Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Return

It has been so long since I have last posted. I would have said written, but honestly, once you write, you always continue writing in one form or another.

I look at the vivacious style of previous posts, and think, it has changed so much. However, in truth, I have changed so much! I have grown up, and grown weary, and hopefully wise. But there are always new adventures on the horizon!

Over the past several years, I held my first real job as a public librarian. I gained a mean and gritty perspective on the world from a bastion of literature and idealism. It was a place where the best intentions of society clashed with its very real illnesses.

After a couple of years, I decided it was time to make a more meaningful impact on the world around me, and I went off to study nursing in Sin City. Exhaustive work made me weary of books, while the desert paradise urged me to indulge in long, hot nights devoted to dance and drink. I survived the gaudy glitz and glamour, to begin a career dedicated to compassionate care. I graduated, returned to the nest and wallowed in a limbo between licensing and my first job, comparable to the one several years earlier. Now that I had found my life-long carrier, my parents pressured me to find my life-long partner. That time period was not uneventful. After a few hits and misses, on both the career and relationship fronts of life, I eased into a very eventful and eye-opening job as an emergency room nurse, and found The One. As of now, I am taking a break from work to focus on wedding preparations--a whole new world in and of itself.

So here's to chronicling this series of misadventures!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Curry Smugglers

There's a typical type of Indo music that I've become accustomed to in Nor-Cal. It's bhangra mixed with hip hop. The classic heart-thumping dhol keeps rhythm as bits of modern songs are carried along in its deliberate wake. It was all I knew--all I expected--from desi musicians.

DJs showcased the same songs at parties; the same remixes were burned onto countless CDs and playlists. All bhangra began to sound the same to me. It was bland.

But then I tasted curry. Hot, spicy, freshly smuggled curry. It was so hot, it made my eyes water and my ears ring.

What was this curry?

It was music.

Not just any music, it was The Curry I had been looking for. It was different, and it was upbeat.

A couple of music-obsessed Indians with a taste for the fresh stuff had smuggled it onto a podcast. 

That podcast is called the 'Curry Smugglers.' They've been running a free hour long show since 2009. There's absolutely no advertising on the show, which is a kick ass change from the AM bhangra station (which is all about aunties trying to sell you flour). It gets better, because the hosts actually know what they're talking about when it comes to music and they love to share. I can say I truly admire their passion and freakishly immense store of musical knowledge. They play a track list of new remixes and songs give loads of background info and end with a 20 minute set by a specific artist or DJ.

So what kind of music do they play? All kinds. They share music that is centered around the subcontinent, but their artists come from all over the world: America, Canada, India, Europe and the Middle East. They've covered old school bhangra, American remixes, Hindi songs and something that could be defined as desi-electro.

If you get a chance check them out at They post new episodes every Sunday, although season 5 just ended. Hey, that just means you have some time to catch up before season 6 begins. :D

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flame Wars: The Troll

Punjabis are generally understood to be a hot-headed people; they are as quick to laugh as they are to anger. Perhaps it is something genetic, more likely it is something cultural. What ever it may be, it is usually trouble.

I am no particular exception from this rule of thumb and having grown up in an online gaming environment--more often frequented by horny teenage boys than any other demographic--I have sharpened my verbal abuse with angry retorts directed at my offender's mother and his inability to function well in game or society. These digital insults harken back to the principles in Sun Szu's The Art of War. Today they are in common practice and used to incite anger in the other player, usually to the effect of disrupting his activity and ability to focus. "Your mom [insert sexually offensive action and object]," coming from a member of the softer sex usually throws any male off balance, as does any slight against his sexual ability or comprehension of a relevant issue. All respond at first with surprise, then some with humor and others with anger.  After all, gaming is a male-dominated field and the testosterone levels lend heavily to a 'Macho Man' mentality and a need to defend it by immediate confrontation.

So, the knob whose dignity has been mortally wounded (or maybe just for the hell of it) usually starts something called a 'flame war.' A series of angry, irrational textual defecations that serve no other purpose than to piss everyone off. Flame wars are by no means limited to the gaming world. They are found on any website with an unmonitored comments section, anywhere from video hosts to reputable news sources. The irate poster is also known as a troll.

The internet's sumptuous veil of anonymity has allowed many to freely insult the denizens of the interwebs for years and has usually provided a handy shield against personal attacks. Features such as "BLOCK" and "PRIVATE" are very effective in cutting off user tantrums mid-insult to comical effect. But when the same arguments move to more personal social media networks like Facebook and Twitter we begin to have a more serious problem. The user who was a combination of random words and numbers suddenly has a name and a picture; the user has become a distinct, easily recognizable individual. The safety of anonymity is gone and the troll has an unnerving way to focus on you as a person, curse you by name and association. The emotionally satisfying outbursts suddenly have social and personal ramifications that can be truly frightening. Especially when there is a threat of a physical encounter, this is when a troll has become a stalker.

I am all for hurling abuse online, it's how we get to say whatever we want, but do so with caution. Your name is a valuable asset... Anonymous' not so much! ;)

As a fellow twitterer said... Be Warned: Do Not Feed The Trolls!

For real: As always, be wary about giving away personal information online, like full name, phone numbers and addresses. If you do happen to have an online stalker who is threatening you with bodily harm please notify the police! Stay aware and be proactive!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bollywood Zeroes

Bollywood is a film industry based in Bombay, India, catering to the South Asian community. It cranks out hundreds of melodramatic comedies, known as masala films, every year. They generally contain a romance, some tears, a few laughs and lots of dance scenes.

For some reason, a select few actually believe this somehow translates into actual reality. No one breaks out into song at the drop of a hat, no matter how musically inclined they are. Dancing around trees and through fields of flowers is typically considered the beginnings of delirium and will earn you a lot of funny stares--trust me on that one.

The only place reenacting Bollywood moments has been really troublesome is the club. A select group of losers think they're about to star in their own flick. Perhaps they are simply victims of delusions brought on by the deafening music, and brightly clad female dancers. Their hubris and lack of humor compounded by a few glasses of whiskey helps absolutely no one. These guys assume courting a girl means having the acuity to grab her wrist as she's walking past. I'm not sure if that's ever worked for anyone, but my immediate reaction is always: 'WTF?' They're trying to play the suave, debonair hero but end up coming across as the creeper about to assault you. They are a particular menace one should be aware of at any Indian function and on occasion clubs in the LA area.

I'm going to toss the aforementioned creeps under Jus Reign's 3rd category: Horny Immigrant.
If you haven't seen this clip already, it's called "5 Most Annoying Brown Guys."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Techie Moments: Windows

I spent the last several days reformatting and updating two PCs. One was a Compaq desktop from 2001 and the other a Toshiba laptop from 2005. Both were outdated and took a long time to update and protect, but I managed and I learned a few things along the way.

I've been using PCs since I was 10. I know a few things, but I'm no pro. I can use the Windows programs, keep things organized and secure, more importantly I have learned to fear the Windows Blue Screen of Death. I've managed to once annihilate a Windows 95 computer by a simple delete and reboot. That requires skills. Besides attacks from precocious children, a Windows computer needs to be aware of attacks from the outside, usually by way of the internet and those dastardly pop ups. There are a few barriers that you can utilize to stop these attacks which steal your information, slows down your computers speed and pretty much annoys you.

1) Keep your Windows updated. Go on Internet Explorer, click Tools, scroll to Windows Update and it will open up a new page. Check for updates and install all. It's really simple and all you need to do is reboot your computer after it asks. You can also set up Auto Update which will automatically install any updates at a specific time and day. You just acknowledge the pop up on your task bar and reboot if necessary. Also, don't forget to check out the manufacturer's site for further updates. There's usually a support or downloads link on the front page that will have specific updates for your computer model.

2) Install a firewall. A firewall is a barrier between your computer and the internet. It creates a set of rules--which you can edit--for what can go through the access point, it blocks most malware programs. Make sure to only install one because two firewalls always conflict with one another. Usually you pay $40-$60 for a firewall and anti-virus program, but you can get several good ones online. I use Comodo Pro which is absolutely free and does the job. It also has an anti-virus program which brings me to point three.

3) Install an anti-virus scanning program. Sometimes malware is stealthy enough to slip past your firewall restrictions and installs itself on your computer. An anti-virus program scans your computer to determine if viruses are present and allows you to quarantine and delete them. The Comodo Pro program has one built in, but I also use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, it's completely free, but you can buy the full version for the auto update, customer support and other features. I check for updates to their database and run these programs once a week.

4) Get a pop-up blocker! Viruses and malware sometimes use pop ups to get you to install programs by clicking on them. If you're on the trashy side of the internet you'll get plenty of pop ups which are annoying anyway. If you use the Firefox browser, you can get the Adblock Plus add-on which provides compilations of blacklisted pop ups and you can always expand upon them.

There are other things you can do to keep your computer happy, but like I said, I'm no pro! I hope this helps someone. If you have any other tips, please feel free to share!

Links: -- A great site to get downloads from because they're all tested for viruses beforehand and often have reviews! Feel free to browse the site.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan

Rakhi (pronounced like rakhrdi in Punjabi) is an ancient Indian tradition known as Raksha Bandhan in Hindi. It is a gesture of sisterly affection between a girl to a guy she considers a brother, whether blood-related or not. It is performed on the day of the full moon in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar, usually toward the end of August.

A girl ties a thread or ribbon, called a rakhri (rakhi in Hindi), around her brother's wrist. The modern ribbon comes with decorations and sometimes in different colors, but is traditionally red and unadorned. She usually sweetens the event by feeding him confectioneries and the brother usually returns the gesture by forcing some money into her hand.

The red string represents a bond between brother and sister, for her love the brother promises always to protect her. This tradition is exemplified in several Indian stories from ancient times. One of the classic examples, and maybe the origin story, is from the epic Mahabarat. When Krishna cuts his hand, Draupadi lovingly binds it with a strip she rips from her sari. Krishna then finds himself bound by her affection and swears to repay her kindness. He does so when her husbands (yes, husbands!) lose her in a bet to rival kings who proceed to strip her. Draupadi prays for Krishna to rescue her, he makes his presence known by extending her sari infinitely until her attacker gives up for fear of the god's vengeance.

This year, the occasion fell on Tuesday the 24th. I took my nani (maternal grandmother) to visit her brother in Folsom. They're both over 70 and still try to keep the tradition up! When distances are greater a call suffices, but when they were younger my granny would snail mail the thread. I was absolutely smitten watching them hug and get straight to tying the band, sweets included. Babaji, her brother, told a news story he heard that day, a brother and sister who were fighting because the woman had decided her brother hadn't given her enough money. Then he laughingly handed my nani a couple bills.

My cousin came down a little while later and as he was rushing out the door I tied a rakhi around his wrist. He was surprised to see me there. I fed him a sweet with my own hand, we took pictures and argued over the amount of money he was giving me. What struck me afterward was how affectionate my usually gruff cousin was. He doesn't have any sisters and I suppose he missed out on all the constant teasing, barbie doll obsessions, pink and frilly things in general, nagging about toilet seats and other sanitary issues that come up from living with girls in the house. My little brother has never had a lack of it, so I guess we all take it for granted. This is a sweet tradition and I think it means more for those that don't have a sister's constant presence around. I hope everyone had a great one!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Last Thursday, I finally took the MCAT! Yippee!

The MCAT is a four part test, physical sciences on physics and chemistry, biological sciences on o chem and biology, reading comprehension and a writing portion with two essays. The first three parts are all multiple choice and you have an hour and 5 minutes each to complete them, the two essays are each 30 minutes and woefully too short! The exam itself wasn't very hard, but it just covered so many different subjects that you need to be on top of your game to get them. You also need to remember all the random formulas, especially for physics. It ended up taking about 5 hours and for sure need a snack time in between. :)

I don't know why I was so scared. The Kaplan course and the study books definitely helped a lot, but I wish I had taken this after sophomore year, when I was in practice. Genetics and physiology classes definitely helped in preparation for this.

Studying the day of the test didn't help at all, it just passed through my head like water. Especially since all I could focus on was the hot ass Indian guy with the broad shoulders and hazel eyes sitting next to me. Hai mirchi.

Out of the 15 or so kids that showed up, five were Indian and a few had their parents hanging around outside. So, of course Daddy excitedly ran up to them and introduced himself. I was too nervous to care, but it was amusing to watch. The first Indian he came upon wasn't a Punjabi and looked cornered between the door and my dad, averted his gaze and spoke so quietly I couldn't hear. Dad switched from Punjabi to some generic Hindi, "Bhai, aap kaisa ho?" Within the minute, a Punjabi uncle ran up to Dad from across the plaza and introduced himself in proper, boisterous Punjabi. At the end of the day I asked if Dad had made any new friends, and he said, "That wasn't making friends, that was just saying hello!" Haha.

I don't find out my scores until the end of August, let's hope they're as fantastic as my parents pray they are.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I've been reading Harry Potter since I was 11. I eagerly went to midnight book releases at Borders and stayed up all night for midnight showings of the movies. So you can bet I'm excited knowing that the last installment of the Harry Potter series' first trailer has been released. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 !!

If you've been keeping up with the franchise, you'll recognize all the characters and perhaps some of the scenes that were present in the dramatic montage. While I wait until November, I shall be anticipating how soon I can feasibly visit the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. Or contemplating how to indoctrinate my future spawn into Potter-heads like myself.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Mother Said: Love is Like Iron

I have a round-about way of expressing emotions. I either state them so bluntly no one takes them seriously or I act out by repeatedly wheedling at the object of my affection or agitation. I did the latter with my mother yesterday. I was lamenting the lack of time she spent during the day with me and the rest of the family. I jokingly commented she didn't love me enough, and didn't think about me enough. I guess it really hurt her. She popped up today with an adorable earring rack--she knows me too well--and a story.

It sounds sweeter in Punjabi to me, but I can't write in the language so I'll paraphrase in English.

Iron is heated in a forge and shaped by fire. When the iron hammer hits it, the iron clangs loudly. Gold is heated and shaped in the same way with an iron hammer, but with a softer sound. The shaped gold asks the iron, 'Why do you cry so loudly?' Because the gold keeps his pain to himself. The iron tells him, 'When others strike you it does not hurt so much, but when your own attack you the pain is unbearable.'

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Social Networking: From the Pind to Facebook

People who live in the pind, Punjabi for 'village,' usually reside on ancestral properties which have been in the family for hundreds of years. People do move out of the village, but the connection to centuries of patriarchal history has a strong influence on both an Indian's heart and social life.

The pind connection binds its descendants by culture and geography, often providing the surname to its resident families. You will notice that one of the first things a Desi will ask a new acquaintance is, "Which pind are you from?" Promptly followed by a slew of personal questions in the search of a common ground and creating a verbal profile to pass onto other relations. This interview is usually performed with an unabashedness the average Westerner would find rude.

Amusingly enough, this same inter connectivity is the goal of modern social networking, today epitomized by Facebook. Every profile first asks a series of personal questions about family, education, work, hobbies and then to add all the people they might possibly know. Although Facebook takes it a bit further by allowing all conversations, activities and photos to be showcased in a somewhat public forum. Of course, the technologically inclined, Desis and non-Desis alike, have colonized the website and made it an almost necessary part of their daily routines.

Promoters in particular have managed to abuse the ease of social networking for profit. Their goal and methods are transparent enough to discern--getting paid for selling tickets--but what interests me is the curious effect it has on their personalities. I find the egotism associated with a verifiable, wide social circle of acquaintances (not friends) and the safe barrier afforded by the internet cultivates some of the most despicable personalities I have ever encountered. Don't believe me? Meet a promoter in person. The majority of conversation centers around the promoter's own life and his notable actions, as he wantonly hopes of impressing the easily swayed with images of grandeur and creating profitable future connections.

Leh, can you tell I've had a bad experience? Anyways, don't make the mistake of trying to engage on any level with the douche bag-in-disguise. Promoters are like small, ill-tempered children with no handle on reality. And they usually don't apologize until their only commodity of value, i.e. their reputation, is on the line.

Yeah, that last bit was a rant... but here I hope Jus Reign's own Facebook rant will cheer you up. :)

And just 'cause we were talking about the pind, I had to mention the lovable Miss Pooja, who represents the lively, innocent pind girl.


That oil painting is by Harvinder Singh, I ripped it from his site. Pretty good don't you think?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Punjabi Culture: The Pervy Uncle and the Kala Mu Wala

A social circle would be incomplete without a token pervy uncle. You know the ugly man old enough to be your father and should be drinking whiskey with the other 40 somethings but instead he spends half the time at a party walking past your table and leering at you. Or (in)conveniently busts a move behind you when you're on the dance floor. Pervy Uncle may even be bold enough to cop a feel when you go in for a polite hug. It is usually the moment you realize how nasty old men are and maybe hugs should only be reserved for the kids.

In my dad's tales from the pind, there was a sort of vigilante justice performed when a man was caught bothering a young lady. Nowadays we hear it as the cuss, "Kala mu wala." The accused would be hog tied and roughed up. They would blacken his face with the ashes from the dung fires, string a garland of rotting shoes around his neck, saddle him on a donkey and send him on a ride of shame through the village. Unfortunately, stoning wasn't involved. Somewhere safely on the outskirts of the village he would squirm off his ass and a merciful friend or stranger would cut him loose. Publicly humiliated, and with his tail between his legs, the dog would hide out for a while before showing his face around town.

As much as I wish this tradition was still in effect, it's not. I'm sure I'm not the only one that has to deal with Pervy Uncle, other girls have and have been through worse. Some might be too scared to say anything in case they get in trouble, or perhaps they are too ashamed. I empathize with them. But that does not mean they are helpless. Always try to avoid situations in which you can get hurt, and be constantly aware of your environment.

1) This is the most important rule: get angry. It'll empower you, and make you feel like you can do something about the situation. Feeling angry is a thousand times better than feeling helpless.

2) Don't go somewhere or do something you're not comfortable with. Follow your gut feeling, it's there for a reason. You're allowed to say NO.

3) If you are somewhere and you've got that uneasy feeling stay with someone! A sister, a cousin, someone's biji. Start up a conversation, or just politely tag along. They'll look out for you.  This has always worked for me in any situation I have ever been in, regardless of culture!

4) If all else fails get a shank/tazer/pepper spray. And then use it 'on accident.'

Lastly, invest in some sort of defense training, whether it's a one day course or martial arts or boxing. Your body is a tool and you should know how to use it, especially to defend yourself! 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mother's Day

This past Sunday was the greeting card companies' mid-year event: Mother's Day.

Of course you love your mom every day, but on this special Sunday in May you show it! With expensive jewelery, fancy appliances, bouquets of roses, or something not so rough on your wallet like breakfast in bed and even home made gift cards.

Indian moms are different, and my mommy definitely fits the mold. She doesn't expect ANYTHING on Mother's Day, and we've got a long history of living up to that expectation. I'd be surprised if she actually remembered that such a day existed. And the only way that would happen is if Hallmark had infiltrated the Indian channels on the dish (which would be a tragedy).

Mom hasn't worn the D&B purse we got her for last mother's day, and she had no idea what to do with the jewelery set Dad got her one year. She insisted that she would rather have a set of dishes, or a brand spanking new kitchen appliance. This strikes at the heart of two Indian traits, practicality and frugality. Or maybe you could roll all that into one trait, namely being cheap.

Indians can find a use for any object that comes their way. Second-hand, ragged sofa? That's OK, sew some new seat covers and it's perfect for the make-shift living room in the garage. Desis are masters of re-purposing and conservation. It makes sense to not waste all that hard-earned money on something you could get for next to nothing or make for yourself. On the other hand, old jam jars and Tupperware last for years, piling up in shelves and in the back of dusty cabinets in the all-purpose abyss known as the garage. Said jars will sit there for years on end, unused until some tragic accident occurs. Likely lost in a hasty escape upon the arrival of INS/IRS officers.

It's OK to laugh at that last part. My parents are tax-paying Americans.

So, what did I get such a wonderful woman for Mother's day? A flower ornament I made out of sticky notes. When all else fails, origami is the way to go. Damn Asians have the answer to everything.

I leave you with a clip of one of my favorite Indians. No introduction necessary.

The Basics:

1) Tell Mom you love her.

2) Clear junk out in the middle of the night. Then throw it away in the neighbor's trash can. The neighbor TWO houses down.

3) Learn how to wipe your own ass. Best gift anyone can ever give.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Desi Dinner

Indian culture thrives on a spectrum of segregation, particularly when it comes to gender. It happens at temples, parties, household get-togethers and even run-ins at the store. It's always an awkward, rushed moment when a man and woman who aren't related have to interact socially.

Aunties are famous for their relentless kitchen gossip, but even a room full of aunties will quiet to a hush when an uncle walks in looking for an extra fork. So, shocked by the sudden scrutiny of the room, uncle is guaranteed to complete his mission and quickly return to the safe haven afforded by the barbeque. Preferably in a manly place such as the garage or patio. However, the opposite situation also holds true. No auntie likes going into the 'uncle circle.' So, auntie will always send son or child-who-doesn't-have-to-conform-to-social-standards-yet to send messages and food.

Anytime a bunch of punjabi men get together there is a guarantee of three things:
1) Alcohol (Ek peg, paaji!)
2) Nuts (cashews, walnuts or anything to munch on)
3) A barbeque (lamb, goat, fish, chicken, duck)
And they all do this while sitting in one huge circle. Whether it's three guys or 20, they will find a way to make the circle work.

I'm sure this tradition has been passed down through hundreds of Punjabi generations, and it has recently started to change. Only since the 80s, with the advent of modern bhangra, have men and women concieved of dancing in the same room. 20 some odd years later, we still dance in gender or family-segregated circles but that does not take away from the grand achievement of dancing within view of the opposite sex.

With all this cultural history hanging over our heads, sitting together at the family table with father and mother had become an issue. Mom and Mom's mom (Nani, affectionately called Biji) would never eat at the same table as Dad. Mom would dutifully ensure Dad had eaten first, and Nani would awkwardly munch on food in his presence. Dad always felt more than a little uncomfortable. The whole thing never mattered much to me as long as I got fed, until I came back home from university.

All of a sudden the concept of quality family time became important to me. Helped along by commercials stressing the importance of eating together at the same table I decided it was time for a change.

I was entirely unsuccessful. Unsuccessful until Nani went to India for a month. I took advantage of the regime upset.

Mom got swamped with household chores and willingly accepted my offer to help out. It started with washing dishes and reorganizing my bathroom and it built up to an offer to make dinner, a rare event in and of itself. I planned the meal the day before, and reasonably demanded that everyone arrive promptly at 7:30 or prepare to have dinner forcibly shoved up their nostrils, silverware included. The threats worked, everyone showed up, and dinner was late as per IST. However, success was only won when Mom realized how cute the table looked piled high with food and conversation, and the opportunity to offer salad and veggies as part of the meal. She also took the opportunity to instate a rotation for washing dishes after dinner.

Surprisingly, it was a pleasant experience and worth reliving. I eagerly repeated the request, "Same time, same place? <3" Since then, we've regularly had a dinner table including three or more people. Dad is usually absent because of work obligations, but he makes it when he can. Uni-Sister absolutely loves the idea (+1 fan for me!). The Teenager Duo (Baby Sister and Baby Brother) sometimes have issues keeping up with it, but I appreciate when they bring their moody selves down for the most part.

While this is still a shaky, newborn tradition, one obstacle remains: winning Biji over. She arrives on Monday, and then we shall see. Just keep in mind that I'm a very sore loser. :)