Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai !

The Chinese New Year weekend just got over. This was our first CNY in Singapore (last year we had gone to Vietnam during the holiday); and I quite enjoyed being in Singapore this year. Our families were visiting, so we went to Chinatown on the second day on the new year & it was like Christmas -- all the lights, the festivties, the dances, the lanterns; the yellow flowers & the orange trees with red hangbao envelopes -- it was quite spectacular. A lot of the places were closed (even the Carrefours & 7-11s were shut during the holidays; when we unfortunately ran out of milk for our morning tea).
The new year, by the way, is the Year of the Ox. Babies born in this year are supposed to have the qualities of "tireless hard work & patience". I'm quite relieved I won't have a lazy son, but an ox doesn't sound as exciting or great as a lion or a dragon. But then again, I take consolation from the fact that at least he won't be a rat or a pig.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I met Kapil Dev today!!

I would usually be excited to meet any cricket celebrity, but I was especially excited today because this was the first time I actually had a long conversation with one of them. And that too with the legendary Kapil Dev...! :)

Kapil was in here doing a roadshow for ICL, thats how he landed up in our office today. Honestly, I wasn't such a big fan of his until now. But he's just such a terrific guy; unassuming, no hang-ups; and such a chatterbox! We spoke about his first appearance on television --for the Palmolive ad; and about his old pals Ravi & Sunny; about Sachin; about the future of one-day cricket; about cricket leagues; and of course, he spoke about Mandira Bedi (because he was talking to me, a woman, and thought that I would have an opinion on women commentators & their sari fashions).

Mementos from the meeting: an autographed mini-bat & a cricket ball bowled by Kapil himself! I'm so pleased :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Preparing, waiting

We've picked up quite a few things to go in the baby's room. Inspite of warnings from the families (that it would be bad luck to buy too many things before the baby actually arrives), we've done a fair bit of shopping in the spirit of "being prepared"; most of it will get delivered closer to the due date. We'll probably leave decorating the nursery for the last month. Doesn't mean I haven't started planning though.

Colourful musings; soft tender tones;
Some blue, some green, some red,
There is the pram; there'll be the baby's bed,

There we sit as we watch him play;
We could change this, get that new,

Trying our best to keep,
A promise of love; that we've made to you :)

PS: I do realise that my blog posts have been getting overly maternal these days :)

Friday, January 02, 2009

"Waiting" by Ha Jin

I read a good book after a very long time. This is a story set in mainland China during Mao's Cultural Revolution; about a sincere, studious doctor, who is trapped in a loveless marriage & waits for 18 long years for his divorce to be granted, so that he could finally be with the woman he loves. It sounds like a simple plot, but is quite nicely written; sort of a political parellel to the entire generation of Chinese youth of the time who were raised to be too patient to speak up for what was right; too rules-bound to know how to live without them; too passive to create change for themselves; while an opportunistic few prospered at their expense.

A friend of mine (she was my Mandarin tutor actually, but since I've discontinued my lessons she's just a friend now); lived in Beijing through the Cultural Revolution in the 70s; & told me a lot of stories & personal accounts from those times. At the time, I thought it incredible; I still do; the stories of how all religious buildings were destroyed, how capitalist books were confiscated, how school children grew up parroting Mao's poetry & writings, how ancient Chinese festivals & customs & knowledge were lost forever in mainland China after they were banned during the Cultural Revolution. That was my first introduction to the bizzare events that happened in China.

Then I came across this book, which makes a beautifully told argument for individualism (as against the collective society) layered beneath a painful love story. And how it takes a certain kind of people to make a society, like the communist China in the 60s & 70s, work.