Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Hairy Tales

Is it true that women notice women more than men do, or am I just imagining things? After my last haircut, my roommates immediately commented on how different I look. A few days later, my department mate commented about my haircut. The class instructor who I meet once a week who I thought barely noticed me amidst the huge class size also commented on my haircut. The comments kept coming in weeks after the haircut. It was nothing fancy, just a one liner “Hey, nice haircut”. At least 15 people noticed. All of them were women.

Yet I went out to dinner with a male friend the same evening I had the haircut. Not a word. I sent some latest pictures to a good male friend. He noticed the iMac behind me in the picture, but not my haircut. I kept bumping into other men, all good friends, but no comment about the haircut.

I wonder if women notice the minor and not so minor changes in other women’s appearance significantly more than men do. And if so, why?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Life as we know it: Review

I wouldn’t be wasting my time writing a review if I didn’t like the movie. What baffles me after watching it, however, is how come it received such average reviews and responses. I am not talking of something phenomenal like “A beautiful mind” or “Shawshank Redemption”, but they belong to a different genre, and let’s not compare apples and oranges. As a romantic comedy, I think that the movie stands out. What I like best about it is the sense of balance and proportion- just the right amount of comedy, emotion, romance, drama, and tears. Nothing grossly overdone or overcooked, and the human emotions of happiness, doubt, and uncertainty so well depicted.

The formula of the movie works. When a good looking (lean, tall and handsome) man is seen with a cute baby, women suffer a hyper-secretion of whatever hormones that make you learn to sniff for a mate or coax him into fatherhood. When the man is big time into sports, rides a bike, shows up late for a first date and doesn’t seem to care, he becomes more endearing. On one hand there is “Doctor Free Range Turkey”, all “predictable and dependable”, and on the other hand there is Mr. Messer, someone who perpetually messes up things with the good looking and killer smiley Holly. When they get into a situation where they have to bring up Sophie together, neither one has a clue about what to do. They are scared, confused, and do not want to mess up. I love the way the movie develops part by part, scene by scene, and every little nuance that is added to it. Holly reads a book where they talk about giving babies time to “self-soothe” when they wake up. The way Messer makes up the songs instantly, “Keanu Reeves saves the bus”. The way “Doctor Love” says, “If I and my ex-wife fought that way, we’d still be married”. The way Messer’s gradual acceptance of Holly shows when he lets Holly ride his bike (Isn’t it is a big thing for men to let women touch their cars or bikes?). The way Messer demonstrates how he picks up women at the grocery stores, by being his charming self with a baby in arms (I loved the brilliant smile he flashes when Holly realizes he is picking up on her). And the best of all, Messer’s facial expression on two occasions, first, when Amy the baby sitter says “You both make a cute couple” (God knows how many times I have rewound the scene to watch the look he gives Holly), and second, when Holly and Messer argue during Thanksgiving and he replies to Holly’s “But not with a man who didn’t love me back” with “But I did. I still do”. Floodgates of emotions broke, and I was found shedding buckets of tears.

The film has its great moments and its aha moments. The baby is a pleasure to watch. Holly is an independent woman, yet unsure and vulnerable in just the right amount. The movie has no “ghyanghyane” and “panpyane” and “nyakamo” moments (can’t find an apt translation for these Bengali terms). And I would never take my eyes of Messer if I could help it. I could go on and on about the movie, the fine editing, the way one scene develops from another, the quick, witty retorts, and the fine eye for detail, but let me stop here. For a person who sleeps through most movies, it is big when I tell you I have watched the entire movie two and a half times in the last four days.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fools Rush In

Why is the sudden realization of love always followed by a hastily unplanned and usually futile trip to the airport? A trip where the “love has newly dawned upon me” person gets intercepted by traffic snarls, airport security issues, bad phone connectivity, and even something as clichéd as a corpulent security officer who personally escorts you to the plane once you convince them that these are matters of the heart? Bollywood and Hollywood, you have disappointed me again and again. Pyar to hona hi tha. Chalte chalte. Life as we know it. There are “n” number of movies where love went undiscovered until the end, which meant a hasty trip to the airport to stop the plane, usually a futile attempt where the person comes home only to discover that the guy never took the plane, but came home instead.

There are multiple things that seem fundamentally wrong in this situation. First, is love so unnoticed an emotion that it suddenly dawns upon you one fine evening? And once it does, why is it reduced to something as urgent as the urge to poop during a stomach upset, that one has to find a way to do it then and there? If I suddenly realized I am in love, I would call, email, text, even wait until the next meet. If the person lives in a different city, I would happily wait for the next time I can take a vacation. I don’t have to take a cab, be stuck in traffic snarls, or run to reach the airport, only to discover that the flight took off 3 minutes ago and my urgencies (to propose) are never going to be satisfied. If nothing, the laborious process of security check is going to be a huge deterrent. Remove shoes. Remove belt. Take out laptop. Remove sweater. Take out camera. Let the metal detector go off only to realize that you forgot to part with your keys. Repeat security process once again. Let the security officer fondle you for strictly professional reasons. Then remember flight number, find terminal, run to terminal, run the risk of colliding with kids who run around, bump into luggage bags, fall on unsuspecting strangers, and so on. Why can’t I just sit at home and call or email? If nothing works, I can send a message on Facebook (which I assume would be checked faster than missed phone calls or emails), and then write on his Facebook wall to let him know that I had to message him on Facebook because he wouldn’t take my calls and reply to my emails.

Naah, I guess I will never understand the fun of chasing someone to the airport, the adrenaline rush, the suddenly discovered hormones, the anticipation of pheromones, the evolutionary instinct to chase a potential mate, the thrill of stopping someone from taking a flight and letting them know about newfound romantic intentions, the fun of creating chaos, and so on. You are right, I will never get it.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hair and There

Every few months, I look at the mirror, thinking to myself that I deserve to look better. Since the anti-wrinkle youth enhancing creams were not helping much, and I was quite bored during the spring break, I decided to get a haircut. Now the problem of getting a haircut is two-fold. First, I am so myopic that I wouldn’t notice an elephant in the room without my glasses. Second, no one chops your hair as if a hungry famine-stricken rat just fed on your hair. When they do it, they “set it” and “style it” in such a way that you don’t realize disaster has struck till you get home and wash your hair. So the other day when I decided I was bored, haircut deprived for 5 months, and two days away from three Bong parties where I needed to show off my beauty, I thought it is a good idea to get a makeover.

While the lady at the salon shampooed my hair, I almost fell asleep, so relaxing it felt. She woke me up and asked me what kind of cut I wanted. I asked her to chop it by a few inches, still holding on to my original hair style that the lady in Shyambazar gave me last year. I should have suspected trouble from the way she sweetly cooed and called me “honey”. Soon my glasses were gone, and all I heard was snip snip. Soon I was half asleep, half awake in la-la-land. The snip snip continued, moving my swivel chair this way and that way. The snip snip was soon followed by a wrrrr wrrr wrrrr. Hot air blew all over my face, waking me up from my slumber. I should have realized, it was the “welcome back to reality, Miss. Rat-ate-you-hair” call. If she turned my chair this way and that way during the haircut, she did it ten times more now. My swivel chair swiveled like Madan Chopra’s chair did in Baazigar while Vicky Malhotra fantasized about his “I-thought-it-sucked-big-time” revenge plan. The little of what was left of my hair flew all over my face. When the wrrr-ing stopped, my glasses were shoved back to me, a mirror held behind my head. Honestly, it was cut so short that it looked like a lawn mower accident. Something looked very wrong about the way I looked, but I could not really point to what it was. My hair was set so well that if you got me some fancy clothes, I’d be ready to parade around the streets of Paris like a fashionista. She must have seen me frown, for she promptly added some “you have lovely, luscious, voluminous hair” type compliments. She even said I looked a lot younger now. I was sold.

I came home happy, went to sleep, and washed my hair the next day. Disaster struck. I looked at myself and couldn’t figure out what kind of cut she had given me. Strands of hair stuck out like bovine horns by my ears. If I parted it left or right, I would have to tilt my head at an angle of 45 degrees in that direction to make sure the hair stayed at the right place. It was so short that I could no longer tie it all up to hide the actual style. From letting my hair down, my hair had let me down. Before the parties, I spent 30 minutes blow drying it and straightening it, which is a record given that I never use such fancy stuff. Yet nothing could salvage the rodent-infested field my head looked like, as if someone had used hand saws instead of scissors. Imagine, a fancy dress, good makeup, and a crop of hay stack on my head; that is exactly what I looked like. Ever since, I decided not to go to parties until my hair grew back. I decided to make use of my caps or dupattas as much as I could. I try oiling it more than I have ever done to make it sit in place, reminding me of the bumpkin with the hair oil factory in Jajau (The inscrutable Americans by Anurag Mathur). When I wake up every morning, I look as if a cyclone hit my head. I look at myself in the bathroom mirror, twist and turn wisps of hair this way and that way, but nothing works. There is nothing more helpless than looking at your newly chopped off hair, knowing that it will take months before you can get rid of the joker look and look your old normal self again. Honestly, Indian salons give a far superior haircut than salons here. So while my hair continues to grow in nanometers every day, I have no option but to pretend that this rodent-fed field of a haircut is the latest in vogue.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Book Review

Weighed down by a really heavy book (both in terms of actual mass and content mass) called “The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton” (don’t ask me why I read such books), I was looking for a light read that would take off some of the weight these Ivy Leagues had recently put on my shoulders. That is when a friend suggested I read “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney. What a fun read the book was, leaving a welcome breeze of lightness in its wake. A novel in cartoons, this is the story of a little guy who will remind us of our childhood, the days we hated school, the days we loved school, the pranks that backfired on us, the crazy teachers, the parents who never understood, and the little siblings who were an eternal pain in the ass. There are school friends you would never want to be seen with, yet sometimes circumstances demand that you pretend they were your best buddies. This is a typical guy book, but that would strike you odd as keeping a diary is a girly thing to do. I love the way the author has intermingled writing with illustrations. There are every possible characters you would have come across as a part of growing up- strict parents who always favor the siblings (or so you think), siblings who will never let you alone, classmates who you know are not half as smart as you are, but who are always outwitting you for some unfathomable reason. And of course there is the forbidden cheese, which no one can touch. To say less is to say more, and to say more is to take away the pleasure of reading it. If you want to revisit memories of childhood, and have often felt being wronged by friends, teachers, parents, or siblings an integral part of your growing up, you must read this book. There are a series of books written by the same author about the same wimpy kid, and I am waiting to get my hands on them.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Too tired to think anymore

I have never visualized what my father’s brain might look like. At some point, I learned to draw and name the structures of the human brain, the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the medulla, and all the major nerves that emerged from it. I even learned to classify people as brainless, brainy, brainwashed, brain dead, and brain pickers. However, I never stopped to imagine what his vital organs would look like.

Tragedy happened all around me. Other’s fathers suffered massive heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, and neural dysfunctions. I sympathized, I felt sad, I even consoled. But I realize I never really empathized. How could I? I had never seen death or suffering closely. My grandfather died when I was 11 (and he was old and ailing anyway). I wasn’t around my grandmother when she died. Death was like news that came, not a visual display of the physical manifestations that happened, someone stopped functioning, or someone I saw everyday was no longer visible. The living members of my family have never been seriously sick. Childbirth, indigestion issues, or removal of kidney stones did not count. A distant uncle of an even more distant cousin once had a hepatic inflammation. All we ended up saying is how careful he should have been with his alcohol intake habits.

So it came as a surprise when father complained of severe headache. He jokingly blamed it on my mother’s nagging habits when she nagged him into seeing a doctor. Before we knew, there were talks about high blood pressure, cerebral hemorrhage, multiple blood clots in the brain, and an arrangement made for immediate surgery. One morning, I called home to be told he had a headache. 2 mornings later, he was recovering in the ICU. And all I could do, like a helpless nincompoop, too busy to battle courses and stay put in the American soil was, listen. Listen helplessly as I saw images of my father in a hospital, his head bandaged, strongly fighting cerebral strokes. This is not what I imagined would happen to him at his age. For the first time, the possibility of my parents dying occurred to me. And it scared the shit out of me. Not that I ever thought my loved ones were immortals, who would be untouched by death. But some irrational part of me always believed that death and suffering can never happen to my parents. It happened to others, when they grew old, and you were supposed to empathize and wish them well. But it wasn’t going to happen to my parents. Ever.

It’s a helpless feeling, and no amount of convincing can help you. You know you can just take the next flight and reach Kolkata, screw the semester. You haven’t sold your soul to anyone. Yet. And this is what I have been questioning myself. Would my father not come see me wherever I was if I suffered a stroke? Then why am I not doing the same? Because I was greedily waiting for the semester to end, so that I can take full 2 weeks off, even bargain with the advisor to see if I can extend it up to 3 weeks. The irony is, my father would hopefully be back on his feet by then, and not in as much need of seeing me as he is now. Seriously, how naïve I am, that I have never imagined him lying in an ICU, hooked to bottles of IV. Blood clots in the brain, are you kidding me? Those only happened to people in movies.

My stomach churns at these thoughts. I have suffered from a strange physiological phenomenon since morning. I didn’t cry, but my eyes kept shedding tears, not once in a while, but generous amounts of raindrops. It seemed a dam had broken somewhere. I unseeingly stared at the TV. I wasn’t crying, but tears rolled down my eyes in abundance. For the first time, I fear the power of death, and the devastation that mortality leaves in its wake. Morbid thoughts engulf me as I try to think and reason, like I would do with a research problem, how exactly this could happen to my father, who I thought was neither old, not ailing, and who most importantly, I thought would remain unaffected by pain and suffering. He once told me that the day you really grow up is the day your parents die, and not when the day you finish college, get a job, or have children. I am amazed at how the veracity of his words just started to make sense to me.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Zillionth Post on International Women’s Day

A random moment in my life came and went like a thought, a brief moment of pause that brought with it a million memories of rumination. From the warmth of the womb to the protection walls of this world. Memories of a soft pair of hands teaching me to hold a pencil and write my first alphabets without smudging on the edges of the lines. Memories of learning how to add, subtract, and learn my numbers for a life full of calculations and decision making to come. The feel of the blue inland with a confident writing that made me reminisce about a wrinkled, aged, yet deft and strong pair of hands. Memories of feeling protected, hiding my face in thy bosom and crying, knowing that you were my safety net, and everything in the world would be fine as long as I had the corner of your saree to hold on to. Then, there were a little pair of hands, six years littler than my already little hands were, that had the perfect nails, perfect fingers, and the perfect shape. The hands that held on to mine as we took the steps to school together. Such was the bonding of sisterhood.

As I grew, the soft hands, the wrinkled hands, and the little hands gave way to more hands, hands that built more beautiful memories together. The hands that made narkol nadu (coconut sweet) for me and gave me some coconut scrapings every time I stood greedily in front of her in the verandah. The hands that made alpona (rangoli) during the pujas. The hands that shared homemade food during school tiffin breaks. The hands that held the cane, strict and firm, yet caring and loving, that took me on beautiful journeys of learning, from the positives and negatives of algebra, to the alluvial soils and the red soils in geography. The hands that taught me to learn, to hold, to draw, and to dissect. The hands that shared. From the memories of the hands of childhood, to the hands of a teenager. A teenager excitedly putting red nail polish without smudging the edges. The hands that took copious notes on Wuthering Heights so that we could share it and study together. The hands that switched off the table lamp when I fell asleep at my study desk studying for exams. The hands that cooked fish curry and rice so that I never went hungry while studying. The hands that got me the glass of warm milk and Bournvita without even asking for it.

Those hands gave way to more hands of support. A pair of hands that taught me to cook my first shrimp curry, when I was lonely and friendless in Seattle. A pair of hands that touched my head with the flames of the puja fire (aarti) and gave me my share of Saraswati Puja prasad so that I do well in academics. A pair of hands that wiped my tears when I was crying over the betrayal of a friend turned foe. Hands that reassured me when I took the first steps toward my safety. Hands that pumped mine as they wheeled me to the doctor’s clinic. I held on to her as we spent the evening shopping in the streets of Kolkata. We shared a sinful helping of Shrikhand, our favorite afternoon indulgence from Mayuri Grocery. The tiniest pair of hands I have seen in years that held on to mine as we walked by the children’s play area of the Bellevue Square Mall, singing Sa-Re-Ga-Ma and Hattima Tim Tim together. The hands that held on to mine as I secured her in her car seat.

For years, you have loved me and cared for me in different forms. You were my mother, teaching me my alphabets. You were my grandmother, writing me letters from distant lands. You were my dida, making me narkol nadu. You were my friend, teaching me to solve those mathematical derivations. You were G, teaching me to take my baby steps in America. You were Baby Kalyani, playing with me as if I were your best friend, only 28 years elder. You were teaching me to cook to be able to sustain myself. You were comforting me when my heart was breaking. You were inspiring me to be a writer, and to publish my work. You were challenging me to go on stage and break my mental barriers, by acting, by public speaking, and by giving dance performances. You were playing the harmonium so that I could relearn my sa-re-ga-ma. You were giving me the keys to your house, because I was unemployed and homeless. You were traveling the world, from Banaras to Greece, all alone, and inspiring me to be like you. You were bemoaning the killing of your cousin, a victim of domestic violence, and my heart wept with you. You were a mother, a professor, an actor, a student of medicine, and as successful an economist as a humor writer.

You were traveling for hours in crowded local trains. From Naihati to New York, from Sealdah to Seattle, I saw you in the hustle and bustle, traveling to work. I saw you come home and fend for your family. I saw you take care of your babies, study, and work, and take exams, all at the same time. I saw you indulge in self-care, in those manicures and pedicures that made your beautiful hands and feet even more beautiful. I saw you bravely live through abortions, abuses, and subjugation. I proudly beamed when you went to space as a rocket scientist or won the Grand Slam. I proudly saw you get your well-deserved movie awards. You cooked, coded, and cured with equal deftness. Most importantly, you shaped me, helped me be who I am, and inspired me to define and redefine my boundaries, and to resurrect and break my boundaries, and not stop until I had reached for the sky.

This post is dedicated to my mother, my grandmothers, my sister, my friends in schools and colleges, my friends in U.S., my YKB sisters, my roommates, my colleagues, my students, my fellow bloggers and readers, the women who inspired me to write, to travel, to self-design my life, to be fearless, to strive for the best, the women who have struggled for what they believed in, be it their freedom or their rights, and all the other women in this world I have idolized. Happy International Women’s Day!


Link to the article.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


This semester, I am taking two advanced level statistics courses together. Usually the department spreads it out for students so that students take one statistics course at a time, but academic daddy wanted me to get the stats courses out of my way so that I can start analyzing data and publishing soon. I would have never thought of this idea, but when he asked me to, I cribbed, sulked, even tried to reason with him. Each course is demanding and challenging in its own way, replete with homework, assignments, projects, and exams. However, as you would have rightly guessed, it is futile to argue reason with the advisor. It takes less cognitive load to just do what he says.

Starting this year, my weekdays were inundated with stats. I call Thursday my “statistically significant” day, with classes from 9 am continuing right until 5 pm. It would get so tiring that I would cancel workouts later on, head home, and fall asleep out of sheer fatigue. Then there are assignments every week that involves hours of learning to use SPSS and getting work done. My life was suddenly full of big words like heteroscedasticity, multinomial regression, and linear modeling. It wasn’t terribly unbearable, but I wish I could have spread it over subsequent semesters instead of having an indigestion over a stat-enriched diet.

I was in class early morning, really early. At 7 am, I had reached for the 9 am class. I had a midterm later in the afternoon and I had spent a sleepless night cramming. To ensure I don’t fall asleep in the wee hours of dawn, I had showered, and reached the class 2 hours in advance to study some more. As far as I know, there is only one person in the same boat as I was in, taking both the statistics classes together. Everyone else just took one course. He soon joined me in class, and we started sharing woeful thoughts about the impending midterms later in the day. Staying awake at night made me so cranky that I started to crib about how miserable my life was, how I was missing out on a chunk of socializing and having fun because I was always under pressure to finish the assignments for both classes. It’s not that these were the only two classes I was taking, I was taking five courses in all and producing research as well. He asked me why I was taking it if I was so unhappy, and I told him how it was the brilliant idea of my advisor. The momentous time came then and I asked him why he was taking both of these courses together. I could at least blame my advisor, but what was his story?

Nothing could have prepared me for his story. His wife was working and hence he decided to start a PhD. A few months down the line, his wife lost her job and was unable to find one. And yes, they have three kids to take care of. So, it is in his best interests to take as many required courses as he can so that he can graduate early and does not have to spend an extra year taking courses. By the way, we both have been just six months into our programs.

He seemed very matter of fact when he said this, but my jaws dropped as I heard him say that. Nothing could have prepared me for his story. I felt so humbled, and so guilty. Here I was acting like a spoilt brat, cribbing because I couldn’t attend a few seemingly insignificant get-togethers, couldn’t socialize some evenings, and that’s there is to it. I neither had a family to feed, nor had a change of circumstances that would make me plan ahead and load myself with courses to finish my PhD sooner. A carefree, blessed, happy-go-lucky person who had absolutely no responsibilities other than the self-inflicted responsibility of doing well in academics, I was cribbing as if this was the end of the world. His story left me with such a sense of sadness that I am never going to complain about too many courses again. I see now that it is all a matter of perspective.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Unexpected Nostalgia

I woke up this morning with a strange emptiness in my stomach. There was this inexplicable feeling of hollowness, and for no reason absolutely, I felt tears streaming down my cheeks. I lay in bed, not wanting to get up. I repressed the urge to take a flight and visit Kolkata. This is strange because I shamelessly admit that I never really miss Kolkata. I miss spending time with my family, yes, but I do not miss visiting India per se. After I moved to the U.S., it took me four years to visit Kolkata, and in these four years, no one in the family had visited me. Unexpected circumstances came up during my stay in the U.S., sometimes I was left without money, sometimes without time, and sometimes without a visa status that guaranteed re-entry. As a result, it took me four years to visit Kolkata. It’s not that I keeled over and died in pain. It’s not that I put daily Facebook crib updates about how sad and jailed I felt. I did pretty fine.

I enjoyed my 4 month stay in Kolkata, but when the right time came, I was ready to move on. It’s not that I cried at the airport while saying a goodbye. I didn’t hate my life in Kolkata per se, but I was pretty detached to it. I don’t remember my undergraduate and postgraduate days in Kolkata with great fondness, and with the career-related insecurities it brought me, I was convinced at some time that I will end up living and dying in Kolkata all my life, the life of a nobody that nobody would remember. I am still a nobody, but it took me a giant leap from Kolkata to the U.S. to fulfill all my career related expectations from myself. Kolkata and I never had any differences, but over a time, we had grown indifferent to each other. This time when I went back, I was glad to meet my family, to eat all the good food and enjoy all the attention. I was doing okay in Kolkata, but I was also planning a trip to Europe without wanting to spend those extra 2 weeks with family. That should tell you something.

For me, the concept of home has always been the place I live in. When asked where I am from, I always reply with the name of my current location, and not Kolkata. Kolkata used to be home once upon a time. Then I moved, and it no longer remained home. My home is where I come back every day, where my belongings are, where I wake up every morning. You get the point I hope.

Hence, I was somewhat unnerved when I woke up this morning missing Kolkata terribly. I had random images from the city in front of me, images of my grandparents’ place I used to spend my childhood summers in, images of the river Hooghly and Howrah Bridge, images of getting off the bus opposite Victoria Memorial everyday when I worked as a teacher, images of taking the yellow colored metro as a student everyday and images of the streets of Kolkata I no longer remembered the name of. I wondered if it was my inherent escape mechanism to avoid the travails of studying for the approaching statistics examination, but honestly, I have studied for more difficult exams before, and I never missed anyone or anything as an escape mechanism. I called mother and told her about the situation. I told her that I was confused about the sudden intensity of my feelings. It seemed something powerful and inherent had shifted within me, or maybe, something in the alignment of the stars and the universe had shifted. I had never thought of revisiting Kolkata this year until now, but now, I am no longer sure. I need to work out my financial situation and see how many days can I take off this summer. This means an unavoidable talk with academic daddy, telling him I need a couple of weeks off. This means changing a lot of plans for me, my work plans, my travel plans, my plans to visit Utah, knowing that I will have to sacrifice many other travel plans, recuperating from the financial dent a visit to India is going to cause me. But all this is besides the point. What I am worried about is why I feel the way I feel right now. It is okay if it is a short-duration nostalgia that can be cured by an annual visit to Kolkata. What bothers me is what if these are incipient signs of me wanting to move back in the long run. I have never thought of things on those lines, if I want to move to India, and so on. Being single and free of baggage, I have always wanted to keep my options open, work in U.S., and Europe, and wherever life took me. Homesickness befitted my plans for myself. Maybe I am overanalyzing things. Maybe the uneasiness in the gut was caused due to bad food. Maybe those were mood swings or hormones. Maybe it is that time of the month already. Maybe the feeling would pass.

I have always wanted to see myself as an independent person, independent not because I wanted to stay away from home and study in the U.S., but independent because I was free to choose the kind of life I wanted for myself in any corner of the world, and do well in life without familial forces pulling me back. Whatever this newly found feeling is, I hope I continue to be independent and free in making my decisions based on what I want, and not be chained by dreams and desires of my perception of what I think is best for me.