Monday, February 27, 2006

I am one ugly motha

So, on Carol's advice, I went to MyHeritage, which does this face recognition mumbo jumbo and tells you what celebrities you look like.

And I have to say, though Carol's results were good, I'm unimpressed.

First I ran this picture of me in the garish pink sari.

And the software suggested that I looked like Zsa Zsa Gabor (64%), Vladimir Lenin (67%), Leonardo DiCaprio (57%), or Halle Berry (51%). Ummm....Vladimir Lenin? Really?

So I thought, OK, the face isn't too clear, and my head is a little tilted. I'll try another photograph. And I loaded in the next picture, of me sun-kissed and fabulous in Kerala (wearing yellow...yeah).

And the software suggested I looked 67% like Rajiv Gandhi. I really, really don't like that I look more like historic politicians of the Third World than, you know, a Hollywood starlet. But such is life, I suppose...

Other (female) results for the second picture include Liza Minnelli (62%), Emma Watson (54%), Natalie Imbruglia (52%), Ava Gardner (53%), Neve Campbell (51%), or Monica Lewinsky (51%). Oddly enough, with the exception of Liza Minnelli, I look more like Chad Michael Murray (59%) than any woman listed. Damn. Good thing it's still in beta.

Woo woo woos

I miss my kittens and S, whose feet are displayed so wonderfully here. S apparently misses me as well, as he used his spare time to construct this lovely comic.

Miaow, miaow, miaow.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


...Posts, that is.

Oregon is dunzo; now, back to New York for a week. At least.

Have I mentioned how much I freaking want my visa so I can go "home" (however I happen to define it today)? SO FRUSTRATING.

To come: Excerpts from my crazy family, post-redeye ranting, and overall impressions of going home after running so far away.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I have a feeling...

...that I'm going to spend my week in Oregon doing nothing.

Which has been partly realized by my refusal to remove my pajamas and/or wash my hair and/or bathe.

It's really very attractive (and quite Portland, to boot).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Travel + T = Disaster

I've always been a bad traveler.

But this trip has just been over the top. Every flight has been late or plagued with uncertainty. For example, today it took me nine hours to get from JFK to Portland.

And my flight left on time.

Yes, headwinds caused us to make a pitstop in Denver to refuel, adding three or so hours to the trip's total time.

What a headache.

I sincerely hope I get my visa, and that I fly back safely to India.

(Also, there is a tiny little part of me that is scared I won't get a visa, that MNC won't hire me in the U.S., and that I'll be back to square one. Oh, woe is me!)

Comparative news

I always find it so surprising how localized newspapers really are.

Even within the New York Times, I was hard pressed to find a story on India. Similarly in Delhi, if there is news from the U.S., it is either of celebrities or of Bushie's diplomatic overtures.

Not that one should expect news of India in the U.S.; newspapers must strategically decide coverage, etc. International news doesn't sell.

But I very remote. I can, of course, go online and read Indian newspapers, which is more than, say, the purveyors of the East India Company could do. I just find it so hard to believe that my life is so neatly segmented, with little of India bleeding into my U.S. life, and little of the U.S. bleeding into my Indian life.

The most common question (after "Why are you in India?") I get is, "What is your native place?" And more often than not, people express shock at my being American. I never know how to take that.

But I do know that somehow, I need to interweave these two strands so that I'm not forced to perpetually gather together the threads of a life coming undone.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Things I DON'T want to do

Fly to Oregon
Check out of hotel

For each scenario, there are advantages, and there are disadvantages

Home improvement at casa del DefCol
Two bowed bookshelves
Export seconds markets
Freelancing friends
Indian journalism
Jasmine incense

Heat and dust (thanks, Ms. Prawer Jhabvala)
S's traveling assignments
Bathing in a bucket
Cultural confusion
Outsider status

Stoves that don't depend on black-market gas cylinders
Ease of navigation
Potable water
Reality TV
The New Yorker

Cost of living
No good Indian food
Bad memories
S illegal

Foreign in my own land

A tourist's list of New York...things.

Landed at JFK
Fought with a cabbie
Checked in to The Pierre

Walk in Central Park
Madison Avenue window shopping
Work in the Park Avenue Plaza
Dinner at The Modern

Gawked at Early Show tourists
Drank two venti Starbucks caramel macchiatos
Pouted in bed (alone on Valentine's Schmalentine's Day)

Three-hour Craftbar lunch
The Strand bookstore
East and West Villages
Aimless subway ride

Pret sandwiches
Earl Grey martini at Counter

S's sweet voice
Howard Greenberg gallery (and inner sanctum tour!)
Dinner at Sezz Medi a la Rosenbaums
Columbia University

Sunday, February 5, 2006

All points bulletin

Preliminary plans for the India exodus are as follows...

Week of Feb 13: In New York, working at company's Manhattan office (could this be a precursor to my eventual world domination in copy editing? The world may never know!). They're putting me up in a hotel, so if you, or anyone you know, is in the vicinity, come hang out with me. I'll be sad and lonesome and wanting to drink away the solo Valentine's Day blues. Maybe we can meet at the top of the Empire State Building, a la Sleepless in Seattle and whatever sappy movie it was based upon.

Week of Feb 20: In Oregon, watching lots of digital cable and baking cookies and playing with dogs and kissing my mommy and sisters and brothers. And maybe getting my stepbrother's girlfriend to give me a new hair cut, and hopefully scouring garage sales or junk stores for the fun of it. Also, definitely, buying good coffee and other foodstuffs with which to stuff into my bag. Ah, American food products. Yum.

Following week: Triumphant return to Delhi, shiny and new employment visa in hand, deportation troubles behind me.

(And I guess I got a little ahead of myself. Anyone in Delhi have TV and cable and want to watch the first season of Project Runway, a reality show about fashion designers that is running every night this week at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Food and Fashion (or Travel and Entertainment, or whatever) channel? Please? It's supposed to be SO. GOOD.)

Friday, February 3, 2006

Next thing you know I'll being concocting potions of bat's wings and the hair of a virgin

I hate to admit it, but I'm always strangely fascinated by astrology. I prefer to think of myself as a logical, dispassionate sort of person, attuned to facts and figures and able to objectively assess a situation.

But sometimes, it's too fun to resist.

And thus I present my Birth Chart! (Accompanied, of course, by my razor wit in italics.)

This birth chart shows the positions of the planets of Torea

The planets in the signs. The position of the planets in the signs of the Zodiac has an influence on the character of the individual and these influences form a large part of the individual psyche.

Sun in Scorpio
Physical energy and courage (I'd say lethargic and cowardly). Strong passions. Regeneration and improvement. Strong sexual powers. (Bow-chicka-bow-wow.)

Weaknesses: She is suspicious, defiant, extremist: she has a vindictive nature. Can turn violent. (Watch out: I've got a butter knife.)

Moon in Sagittarius
Likes to throw herself into the unknown and into adventure: she is agile, tough and enthusiastic. Attracted to long voyages, to discover the unknown. (Okay, you have to admit that's creepy though. Seriously. Big Brother is watching...from the sky.)

Weaknesses: takes great risks in throwing herself into the unknown and into adventure. Audacious, bold and rebellious. Unable to stay in one place, is always ready to risk everything to achieve her goal.

Mercury in Scorpio
Plays on words, argues, criticizes, jokes, is ironical, mocks. She is crafty and always finds a solution to a problem. (Man, I sound pretty damn awesome. Also: Ironic? Me? No.)

Weaknesses: mocks, derides, disputes, constantly picks a quarrel. A really awkward customer.

Venus in Virgo
Gives help to sick and old people. (Err...secret confession: Old people creep me out. I know I should respect them and stuff, but...getting old? Eek.) She is very devoted, does not show emotions (HAH!): she is prudish and never lets herself go, either through fear of ridicule or through fear of not being loved in return as much as she loves. Always suspects the feelings of others. She is therefore sometimes too undemonstrative, so the other (thinking he is not loved) will leave.

Weaknesses: likes to flirt and provoke. She is perfectly in command of her own feelings, which often lack passion or force. Her love is never for free but must automatically bring a bonus, be it only an intellectual pleasure.

Mars in Virgo
Efficiency, deftness, flexibility, diligence but also ingenuousness.

Weaknesses: she can easily boil over and can get angry over a small detail that gets in the way .

Jupiter in Sagittarius
She is agreeable, seductive, engaging and generous.

Weaknesses: immoderate taste for sport and games. (Wait...they really do think I love the sports. They clearly didn't see me when I was a high school cheerleader.)

Saturn in Scorpio
Observant, self-controlled, unforgiving, tough, methodical, a researcher, an investigator. Lots of courage, self-assurance and can keep her cool.

Weaknesses: makes no concessions or compromises. She can become a fanatic of a creed, a party, work or a religion. (Hear that, cult leaders?)

Uranus in Sagittarius
She is shy, delicate but proud, bold and lively. (I'm such a dainty flower.)

Neptune in Sagittarius
Likes long voyages, things foreign, water. (Check, check, check.)

Pluto in Scorpio
Great sexual activity. (Are they talking skill or quantity here? And vulgar!)

Sign and ascendant: Scorpio ascendant Scorpio
The planets in the houses: The planetary positions in the houses express the facts relative to destiny.

Sun in XII
Professional success in isolated occupations. Work in laboratories, scientific research, police, information services, hospitals. (Or sitting in front of a computer all day, correcting grammar.)

Moon in I
Very sensitive. Fantasizes. She is easily frightened, she is fearful, shy, prudent and emotional.

Mercury in XII
She has difficulty expressing herself, especially when young. Does not talk much, she does not speak for the sake of it. She works in remote and quiet places. She is discrete and philosophical.

Venus in X
Her best years are in the parental home (HAH!) and also the last years of life. (How do we know when the last years will come, though?) That said, the rest are not unhappy, but contain certain hurdles. Love can help in professional life, she has a gift for seduction. She likes to entertain: she likes comfort and the attractions of home-life.

Mars in X
She devotes lots of energy to work, which continues till a great age. She is a dedicated worker, not afraid of getting down to it. She improves her living conditions. She can complete long-term tasks. She is easily excitable, gets upset and in the same vein criticizes even herself. (EVEN herself! Shocking.)

Jupiter in I
She is jovial, expansive (Wait...didn't you just say I'm shy and don't talk a lot?), dynamic, kindly, altruistic. She has good judgement (misspelling!), is tolerant and likes food. She has a good education and a prosperous life.

Saturn in XII
She likes quiet and solitude above everything. She looks for work (or can work) alone, without being bothered. She hates chatting (I don't hate chatting...I just like everything I do to have a purpose), outside noises.

Uranus in I
She is above all independent and original. Sometimes blunt and irritable (crotchety, even.). Never lets herself be influenced. She does not tolerate any sort of setback. She is ready for adventure, even though it's risky.

Neptune in II
She develops her "brilliant" but questionable ideas to earn money. (Yes, for only $49.95, this BacoWave could be yours, yours, yours!)

The houses in the signs

Ascendant in Scorpio
Emotional life certainly very changeable. Lovers will come and go, and then come back again. Sexuality is very important for her, for her stability.

House II in Sagittarius
Social success in one of the professions or in an import/export company ("If someone calls, say this is Vandelay Industries." "And what do you do at Vandelay Industries?" "I'm an importer." "What about exports?" "Okay, okay, I'm an importer-exporter!") dealing regularly with foreign countries.

House III in Aquarius
She is always at the forefront of progress. Likes everything that is new, original and ingenious. Likes every new idea, as long as it improves life and naturally is good for everyone. She is happy to travel even at a moment's notice, likes a life full of change and meetings.

House IV in Pisces
She is very susceptible to the mood of those around her. A hard difficult upbringing can mark her for life. (But who doesn't that apply to?) When a child, has to be protected, given confidence.

House V in Aries
Full of initiative. Things are done to the full, with energy, vigor and strength of purpose: It is the same with love life. Children will be hardy and rarely ill.

House VI in Taurus
Completely trusted at work. Knows how to keep a secret and is of irreproachable honesty. Weak point: the throat.

House VII in Taurus
Marries for love but also well financially. A peaceful union even if exchange of ideas isn't always smooth.

House VIII in Gemini
If she is a writer, a painter or involved in another of the Arts, and if fame doesn't come when living, then it will come posthumously. Small inheritance from near relations. Take care of the lungs - if a smoker, then it is advisable to stop.

House IX in Leo
She is tolerant, accepts all differences and respects them. She is honest and loyal.

House X in Virgo
All medical, paramedic (Note: blood kinda creeps me out.) or social work are recommended.

House XI in Libra
Looks for friends among "well-placed" people, artists known even regionally, influential people in society, the social or political world, likes high class evenings (It's all about the swank).

House XII in Scorpio
Work in the police field, likes investigating other people's private lives.

Interplanetary aspects: The interplanetary aspects have a strong influence on the character and disposition of the individual and, consequently, on her destiny.

The conjunction aspect is variable and depends above all on the nature of the conjoint planets.

Conjunction Moon - Jupiter
She is frank, honest, optimistic and generous. She likes good cooking, her comforts. Her friendships are sincere. She is a worker and knows how to surround herself with the right people: she is appreciated at work.

Conjunction Sun - Mercury
She is intelligent and knows what she wants. Is a good organizer, she likes moving, travel. She likes literature.

Conjunction Jupiter - Uranus
She knows what's going on at a glance. She thirsts after knowledge, and is a good organizer. She is very independent, likes her freedom of action, is a non-conformist. She is very agreeable company and is always in demand.

Conjunction Venus - Mars
She is amorous, not a peaceful and calm lover but a passionate one with a strong temperament. She is demonstrative in love, and likes healthy pleasures. She enjoys life to the full.

Conjunction Mercury - Ascendant
She is intelligent, with quick and lively reflexes. She is preoccupied by her circle, likes to exchange ideas with her friends, but also with strangers. Of an open nature, she goes out (Again, conflict -- doesn't one of my moons say I'm shy, or something?) to others.

Sextile Sun - Midheaven
She knows what she wants on the professional level, is aware of her objectives and does everything to achieve them, she will carry out plans to the very end. She has a good job as well as a good reputation (Tell that to the people I knew in college!).

Conjunction Sun - Saturn
She likes to work alone, quietly. She pays attention to detail, is serious, methodical, patient and can take on long, difficult and delicate tasks, and complete them.

Conjunction Saturn - Pluto
She perseveres, achieves her projects through hard work.

Square Jupiter - Midheaven
She likes to vaunt herself too much, is pretentious. Only one thing interests her: herself - and she brings every conversation around to herself. (Ouch. That hurts. It kind of reminds me of the time when...) She has highs and lows in her professional life.

Square Venus - Neptune
She lacks self-confidence and her ideals are not easily to achieve. In love, she is unstable, unfaithful and deceitful. She is easy-going and follows others, she does not take the initiative.

Square Moon - Mars
She is very emotional and is driven to do things by her emotions. She does not think things over or through in a given situation. She is irascible (Oooh, I forgot how great that word was!) and sometimes violent. Marital disputes.

Sextile Venus - Ascendant
She likes everything beautiful, the Arts, balance and harmony. She is amiable and sociable. She likes entertainment and has a loving nature.

Square Uranus - Midheaven
She cannot carry through her plans, schemes to the end. (Doesn't this contradict some of the shizz?) These are changeable. She lacks forethought, attention. She throws herself into things, more than reacts to them.

So, moral of the story? A bunch of hooey, but a bunch of fun hooey onto which I can project my hopes and fears. Weeeee.

Just breathe

Do you ever feel like you're drowning?

It could be the cold talking, but all this week...I've felt a tightness in my chest, the anticipation of something Big, the kind of something that can be bad or good but not neutral, not something that will ever recede into the background.

There's talk of marriages of convenience, and talk of deportation, and talk of Becoming an Adult, which doesn't seem real. I am waltzing around so unassuming, and all around me, buildings are coming down, protests staged, worlds shattered.


I looked up at the starless sky. The dark began to diminish. Night was turning over in its sleep, turning to day. Surely there was some part of us that could be relied upon to remain consistent regardless of what life threw at us, some tiny kernel of being?