Friday, December 23, 2005


Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a truly Happy New Year!

2005 has been a year of new found friends, new found comfort in old friends and a deeper understanding of my family. The year has been much like a chromatogram. Lots of ups and downs in red, black, green, and blue with errors at the start and the end - but when you look at the whole, it is still a beautiful, meaningful result...

I hope that you all enjoy the last few days of 2005 and I hope that 2006 brings with it all that is jolly and nice!

Be merry, party hard, "stop, revive, survive", don't drink and drive, (because "it's not bad luck...its a crime!"), wear your seatbelt, swim between the flags, "slip, slop, slap", "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", look before you cross, keep to the speed limit, don't send me petition forwards, keep smiling and BE GOOD!

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TASH!!!!! :D:D:D (28/12/05)

Sunday, December 18, 2005


My brother scored 99.35 in his HSC!!!! He also managed to come second in the state for Information, Process and Technology!!!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

" white as Swedes..."

As I was writing an email ysterday, I thought some of the things I was saying was sounding vaguely familiar. I then remembered an article I wrote for a student magazine in Sweden. I was plagiarising my own work! :P

I don't think I have posted this up before... This was written over three years ago now - Oct 2002 I think. I was still a teenager then - I feel sooo old!

"Why Sweden?"

Why Sweden? A question I am sure all exchange students can relate to and one which was probably answered with something along the lines of, "I am not sure really...", followed by a lot of mumbling about Sweden, Uppsala, the weather, blah blah blah. Perhaps I should start by answering, "I was fascinated by your colour coded milk, and well, I wanted to meet Abba...". Actually, the meeting Abba part does have a degree of truth to it.

To be honest, I have no idea why I chose Sweden or Uppsala, but I am glad I did. I came here expecting it to be snowing in the middle of summer with people living in igloos, and ofcourse, blonde hair and blue eyes. I happened to arrive on a day measuring 27 degrees C - it had been colder in Australia when I had left. Being my first time travelling so far - alone, I did have doubts as to whether I was in the right country...

Everything was different - and "different" to me at first was synonymous to "wrong". The cars were on the wrong side, the water spins the wrong way, the stars were making all the wrong constellations and "oranges" were called "apelsin". I saw no logic - except of course in the colour coded milk!

I also had a very grave image of Swedes. I remember reading my "International Student Guide" and was particularly scared when I read the following, "During the first time in Sweden you may experience loneliness" (pg 33- last paragraph). That sentence somehow set the image of Swedes for me. I was convinced that Swedes would be the quietest lot and wasn't even expecting to make eye-contact. Perhaps I was just preparing for the worst, so that when I was here, even a grunt or burp would satisfy me.

It would be a complete lie if I was to say that I experienced no "loneliness", however, that was attributed to being so far away from home, more so than anything.

I am glad to say that my expectations were all proven wrong (and this time truly WRONG!), and am almost ashamed of having had such preconcieved ideas in the first place.

My image of Sweden aside, I was more than a little surprised at what the Swedes had to say for Australia! "All I know is you have dangerous animals!"????? I am probably not your average "Aussie Crocodile-hunter" but I think I speak for the majority of Australians when I say that no, we do not share our homes with deadly snakes and yes, Arachnophobia exists in Australia too. Also, NO! We do not ride on kangaroos to uni and we deffinetly don't cook wombats for Christmas!

If there is one thing to be learnt from all this, it is that we can not help such stereotypes. Forming such images is probably beyond our control, however, if we were to avoid certain places or events because of such notions, then we are probably missing out on more than we truly realise.

Vidya Vasudevan.

(This was followed by a quarter page picture of me with a cheesy grin :D )

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I am an idiot! I told a colleague that I would turn off his water bath and I only just remembered that I completely forgot!!! Its 10:20pm now - I was supposed to turn it off at like 4pm!! I hope someone else from the lab saw that the water bath was left on and so turned it off before leaving! AIYOO!!! I feel terrible now! I hope I haven't ruined his experiment for him!


Friday, December 02, 2005

Mumbai - Part 1

I know I am updating "much too quickly" and that my posts are getting extremely long!! However, I feel bad if I leave out anything. Like I said earlier, these posts are more for my own benefit than anyone else's. This next post is also going to be long - so I warn you before hand!


Between my time in Mysore and Mumbai, very little happened. My brother arrived on the Monday, our driver stopped turning up from Tuesday, my brother and I bravely ventured out to Vasantha Nagar on an autorickshaw (got ripped off), and spent the rest of the time within the confounds of our apartments.

My dad and I left for Mumbai on Monday night, and got back on Thursday night. We were booked into the "Grand Hyatt" at Santa Cruz - a 5 star hotel experience which I enjoyed very much! On Monday night, my dad showed me around the hotel - the people at the hotel seem to know him better than our neighbours at Banglore! That night, I saw Manisha Koirala at the hotel and she was the only big "star" I saw. the only other person I saw was Anil Kumble at Banglore airport on my return flight...

I spoke to Shobha on Monday night and we planned to meet on Tuesday at 7pm outside the Barrista Cafe - according to Shobhs, this is where she meets everyone! If anyone is interested in meeting Shobhs, then please head to the Barrista Cafe and give Shobha a call!

After planning things with my dad, we walked around the Grand Hyatt Plaza and met shop keepers with fake American accents. I don't know why they do that!!!


On Tuesday morning, I had breakfast with my dad, dropped him off at his work, and came back to the hotel to get my phone problems sorted out. Apparently they needed my passport to issue a simcard! I honestly don't think that I look like a terrorist - a little wierd and at times a tad suicidal, but deffinetly don't look like a terrorist!!! Anyways, I also practiced my hindi with the driver and the owner of a photo studio...

Banglore vs Bombay

I was totally blown away by the contrast between Banglore and Mumbai. In India, it seems that when you move from one state to another, EVERYTHING CHANGES! The language, the roads, the billboards, the people - just everything. Its more like changing countries than cities!

I then asked the driver to take me around, and so he showed me around Juhu. He showed me various houses that were apparently owned by film stars - my hindi got a real workout!! It was heaps of fun though, cuz the driver spoke a wierd kind of hindi and used words like "apun" and let little English words enter the conversation without me realising it because I couldn't tell whether he was speaking Hindi or English! When I didn't understand, I just smiled and nodded...
After picking up my dad from his work place (and spending some time with his colleagues), I headed for Bandra to meet with Shobha. While waiting for Shobha outside the cafe, a girl who was probably no more than 7 or 8, came up to me.

A girl named Anita

She asked me for money (or I think that's what she asked me), and after I gave her a few rupees, she started talking to me. About the only thing I could make out was "Mein jhoot nahi bolti" ("I don't lie"). She then told me all the English words and phrases she knew - obviously assuming that I would speak English... I taught her a few more phrases and in return she told me a few jokes in Hindi. I can't say that I understood much, but I smiled and nodded. I have discovered that I am a real sucker for people who call me "didi" ("sister")!

Her name was Anita. She was a really lovely child - extremely bright, energetic and full of smiles. In other words, she had all the right ingredients to con me! As Shobha was still nowhere to be seen, I let Anita entertain me. Anita then taught me a few rhymes in Hindi and Marathi and then proceeded to tell me about herself. As I couldn't really contribute to the conversation too much, I was more than happy to listen to her speak.

She told me that she was an orphan and that she lived on that very street. She had been wearing the same set of clothes for over 19days (obviously keeping count) and that people would often give her clothes but they would never fit! She also told me that she would love to go to school and recounted the time she lost lots of money because someone had stolen it from her when she was asleep.

After all this, she asked me if I could buy her a new set of clothes. She had entertained me for quite sometime and I felt like I owed it to her. I told her that I was waiting for a friend, and that once I was done talking to her, I planned to go shopping. I promised her a new set of clothes. To this she said, "Didi, yeh bina maa baap ke ladki ka ashirwaad aap ke saath rahega" ("the blessings of an orphaned child shall always remain be with you!"). A part of me wanted to cry, another part of me wanted to laugh and there was this part of me that thought, "How scripted does all this sound??". I would be lying if I said that I wasn't moved. Whether she was telling me the truth or not, it was still a horrible situation for a young girl to be in.

My driver saw me with the Anita and asked her to leave me alone. I told him that it was ok. He then pulled me aside and said, "Is jaise log se aap nahi baath karna, yeh tho Mumbai hai!" ("Don't talk to such people. This is Mumbai!").

Finally Shobha arrived!!!

The infamous Shobha!

First impression: Shobha was taller than I thought she would be! I had called her earlier and given her my car registration and said, "I am wearing blue jeans and a navy blue top!". To this she said, "Loose-u aatam pesharai! I will be able to find you!". I told my dad what she had said and he said to me, "She is right! You have a "I am not from Mumbai" look on your face!". Whatever that was supposed to mean!

It was really good seeing Shobha! I had spoken to her a few times since I had arrived in India but we both spoke like we had known each other for years! There were no awkward pauses or "What do I say next?" moments. Shobha has a great talent for not only speaking non-stop, but also for allowing others to speak. Now when I think back, I don't think we ever stopped talking. We decided not to buy anything at Barrista. Shobha's logic being, " You can get coffee anywhere! I will take you to a better place."

We stepped out of the cafe (without buying anything), and crossed the road. Anita found us, and I told Shobha that I had promised to buy Anita a dress. Shobha suggested that I buy her food instead. However, as Anita said that she would prefer clothes to food, we decided to buy her a new set of clothes. We took her to a shop and Shobha said to me, "Nee onnum peshaade. Naan paarthukiraen" (You don't say anything. I'll do the talking!"). I was more than happy to leave the bargaining to the expert! We ended up buying Anita a top, which she happily took from us and ran saying, "Thankyou. Bye didi!!".

Shobh's then walked around and crossed the roads like a pro! With me walking behind her screaming "Auto!" and "Ayy! Car!", she lead me to a restaurant (ofcourse getting lost on the way), where we ordered "pao bhaji". After more talking about how fast this year was proceeding and how all the other bloggers we knew were doing, I noticed that at one point almost all the eyes in the restaurant were turned towards us. I looked at Shobha and said, "Am I speaking too loudly?". Shobhs replied with, "Yes-just a touch... but I am glad there is someone else like me with a loud voice!!". Very diplomatic indeed!

After our pao bhaji, we ordered malai kulfi slices. I think I broke Shobha's heart by not finishing my share... "I can't beleive all that ice-cream is going to be wasted!". I made a feeble attempt to comfort her by saying, "Don't worry, it will melt and then it will only be milk that we would have wasted!" . Somehow, I don't think that it worked!

We headed back and found our driver "Sanjay". In the car, I spoke to Shobha's mum as I was feeling really bad about keeping Shobha out till soo late! It was past 9:30pm by then and it would have taken her another hour and a bit to get home!!

Our short and sweet meet came to an end with me getting out of the car to give Shobhs a hug and my driver starting to drive away without me!

Thanks Shobhs!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


After a week in Banglore, my dad, his aunty and I went to Mysore for a weekend.

I met some truly great people in Mysore. A rather old man - he must have been atleast 70 served as our tour guide. He was extremely learned, and took us to a land he had bought by the Kaveri river - a fair distance away from the city. In that piece of land, he was getting a small house built.

The house consisted of a single room - a study, a bathroom with an olden day style heater (you needed to feed it firewood) and a kitchen with a stove that also used firewood. There was a small toilet and an extra room for visitors. The surrounds were gorgeous! There was a river out the back with peacocks, and other exotic birds. There was all sorts of wildlife around. He had plans to build a small landing by the river, where people could bathe. Talk about living the life!

I asked him if snakes were likely to inhabit the environs. To this he said, "Of course - we are invading their space so it wouldn't be right for us to complain about that." Somehow, that stuck to me!

We visited Sri Rangapatnam on the way. Sri Rangapatnam is home to two major things. An ancient temple that is supposed to be very much like the one at Sri Rangam, and remains a fort built during the reigns of Tippu Sultan.

We got to Mysore in time for lunch and after a short break, I went to Chamundi Hills with my new found friends. On the way back from Chamundi Hills, we made a short visit to the Lalitha Mahal. The Lalitha Mahal was apparently the King's summer house - which was later occupied by the Princess. When the Monarch fell from power, this building was handed over to the government and is currently a 5 Star hotel.

The next day, my dad, a few friends and I went to the Mysore Palace. Mysore Palace was simply magnificent! I would like to add that I went on an elephant ride - so YAAYYYY!!! It was rocky...

Outside the palace, there were lots of shops. One of the shopkeepers asked me where I was from. Before I continue, I dont know how they can tell that I am from elsewhere! I look Indian, I was dressed Indian, and I wasn't even trying to look like a tourist! Yet, people seem to be able to tell! If anyone can enlighten me on this, then please do! Anyways, when asked where I was from, me being the Harichandran that I am, I blurted out , "Sydney". This was recived by a "Ohhh" and the Pen which the seller was trying to sell to me for Rs 15, shot up to Rs 30!

I seriously wanted to try the sundal, vellerikai, and other such food being sold on the street. My dad wouldn't allow it, telling me that I would catch some deadly disease and so I had to be content with "Ellaneer" (tender coconut water). We got ripped of for it and my aunty said that it was probably because news had travelled that I was from Sydney:P

The next day, we visited Mellkottai. The elderly person I mentioned earlier lived there. We visited his house, tasted various herbs that grew in his backyard and we pestered him to tell us stories about the place. He explained to us the significance of the temples at Mellkottai and why the idols were depicted the way they were.

Mellkottai is home to Lord Chellapillai. Chellapillai literally translates to "darling son". I had heard the story of Chellapillai when I was much younger and had always wanted to visit this particular temple. We also climbed some 300 steps to another temple on top of a hill. Apparently this is the place where "Prahaladha" meditated on Lord Vishnu. The temple was ancient - and I was totally amazed by the architecture. It was sooo cold and windy inside the temple while it was relatively warm outside! The idols in this temple were apparently not chipped by hand but are beleived to have formed on thier own - they were "salingramams"... (A type of naturally occurring polished stones)

After visiting the temples, I even got to see a temple procession - with a band and all. It was all literally like stepping back in time. All the pujaris spoke a wierd kind of tamil and I felt like I was spoiling the temple sanctity by wearing something that was sleeveless. I was probably the only woman there who wasn't dressed in a saree!

India truly suprises me. You have all sorts! Mellkottai was a step back in time. The houses were old fashioned with a "thinnai". There were little shelters all around the town that had apparently been built hundreds of years ago for travellers from far away lands who would come to visit the temple. It was all beautiful!

I enjoyed picking henna leaves from the backyard, pulling water out of a well, eating off a leaf and walking down to the "kolam" and seeing women in 9-yard sarees and the Iyengar marks on their forehead! My ancestors probably looked like that...

The other thing I saw there was a "modern" restaurant - with a picture of Lord Ganesha with a full stomach! I found it quite amusing...ONLY IN INDIA!