyright 2013 

As for my course work, I am taking Stats, an advertising course, one advanced methods course and a course from my cognate area :children in society. Well, everything is just packed and keeping me busy - super busy. Statistics is actually nice but not nice on me :D I certainly have improved! I hope to do well :) I will take a couple of more stats courses if time permits as i am planning to do my independent research from next semester and taking a couple of other doc level courses. 
I have so much to pen, but at times i feel there are certain things that is better left unsaid. This semester I have also learned one more thing which is to only trust yourself, no matter what others tell you (especially about you and also when you hear comments about someone else). Do not judge the other person by what you hear about them. Experiences are the best teachers, aren't they?

What else ? And yeah, it is Fall season here, beautiful but getting colder everyday. They expect it to snow tomorrow and we are still in Fall!! Yes, one more good news was when one of my good friend got selected for the finals in Oman - for Times of Oman Open Quiz. His team won the 5th spot in the finals too. Yay ! Way to go Karthik! He is the founder of Indian Quizzing League and I am a member of this group :) Of course, i am like a little squirrel that helped Sri Rama's journey to Lanka. Well, i use this analogy to compare myself to that squirrel because, the folks in IQL are all super quizzers and are passionate about what they do. I am just a little amateur who wishes to be there but just trying. Of course, with my PhD i have not had enough time to get on to hone my interest but i should say, that this group and the members do inspire me!

I also had my first experience hosting the Diwali function organized by the Indian Student's association at my university called "Manthan".  It was a beautiful program and everyone who performed - be it dance or music were just fabulous!

Also, do keep those who have been affected by Haiyaan. It is sad that the government could not do much despite expecting such a disaster. It is also shocking to see that the whole of Philippines is shaken, even though they see such calamities very often and we might just expect them to equipped well to be safe, but looks like this is the worst nightmare that has struck them! Atleast, do pray for them.  

I hope to write more soon..

See ya soon. Have a good night and good day (for the rest of the world :))

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life, Cooking and Lessons!

Life ! (Picture courtesy: Google images!)
We cook everyday. Some days are good, a few bad. And then, a few other is all special. Today, I have been through some deeper thoughts. While cooking pasta, was watching the veggies all cook together with the spices. A thought struck me. It just made perfect sense to relate that to life.

Our life is also like cooking a new recipe. We are all like those different ingredients. Ingredients won't really be good and tasty as it is. Except for a very few ones, all ingredients will taste better when blended with others. It is just like blending our thoughts and minds with meeting new people around and forming new bonds. I look at this part of meeting and forging new relationships as the form of making delicious and scrumptious recipes!  We could picture each of us with a nature that could be related to say, spices, veggies, greens, fruits, herbs, proteins, and what not?

When we cook together, each ingredient brings out its strength and the other tries to camouflage the weakness and thus bringing out new flavors and taste.  It is like forming relationships. Sometimes, it is awesome and an instant hit and other times, the worst nightmare! That is what happens at times. Compare it with even marriage- that is what happens when we start a family. We think we have the right person or family. It may or may not be right. It also depends when we meet and how we meet (equating that to the temperature, expiry dates and others!). We need the essentials like oil, salt, sugar and pepper to help make the recipes. I equate these essentials to the very essentials in life such as, love, smiles, memories, words, honesty, hope, trust, truth and others. Thus, blending in all these with the right ingredients helps us shape a perfect (or rather a great) recipe for life !  Of course, you could say that its all in the hands of a cook to make or break a recipe. We can be considered cooks ourselves, but more so, I would compare it with the Almighty. If we look at how we end up meeting people (or rather, choosing ingredients), we do get to choose some people but we don't get to choose a few others like our parents, siblings, relatives or even children. They all just happen right? We are meant to be related to these people or rather ingredients. It actually can be also connected to the "Chopped" show in Food Network channel.  They are given some recipes and allowed to take some extra and based on whatever they have and whatever they can choose from the available lot, they end up making a lovely delicious new recipe. So, if we consider them in our life and our recipe, we need to adjust, sometimes try and form new recipes! We as one of the ingredient should try to bring out our best so that even if the rest doesn't get along and blend to form a good taste, may be we can try to bring our best and make it an edible and tasty one. And, trust me, sometimes we tend to be that one ingredient which people don't appreciate its worth but can't live without too and end up using it only for their use. However, all that matters is not losing our worth and being a wonderful ingredient (person-inside out) that can't be forgotten and will be appreciated at least eventually.  Don't y'all agree?

Another analogy that I saw while cooking was that it is like the hard and nice life. If we imagine us cooking on a hot stove, isn't it like the hardships that we face as we evolve ? Sometimes, for a few those hardships are interesting and actually fun. It could be burning hot, super cold like a blast chiller or even blanching- sudden rush of hot and then cold! However, that is how life helps us shape better! 

Well, anyways, hope the recipes I cook (or am a part of ) are all healthy and delicious! I wish the same for you guys too!

Anyways, hope life is not just bland and is spicy,sweet, sour and happy !

Take care.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why do we have prejudice and why do we generalize ?

Why?Picture courtesy:

I have been reading a lot of research on racial identification and discrimination issues, socio economic issues and others. It is strange that even in 21st century and that too post 2010 period we are still talking about it ! It makes me wonder what has happened to human mind, or rather the rational and the emotional balance in human mind. Why do we give so much importance to the visually apparent skin tone or the looks? Does that race of a person define anything? People tend to think that race is biological, it is never so. What is in a color that makes one decide the goodness of a person ?

These thoughts have been bothering me for a while and off late, the readings for one of my favorite class (the new one I have taken this summer semester) has triggered more of the spark. Racial discrimination is something we think, we see in the west and far west (Europe and the US). However, that is not the fact. The discrimination in these places would be based on their ethnicity, color and race. Say, White, Black, Latinos, Hispanic, Asian-American and so on. If we look at India, it is going to be the north, south, east divide! It is also a big divide in terms of religion, caste, creed, and what not.

Yes, this is something that has been happening  for a long time now. Europeans appreciated only the fairer skin. If we think about our colonization, i.e. India, (Thanks to Dr. Fouts for having shared that insight) we see that when the Britishers and other Europeans who colonized our country, tended to favor the ones with lighter skin. Of course, i dont blame them for the start. It has now become a way of life. Every one wants to have a fairer skin and have a lovelier wife, child and what not? Despite the old image of a "tall, dark and handsome", we have now changed it to be a fair and handsome  guy!

We also, tend to generalize by just knowing a bit about someone or someone who represents the culture. It is ridiculous to even generalize. I remember the quote by G.B.Shaw, " “Crude classifications and false generalizations are the curse of organized life.” I have also seen people making remarks about a particular sect of people. Even in India, Indians from the northern part of India seem to think that those from the south all wear dhoti's, eat lot of rice, are boorish and only speak tamil! Well, no. There are many other states in the south of India. They have their own charm and beauty. They are also interesting people. Why this generalization? Is it because, people assume that if one does so, then the whole set of people who represent or share that culture can be similar to that one person whom you interacted with! Every culture, language and ethnicity has its own beauty and importance. It also has its share of quirks. It is in how we knit them well and enjoy the beauty not by just trying to assimilate in to it or making others adapt to ours!

Well, even though I have only mentioned the color and race as being the major reasons for discrimination, it is also obvious that there is a discrimination among the various social classes. There is difference among the lower and upper middle class, the rich, the poor and what not. And then, there is the differentiation among gender.

We must learn to practice "cultural humility."So, what is cultural humility?

It is a process of self-reflection, self-critique and commitment to understanding and respecting different points of view and engaging with others humbly (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998)
It is very disheartening to note that even the ones who are  educated and are well- traveled are never humble enough. Well, what are we trying to leave the younger generation with?

Please share your comments :) 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Things at my end....

I have always thought, I will be regular on my blog but it has not been possible. I pen many thoughts- both in my mind and on the page and leave it incomplete. I have wanted to share about how my very short break between summer courses and end of spring semester just raced past. I have been wanting to do a lot in between this period: a short break of almost 12-15 days. However, I don't even remember how I just forgot that I even had a break time!

We were able to take a short trip to Savannah, GA for two days and that was a beautiful trip. Two days in Savannah cannot be enough to complete the city so we would like to go back once again and enjoy the beautiful and oldest city of Georgia.Then, all set with the shifting arrangements to the new place. All the packing and setting up things took a while and by the time we could realize, my classes began. It is a new and intense course for summer as the entire course has to be completed with a month and the syllabus will need to cover what can be covered in 3 months. However, for the past couple of classes, I love this course and I love the topics and area we are covering. It is a wonderful and bright cohort.Yes, it is really intense with a lot of reading and I am not sure how i will be good enough in taking this through but I hope I do it well.

At our new place, we have a maple tree. The study room has a window that faces the tree and I am loving this spot even if i dont seem to be actually using this place for studying but for everything else:). I love to give a name to things and Arvind seems to be okay with that too. So, have named the tree "Kalpadruma" or "Kalpavraksha". Haha, yes, we know it is funny but we seem to like that idea and it feels nice to watch those little black birdies that hop around from various branches. These little things in life, help in painting the wall of life with some sweet and wonderful shades that even the big ones would not provide!

The one good thing about this summer season is that I will have some more time to work around at home and hence, more time to cook. I enjoy trying out some new ones and this second anniversary (yesterday) surprised my hubby with vegan apple cinnamon muffins. Yes, I enjoyed it thoroughly and I love the fact that I could actually get it done even with him around at home. It was a simple stay at home anniversary but we enjoyed every bit of it.

I am reading a book now called " The cute and the cool" by Gary Cross. It is a very interesting and good one, something I have been looking for a long time. I have a big list of books that I want to read quickly, a big  list of movies that I want to watch (Shame, I have not despite being a movie buff!).

Anyways, I have been thinking of ideas on how and what I can do to write every day on this page. So, have been dabbing with some ideas and may be soon, will incorporate that.:)

So, see yeah!