V's first bad word

Author: Anu Karthik /

Feb 26th 2010

So I swear I am not responsible for this. And though K might have used this in the past, he is a model citizen/ father these days. So we were baffled when for the first time we heard V use this word.  It took all of my self-control and then some more to stop myself from laughing, but I had to or this kid would catch on and then keep repeating it. But K and I wondered where he would have picked it up, and today I found out.

From a tomato. Yes 'thakkali'. V says the O word that rhymes with for 'thakkali'. He kept pointing to it today and just kept on saying '*kkali *kkali' and wanted me to feed him some.  So I asked him with a straight face 'Vrushab ku thakkali venuma?' and then gave him some. And then stifled my laughter and then came here to share it with you.

God, I love children and the joy they bring to our lives !!!

Why I should have stayed in graduate school

Author: Anu Karthik / Labels: ,

Feb 18th 2010

  1. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy less meetings.
  2. There were no *working* hours, I worked for as long as I wanted on some days and not so much on other days.
  3. I mostly did not keep track of vacation days.
  4. Dress-code- what is that? most days I was happy to come in after taking a shower.
  5. We got to use words like "ginormous", "ground-breaking", "innovative", "path-finding" etc. to describe our research unlike just "Get it done or you get fired!".
  6. We were the cool nerds who knew how to have fun.
  7. We could actually talk about our work to others and discuss it with our colleagues without having "confidential" stamped all over and getting sued and also not have our ideas stolen :)
  8. What pay was offered in our offer letter was what we got paid, and no one took away 1/2 of it in taxes, who cares that it was peanuts..at least you got what you were promised.
  9. Work-life balance was there because work was life, had to get that doctorate remember?
  10. We got to travel to cool places for conferences, and present our novel work and win awards, ok just one also counts :P
  11. We got student discounts everywhere- on airlines, amusement park tickets, restaurants, you name it and we got it!
  12. You had time for your interests and your passions.
  13. Life revolved around conference deadlines and paper presentations which was not too bad coming to think of it.
  14. People knew you (even because you were notorious counts) and you were not a nameless face lost in this whole sea of engineers
  15. Most important of all, we had a kinship with our research projects and kind of owned it and defended it left, right and center only to have it torn apart and start over all again :)
And the reason I left, so I could for once answer the question "So when are you done with your PhD?"


Author: Anu Karthik / Labels: , ,

Feb 17th 2010

"India". When I hear this word, a few hundred thoughts run in my mind and I feel a sense of longing, pride and happiness that I never experienced truly as long as I was there. Another proof to the adage "Distance makes the heart go fonder". It is quite close to a decade that I have not lived physically in the country and am more a visitor, but I live there so much more mentally than I ever have in the 20 odd years I spent in my desh.

You can take yourself away from India but you cannot take the Indian out of you. Living in the land of opportunities has its pluses, in fact I think you crave your homeland more because of the peace and ease of every day life here. If you are faced with corruption everyday and frustrated because you are dependent on people to get your things done, you are not going to be in a mindframe to appreciate the beauty or feel sorry about the deprived around you. One is going to be too focused on the umpteen personal battles to be won everyday.

As an Indian living here, I have also been asked the question many many times "So are you going to settle here or go back?". The answer to the question that I always give which is the truth too is that "I don't know, I am living one day at a time." And I say this with the full realization that that is the truth and not in any way trying to evade the question. I am not ashamed to admit that my time here has made me a more compassionate person, has truly made me explore my potential to the maximum. It is living here that I have learnt to look beyond just my home and my family and share and volunteer. But it has also made me see India for what a great country she is and appreciate the people and the diversity in which they co-exist so much more. And it has also many a time made me feel sad about how most of her wonderful treasures are just not treasured.

Why now? Well, I took a recent trip to India and this caused a surge of feelings during the onward journey, my time there and some realizations when I came back. I love it here and I love it there, but I can be in only one place at a time now right? But the key is to be physically and mentally in the same place at the same time, so I am not sitting in Oregon and wanting to go shopping in pondy bazaar and eating parotta chops in Saravana Bhavan! 

Whatz the hurry?

Author: Anu Karthik / Labels: ,

Feb 9th 2010

We all live in a world where it is truly survival of the fittest. That does not necessarily mean that the ones who are not the fittest don't survive, but conventional wisdom has shown that the one more prepared does much better than the unprepared. Add on to this mix, a sense of wanting to achieve, excel in everything we take on and you are left with a generation that is constantly running, period.

And this feeling is not any different in mommyland or for new parents. Many parents like me are still trying to cope with the constant discussion surrounding what milestone the child has currently achieved and what you should be doing to ensure that he/she is on the path to excellence. It does not matter that the kid is barely 2 feet tall, can just about walk on its own and still pooping in diapers. It actually started the day he/she is born.

From friendly inquiries to "Has she started smiling yet?", to "Usually at this month they do this and that" to advice that asks to be accepted "By this age I used to give my son finger foods and he did just FINE with them!", "Are u still breast feeding, shouldn't you stop by now otherwise it will be very difficult and they will cling on to you!", "He STILL wakes up in the night? (utter disbelief and clear contempt for me as a mother that I still allow it)", to just plain old peer pressure "Is he talking yet, my daughter was babbling by this time! ", "You don't make his food daily? I always prepared the meals fresh, I am not one of those who give their kids peanut butter and jelly every day! ". 

If you are naive enough and listen to this, you will end up losing out on a very very important milestone in your and your child's life, that of living in the moment. What is the hurry for him/her to do things, once he starts to walk, he is never going to crawl again is he? Once those teeth start to show, can u ever bring back that toothless smile (OK, the bad one when you lose the front teeth at age 6-7, doesn't count!)? Once your child grows, he is not going to wake up in the night and want to nuzzle. He will want to sleep in his own bed and do his own thing and one day he is going to say " Amma, stop! Can I please do it on my own?" [I will be thankful if he says please in the first place]. 

Don't shed tears that day, instead if you have spent your time now living in the moment and enjoying what they have to offer everyday, you will be proud to see him/her move on. So hit the snooze on the clock that is constantly ticking and hug that little bundle a bit tighter. Read an extra story and break another toy.  Listen to that babble one more time and don't correct. Pick that lazy butt and go on a walk or stroll in the park and see the world through those teeny eyes, you will be amazed by how much you have been missing. Tell me really, how many times have you been amazed by a bug on the fence or a piece of paper that flies or a steetlight, you will be now!

And for those who don't have kids yet, remember this when you are scrambling to fit work, home, family and what remains of a life into the waking 18 or 19 hrs!

P.S.-1 No comment or quote in this post is made up, they are based on the author's observations and experiences :P

P.S.-2 This is no way means V gets to be an artist or a rock bander or a high school dropout. He will do what he has to, but to the best of his ability, not to his neighbor's or classmate's!

First 3miler for me

Author: Anu Karthik / Labels: ,

Feb 3rd 2010

Laugh if you must, but it is an achievement for me. I was never a runner, both because I never tried and also because I was never athletically built for starters. Sports in school has always been limited to the P.T. class (Physical training). I was good at Kho-Kho however, though K who was (almost) a state-level player scoffs at me everytime I say that. Whatever :P. {Remember Koundamani and Senthil when they say you are 1oth fail but I am 8th std pass?}

Memories of sport for me include kho-kho at school and also requesting to be a substitute for volleyball so I could go to school level zonals competition. A day of missed classes was so much fun and looked forward to at that time. And if you might include the badminton that we played with our gate as the net, ahem. It worked at that time. My dad surrounded by females (we are 2 sisters) and my mother, gave up that there was no way any of us were going to share or even be able to understand his passion for cricket. All in all, you get the picture.

Graduate school opened new doors for me when it came to what all I was missing in trying out new activities and honing my few skills. I pursued everything I could with almost a vengeance. I enjoyed it, those are some of the best years of my life on a personal development level. I got more active and loved the benefits it brought, but I never did run much even then.

So when on Monday I ran my first 3m just because I got it into my head, I felt exhilarated. With Villu songs and Kovai Sarala's voice ringing in my ears, and 40F weather, I ran some, barely moved some but did it. It was a very proud moment in my life :D 

Here's to more runs hopefully! Maybe I shouldn't say that because V already makes me run around quite a bit.

P.S. For runners/walkers - I love this site..it lets you map the distance you want to take on- http://www.mapmyrun.com/